Kabbalah and the Wheel of Life: We’re All Connected

Throughout history, many cultures have practiced honoring the four directions as part of their connection to well-being, nature and spiritual harmony. In the Native American culture, the four directions are placed within The Medicine Wheel, also referred to as the “Sacred Hoop.” Each cardinal direction, East, South, West and North, hold the lessons of physical, emotional and spiritual balance. Symbolism is woven through each one in the form of colors, animals and elementals.

The Medicine Wheel is also known as “the wheel of life” where there is no beginning or end.  It represents a way of living that is always evolving and transforming.  By studying and calling in the four directions, we can begin to uncover our struggles so that our intentions and prayers can be realized.

“the medicine wheel shows us that we are all connected and shows us the intricacies of the interwoven threads of life and what our part in it all is.”

When life calls for a ceremony to open sacred space, such as prayer, ritual or meditation, the four directions can be invoked and become the sacred ground in which to do our spiritual work. By opening sacred space, permission is being asked from spirit to perform a ceremony in that space.

“within sacred space we have extraordinary spiritual assistance available to us. When we call within sacred space, the Universe conspires on our behalf.”

The history of the medicine wheel and the four directions varies within Indigenous cultures all over the world. Each culture honors the core belief that all things on earth are living and all things are interconnected. Whether the four directions are invoked through ceremony or daily living, there is a deep reverence and respect for the cycles and mysteries of life.

The wheel typically begins in the East, which is the place of the rising sun, the dawn of a new day, new beginnings and the Spring.  The East brings newness, and fresh starts. The East shines light in places where there was once darkness. Here you will find illumination and inspiration. The East is the element of air. It is the place where the eagle, hawk and condor live. In the East, we are able to gain a distant perspective on our lives; to see far into the future and understand what the best direction we are to take.  The East relates to childhood, adolescence, and correlates to the archetype of the teacher.

Next on the wheel is the South. The South symbolizes high noon, the element of fire and Summer. It is here that we learn about celebration, innocence, and travel. We dance our dance, sing our song, and share our existence with others.  Whereas In the East we have gained insight and understanding into our lives, it is in the South where we share that understanding. It is here we learn the lessons of the heart. Coyote, wolf and rabbit dwell here. The South relates to early adulthood and correlates to the archetype of the visionary.

The West is the dusk, the element of water and Autumn. It is in this place that we begin our journey inward to reflect on the expansiveness and extroversion of the East and South. The West is the place where we look within. Here we are shown the unhealthy patterns that we must let go in order to become who we truly are. This is the lesson of the trees who, in Autumn, drop their leaves to nourish the Earth once again. Bear and Crow reside in the West.  The West represents a time of great emotion as we slow down and gather ourselves for the winter ahead. The West relates to adulthood/middle age and correlates to the archetype of the healer.

The final turn on the medicine wheel is the North. The North is the night, the element of Earth and the Winter. The North is the place of nothingness, where we return to the Great Mystery to receive our vision which began in the East.  The North is the place of the dreams; the day dream, the night dream and the life dream. This is the where we dream deeply in order to envision our life purpose and who we truly are. Ancient elders and wise ones live in the North, but we must be able to open ourselves to receive their wisdom. The buffalo dwells here.  The owl and other nocturnal animals reside here as well. The North relates to elder-hood and correlates to the archetype of the warrior.

In the Book of the Zohar, (Kabbalah)  the four basic elements (air, fire, water and earth) are mentioned, as they refer to the parallels between these elements, the four corners of the Earth and the four ministering Archangels; Raphael, Guardian of the East, Michael, Guardian of the South, Gabriel, Guardian of the West and Uriel, Guardian of the North. These angels are also referred to as the Guardians of the Gateways.

The Holy One created Four Cardinal Directions in the world – East, South, West and North. East, from where the light shines forth into the world…..As the Holy One, blessed be He, created the Four Cardinal directions and four standards corresponding to them, so also did He set about His throne, Four Angels – Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel.

 – Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 2:7-10

Kabbalah is an ancient wisdom that reveals how the universe and life work. Kabbalah literally means “to receive” and is the study of how to receive fulfillment in our lives. Kabbalah is not a religion but a blueprint for living in order to become closer to God.

In Kabbalah, the Star of David symbolizes the six directions of space (East, South, West, North, Above and Below) plus the center,which is God. The six points symbolize that God rules over the Universe and protects us from all six directions.  How beautiful is that?

You see those triangular shapes?  They are the actual alchemical symbols for the four elements.  Put them all together and you get the Star of David. Fascinating, right?  I thought so.

So tell me, what do Native Americans (not to mention Peruvians, Celts and others) and, ancient Jewish people from two complete and separate parts of the world have in common?  God.  One God. We are all connected my friends. This is all part of the Great Mystery.

