Entering the Moon of Elul (August-September)

Time of
late-summer in the earth,

Beutulah, the virgin, in the sky,
Selichot in the soul.
Time when you are, were or will enter the decade of your sixties.

Time in the seasons, time in life,
of transitions.
Where life again subtly shifts.


The sun yet holds sway, not ready to yield her reign
to the approach of fall.

It's the last round of summer.
Where signs of change appear.

The leaves of the shrubs
are now tinged with red.

The signs of the night-sky move
from the power of the lion,
to the fierceness of a virgin maid.

It is now we enter the eighth circle of life.

Just as the season heats up
before it yields to the next, so too with this cycle,
the last in this time of fire.

Cycle of the Earth, Late-Summer

Come, I will teach you my lessons.



The fruits dip down,
heavy with weight,
growing ever more laden
with juice.

Every now and then,
like a brief whisper,
you can feel the air

A touch of cool
whisking by
for a moment.

You note
the sun's going down earlier now.  

Back -to-school sales begin.
Summer's tempo's changing.

Do you remember when school began how summer would heat up tauntingly?

rsbluecloudHow you'd sit in the classroom,

gaze wandering
out the window,

staring dreamily
at the clouds beckoning,

to be outside again?


Do you remember those last summer weekends racing out to the pool
to sneak in a few final hours of swimming and lying in the sun?

Go out to the countryside. Buy fresh ears of white corn straight from the fields.
Boil them up and lace them with butter and salt. Summertime in a bite.

Take a bowl and go out to the raspberry bushes, picking off the Japanese beetles. Gorgeous pests.
Pass the prune-plum trees on your morning walk and gather fallen fruit the birds and beetles haven't yet claimed.
There's nothing like prune-plums fresh from the tree.

Stop at the trucks parked at the side of the road filled with produce from the country.
Thank your neighbors there at your door with offerings in their hands from their overflowing gardens.
Fresh tomatoes in their glory. Fistfuls of zucchini.
Begin the ritual of pesto-making, kisses from the garden held in ice-cube trays.

Watch the spiders wildly weaving their webs, shimmering orbs decked with dew.
Greeting you with daily masterpieces each morning.

Look into the garden beds as you pass by.
Savor the Dalia's resplendent colors. Jewel-like they tug on your heart.

Watch the change in light.
Feel the invitation,
to shift,
dangling in the air.

In the Land of Israel
the intense summer heat gives way now to gentler warmth.

Anticipation builds. A quickening of soul.
Which resounds in the plants and trees, grasses, creatures and people.

All is beginning to turn in one harmonious movement.

In the Skies, Betulah,Virgin, An Unmarried Woman

"I arrive bearing gifts for you.
Walking the earth with confidence, I love the feeling of life pulsing through me.
Energy flooding me, passion lighting me.

Virgin to love-making, my heat's yet contained,
lending power to my step, freshness to my vision.
I'm strong and hale, and my dreams and visions swirl within me, a rushing pristine stream.

Eyes sparkling, body taunt from running the woods, I eagerly await the future.
Ready to meet what it brings.

Resilient, centered, intense, I see the world clearly, and it is mine.
So I step forward this moon as your guide.

Plunging to the lead, I work with determination and concentration until the task's complete.
Attending to detail, ever practical, I love a job well-done.
I am known, as a mistress of creating order from wildness.

Guard now from being blind to your own edges,  while being vividly aware of the shortcomings of others.
Be careful when worn, from becoming sharp, critical, and judgmental.

Rouse your daring and boldness.
For it's time to venture bravely into powerful realms.
Remember and nourish now that part of self that craves and delights in life.

Attend to the details. Sweep your house into order.
It's time to prepare for the next phase of your life."

Cycle of the Soul, Selichot
Time of Repairing

Now is the time to reflect on your life. To take stock.
What came into being and what did not? where did you become lost?
and what needs mending.

A longing wells, to cleanse out the worn,
flush away that which detracts from life.

Alon 3months

A longing rises,
to change course,
to purify.

It's time.

To make amends.
To seek forgiveness.
To ask for pardon.

To clear and
heal all accounts.

And at midnight,
when the doors between worlds lie slightly ajar,
you rise in the darkness,
prayer on your lips,
desiring to turn.

To return to your true course in life.

Cycle of Life, the Eighth Cycle of Life, Ages 60-69

Escort and teacher, Leah
Task, Eldering.

Born in Haran, my father, Lavan, my younger sister, Rachel,
I was the eldest, with all the challenges that entails.
I was the one with weak eyes, my sister was the beauty.

You first hear of me when I was substituted for my sister in her marriage bed.
Imagine how that was for me.
To be with a man my very first time, him thinking I was my sister, making love to her.

