The High Holy Days are one of the busiest times of the year for your average Jewitch. If you are needing to simplify things, you can’t go wrong with elemental rituals. In this post, I’m going to show you four simple elemental rituals for the High Holy Days, that, if you do nothing else, will help you have a meaningful holiday season. And, if you need a place to practice these rituals, I suggest your High Holy Days Altar.
Make Some Air With a Shofar Blast
Most people equate the sound of the ram’s horn with Rosh Hashanah, and for good reason. If you are familiar with Jewish scriptures, you will not find mention of Rosh Hashanah at all. You will, however, find the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei) referred to as Yom Teruah. Yom Teruah literally means “day of shouting”, and has often been observed with blasts of the shofar and loud shouting. If you have a shofar, grab it and blast away. If not, go on YouTube and take a listen. And if you feel like shouting- have at it! Whatever you do, make some noise and have a good time!
Taste Earth With Apples and Honey
Nothing feels more “Jewish New Year” than apples and honey! These sweet treats are yummy alone but eat them together and you’re in for a super sweet bite. Food is grounding, and when what you’re eating comes straight from the earth through trees and bees you’re really invoking the earth into yourself. Dip, eat, and have a Sweet New Year!
Send Off Your Mistakes in Water At Taschlich
Once Rosh Hashanah has passed it’s time to cast away your mistakes into the water. You can perform the ritual of Taschlich anytime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If you can, go out to a free-flowing body of water, but if you can’t, you can perform this ritual with a bowl or glass of water at your altar.
Start by making a list of all the mistakes you have made in the past year. Grab a small pebble or stick/twig for each mistake. If you’re at a body of water toss in a pebble as you think of each mistake. If you’re at your altar, drop it in the vessel of water. When you’re done, take some time to meditate on your mistakes being washed away. If you are at your altar, go outside and offer the water as a libation to the earth as you visualize your mistakes flowing out.
Let The Fire of Remembrance Shine Bright Through Yizkor
As the High Holy Days Come to a Close with Yom Kippur, it’s time to invoke the element of fire. Yom Kippur traditionally ends with a Yizkor service to remember those who have passed before us. Whether you attend services or not, the act of remembering our departed is a beautiful tradition within this special holiday time.
Grab a yahrzeit candle (or any 24-hour candle) and place it on your altar. Yahrzeit candles are generally safe, but if you don’t have one and are using another long-burning candle, make sure you place it in a fire-safe dish well away from anything that can catch on fire. Light it immediately preceding the beginning of Yom Kippur and let it burn for a full 24 hours. As you light your candle, and throughout the day, reflect on the memory of your loved ones. If you feel called to do so, say a special prayer as Yom Kippur comes to a close.
I hope today’s post helped you to see how super easy it can be to have a meaningful High Holy Days experience with 4 simple elemental rituals.
Which of these four rituals is your favorite? Is there one you haven’t tried before that you’re looking forward to incorporating this year? Let me know by leaving a comment below.