I have to tell you, once, when I was a kid, I saw a lady in the synagogue during the High Holidays. She was dripping in turquoise and gold. She was wearing some kind of hat with feathers sticking out all over the place. I know she thought she looked stunning, but to me, she looked like she was wearing a small turkey on her head.  Well, that’s what came to my mind anyway.  It was Yom Kippur so I was fasting and was ravenously hungry. That hat was starting to look good……… but anyway…………that’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to commonality between Jews and Native Americans. 🙂

I have begun incorporating the invocation of the four directions into some of my own spiritual practices. I create a protective circle/sacred container around myself with my selenite wand and then reverently call in the quarters (directions). Instead of “create a circle”I could say “cast a circle” but then some of you would probably get all nervous and jittery and think I’m a witch and shit like that.  I know “casting circles” can have a negative connotation.

The truth is that circles are actually cast (or created, if you prefer) for protection from negative energies. I usually create a circle/sacred container around myself while doing any type of spiritual work, especially readings and meditation. Just for the record, I have nothing at all against witches. I know quite a few witches.  Besides my ex mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, pu, pu, pu, witches are wonderful people who only want to bring light, love and healing into the world. There are all kinds of witches, even Christian witches. No lie. Google it.

I am open to all religions and beliefs but I don’t mess with that dark and twisty stuff. No dead chickens on my altar. Nuh uh. Not me.

Yes, I said “altar.” Nothing to get all freaked out about. Altar is synonymous with shrine, sacred space, hallowed space; holy space.   I have several altars in my home. One for healing, one for manifestation, one to celebrate the moon, one to honor and work with the nature spirits and one for holidays of all faiths.  I have crystals out the ying yang (but I still NEED more).  They bring beautiful energy to my home and to the sacred spaces within my home.

So how did a nice Jewish girl from Philadelphia get to this place? And, I do mean really nice Jewish girl. In fact,  I was a virgin until I got married. Okay, you got me on that one but still, a nice Jewish girl at heart.  Now I’m at the point in my life where I would rather have crystals than shoes.  That’s just blasphemy where I come from.  I’ve even thought of selling one of my Tory Burch bags for this awesome shamanic journey crystal generator that is calling my name.  Some times I don’t even know who I am anymore.  🙂 

For those of you who have asked, my husband, Al, is fine. His latest thing is buying used spiritual books on Ebay and Amazon.  Right now, he’s going down the Kabbalah rabbit hole with me so he’s buying every book he can find.

Al: “It was only .99.”

Me: “Yeh, but honey, the shipping is $12.00 and you don’t even read them.”

He hands me a yellow highlighter.

Al: “You read it and just highlight the good parts for me.”

Al goes to church every Sunday but gets daily emails from “Ask the Rabbi” or some shit like that.  I’ve even caught him kissing the mezuzah on our door post while making the sign of the cross.  He’s either a little conflicted or covering all of his bases – not sure which.

But, even though I’m Jewish I shouldn’t complain. Al is a good man. He never tells me not to buy MORE crystals or MORE herbs and essential oils or take yet ANOTHER class.  Ha! Probably because he doesn’t know how much I spend.  You see, I have this gimmick going with the checkbook.  In the registry, I simply enter…………oh crap, I can’t share this here! Sorry. Private message me and we’ll talk.

I leave you with this thought:

A necessary condition for spiritual elevation is a continuous quest for a bond with the Creator.

(Rambam, Ilchot Yesodot Torah)

Love and Blessings,

Dana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meshugganah in the Bible Belt

phontoWhen I moved from the city to the country, I had no idea that my spiritual journey was going to evolve the way it did. It wasn’t my idea to move to rural Pennsylvania (and I do mean rural) – it was my husband’s idea. Of course it was his idea. There’s lots of stuff for HIM to do like hunt and fish – both of which Jews don’t normally do. Especially the hunting. Jews go to the deli and hunt for the perfect sour pickle and a deal on a pound of lean corned beef (after all, why should you pay for the fat?) Then, you go to the bakery to squeeze the rye bread to find the freshest one. Now that’s how you hunted for food where I grew up.

You’ve heard of the”Borscht Belt”? Well I was now a Meshugganah in the “Bible Belt” of Pennsylvania.

Being a city girl, I knew this move was going to bring great challenges and changes for me.  For the most part, I was open to them. I wanted my daughter to be able to grow up away from the negative influences of the city. This was going to be a great adventure for me and my family. I was leaving row house living and moving to a beautiful single home on 14 acres on the top of a mountain! (later dubbed “the frozen tundra”) IMG_0059

I always thought my home would be a split level in suburbia. God really does have a sense of humor. We were leaving everything behind and starting over; new house, new friends, new business venture. I quit my well-paying job. My husband sold his business. I wasn’t afraid. I was excited. The truth is, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Living in the country was complete culture shock. First, no Bloomingdale’s. In fact the closest mall was 1 1/2 hours away from my home. I had never heard of a “Bon Ton” but I quickly learned that they don’t sell Michael Kors. Not that I would need designer clothes where I was now living. Welcome to the land of  Carhartt, flannel and muck boots.

