Rosh Chodesh Av began Friday, the 13th, of July. Av is the Hebrew month in which we’re challenged with riding the rollercoaster of emotions. We reach the end of the three weeks of mourning that began on the 17th day of Tammuz, as we com-memorate one of the lowest points in our history. A Day of Disasters refers to the de-struction of the First and Second Temples that occurred about 656 years apart, both on Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av. It’s a day of fasting and recalling the suffering of our people at the hands of the Babylonians and then the Romans.
Additional tragedies that took place on this same day in different years include the decree that Jews would wander in the desert for 40 years until a new generation was born to enter the Promised Land. Jews were also expelled from England on this day in 1290, and from Spain, on this same day, in 1492. Columbus delayed his voyage by one day, while 300,000 Jews exited the country.
Linking the ancient practice of astrology to this history allows us to under-stand the influences that were, and still are, present during the month of Av. It’s the hottest month in the Northern Hemisphere, tempers flare, and during the summer eclipse season, there are explosions of one kind or another, often with devastating results. During an eclipse, there’s something obscured or hidden, and then revealed. The ancients feared these disruptions in the consistent order of the moon’s cycles. The polarized south and north lunar nodes become activated in our astrological birth charts during an eclipse. Also called The Nodes of Fate, they bring up issues from the past to be revisited and illuminate changes on the path ahead.
Eclipse season happens twice a year. A solar eclipse occurs on a New Moon, when the moon passes between the sun and earth, temporarily obscuring the sun. A lunar eclipse happens on a Full Moon, when the Earth is between the sun and moon.
This summer, we have three eclipses. The first solar eclipse took place on July 12, during the New Moon. There’s a lunar eclipse on July 27, during the Full Moon, and another solar eclipse August 11, also during a New Moon.
We’re experiencing a time of transformation. Long-held beliefs, structures and patterns of behavior are dissolving, making way for new, uncharted possibilities. New Moons are always about beginnings, while Full Moons invite endings and letting go of what no longer serves us. Eclipses, in particular, push us to observe ourselves and the influence of others in our lives in order to create change.
Tisha B’Av takes us from the lowest low to the highest high, on Tu B’Av, the 15th of Av. At this time, the sun’s masculine energy is at its yearly peak. It converges with the moon’s monthly peak of feminine energy. This merging during the Full Moon invites an opening for one to find his/her soulmate. Monica Berg, author, and spiritual student and teacher of kabbalah, suggests that we should “focus on being the right person, instead of finding the right person.” If we are already in relationships, we have the opportunity to deepen them.
Av’s challenging task is to maneuver through polarized emotions. Elevate the dread associated with the 9th of Av to an empowered stance of learning from our past. We can’t let grief consume us and we can’t forget what happened. Learn to endure sitting within our own darkness and not allowing it to snuff out our light. Love is the balance point. Loving ourselves, with all of our quirks and imperfections, is a starting place. Others take their cues about how to treat us based on how we treat ourselves. Love yourself. Love others. Observe love from pets. They express emotions and return to love, each moment a fresh beginning. Follow the waxing and waning moon’s phases of presence and retreat to find your balance.
Meditation focus: Sit, compassionately, with the lowest point within you. Then open your heart to loving yourself, giving and receiving love, and emerge into the light of action.