Nisan- The Month of Leadership and Redemption

  • Constellation/Mazal- Aries
  • Element- Fire
  • Ruling Planets- Mars
  • Tribe- Judah
  • Stone- Turquoise
  • Color- Sky Blue
  • Symbol- Lion
  • Letters- Hei (ה)
  • Direction- East

This past week marked Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the beginning of the month of Nisan Nisan is a Babylonian term meaning setting out or putting to sleep. Both of these meanings are appropriate for the month. Nisan is the first month of Spring. It is a time of putting the old agricultural year to bed and bringing in the new. Nisan is also the month in which the Exodus from Egypt occurred. In this sense, the Hebrews literally set out for the Promised Land during the month of Nisan. 

Judah is representative of Nisan. Judah is the ruler or leader of his siblings. Although he was the fourth born son, he was the one blessed to be king. Judah’s leadership is represented by the fiery symbolism of Aries and Mars. Numbers Rabbah tells us that Judah’s color is that of the sky and that this tribe is represented by a lion. Judah’s stone, nofech, isn’t a stone that we are aware of today by that name. We do know from the midrash that it must be the sky blue of the tribe. My belief is that nofech is what we know now as turquoise. Pure turquoise is the sky blue color required, and it represents leadership and power. Turquoise is known to traditionally have been a stone of kings and queens, so it makes sense that it would be Judah’s stone. 

The letter hei (ה) is representative of Nisan in that it is the sound of the breath of creation. When G-d created the world it was done by breath, as was the breath of life that brought Adam into living form. Whisper the letter hei (ה) and you have the sound of breath- the sound of life. 

East is represented by the eagle in Shamanism. Eagle is regal and majestic. Eagle comes to us on the rays of the rising sun. Eagle medicine is the connection to the divine. Eagle represents strength and power. It is easy to see the association between Eagle medicine and the kingly rulership of Judah. 

Nisan is a month of leadership and redemption. It is the month that begins the kingly and agricultural year. The Jewish holiday cycle begins in Nisan with the redemption of Passover. It is a time of leaving behind the bonds of our past for the unknown of our future. Nisan is a time of transition. 

 

Finding Joy in Times of Fear

We are living in an unprecedented time of fear. I struggled with writing a post about the current fear climate surrounding COVID-19 and the world being under quarantine. It isn’t like there’s not a plethora of talk about it on every other blog and website. So, at first, I planned specifically not to write about it. However, as time has gone on and more and more businesses are closed and most people are safely tucked away at home, I have noticed that the fear isn’t slowing. It’s not even flatlined. No, fear is continually rising. Fear. Anxiety. Panic. So, I decided I would write about it. But, I’m not going to write about the fear itself, because we all know that it’s out there. What I am going to write about is the deliberate cultivation of joy during times of fear. 

Hermeticism teaches that everything is mental. Every aspect of life, death, existence, non-existence- everything- exists in our mind. Whatever we have is the result of a thought we have had at some previous point, if not a thought we are still having. We create our reality with our mind. If we think about what we fear we are pulling that very thing into our lives. This is what some people refer to as the Law of Attraction. There are many names for it, and it is woven through all of the Hermetic Principles. (If you’re interested in learning more about the Hermetic Principles, request your FREE copy of my ebook here.)

Instead of focusing on what we fear, we should instead focus on things that bring us joy. Doing so will draw more joy into our lives. The Jewish world celebrated the holiday of Purim earlier this month. It is a holiday dedicated to joy and folly. Joy, however, doesn’t have to be relegated to one day. We can find joy in everything we do. We need it now more than ever. 

It’s easy to say we need to find joy in our lives, but it can be difficult to actually put it into practice in our everyday lives. For those who have a natural tendency toward fear, it can seem virtually impossible. But, it’s not. I know because I am one of those people. My natural reaction to negative things is to fear or become anxious. I have a lifelong struggle with anxiety. But, I make a conscious effort each day to push the fear away and look for things that bring me happiness. It does become easier over time, but there are days when I struggle. 

My best advice is to keep a gratitude journal. Each evening before bed, write down a list of things you are grateful for that day. Even if you only have one thing, that’s better than nothing. And, if you cultivate this into a daily practice you will notice that your list will start growing longer. If you’re struggling to come up with anything to find joy from, start with your breath. It’s always the best place to start in any situation. Find joy in the breath you have that gives you life. Did you see a flower today? That’s something that brings joy. You can take joy in the fact that you have a roof over your head and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what it is. Anything you are thankful for is something in which to find joy. 

