Envisioning Sabbatical Culture
// a shmita manifesto by Yigal Deutscher
7seeds.org // email@example.com
Where ancient mythology and Jewish wisdom traditions merge with the cultural journey of evolutionary awakening & transformation.
These are potent times of transition, from perceived scarcity to revealed abundance, from the age of the individual to the age
of the communal. The invitation is wide open for us all to reimagine the story of Self, the story of Community. In this momentum of growth, there is a stirring and rising of the ancient memories planted deep inside us from the wisdom and tales of our early ancestors. In this timeless story, there is a code which lays out the vision for a sacred community that is grounded in abundance, equality, generosity, love, and the ability to have trust in the unknown. This code is held within the Shmita cycle. Shmita, literally translated as the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Year of Releaseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and more widely known as the Sabbatical Year, is the focal point of Jewish earthbased traditions. Shmita is more than a calendar year; it is primarily a way of being, a blueprint for a sacred, whole-systems culture, one grounded in vibrant, healthy and diverse relations between self, community, ecology, economy & spirit. 7Seeds embraces the Shmita cycle as a universal guiding principle & healing offering for all peoples. We are relearning the practice of Shmita for the modern age, offering practical applications, empowering the design of local, sustainable, and spiritually vibrant communities. This process is deeply motivated and inspired by the teachings of Jewish Spirituality, as well as the designs emerging from the Permaculture, Transition Town, and Cultural Mentoring movements. Through creative education, our desire is to create an open platform to dance with sacred, powerful and challenging questions for this age of transition.
A Love Like That
You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth, "You owe Me."
You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving." The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish. See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness. Kahlil Gibran
Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky. The earth would die if the sun stopped kissing her. Hafiz
And Elohim said, Let the earth sprout forth vegetation: Seed bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind that bear fruit with the seed in it. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: Seed bearing plants of every kind and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And Elohim saw that this was good. Bereishit 1:11
Remembering Our Lives As Seeds
Patiently, they lie in observation, their outer skin holding guard to the wild possibilities of life, quietly waiting within. Impregnated by the rains, by the sun, by the moist earth, they grow, until there is a breaking and stretching of form, a birth. The original seed is now a shoot, emerging from the womb of the soil. This begins the journey from seed to seed. This new being will grow limbs, stretching forth towards the heat of the sun, sinking deep into the nourishment of the soils. And again, when the conditions feel right, this being will fold in on itself, once more, as seed. Seed is rebirth, reproduction. Seed is pure confidence, graced by the humility of surrender, in trust and faith, into the dark unknown. Seed is marriage of past & future, a gift of process and transformation. Each seed proudly carries its own unique identity, while knowing it is only but one of millions. Seed is entirely womb, a vessel, a carrier for what will finally come to be, only when the seed no longer is. All life is seed, or somewhere in the journey from seed to seed, from exhalation to inhalation, from expansion towards contraction. This link can never be broken. Spirit sowed creation as a seed of space in the primal churning waters of Tohu vâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Vohu. Creation sowed our planet Earth into the silky, inky oceans of the Milky Way. The Sun is seed, the moon is seed, pregnant with the fruit of light. The heart is a seed, with roots and shoots stretching throughout our human body. We, too, are seeds, germinated from the wombs of our mothers. And we, too, are seed carriersâ&#x20AC;Ś Sowing what we may become, when we no longer are. Each story is a seed, passed with care, from hand to hand, heart to heart, ear to ear, each generation, from ancestor to ancestor, to be planted inside us. Can we remember ourselves as seeds? Can we remember the sacred seeds we carry, in memory, song, story? Each word we speak, each action, each thought. These are sown seeds. Can each sowing of a seed be a prayer, an ecstatic longing for remembering, a wild passion for dreaming? Inside each seed are the codes for its own survival, and the possibilities of its own evolutions. The journey of Seed is dynamic, a union of stability and spontaneity, a journey guided by the wisdom of ancient memory, and freely open to the wildness of the moment, open to relationship for what may be on the lips of the wind, or the kisses of the butterfly. Come, carry with you all your seeds. Gather together to renew the village heart, like a village seed-bank, a collection of seeds most beautiful in her diversity, in her colors, in her stories. This is the time to plant, as a village, the seeds of our ancestors, the seeds of our own being.
In the beginning, Elohim created the Heavens and Earth. The earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the waters. And Elohim said, Let there be Light. And there was Light.....And Elohim blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because on this day Elohim ceased from all the work of creation. Bereishit 1:1,Bereishit 2:3
Seven Seeds of Creation Into the womb of darkness, Spirit planted a seed of light. This is the seed of life, the blueprint of all creation. This light was sown 7 times, each one a gift creating the dimensions of our space, and the beings that fill it. From this light, all life emerged. Each sowing flowered into a new fruit, birthing all our relations, our teachers, our elders, our brothers and sisters of creation. Sun, Moon, Stars. Rivers, Lakes, Oceans. Mountains, Valleys, Meadows. Trees, Plants, Herbs. Birds, Fish, Mammals, Insects. Into this family, into this timeless story, we were born. And on the seventh sowing came the seed of Shabbat, carried by the waves of the ocean, the songs of the stars, the winds of the heavens. All of creation unfolds within this cycle of seven. Surrounded by the six directions, East, South, West, North, Up & Down, it is within the nexus of the seventh direction, the sacred center, where all forces join together and sprout forth. Seven is the wellspring of nourishment; a period of stillness, wholeness and completion which energizes the period of creativity which follows. The dance of six and seven, of rest and action, of the six days of creation and Shabbat, are in eternal, dynamic balance, creating the cycle which is the cosmic momentum of life. The fabric of the entire Jewish cosmology, culture, and story is interwoven with the patterns of this cycle, the gift of the seventh seed, which creates our collective, evolving body. As we welcome the Seventh day in our Shabbat prayers of Lecha Dodi, we say ‘She is the source of blessing for all creation…last in deed but first in thought.’ Surrounded by the inhale and exhale motion of the week, Shabbat offers us a sacred temple in time. This is the fine edge where inhale and exhale meet; where end and beginning meet; where past and future, return and renewal, merge together in balanced harmony. It is in this place where the flow of time returns into itself, completing one cycle, like the mouth of a serpent meeting its own tail, and spiraling onwards. As we journey and explore beyond the sacred center, the invitation is to always return, to surrender, to come home and sink in to this moment of timelessness, this empty space of stillness. If we are able to return to this place, and settle in, for just a moment, we will meet the womb of unity, the seed of Shalom, the birthplace of Eden, the heart of creation, the sacred center of our own very being. We are invited to drink deeply from this flowing wellspring, to hydrate and nourish our bodies and spirit for the journey ahead. And as you drink from this wellspring, you are invited to recall another pattern of seven as old as the Jewish story itself, unfolding in the undercurrents of our collective memory and subconscious. If our weekly Shabbat is a 24 hour period of stillness, a fallow period surrounded by the 6 days of action, then Shmita, the Shabbat of the Land, is a year-long period of stillness, a fallow period surrounded by 6 years of action. The Shmita Cycle invites humanity to design our communities and culture in alignment with this rhythm of 7, this journey from seed to seed, this pulse of inhaling and exhaling breath, always making space and time to celebrate the sacred center, to celebrate a period of stillness which will, in turn, bless the next pulsation of growth to follow.
And Elohim planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the human he had formed. And from the ground, Elohim caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to sight and good for food, and in the middle of the garden, the Tree of Life…To Adam, he said, by toil you shall eat of the ground, all the days of your life. Your food shall be the grasses of the field. By the sweat of your brow you shall get bread to eat. Bereishit 2:8, Bereishit 3:17
Tending The Tree Of Life From the midst of our earliest memories, emerges a story of idyllic beginnings. The childhood of humanity unfolded in a place of paradise, a place of abundance. In our first moments, of wildness and innocence, we found a world with all elements and all beings living side by side, in a web of diversity and synergy. We drank from a river rushing through the land, of clean, fresh, pristine water. We fed from an endless variety of trees, spread across the land. Without worry, we loved one another and fed on each other’s passion. We learned the language of the wild plants and animals, of the earth and the clouds. We were in the company of the Tree of Life, the central tree of the garden, whose roots held the earth together and whose shoots stretched out beyond the heavens, within whose veins ran the sap of creation, under whose shade all animals found rest, whose blossoming flowers filled the air with sweet fragrance, and whose branches held the weight of every type of desirable fruit. As Rumi says, there is a field, beyond right or wrong, beyond separation. Can you remember? Eden was a land of eternal Shabbat, the heart of the sacred center of creation. Perhaps this landscape is simply a myth, a legend. Perhaps this is just a fable an elder might share with wide-eyed children around the village fire, under a star filled sky. Perhaps this is simply nostalgia for a life we have never directly known. Regardless, the picture is clear: wild nature, wild human and wild spirit, in intimate relationship, in harmonic balance, in the midst of ripe fertility. And just as this story begins to take shape, it swiftly ends. The tale of Eden is less an actual telling of Eden, and more of a prelude to all that follows from it. It is only once we are removed from Eden that our story truly takes shape. Outside of Eden, we learned to sow seed, to till land, to cultivate. We learned what it is to dominate, to control. The story of what we refer to as civilization, the story of our sense of history, begins with the birth of agriculture. We cannot truly say what life was like before those first seeds were sown. Those memories are so distant to us. But one thing is for sure. In those first generations after Eden, when agriculture was gaining ground, relationships began to change. The era of choice was upon us. For the first time, there were enormous options to weigh. To farm or to gather? To domesticate or leave wild? To settle down or remain nomadic? It was the answers we chose which radically altered our thinking, reflected in shifting relationships between us and our families, between us and land, between us and Spirit. And it is those answers which unfolded in a process, creating a new story we still live in today. As we have witnessed through time, the arrival of agriculture brought with it endless possibility, both of abundance and devastation. This is an experiment we are still working on. After killing his brother, the first farmer in history asks, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper’? The answer, it would seem, is yes, we are all deeply connected, and the loss of this consciousness is the first sign of a broken culture. And to make sure we never forget that, every seven years, the gates of Eden are once again opened to us. On the Shmita year, we are asked to put down our tools, to lay aside the plow, and to walk into the wildness of our memories, to meet again the Tree of Life, to pick of her fruit and taste of her juices. It is the Shmita Cycle which is a direct answer to Cain’s question, a reminder for the ages. We may have left the garden, but we still hold the key to her gates. The question is: do we intend to use it?
