Entering the Moon of Tevet (December-January)

Time of
early winter in the earth,
gedi, the kid, in the sky,
the final lights of Chanuka in the soul.

Time when you were, are, or may be entering the decade of your hundreds.
And time of being newly born.

Time in the earth, in the skies, in our lives,
of change.
Corridor to another way of being.

rsruth

Rains and snow, sleet and ice coat the world.
Yet each minute, the days grow longer.
Even if we can't see it, light is returning.

In the skies the playful goat reigns,
earthbound, yet leaping towards the heavens.
The trickster, adventurous companion.

Now we enter the twelfth circle of life.

Time of transformation, passage.
 
Time of leavings and returnings,
death, birth, and mysteries,
all intertwine.

  

Cycle of the Earth, Early-Winter

Come I will teach you my lessons.
Move into my center, place of safe harbor.

Feel in your bones the shortness of the days.

rsalondarknessThe velvet
darkness

comes and
wraps around you

like a robe,
soft, enveloping.

 

 

Watch the rains, how they fall.  One day fine sprays, other days, downpours.
Down they come, seemingly without end.

Run outside in the dry interludes that are scattered like golden coins.
Lift your face up to the blue sky and feel "Halleluyah!" shouting through your veins.
Go outside when the openings come. Don't wait.

Tuck into your old soft sweat-clothes. Let your inner being nest and sing.
Relish the times of quiet, let them restore your soul.
No place to go, no-one to see.
Just say hello to yourself. Ah.

Feel the movement of light each day in your body, in your spirit,
as you approach and pass through the solstice.

Feel that exquisite moment when the tide of light turns.

Kathy Kislev

Gaze at the skies at sunset,
that startling deep blue
behind the black weave of the tree limbs.

See the delicacy
of the tree's fingers
pointing upwards.

How brave she is.
Standing outside bare
in the cold.

  

Remember how you loved to paint the sunset and bare tree limbs with watercolor washes and Indian Ink?

The evergreens now rule. 
Let their color uplift your heart.
Their deep hunter greens splash against the gray hillsides like blessings.

Generously they house the birds,
becoming lacy when decked with snow,
shimmering beauties.

Notice the vivid colors

berriesfrk

 

of the berries

in their gorgeous clusters
of reds,
purples,
whites, and
oranges. 

 

 

Let the satin mahogany bark of the cherry tree draw you near.
Her silkiness mesmerizes, invites your touch.

Wait for the first snow of the season.

rstreesinsnowLet those beautiful white crystals,

each unique,
each an entire world,
floating down
from the skies,
blanketing the universe,

thrill you.

The trees in their white garb
appear
as if decked
in white blossoms. 


Grab your boots, mittens, and scarf and walk in the first hush of the snowfall.
A world of quiet, of peace.
Catch the flakes on your tongue, let joy fill your being.

Sit by your window, cup of tea in your hands and watch the snow fall.
Feel all the muscles in your back unclench.
Lose yourself in the beauty.

Take a long Russian novel, warm comforter, and an apple,
let yourself drift to lands far away.

Sit by the piano and play classical music, let your fingers fly over the keys,
the music weave through your bones.

Be like the bears, turn inward.
Savor this.

Take hot baths. Cook warm soups.
Engage in the arts of home.
Luxuriate.
Relish the golden light of the candles against the deep darkness.

In the Land of Israel
the stone buildings saturate the icy rains.

Gather round the heaters for tea and companionship,
laughter and camaraderie.

Draw near the fire, dream inner worlds out.

rsalontreesinlight

Let the hidden worlds swirl around you.

Quiet, soak in the sweetness
of stillness and calm,

for from this place new life will spring.

In the Skies, Gedi, the Kid

"I who scale rocky domains with skill,
agilely climbing mountain-passes,
I come to you now as guide.

Use my nimbleness
as you walk through this new terrain in life.

Transformer of clover into milk and cheese,
I nourish life, giving sustenance.
It's time now for you to do the same.
To take the stuff of your life
and turn it into an offering.

Perched on the heights, my curved horns rise towards the Moon.
Lunar creatures, we draw wisdom down from the high places,
bringing healing to this world.

I prance, frolic,
remind you to keep moist your sense of joy in life.
This will serve you well.

Determined, powerful of will and persistent,
follow tasks through to their completion, through all the hardships and barriers.
Savvy, knowing how things work, create change,
bring new forms to life.

Watch for becoming overly pride-filled, rigid, and over-involved with your own needs
to the exclusion of those around you.

Guard against becoming cold and judgmental.

Use my feistiness, my desire that all know well-being.
Keep your humor honed, your sense of adventure ready and at hand,
your vision both wide and deep.

Hold the large picture in sight.
Tuck in your soul and fly to the stars."

In the Soul, Chanuka,
radiating

This moon is different.
It is the only holy day to straddle two moons.