No matter how small, find something each day to be thankful for, something that brings a little bit of happiness into your life, something that puts a smile on your face. When you find yourself in the midst of fear, stop and find something to be thankful for. If this isn’t something you are used to doing you will find that you fail at it. That’s ok. Keep going. Keep doing it. Work through the struggle. It will get easier. You will find that in time you are thankful more often than you are fearful. That’s when you’ll start noticing things changing in your life. You attract what you think about.

Jewitch Wheel of the Year

Most witchy types are familiar with the Celtic and/or pagan wheel of the year that includes the Quarter and Cross Quarter days of the year. I have been looking for a Jewitch specific wheel of the year, and haven’t really found anything that includes what I was looking for. So, I decided to make my own and I wanted to share it with you. This is my first wheel that I’ve made myself. I have included the Celtic days as they represent a part of my heritage/background. Other than those, I haven’t included any specific holidays. I do have the Hebrew months with how they line up with the Gregorian months. I see this as a starting point, and I already know I”m going to be making changes to it. But, this is a good place to start with the seasons and months as the flow one into the other. Let me know what you think below.

Jewitch Wheel of the Year

Adar- The Month of Good Fortune

  • Constellation/Mazal- Pisces
  • Ruling Planets- Jupiter
  • Tribe- Joseph (Ephraim & Menashe)
  • Stone- Onyx
  • Color- black
  • Symbol- Egypt, Ox, Unicorn
  • Letters- Kof ק and Gimmel ג
  • Direction- West

Rosh Chodesh Adar (head or beginning of the month) begins on the evening of February 24, 2020. The word Adar comes from ancient Babylonian and Hebrew. It means “to be darkened” or “eclipsed” and also, “majestic” and “wide”.  Joseph, who was made a ruler in Egypt, and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe, represent Adar. During leap years, Ephram and Menashe represent Adar A and Adar B. The constellation Pisces, which rules Adar, is said to represent luck and repel the evil eye. Joseph is represented by the color black and the stone onyx. 

Adar is the month of luck and fortune (mazal). The letters kof ק and gimmel ג correspond to Adar. Gimmel represents abundance, prosperity, and good luck. Kof represents darkness. The letter kof also represents laughter, joy, and the masquerade, which is acceptable at Purim. 

Ephraim and Menashe are tribes of the West. In Shamanism, the west is represented by the jaguar. Jaguar represents prophecy, shapeshifting, and secrecy. These are key components of the Purim story. Ephraim and Menashe, while not sons of Israel, represent their father, Joseph, who is. The three together represent Adar, (and in leap years Adar A and B). Just as in the story of Purim, they represent things not always being as they appear.  

Adar is a time to revel in our good fortune. It is a time to reveal the secrets we have been keeping and rejoice in the new directions our lives are taking. Adar is a good time to shake off the seriousness of life and laugh at the face of darkness and evil that tries to thwart our path. Maybe we need to embody the characteristics of the jaguar and shapeshift our way into a positive future. No matter what life holds in store for us, there will always be shifting from darkness to light. 

The Racism and Hatred of Jews Behind the K in Magic(k)

Back in 2018, I wrote a blog post called Magical Mindset in which I spoke briefly about why I don’t use the letter “k” that so many witches do in regards to magic. I said that it doesn’t matter because magic is a mindset and that these days we all know what is meant when someone says magic. This is still true, but my refrain from the k has become more of a political statement since then, and while I don’t dislike those who do use the k, I think it does matter whether or not you do. 

The history of the word magick (with the k) dates back to Aleister Crowley. Crowley was a celebrated and well-known occultist of his time and was the founder of Thelema, an esoteric philosophy/religion that rests on the will of the person. While the spelling of magick did not originate with Crowley, (it’s a much older and archaic spelling) it is one that he embraced and promoted with his ceremonial magic and writings. 

Crowley began using the archaic spelling of magic in order to differentiate the occult and ceremonial usage from stage magic which was highly popular at the time. I don’t have a problem with the reason he chose, as many magical practitioners still choose to use this spelling for that reason. However, I don’t think it is necessary, and I often wonder how many people choose to use it without knowing about the connection with Crowley. 