Why was the Torah given in the wilderness of Sinai? To teach you that unless the people of Israel make themselves ownerless like a wilderness, they will not be able to attain the wisdom of the Torah. Bamidbar Rabbah 1:7
A Covenant With The Wild To leave land fallow is not simply to pause, or to create a static snapshot in time. It is to allow for a period of transformation and renewal. When we step aside, the land responds, and she does so by expressing her untamed, wild self, recalling a period beyond domestication, beyond cultivation. As we witness this unfolding, the invitation is to be absorbed by it. The word Shmita literally means ‘to release.’ To be able to access the gifts of Shmita, we must first allow for an unclenching, an exhalation, a letting go of a story in which we may have come to believe. This is a cultural story about control and manipulation, about ownership and a longing for security. It is a story we play out in agriculture, in industry, in the marketplace, in politics, in education, in the wild lands around us, and, perhaps especially, in our own heads. It is a story whose ending is quite delicate and fragile, very unstable despite all our economic and technological progress over the ages. On the Shmita year, this story fades away, the veil is parted, and, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says, we come face-to-face with the realization that ‘the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man.’ So as we witness the natural reawakening of land left fallow, perhaps we can meet our own awakened reflection. Perhaps we can extend ourselves to share in this process of re-wilding. In Hebrew, the home of all things wild is called Midbar, which is also translated as the Speaking Place. It is the place of truth, of clarity, of vision, where layers of separation are peeled back. It is a place which cannot be owned or purchased, a place beyond control. It is the place of revelation and the seat of curiosity. It is the home of the natural rhythm of death and birth, where life decomposes and sprouts forth in a seamless cycle. It is the home of alchemy and transformation, where the elements merge together in continual co-creation and communication. This place is our teacher. It is the wild which is the energy source for all things ‘civilized,’ an umbilical cord from which we can never be separated. We may be weaned from the breast, but no matter how deep within an urban setting we may find ourselves, our life comes to us from the natural force of the watershed, the soil, the air, the plants, the animals, and the wild ecology around us. The personal invitation extended to us by the Shmita year is to court the wild, to dance with it, to make it feel welcome in our lives, in our own communities, cities and homes. This is a time to learn from the wild; to enter into sacred relationship with this energy, for our own healing and education. To re-wild is to gracefully surrender to what we cannot control and to find security in the unknowable. To re-wild is to return to our natural state of being, to remember our origins, our innate instincts and wisdom. It is to open to the wild creativity coursing through our own veins. The word ‘will’ is rooted in the world ‘wild.’ At our deepest core, our primal desire to live, to survive and create, to love, is rooted in our own wildness. Shmita offers us a delicate edge where our two identities, our civilized and wild reflections, can meet and merge together, in union and love. And when the fallow time passes, and we do return to the tools of tilling and cultivating, marketplace and industry, we will be doing so as a sacred act, feeding the holy, feeding the wild within us and around us, nourishing that which continues to feed us.
In every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the Seventh Generation. Great Law of the Iroquois
What the Shabbat achieves regarding the individual, the Shmita year achieves with regard to the nation as a whole. Rav Kook, Shabbat Haâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Aretz
In the seventh year all are equal, and this is the real essence of peace. Kli Yakar, Devarim 31:12
When you enter the land that I am gifting you, the land itself shall rest. In the Seventh Year the land shall have a complete Shabbat. Six years you will sow your land, and gather in the land’s produce, but in the Seventh Year you will release it from work and abandon it, that the poor of your people may eat, and what remains shall be for the wild animals. And this is the tradition of the Shmita year: Every creditor shall release that which he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not demand the debt from his neighbor and his brother. Vayikra 25:2, Shemot 23:10, Devarim 15:1
Embracing The Shmita Cycle
These are the core principles of the Shmita year, the Shabbat of the land, as passed on from our ancestors:
Sabbatical Food System • • • • •
Land Stewardship: There is no seeding or plowing of agricultural land. Perennial/Wild Harvest: Primary harvests are based upon wild edibles and perennial produce. Full Ripeness: Harvests should be gathered at full ripeness. Seasonal Diet: Harvests should be eaten in their natural growing season. Eat Local: Harvests must be eaten locally. They cannot be exported.
Community & Food Security • • • •
Creating Commons: All agricultural lands are declared public and become community commons. Shared Access: All harvested and stored produce are declared public and shared equally. Fair Distribution: When harvesting, only collect specific to your immediate needs and not beyond. Sacred Harvest: Harvests have a special sanctity. They cannot be wasted or thrown away.
Community & Economic Resiliency • De-Commercialization: Produce can be harvested for nourishment & enjoyment; but not sold as a commodity, for the sake of profit. • Debt Release: All debts from previous years are canceled at the conclusion of the Shmita year. • Gift Economy: The value of exchange is based on the intention of offering of gifts, not the payment of money. How would you meet this year? In scarcity or abundance? How would your community celebrate this moment in time? What would this culture look like?
Shmita is our cultural wisdom tradition; a celebration of relationships, cycles, community, faith and resiliency. This tradition resurfaces our collective ancient memories from a distant past, offering a glimpse into the roots of holistic village culture.
The request is bold.
Shmita was only an ‘agricultural’ year in the sense that it directly involved food and land, something which affects all of us, not just farmers. If we were fully celebrating this tradition, here is how it would look: In a cycle of 7, on every seventh year, your community is asked to collectively participate in a cultural shift. There will be no seeding in the soil, there will be no tilling of the soil, private land holdings will be open to the commons, everyone will have equal access to food storage and perennial harvests, there will be no food sold at the marketplace, and all debts will be forgiven. Everyone will share in widespread abundance, as resources are redistributed and shared equally. The Shmita year has a depth that reaches into every aspect of society and culture, inviting forth a paradigm transition from global to local, from profit to wellness, from the realm of the private to the realm of the communal, from short term thinking to long term visioning.
Can you envision this?
Taken on its own, Shmita is a riddle with no answer. If, as this tradition boldly requests, we were to remove our collective reliance and dependency on agribusiness, real estate, banking, and food export-markets in today’s world, there would be an immediate systematic collapse. In order to begin to understand the intricate puzzle that is Shmita, we must first connect the 6 years to the 7th, the individual parts of the cycle to its flowering conclusion. The 6 years of the Shmita cycle are those of cultural design. In this sense, the Shmita year itself is a cyclical expression of a resilient culture rooted in community empowerment, communication, and mutual exchange, not the pressures of market influences. The Seventh year becomes the indicator year; the ultimate ‘check-in’ to see how we are collectively doing as a culture. It is the moment of stillness and calm in the rhythm of its own cycle; a celebratory space of observation and reflection, the
headwaters of vision and clarity, infusing and overflowing into all moments surrounding it. We have journeyed very far from this gift. It has been many generations, many cycles of sevens, since we can collectively say we have celebrated this tradition. Shmita is by no means at the forefront of our collective consciousness or cultural priority list. It does not define us in any way as a ritual like the weekly Shabbat may. When Shmita is recalled, it is usually referred to as an archaic notion or simply brought up as romantic idealism. To be fair, traditionally this custom was meant for the land of Israel alone. And after thousands of years of a Jewish faith developing while separate from the land of its origins, Shmita has been somewhat lost to us. It has now been 65 years since we, as a people, have returned to the land of our ancestors, the stories of our indigenous past. Our renewed presence in this particular place has opened up completely new ways of connecting with ancient pathways. So now is the time to ask some challenging questions: What if the Shmita Cycle holds some of the deepest wisdom and secrets of our people, and we have just fallen comfortable in the practice of ignoring this tradition? What if the root of our identity, our gift to the world, is directly interwoven within this forgotten earth-based cultural practice? And how can we embrace this value system as a healing offering for all people and all lands? It will take many years until we may rebuild and heal our culture so that the values of the Shmita Cycle can be celebrated in joy & abundance. This will be a very slow process. But the process is what we are working towards, as well as the destination. In the sacred space where ancient traditions and emerging visions meet, in loving embrace, we are reclaiming what we have forgotten but have not lost. Shmita has been dormant for thousands of years. In its rebirth it will look different, it will feel different. It will be whatever we will make of it. In order to hold this seed, to plant this seed and nourish her to full
potential and beautiful expression, we are being asked to redefine our notions of success, profit and value to support cultural vibrancy and vitality, not just marketplace sustainability. We are being asked to take responsibility for our choices, and to realize just how much power we have. And even while, at this moment, our end goal may seem impractical and unreachable, we are being asked to believe in process, to realize that all we can truly do is genuinely to offer our glorious, beautiful efforts. Ultimately, Shmita is a transition from perceived scarcity to revealed abundance, from the isolated self to activated community networks, from a paradigm of fear towards a paradigm of trust. It is from this place that we may reclaim our collective gifts, our humble place within the ecology of all beings, our intimacy with self & Spirit, our ability as holistic designers and cultural architects. This is an invitation to begin reconnecting the threads that have been broken, reweaving the relational webs, the pathways between us; creating a cultural tapestry of shared stories, visions, and care. Because as much as this journey begins with you, your dream, and your choices, it is a journey that depends entirely on community, on walking together, as a living social ecology, in mutual support, in beautiful humility, with courageous faith, to enter again into the rhythm of this cycle, welcoming and honoring the total mystery that awaits. The reimagination of the Shmita Cycle will be a groundswell, a spring bursting forth from the earth and flowing freely, a movement carried by a positive, bottom-up, solution-based momentum. This flow begins at home, with family, with neighbors, at the most local, grassroots level. The shift ahead comes from within us, expressed as community efforts, on our streets, in our synagogues, in our schools, in our community commons. Such a reclamation relies on the courage to ask challenging questions and locally act upon them by creating the change we want to live. And this journey continues through pulsing communal mycelia networks and webs of relationships, on the ripples of open sharing and collective empowerment, on the blossoming of education, justice, celebration, creativity, healing and hope.
Community Food Systems
Community Design Systems
Community Economic Systems
This is the riddle of the Shmita tradition. This is the pathway to abundance. These are the seeds of a timeless social ecology. These are the sacred questions to dance with: •
How can a community invest, truly and fully, in local, perennial, sustainable & resilient designs, organized and maintained by grassroots governing and implementation strategies, for our ecological systems, food needs, and economic exchanges?
What creative solutions can a community implement so that networks of local, non-monetary peer-to-peer exchanges, based on core values of trust, generosity, and compassion, may become more widespread?
How can a community weave a web of communication and activation that honors and celebrates and invites forth the unique gifts and diversity within each of her members?
How might a community do this in a regenerative, multigenerational way, empowering authentic and holistic relationships between Self, Community, Nature and Spirit?
How can we weave this web in a way that our lives may also continue comfortably, evolving alongside technology, science and business, while also honoring a commitment towards a triple-bottom-line?
Over the following pages are outlined some of the most widespread grassroots, community-oriented solutions that will allow us to invest locally in community-supported food systems, community economic systems, and community design systems. These are the foundations of a thriving whole-systems culture. These designs are not theoretical or symbolic. They are actively being engaged and experimented with throughout the world. They are happening everywhere, even in your own community. Spearheading the implementation of these ideas, planting the inspiration for community change, are 3 branches of the whole systems tree:
With the intention of creating a permanent-culture, this design methodology looks to Nature for guidance. In the intricate web of ecology and all her relations, we can watch and understand the patterns of living whole-systems. Mimicking these patterns within our own social designs, we can create a healthy, vibrant social ecology.
Transition Town Movement
Recognizing that change starts at home, in our own communities, Transition Towns create the communication and organizational frameworks that allow for effective, efficient empowerment, from the bottom-up. This energy awakens our powers of design and co-creation to begin relying on neighbors and implementing change together.
