Elul 5778

New Moon Reading

In the longstanding tradition of mystical Jews and lifestyle publications, we bring you New Moon Readings. They aren’t fortune telling or magic, and they’re not about luck or a mysterious power. They draw upon on the wise monthly themes of the Hebrew calendar, the influence of the solar system on our daily lives, and, sometimes, totally pagan prognostication tools (tarot!) to guide us.

This is New Moon Reading is brought to you by At The Well.

Welcome to Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar year.

Elul teaches us about the present moment, taking ownership of our lives, and being honest with ourselves. After a year full of tireless navigation, your moral compass may need some recalibration.

Roll up your sleeves and open your heart. The time is now.

This month kicks off our annual chance to look inward — individually, yet in the presence of our assembled community. We get ready to account for all that has not served us and begin the work of repairing a fractured mind and a fearful heart. The time is now to reflect on all the moments in this past year when we have “missed the mark.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to return to yourself.

Elul is a bridge. We came from the month of Av, when the Temple was destroyed. Our hearts and souls were both broken as we recalled that outward destruction. After Elul comes Tishrei, bringing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time when we promise to ourselves, our community, and the Divine that we’re ready to walk the walk, embody the light, and be our best selves.

Elul is the month when we start the slow rebuild from utter destruction.

Though the Jewish sages probably never set foot in an ashram in India or attended a yoga class in the woods, being deeply present in the moment is nonetheless woven into the fabric of the Jewish tradition. Elul is the time of year when the call to become aware of exactly where we are, and — from that heightened awareness — how to proceed is amplified to its loudest levels.

The Rabbis teach us that unconscious and conscious patterns of destruction constantly present themselves until we’re ready to acknowledge them and make a change. Elul is a month during which we can embody the power of choice and ready ourselves to hit the reset button.

The moral and spiritual turning of Elul is only complete when we find ourselves once again in the exact same scenario in which we previously “missed the mark,” a moment when we lost track of our divinity, acted from a hardened heart, and disregarded our beautiful, interconnected Oneness.

Of course we miss the mark. We’re humans.

It’s an unavoidable and beautiful part of our journey to constantly be messing up, ever revising and reinventing ourselves with redoubled integrity. Elul is the time of year to be honest about our humanness. As you embark on this process, tread lightly and meet yourself with compassion. Be sweet to yourself.

Speaking of messing up, it’s about time to ready yourself to forgive others for all of their messing up, too.

Anger and resentment are heavy, sticky things.

These feelings bind us to victimhood and tempt us to ignore our own culpability. Do yourself and the rest of the world a huge favor: act with radical compassion for yourself and all other humans. In Elul, begin to let go of whatever you’re holding onto so tightly. The release may purify, heal, and liberate you.

Hear that Shofar? It’s time to return to ourselves. It’s time to forgive.

This New Moon Reading is brought to you by At The Well, which connects women to body, soul, and community through wellness education and Jewish spirituality.

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