First we have to forgive each other.
And then, we must forgive ourselves.
As someone who although was raised Jew-ish, always felt spiritually connected to all faiths, you might be surprised to know that while I do many Jewish things, I am not all that religious. I was raised reform, some of my family is orthodox, much of my work is in a conservative Jewish context, my prayerful nature is certainly Jewish, but I have always been a rail rider… a paradox. How can I be Jewish, and also be…. performing burlesque, singing Kiran to Hindu gods, or, god forbid, eating bacon? I don’t belong fully to any of the laws, and yet I am still a summation of all that I have learned and come to known as comforting in the realm of prayer and spirit. I consider myself to be pretty attuned to all the ways the spirit works, nondenominationally, as far as being human is concerned.
So when a few weeks ago I had this sense of dread come over me… I was baffled by this unexplainable heavily grieving of loss. Nothing showed overtly obvious as a reason…My love and work has been steady, I’m not PSMing, Mercury isn’t still in retrograde if you consider that important… granted, we live in an age where I fail to see how it’s possible for anybody not to be constantly depressed about this morbid state of the union… affairs… our planet…all that we have created. It’s a boat-load of good and bad. That aside… I checked in with myself, and though I felt balanced and healthy within, still, there was great sadness.
As people come and go in and out of our lives, is to be expected, and we ourselves undergo new phases of ourselves – old parts dying off, new parts growing – some things forever stay relevant, perhaps like faith, spirit, creativity. The real reality and secret is that EVERYTHING is temporary; we are always learning the process and when we master the process, then it changes. If you haven’t yet noticed, it has become clear to many that attachment is where pain grows. Specifically, unhealthy attachment.
I mentioned I currently work at a conservative synagogue in the Bay Area, and last week a man came in grappling with his mortality. With tears in his eyes he said he has two-four months to live and just wants to make it easy on his family. My tears began to flow with him and we hugged and talked…grief is a process, not a destination or something to avoid. And even when it’s not your own grief, it is still overt and demands attention; always better not to be done alone.
Then, in a staff meeting on Thursday, my Rabbi did a short teaching, and it hit me like lightening… he explained that this weekend is Tisha B’Av! The Jewish day of mourning. What is that about?
For those that aren’t familiar, on this day in 2019, Saturday, August 10, at sundown marked the Jewish day known as Tisha B’av. Known as the 9th of the Jewish month of Av, and it has a reputation of being the saddest day of the year. It usually occurs in July or August, and the Gregorian date switches around, it marks the culmination of a three week period of mourning. Twenty-four hours dedicated to the communal mourning of disastrous events that have all occurred on this day throughout history. I thought I would name a few, the first one written in the Bible, our oldest rendering of time, states:
“ …On the ninth of Av it was decreed that our fathers should not enter the Promised Land”. –Mishnah Ta’anit 4:6
…And it was decided the Jews had to wonder the dessert for 40 more years (or something of that nature, I didn’t go to synagogue tonight, because clearly I am not the best Jew. I like to keep my options open… but I instead, worked on this blog post, and dug deeper)
Tisha B’Av commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem, both of which were destroyed on the ninth of Av (the first by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; the second by the Romans in 70 C.E.). On this day the many other tragedies occurred, notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290. Some connect the day to Kristallnacht, which began on the 9th of November, or to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Perhaps a stretch, but worth noting. Some other dates include:
- The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856)
- The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290
- The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306
- The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492
- Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914
- On August 2, 1941, SS commander Heinrich Himmler received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” As a result, the Holocaust began.
And then, a little further research thanks to my friend Moxie proved to show that :
- 1871 – Chicago Fire 370 dead
- 1989 – San Francisco Earthquake
- 1992 – Hurricane Andrew
- 1972 – NYC heat wave – 891 dead
And the beat goes on. Really, no matter which way you look at it, people are constantly in a cycle of grieving. It’s unavoidable. And yet, here we are, continuing to walk forward in our lives as if nothing is wrong.
Luckily, traditions have developed observations in which to help people deal with these emotions. The jews sit shiva for seven days when someone dies. Many custums have particular rituals with which to honor the dead. #DayoftheDead
Central to the observance of this Tisha B’Av period is fasting. I also found it interesting that during this three week period of mourning preceding the 9th of Av, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair or having sexual relations. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine and from wearing new clothing. All of these actions are considered a luxury and inappropriate for a time of mourning. Visiting cemeteries is highly encouraged to tighten the sadness. Uniquely on Tisha B’Av, Torah study, meant to be joyful, is not permitted. Some parts of the Bible or Talmud are allowed, like Job or Jeremiah.