On it's second night all the flames are lit

SANY1251as if Spirit's saying,
"Move into your full light.
It is time.

Now."

So your soul
regally glides
into
the darkness,

alight.

 


The night deepens,
a vast ocean.

And as the moon fades away,
you know it is time,
for the passing of souls,
that point, where death and birth
overlap.

You draw in breath in anticipation,
moving with the cycles

into the darkness
into the light
into new life.

Cycle of Life, the Ninth Cycle, Ages 100 and upward
and birth to age 4

Escort and teacher, Sarah
Task, Passing through the door


Renown for my beauty, my gifts of prophecy exceeded Abraham's,
I, the first Matriarch,
yet there is no record of my origins or of my family.

Mentioned as Abram's wife, known as barren,
thus was I introduced.

We traveled with my father-in-law, Terach, out of Ur of the Chaldean's towards Canaan.
In Haran we stopped and there Terach died.

Then launching again to Canaan we moved with Abram's nephew Lot,
down to Egypt, where I first heard of my beauty from Abram due to his fear
that on this count his life would be forfeit.
So I joined his subterfuge to poise as his sister,
taken to Pharaoh's palace til the truth became revealed.

Back to the Negev. I learned well the art of the road.

Wealthy we had become, though with wealth came troubles as we separated from Lot
who went his own way until Abram once more came to his rescue.

Lack of a child haunted me.
Despairingly I seized upon another way to bring a child to Abram,
for Hagar, my handmaiden, to bear for me.
One idea creating a vast well of heartache.

After she gave birth a rift grew between us, poisonous in it's wake,
the snare of power.

And then our visitors arrived.
I remember that day vividly.
I was ninety years of age when I overheard that I was to bear a child.
Secretly, or so I thought, I laughed at this news.

And again we traveled, entering the kingdom of Avimelech, the king of Gerar.
Again my relationship with Abram was hidden.
And again came to similar ends.

Later Abram came into my tent.
And I conceived, bearing a son, Yitchak, the laughing one,
for laughter flowed all around, all kinds of it.

And so did heartache and struggle.

Life had to shift and shift it did as Hagar and Ishmael departed.
Tests there were, many tests and not just for Abraham and Isaac.

It's from this cycle of life I speak to you, from my vantage point of one hundred and twenty-seven years.
For those of you on route, come you can learn.
For those who are entering this doorway, listen well.
I will teach you of this last cycle of life.

We all enter our own ways.
Some of us weary of body, some with loss of memory,
some keen of wit and mind and hearty of humor.
This is the culminating round.

We now use
all we have learned.

The ways we cope show themselves more pronouncedly.
If we greet newness with irritability, then that is our companion.
If we shed that which we can not change, transform the difficult into afternoon tea,
and cackle with raucous jokes, then comrades we attract.

The tides of life and death resound more intensely in our souls.
Our end nears.
We feel its closeness, know it's coming.
Know it's time to settle our accounts, attending any pieces that call for righting.

From each small blessing we draw gratitude.
Each day, the light, the seasons, are like gold.

Our freedoms are more circumscribed.

Depending on others, we allow them to give us care,
while trying to retain our grace.
Releasing our fears with each breath, we reach for inner peace and harmony,
wrestle to retain our dignity.
Know when to release pieces that catch and nag.

Again we practice the art of saying "thank you" with full heart,
do the skill of receiving with grace and deep inner gratitude.

We know we're modeling this route for those around us,
know they're watching us to see what they someday may experience.

Living in residences, nursing homes, in our own place, or in that of others,
each day calls for adjustments.
Each day calls for stamina, grit, courage, and the lifting of our spirits
to what is yet beautiful in this world,
towards the treasures of living.
We drink deeply from the cup of life.

Change is our constant companion
as friends and family members become ill, die, lives swiftly changing,
becoming different.
We love and cherish the kind souls who decorate our lives now even more fiercely.

We grow beautiful in new ways.
Our souls illuminate us, embellish us.
We become luminescent.

Now we say
thank you,
I'm sorry,
forgive me,
I forgive you,
goodbye,
striving to leave every interaction complete.

We find resting spots
for all the inner places of our lives, parts of our lives that need find resolution.

We use the wisdoms we've gleaned.
We keep a wide lens on life,
walk the high road, release what we can't change,
ever moving towards the light.

Our spirits soar like eagles,
rehearsing.

Ordering our worldly affairs, we clean up our messes,
choose our advocates, and express our needs and wishes.

We, the very old ones, clasp the hands of the very young,
the infants, the little ones,
understanding one another, looking like one another,
grasping the miracles.

Both of us, young and old, go into dream-time,
the cosmic dance.
The wheel of life moving.
Pangs of birth and pangs of death thrusting us forward to the next phase,
not knowing where it is we will land.