Inspired by the timeless cultural patterns of indigenous cultures worldwide, the Cultural Mentoring movement is reweaving the web of relations between Self, Community, Nature & Spirit. Our ability to awaken our senses as cultural designers and mentors is rooted in our connection to the wild around and within us. These 3 cultural design movements reconnect us to our deepest selves, to our place, and to the big picture we are a part of. The designs which follow have been motivated by these branches. With these tools, we can begin manifesting a whole-systems culture for our selves, for our children, for our friends and neighbors, for all of creation. These design tools are mostly common-sense, or actually, native-sense. They come from within. The solutions are not loaded with science or technology, complicated instructions or enormous budgets. As we peel away the layers of fear, of learned-helplessness, we will realize these tools all on our own. As we reclaim our native senses and awareness, as we fully embody this moment, we will once again realize we are dancing in the web of life. And the answers will become clear. These tools, these timeless wisdoms, are so deeply interwoven into our identity. These are our precious gifts, the keys to a culture that nourishes and heals. They are ours to use; ours to live.
Release from isolation & competition. Enter into collaboration, co-creation. Embrace mutuality, trust & reciprocity. Invest in sacred relationships.
Release from judgment & scarcity, expectations & worry. Surrender with faith towards mystery, spirit & the expansive moment. Take your time. Enjoy process and celebrate slowness. Practice compassion & nonviolence towards self and others.
Release from physical dis-ease & stress. Take the time for self-care, self-love & personal rejuvenation. Feed your creativity, passions & dreams. Keep your body vibrant & healthy.
Release from commodification & accumulation. Forgive debt. Keep resources circulating locally. Invest in Social Capital. Honor economic fallows & periods of financial inactivity.
Release your resources from private control & individual gain. Practice fair share, collective exchange & gift giving. Celebrate the Commons. Beautify public spaces.
Release your soils from cultivation. Practice no-till farming & permaculture design. Re-Wild the landscape. Let the soil rest
Release your self from industrial food. Harvest wild greens & perennial fruits, nuts, herbs, and berries. Eat local & seasonal. Eat ripe & fresh.
7 FORMS OF SHMITA / SACRED RELEASE
שלשלת הקדושה Shmita: Web of Sacred Relations
בין אדם למקום
בין אדם לנפשו
בין אדם לחברו
Between Human & Spirit Faith. Mystery. Surrender.
Between Human & Self Health. Creativity. Love.
Between Human & Community Trust. Generosity. Respect.
בין אדם לאדמה
בין אדם לרשתו
Between Human & Land Food. Soils. Commons.
Between Human & Wealth Money. Property. Ownership.
בין אדם לטבע
בין אדם לזמנו
Between Human & Wild Animals. Seasons. Place.
Between Human & Time Cycles. Ancestors. Children.
David Friedman Wheel Of Life
Diversity of One: Whole Systems Ecology This is the language of the forest, of the ocean, of the desert, of the prairie, of any natural, living ecosystem. The principles of ecology are the principles of healthy, living communities. Every biological community, from the smallest ones within our own bodies, to the largest ones that make life possible on our planet, express themselves as webs of relationships, as layers upon layers of interconnections, creating a whole system much greater and more complex than any of its individual parts. We, as humans, are no different. Our communities are social ecologies, and when healthy, will reflect the same patterns that we find in the wild around us:
individual parts, each of which is simultaneously a whole system in itself, while
1. Living systems are composed of also a smaller part of the larger system.
open boundaries, internally & externally, and are nested one inside the other, in constant
2. Living systems have energy cycling and exchange.
3. The properties of each individual part of a system can only be understood within the
context of the whole.
niche, performing a function that serves the whole. For a system to thrive, each part
4. Each part of a living system fills a must have a healthy, participatory role.
5. Living systems are organized as complex webs of invisible communications and networks of
relationships, where each part affects all others in multiple ways. 6. The parts of living systems, when working, will express emergent qualities that no single part will have on its own.
self-organizing & self-regulating, maintaining balance and adaptation through continual
7. Living systems are feedback loop communications. 8. Living systems are re-generation.
fluid & flexible in their evolution and growth, towards further complexity, maturation and
WATCHING BEFORE DOING
Ethical Intentions: People Care Earth Care Fair Share
IMPLEMENTING THE PROCESS
CREATING WHOLE SYSTEMS
1.NEEDS 2.RESOURCES 3.CHALLENGES 4.TIMEFRAME
Creating Whole Systems: Permaculture Design Work With Nature, Not Against Her: Read the Landscape Design from Patterns to Details
Catch & Store Energy:
Harness Natural Energy Flow Minimum Input / Maximum Output Re-Invest Resources
Produce No Waste:
Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle Turn Problems Into Solutions Pollution= Unused Resources
Use & Value Diversity:
Fill Every Niche Integration over Segregation Cooperation over Competition Utilize Edges & Maximize Interaction
Access & Circulation:
Create Open Channels of Communication Allow For Free Flow of Energy
Respect Relative Location Stack Functions(Every Element Has Multiple Functions) Plan For Redundancy(Every Function is Supported by Multiple Elements)
Creatively Respond to Change: Design for Fluidity & Adaptability Design for Short Feedback Loops
Small is Beautiful:
Local Health & Local Culture Start Small, Vision Large
Move in Rhythm with Natural Cycles: Respect Patience & Process Plan for Stages of Succession
Embrace Sustainable Strategies: Use Renewable Resources Use Appropriate Technologies
Reclaiming The Commons In Permaculture terminology, the edge is the unique space where two systems overlap and sync with one another. In our natural surroundings, this might be the spot where the forest greets the prairie, or where the fresh water stream greets the ocean. In urban settings, this might be the stoop, the playground, co-operative work spaces, a town square; anywhere that allows for ideas and voices to come together in a shared expression. This blending creates vibrant ecological and social systems which are rich in diversity, and overflowing with potential. The edge is a space of interaction and curiosity, of heightened possibility and productivity. While it may not always be comfortable, it is always very much alive. In the social fabric of our communities, the edge is known as the commons, the place where the individual and the collective merge together; the canvas which enhances the invitation of interaction. A commons arises when a community makes a conscious, committed decision to create, protect, access, manage and use shared space and time together. The commons is not simply a resource or a place; it is a relational worldview, it is a shared psychology of life. This is an experience of peer-to-peer participation, inclusion and cooperation, whose life force is social innovation and creativity. The commons recognizes the importance of developing strong personal and unique identities in anticipation of the endless possibilities that emerge when diverse creative minds and hearts come together. In the social, natural, and intellectual commons, we are the commons, we are all stakeholders, we are all investors, we are all accountable to one another, and we all reap the benefits together. As David Bollier, philosopher of the commons writes, this is â&#x20AC;&#x153;a social form that has long lived in the shadows of our market culture, and now is on the rise.â&#x20AC;? A commons-based society stands as witness against the Tragedy of the Anticommons: the sense of isolation and the dissolution of community empowerment, perpetuated by economic structures built upon the ideals of privatization and the acceptance of competition as a societal standard. At the root divisiveness between the commons and the marketplace are these questions: What is the worth of ownership? Does property first and foremost belong to the realm of the private or the communal? As we have developed a culture celebrating the freedom of the individual, what have we lost along the way? Ideally, what lies ahead is a synthesis of these two cultures; a market paradigm strongly influenced by the values of the commons, recognizing the inherent necessity of shared spaces, and the endless value that comes along with empowering local community members to invest in creatively using and maintaining such opportunities. Commoning is a verb used to describe the action taken to establish, protect and reclaim the commons in our everyday lives. It is the work of expanding the social edges within our landscapes, and creating a sense of belonging within such places, both tangible and psychological. The Shmita Cycle, rooted in the values of communal access and resource sharing, invites us to adopt this strategy and make it our own in the way we come together to design our community & business relations, tending to what affects us all. The Shmita Cycle asks us to consider the physical, emotional, spiritual fences in our lives. What would you need to start feeling safe and secure enough to begin unlocking the doors which keep you from the social edge, and all the possibilities dormant within?
On Scarcity & Abundance The invitation of Shmita brings us to the fine edge between scarcity and abundance. As we walk this cultural path, the gravity and emotional weight from both sides will pull at us, drawing us near to a truth and worldview that will determine how this cycle plays out. The desire for abundance- for pleasure, for security, for comfort- is understood. But to welcome this invitation is to also meet its shadow, a hunger with no end, a taking until there is nothing left. This ferocious hunger, which cannot be satiated, is the allusion of endless growth; it is greed and fear, a willing blindness to the spiritual, societal, and ecological devastation caused by such taking; it is a perpetual lack, an addictive consumption, fueled by a cosmic narrative where we are the center of all things, and everything is here to feed us. And this narrative is married to the Big Lie of a healing which can only come from ‘More’ and even ‘More’. Shmita shatters the idea of endless growth. Each 7th year brings a cessation, and puts limitation before us, without distraction or escape. This is by no means easy or comfortable. From what we know from Shmita past, our ancestors struggled mightily with this time. And we do, too. The Hebrew for seven, Sheva, shares the same letters as Sova, fullness, satiation. To be full is to be in right relation with the pattern and rhythm of seven, and the culminating rest/release that this cycle offers. Shabbat & Shmita presents us with a chance to meet true abundance. Abundance is not an endless wellspring from which to harvest, take until there is nothing left. Abundance is knowing when to stop; it is celebrating the finitude of things and the limited nature of life. It is knowing that there is an end to things, and being in right relationship with that end, as the end is not the end at all. The story continues, yet it is bigger than you, your own needs, your own desires, your own sense of privilege. To settle in to this space, with faith, trust, humility, is to enter into the possibility of abundance, one of gratitude and praise, of heartfelt recognition of all the gifts here with us, now. El Shaddai is one of the names of the Divine. Just as the Divine, this name holds the nondual nature of seeming contradiction. This name can be translated as the ‘Divine Breast’, the source of abundance, the milk & Manna of all life, a giving of continual nourishment and sustenance. And yet this name also means ‘Divine Enoughness’, the knowing when to stop, when to cease. Here, in this name and its dual meanings, is abundance as enoughness, and the sacred balance and relation between these seeming polarities. Here, enoughness is not less but a framing of celebrating what we have, while we have it. This is the medicine of the cycle of seven. Working towards abundance, and Shmita, is not a striving for more, it is a striving towards gratitude, respect, mutuality, love, compassion. This is the abundance of the Shmita year possible for us. We can’t create ‘more’ abundance. What we can do is recognize the abundance that is here, perhaps dormant, and to re-weave broken fabrics in self and community to return to the abundance available to us. Our job is to learn how to receive this, to participate fully, and to give back as we can with our own unique gifts.
