by: Yigal Deutscher on September 13th, 2012 | 7 Comments »
As the Jewish people gather together in anticipation to meet the rising of the 7th moon, Rosh Chodesh Tishrei, we will be welcoming the dawning of another year. Over generations, Jews, as a collective consciousness, have sanctified this moment as a time of creation, of change, of passage into newness. And with our prayers, with the cries of the shofar, with the dripping of honey, with the tasting of new fruits, with celebratory rituals, we will feed the first moments of this new year, feeding the journey of earth, so she can once again renew her cycle around the sun, and another year of creation can unfold in flowering beauty. With these communal offerings, we surrender to the never-ending always-changing fluidity of life and all that she brings.
Yet, as much as we look forward in anticipation, seeding our vision and hopes, the day which we honor as the birthing of a new year would not even recognize the name we have crowned her with, Rosh Hashana, the Head of the Year. She wears this layer most beautifully and regally, yet beneath this is her primal body & form, and it is here that we find her original name, Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembering. And truly, it is only because of this ‘remembering’ that the first light of the 7th moon of the year ever came to be known as Rosh Hashana.
On this day, where completion and beginning kiss one another in balanced harmony, we create a space, an open empty space to be filled by our own longing, our desire to remember. And no doubt, passing through this portal of new time is enriched with intentions of reflection and introspection, considerations of our actions from the previous year, remembering the cycle that has just completed itself. But the invitation to remember reaches towards much deeper depths than this.
What are we remembering? This day happens to be the anniversary of when the first humans entered the family of life, born from the moist, fertile soils of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). Hebrew mythology tells us that this specific time will mark the 6th day of creation, the moment that Adam & Chava, our greatest elders and original ancestors, breathed their first breaths. Rosh Hashana is our human birthday.
And to drink from the wellspring of the memories of our birth, the invitation open to us is to pray for these memories, to descend into the depths of our own being, into the oceans of our own amnesia, to open our mouths and allow the waters of our subconscious to wash over us and through us. From this place, we will hear the shofar beckon us further to this original place, our first home. We will hear that primal ancient wild call of the ram’s horn; the vibration of sound entering into our body, through our membranes, into our blood & cells, filling us.
And we remember. Re-Member. To bring all separate parts back together. To unify what has been in disharmony. To invoke & reawaken, to invite & harvest ancient memories, locked away in the depths of our minds & bodies. We recall what we may have forgotten but, thank god, have not lost.
From this place, from these depths, an image, a story emerges. As our Sages remind us, we already know all the secrets of life. All her mysteries and stories; they have been told to us before. In the wet womb of our mother, before we were born, we might recall a glimmer of memory. There we were, like a seed buried in the moist earth, curled up in the fluids of life, in the ocean of our own becoming. And above our little heads, hanging from the abyss, was a shining gemstone, illuminating the palace walls of our own formation. And in this glow of light, we were in sweet company, the angelic faces of familiar friends sitting with us, in tender kindness and patience, telling us stories of times before there was time, of God and the Goddess, of Elohim and his beloved Shechina (the divine, embodied feminine), and of all creation.
It was this way for 9 months, an initiation, a preparation into birth & life as human. It is those stories told to us which feed our bodies, the threads of our own potential and the nourishment of our own growth. And when that moment of birth is close, when the palace of our becoming begins to collapse upon itself, and the doors to creation open wide to beckon us forward, and when the light of this shining stone hanging so gently above us all this time begins to recede, our friends, our storytellers come close, whispering so sweetly their last words and kiss us on the lips, at which point we descend and depart and emerge from our mother, like a wild seed sprouting forth from the womb of the earth, into this life, into this air, into the arms of those who have been waiting.
Opening our eyes for the first time, the rush of air into our lungs, our limbs stretching into space, those stories we have been given, those sacred gems and treasures we have been holding in our tiny grip, have been left behind. We are born crying for what has already been forgotten. But deep below, this wisdom and all her memory remain, planted in the fabric of our own body, in the wetness of our blood, in the firmness of our bones, in the beating rhythm of our hearts.
We are born with amnesia, and the journey of life is to re-member, to breathe these stories back to life. To truly & fully awaken to the beauty that we already are. So where do we begin? On Yom HaZikaron, we recall our birth. And we ask some sacred questions. What are we? In this cosmic ecology of creation, in this family of all beings, really, what is our story?
