empowering the feminine

Rosh Hashana 5781

my task is from now,
always was;
i had not the words for it
until recently

an inclusive term
for there are men
who support the feminine
as there are women who trample on her

for greed is genderless
as is lust
and stinginess

sitting in my hastily made sukkah
for which i sacrificed a washing line
i gained an outdoor makhosini
and a deeper understanding of the earth as my altar;

the baal shem tov,
on the 18th of elul,
the anniversary of his birth,

reached out to me
through niggunim,
and reading,
mostly on chabad

to the holy baal shem tov site i went
and discovered that when i say i am a sangoma
in truth what i do
is elevation work;

the elevationproject
provided me with an opportunity
to enter a meditation
climbing jacob’s ladder

and up
and up
and up
and up

and at the next step
the rung gave way beneath me;
no panic did I experience
no anxiety

for the next step i had already taken
and when that too gave way
on the next one i already was
and so on

until the phone ran
at the 24th rung
and i took the call

without fear
of missing an opportunity
to climb ever higher;

judaism has taught me
particularly in its reform/progressive dress:
people are important;

clinging to g-d
too tightly
too rigidly
too intensely
a form of idolatry might become

for what the l-ord asks of me
is to act justly
love tenderly
and walk humbly with the g-od of my ancestors

and since the besht’s birthdate
i learnt to pray for the grace
to do each day
what i am meant to do
that day

nothing more
and nothing less…

the rest of the day i spent washing dishes
and clothes,
and muffins baking

all for my son
who is an important person in my life
and reliant on me at the time…

for rosh hashana i prepared enthusiastically
made this delicacy
and bought others

so that when he
being religion-free
(or perhaps a closet-catholic when with me?)
decided instead to do something else

i was a little hurt
a bit disappointed
until it came to me
through the ether, as it were,

that i too am worthy of care
worthy of taking time to prepare for shabbos
and enjoying it
even if on my own i am;

and he is worthy of living his own life
enjoying his youth
according to his own path

and worthy too
is the source of compassionate living
of my full attention to preparation
as well as my enjoyment of the food he has provided
for my celebration of intimacy with him

and just in case i became too comfortable in my catholic habits
yom kippur brought something different
indeed, many gifts

far more than I can count
far more than I am aware of even;

in the zoomshul sermon a story was shared
of a disciple of the besht
who spent twenty years in his room
far removed from reality

an ascetic,
a jew on his own,
living alone

with spiritual insights it is true…
where is the joy in that?

i had become aware before this
that eastern bliss
and jewish joy are not one

but separate

even though as a feeling
as one they are experienced;
(on a brain scan would they trigger the same register?
for both come through alignment with own source;

yet alignment in jewish shamanic-mystical practice
is an on-going endeavour;

plateaus reached
demand that down the mountain you go
in search of stragglers

for a new level of enlightenment
or consciousness reached
is sanctified
only if at least one other is brought up to it…?)

is a state of being
attained through a scientific practice

is a state of being
in the world
attained as i serve the creator
according to the blueprint we agree on

through thoughts
and deeds that elevate what i am doing

making the mundane holy
a g-odly thing;
a form of presence
that past, present and future transforms

ever aware that g-od is
the master builder;

source of all sources
creative partner
of co-creators

and during the collective sacred elevation of the world
that is yom kippur
when the g-od revealed to jacob/israel
reaches out to us in our willing vulnerability

making it possible to look at ourselves
with compassion
with the heart that is tiferet,
regardless of the past we might feel trapped in

and masks
dropped –
what lay hidden behind the veils
digestible makes

and so, it was with me
as i owned who i was in my most recent past life
and wept
as i understood why i have travelled the road I have:

a passive suicide is a suicide
and choosing to walk into auschwitz
even as a form of solidarity
when one could have escaped it
has no merit;

g-od is not in it
even as g-od sways you
into stillness;
remorse eating at your heart

(a jew
has no business being passive
in the face of evil –
whether directed at others
or at oneself

if escape you can
flee you must…

a jew
has no business forcing a jewess
even if his wife she is –
especially if she his wife is –
to follow his instructions in contradiction to her deepest authentic desire

(that granny
in whose merit i was rescued
just won’t give up –
i am to tell pope benedict xvi
to give me permission to revert to judaism;

and the two of us have been arguing about this
for many years now
for she is still stuck in the middle ages

yet, no matter how many times I tell her
that doing so might be inappropriate
given the fact of apologies by pope after pope
she insists that I do so

eventually we agreed
that a mediator might be a better way to do this…

why pope benedict though?
because of all the popes he is the only one
who knows, with theological certainty, that the

Church of the Gentiles
is like a wild olive shoot,
grafted onto the cultivated olive tree
which is the People of the Covenant?

because I always think of this pope
when I think of the concept of the primacy of conscience
which was his major contribution to vatican 2?

because st paul
is a jew in need of elevation too?

which can only happen
when jewish souls in catholic exile are free
to revert to judaism?

with the blessing of the pope
who has given it the most thought
and has the power to negotiate with the rabbis,

reform, chassdic and sephardic,
that i be accepted back into the people of the covenant
as a daughter of rachel?

yet i digress…

the way of men,
including jewish men,
serve me only to the extent
that they empower the feminine within me

and the feminine without

the earth
our mother
and all her children

so that the sukkah I built
nay, more than symbolizes,
(for sephardic kabbalah is practical)
the upgrading of all my ancestors

the healing of my fragmented psyche
the integration of all my ancestors’ desires
to dwell in the sukkah
my jewish ancestors built through me –

all imperfections are for my own account –
dependent on my ability to do
and to listen…

how poor my words are
to express the gratitude i feel
to so many jewish people
in so many lineages
who have reached out to me

none more so
than my rabbi
who in the background elevated me
in prayer over the last few years

and the team at beit emanuel
that supports him;
i, one of his flock,

with each member a healer

chipping away at the klippot
of fear
of superstition
of arrogance

freeing divine sparks

through prayer
through music
through song

through sharing of knowledge
through sharing of talents
through sharing of kindness

choosing life
for ourselves;
choosing life
for each other

in a dance of giving

growing ethical consciousness
jewishly –

building bridges
making room
gathering jewish souls
from diverse exiles

chag sameach!
(happy holidays!)


I have read a little and listened to many vlogs, the most relevant here being:









Beyond this are so many beings caring for each of us at this time, and for each other, that it is impossible to know, let alone thank, everyone. However, I would like to thank a special friend who suggested that becoming a sangoma was a way in which to ‘upgrade’ her ancestors. This is true for me too and I am grateful for this more dynamic expression of what I think of as ‘lineage healing’.

© Archaela (5781 Tishrei 16)

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