I have an ever so brief moment of stillness before all the loud living bodies return home from their expeditions of this day and we madly tidy up the space to welcome in our Rosh Chodesh circle for the evening. I have been taking advantage of this moment to do some last minute reading to make sure I am fully prepared for the evening and thought it would be more engaging to share what I found with all of you.
Tonight is Rosh Chodesh Adar I, the new moon and the new Jewish month of Adar I… a Rosh Chodesh that we don’t get to observe nearly as often as the rest as Adar I is our leap month…. occurring every few years. There is no certain amount of days or months that we have a leap year, but rather what we are doing is catching up to the solar month having years…. i.e.: The Gregorian year.
Since Adar Aleph is a leap month, none of the traditional yearly holidays are observed within in. This makes Pesach (and all other holidays this year, quite late). This month is also considered lucky and to be filled with joy… it is our prescription… to be joyous…. not a suggestion or an inclination that good things will befall us, but rather that we should choose joy with intention for the entirety of the month.
This new moon as aligns pretty closely to the Celtic holiday of Imbolc, the welcoming of spring. Imbolc falls right in the middle of winter… it is almost a mini solstice, alerting us that winter is now half over and that spring is, indeed coming, whether we can sense her yet or not. Many of the ancient Celtic traditions mirror many of our ancient traditions.
Some people visited holy wells, gathered holy water and made offerings to the earth and the sea. (often milk to the earth and oats to the sea). This feels reminiscent to me of the gratitude we offer to the trees in this waning month of Shevat.
In Jill Hammer’s “Book of Days” we learn about Cedar and how many things we used her branches for…. the tabernacle was built from Cedar wood, as were the roofs of our ancestors in the desert (in the winter that is). Rabbi Jill reminds us of a beautiful parable of Isiah running from soldiers bent on killing him and he encounters a cedar tree…. he stops and asks her permission to hide among her branches…. she acquiesces and he hides within her…. his tzitzit are seen and both Isaiah and the Cedar are slaughtered…. “It is as if the sap of the tree and the blood of the prophet were indistinguishable”. This story makes it more difficult for me to leave this month of trees.
As this month of trees does however draw to a close, we take with us the nurturing we have received by offering our gratitude to them… and the time of hibernation we have been ourselves experiencing on these long, cold, winter days…. is slowly, very slowly, coming to a close. Spring is on the horizon. Sap is very, very slowly, beginning to wake up within the trees, tapping season will be soon. Then, ever so quickly, the world will be bright, vibrant, green, and much more noticeably alive.
Our past two sugaring seasons have been cold and astoundingly busy, but as soon we have finally finished sloshing our buckets through the icy, cold mud and standing for far too long at the sugaring oven in the back yard…. its over. As if in the blink of an eye the entire world has been rebirthed.
Let us take that reminder to be gracious and to appreciate these last days of cold and snow, because they won’t be here forever…. and to really adore them, for who knows in this current situation we find ourselves, how long these seasons our people have loved and celebrated will remain the same.
Enough of that now… in a few hours we enter the month of joy and light silliness… it may be the best way to combat the fears of loss of not only this winter, but perhaps…. all of them.
We hope you can join our Rosh Chodesh circle this evening… or any month… and come sugaring with us when the sap is really flowing!