Goat Moon, Tevet (December/January)
Medicine/Plant ally: Olive Tree
Stone: Beryl whose quality is digestion/ consumption
Incense: Aromatic Bark
Prayer: Seeing clearly – Esa Ani
Zodiac: Kid Goat, Capricorn
Letter: ע Ayyin – Eye
Body Part | Liver
Capricorn: A goat with the tail of a fish. Capricorn is a symbol of the monsters we create to face fear and create panic. It is made to protect us from monsters in our minds, lives, and immediate physical surrounding. The zodiac sign of the Goat is the one sign that climbs up the ladder of success one rung at a distinct, slow time. Every accomplishment that you make is yet another assurance that success is in your sights. Judaism understands human consciousness as a journey in motion. The phasing of the moon, therefore, symbolizes the human cyclic tendency to reach crescendos of enlightenment, only to plummet into the abyss of confusion, alienation, or frustration. We all experience highs and lows, moments of faith and moments of doubt, moments of hope and moments of disappointment, moments of motivation and moments of being stuck. The lesson of the moon is that phases in themselves are natural and are part of our life process, and that the same forces which phase us into the darkness will in turn phase us gradually into the light, and that when we wane and drop and feel low and uninspired, this too is part of our growing, of our very aliveness. It is the exhale before the inhale.
The letter associated with Tevet is Ayin ע which means Eye. It also means wellspring, as the eye is the wellspring from which our knowing trickles forth, our perspective, our awareness, and our grief. In the words of the Zohar: The eyes weave us through the universe of dream and the universe of reality. When we shut our eyes, we dream, when we open them we realize. When we shut our eyes, we veil the obvious in order to see into the mystery, and when we open our eyes we veil the mystery in order to see into the obvious. The letter ע itself has two wings, two extensions, representative of the two ways in which the eye sees, when it is shut and when it is open.
Winter Moon, Sh’vat (January 20 – February 18)
Stone: Onyx, charisma/illusion/delusion
Incense: Smoke-Raising Herb
Zodiac: Pitcher דלי d’lee
Letter: tzadee צ Balanced/Righteous
Tarot: 17, Star
Aquarius is the zodiac sign that rules your appeal to the public and large crowds, your appreciation of working with a group and being part of something much bigger than yourself. To stand with everyone, the point between your feet and the rest of your body needs to be strong; and it is ruled by the zodiac sign of the masses. The ancient ruler of Aquarius is the planet Saturn, whose stern and serious path slows us down with sore ankles when the planets are not in an agreeable alignment.
According to the Hebrew calendar, the moon month of Sh’vat ushers in the New Year of the trees, where some trees offer their first buds, and we pay homage and celebrate all the gifts of the trees. The letter is Zaddee, which is a fish hook. In his book on Tarot meditations, Paul Foster case offers this meditation on the hook and symbol of Aquarius, the water bearer:
“Think you oh seeker of wisdom that you bring yourself into the light by your own search? Not so. I am the hook. Cast into the waters of darkness, to bring you from your depths into the sphere of true perception. Entering that sphere, you must die to your old self, even as a fish cast upon the land must die. Men think they seek me, But it is I who seek them. No other seeker is there than myself, and when I find my own, the pain of questing is ended. The fish grasps the hook, thinking to find food, but the fisherman is the enjoyer of the meal. I am the window looking out upon the world, and inward upon myself. The passage from the death and darkness of the outer into the life and light of the inner is but the turning of the eye of the soul from the contemplation of appearance to the vision of reality. I am the balance between victory and foundation. That balance I preserve by ceaseless meditation upon my own nature. Only because I never forget myself does the creation continue. The seeds of existence spring from my self-contemplation. That self contemplation is a great silence, for not by noise and tumult is my work perfected. Herein is the secret of the pillar of establishment.”
