The Hebrew Letter "Nun"
bound to the month of Cheshvan,

eighth month of the Jewish year, Mid-Fall.

Time of quiet,
after the bevy of
Holy days,
Cheshvan brings a different type
of restoration.

She arrives
when the leaves flaunt their rich colors in their last dance,
when the rains come,
when bulbs are planted underground to later herald spring's arrival.

A time of endings and beginnings,
with songs of fulfillment,
the eighth month.

pointing to the spiritual, the plane beyond the physical.
It was in this moon that the Temple
was completed.

Cheshvan from Assyrian, means "eighth month."

We are called this moon to enter
the house of mitah, death.

"The way of this world is like the blade of a knife. *
On one side, the netherworld, on the other side, the netherworld,
the walk of life, lying in between."

Peering over the edges, intensifies our grip upon life,
just as the tree leaves now become most brilliant.

We see the span of life from nursery to the death-bed,
as the leaves fall, as the earth nears her time of stillness.

The earth shows us the way.

With elegance, power, grace, and spirit,
she releases that which she no longer needs.
About to enter a time of mystery,
trusting, that there are promises yet to unfold,
the cycle ever moving.

So we too now venture beyond the realms we see and know,
culling from this travel,
new depths.

* I Kings 6:37 in the eighth month

*Mitah is the sense of this month, Sefer Yetzirah
*See Martin Buber's Tales of the Hasidim, Later Masters" pg. 92 adapted
*Exploring death at this time of year appears also in other cultures, in the Day of the Dead in Mexico, and All Saints Day in Europe.

Achrav-the Scorpion,
queen of death,
holds poisons within her,
there when needed for defense,
for safety as she explores.

Able to live both above and below the earth's surface,
she digs down,
exploring realms
invisible to the eye.

Linked in ancient Egypt to 'sorcerer-healers,'*
the scorpion served as escort to souls of the dead.*
Traveling the edges,
she walks the thin lines between worlds, through life and death and mysteries,
culling from those vantage points,
new vistas.

*Sefer Yetzirah, linked with this moon
*See A Dictionary of Symbols; A Women's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects

The Nun, her shapes.
Just as the scorpion lives in two realms,
so too the Hebrew letter of this moon.

At the beginning and in the midst of words,
she, the bent one, embodies humility.

Yet at a word's end she takes on new form,
standing tall, feet
below the lines, dipping into mystery,
regal and majestic, she turns into a column
of flame.

Two forms, two paths,
the first, in the midst of life,
the second, achieved at its end.

As the trees stand in full glory, ripened, and shedding,
as storms sweep the land,
as the light recedes, the nun says,

"Bend your head and come under my roof
Warm yourself in my shelter.

When lost remember your ultimate destination.
Light the candle 
planted within you. And move. Forward to claim your destiny."

Dakin, the intestines, part of the body of this moon.
Now is the time to take in needed nutrition,
to eliminate the extraneous.

Known in Chinese medicine as being able to critically discern,
as being endowed with 'knowing,'
the dakin teach us
'that with every ending comes a new beginning.'

They instruct us now to gain 
health and 
gifts of this moon.

To distinguish between that which gives life and that which harms,
that we might better channel our energy, steer our soul.

That we might shine.

*Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine and Nursing
*Chinese Medicine: Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity

Manasseh, tribe of this moon,
Joseph's first-born son, aided his father Joseph forget his hardships,
his parental home.
He held such healing,
to this very day, we bless our sons with his name,
as we enter Shabbat.

He joined his brother Ephraim on the West side of the Mishcan,
under the wings of the Shechina.*
So powerful was their strength that they could hold the

"storehouses of snow and hail, cold and heat"
keeping these from harming their people.

Now Manasseh's wild ox, hard-working creature and strong,
ploughs open furloughs so that seeds might be planted.

He stands guard and protects us now with his powerful horns.
His tranquility soothing us
as we venture into the shadows of this moon.

* Genesis 48: 1-20: Joseph and son's at Jacob's deathbed, where Jacob adopts Ephraim and Manasseh as his own sons.30:9
*Manasseh's lineage and his father's interpretation of his name: Genesis 41:50-52.
Midrash Rabbah Numbers 2:10: The place of the West round the Mishcan and the brothers who stood there.
*Link with the West and the Shechina: Zevachim 118b

*Maimonides comments about the strength of these three tribes ability to withstand the weather.

* A Dictionary of Symbols.

B'Reach, smell,
revives us now when our spirits grow faint from the tasks of this moon.

Lavender, roses,
fresh bread baking,

scents from the earth,

all help us find our ground.

Just as the spices at havdallah
lift despondency from our soul, as we shift from the realm of the sacred to the mundane,
so too in this moon,
as we cross the boundaries
from life to death and back again
to life.

Fifty, numerical value of the nun,
speaks of travel and it's yield.

Forty-nine days
each spring of our lives,
span from our slavery in Egypt, to purifying, cleansing, and healing,
carrying us on the fiftieth,
to spiritual wedding,
receiving Torah, token of love.

Forty-nine years
our people labored in their fields,
sowing, reaping, gaining fortune and losing it,
vying with the forces and fortunes of life,
weathering rains and droughts.
Then, in the fiftieth year
the slaves were freed,
the land restored to it's original owners,
and all returned to their ancestral homes.

