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Monday, November 30, 2020

Jewish Astrology in The Aquarian Age An International Conference of Academics, Scholars and Mystics

 


Jewish Astrology in The Aquarian Age

An International Conference of Academics, Scholars and Mystics

December 21, 2020, the Winter Solstice,

and the day of the Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction in the Sign of Aquarius, for the first time since 1405.

Via Zoom 

Info at https://aquarianminyan.org/aquarianage

Cost: $26 for all-conference day pass, including access to all session recordings

Register at https://aquarianminyan.com/astrology

 

The periodic conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn hold a special place in the history of Jewish astrological thought. The three conjunction cycles of 20, 240, and 960 years which take place within elemental triplicities were viewed as portents of political and social change, the emergence of a new dynasty, nation, or a great prophet. This “Great Conjunction” was the focus of Jewish messianic speculation from the earliest contacts with its origins in third century Sassanian Persia through Abu Ma’ashar, the medieval commentators such as Abraham Bar Hiyya, Abraham Ibn Ezra, and others.

Jupiter and Saturn make a conjunction in the zodiac sign of Aquarius on December 21, 2020. This marks the first time the conjunction has been in Aquarius since the year 1405. This is significant because of the special relationship of both the planet Saturn and the constellation of Aquarius to the Jewish people.

This online conference examines the implications of this celestial event in light of current terrestrial realities, and how this might be understood in terms of the Jewish esoteric tradition, Jewish history, and messianic thought. We’ve invited academic, scholarly, and lay mystic participation around this subject. Our hope is to bring scholars and mystics together on common ground to explore a subject with multiple layers of historical, symbolic, existential, and prophetic meaning.

 

Schedule (all times Pacific times)

9:30am

Welcome and Introduction to Jewish Astrology

  • ·        Lorelai Kude

 

9:45am

Invocation and Blessing

  • Rabbi T'mimah Audrey Ickovits 


10am Pacific Time

Panel Discussion: Astrology in the Sefer Yetzirah

  • ·        Rabbi Jill Hammer
  • ·        Piergabriele Mancuso
  • ·        Marla Segol
  • ·        Rabbi T’mimah Audrey Ickovitz

 

12 Noon Pacific Time

Keynote: Ibn Ezra’s Jewish Astrology and the Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction in Jewish Thought

  • ·        Meira Epstein

 

2pm Pacific Time

Panel: The Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction in Jewish Messianic Thought & The Dark Side of the Aquarian Age

  • ·        Lorelai Kude
  • ·        Rabbi Jonathan Seidel PhD
  • ·        Special Guests TBA

 

 

About Our Panelists and Speakers:

Meira Epstein has been researching Abraham Ibn Ezra’s astrological texts since the late 1980’s. Her published translations are The Beginning of Wisdom (1998), The Book of Reasons (1991) and The Book of Nativities and Revolutions (2008). In preparation are The Book of Elections and The Book of Interrogations. She is a certified professional astrological consultant and a principal teacher for the NCGR education and certification program, focusing on science, astronomy, and history. Meira lectures and teaches internationally on all aspects of astrology. A college degree and a career in teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in Israel was followed by a full-cycle career in computer programming on Wall Street. Her website is www.bear-star.com 

 

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, author, scholar, ritualist, poet, and dreamworker, is the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion (www.ajrsem.org), and co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute (www.kohenet.org). Her new book on Jewish mysticism is titled Return to the Place: The Magic, Meditation, and Mystery of Sefer Yetzirah. Rabbi Hammer is also the author of other books including The Hebrew Priestess: Ancient and New Visions of Jewish Women’s Spiritual Leadership (with Taya Shere), The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for all Seasons, Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries. She lives in Manhattan with her wife and daughter.

 