Transition Moon, Adar (Feb/March)
Zodiac: Fish דג (dahg) – Pisces
Tarot: 18, Moon
Miriam Maron writes in Ancient Moon Wisdom, Adar is “the magic wand that touches winter and magically melts away the snows and the frozen earth in preparation for spring.” The moon of Adar is the final moon in the Hebraic calendar. It is the month that brings us the balance of Spring Equinox and the hope that comes with those glimmers of connection to the light. As such, it is said that this is a time of recovering lost dreams and rekindling our passions. Our greatest work during this Pisces month is to become filled with joy. When we celebrate Mardi Gras, Purim, Easter and any of the myriad Springtime holidays, we stop to notice and participate in the wonder of spring life and we open ourselves to the potential of feeling restored and renewed, reborn like the fresh lilies out in the yards, and the plum blossoms on the bare branches. In Chinese medicine this is the energy that restores the Liver and our vision. It is the energy that moves us and balances or wakes up our hormones and compels us to cleanse/detoxify – hence the dictum of Spring Cleaning.
Moon of Miracles, Nisan (March/April)
Nisan ניסן, meaning Miraculous
Attribute: Speech, Communication שיחה
Spirit: Water מים ma’yeem whose quality is Mother of Life
Stone: Ruby אודם O’dehm whose quality is protection against miscarriage
Herb: Balsam צרי tz’aree
Zodiac: Lamb טלה t’leh
This is a great month for spring cleaning and body tonic cleansing. Nisan is auspiciously gifted with the qualities of freedom and liberation, and also with the anxiety that often accompanies these. Balsam bark that is used in sacred incense blend encapsulates the spiritual essence of this Moon of Spring and Liberation: Balsam is about narrowing something down to its most basic, most fundamental power or quality, removing all the fluff, all the outer trimmings that conceal our deepest truths, and leaving us naked with our authenticity. Proud.
Second spring moon, Iyar (April/May)
Iyar אייר , meaning “breaking through of the Light”
Attribute: Thought and Imagination
Stone: Topaz פטדה for quieting of emotions of the heart
Herb: צפורן Tzee’po’rehn
Zodiac: Bull/Buffalo שור
Direction: South, נגב Negev “Cleansing,” and דרום Da’rom “Rising”
Iyyar means “breaking through of the light” and implies that there is a great passion and spirit force that is dormant and waiting for the right opportunities to emerge this month, IF we are awake and alive to it. What does it mean to be the second moon of this particular season? It means, by now you may really be feeling the season, or already dulled to the newness and excitement of it. There is a great spring gale waiting to arise this month, if we are awake and alive to it.
After the first signs of spring and the passover holiday, comes the counting of the barley, or these days, the counting of the spiritual paths that bring us from slavery to liberation, the counting of the omer. “Through Sefiras haOmer we are building the vessels of Tiferes and Malchus, BALANCE & SOVERIGNTY, which were previously in a state of maturity and filled with clarity on Pesach Night. After Pesach, these vessels experience a corresponding diminishment and through our counting and inner work during the seven weeks of the Omer, we rebuild these vessels in a sustainable, stronger, and even more sensitive way…In week seven, the Tiferes/Harmony of Tiferes is perfected, and with it Malchus/Soverignty.” – Rav Dovber Pinson, Sha’ar HaKavanos, Chag haShavuos
Moon of Receiving, Sivan (May/June) https://youtu.be/E8EJOE_zynQ
Stone – Emerald, Refractor of light
Sacred Incense – Galbanum, or חלבונה chal’vo’nah
Zodiac – Twins, Gemini, Attraction of Polarities
Tarot – Lovers
Medicine – Licorice
The Hebrew name for this month is Sivan, from the Babylonian moon deity, Sin. It is said to be the month of Receiving, as the Torah was received at Mt Sinai in Sivan. Sivan is the third month of the Hebrew (lunar) year, and is in the Central Column of the air signs. The controlling planet is Mercury, and the constellation is Gemini, the twins. The twins are compared to a bride and groom on their wedding day, receiving the secret of love and life. Mercury is the planet of communication, which means it is like an electrical cable, telephone wire, a teacher, an adviser, a story teller.
The letter (Zayin) created the sign of Gemini and the letter (Resh) created Mercury. Together these two letters create the word Raz, which means secret in Hebrew.
