Earth-based Judaism 200 Series

This self-study series is for anyone who wants to create a deeper, more embodied practice of Earth-based Judaism — magickal or otherwise.  If you don’t identify with the “magickal” parts, then just focus on the Earth-based parts!  It’s self study, so you can engage with whatever moves you.

I hope you’ll share your experiences if you use these self-study guides!

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Earth-Based Magickal Judaism (EbMJ) 200:  Living in Jewish Time
200 will take you through the entire year, a page at a time.  I recommend beginning here and then when you’ve established a pattern consider taking up the one of the next classes with it.

Objectives:

  1. Solidify your understanding of  an earth-based Jewish time.
  2. Integrate earth-based Jewish time into your daily world-view and experience of life.

Required Texts:

The Jewish Book of Days by RK’Jill Hammer
Begin this course of study by finding reading through the introduction, which lays the foundation of an earth-based sense of the Jewish calendar and then finding the current quarter of the year in the Jewish Book of Days and reading about it.  Then set aside a few minutes each evening, since the Jewish day begins at sundown, or at any time of the day to read the page of the day.  As the book is set by the Hebrew calendar, you can use a free service like www.hebcal.com to figure what day it is.

Seasons of our Joy by R’Arthur Waskow
Even if you read this in Jewitchery 100, it’s time to pick it up again.  Read, or re-read, the introduction and then read the section appropriate to the time of year when you begin this.  As the wheel of the year moves on, be sure to read the corresponding section.

Assignments:

  1. Read the introductions and corresponding seasonal section of each book.
  2. Set a time each day to read the page of the day in the Jewish Book of Days.
  3. Keep notes in your journal about your thoughts as your read.

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EbMJ 201:  Elements of Embodied Judaism

Objectives:

  1. Develop an understanding of the metaphysical elements in Judaism
  2. Begin working with the elements, from a Jewish framework

Required Texts:

Elements of Judaism – Ketizrah
This series of blog posts, written by Ketzirah, will guide you through the an understanding of the elements (earth, air, fire, and water, from a Jewish perspective — and in particular through Ketzirah’s approach to integrating them into your spiritual practice.  Please read the entire series — the index is available on the post linked above.

Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation (Aryeh Kaplan, translator)
The Sefer Yetzirah is an ancient book.  While its origins are mysterious, it serves as a foundational text for much of Jewish mysticism and magickal practice.  The earliest ideas about the elements in Judaism are found in this text.

Telshemesh.orgElementsFire, Water, Earth, Air
Read RK’Jill Hammer’s foundational series on the elements in Judaism. Read both “Four Elements and Four Seasons,” and each of her articles about the elements and what they represent based on her scholarship.

Assignments:

  1. Complete the assigned reading and any additional research you wish to do
  2. Create your own correspondence list for each of the elements like Ketzirah’s in the Elements of Judaism post.
  3. Create a visual collage for each of the elements.  Cut out pictures from websites, magazines, and other sources and create a collage that acts as a visual correspondence list for each element.
  4. Create a list of practices, songs, activities that meet your growing understanding of each element.
  5. At the Sabbath or other holiday, take special notice of how the elements are represented in the traditional practices of the holiday.

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EbMJ 202: Altars in Judaism

Objectives:

  1. Understand the role of the altar in traditional and progressive Jewish tradition
  2. Explore the role of the altar for your own spiritual practice

Required Reading:

Online Articles about Altars in Judaism & Spiritual Practice – Wikipedia: Altar BibleChabad: Altars of the Self, Jewish Encyclopedia: Altars, Inner.org: The Jewish Home – A Microcosm of the TempleTemple Institute: Altar, JPS Guide to Jewish Tradition – Bimah, Beliefnet: Altars all Around Us, Jewish Gateway: Subliminal Altars,

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols
This book will give you a plethora of symbols to use on your altar through-out the year. If you can’t afford to purchase this book (or even if you can), be sure to Jewish Heritage Magazine Online – they also have a great index of Jewish symbols that can be very useful in creating your altar.

Recommended Texts:
Please choose at least one of these to explore the concept of creating an altar. Sadly, there is no book or text available on personal Jewish home altars, as this concept while clearly evident in Jewish homes has never been truly been explored in this way. Some of these books are based in traditions that do not have prohibitions against statuary or idolatry. Please use your own understanding of Jewish practice as a guide for what is appropriate to incorporate from these books. I do not recommend using literal representations of deity or other imagery that could be considered “idols” on a Jewish altar, but the line between “totem” and idol is only one that you can determine for yourself.

Assignments:

  1. Complete the assigned reading and any additional research you wish to do
  2. Research and write a paper/blog post, create a video or audio post about what an altar is, how you would use it or them, and the role of the altar in Jewish tradition. Consider both the Bimah in the synagogue and the table (Shabbos, Pesach) as an altar in the home. Consider also the role of the Mizrach in many homes, and of course look to ancient tradition and the role of the altar in the mishkan and The Temple. Make sure you utlize both traditional texts (Torah, Talmud, etc) and modern scholarship from books and websites.
  3. Create a altar, or focal point for prayer and spiritual practice or an altar for physical offerings.