A wrenching feeling on what should have been a night of deep joy.
And that sinking knowledge, of how it would be in the morning,
when he would know whom he had known in the murky darkness.
He waited out our marriage week until he could marry my sister.

I bore him sons, one after the other, four luscious jewels,
ever hoping, that then I would be loved.

The vying with my sister, intensified.
I sunk to bartering with her for a night with my husband,
using mandrake roots she coveted that my son had uncovered in the field.

Three more boys did I bear, and then, my daughter, Dinah.
Swept up in the doings of each day in our intricately painful web of family,
the drama continued to unfold.

Fleeing our father's home, readying to meet Esau, I and my children were told
to travel before Rachel and her child, the most precious traveling last,
the most protected one.

Then the days became increasingly shadowed, hard as it may be to imagine.
Worse things became.

My daughter, Dinah. my only daughter, my baby, raped.
My beautiful, difficult, sister, Rachel, dying in childbirth.

I made further descent to the gray and there I walked.

Now, in this cycle, I emerge, reflecting on it all.
In this season of heat and cleansing, I again take stock of my life.
For this time holds another window, to learn from that which was lived.

Do you remember this eighth circle of life?
Do you remember spinning like the spiders in this season your life learnings?
Seeing the weave, watching the patterns emerge, gleaning the lessons?

Do you remember viewing your life more keenly than before as you surveyed
the lay of your life's lands?

New spheres arrive for some.
Watching your children approach parenthood,
holding your first grandchild, becoming a grandmother.
For some it's embarking on new ventures, engaging in new experiences,
taking new risks, calling up parts of self which now have room in which to emerge.

We vividly now feel the cycle of life and our place in it.

Increasingly we feel in our bones how fast life is passing.
We feel our age in new ways.

Regrets rise of not having savored enough the previous eras of our lives.
And a longing grows, to truly be in each remaining phase, each day, moment,
to deeply relish what remains of our existence.

We may have one or more of our parents yet in life.
Each time the phone rings, we hold our breath, waiting for emergencies,
knowing that soon our lives will change, the tide of life will move,

We know one day regardless of age, we'll stand as orphan.
The world will feel more stark, a part of selves stripped away,
standing at the edge of the universe more keenly.
We are next in line.

This knowing sweeps through us periodically with breathtaking power.
Descending, sweeping through us and our world.

All this as our eyesight changes, fingers, spine, stiffen,
as we feel more vividly the toll of work.
Reminders, like the turning leaves, 
that our bodies are joining the dance of passing time.

Do you remember feeling your life was shifting?

Knowing we stand now in a window of time
that will never come back.

If fortune allows and we've relatively good health, we feel the call to follow
that which we didn't have the opportunity thus far in life to fulfill, do, or experience.

Retirement enters our lives, and fantasies and fears rise of this time.

When to make this leap?
How will we shape this next part of life? What will we miss from our working lives?
What will we joyfully discard, now able to run more freely?
What are our life realities?
How will retirement affect our relationships, our routines?
Where shall we live?
How do we wish to re-create ourselves? redesign our lives?
How do we wish to live this precious interlude?

You watch those ahead of you to see how they've fared.
Taking internal notes from their joys, disappointments, ways they've approached this time.
You watch their fulfillments, knowing each differs from you and your circumstances.
That you need create your own route.

Images and ideas turn,
as you picture a life holding more balance, wellness, aliveness, promise.

L'Tziknah, Spiritual Task

The task of this decade?
L'Tziknah" , "eldering."

Coming into your skin as a person who's aging.
Owning what it is you've gleaned through the living of life, through years, experiences.

Leah's Song, Ode to this Cycle

How many lives I've lived.

Although there are things I cannot see well,
there are other things which I see most keenly.

Let me tell you what I have learned.

I suffered for so much of life, longing to be seen.
I , whose eyes were weak,
yet see I could, well enough to know
that my sister was the 'pretty one,' 'the beautiful one,' 'the desired one.'
I was the elder, the 'in-the-way-one,' 'the un-chosen one,' 'the unwanted one.'

I tried for years to show my worth.
Even God had compassion upon me.
Enabling me to bear beautiful boys,
one after the other,
a tree of golden fruits,
and one beautiful girl.

I thought then I would be loved.

How I vied for Jacob's eyes.
Never good enough.
Rachel was always the beloved.

And then life shifted.
Violence came, death.
My beautiful daughter, my powerful daughter,
Dinah, raped.
And the return violence. The ugliness of her brothers slaughter.
And not soon after, my sister while giving birth, lay dying,
slipping from the world in pain.

My life then changed.
Something within me shifted, profoundly.
Two women with whom I was bound, leaving in different ways.

Part of me died as well.
And something within me said, 'No longer!'
"No longer."

That day I grew into my skin, into my soul, in a new way.