As Hebrew mythology tells us, we are born from the generosity of all Creation. After six sowings of light, filling the tapestry of life with all forms of beings, and on the day which would become the first ever Yom HaZikaron, Spirit called to all beings, and invited forth a collective creation. Let Us make human, together. Let us make a being that is a reflection of all our diversity, of all our beauty, of all our wisdom. So Elohim and his Beloved called to the blowing winds, to the elements of life, humbly asking that each might gift a part of their own form, so that something new may be born. And these gifts came from all directions of creation, in overflowing generosity, carried by the wings of the winds, the waves of the oceans, the roots of the soils, the branches of the trees, on the backs and paws of animals, on the feathers of the birds, on the pollen of the flowers, on the rays of the burning sun, on the light of the reflective moon.
And with the deep desire and passion to give of their love, Elohim and his Beloved, kneeling in the moist, fertile earth, kneaded all these gifts of creation together with the red soils of Eden, forming a form into which they breathed their own souls and spirit. They courted these bodies to jump up and live, like a plant emerging from the skin of its original seed. And this is how we came to be.
To fully celebrate our birthday, to fully enter this new year in a humble, sacred way, with ‘right’ vision & intention, the invitation is to first sink into our depths and remember our origins; to recall our own selves as a part of life, inseparable as a member of Gaia’s community, sharing space with our brothers and sisters, the birds, trees, animals, clouds, flowing waters, rich soils, burning magma, shooting stars, billions of bacteria. And to remember the beauty of generosity from which we were first formed. As humans, can we return, re-member, acknowledge this web of life we are a part of & begin dancing this truth with all of creation? Not as savior. Not as creator. Not as destroyer. Just as humble, beautiful beings in this family of life. Can we transform our day of remembering into a celebratory new year for all beings we share this life with?
Just as the sound of the shofar travels through the spirals of the ram’s horn, so too, we travel through the spirals of time, remembering our own cycling. At one time, we have also lived tall & patient as trees. At one time, we have also lived wild as animals. At one time, we were flowing like water & floating like clouds, flying like birds. These moments are still in us, in our body memories. Because now, even as we wear the suits of the human, we are still all things at once, inseparable from the whole. And soon enough, we will re enter the great cycling, and once again become the tree root, the shimmering leaf, the curling wave, the grain of soil. But for now, we are alive as human and the potential is awaiting us; the choice is upon us to claim our full beautiful humanity.
On birthdays, there is the tradition of receiving gifts, and perhaps the most valuable and precious gifts we receive are these deep memories, along with the breath of passage into another year of life. Yet there is also a strong tradition of gift-giving, a thanksgiving offering to those who birthed us, in recognition to family and friends for all that we have received over the year. As human, on our birthday, what is our gift to creation? What can we offer in return? What is our role and how can we fully enter it?
Here is one offering. The gift we received from Elohim & his Beloved was breath, and with that breath came to us their ability of speech, their power and clarity of voice. “Baruch She’amar Ve’hayah Ha’olam. Blessed is the One that spoke creation into being.” In the original beginning, there was empty space. And then there was voice. And from voice, creation emerged. We humans are also called Medaber, the Speaking Ones. With the precious gift we were given, we too, speak creation into being. We speak the story of our lives, through the threads of our own speech, weaving the tapestry of our days, the narrative of our own being. That magical invocation, “Abra Kadabra,” comes from original Aramaic words, “Avra K’davra: It will be created as it is spoken.”
As an offering to life, let us speak beautifully, humbly, with patience, with joy, with sweetness. Let us seed life with the voice of prayer, the voice of poetry, the voice of song, the voice of love and devotion. We can speak in all possible diversity, in all language, with all sound. We can speak with the calls of animals, with the singing stars above us, with the flowing waters, with the whispering trees. We can speak in silence, with our eyes, with our bodies. We can paint the world with these expressions.
And with this gift, let us tell beautiful stories. Life is one big story, which began with the first light of creation. And the telling of this story, all stories, is the food of Spirit. The telling of stories keeps creation flowing and flowering forth, keeps new chapters being born as we live our own lives. By remembering and telling, we feed this story and allow it to grow. The landscapes of life surrounding us are the pages of the cosmic story. Every mountain, every body of water, every grove of trees, every rock has a story going back until the birth of time. Like a patchwork quilt, these stories connect, one to the other, until today. And we are the storytellers. A story may be recorded on the page and on the land, but it lives through our words. It breathes as it is retold. Its blood flows, it stretches, it becomes alive again. In retelling this story, we walk its paths, we enter into its characters, and we breathe them back to life, and carry their lessons into tomorrow.