Tamuz (June/July) – https://youtu.be/DTZdkxmn9_0
Tribal Stone: Turquoise
Tribal Herb: Frankincense
This is a wonderful month full of heat and radiance. How can we use this particular energy constructively? The heat of this month, with the longest days of summer, is not just physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. We need to be mindful of the intensity and be sensitive to ourselves and others. There may be tests and challenges that come up and the healing energy of this month is through the act and sense of seeing. This is the month for improving the clarity of our vision. What we see reflects our thinking. Ask yourself, “am I seeing things as they are, or am I simply projecting my desires onto this person or situation?” This month opens us up to seeing things as they are not as you want them to be. The Hebrew word for the zodiac of this month, cancer the crab, is “Sartan,” which means “Satan.” The moon rules cancer the crab. The moon affects the waters of the earth, and cancer is a water sign. Water is associated with feelings and desires. This month is a time of deep intense feelings accompanying all kinds of desires.
Ancestor Moon, Av (July/August) – https://youtu.be/AjbK9WeEtuA
Stone: Sapphire whose quality is Healing
Herb: Myrrh מור mo’r
Zodiac: Lion, Leo
Letter: tet ט Snakeb
The Hebrew name for this month is Av, “father” or “ancestor” as it is in this month that we seek the comfort of our ancestors and pray for the healing of our ancestors as many calamities befell them during the month of Av. The destruction of the first and second temples, roughly 2,600 years ago and 1,950 years ago, the genocides and mass exiles, the inquisitions, mass forced conversions, the pogroms and holocaust, the list is too large and tragic, but must be faced and felt in order to bring wholeness to our broken-heartedness again. In honor and rememberance of these epic temple times, each of which stood for roughly 500 years each and informed Jewish customs and life, I will elaborate on the sacred incense blend. Balsam, Onycha, Galbanum, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cassia, Spikenard, Saffron, Costus, Aromatic bark, Cinnamon. The incense offering (Hebrew: קְטֹרֶת qetoret) in Judaism was related to perfumed offerings on the altar of incense in the time of the Tabernacle and the First and Second Temple period, and was an important component of priestly liturgy in the Temple in Jerusalem. The offering of the ketoret was the most sacred of the services in the Holy Temple. The ketoret was a special blend of eleven herbs and balms whose precise ingredients and manner of preparation were given to Moses. Twice a day, ketoret was burned on the golden altar that stood in the Temple.
Beloved Moon, ELUL (August/Sept) – https://healingmama.com/2019/08/29/new-moon-of-mine-elul/
Elul, the moon of the betulah, the bride, the virgo. Elul (אלול) is also an acronym for the Hebrew אני לדודי ודודי לי (ani l’dodi v’dodi li) – I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine, from the Song of Songs. What that means to me is that this month, this moon, this time, is sacred and mine for the keeping and care-taking. This month is a wake up call. This month is one of preparation, priming, and pruning. In the month of Elul the shofar is said to sound everyday to awaken us to our senses. It is calling out to us. What is that calling? For each of us it is our own awakening and calling that we must pursue. This month is a deep introspection to prepare us to enter into the next realm during the new year next month, in the month of Tishrei.
And, it is Virgo season. The mazal/sign of the betulah, virgin. Kelley Rosano writes, “In Virgo, we are to separate the wheat from the chafe. It is essential to be nurtured and developed. What no longer serves our soul’s evolution is to be discarded. You are encouraged to cleanse your body, mind, heart and soul. Embody more of who you truly are, a beautiful soul of Light. Virgo stands for the ‘womb of time’. You are to give birth to your authentic Self. Ask yourself, ‘What supports my balance?’ Shift and evolve out of the need for worry, fault-finding and skepticism.”
Festival Moon, Tishrei – (Sept/Oct) https://healingmama.com/2019/09/26/balance/
Tish’ray תשרי, meaning: “It shall be smooth”
Attribute: Intimacy, Sexuality תשמיש tash’meesh
Animal: Snake, נחש nachash, whose quality is Trickster
Stone: Jacinth לשם leshem, whose quality is self-reflection
Herb: Spikenard/ valerian שבלת נרד shee’bo’lehd nehr’d
Zodiac: Scales מאזנים m’az’nayeem
Letter: lamud ל Teach
Direction: North, צפון tsa’fon, “Hidden” “Mystery” “To Peek into the Unknown”
Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shiminei Aretz, Simchat Torah: All of these occur in the moon of Tish’ray. Miriam Maron writes, “This series of festivals, or phases, starts at the very beginning of the month, unlike all the other festivals of the Hebraic tradition. They begin at the first sliver of the moon, and conclude toward the end of the month when the moon begins to wane. They therefore represent whole new beginnings, beginnings leading to fullness, and then letting go, trusting the process of waxing and waning in our lives…Teshuvah means “return”: return to pristine beginnings, return to the intrinsic perfection of the soul. For the essence of the soul is immune to corruption. Teshuvah is the return to one’s true self, the cutting through of all those outer layers of misguided actions and distorted priorities to awaken one’s true will and desire.”