I realized the ways demarcated for women to live,
no woman could come out alive.
And I decided no longer to follow those.
No more.
A power welled up within me,
a force.

I no longer strive for Jacob's attention or love.
I'm desirous now for inner peace and well-being. 

I walk my ground differently.

I speak what I see,
and I see with an inside part of myself.

I no longer grovel to anyone.
A part of myself has emerged that had been waiting for me.

I am bold.
I take the room I need,
and I take the time I need.

I live, finally, within my skin, just as I am.
In my own unique beauty. With my own unique strength.

Each day I live. E
ach day I give thanks to be where I am now in my life.
Each day I give thanks for where I have arrived.

I am aglow with understanding
am lush with wisdom.

This is my gift to you, my daughters of soul.
From this place I offer tutelage.

Always remember your beauty.
Let no one diminish or take this knowledge away from you, including yourself.

Walk with head high, heart wide, eyes clear, voice strong,
with kindness and joy and laughter on your tongue.

Always, always act as guardian and protectress of your spirit.
Tender of your flame.

Long may you shine my dears.
The world needs you.

And I will be there by your side to aid you
should your spirit flicker and you need recall these lessons.

I will be here for you.


Remember the internal power of this woman and her commitment to life.

May your soul join in the spiral dance of this season,
joining with the turnings of all things.

May you be fortified by the strong-willed virgin in the skies.

May you move into the invitation of time to reflect and purify.
May your spirit cleanse, shed that which weighs her down.
May you then better discern your right path.

May you claim the power of your spirit,
shine in the radiance of your being.
Live joyfully in your skin. 
Create the life that has long called you. Right now.

Reclaim that your soul now needs for your life and well-being.

For Further Reflection, Journaling

1) Late-Summer, in the Earth

Which images evoke memories of your own?

Ending nearing                              Last movement of summer                   Shrubs turning red
Light changing                              Air cooling                                            Fresh corn
Tomatoes, prune-plums                Pesto making                                    Back to school sales
Days passing quickly                    Spiders spinning orb webs                  
Dew in the shimmering on the grass

2) Betulah, the Virgin, in the Skies

What images resonate for you?

Young                                           Powerful                                      Voluptuous
Amazon                                        Innocent                                       Laughter
Strong                                           Unknown by men                        Strong
Fierce                                            Independent                               Passionate
Creative energy channeled

3) Selichot, in the Soul

What symbols resonate for you this year of your life?

Giving Forgiveness                           Review                               Inner Truth-teller
Closing a year of life                         Making Amends                 Self Examination
Asking for forgiveness                     Saying, "I'm sorry"              Righting relationships
Engaging in Change

What relations need mending? Need setting back on track?
Who do you need to approach to ask for forgiveness for deeds you did that caused them hurt or harm?

4) Take out a photograph of a woman in this phase of life, ages 60-69
Yourself, your mother, your grandmother, your daughter, your aunt, a woman whom you know or
a photograph from elsewhere of a woman who appears to be in this stage of life

Write down words that describe a woman in this time 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.

Your Personal History Page: Ages 60-69

Your Age:  Date: Ages of Parents-children: Significant events in the world,in life that effected you:

Thematics, patterns I notice in this time of life:

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

6) Challenges of 60-69 years of age

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

Health challenges                             Changing energies                      Changing Desires
Friends retiring                                 Facing retirement oneself           Economic stresses
Friends moving                                Change of locale                        Friends ill
Death of a parent                             Navigating with one's child(ren)  Surgery-re-hab-physical limitations 
Needs of parent-fear of crisis             Death of your last parent

7) Gifts of 60-69 years of age

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

Ripe in my field                                  Creative work                           Coming into my own
Feeling my own power                       Taking the next step                   Freedom
Making changes-choices                    Travel                                        Grandchildren
Seeing children thrive                         No need for pretense                 Being myself
Following my own interests, rhythms, pace                                          Time for art

8) Mending

Relations with your parent(s) as they age, need care
Mending your relationship with your spirit-self
Balancing time with family and self

What speaks to you?

9) Qualities to Reclaim

What qualities of this age do you need to reclaim in an updated way for additional aliveness
in your life now?
What qualities do you need to remember as you live your life now?

Things I need remember:

My courage                                     My desire for life               My humor           
My ability to carve out a life that gives me joy                            My creativity                       
Listening to and trusting my gut                                                  My wisdom
My belief in my capacities, faith

10) Tasks of this cycle of life

The task named in Pirkei Avot for the decade of the Sixties
60: L'ziknah: For eldering

How have you grown into your own skin? your aging? Your struggles? Your 'growing edges'? where you'd like to be?

Photographic Credits

First photograph: portrait
Second and third photograph: Vicki Hollander
Fourth photograph: Leonid Rozenfeld