Me:    What is that awful smell everywhere?

Al:     Oh, the farmers just flopped the fields.

Me:   Huh?

In other words – fertilizer. Eau de Cow Poop or Eau de Horse Poop. Whatever it was it stunk, but it was all the rage. All the farmers used it. It was their signature cologne. It was just freaking lovely sitting behind them in church.

Second, much to my dismay, I found that PENNDOT does not come by at 6:00 A.M to clear the snow from the dirt road where I lived. I sat at the window on the morning of our first snow (um like 2 feet, I think) with my coffee, waiting for the snow to be plowed. I grew increasingly annoyed with every passing minute that the road crew didn’t show. I began to pace furiously.  My husband asked what my problem was.  And that’s when I found out that PENNDOT doesn’t plow my road.

Who the hell plows the roads then?

The local township plows the roads and they “get here when they get here”

WTF?  How am I supposed to get to work and get my daughter to the bus?

Duh. That’s why I bought you 4 wheel drive honey.

Oh Shit

I guess I should have paid better attention when Al was teaching me how to use the 4 wheel drive correctly. Yep, that was the day I put my pick up truck in the ditch. I was screwed. There was no one around to help me. I started walking (it was going to take a while) when I saw a truck coming along. I actually put my thumb out. I had never, ever done that in my life. My mother would have killed me. Jews don’t get tattoos and they definitely DO NOT hitch hike. But hell, I wasn’t in Philly anymore.

I got a ride to the one pump gas station “country store” which was four freaking miles down the road. On my way inside to use the phone (no cell service) I walked past three township trucks with shiny snow plows all parked out in front of the store. When I went in, the township guys all looked nice and toasty drinking their coffee with their white powdered sugar-coated lips.  After a lively exchange, (actually it was only me doing the talking (yelling)) I made some new “friends” that day.  The coffee drinking, donut eating township guys were kind enough to get my truck out of the ditch.  When I got home that night my whole road was nicely plowed along with my entire front lawn! Satisfaction and mirth emanated from my soul. I was joyful! The next morning I baked cookies and took them to the “men at work” (haha) at the store  (oh, did I tell you I got fat living in the country?) and I was in! I was almost “one of them” Yaay! No more issues! The guys were even waving to me as I drove by now. Progress.

A few years later I found out the incident that day was the topic of many jokes for a very long time. Some of the locals would gather at the firehouse and they would literally “take bets” on how long it would take my family to move down off of that mountain.  I understood that the townspeople gave us a lot of respect for living up on Mt. Everest. 🙂  I joke but all in all the people were good even if some of the local volunteer ambulance crew was known not to show up for a call if they didn’t like you. (No joke) Thank God I was a good baker.

I learned lots of new words living in the country. For example,  the word, Grange. Grange is a community organization with its roots in agriculture. I think our local “Grange” was more like something out of the Thomas Tryon novel, Harvest Home. I wasn’t really sure what they did in that building even though it was said to be where quilters gathered on Tuesday nights. Yeh right.

I also learned that water (pronounced “wooder” in Philadelphia) was actually pronounced”watter” in these here parts.  I still can’t bring myself to say “watter” although my husband and my daughter both crossed over to the dark side of country twang.  A roof was a “ruff”, a root was a “rut” and the only directions given were “upta or downta” as in upta the fire hall or downta the township building.  e.g. The Halloween party is upta the fire hall tonight. I’m still not sure if  door to door trick or treating wasn’t allowed because we lived in such a rural area or, because of the Grange. I’m telling you something was going on in that building and people knew they shouldn’t be “in town” after dark!

I knew I was different from the locals immediately. The fact that they referred to my family and I as “flatlanders” was a clear giveaway that it was going to take some time to win them over. How would we start a new business with attitudes like that? I will never forget our curiosity seeking first customer. He came into our business and drawled,   “It’s nice to have you here.  I sure hope you don’t have to go on welfare until your business makes it because it could take a few years for people to start to like you, you know.”  Wow! Thanks! Please stop in again. By the way, he didn’t buy anything.  The second customer who came in just wanted to use our fax machine and gossip about the neighbors. I was in hell.

Was there any place to get a manicure around here?