Departing one life we enter a new phase,
allowing mystery to surround us.

The cycles merge, mesh, and pass,
slowly opening into the air of new worlds.

K'Eilu Met V'Avar Min Ha'Olam- Spiritual Task

"K'Eilu Met V'Avar U'Vatel Min Ha'Olam", 100 years of age.
"As if one had died and passed away and ceased from the world."

I shall explicate this for you.

At this doorway we sink away from the world as it is
as we move
towards new understandings, visions,
new forms of awake-ness and awareness.

Like Abraham who at the age of one hundred died
not from life,
but from the world,
we shed the mundane,
step into the light of the spiritual world,
and Shine
from that place.

That is the invitation and
that is the task.

Sarah's Song, Ode to this Cycle

Listen my sisters,
let me tell you from my own lips how it truly is.

The men, they say, the age of ninety is "L'Shavach" of being dejected, bowed down, sinking.
The age of one hundred as if one died and passed from the world.
They say I died from a heart-attack when Satan told me Abraham had sacrificed my only son.

Let me tell you the truth of my last days.
Let me tell you of aging from women's ways of knowing.
Listen well, for my story of Tevet is of the mysteries.

When I was ninety my bloods reversed their courses.
I grew round with child. My breasts grew filled with milk.
I was lush and full.
Life coursed through my veins and I sang loudly and joyfully.
I giving birth, to the laughing one.

I rolled through the tunnel of life, came near the slender walls of death,
and came back again to life.
I passed through the thresholds between worlds and learned
of all the wonders and secrets of life and death and of passages.

My teaching to you as you pass through this Moon of Tevet is that
this is the gateway.
The gateway of your old age, of the departing time, and of the birthing time.

Use my life as a mirror.
You need not fold up, be bowed down nor sink away.
Oh no, no.
I will tell you the natural way of the body leaving the world.
The story of deathing, of the journey of the spirit.

All you have seen in your lifetime,
all your harvests and all your learnings
collect in your gleaning basket.


These are your treasures, the fruits from your fields of life.
And as your body turns translucent, becoming paler and paler,
as your skin becomes as thin as the covering of the moon,
all your life-journeys gather within your heart,
making your soul glow
as golden, as golden
as the full harvest moon.

Your body sheds its form as your soul glows more strongly,
readying for its travel home, for its flight back to the Garden.

You need not sink back dejected, no, not at all.
For the beauty of your soul and spirit finally, finally,
radiantly shine through your skin
as you ready for your voyage through the gates.
Indeed, you Shine woman,
you Shine.

When Isaac and Abraham left the camp, I knew God had created an opening for me.
I needed to make my final passage without them near.
I knew they would not let my soul fly from this world easily
and it was my time to move from this life into the next.
I was ready in body and spirit to make my passage.
The miracle was to be able to say good-by sweetly, to give them the love in me,
and to let them go
and do what they needed to do.
The Divine had teachings for them.

There is a time when we need bid those dear farewell
trusting they will walk well in the world, carrying on their tasks,
knowing it is our time to take wing into the unknown.

And thus a space was made for me. To go where I needed.
I called round my dear midwives to ready to birth me to my death
just as they had birthed my son's life.

They wove a sacred space for me in a cave.
Gathering round my bed, lighting candles, rubbing my feet with fragrant oil,
breathing with me, hanging amulets around the space for safety, holding my hand,
water on my lips on occasion.
Kissing my hand, feeling the warmth of gentle fingers,
they welcomed my escorting angels, bidding them surround me,
filling my space with a rose scented-gentle loving,
holding me, giving me room to transition and leave.

And slowly, slowly, when it was time for me to depart,
they chanted silently God's name, aiding me to move to Oneness, and
my soul flew dove-like, embraced by the Shechina,
peaceful, warm, sheltered, held in her wings,
all light and softness,
carried to Gan Eden, returning to the beautiful Garden
from whence I came.

And as I traveled,
I saw all the downy-new souls passing mine
about to enter the world I had just left
going by me like a dance,
coming, weaving in and out of the warm lights.

So my friends, each Tevet when the light is low
and days are short,
as this moon enters, all the lights of the Chanukiah aglow,
if you look closely, you'll see the hidden passageway each soul will take
on that day when our Chanukiah within is all alight,
when the moon is slim,
when in the soft stillness of shadows we will slip away
and new souls, like seeds, begin to emerge.

And so our souls are wistful at this season
because they know of this opening.

Each year as we pass by it our souls recognize it.
And each year with the solstice, just as the light returns,
we turn away from that opening
and rebirth our still pregnant lives
entering another round
in the circle of life,
grasping a new chance to birth what is dormant in us
out into the world.

And then we gently turn back
to our lives.

This is the gentle dance of soul-passage
of the moon of Tevet.