Aleister Crowley has often been called the most evil man on earth. His personal lifestyle was certainly considered evil at the time, although not so much today. He also enjoyed controversy very much and would go out of his way to sound and appear more controversial than he may have otherwise been viewed. However, one thing that is not questionable is his racism and hatred of Jews. I find this anti-semitic approach quite ironic considering he studied and embraced Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and incorporated it into Thelema. 

I’m not going to go in-depth into Crowley’s racism and anti-Semitism. You can find evidence of it quite easily online in his writings and various articles about him. I have, for your convenience, linked four such articles below. There are many more. 

Do I think that Aleister Crowley was the most evil man on earth? That’s not for me to say. Do I dismiss anything associated with him because of his beliefs and teachings? No. So why do I refuse to add the k to magic? Because the use of the arcane spelling of magic today is directly related to Aleister Crowley and his teachings. If it was necessary to differentiate spiritual magic from stage magic I could possibly see it. I don’t think it is necessary now, and I don’t think it was necessary for Crowley’s time. I choose to believe that people are smart enough to know the difference when we are speaking of magic. Because it isn’t necessary to use a special spelling for people to know what we are talking about, I think it matters which spelling we do use. I personally choose not to use the k in magic. By not using it I’m showing that I don’t agree with Aleister Crowley’s racist beliefs and standing against his teachings. 

Aleister Crowley: A Legacy of Nationalism and Racism

Was Aleister Crowley a Racist? It Depends. 

Aleister Crowley- The Slaves Shall Serve

Why Whitewashing Crowley is a Bad Idea

 

Celebrating Trees and the Environment

Environmentalism plays a large role in modern Judaism. While it is a year round focus, one day of the year is devoted to trees and the environment- Tu B’Shevat. The name literally means fifteenth of Shevat, and falls at the full moon of Shevat. Falling in either January or February, it is one of several new year days on the Hebrew calendar. I wrote a post last year that gives a brief overview of the holiday, which you can read here. There are many different ways to mark Tu B’Shevat. Here are a few that vary in levels of observance and time. 

Plant a tree. Tu B’Shevat is the new year of trees. In Israel the holiday is marked by planting trees. You can plant a tree yourself at home. If it’s not the appropriate climate to do so where you live, consider planting a tree indoors and transplanting it later. Alternatively, you can have a tree planted in Israel on your behalf. There are many organizations that do this. One such organization can be found here. 

Plan Your Garden. Tu B’Shevat is a great time to plan your vegetable garden for the upcoming planting season. If you haven’t done so already, break out the seeds you saved from last year or the seed catalogs you order from and start planning!

Do something for the environment. Tu B’Shevat is like a Jewish Earth Day. Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Host a community educational event. Reduce your waste. There are numerous ways to celebrate Earth Day. Tu B’Shevat is another day to honor and remember our planet. 

Host a Tu B’Shevat Seder. You are probably familiar with the Passover Seder (or if you aren’t Jewish you may have at least heard of it). Well, some people mark Tu B’Shevat with a seder as well. Seder simply means order and it refers to the order of the ritualized meal for the holiday. A Tu B’Shevat seder includes learning about the importance of the holiday and eating seven different species of fruits. You can find the order of a beautiful Tu B’Shevat Seder here

Learn about Asherah. Back in the days when the Hebrews first entered Canaan, they came into contact with the Canaanite deities. Asherah was the mother Goddess, and she was represented by a tree. Many Israelites began to honor Asherah, and even planted trees in their sacred sites next to the representation of El. You can even find traces of Asherah in modern Judaism and Kabbalah with the Tree of Life and even with the Torah being referred to as a tree. You can read more about Asherah here. You can also read my poem about the current return of Asherah. It’s found here.  

No matter what you do, you can find a way to commemorate Tu B’Shevat. What are your favorite ways to celebrate our mother Earth and take care of the environment? Leave a comment below. I’d love to know what your traditions are. 

 

 

Song as Prayer

Music features prominently in this week’s Torah portion. In fact, the sabbath that falls this week is called Shabbat Shira (the Sabbath of Song) because it is the week when we read a particular Torah portion: Beshalach. During this week we read of three different songs by or about three different people: Moshe, Miriam, and Devorah. 