Bottom line, the community grieves together.
Now, whatever your ritual or history or beliefs may be… we all feel pain. And we all crave to be understood. Which begs the question:
What DO we do with all this pain? More and more comes every day.
I’ve learned that first, you have to process it and acknowledge it. And then you forgive it. You forgive BOTH sides of the story… you forgive others, and then you forgive yourself.
It’s not easy to admit the truth, especially when some of it has been blocked out potentially. And sometimes, we need a little help doing that. Usually this is easier said than done, and that’s why we developed these communal places to grieve and morn, where it is done in a group setting, facilitated even sometimes. In our communities.
That is exactly what the Temple at Burning Man is designed to do. Organically. No religion. No priest. Just community.
This year, I’m ramping up for my fifth Burning Man, and my mother who recently was told about the Temple at Burnin Man, informed me that she is ready to make the pilgrimage.. NEXT YEAR. “Wow, I thought… just when I was thinking maybe I should do something else with my time…”. And yet, why did she want to go all of a sudden?
To my surprise, because someone explained to her the grieving process that happens at Burning Man, at many of the various temples in fact. It’s such an important piece of the journey that is so often overlooked, and something I am greatly looking forward to spending some time at this year. And someday, maybe I can even bring my momma to this sacred place, one that is different every year.
It’s worth mentioning that “the” temple isn’t the only temple at burning man; in fact there are several. I’m honored to be working with this team a bit this year on the playa called Bee Divine . This honey-combed shape temple at Burning Man will guide people into embodying the Divine Feminine through ritual and holding space. “The art piece developed into a large-scale interactive temple that would hold interactive ritual theater,” said creator, Elizabeth Huebner. ” I wanted to create a beautiful temple, but I also wanted to explore how we can choose to create sacred experiences through the use of our own will and imagination.”
In an effort to create sacred space and hold myself accountable for something meaninful, I’ll be working a shift at the Bee Divine and leading my Israeli-inspired Lotus Flower Forgiveness Movement Meditation Ritual at this hive at 7:00 am on Friday morning at Sunrise (location TBA). In the meantime, no #FOMO, If you have something you need to let go of, no time like the present to metamorphosize! #beedivine #callitin #justaskhow
In the name of letting go, I am also really excited to be bringing my first piece of true art this year to the burn, introducing: GRACE …. the cutest baby fire you’ve always wanted! Come, help me feed her, keep her warm, keep her dry, and burn bright all week long. Participants will be invited to help keep the baby alive throughout the week by feeding her wood chips and ascribing an intention to each bite they deliver to her furnace.
You can come find Grace mostly around Center Camp and Pandora’s Bike and Fix it Shoppe at Rod’s Road and 4:30 …. Also we will be at the EL Diablo lighting ceremony Monday Sundown at Center Camp that Crimson Rose leads and possibly even at the main Man Burn event, if the baby can hang! Remember… doing sacred should also be silly… that’s the key to working your way through challenging times. Make it special.
I want to say a special thank you to my lovely friend and playmate TJ Lee for taking my idea and helping make it a reality! Also want to thank Dan Brown for suggesting I make my “fire on wheels” idea into a baby carriage when we were watching the man burn last year …. the world works in mysterious ways! Sometimes you watch it burn from the front row, sometimes you watch it burn from the back row, but it’s all about who you’re standing with that matters.
If I’ve learned one thing about the art of attachment (or lack there of), it is that the more you love, the more you will grieve, it is that simple. Budda knew it. The more you want something, the more it will hurt when it’s gone. And so we make choices based on how much we are willing to risk our hearts. Keep this in mind as you move forward day to day; how much of yourself you give away and in exchange for what.
I encourage you to not shy away from that which you love, but rather, love with a healthy intention and with compassion. You never know when someone is grieving, and THEY themselves might not even know it either. But love and grief are real, it is physical, it’s emotional, and it’s going to happen.
It’s time to start dealing with it. And please know, that you are never alone. Reach out anytime, I always make myself available when it’s important.
New Album called Sermony | Ceremony Coming Soon in 2020!