Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan began Oct. 18 and continued through Oct. 19. This month is often called “Mar” Cheshvan, meaning “bitter,” without holidays to celebrate. This year, we might feel relieved that we’ve moved through Tishrei, having reimagined our observance of all of the holidays, and can now rest again, because there are none. That, alone, may flip the energy to ram, or elevated, Cheshvan. Making bitter better is our task this month.
Cheshvan’s Zodiac sign is Scorpio, represented by the scorpion. People born under this sign are loyal, resourceful and passionate. With no gray area, they may be manipulative, controlling, obsessive and jealous. We have to monitor these qualities in ourselves, preventing the sting of the scorpion’s tail. Scorpio is a water sign, and water is an important element this month. On the 7th of Cheshvan, we pray for rain in the land of Israel. In our history, it was the time of the Great Flood. We also shed watery tears for our matriarch Rachel, on her yahrzeit, the 11th of Cheshvan.
The Hebrew letter is nun, like a scorpion with its tail raised. Currently, too many people are aligned with scorpion energy, ready to strike with poison at the hint of disagreement. There’s little tolerance, with many disowning lifelong friends because of differing opinions.
At the start of this New Moon, both Mercury and Mars went into retrograde. Mercury is associated with consciousness and the ability to form clear thoughts and communicate them. Mars, the warring planet, is associated with courage, impassioned anger and self-assertion. There are two full moons, Oct. 1, and a blue moon, Oct. 31. It’s a rare occurrence and that’s where the expression “once in a blue moon” comes from. A blue moon occurs once every few years.
Mercury is in retrograde through Nov. 3, which brings about breakdown in communication, appliances, as well as systems such as government and the postal service, for example. It doesn’t bode well, considering that’s Election Day. With that in mind, we’d be best served by taking actions to put Cheshvan’s water, rather than fuel, on the fires that will, undoubtedly, erupt. Mars goes direct Nov. 13, but its wake will be felt through December. When the warrior planet is in retrograde, there’s depletion of energy.
Our current astrology also suggests that this New Moon is different in that most herald a time to set forth plans and dreams for the month. This month, we’re advised to go inward to bring our inner stillness to the outer world.
The Tribe is Menasheh, the firstborn son of Joseph, who could turn darkness into light. Each of us has this personal responsibility. We can’t put it on others to achieve. As is written in the “Pirkei Avot,” Ethics of the Fathers, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
The sense is smell, which scorpions use to find food and hide from danger. Intestines are the controlling organ. They excrete waste and remove toxins from the body. Accumulated waste becomes combustible, seen as the “scorpion temperament.” Drinking water helps to quench the fire and flush the toxins.’
Meditation Focus: Imagine yourself floating on a raft on the ocean, tethered to Hashem so you won’t be lost at sea. Feel the magnitude of this moment in which you’ve arrived at the still point after the Holy Days, mindful of last year’s mistakes and your course in the coming year. Feel the waves gently lapping at the underside of your raft. Close your eyes or look up at the infinite blue sky. Hear the sounds of the seagulls flying. Breathe in deeply, smelling the salty air. Exhale tension. Lick your sun-kissed lips and taste the dried salt. Touch the textures of the raft and the water beneath you. Feel the light of G-d flooding your heart. Drift. Slowly return to the present, recharged but conserving your energy for the road ahead.
This month, let’s each plant a seed that holds the promise of a world, renewed, built on a foundation of love, integrity, peacefulness and hope. Then may those seeds be watered from above and may we become good stewards of this world.