Song of the Sea 

During this week’s portion, we read of the Israelites crossing the Sea of Reeds when fleeing from Egypt. After they reached the safety of the other side and Pharoah and the Egyptians were swallowed by the sea, Moshe sings a song of praise and thanksgiving to G-d for their deliverance. The song appears in Exodus 15:1-18. 

15ט״ו

אָ֣ז יָשִֽׁיר־מֹשֶׁה֩ וּבְנֵ֨י יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙ לַֽיהוָ֔ה וַיֹּאמְר֖וּ לֵאמֹ֑ר אָשִׁ֤ירָה לַֽיהוָה֙ כִּֽי־גָאֹ֣ה גָּאָ֔ה ס֥וּס וְרֹכְב֖וֹ רָמָ֥ה בַיָּֽם׃ 

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD. They said: I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.

עָזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ אֱלֹהֵ֥י אָבִ֖י וַאֲרֹמְמֶֽנְהוּ׃ 

The LORD is my strength and might; He is become my deliverance. This is my God and I will enshrine Him; The God of my father, and I will exalt Him. 

יְהוָ֖ה אִ֣ישׁ מִלְחָמָ֑ה יְהוָ֖ה שְׁמֽוֹ׃ 

The LORD, the Warrior— LORD is His name!

מַרְכְּבֹ֥ת פַּרְעֹ֛ה וְחֵיל֖וֹ יָרָ֣ה בַיָּ֑ם וּמִבְחַ֥ר שָֽׁלִשָׁ֖יו טֻבְּע֥וּ בְיַם־סֽוּף׃ 

Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the pick of his officers Are drowned in the Sea of Reeds.

תְּהֹמֹ֖ת יְכַסְיֻ֑מוּ יָרְד֥וּ בִמְצוֹלֹ֖ת כְּמוֹ־אָֽבֶן׃ 

The deeps covered them; They went down into the depths like a stone.

יְמִֽינְךָ֣ יְהוָ֔ה נֶאְדָּרִ֖י בַּכֹּ֑חַ יְמִֽינְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה תִּרְעַ֥ץ אוֹיֵֽב׃ 

Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the foe!

וּבְרֹ֥ב גְּאוֹנְךָ֖ תַּהֲרֹ֣ס קָמֶ֑יךָ תְּשַׁלַּח֙ חֲרֹ֣נְךָ֔ יֹאכְלֵ֖מוֹ כַּקַּֽשׁ׃ 

In Your great triumph You break Your opponents; You send forth Your fury, it consumes them like straw.

וּבְר֤וּחַ אַפֶּ֙יךָ֙ נֶ֣עֶרְמוּ מַ֔יִם נִצְּב֥וּ כְמוֹ־נֵ֖ד נֹזְלִ֑ים קָֽפְא֥וּ תְהֹמֹ֖ת בְּלֶב־יָֽם׃ 

At the blast of Your nostrils the waters piled up, The floods stood straight like a wall; The deeps froze in the heart of the sea.

אָמַ֥ר אוֹיֵ֛ב אֶרְדֹּ֥ף אַשִּׂ֖יג אֲחַלֵּ֣ק שָׁלָ֑ל תִּמְלָאֵ֣מוֹ נַפְשִׁ֔י אָרִ֣יק חַרְבִּ֔י תּוֹרִישֵׁ֖מוֹ יָדִֽי׃ 

The foe said, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall have its fill of them. I will bare my sword— My hand shall subdue them.”

נָשַׁ֥פְתָּ בְרוּחֲךָ֖ כִּסָּ֣מוֹ יָ֑ם צָֽלֲלוּ֙ כַּֽעוֹפֶ֔רֶת בְּמַ֖יִם אַדִּירִֽים׃ 

You made Your wind blow, the sea covered them; They sank like lead in the majestic waters.

מִֽי־כָמֹ֤כָה בָּֽאֵלִם֙ יְהוָ֔ה מִ֥י כָּמֹ֖כָה נֶאְדָּ֣ר בַּקֹּ֑דֶשׁ נוֹרָ֥א תְהִלֹּ֖ת עֹ֥שֵׂה פֶֽלֶא׃ 

Who is like You, O LORD, among the celestials; Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in splendor, working wonders! 

נָטִ֙יתָ֙ יְמִ֣ינְךָ֔ תִּבְלָעֵ֖מוֹ אָֽרֶץ׃ 

You put out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them.