receiving in order to give
giving in order to give
giving in order to receive
receiving in order to receive
Gift Consciousness The world was created through Chesed, the pleasure of giving with loving kindness. Tehilim 89.3 The natural desire of man, the Desire to Receive Only for Himself, was created only to be erased, and to be transformed into the Desire to Give. Indeed, when all human beings agree to abolish and eradicate their desire to receive only for themselves, and have no other desire but to give upon and share with their friends, all worries and jeopardy in the world will cease to exist. And we would all be assured of a whole and wholesome life, since each of us would have a whole world caring for us, ready to fulfill our needs. Baâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;al Haâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Sulam, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, Introduction to the Zohar Life is a gift. Our breath is a gift. We live in a world of abundance, in a world of beauty and endless possibility. And we also live with an internal and innate desire, a gravity of self-interest, of want and need, pulling at us. It is part of our biology, a natural component of our being. Consider yourself as a baby, helpless, being fully cared for by your mother. As much as you need to drink, a mother wants to feed you. There is a sacred bond in this exchange, in this flow of selfless, intimate love. We live surrounded by blessings, constantly in the flow of receiving and giving. To truly gift is to give of your own being, with time, with touch, with voice, with your own emotion and your own creativity, skills and resources, without a need for recognition, praise, or compensation. To truly receive is to enter into a debt of friendship, to humbly and gracefully recognize that we truly are dependent upon one another. What are some gifts you receive daily? Is giving and receiving in balance in your own life? The abundance around us is meant to flow freely, to cycle, always moving, and always shape shifting. We are conduits for this abundance, channels for their flow. The hunger to receive simply for our own profit, for our own security, can be overwhelming and convincing. This hunger can only be eased in its own evolution, in its own transformation into a desire to give, to share, to collaborate and create networks of flow, ecologies of exchange. The Shmita cycle speaks directly to this shared challenge, asking us to embrace the possibility of fully entering this abundance, of celebrating all it might have to offer rather than investing our efforts in attempting to control it or take advantage of it. This is an invitation to open in sensitivity to the needs of others. To create a culture of gratitude and reciprocity. To trust in release, in giving of your own self, knowing that there are others who are ready to give to you as you need it. This is the consciousness of the commons, the operating system of a vibrant Shmita culture. How can we step into this evolution of form and spirit? How can we tap into the generosity of the heart, and begin weaving channels of interdependence, connected by threads of trust, generosity and mutuality?
SHMITA Community Supported Food Systems SHMITA Community Supported Food Systems Cow/Goat Sharing
Community Fruit Tree Planting
Local Fruit Tree Mapping
Wild Foods Guerilla Grafting
Tree Care Teams
Farm Collectives Educational Collectives
Seed Library & Exchange
Backyard Garden Networks
Work Parties CSA
Community Buying Clubs
Plant Spirit Medicine
Perennial Foods Agricultural Land Trusts
Wild Land Trusts
Shared Harvest Celebrations Community Garden Collectives
Tool Lending Library
Community Crop Swaps
Seasonal Healing Community Gleaning
Food Bank Farming
Community Bread Oven
Community Meal Sharing
Food Systems Our collective human story is a story of food. As hunter gatherers, this story claimed our every waking moment. Plants and animals were our direct sources of strength, of nourishment, of healing; our medium toward the spirit world; our navigational guidance through the seasons; our fiber for clothing, tools and building materials. To be human was to be in intimate relationship with plant and animal. Regardless of being young or old, man or woman, this was a shared story. Similarly, in early agrarian culture, we were all producers, as well as consumers, one blending into the next. Together, we planted and gathered, participating communally in tending the process from seed to seed. Together, we brought in the harvest, gathered around the hearth, and celebrated the gifts we had received. Today, as populations are becoming heavily urbanized and farmlands are being consolidated, food has become a commodity, a product without a story connected to people and place. The process of food production has become more of a business than a community celebration. How are you participating in co-creating your local food system? The core value of a Sabbatical food system is not only local and organic produce. It is about participation in the growing process. A broken link between producers and consumers is a broken link in culture. Once we no longer know the soils where our food is coming from, how it grew from seed, how it was harvested, we have severed our own roots. This food is the source of our life, the energy of body, mind and spirit. We exist in direct relationship with this, on a daily basis, many times a day. The way we come together as a community is directly reflected by how we eat and share food together. This is a mirror of not just how efficient our connections are but how nourishing, how enjoyable, how vibrant they are. The fabric of community is held together, tightly woven by the tantalizing taste and aroma of food. In leaving agricultural land fallow every seven years, the Shmita cycle asks us to create a local, resilient and diverse food system that is not primarily dependent upon the widespread farming of annual crops, nor dependent upon the marketplace economy of food distribution and sales. Such a request would completely alter the modern industrial food system of monoculture cropping, large-acreage fields, tractor farming, and long-distance export of harvest. It offers us a direct challenge to re-enter the sacred relationship with food production, distribution and consumption; to create personal stories where our hands know the texture of moist soil and dry seed, our muscles know the feeling of work from a day in the garden, our tongues know the taste of freshly harvested nourishment from the earth. This is an invitation to start reconnecting to perennial food systems: fruit trees, culinary herbs, healthy animal-based diets, and home drying, canning & fermentation. This is an invitation to cultivate awareness of wild edibles and medicinals, and to begin crafting intimate relationships with these plants and their gifts. This is an invitation to start the process of returning food production to our own backyards and neighborhoods, to take down fences and create networks of food producing commons. This is an invitation to join together to share in the sacred process of growing and harvesting food, to cook together and eat together in celebration of the seasonal abundance which surrounds us.
SHMITA Community Supported Economic Systems
Book/ Music Library
Agricultural Land Trust
Solari Circles Time Banks
Community Water Systems
Community Gardens & Orchards
Open Source Technologies
Community Land Trust
Community Energy Systems
Interest Free Lending
Gift Economy Dana (DonationBased Giving)
Free Exchange Market
Local Business Alliances
Local Co-ops Peer2Peer Rental
Trade Blankets Swap Meets
Community Credit Unions
Economy Systems Economy=Household Management. This is the origins of economics. Oikonomos, as it was first called by the Greeks. At its core, in its earliest stages, the idea of economy was simply about the household, and in wider terms, the village. It was about interpersonal relationships and peer to peer exchange. It was about how we participated in a web of communal resources and services; how we came together to meet and supply each others’ needs. The modern economic landscape might seem quite different than this. Yes, our villages have expanded into cities and suburbs. And the quantity of material being exchanged is larger than ever before. But, more than the growing size of our human settlements or the growing rate and flow of resources, what has really changed is our cultural and collective decision of what we consider wealth to be. The word ‘wealth’ originally came from the Anglo-Saxon Weal, which means wellbeing, welfare, or the common good. Today, wealth is defined by market capital more so than by social capital. And the currency of the global market place, the great mover of exchanges, the signifier of value, is money. Somewhere along the way, we forgot that money has little, if any, intrinsic value of its own. That it is simply a quantifier, a tool originally created to facilitate exchanges and circulate resources. What was intended as a means to an end has become an end in itself, the defining factor for price, profit, and success. And in the process, our cultural focus has shifted from the experience of the exchange to the money itself, making wealth something that can be measured by numbers, accumulated, and stored away. Shmita is a constant reminder, re-focusing our attention back towards the root of ‘household economics.’ On the Shmita Year, all personal debt is released and the marketplace is completely altered because of it. So a riddle is created, and this is the question: How can we design an economic system that avoids the circumstances which always, again and again, result in the burdens of widespread debt disparity and financial inequality? How can we participate in strengthening a more local, community-based economy, where healthy social relationships are the currency of value? For such an economic landscape to materialize, at its core essence Shmita is offering us a message of ‘economic release’: It is ok to stop, to rest from accumulation and consumption, from a continual drive for spending and growth. It is ok to celebrate cooperation over competition, to celebrate simplicity over unnecessary expansiveness. And in this paradigm, the end goal shifts towards a triple bottom line, where the profit margin is measured through social and ecological equity, as much as it is through monetary gain. This is an invitation to reimagine what a home-grown economy would look like: to invest in local production & consumption, to ensure fair share and equal access to resources, to create community cooperatives and grassroots economic partnerships. This is an invitation to redefine our economic value systems and priorities, to invest in the wealth of social and environmental capital: the priceless, daily, non-monetray giving and receiving that unfolds between friends and family, between humans and the wild. This is an invitation to tap into the abundant resource network we have in our own local neighborhoods and communities, to embrace mutuality and reciprocity through the generous flow of barter, sharing and gift exchange.
SHMITA Cultural Design Systems
SHMITA Community Design Systems Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s/ Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Circles
World Cafe Communal Lounge/ Teahouse
Shared Youth Spaces
Individual Support Circles
Consensus Decision Making
Way of Council
Non Violent Communication PeaceMaking/ Conflict Resolution
Sacred Spaces/ Altars
Seasonal Cycles Birth/ Death
Land Trusts & Parklands
Streets, Intersections & Pathways
Community Processing Moon Cycles
Rites of Passage
Music & Movement
Permaculture Guilds Skillshares/ FreeSkool
Harvest / Planting Celebrations
Council of All Beings
Open Space Education
Community Health Co-ops
Nursery/ Babysitting Co-ops
Shared Elder Care
Community Work Parties Shared Office/ Work Spaces
Nature Awareness Groups
Community Theatre/ Film Collective Studios
Art Walks/ Open Studios
Envisioning Sabbatical Culture www.7seedsproject.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Cultural Systems If Shmita is a cultural expression, what is culture? The word itself comes from the Latin Cultura, which actually means cultivation. Culture is something that is created, tended and developed. Just like we may be cultivating our gardens, we ourselves are being cultivated through collective memory and mythology, through the voices of our ancestors and the lives they have lived before us. We are being cultivated by the landscape around us, her animals and plants and seasons. And from all this, a set of shared language, traditions, values and beliefs emerge. This is the fabric of culture. Culture itself is invisible, nonmaterial. Our expressions and behaviors are products of the culture in which we live, reflections of patterns that live within us. Culture is the subconsciousness of society. It is the personality of society. And as much as we are being cultivated, we also cultivate and create. Culture is the body we are a part of, and one we simultaneously give birth to. It is living, evolving, dynamically changing alongside our own personal stories, as we live our own lives. It is intricate and multi-layered, rich with the wonderful diversity of interconnected identities, each unique in their own way, yet connected as a whole. The culture that can embrace Shmita is one that is a living whole system, one that puts value on the unseen as much as the seen, on relationships between individuals as much as the individual itself. It is sharply clear that the cultural landscape around us has dramatically changed from the time Shmita first was practiced, to its current modern day re-emergence. As daunting as this may be, the universal values at the core of Shmita tradition have not changed, and those are as accessible to us today as ever before. They might look different in their manifestations, but at their source, they are pulsing with the same story. The Shmita cycle asks us to weave the web of a thriving tribal culture, rooted in vibrant communities and the strength of resiliency. Resiliency is the ability for a community to come together, humbly and proudly, to support one another, to adapt and meet whatever unexpected occurrences might come their way, to embrace change as a natural dynamic. It is to make mistakes together, to learn lessons together, to be surprised together and link arms through it all. There is nothing fixed or determined. The stability of resiliency comes with flexibility and fluidity. This is a culture that has shifted from ego-centric to eco-centric; where each member is both a teacher and student; where education is continual and potent in every moment of curiosity; where the commons are celebrated and cherished as much as private space; where healing is a process and health is an everyday art; where music and story and theatre are a community creation, welcoming playful creativity; where Spirit is aways present through communication of blessings, gratitude, grief, and joy; where work is for the sake of the common good, beyond the sake of financial gain; where the skills of the hands and body are valued as much as the intellect of the mind; where time invites forth the ancient memory of the ancestors, as much as the emerging dreams of today; where wild nature, plants and animals are not Other; where children and elders are celebrated as wisdom carriers for the community; where current creations and manifestations are valued gifts for the future generations.
SHMITA Community Networks
TA Community Networks
Infr ast ruc tur e
nt me n o vir n E
Sacred Fire Eld
e r C o u n ci
n C o u nc
= Core Councils
al He C o m m u n i c a ti o n
th Envisioning Sabbatical Culture Image adapted from Wheel of Co-Creation www.7seedsproject.org by Barbara Marx Hubbard7seedsproject@gmail.com
Community Networks Community is the microcosm of culture, a fractal of the whole system. Community is a living laboratory, where culture can be experimented with, played with, where it can deepen and adapt. Reaching towards Shmita resilience requires stepping into shared leadership, with active participation in local community organizing and decision making. Most necessary is a commitment, to invest, together, in a process to actualize transition on a grassroots level. This is not the job of one individual. This community will be in itself an ecology of interconnections and mutual support, where each part feeds the whole, where each part in itself is a vibrant part of the whole; where the threads that connect each part are just as valuable as the part itself. Allow yourself to dream. It is not possible to work towards change without a vision for where you are headed. The Transition Town movement has a wonderful practice where participants at initial community gatherings are asked to close their eyes and imagine themselves 20 years down the line. What would it look, feel, smell and sound like? What do you see around you? In the streets? The markets? On your block? Share your impressions. Draw them, write them, sing them. Bring them to life starting now. The first step is to find common ground. At the most basic level, we all share the same basic needs and challenges. This is something we can all share in together, something which will let us see our own reflection in the eyes of our neighbors and friends. From this place, in true partnership, we can begin the journey ahead. To enter into community is to learn a language of patience, trust, compassion, and honest emotional expression. To enter into community is to truly see one another, hear one another and forge agreements rooted in respect. The stirring and rising of Shmita culture does not come from the State or the market, from national governments or institutions. It begins with active citizens and community members, investing energy on the most local level. Follow your passions. Come together in groups around shared interests and goals. Create councils, each focusing on specific areas within the community. Create a blueprint for your community transition. Start small, with baby steps. If we can come together to recognize our shared needs and challenges, we will learn to make choices together, to design for local solutions, with local resources and local creativity. And in this way, a community becomes self-organizing and self-navigating, begins shifting and guiding culture rather than being carried by it. A decentralized governing system emerges, one that invites forth the offerings of all community members. The role of these community councils is not to do all the work. It is to inspire and mobilize efforts of change; to support the emergent projects within the community, and the people behind them. Remember, this community will be a process as much a product, one that is always unfolding in creativity, in continual co-creation. Engage the process however your instinct and heart guides you. And remember, you are not alone. This is the shared vision for sacred living, for communal vibrancy, for regenerative growth. This vision takes root in shared space, in shared time, and blossoms in a shared story.
Exile comes into the world... by not keeping the Shmita of the Land. Pirkei Avot 5.11
Exile is the energy of disconnect, of feeling lost, of not being present, of having been removed from the sacred center. It is perceived scarcity, manifesting, for some, as a perpetual need for more, with a hunger for growth that can never be filled; for others, as a paralysis in survival mode, without the chance to vision ahead, a struggle to meet even basic needs. It is living in a system of conformity, competition and commodification. It is the isolation of the individual, without the network of family, friends, and community to vision with, to share with, to give to and receive from. It is not being in relation with your own vulnerability, your own intuition, your beautiful humility and unique gifts and voice. It is not being able to ask for help. It is not respecting your own needs. It is self-doubt and uncertainty, the heaviness of fear. It is the heart that is not overflowing with faith and trust, the inability to open in curiosity, to open with emotion, tears and love. It is the unwillingness to face your own shadows, and heal what is asking to be healed. It is the inability to accept and embrace challenges and stay optimistic during hard times. It is blindness to the beauty around us in every single moment. It is the inability to pray, to feel gratitude or offer thanksgivings. It is the unwillingness to learn from memories of the past, from wisdom of the ancestors. It is the unwillingness to take risks and walk into the mystery of change. It is a loss of the playfulness of imagination, the courage of hope, of dreaming beautiful visions. It is not being able to care for your body, for your children, for your elders, for those you love. It is not being able to care for your own watershed, to care for your wildlands and soils. It is not being able to watch the seasons change or harvest from the abundance of the earth. It is being cut off from the stories of the land, as told by all life. It is having your roots ripped from home, internally and externally. It is all this and so much more. This energy expresses itself differently for every individual, for every community. This energy feeds on itself. The more we as a culture, as a community, do not engage authentic heart-centered, responsible change, the more we will fall back into the systems that keep us disempowered, and the more our ecologies, communities, economies and educational structures will reflect this loss of ‘home.’ It comes down to choice. Before we can ever come ‘home’ into resilient abundance, faith and trust, we must face this energy of exile, together, as community, in the most honest and honorable way. This may be an unsettling process for many. It likely will not be simple or easy. Yet the invitation ahead is open and ripe. It is within our own efforts of heartfelt vulnerability that we will find the seeds of transformation and the rich, fertile grounds in which to plant them.
You have been telling the people, That this is the eleventh hour. Now, you must go and tell the people, That THIS is the hour, And there are things to be considered.
Push off into the middle of the river, Keep our eyes open and our heads above water.
Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in the right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden.
At this time in history, We are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves! For the moment we do, Our spiritual growth and journey comes to an end.
It is time to speak your truth. Create your community, Be good to each other. Do not look outside yourself for a leader.
The time of the Lone Wolf is over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;struggleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold onto the shore. They will feel they are being pulled apart, and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore.
And I say, see who is in there with you, Hold fast to them and celebrate!
We are all about to go on a journey. We are the ones we have been waiting for.
Thomas Banyaca Sr. Speaker of the Wolf, Fox and Coyote Clan Elder of the Hopi Nation
How can We DESIGN for Sabbatical Culture? How can we Reclaim the Shmita tradition?
100+ Ways To ReNew Shmita Culture COMMUNITY FOOD SYSTEMS
Locate & map the fruit trees growing in your area. Create community tree-care teams: Help with tree pruning, fruit thinning, and fertility management.
Organize neighborhood harvest parties to gather all the ripe fruit hanging from your trees.
Try guerilla grafting! Take some fruit tree cuttings and graft them onto adaptable ornamental street trees.
Start or join a yard-sharing program. Invite others to plant a garden in your open yard if you are not using it. Find creative solutions by gardening on someone else’s land if you are landless. Ask local schools, synagogues, and community centers to offer their unused land.
Start a community composting project for your block: centralized locations for everyone’s yard and kitchen wastes. Neighbors partake in the maintenance, and everyone shares in the fertile results.
Take down the fences between your backyard and your neighbor’s backyard. Share and design growing space, play space & open space together.
Start saving seeds from your home gardens. Create a communal seed library and seed-saving garden. Find out which varieties work best for your climates, and start creating heirloom varieties by saving seeds from the same plants over multiple growing seasons.
Start or join a backyard mentoring program. Seek advice from neighbors or become a mentor to those who are new at growing their own plants.
Create an annual seed swap for your community. Exchange seeds, garden stories and growing advice. Create an annual winter-season scion-wood exchange and freely spread the genetic materials of heritage fruit tree varieties.
Start a gardening co-operative with friends & neighbors: Share seeds, tools, work time, budget expenses & abundant harvests. This is a new approach to community gardens: Create a collectively operated shared garden, rather than a collection of many small, separate individual plots in your community garden.
Swap plants with friends from your home gardens or greenhouses, through transplants & cuttings.
Take cuttings from fruit trees & herbs around the local area and start a local perennial plant nursery.
Plant a bio-diverse garden. Focus primarily on perennial plant choices, such as fruit trees, vines & herbs, along with annual vegetables planted in-between. Include native species as habitat for birds & beneficial insects. Create ecosystems for chickens, bees and goats. Experiment growing in all sorts of places and within all sorts of vessels: rooftops, walls, bridges, steps, containers. Obtain a yield from these surface areas!
Start a community orchard on shared community land. Collectively plant trees and share the harvests! This is also a great place to keep your community bees and chickens!
Build a community greenhouse on the grounds of a local school, synagogue, or community center.
Plant fruit trees in unused public spaces. Reclaim sidewalk green strips, park lands, street meridians, traffic circles…let your street trees gift you fruit, as well as shade, fresh air, rain flow management, and soil retention.
Collectively care for animals: harvest eggs from chickens, milk from goats, honey from bees. Collectively purchase a cow and buy your meat bulk, from local, free-range, grass-fed cattle.
Start or help support a local land trust. Communally purchase wild lands and agricultural lands preserving them for future generations.
Get to know your wild edibles: Where they grow, which season, how to harvest the plants, what edible & medicinal qualities they possess. Start gathering in the local natural inventory…what are the wild edibles growing around you? Where do they come up? Which season?
Create communal foraging groups and go out gathering with friends. Start experimenting with plants as sources of dyes for art, fiber for clothing, wood for basketry.
Volunteer on local farms. Get to know what it takes to fully grow food; get to know the growing seasons. Become friends with your farmers.
Start a seasonal garden tour through your neighborhood & region, exploring your local ‘foodshed.’ Learn the unique stories of each farm, who the farmers are & what they are growing.
Buy local & organic from farmers’ markets or become a member of a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) farm.
Join together with friends and start a community buying club: Buy your food direct from producers, in bulk quantity, with minimal packaging and big savings.
Become a consumer-owner of a food cooperative and have direct choice and voting power over what food is sold, where you source it from & how much it is sold for.
Join together with friends and start a gleaning group to visit local farms. Harvest what would otherwise go to waste.
Start a food-rescue group in your area and gather unsold but perfectly edible food from farmers’ markets, restaurants, and grocery stores. Donate to food banks or directly to those in need.
Create a community crop swap: Spread the abundance in your home gardens…gather what each family does not need and set up a local free farm stand where community members can swap harvests or pick up what they do not grow on their own.
Keep track of how much food you are wasting: Are you overbuying/ harvesting? Overcooking? Your eyes bigger than your belly?
Gather together with friends and start a community kitchen: Rent an industrial kitchen or join together rotating through neighborhood home kitchens. Create a space for nutrition/cooking education,
and shared bulk meal preparation. Cook with friends, share recipes, ingredients, and kitchen appliances. •
Gather together for weekly communal feastings: Rotate among the homes of friends and neighbors or host a meal each week in your own home. Everyone plugs in with cooking, setting up, cleaning
Use local, organic & seasonal ingredients. Share weekly stories, favorite foods, blessings and whatever else is arising within the community.
Start a community dinner co-op: Spread the responsibility of healthy home cooking among your neighbors.
Build a community bread & pizza oven in your yard, at a local park or community center. Spread the word for communal, weekly baking nights. Have everyone bring some special ingredients.
Start sharing stories that go along with your favorite recipes, and stories about the ancestors who gifted you with such recipes.
Store the harvest: dry, ferment, jam & can, juice, preserve.
Create a community pantry and a homesteading circle. Start putting food away with friends and share the harvest during winter. Have food preservation parties and kraut pounds of cabbage at once!
Share in harvest celebrations. Think pumpkin pie baking, garlic braiding, strawberry jamming. With music, costumes, and whatever else.
Create a seasonal barter fair. Come together as community to trade your summer crop surpluses and homemade preserves as you prepare your winter pantry.
Experiment with new foods in your diet, especially foods coming from perennial, native & wild sources.
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC SYSTEMS •
Think creatively about the goods and services you now pay for…how can you receive these for free, in a cooperative model with friends? Embrace the values of co-production and co-creation.
Join a local time bank and start sharing skills and time with neighbors,
free of charge. Give whatever you can contribute. Receive whatever is available that meets your needs. •
Openly share in a community gift circle. Step 1: Everyone shares their gifts/skills. Step 2: Everyone shares their needs/wants. Step 3: Network!
spaces for local businesses & artists. •
Create local community land trusts, keeping costs of housing affordable.
Share your financial needs with friends, be open and vulnerable. Ask for support when you need it.
Start a monthly exchange market and highlight plant, seed, clothing and book swaps.
Barter: Share your skills/resources (whatever others need) and get some (whatever you need) in return.
Ask for financial transparency from businesses, from local governing councils, from CSA farms.
Open a free store or G’mach in your community. Rather than let old, unused items go towards the waste stream or gather dust in your garage, drop the items off so neighbors can make good use of them. Rather than waste more of your money, pick these items up for free!
Create Solari Circles: community mentoring networkss to educate one another in how to best use and invest monetary assets while staying true to your values.
Create a communal fund, among trusted friends & family, for interest free loans and microfinancing, as well as for financial gifts when someone within the community is in need of extra help or in need of support to start a local initiative that will benefit the whole community.
Organize a work party to support projects in need of many hands. Gather friends for a fun, educational & productive work session.
Organize communal work teams. Help your friends with building a garden, home repair, etc. Invite friends to help you meet your own needs. Create home work-repair teams for basic carpentry, electrical & plumbing work. Invite friends to help you meet your own needs. Do the same for them.
Organize your local micro-businesses as member-based cooperatives, either worker-owned or consumer-owned.
Start a communal tool lending library.
Enjoy Collaborative Consumption: Collectively purchase bikes, cars, sports equipment, garden tools, and so much more and create a neighborhood sharing group.
Use public car & bike sharing programs to get around.
Carpool! Create a schedule amongst neighbors and friends that travel to similar destinations.
Offer your services for Dana: donation based giving. Give from a place of selfless service & generosity & be amazed at what you receive in return!
Empower the gift culture: No gift is too small. Share your art, food, crafts, time, hugs with those around you, simply for the sake of expressing the gift. Learn about the role of the sacred gift in indigenous cultural economies.
Keep your money circulating as close to home as possible. Buy from independent, locally-owned businesses, sustainably using local resources, whose profits can be reinvested in collective communal growth.
Designate garages or studios as communal work spaces for carpentry, pottery, sewing, metalworking, mechanical repair and more. Communally invest in shared tools & site maintenance.
Create a local currency. Trade with dollars that are meant to serve one particular region & population.
Invest your money with local, socially responsible community credit unions & public banks.
Reuse. Retrofit. Recycle. Start a communal Rebuilding Center or ReStore…warehouses of used doors, windows, wood paneling, bathroom & kitchen fixtures, and more, reclaimed from construction and demolition sites, sold at minimal costs.
Convert large underutilized buildings or warehouses into co-working
Start a babysitting co-op or nursery care co-op with other parents who have children of similar age as yours.
Start a shared elder care team in your community.
Start a community health care cooperative, where everyone’s investment is pooled together locally for when the need is there.
Create a community supported health clinic where healers can join together to practice, while saving on rental & office costs.
Convert a duplex, apartment buildings, and suburban blocks into cohousing communities.
Designate communal spaces as healing spaces for meditation, yoga, massage.
Group up with a bunch of friends/families and share rent in one “commons” house to be used as a collective gathering space.
Create community energy co-ops, collectively designing and purchasing local solar, wind, or hydro power systems to charge your electrical needs.
Create spaces for guests and travelers to feel comfortable in your home & community “commons.”
Create community water co-ops, collectively designing rainwater catchment systems and biological water treatment systems, while also overseeing the health of your local watershed.
Make communal gatherings friendly for all ages, especially for children & elders. Make every day experiences rich with multigenerational interaction.
Create a communal fire pit for gathering…let the warmth & light pull people together for late night stories, snacks, music & more.
Dance together as a community. Dance your visions, your challenges, your joys. Models such as Ecstatic Dance, Sweat Your Prayers, 5 Rhythm Dancing can be found most everywhere in North America.
Create or designate a “town square” for your neighborhood—a park, playground, vacant lot, community center, or even a street corner— anywhere folks naturally want to gather.
Sing together. Share your spirit, your prayer, your ancestral lineage through music & word of song. Create singing circles & song celebrations.
Create a community theatre. Invite all ages to participate.
Create communal common spaces for healing, feasting, lounging, movement, music, education. Make the most of public libraries, community centers, religious centers. Transform large, empty rooms in your homes, from living rooms to basements to garages, into communal resources!
Host community movie nights in the local park on warm summer evenings.
Throw a block party. Close the streets to traffic and fill the space with laughter, food, music, and art.
Start a local teahouse and lounge, a communal “living room”…a place for healing, for drinking, for music & conversation.
Reclaim storytelling as entertainment…and not just for children. Gather together to share tales, dreams, myths, legends.
Use your community gardens, orchards & parks for gathering, celebration, education & ceremony.
Create a ‘living museum:’ a common space to share local culture, history, and ancestral stories.
Design intersections, pathways, sidewalks as gathering spaces, not just byways. These are public spaces for interaction, not just for getting from one place to another. Add public art, benches and
Make your walls, sidewalks and community spaces beautiful with murals & public art. Have art days where everyone comes together with paintbrushes and creative visions. Create monthly communal art celebration days. Close the streets to
Share ideas and information publicly through Open Source technologies and Creative Commons licensing. When appropriate, transform intellectual property into intellectual commons.
COMMUNITY DESIGN SYSTEMS •
information kiosks to slow foot traffic and make the spaces more inviting.
traffic and invite artists to set up stands, open galleries for free…turn the whole atmosphere into an art parade. •
Design with long-term goals in mind. Work with 7-year plans in business & farm models.
Start or join your local Transition Town group or Permaculture guild. Empower your selves to make the changes you hope to see in your community. Share resources, questions, information, advice.
Teach a skill with your local FreeSkool. Invite friends to start a skillsharing program. Do what you love, where you live, and teach others along the way.
Start homeschooling collectives among your neighbors. Start after school program activities for your children. Bring on the teens and elders as mentors.
Create communal libraries of favorite books, music. Turn the space into a lounge, an art space, a reading room. Invite lectures and study groups.
Create community study groups to explore the questions of life through spirituality, science, history, mythology.
Create a primitive skills practice group in your neighborhood or host a ‘Re-Skilling’ fair. Reawaken your wild senses & develop craft skills for homegrown resiliency, while working with plant, fiber, animal, fire and earth.
Create a nature awareness group among neighbors and friends: head out into the wilderness together (or even to a local park), identify & harvest wild edibles, track animal prints & birdcalls. Choose a ‘sit-spot’ and spend 15 minutes each day observing and participating in the ecology surrounding you. Carry field guides with you. Journal your findings. Introduce yourself to the extended community of Life you are a member of.
Start a community men & women’s circle, where members of each sex can gather together in private, creating a safe space to deeply share and explore unique issues from the perspective of their gender.
Educate your friends, families, lovers & business partners in the values of open, honest communication systems: NVC, Consensus Decision
Making, Council, Facilitation, Re-evaluation Counseling. •
Gather friends together on a regular basis to share life/work visions, those that are dreamed and those you are creating. Ask to be empowered as you explore entering into this creation phase, through ideas, advice, network connections, and emotional support.
Have feedback circles, where you are open to offer/receive praise & constructive criticism.
Come together in ceremony, in ritual. Create open, safe containers in which to explore the great mystery that is life, to sanctify the moment with song, silence, prayer, ritual, art…design ceremonies that fit the needs of your community.
Come together to celebrate the cycles of the moon & the seasons.
Come together to celebrate life cycles of birth and death, joy and grief. Support one another through these emotional transitions.
Celebrate Rites of Passage among the children, teens, and adults of your community. Provide the support these individuals need and meet them as they transition from one stage of life to another.
Start with gratitude, with blessings, with awareness of all the gifts surrounding you, with appreciation & awareness.
Those who have lived their lives fully, through many cycles of the sun, have an invaluable perspective needed in community growth. Support elders in your community. Offer them spaces in your gatherings as teachers, storytellers, tricksters. Let them shine their gifts!
Those who are young in years, wild-eyed, full of energy and questions have an invaluable perspective for community growth. Invite children into your lives as teachers.
Celebrate the wisdom and stories of those who have come before you. Collectively & individually create practices that honor ancestors.
Start a local study/work group around Shmita values and vision how to integrate these principles, step by step, into your community. This list is far from complete. Keep it living & growing!
The Hebrew Soul The Hebrew soul is rooted in a web of vibrant communities, sharing in an abundance of creativity and curiosity. We are all family, branching out, extending one towards the next, spread about this Earth. We are a pulsing village composed of many tribes, connected by one sacred center, the land of our most ancient memories and indigenous spirit, Israel. We are a wild mosaic, a dynamic Circle enriched by a diversity of culture, color, dress & language, bonded together by shared stories and ancestors, rituals which transcend all differences. At the core of our identity is a love for life. Man and woman, child and adult, ancestors and babies-to-come, human, plant & animal. Earth, Air, Water & Fire. We are all parts of the same Whole and, together, in sacred relationship, we celebrate the ecology of life in all her infinite forms. We stand side-by-side, interwoven and interconnected, in harmony and unity, with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and all indigenous peoples of the Earth. In this composition, we proudly waive the Hebrew flag, one flag of many. We are keepers of the Or HaGanuz, first light of creation, in service to the Great Spirit that flows through all beings. We are children of the earth, born from her womb, Adam from Adamah. We are freedom fighters and ecstatic prophets. We are teachers, healers, tricksters, storytellers, dreamers, poets, musicians, artists, priests & priestesses, farmers, shepherds & crafters. We are peaceful warriors, walking in sacred balance between Yesh & Ayin, ego & humility. We are all caretakers of the ancient stories, as well as tenders of the birthing visions. Our myths of old spark the visions for tomorrow. We stand at the edge of time, in the eternal moment. We are evolving, everchanging and healing, growing from what has come before us. With humility, we are asking questions, exploring and searching the prism of the sacred orchard, the diversity of our Torah, the PARDES. With grace, we surrender and celebrate this mystery. With Ahava & Yirah, Love & Awe, we weave the divine web. Together we channel the 4 Winds, the Arba Ruchot, and invoke blessings from the 7 directions, East, West, North, South, Sky, Earth & Center. We enter naked in the flowing waters of the Earth, into the womb of creation, our mikvah, emerging renewed and cleansed. We welcome the angels to sit with us in council, Michael, Gavriel, Uriel & Raphael. Our doorways are open to all; our passageways marked with the mezuza, the amulet of Shaddai.
Together we celebrate the seasons, the moons, the harvesting and plantings, birth and death. We seek wisdom from the council of elders, and innocent joys from the laughter of the children. We are all reflections of one another, a mirror of the Shechina, the eternal, sacred Beloved. We tend the sacred sevens. Shabbat, Shmita & Yovel. We tend the Eish Tamid, the sacred fires of the Shabbat candles, the Havdalah, the Menorah. We light the seed of the dancing candleflame as a living memory of our ancestors. We have been initiated as alchemists, transforming grain & grape into bread & wine. We celebrate the first fruits of the harvest and offer them to the earth. We pray for rains and dance upon their arrival. All creation is a sanctuary and our prayers are alive in every moment, in every breath. How we eat, how we make love, how we move & work. We gather together in prayer, offering our music alongside the whispering trees and singing birds. In devotion, we practice the sacred art of Tikkun Olam, weaving together what has been broken apart. We are collecting and raising the sparks of the first light. We are healers, mending the separateness and revealing the hidden connections. The wild spirit flows through our blood, as we walk the hills, into the mystery, collecting food and medicine. Humbly, in gratitude, we communicate with plants, animals, soil, waters, earth, offering our voices and ears in the great conversation of life. We know the songs of the birds and the tracks of the animals. Our gardens are shared and tended gracefully by all. Fruit hangs overhead and vines drape the sides of our homes. Our dark soils are full of life; our springs flow freely and full. We are artists, crafting with the fibers of earth, the colors of the earth, the soils of the earth. We work with the energy flowing through all things. We harness the power carried by the wind, water and sun. We work side by side, tending to our needs through holistic production, with local cooperatives sharing resources & time. Our buildings are alive, earth bodies to our flesh bodies. Our homes are our temples; our tables our altars. Together, we communicate with open hearts, open to deep listening and compassionate offerings. Men gather together as brothers; women gather together as sisters, each in their own sacred lodge. Collectively, we balance one another and share our unique gifts. We merge our bodies together in passionate love, uniting the energies of the masculine and feminine. Together, man, woman, elder, child, blood family, tribal family, we share stories, sing songs and feed one another. We share laughter and tears. We play and dance together. We share in medicine, ceremony and ritual. We share our passions, our gifts & our wisdom. We are all teachers and students, alike. We are rich with the flowering of life and all that she brings. In the company of friends, lovers and family, in community, we are supported and held. We are a part of the Whole, the great circle of life. Our family extends to the community of all beings. We are all branches growing from the Eytz Haâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;chaim, cosmic Tree of Life, sharing one root, one heart.
Context Of Shmita: Hebrew Agri/Culture Yovel: Land is not to be sold as
property, as a commodity. We are not the owners of land, we are guests upon her, in relationship with her. Every 50th year, after completing 7 Shmita cycles, all land that is traded or sold returns, once again, to its original tribal partner. Our identity is rooted in our tribal lands, the place of our own origins. To cut this cord is to sever our own story. The soils, trees, stones, the rivers of this land are our family, our teachers; their narratives are our narratives.
Migrash: Surrounding our
cities, our villages, are protected wildlands. These lands are not for planting agricultural crops; they are not for building houses or barns. This land is not for private ownership or fencing. This land is the lifeblood for our own survival: keeping our watershed clean, our animal communities strong, our plant diversity thriving. This land is the reminder of our own wildness, the collective commons for all beings.
Bikkurim: Each spring
season, the clouds dried up and the grains ripened on the stalk. This was a time of the first harvest; a time of thanksgiving and celebration. From all over the land, the tribes of Israel journeyed in pilgrimage towards the Temple in Jerusalem. Wagons pulled by oxen carried the gifts of the fields: the first fruits, offerings to the Divine. For six months we received the gifts of rain, sun, wind, the alchemy of plant growth. This is our gift in return, feeding that which fed us.
Peâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ah: We tend our fields, our
rich red soils. We plant our seeds, water our crops. And when the abundance of growth is ripe and ready for harvest, we do not gather all; we leave a corner of our field untouched. This bounty is grown for our community, for those who have no fields of their own to tend and to plant. They are invited to come as they need, to harvest freely as they desire.
Terumah & Maâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;aser:
From all our harvests, everything we bring into our homes, before we cook, before we store, we separate a portion for the poor, for those without land. We separate a portion for our elders, our teachers, the Kohanim and the Levites, to support them, as they serve the community. With the income we bring home from our work, we do the same, offering a portion as gifts, feeding the village heart, for the strength of the community.
Leket: As we harvest the produce
of our fields, we welcome gleaners to join us. Fruits, vegetables, leaves, seedsâ&#x20AC;Śwhatever we do not need for our harvests, whatever may go to waste otherwise, this belongs to the gleaners. We fill our baskets worth, and when the baskets are full, those who are in need of gleaning are invited to do so. Our fields are open to all.
Orlah: Our gardens are full with
trees. It is the perennial plants which are the anchor for our garden ecology, for her health, for her diversity. It is the trees which nourish us during the Shmita year, while providing food and habitat for other creatures. We tend our trees for long, healthy lives. From the time a tree is planted, for her first 3 years of growth, we guide all life force back into her roots, her branches and leaves. We do not leave fruits on the branch until the 4th year, when they finally ripen, and are harvested.
Sukkot: In the fall, in our final
harvest season, when the trees and vines are heavy with their fruit, we move to our fields, gathering as families, as tribes, living together for a week, bringing in the produce of the land, celebrating the harvest of the season. We gather prayer bundles, 4 species of water-thirsty plants, and we shake them in all 7 directions, invoking the fertility of clouds, and the falling of rains, so the soil may drink, and the cycle may begin again.
Miketz, Vayigash, Vayechi , Shm yeshev, ot, V ch, Va aye ishla rah Vay , e , Bo etz , Be y a V , sh t ala do l o ch ,T ,Y h itr ra a o, S M h i ye
halotecha, Shelach Lecha, Korac so, Ba h, Ch r, Na uka t idba , B a am lak i, B , Pi kot nch chu as Be ,M a to tM as ey
ar, eh ,B m hi os
ei, Vayikra, Tzav, Sh kel, Pekud mini, , Vaya Tazr tzeh iya, Ki te M e tzo eh, rah zav ,A , Te ch ah are rum y Mo , Te t, K tim ed pa sh
, Ki Tetze, Ki Tavo, Netzavim, Be reish hoftim it, N 'ey, S oac , Re h, L kev E , ech nan a Lec ch t ha e e' ,V V , ay era ir m a ,C v e ha ,D
שנה: Hebrew Calendar
Sacred Time We live in a spiral of time. Each moment carries with it the original seed of creation, the birth of time. And each moment is new, a portal into the unknown. At the center is Shabbat, a fractal pattern of 7 which expresses herself through the weeks, the years, the millennia. She is our root, our anchor, our North Star. With the Sun & Moon as companions and guides, we journey through the seasons, through the elements. Each time flowers forth with a special celebration, a holiday and ritual, reflecting the medicine of its season, fragments of this evolving cosmic puzzle. The Hebrew calendar is a body with two halves. The wet months, from Sukkot until Pesach, bring the Mother months of the year, the womb of the year, the night of the year, the coldness of the year. In this time, the skies open up and the Yoreh, early rains, descend. Seeds are sown into moist, fertile soils. The earth is saturated and her roots drink deep. Our bodies are lit by the luminous moon and warmed by the dancing flames of the hearth. This is a time for deep intimacy, for dreaming, for reflection, for drinking from the waters of mystery, for wrestling with our own shadows, and for remembering the wisdom of the ancients. We live this season by recalling the stories of Bereishit and our formation in the feminine waters of creation; by revealing hidden lights and tending the flames of the Menorah; by celebrating the dormant trees, whose buds patiently swell with the nectar of the rains; by covering our faces with the masks of mystery while dancing to the unknowable. The dry months arrive once the Malkosh, the last rains, have fallen, and continue from Pesach until Sukkot. This marks the Father months of the year, the heat of the year, the dryness of the year. In this time, the light of the Sun burns strong through the day, the air carries the fragrance of blossoming flowers and the songs of birds. The grains dry up on their stalks; the fruits hang heavy and ripe on the branches of the trees. Under the alchemy of the bright sun, this is a time for initiation, for wild expression, for sweaty moments filled with passionate movement and transformative change. We live this season by recalling the stories of freedom and journeying through the wildness of our own being; by honoring the abundant harvest with the grinding of fresh flour and the offering of bread; by humbling ourselves before the fires of destruction, revelation and transformation; by praying for the return of moisture, while seeding the clouds with the call of the Shofar. This is our storyline, and we are dancing through it just as our ancestors have and just as our children will. With each dawning of a new moon and a new year, at each opening of a Rosh Chodesh and Rosh Hashana, we deepen into this story, feeding it by living it, harvesting what has been placed before us, and embodying the birth of what is to come.
גבריאל Eagle Fire/Water
ךפאל Ox Earth
אוריאל Lion Air
ש מ Water/Fire מיכאל Human
שנ: Hebrew Giving/Receiving Calendar
Rosh Hashana Womb
Envisioning Sabbatical Culture www.7seedsproject.com email@example.com
ה/אדם: Adam/ah MYSTERY
Sacred Being When the Holy One created Adam, the cosmic and original human being, He gathered together earth from the four corners of the world. With this earth, the Holy One shaped his body. He then invited the four winds of the world to pour over him and breathe into him the Spirit of Life. When these winds intermingled with the four elements of creation, fire, air, earth, and water, the Holy One, blessed be He, formed one complete body of wondrous perfection. Adam then arose and realized that he was both of heaven and of earth, and so he united himself to the Divine and was endowed with mystic wisdom. Zohar Shemot 24a, Bereishit 130b As Hebrew mythology tells us, we are born from the generosity of all Creation. After six sowings of light, filling the tapestry of life, the Holy One called to all beings, and invited forth a collective creation. Let us make human, together. Let us make a being that is a reflection of all our diversity, of all our beauty, of all our wisdom. So Elohim and his Beloved Shechina called to the blowing winds, to the four elements of life, humbly asking that each might gift a part of their own form, so that something new may be born. And these gifts came from the four directions of creation, in overflowing generosity, carried by the wings of the winds, the waves of the oceans, the roots of the soils, the branches of the trees, on the backs and paws of animals, on the feathers of the birds, on the pollen of the flowers, on the rays of the burning sun, on the light of the reflective moon. And with the deep desire and passion to give of their love, Elohim and his Beloved Shechina, kneeling in the moist, fertile earth, kneaded all these gifts of creation together with the red soils of Eden, forming a body into which they breathed their own souls and spirit. They courted these bodies to jump up and live, like a plant emerging from the skin of its original seed. And this is how we came to be. To fully celebrate our gifts and to share them in a humble, sacred way, with healthy vision & intention, the invitation is for us to first sink into our depths and remember our origins; to remember the beauty of generosity from which we were first formed. In the depths of our hearts, pulsing through our entire being, we all carry within us the seed of the oneness of all life. We each carry within us a gift, a light that is a blessing to creation. What is your humble, beautiful place in this ecology of life, in this family of all beings? Are you offering your gift to the world, to your community, to yourself? In this time of transition, the moment is ripe to begin revealing your most beautiful self. May we be blessed to awaken, to evolve towards what we have always known, and to celebrate one another as we journey together.
Calling the 7 Directions We live within this web of 7 directions, whose threads weave the tapestry of creation. At all times, in all moments, this is the stage of our journey. These directions are the diverse faces of Spirit, different reflections of one truth different portals into one destination, an energetic compass guiding us in our days. Each direction holds a memory, reminding us from where have come. Each direction holds a light of clarity, inviting us deeper into our path. Each direction carries its own questions and shadows, challenging us with its own riddle. Each direction holds the seed of its own wisdom the seeds of its own flowering beauty and these are for us to gather in our prayer, in our living, so we may plant them in the heart of our own being, in the nest of our own bodies.
Gift of the East, Mizrach, shining beauty, from
whose belly the sun is born, on whose sweet winds are carried the soft songs of the winged ones, courting us to awaken, planting in us new dreams. Awaken us with clarity, with excitement, like a roaring lion, so we may eagerly rise and bless all new beginnings, so we may be full with hope and desire for the opportunities and gifts of the dawning of each new day.
Gift of the South, Darom, who lifts the Sun
to her highest skies, whose warm breath of compassion opens the petals of the fragrant flowers, pregnant with wild colors and nourishment, whose abundant kindness feeds our hungry limbs and bodies. Transform us with your heat, with your fires of love; melt away what blocks our hearts, kindle the fire of passion in our bellies, so we may offer our gifts and vision with rooted devotion.
Gift of the West, Maâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;arav, where day and night blend
together in sacred union, whose clouds paint the skies and whose oceans swallow the sun, whose stormy blowing winds continually change the landscape of our days. May we settle into our own being, peacefully into our own story, healing what grieves us, and gather the abundant harvest of our memories, so we may share in community, so we may give freely of our selves, so we may be in sacred relation with all beings of creation.
Gift of the North, Tzafon, place of Great Mystery,
carrier of wisdom with age and time, bringing upon us the darkness of the womb and the stillness of night, the teachings of our elders, the memories of our ancestors. Seed in us faith so we may surrender in gratitude, to what we do not know, to what our heart longs for; fill us with sweet glowing compassion, so we may face fear with love, and embrace death as a beautiful beginning.
Gift of the Heaven, Shamayim, nest of blue skies, in
whose expanse the eagles soar, the sun rides his chariot, and the clouds roam like buffalo; from where the rains shower forth and the moon and stars sing their song, may we be gracious and fully open to receive, may we be humbled by your majestic expanse of beauty, power and strength, beyond all our knowing or understanding, yet feel your closeness, through the lips of the blowing wind.
Gift of the Earth, Ima Adama, beneath our feet, foundation for all life, holding us gently, anchor for our roots, germinator of seeds, eternally pregnant belly heavy with fruit and leaf, carrier of hidden waters from whose breasts we drink, you who birthed us, and will once again receive us, help us to walk gently upon your skin, each footstep a kiss of thanksgiving, a prayer for your eternal flowing beauty, so we may feed you, as you so selflessly nourish us.
Gift of the Sacred Center, Malchut, womb
of unity, seed of Shalom, eternal palace of our souls within, feeding our heart's desire for love, courting us to live freely and beautifully, full with wild aspiration, graceful humility and compassionate courage, whisper to us now and always so that we may remember the story of our birth, the story of our sacred origin, so that we may dance with gratitude, flower with sweetness, sing with faith, and forever cherish this gift of breath.
Entering The 50th Gate Count off seven Sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven Sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the ram’s horn sounded everywhere…throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim Dror/freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.. Leviticus 25.8-10 Jubilee. Yovel. The 50th year. The Great Homecoming, the blowing of the ram’s horn, the voice of the wilderness, a call to return to the soils of home, the place of origins, ancestral lands, indigenous memory. With the medicine of Shabbat and Shmita deep in our bones, pulsing through us, another layer reveals itself. Following 49 years, seven complete Shmita cycles, an awaiting emergence, an expression of human collective consciousness and societal awakening arrives. Embedded within the counting of seven is always the eight, the beyond. Seven is fullness, completion, wholeness, the sacred center. Eight is the infinite, Ein Sof. This has been the blueprint all along: walking the path of seven, seven times, to reach Yovel, the 50th Gate, the passageway of 8. We hold the key to this entrance. The blowing of the ram’s horn unlocks the gate before us, the gate of Binah, Wisdom of the Great Mother, the gate of Dror, Freedom. It has been a long journey, many thresholds passed, a migratory path towards and from the sacred center; and now we are invited home, welcomed to pass through this next passage. In our moving forward, we return, to the home of our sacred origin, the root of our being. And in our return, we move forward. The arrival of 50 marks the entry into the transcendence of 8. A covenant is complete, and can begin to once again repeat itself, cycling onward through the currents of creation and the continual evolutionary transformation of the pathway that is Shabbat/ Shmita/Yovel. Through the wilderness of the Midbar, after leaving the slavery of Mitzrayim, the Narrow Place, the Hebrew tribes traveled 49 days to reach the sacred mountain, and on the 50th day, stood together in revelation, a union of self & soul, divinity & humanity, a blueprint received. Following the songline of seven, of Shabbat & Shmita, refining of our individual and communal self towards prophetic revelation, we again reach the base of the sacred mountain, here before us, as a collective society, and the invitation is to ascend, all of us, together. On the Yovel, ‘release’ reaches its culmination, reshaping the canvas of culture. This is the healing of Dror, Freedom, sharing the same root letters as Dar, to dwell, to know home. There are no longer orphans of place, refugees without home. There is no slavery in the world, not of land, not of property, not of self. We are not slaveholders; we are not enslaved. We are emancipated, we have emancipated one another. There is only sacred relation between us and all life, an ecology of mutuality and belongingnot of possessiveness but of deep connection- each to its origin place, with integrity, remembering, and re-rooting. Together, we become the Dror, wild bird, taking flight, spreading our wings, returning to the nest of the Great Mother, home all along the way.
Surrendering is not a weakness. At the contrary it is strength. The surrender stops living in boiling water and starts living in a secure place. Shams Tabrizi (Sufi poet, 12th Century)
As we wrap this bundle of Shmita consciousness and prepare to plant it in our lives and in our communities, like a swelling seed ripe for germination, let us remember that the very fabric of this bundle is the same dynamic fabric of creation, woven of the same rhythms and pulsations upon which all life expands and contracts. The gift of Shmita is the gift of rest. It is the nourishment that comes from seeing and celebrating the dormancy of rest as the possibility for regeneration. From the original 7th day of creation, this pattern was engraved into all future cycles of growth and evolution, a fractal which repeats itself over and over again for eternity. The choice is simply if we want to recognize it or not, and surrender into all it has to offer. Infinite growth is an illusion. Continual growth is not natural, nor will it ever be sustainable. Think of natural cycles of growth & accumulation. When too much biomass is created in a forest, a fire clears it. When the waters rise, they flood before receding. Mountains rise & then erode. The moon reaches its full size and begins to wane. The seasons go through periods of warmth and cold, dry and wet. Bodies expand in pregnancy and then release. Bodies fill with inhalation and contract with exhalation. This is the natural pattern. ‘Recessions’ are just as natural as ‘expansions’ and, when seen holistically, are necessary for the health of the whole system. For each period of movement, there is rest. For each period of action, there is stillness. For each period of absorption, there is release. For each period of expansion, there is contraction. These complementary sets of energetics are as the wings of a butterfly. Each balances the other for the renewed vibrancy of the whole. As we enter into the creative powers of cultural architecture and artistry, as we aspire and dream and vision for the seventh generation ahead of us, may we remember the gift of rest, of stopping, of calmness. May we always know that how we approach growth is more important than whatever measured levels of growth we might achieve. And may we aways have the courage to surrender. In Hebrew, at the heart of this courage is the energy of Emunah: faith, trust, the deepest sense of knowing which is beyond any rational logic. This is the sap which runs through the Tree of Life, the nectar which sweetens her fruit, and the spirit which gives us our deep breath. With Emunah, we can walk into these cycles, just as we would slowly enter, with awe and gratitude, into the ocean of life. First, rest. Then, release. And finally, a return to the place you are born and reborn again.
No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. Hagakure: Book of the Samurai
We can do this. We can once again come together to tell the story of Shmita, to live the story of Shmita. After so many years, so many generations, dormant in the depths of the oceans of our own forgetfulness, this story is asking to breathe again, to flower again into the beautiful expression of our own being. It is time, once again, to join together with the birds and the waters, the animals and plants, the sun and moon and stars and tell a story so old and ancient that we have forgotten just how much we need it today, now, for our own survival, for our own evolution and growth. Shmita is the story of the village heart. And the story of the village heart is best told when we are willing to tell it together, as a tribe, as a family, in the reflections of our belief and excitement and faith and wonder, in the collected chorus of our shared questions, our shared prayers, our shared laughter and tears, our shared vulnerability. This story is asking to be told around the fires of our hearth; to be told to our children before they drift into their dreams; to be told to our young adults during initiation, so they may become the leaders living this story; to be told to our adults as a reminder of the sacred path we are all walking. And the more we tell, the more we will remember. In our remembering, we will suckle like babies on the swollen nipples of this story, drinking the flowing milk of her memories, learning from her lessons, her wisdom. In our remembering, we will breathe on the ember of our own indigenous soul, feeding the spark of our original being, the seed of the Big Story from which we were all born. In our remembering, we will feed the continual unfolding of this tale, which began with the first light of creation, and which ripples always and forever in the undercurrents of own consciousness. This precious gift of ours, of voice and speech, comes with the gift of choice. We can choose the story we want to believe in. We can choose the story we want to live. Through the threads of our own speech, we are creating the story of our lives, weaving the tapestry of our days, the narrative of our own being. Will you step into this story of community, of celebration? Will you seed this story so that it may flower and fruit in full abundance? Will you enter, once again, into the rhythm of the beating village heart?
Your branches are an orchard of pomegranate trees heavy with fruit, flowering henna and spikenard saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon with every tree of frankincense myrrh and aloes, all the finest spices. You are a fountain in the garden, a well of living waters flowing from the mountains. Awaken, north winds; O, south winds, come! Breathe upon my garden bear its fragrance to my lover. Let my Beloved come and share in the treasures within. Song of Songs 4.13-16