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EbJM 203: Understanding Physical Jewish Practices

Earth-Based Magickal Judaism (EbMJ) 203:  Understanding Physical
By now you’ve probably been doing a lot of thinking about Jewish practices.  It’s time to really embody Judaism, and do Judaism — not just think about Judaism.  As always, remember that with such an ancient religion there are many different practices you can choose to adopt, and there are many different ways to interpret the “why” of each practice.

Objectives:

  1. Explore the world of physical practices.
  2. Integrating the physical practice of Judaism into your life and practice.

Required Texts:

God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice
This book, by Jay Michaelson, is a very modern approach to Jewish practice.  I recommend reading this and the following book together.  That’s what I did.  Alternate books and get a fully rounded perspective on specific Jewish practices.  See what surprises you and try out different things.  Remember this section is about doing, not just thinking.  Move out of the intellect and into the body.

The Rituals & Practices of a Jewish Life: A Handbook for Personal Spiritual Renewal
This book on Jewish offers a fairly well rounded approach to Jewish practice.  If this were combined with Jay Michaelson’s book, it would be about the most perfect 360 view of what Jews do and why.  Because it’s missing the non-dualistic approach of Jay Michaelson, I recommend that you read this with God in Your Body, alternating chapters.

Book of Jewish Sacred Practices
I love this book.  I love the others too, but this is my go-to reference for so many things.  The first two books in this section are based in the basic practices of Judaism.  The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices helps find many other ways to incorporate Jewish practice into your life.  It’s also a way to see a whole new frame work for ritual that is uniquely Jewish.

Assignments:

  1. Complete the assigned reading and any additional research you wish to do
  2. Experiment over several months with different practices — adopting a practice for at least one week to really discover if it is one that will resonate with your practice.
  3. Utilize at least one of the rituals in the Book of Jewish Sacred Practices.

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EbJM 204:  Perek Shirah

This course of study will take you through a traditional source texts that support Earth-based Magickal Judaism as a legitimate path of Jewish practice.

Objectives:

  1. Deep dive on a key traditional text  that is an ancient foundation of Earth-based (and Magickal) Judaism.

Required Reading

Perek Shirah: Nature’s Song
Perek Shirah is an ancient text of unknown origin that endeavors us to learn Torah from all creation.  This particular edition includes the Hebrew text and English translation of the core text — and has the most comprehensive commentary that I’ve ever seen about this text and is highly accessible.

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols
I recommend pairing this book with the Perek Shirah to help you see the broader picture for each of the aspects of nature included in “Nature’s Song.”  Use the Encyclopedia to understand a broader picture of what each item means in Jewish culture and tradition.

Assignment:

  1. Explore Perek Shirah chapter by chapter and do your best to read the Hebrew and the English.  Cross reference the elements of nature in Perek Shirah with the entry in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols.
  2. Spend time out in nature bringing the concepts in the book to mind.
  3. Keep a journal of how learning Torah in this way changes how you experience Judaism and the world around you.

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EbJM 205:  Modern Scholarship of Magickal Judaism

This course of study will take you through the modern scholarship that explores ancient and modern Earth-based, Magickal, and Earth-based Magickal Judaism.  This section focuses heavily on the “magickal,” but even if that isn’t where your interests lie, I highly recommend exploring this.  Remember that the line between magick and religion is a modern one, and tackling this topic will give you a broader understanding of Jewish practice and theology.

Objectives:

  • Explore the ancient foundations of Jewish metaphyscial, mystical and magickal Judaism.

Required Reading:

Ancient Jewish Philosophy: A Study in Metaphysics and Ethics
While far less ancient in origin than Perek Shirah, this book by Rabbi Israel I. Efros helps illuminate the mindset (or philosophy) that is behind much of the texts we read.  In particular, this book provides a totally new way to understand the work of the Prophets. I stumbled across this book in a used book store and was happy that I did.

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism
Read an encyclopedia?  Yes.  Do it.  Best part of reading an encyclopedia is that you can just read a few entries at a time, and you learn a ton. By reading this before “Ancient Jewish Magic,” you will have a foundation in many of the principles that will be discussed in a more scholarly way in the latter book.  This book, despite being an encyclopedia, is written in very accessible and engaging language.

Ancient Jewish Magic: A History
This book is finally affordable to most people!  If you read “Jewish Magic and Superstition” in the 100 series, now it’s time to study the really ancient world of Jewish practices.  In ancient times the separation between magick and religion were minimal.  Truthfully, that’s a distinction made by modern scholars who are uncomfortable with the idea of “magick.”   This is, most definitely, a scholarly text.  Get ready to put your thinking cap on.  I found this book incredibly fascinating, but not the easiest read.

Assignment:

  1. Read each book and take notes on what catches your attention.
  2. Write, create, collage your feelings and what you learn.

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2 Replies to “Earth-based Judaism 200 Series”

  1. Woo hoo a 200 series! Thank you so very much. I've learned a lot from 100. Your post on altars is intriguing about idols vs. totems. Just my 2 cent but that would be an excellend blog post to explain a little more in detail. I've often struggled with this concerning Am Israel's history with idols usage.
    L'Shalom
    Asher

    1. I'm thinking a lot about altars from a Jewish perspective and where the lines are and why. I'm sure it will inspire a full post in the future, and I'd love to hear more from you and others about this topic!

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