נָחִ֥יתָ בְחַסְדְּךָ֖ עַם־ז֣וּ גָּאָ֑לְתָּ נֵהַ֥לְתָּ בְעָזְּךָ֖ אֶל־נְוֵ֥ה קָדְשֶֽׁךָ׃ 

In Your love You lead the people You redeemed; In Your strength You guide them to Your holy abode.

שָֽׁמְע֥וּ עַמִּ֖ים יִרְגָּז֑וּן חִ֣יל אָחַ֔ז יֹשְׁבֵ֖י פְּלָֽשֶׁת׃ 

The peoples hear, they tremble; Agony grips the dwellers in Philistia.

אָ֤ז נִבְהֲלוּ֙ אַלּוּפֵ֣י אֱד֔וֹם אֵילֵ֣י מוֹאָ֔ב יֹֽאחֲזֵ֖מוֹ רָ֑עַד נָמֹ֕גוּ כֹּ֖ל יֹשְׁבֵ֥י כְנָֽעַן׃ 

Now are the clans of Edom dismayed; The tribes of Moab—trembling grips them; All the dwellers in Canaan are aghast.

תִּפֹּ֨ל עֲלֵיהֶ֤ם אֵימָ֙תָה֙ וָפַ֔חַד בִּגְדֹ֥ל זְרוֹעֲךָ֖ יִדְּמ֣וּ כָּאָ֑בֶן עַד־יַעֲבֹ֤ר עַמְּךָ֙ יְהוָ֔ה עַֽד־יַעֲבֹ֖ר עַם־ז֥וּ קָנִֽיתָ׃ 

Terror and dread descend upon them; Through the might of Your arm they are still as stone— Till Your people cross over, O LORD, Till Your people cross whom You have ransomed.

תְּבִאֵ֗מוֹ וְתִטָּעֵ֙מוֹ֙ בְּהַ֣ר נַחֲלָֽתְךָ֔ מָכ֧וֹן לְשִׁבְתְּךָ֛ פָּעַ֖לְתָּ יְהוָ֑ה מִקְּדָ֕שׁ אֲדֹנָ֖י כּוֹנְנ֥וּ יָדֶֽיךָ׃ 

You will bring them and plant them in Your own mountain, The place You made to dwell in, O LORD, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands established.

יְהוָ֥ה ׀ יִמְלֹ֖ךְ לְעֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד׃ 

The LORD will reign for ever and ever!

 

Miriam’s Song

Immediately after the song of the sea, we read about the Prophetess Miriam. She led the women in song and dance throughout the night. Her song is much shorter than that of her brother but no less poignant. Miriam’s song is found in Exodus 15:20-21. 

וַתִּקַּח֩ מִרְיָ֨ם הַנְּבִיאָ֜ה אֲח֧וֹת אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַתֹּ֖ף בְּיָדָ֑הּ וַתֵּצֶ֤אןָ כָֽל־הַנָּשִׁים֙ אַחֲרֶ֔יהָ בְּתֻפִּ֖ים וּבִמְחֹלֹֽת׃ 

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels.

וַתַּ֥עַן לָהֶ֖ם מִרְיָ֑ם שִׁ֤ירוּ לַֽיהוָה֙ כִּֽי־גָאֹ֣ה גָּאָ֔ה ס֥וּס וְרֹכְב֖וֹ רָמָ֥ה בַיָּֽם׃ (ס) 

And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver He has hurled into the sea.

 

Devorah’s Song

In the corresponding Haftarah reading this week we learn of Devorah and Yael and how they helped defeat the Canaanites. Devorah was Judge and Prophetess in Israel. After her people cried out to G-d for deliverance following years of persecution, Devorah told Barak to go up Mount Tabor and battle Sisera, King Yabin’s military commander. She told him that G-d promised his victory. Barak responded to Devorah that he would go only if she went with him. Devorah agreed to go, but told Barak that because he refused to go on G-d’s terms he would not receive credit for the victory- instead, all credit would go to a woman. This is just what happened. Barak led a great victory campaign, but Sisera survived and fled. He ran straight to Yael’s tent because he thought that she was a friend. She gave him milk to put him to sleep and then drove a tent peg into his temple, killing him as she pegged his head to the ground. Yael and Devorah received credit for defeating Sisera. These events are outlined in Judges 4, and Judges 5 records the battle hymn of victory known as Devorah’s song. You can read them here.

