Tammuz falls during the months of June and July.
Tammuz is the first month of summer, beginning just after the Summer Solstice. It is the month after Shavuot – the revelation. After the Exodus and the long trek through the desert, we’ve arrived at Sinai and received our revelation…so now what?
In the Torah what happens next is “the grumblings” (Num 11:1-6, Num 14:1-10) The people seem to quickly forget all the Moses has done for them and move into a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. It’s the letdown and release after the stress is over. Now what do we do!?! We’re used to having so much to complain about and so many people to blame for our problems.
Welcome to Tammuz, the month that says — take the reigns people and get to work achieving your own destiny. In so many ways Tammuz is the gateway month to the final turn of the wheel of the year. The letter Chet, associated with the month reminds us of this in its form (ח)and in some of the words associated with it. A dream (חֲלוֹם) can be seen as gateways to the spirit world, but what happens when we cross through the gateway?
The Tarot card for the month is the Chariot (מֶרְכָּבָה), also associated with the sign of Sartan or Cancer. The Chariot is a challenge. It says, quite literally, take the reins. You have all the power and ability, but will do you do anything with it? Will you risk failure? Will you risk success? Will you risk change?
We have an amazing example of women who were willing to risk it all this month: The Daughters of Tzelofhad. I think these five women, Mahla (מַחְלָה), No’a (נֹעָה), Hogla (חָגְלָה), Milka (מִלְכָּה) and Tirtza (תִרְצָה), who are mentioned by name twice in the Torah are the mothers of women’s rights. These women were mothers to us all.
The Mother (אֵם) is an appropriate Netivah for the month for so many reasons. Mothers are gateways to life. A woman’s body is the vessel and the gateway that we all must pass through to enter this world. The color red (אָדוֹם), the color of blood and life, is often associated with Tammuz. It is especially so because Tammuz is the gateway to the month of Av, and the holiday of Tisha B’Av where the destruction of the temple is mourned when it is said that you can hear Rachel weeping for her children as they are birthed into exile. Rabbi Jill Hammer teaches, “if Lag B’Omer represents the perfect union of heaven and earth, the 1st of Tammuz introduces disjuncture and pain into that union.” Giving birth, also does that to any woman and marriage.
Our only holiday in Tammuz is a fast day honoring the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem on the 17th of Tammuz. On RitualWell.org it also says that, “according to legend, Noah sent out a dove on the 17th of Tammuz to see if the flood waters had calmed and if the mountaintops were visible. But the bird returned, signaling that there was no dry place to rest.” Ancient Israelite women also lamented for the Sumerian god Tammuz, for whom the month is named. Some modern Israeli poets, according to Telshmesh.com, have begun to craft modern laments as “an expression of the brokenness of the world.”
Really, the message of Tammuz is simple and encapsulated in the Chariot card. The folks at Aeclectic.net say it well:
We come back to where we started. Now that you are free, what will you do? Now is the time to act on all those dreams you had during the winter months. But remember, you are trying to channel powerful forces. Use care and good judgment and you will succeed.