Forty-nine years of life,
moving out into the world, laboring to bring dreams into being,
experiencing the falls and rises of life,
good times and painful ones, health and illness, sorrows and joys,
then in the fiftieth year,
one passes, according to our mystics,
through the fifty gates
of Wisdom.

The nun holds all this in her forms.

Bent, she travels through the wilds,
through all the winds of life, down all the twisting roads,*

and at the end, she stands erect,
freed, at home at last,
her sacks filled with grain, reaped from the fields of life,*

*Image we chant at the beginning of Birchat HaMazon on Shabbat, from Psalm 126: 5-6
*You shall sanctify the fiftieth year: Leviticus 25:10
*The fifty gates of Wisdom: Rosh HaShannah 21b
*Who is Wise? One who knows their place: Avot 6:6

Gavriel, angel of this moon
too joins us now,
angel of power.

He whom we call upon before sleep each night,
sleep, one sixtieth of death, *
he, one of our four nightly escorts,
stands on our left, side of our heart.
Our protector, our shield.

In this moon he escorts as well each day.
That we might travel safely.

* Sefer Yetzirah translated by Aryeh Kaplan
*Drashed Gavar: Warrior, mighty one


We forget sometimes how much life takes from us.
How much constant movement drains our soul.

Cheshvan brings us back,
carries us
to the depths and to the heights,
in this womb-time of respite.

At our sides comes the gentle ox,
fiery angel, spices and perfumes,
wise guidance from within.
That our vision may be restored,
along with restoration of body and soul.

So that at this moon's end we might rise
with greater vigor, wider sight.

Ready once more to take up our staff,
and walk with wisdom and strength into
the deepening night.

Words with nun, musings

Naviah: Prophetess                           Nevel: Harp                           Neder: Vow               Nigun: Song without words             
Nahar: River                          Naal: Sandal
Nahalah: Inheritance, legacy           Nahash: Snake, Serpent         Nesher: Eagle
Nahash: Divination, magic              Nechoshet:  Brass, copper      Nes: Banner
Nes: Miracle, wonder, marvel          N'siah: Journey, voyage         Nashim: Women 
Ner: Candle, light                            Naarah: Young woman, maiden
Nefesh: Soul, spirit                          Nativ: Personal path

Now is the time for your legacy to sweep through your spirit, for magic to flow,
for miracles to be as much a part of you as is your breath.

Now is the time to allow yourself to embark on your life journey, candle in hand, following your nativ,
soul soaring like an eagle.

Let the prophetess speak through you. Cross your rivers.
Your sandals shall not become worn. The brass serpent will guide and heal you.

Sing nigunim each day while plucking your harp.
All the women in life, all the maidens who love the road, shall walk beside you.
It is time to fulfill your vow to yourself.

Naah: To be beautiful                  Nagid: To tell, relate, reveal      Nigash: To draw near
Nadad: To wander, roam             Nahag: To lead, direct               Nuach: To rest, repose
Nus: To flee, escape                     Natal: To place, put                   Nataa: To plant
Natar: To guard, watch               Nacah: To beat, strike               Natan: To give
Nisah: To try, examine, test         Nasach: To pour, offer libation
Nafal: To fall, fall down               Nafash: To rest, recuperate, be refreshed
Natzach: To overcome, conquer, triumph over
Nitzal: To escape death, be saved
Natzal: To blossom, sprout, bud   Natzar: To guard, protect, preserve
Nsaa: To carry, lift, bear

Come into your beauty.
Allow your inner places to blossom. Plant new seeds.
Preserve what is precious and guard against all that tries to take life away.

Draw near to that which augments life.  Rest for the long journey.
Express the gratitude that wells up for the bounty of life.

Stop fleeing from the pain.
Examine what you were told about life, for it's time now to tell your own truths.

Stop your wanderings, dutifully carrying your burdens.
Place them down upon the earth. Let their weight fall from your heart.
It's time for your own definitions of life to reign.

Needar: Glorious, Majestic, sublime       Neeman: Faithful, trustworthy, firm, sure
Nidah: Menstruating woman                  Norah: Awe-filled, fearful
Noah                                                       Nazir: Nazarite, filling vows
Nichum: Comfort, consolation               Nistar: Hidden, concealed
Netzach: Eternity, forever                      Naaim: Pleasant, pleasing, sweet
N'kevah: Feminine                                 Nisuim: Wedding, marriage

There are times in life where we, like Noah, are witnesses to great destruction, and face rebuilding a world.
And there are times when we, like the nazir, are tempted to turn away from life's pleasures.

It's hard to carve out a life in this world.
To uncover the deep feminine that lies in our ancestry, hidden away, ancient.
We need dig down deeply into the earth, opening the stopped up streams, allowing them to once more flow.
We do so for our own lives, and for the life of this world.
That hope of life might flow eternally.

We are called to marry ourselves to life.
To embrace faith and set about the daily task of uncovering the sparks.
We face the world with awe and know we need add our energies towards shaping the sublime.

Each flow of our blood reminds us that there are seeds of life in this world. 
And each day we need do our part to bring in the light.