I send my love. I send my peace.
I send my blessing to you
as you travel
on your way.

Lessons

Remember this woman.
Remember her courage, her visions and her bravery.

May the softness of this season
tuck around your shoulders
and hold you gently
in its arms
while your soul
walks the stony terrain with the sureness of the kid
ready for its next adventure.

May your spirit shine in the night
while you are lovingly escorted while the moonlight illuminates the path
near the threshold
to new discoveries and new vistas,
new opportunities and new wonders,
to new life.

Claim that which your soul now needs.

So the circle of life comes round.
The Beginning is wrapped into the End
and the End is tucked into the Beginning.

Go, Clasp your life with joy, clarity and presence.
Walk your cycles.
Find inspiration in them,
meaning, and renewal.

And may all your ways be blessed.


For Further Reflection, Journaling

1) Early-Winter, in the Earth

Which images evoke memories of your own?

Frost                                               Cold                                             Indoors
Dark                                               Transitioning                                  Long underwear
Gray                                                Stark                                            Dormant
Hibernating                                      Gestating                                      Changing

2) Gedi, the Kid, in the Skies

What images resonate for you?

Wild                                               Playful                                      Free
Sure-footed                                    Generous                                  Giving freely
Healing                                           Prancing                                    Joy-filled
In the moment

3) Chanuka, In the Soul

What symbols resonate for you this year of your life?

All lights kindled                           All ablaze with light                Bravery
Beautiful, shining in the night          Spiritual pathway glowing-protected
Standing against the shadows: defiant, witness, inner strength
Standing for rights to be as you are

4) Take out a photograph of a woman in this phase of life, ages 100 as well as an infant and young girl, new-born to age 4
Yourself, your mother, your grandmother, your daughter, your aunt, a woman whom you know or
a photograph from elsewhere of a woman, and infant/young girl who appears to be in this stage of life
.

Write down words that describe them in those times of life.
The first words that come up for you.
Unedited. Write down the date and your age now

5) Your Personal Map of Life

Creating a personal map of where you've been in life marks your history.
You hold this in your body. In your soul. You carry it around with you every day.
This can show you more vividly where you've been in life.
Inviting you to consciously claim your route. And in time, carry it with grace.
It is yours. And precious.


For those not having traveled yet this cycle
Sit with a woman who's either in or who has passed through this cycle of life.
Ask her to reflect on the questions below: the significant events in the world, in her world, the challenges of this age, the gifts of this age, things she experienced and learned when in this decade of life. And to share this with you.

Your Personal History Page, Ages 100-New born/young girl

Age:  Date: Ages of Parents: Significant events in the world,in life that effected you:
100___________________________________________________________________
101___________________________________________________________________
102___________________________________________________________________
103_____________________________________________________________________
104____________________________________________________________________
105_____________________________________________________________________
New born_______________________________________________________________
1____________________________________________________________________
2_____________________________________________________________________
3____________________________________________________________________
4____________________________________________________________________
_

Thematics, patterns I notice in this time of life:

Awarenesses, thoughts I want to capture about this time of life:

6) Challenges of these years of age

What was hard about this time of life? Which words below resonate for you?

Gossamer                                       See-through                                Fragile
Small circle of connections              Dependent on care-giver             Sleep a lot
Loud voice-strong will                    Limits-frustrations                        Vulnerable
Limited abilities-not all functions working                                            Needing love

7) Gifts of 100 years of age-infancy/age 4

What were the gifts of this time of life for you? What words below touch you?

Beautiful just as is                             Wise                                        Pleasure
Heightened joys                                Wondrous                              Enjoying the simple things
Spirited                                             Not caring for conventions       Gratitude
Loving                                               Truth-speaking                        Strong willed
Quiet                                                 Detached                                 Observant

What were-are your hopes for this time of end-of-life? Your fantasies for yourself?

What were-are your fears-concerns for this time?

What feelings-awarenesses rise in reflecting on the above?

Thinking about others this age, what did you learn from them about approaching this age?

 

8) Tasks of this cycle of life

The task named in Pirkei Avot for age 100 and above is
100: K'Eilu Met V'Avar U'Vatel Min Ha'Olam: "As if one has died and passed away and ceased from the world"

Commentary notes that one passes away from all the concerns of mundane life and walks as did Abraham
through the doorway of altered consciousness.
Worldly matters no longer touching him.
He was so powerful spiritually that he was able to live fully connected to the spiritual in all that he did.

In what ways do you connect with this metaphor?
How is this true now for you?

Photographic Credits

First portrait: by Linda Gale Gellman
Second and sixth photographs: Alon Kvashny
Third photograph: Kathy Berendt
Fourth photograph: Frank Dobrushken
Fifth photograph: Southwest, Snowy trees in the Sandia mountains by Matthew Tancik
Snowy trees.
Seventh photograph: Vicki Hollander