IMGP1715anewMajestic mountains, pristine countryside still untouched, fresh air and golden silence (you hear that? nope. that’s right) except for the time my neighbors cow herd ran away and decided to camp in my back yard at 3:00 A.M. The farmer was pissed when we woke him up and asked him to come get his cows.  What, not your cows? Oooops, sorry. How can you tell anyway? They all look alike to me. And, with all the beauty of the countryside and the “farmy” stuff going on, here I am, this citified Jewish girl, (with all of my teeth) riding through town in a shiny new red pick up truck blaring Bruce Springsteen and Hava Nagila on the stereo.  Between annoying the wrong cow owner and the townspeople talking about me playing *(see note below) “that music those people who have horns listen to,” I’m pretty sure my name was in the paper that week. I was quite possibly headline news.

Ah yes. The local “paper.” It was excellent reading for the toilet. (excuse the visual) It was the town gossip rag. It contained everything such as the price of apples at the local grocery store, hospital admissions and releases, church news, and a very interesting lost and found section. Lost: 600 lb. bull. What? How can you lose a 600 lb. bull? Drink too much corn liquor, did ya?  

Just about everyone went to church and the churches were all very cliquey. I was shocked (not really) to find that there wasn’t one synagogue around for hundreds of miles. People asked you what church you belonged to as if that defined you as a person. I quickly found that Catholics were a minority and there were “no damn Lutherans around here”. Okay then.

We began going to the Catholic church. Our first two friends in the area were the priest and the local undertaker. We were covered in the event of sudden death. I went to the Catholic church because I didn’t really have another religious preference at that time and also because my husband is a (mostly) practicing Catholic. The one thing I wanted more than anything from the church experience was family unity. Sunday was family day and everything that we did on Sunday, we did together. It was a wonderful time in our lives. So if going to church every Sunday was part of me living a wonderful life, I was okay with that.  If my grandmother saw me kneeling in church……….Oy, I can’t even finish that sentence. Never mind.

We got along great with the priest! He was awesome until you didn’t agree with him. He  would often come to dinner at our home. We got fat on homemade pie together (yeh baking pies was my newest hobby yee haw) and played lots of games of Pictionary. (what a sore loser he was). He stayed late into the night and always went home with a full belly and an argument from me. But he still kept coming back. (sort of like a Jehovah’s witness but not exactly) I’ll never forget the night he told me that dogs can’t go to heaven because they don’t have a soul. When I was finished arguing with him, he didn’t speak to me for weeks.  LOL! I loved how “human” Father Joe was even though he really tried his best to be “holy.”  It was great.

We lived in the country for 8 years. Those years were rich in unique learning experiences and filled with many, many moments of joy.  Something was always missing, however. Spiritually speaking I think one of the biggest things I learned when I lived in “Green Acres” is what I DIDN’T want to do with the rest of my life.  I didn’t want to stay in a place where my spiritual growth was stunted. I longed to be with people who had open minds and hearts. There weren’t too many options for social media interaction back then. Wow, that sounded prehistoric!

My daughter went to college. She was hours away and I missed her. Without the whirlwind of her activities and friends, I turned inward. There was definitely a lot of empty nest syndrome going on.  I sat at the computer for hours like a pathetic puppy just waiting for her to get on AOL. I spent a lot of time alone and did a lot of reflecting. I wanted to be closer to my daughter and I knew she would never come back to the country. Her career path was city track all the way. I also wanted to be somewhere where I could make a difference in people’s lives. I had so much inside of me that I wanted to give. The wonderful but very closed-minded community in which I lived wasn’t going to allow for that. It was time to say goodbye.

I cried the day I left my beautiful home in the mountains. I still cry when I think about it because of the wonderful life we had there. We were so blessed in so many ways. I’ve been in my new home for almost nine years now.  My daughter never did come home. She graduated college, went to grad school, got married, had children and has a very successful career. I’m grateful to live only two hours away from her.

I always maintained that if my daughter was able to become a college graduate and never have to worry about anyone taking care of her, I would die happy.  Thank God, Kine-hora, pu pu pu this happened for her. I’m thrilled for her happiness but I don’t want to die…….not yet.  I’m not ready. I need something for me now. I spent 21 years micromanaging her. (her words) –  kill me. how does a daughter say such things to a mother? I’m ferklempt from this kid.

It was now time to do something that would make my soul sing.

Look out. Here I am and I have a hell of a lot more to say! Come back next week and visit me again!

Love,

Dana

*Note – my grandmother always told me that the only reason the world thinks that Jews have horns is because there was a statue of Moses at 52nd & Parkside in Philadelphia, where he was depicted with “high hair.”  I cannot corroborate that such a statue ever existed, nor can I say that said statue started the rumor that “Jews have horns.”

Glossary:

Borscht Belt:         a resort area in the Catskills, frequented mainly by Jews

Meshugganah:     Crazy

Kine-hora:             An expression used to ward off the evil eye

Pu, Pu, Pu:             Jewish equivalent of “spitting” to ward off the evil eye

Ferklempt:            When you well up and are on the verge of tears