 

These are not the only three songs that appear in scripture. What makes these songs so prominent is that they all fall into one week for reading and study. The Song of the Sea and Miriam’s song have led to a prominent Jewish prayer, Mi Chamocha (below). Miriam and Devorah are celebrated for their contributions to Jewish history and the songs they left for us. 

How does song play into your life? Do you compose your own songs and poetry to commemorate important moments in your life? Does your mood determine the types of music you listen to? What role does music hold in your spiritual life? I would love to hear from you on this. Please feel free to comment below.  


* All scripture is taken from Sefaria

Shevat- The Month of Blessing and Righteousness

  • Constellation: Aquarius
  • Ruling Planets: Saturn & Uranus
  • Tribe: Asher
  • Stone: Chrysolite
  • Color: Blue-Green
  • Symbol: Olive Tree
  • Letter: Tzadi צ 
  • Direction: North

Rosh Chodesh Shevat (head or beginning of the month) began on the evening of January 26, 2020. The word Shevat comes from ancient Akkadian. It means “lashing” and refers to the lashing rains that come during this time. Rain is also linked to Aquarius, the water bearer, in that rainwater is carried in buckets. A full water pail is said to be a sign of blessing

The month of Shevat is associated with Asher. Asher is represented by the color blue-green and the stone chrysolite. Just as it is unknown exactly what stone Leshem is today, it is unclear what exactly chrysolite it. It has most frequently been said to be peridot or topaz. Because Numbers Rabbah tells us that the stone of each Tribe corresponds to the color of their standard, the stone would need to be greenish-blue in color. With the symbol of Asher being an olive tree, it is my belief that peridot is most likely chrysolite. 

Shevat is the month of blessing and righteousness. The letter tzadi צ corresponds to Shevat. Tzadi (especially in its final form ץ) resembles a tree. The Tree of Life represents knowledge and righteousness. The letter tzadi צ also represents the tzadik or righteous person who is full of knowledge. In symbolic terms, a tzadik carries Torah to the people. The tzadik brings refreshment to our parched souls. 

Asher is a tribe of the North. Asher is meant to bear light to Dan’s darkness. In Shamanism, the north is represented by the hummingbird. The hummingbird is the archetype of an epic journey. It represents our soul and the journey each of us takes in life. Asher, the water bearer, brings us knowledge and water to help us on our spiritual journey. 

Shevat is a time to examine our lives and motives. It is time to see what path we are on. Perhaps we need to take up the pail and carry water to our parched friends and relatives. Maybe we need to embody the characteristics of the hummingbird and guide ourselves and others deeper into our spiritual journey. No matter where we are in our lives we can embrace being a tzadik. 

 

 

Leshem- A Stone Like Sapphire

Today I wanted to discuss more regarding the month of Tevet. Specifically, I wanted to discuss the month in relation to the tribe of Dan,  astrology, and gemology. I thought this might lead to an interesting recurring theme over this year. I began by looking up the gems that correspond to each month and tribe. I couldn’t find anything specific to the months but did find plenty of sites regarding the gems that correspond with the 12 Tribes of Israel. 

Anyone who knows anything about biblical history has heard of the Breastplate of the High Priest. The breastplate was set with 12 stones, each one corresponding to a particular tribe. In fact, the tribal name was inscribed on the corresponding stone. With each tribe corresponding to a month, the tribal stone would also correspond to the month. 

Easy enough, right? Well, not quite. You see, the names of the stones, as recorded in the Bible, are not the same names we use today. There are all kinds of thoughts on what the stones are/were. The stone associated with Dan was called Leshem. I have seen it said that Leshem is opal. I’ve also seen it said that it is jacinth, amber, and lapis. That’s a pretty broad spectrum in terms of gems! I decided to look to the Jewish sages to see if I could find anything out. 

According to Midrash- Numbers Rabbah, each tribe was set up with a standard, the color of which corresponded to the color of the stone. Numbers Rabbah goes on to list the colors of each tribe’s standard. For Dan, it says, “Dan’s banner had the color of sapphire, and an image of a serpent in its center.” Can we say, then, that Dan’s color is sapphire and that Leshem is sapphire? Not really because sapphire is traditionally seen as being the stone of Issachar. Numbers Rabbah says, “Issachar’s banner was blackish, and had in the center the picture of the sun and the moon.” Notice, it doesn’t say black, but blackish. Sapphire is said to be bluish-black. It is the stone from which the tablets were carved, and due to Issachar’s renown for Torah study, that gem has been associated with that tribe.  