Sukkot: Festival of Huts. As Sukkot approaches, we enter into our relationship with weather, with the winds and rains coming from any of the 4 directions, and locate our prayers in the other 2 directions of above and below, as well as heart center. We wave the lu’lav (4 species of plants) as a ceremony of tempering extreme weather so that what we just seeded in Summer and Fall is not damaged and is rather supported in growth and unfolding. Many interpretations of why we wave the lu’lav and the signficance of the 4 species abound. According to the teachings of the sixteenth-century Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed, the tightly constricted multi-layered foliage of the lu’lav is a prayer tool intended to constrict the Divine Light just enough so that it does not overwhelm Creation. In Ancient Moon wisdom, Miriam Marin writes, “Waving the lu’lav, then, is a shamanic ritual directed at invoking balance in the Life Force by tempering the Light of Creation sufficiently to enable individuation and life perpetuation, and to prevent the “black hole” of the Creative Force from swallowing up Creation. The act of waving this constricted “light beam” into the Four Directions, Sky, Earth, and inward, addresses the seven sacred “pressure points” of the te’heeru טהירו, the great primeval void into which the Infinite Source emanates its intention to manifest Creation. These seven pathways of Divine Flow are Peace, Power, Wisdom, Life, Seed, Grace, and Bounty… Rabbi Luria’s teaching goes on to describe the sukkah—the temporary hut we construct and eat in during the harvest season—as symbolic of the womb. The ceremony of waving the lu’lav inside the sukkah is then a rite of consummating the [primal] energy of raw intention with the [creative] energy of transformation.”
Bitter Moon, Cheshvan (Oct/Nov)- https://healingmama.com/2019/10/28/old-bones/
Cheshvan is also called Marcheshvan or “Bitter Cheshvan.” In our Chodesh Chai YouTube video, we discuss our choice blends of herbs and spices for this month, Jewish customs around death and memorial, and we read the story of Skeleton Woman from Women Who Run with the Wolves. What’s your relationship to the old bones of your past? Chodesh Chai YouTube Video for this new moon: https://youtu.be/7CaFEaJ0fes
Miracle Moon, Kis’lev (Dec) – https://healingmama.com/2019/11/27/december-dreaming/
Attribute: Dream Journeying שינה (Sleep)
Zodiac: – Sagittarius & Keshet, Rainbow קשת
“This month is the time when we go beyond what is logical and go for what we really want. This may be different than what we feel we want. In determining what we really want, we need to distill our visions to make sure they come from the purest place within us.” -Melinda Ribner
This new moon is visible in the western skyline along with Jupiter, the Planet associated with Kislev and Sagittarius. It is said that Jupiter invites us to warm ourselves in the glow of positive energy. Jupiter is called “Tzedek” in Hebrew – the same root as the word “Tzadik” (righteous person). Rebbe Nachman of Breslov reminds us to always look for the good point in ourselves, in others, and in every situation, no matter how weird and scary it might be. Jupiter helps us with that effort more this month than any other month!
Kislev can be translated into “pocket“ & “heart.” This refers to the capacity to be a vessel for what your heart REALLY desires. The energy of this month may be hidden in pockets of your heart, in the secret places, the subconscious realms, in the dark nights, and during the festival of lights at the end of this moontime, Chanukah. In her book Kabbalah, Month by Month, Melinda Ribner goes on to say that “the light of our highest soul connection may emerge to shine upon us and guide us during this month.” In the day to day, we may dream and conspire but we do not receive what we want. It is said that during this month we have a greater capacity to actually receive what we want. Miraculous!
Many of these blogs were written as part of a year long study project with “Chodesh Chai,” a Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) project with Lauren Fries and Ariela Sharon. By studying astrology, herbalism, somatics and Jewish text, we created informative videos and materials about the months connecting them to the body, the earth and to our faith. Check out our videos and you tube channel here!
Resources that we use for our content include: