It’s been an adventurous week for the Yenta, so please excuse the slow posting!
Though my Sukkot skillz may be lacking, my son and I managed to sleep under the stars and shake some foliage this weekend at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference near Asheville, NC. Organically organized by the amazing women of Red Moon Herbs, the conference is three days of workshops and classes about the uses of the plants that grow all around us — bridging the practical with the spiritual, the medicinal with the ethereal. We learned that dandelion leaves aid digestion and taste delish in a salad, chewed up plaintain leaf to make a spit poultice for bug bites and bathed in marigold rose tea prepared under the full moon (does that count as a mikveh?)
This is our third year at the conference; everyone not only tolerates my boy as the token male, but adores him. He soaks up the Goddess worship just like he does his Hebrew lessons; rather than conflict with our family’s spirituality, the references to the Divine Feminine appears to fit right in with his cosmic belief system. (Yes, he’s quite advanced for 9.) I appreciate this incredible opportunity to teach him about the forgotten wisdom of the earth — knowledge about how to relate to our environment that’s been not only suppressed, but actively deleted from the human experience, including from our Jewish traditions. This is the information women were burned at the stake for as witches, and it’s the information that’s going to save us from the poisonous disaster our greedy brethren have made of the planet.
The weekend stoked the fire within me that says this is the only real work there is in these unstable times. As a parent, I think this kind of tactile study is fundamental to our Jewish faith. And because I enjoy seeing how far the boundaries of tradition can stretch before they break, I’m going to go the extra sacreligious mile and suggest that it’s even more important than studying the Torah if we’re going to raise conscious, responsible adults out of our children. We can talk all we want about appreciating the infinite manifestations God’s tremendous creation, but no kid is going to learn about the difference between black and white sage within the walls of Hebrew school. What’s a child going to remember more: Writing alephs in a Hebrew workbook a hundred times or rubbing the furry part of a mullein leaf against his cheek?
I’m not saying we should abandon the books, but I think Jewish education needs to bring us back to the plants and flowers. The more time we spend outside, the more closer we are to our Creator — which seems to me the entire point of Sukkot. But what if we actually celebrated it within the context of the Divine Feminine, called the shekinah in Hebrew? I wonder how much of Jewish tradition can be interpreted to incorporate this lost, invisible piece of our souls?
Food for thought. And speaking of food, I’m off to gather some dandelions for dinner.