What else can we glean from the sages? Dan’s banner (and therefore stone) was the color of sapphire. It’s not sapphire itself, but it’s the same color- blue. That rules out some of the speculations already. We are looking for a blue stone. Lapis fits, but so do many other stones. What other information can we find? In other reading, I learned that Leshem has streaks in the stone. Lapis does. Sodalite, which is similar in appearance to lapis, does as well. I decided to look at various blue stones and see if anything spoke to me. One stone that I personally never saw as a possibility for Leshem stood out. Kyanite is a blue stone with white streaking throughout. One sentence I came across really struck me. “The most desirable kyanite gemstones exhibit a sapphire-like blue color, but most stones will display noticeable light and dark color zoning, along with some white streaks or blotches.” Wow! Sapphire like blue color. Color of sapphire. 

I’ve narrowed my thoughts down to Leshem being one of three stones: lapis lazuli, sodalite, or kyanite. I turned to what I know of the spiritual and metaphysical properties of each stone to see if any of them resonate with the month of Tevet (since Dan corresponds to Tevet). 

Lapis Lazuli- known for wisdom and truth; corresponds to throat and third eye chakras

Sodalite- intuition; corresponds to the third eye and throat chakras 

Kyanite- corresponds to and aligns all seven chakras; strengthens will and vision

The month of Tevet is a month of anger and change. Last week I wrote about Tevet and change. Tevet is ruled by the liver which is seen as representing anger. Dan is seen as angry and immature but grows up to a man of maturity. Dan means “to judge”. Judgment corresponds to the evil eye, but when Dan grows up, the evil eye changes into the ayin tov. Speaking of ayin: the letter ayin means “eye”. You can read more about the meaning of Tevet here.

You could say that either any of these three stones are the biblical Leshem. After my research, I believe it to be kyanite specifically. Kyanite is a blue that looks like sapphire. It has white streaks in it. Kyanite balances all chakras (immaturity to maturity). But one last characteristic makes me think of Leshem as kyanite. Kyanite forms in blades. With Tevet being a month of hostility and change, and with Dan meaning judgment, it’s only fitting that Dan is represented by a blade. 

So there you have it. My opinion is that kyanite is the stone corresponding to Leshem. It is the stone of Dan- the stone of Tevet. With my birthday falling during Tevet, you could say that it is my birthstone. I’m ok with that. Kyanite has always been one of my favorites. 

Image attribution: By Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31148605 — Image size changed.

 

The Month of Tevet- Darkness to Light

We are currently in the Hebrew month of Tevet and the Gregorian month of January. Tevet began at the new moon in December and will end at the new moon in January. The lights of the last days of Chanukah are the brightest spot during Tevet, with the long, dark nights of winter making up the remainder of the month. Aside from those waning days of the Festival of Lights, there are no holidays during Tevet. 

 

Tevet is a month of spiritual darkness as well. The fast day, Asara B’Tevet (10th of Tevet), commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian exile when Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem during the First Temple period. This was the beginning of an exile that still continues today despite the fact of the Second Temple period. Just like today, not all Jews live there and call it home. 

 

This month also marks the finality of the Septuagint- the translation of Torah into Greek ordered by Ptolemy. This 70-man translation was completed on the 8th of Tevet. We might ask why translating a holy book into a common language is a bad thing. As with everything else in life, the issue lies with intent. There would have been no problem had Ptolemy’s intention been to provide a translation so that more people could learn from the Holy Book. Instead, the sole purpose was to treat Jewish scripture as any other book- instead of elevating humanity to the scripture, he wanted to lower scripture to humanity. It doesn’t matter what scripture, if any, you follow. All scripture exists to bring humans to a loftier purpose far beyond our mere capacities. 

 

It’s all about change. Tevet marks a month of change. Change, however, doesn’t have to be bad. It can be, as we see from the 8th and 10th of Tevet. It’s also a catalyst for good. Tevet coincides with January which is a time of change. Many people use this time of the new year to make positive changes in their lives. The month is one of darkness, but we can transform that darkness into light. We can be aware of how change can create turmoil, but we can take that turmoil and chaos and transmute it for our good.