Av is about experiencing our hearts in the most present and animated capacity. The most difficult month of the year, Av is about keeping our emotional and spiritual balance as we move between the extremes of sadness and joy, mourning and celebration. Ultimately, it is about understanding that the real temple is inside of us. We take pause in the heat of summer to remember history; our personal and collective.
Historically many tragedies befell the Jewish world on the 9th of Av-Tisha b’Av. The two temples were destroyed, in 1492 Spain expelled the Jewish population and the gas chambers of the Holocaust were put into operation to name a few.
However, on the 15th of Av-Tu b’ Av joyous things occurred. On the 15th of Av the relationship between the tribes of Judah and Israel were reestablished. The prohibition of intermarriage between the tribes was abolished and we were again enabled to flourish. This day became a day when hearts were mended and in turn became a day when all was forgiven and soul mates were now found. The Talmud connects this day to Yom Kippur. We have come through the despair and judgment.
The month begins with the destruction of what many consider to be the standing heart of our faith and ends with the rebuilding of our heart through joining in love.
The letter that created the month is Kaph and the letter that rules the sign for the month, which is Leo, is Tet. The soul fixing-tikkun- is hearing. The permutation is Hey Vav Yud Hey. The element of the month is the fire of Leo. The tarot card is Strength.
Kaph is connected to the source. Its numeric value is 20 which puts it in direct relation to the letter Yud whose value is 10. Yud is the letter that begins every other letter, every utterance. It is the closest to source, the divine, of all the energy paths of all the letters. Kaph means palm, and the palm can catch that source and give it over-as in healing, or the palm can close and hold back. Bring down the light and actuate the potential is the light, the sun of Kaph.
Tet is the container that can hold, hide or share what it has, for good or for bad. It can vacillate and vibrate and beat like the heart of a lion or it can be still and even like a snake in cool shade. Although Tet means serpent it also begins the Hebrew word ‘good’, or ‘tov’ and also, according to Rabbi Akiva refers to mud. Its numeric value is nine which is a number of foundation. Tet also resembles a womb, which also relates to the 9 months of pregnancy. It is also a number that depicts work.
The light of the Kaph can illuminate the mud of our earth and give us the impetus we need to use the tools to rebuild and rebirth in our hands and under our feet. The energy of Tet can help us do this and contain the work we need to do through our hearts in this world. The fire of love and illumination, compassion and balance can guide us.
Leo is the fierce and magnanimous lover. Majestic and giving, Leo has a heart as big as the universe. This can warm you, but it can also burn you if it gets out of control. When you hear through your heart, it opens and becomes deep and quiet. Leo-the proverbial ruler of the forest-the one with ego enough to take on that position- will thrive if that ego is healthy and unselfish. But an ego that is out of control has a roar that overrides everything else. It has no capacity to hear because it is using up all the airwaves. Leo can be selfish and demanding of center stage as it can also be giving. The fire of Leo can heal or destroy. The month is infused with the fires of the heart which emanates from Leo.
Hearing is the soul fixing of this month. Hearing is really quite a complicated sense. As with all the senses, it is a primal gate to our souls, hearts, spirits and even our secrets. It is hard enough to hear your own thoughts and soul clearly with all the processing and inner work that goes on in Av, so being present enough to hear another can seem an insurmountable thing. But isn’t this what Av entails-rising above the insurmountable? To hear truly means to quiet yourself and take in another from their deepest depths to yours. True hearing involves all the senses, you see beyond the physical, touch beyond the outside. Until you can hear on this level, how can you really connect? Will you open yourself to hearing the voice of the divine, the tones of the natural world, the breath of your soul and the hearts of others?
This is where the letters can help. To begin to hear another you need to give them yourself in total presence. Imagine your hands palms up-visualize the Kaph and let it’s energy offer yourself to this person. And then, let the Tet energy help you contain, receive and hear them. I invite you to also do this for yourself.
One of the names for the ‘Creator’, the ‘Divine Intelligence’, or G-d/dess is comprised of 3 Hebrew(one of the letters is used twice in this name) letters that are never pronounced. (The letters are just said in succession. This is a sign of respect for this particular energy. Let’s leave this for another posting.) As each month has a different energy, these letters are rearranged, or given different permutations to further enhance each month’s energy and teachings. They can also be meditated and energetically worked with. As there are 4 different spiritual worlds-of which ours is the lowest and most dense; each letter is connected to one of these worlds. The letters are rearranged for each month, so the way the four worlds come into play varies, and again, imparts a lesson. These four worlds, from ‘highest’ to ‘lowest’ are Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah. Again, let’s go into these in another posting. These letters also correspond to the Tree of Life and the energy centers-think of them as chakras on tree branches-that are 4 levels on the tree.
These are, from highest to lowest- Keter, Chockmah/Binah, Zeir Anpin and Malchut.
So the permutation for Av is: (read from right to left-backwards from English).
Hey Yud Vav Hey
So just looking at the different levels, you can see that this month is about the reverberation between searching and intuiting for wisdom and understanding, to bringing in down into a form you can begin to understand, then releasing yourself to the highest source for inspiration and to imbibe you and then coming down to a level where you can really work with it. We go from level to level taking the energies and lessons and building upon them.
1-We try to understand our troubles and gain some insight
2-We now have a little more ability to do the work we need to do
3-We need more, some support and connection to the big ‘why’
4-We are now wiser and more grounded in our lives to grow and heal
The tarot card for the month is Strength.
Is she opening or closing the lion’s mouth. Are they at peace, or is there a struggle. This is ambiguity illustrated. It is your choice what you want to do with the teaching in this card. She has come to the natural world with a pure connection to the infinite-as can be seen by the leminscate, the sign of eternity, over her head. The lion is of the earth with a full mane to shimmer in the sun and dance with the wind. This is a meeting between two types of passion. One is a quiet passion for knowing and being in place within eternity, while the other passion is raw and impulsive, proud and primal. It takes the clearest strength for these two characteristics to find balance. We have the ability to be the lion and be the shine of the infinite. Compassion is the mate of passion and Strength,from the deepest part of us, can show us this.
So Av is about creation, re-creation, the holy within and without, the profane within and without. It is about listening, strength, the holy containers-ourselves and the divine, about mourning and rejoicing. We ponder the past and try to understand the reverberations they have on the future and our present. The world was created by contraction so that there could be a space for creation to occur. We contract to make space for others and for what else we need in our lives. We contract our inclination to hold onto what is no longer serving us so that we can make room for what we do need. Ultimately, the temple is never lost because it resides within each of us.