These stories are part of our communities. They keep our memories alive, ones we have lived and ones we have only dreamt. This is the language of the village heart, the harmony of sound as individuals come together to share their dreams, memories; the harmony of sound as stories are told for healing, for entertainment, for romantic courting, for teaching children, for honoring ancestors. It is what has brought us together as Jews for generations upon generations around the water well, in the courtyard, in the red tent, in ritual and ceremony, in the marketplace, in the fields, around the fires of the hearth.
To forget the story of life, of our origins, is to be in exile. Forgetfulness is death, a disconnect from the land, from the village heart, from the wisdom of ancestors. To forget is to become an orphan, to live in amnesia. So let us speak our memories to one another; let us tell our stories of life. And the more we tell, the more we remember. In our remembering, we feed the continual unfolding of this story, which began with the first light of creation. In our remembering, we suckle like babies on the swollen nipples of these tales, drinking the flowing milk of her memories, learning from her lessons, her wisdom. In our remembering, we breathe on the ember of our own indigenous soul, we feed the spark of our original being, the seed of the Big Story from which we were all born. In our remembering, we can become the most beautiful human beings possible.
There is a beautiful journey ahead of us, laid down by our ancestors, keeping us rooted in this process. Knowing that there would be a time when the voice of machines, and money, and industrial power, and global trade, and homogenization of culture would overwhelm the stories of the village and of the land, our ancestors created these rituals to keep us alive, to keep the stories alive. And we drink from the well of their wisdom at the start of each new year.
From the moment of Rosh Hashana, and for the next 10 days until Yom Kippur, Great Spirit is asking us to enter into sacred Teshuva, the process of Return. We are not asked to go anywhere, to seek out anything, to explore for the hidden answers. All we need to do is return to these ancient memories and be awakened to what we already know, but may have forgotten. The language of our prayers throughout the year reminds us that there is something worth remembering. “Gan Eden K’kedem. Like it was in the Garden of Eden.” Ah, yes, how good it was in the Garden of Paradise. But do not be misled. All this remembering, it is not to go backward. There is no way to crawl back into the womb. The only way of true Teshuva, of eventual Return, is by going forward. We remember so we can evolve.”Chadesh Yameynu K’kedem. Make our days new, like the original days.” To evolve, to journey through the spiral of time, we must always have our anchor, our root firmly planted in the pool of sacred memories. And it is from this place that we may follow the momentum into the mystery of our own becoming.
In Israel, in the land of our indigenous memories, Rosh Hashana marks the end of the dry season. The heat has broken, and the clouds are returning to the expanse of the sky. Soon, the rains will return and moisten the soils. And this will mark the start of the growing season, of planting seeds. Seeds are capsules of memory. In their body, they hold the memory of the life that gave birth to them, the DNA of what they have already been in previous lives. And yet they hold the potential to live again, to sprout forth into mystery and become something completely new. They are the harmony of old & new.
We are seeds. And we must plant ourselves. If we do not, the seeds of our own being will shrivel up in dryness and die. The only way for us to fully live is to be planted, to drink from the dark, moist soils of the womb, of deep memory, to send forth roots into this place, and stretch anew, towards the sun, as a completely new being. And then whatever will come, will come. Our hope is that we may grow into healthy abundant plants, full of flower and fruit, bursting forth into millions of new seeds. But what is necessary first is to plant ourselves.
On Rosh Hashana, we seed our breath back into the winds, into the heavens, through the spiral of the shofar. And in our hands, in our hearts, we hold ourselves as seeds, remembering our lives as seeds, preparing to plant ourselves once again, into another year of life. For 10 days, we hold ourselves in prayer, in Teshuva. On Sukkot, we pray for the rains, for the moistening of the soils. We open the scroll of the torah and roll it from its far end all the way back to Bereishit, the beginning. We come together as a village to read again the stories of our memories, of our ancestors, of the land. And as the rains begin to fall, we walk out into the new year, our seed bodies swollen and ripe, ready to germinate, ready to sprout forth and live again.
Yigal Deutscher is the founder of 7Seeds, an educational project envisioning a renewal of the Shmita tradition, grounded in Hebrew mythology and Permaculture wisdom. For more info, visit 7seedsproject.org.