Rabbi T’mimah Audrey Ickovits, BSE, is the spiritual leader of Holistic Jew in Santa Monica, CA. She and cultivates a wide variety of ritual. These include prayer, Torah study, Liquid Kabbalah movement, and meditation. Rabbi T’mimah teaches courses in “Davvenology” and “Kabbalah and Prayer” highlighting the connectivity between spiritual practice and nature’s movement. Rabbi T’mimah recently published the ”Holistic Jew Shahareet Weekday siddur” and “Seven Sacred Circles”. Both these publications include commentary from classical Kabbalah. Passionate about the environment and committed to equality in death, she teaches in support of green, cost-effective, the traditional end-of-life options. Through engagement with the classical text, Rabbi Ickovits learned to track patterns in Jewish practice. Indeed, the basis of Rabbinic Judaism is the calendar cycle. Moreover, she found Jewish Tradition is filled with skillful guidance to support living a nourishing productive life, which includes time off from work as a foundational value. Rabbi Ickovits’s unique strength is in engaging with traditional texts through a different ‘slant of light’ – that is, from a traditional, yet egalitarian, eco-aware spiritual perspective, to bring forward the renewed meaning and practice, creative sparks, & movement into contemporary Jewish life. Rabbi Ickovits attended Modern Orthodox Yeshivah and resonated with the deep initiation this offered into Torah Study, Hebrew, and traditional Jewish practices. The school's philosophy of strict adhesion to rigid, patriarchal, and ethnocentric rules fueled her inquiry into the subtle and deeper intentions (Kavanot) of Jewish practice. Her website is Holistic Jew. 

 

Lorelai Kude, MA received her Masters Degree in Jewish Studies from Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, where her thesis “Yesh Mazal l’Yisrael: Astrology in Jewish Cultural Heritage” laid the academic foundation for her upcoming popular book, “Astrolojew: The Big Book of Jewish Astrology”. A practicing, professional astrologer for 30+ years, Lorelai writes a syndicated Jewish astrology column (“Astrolojew”) for the Jerusalem Post, J the Jewish News of Northern California, The Detroit Jewish News, and Alliance, France’s biggest online Jewish publication. Along with maintaining and growing her private astrological consulting practice, Lorelai also teaches classes, publishes a podcast on Jewish astrology, and is the Executive Director of The Aquarian Minyan and “Mother” of the Aquarian Minyan Yeshiva. This conference has been her dream since the summer of 2018. 

 

 Piergabriele Mancuso received his doctoral degree in Jewish Studies from University College London, 2009. He studied in Oxford and has been a fellow of the Warburg Institute, London. He taught at Boston University and Abroad Programs, Ca’ Foscari University (Venice) and the University of Kentucky (Lexington). He is the director of the Eugene Program in Jewish Studies at the Medici Archive Project, Florence and the Venetian Centre for International Jewish Studies. He is the author of several studies and monographs on medieval Italian Jewry and Jewish music.

 

Marla Segol is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department of Global Gender and Sexuality Studies.  She earned her PhD in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University New Brunswick in 2001, with a dissertation on religious conversion and cosmopolitanism. Recent books include Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalah: The Texts, Commentaries and Diagrams of the ‘Sefer Yetsirah’ (Palgrave, 2012), and Sexuality, Sociality, and Cosmology in Medieval Literary Texts, coedited with Jennifer Brown (Palgrave, 2013)  Professor Segol has published articles on medieval cosmopolitanism, medieval and early modern kabbalah, history of medicine, magic and astrology, American kabbalah, New Age religion, and contemporary self-help literature. Recent awards include the Humanities Institute Fellowship, and a Research Grant from the Gender Institute at the University at Buffalo. Her forthcoming book, Kabbalah and Sex Magic: A Mythical-Ritual Genealogy discusses the history of the components that make up contemporary sex magic ritual as they appear in Jewish esoteric texts. 

 

Rabbi Jonathan Seidel was born in Newark, New Jersey, descended from a rabbinic lineage of scholars in the Ukraine. He grew up as a cultural New Yorker and actively observant Zionist within a Jewishly engaged family involved in Temple Emmanuel in Westfield, New Jersey. There his rabbinic teachers were Rabbis Charles Kroloff and Leonard Thal. His spiritual journey was radically altered after meeting Rabbis Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Later, it was Reb Zalman who first encouraged his entry into the ALEPH ordination program. Rabbi Jonathan studied at Oberlin College, the Jewish Theological Seminary (MA 1981), and was a Fulbright-Hayes scholar at Cambridge University. He received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, in Near Eastern Studies (1996). He has taught Judaic Studies and Religion at Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, University of Arizona, Portland State University, Northwest Christian College, Oregon State University, University of Oregon and most recently Lane Community College. He was ordained in 2004 by ALEPH, the Alliance for Jewish Renewal, after many years of serving the Jewish community in the West.Rabbi Jonathan has served as a spiritual leader and Cantor for a number of Jewish communities in California and Arizona. He has an extensive background in and commitment to Interfatith and Intercultural activism, Jewish music (as Chazzan for many years), Social Justice work, Jewish education and environmental activism. Rabbi Jonathan has worked, along with many Renewal colleagues, to bridge the gap between historical academic research into Jewish ritual and prayer and contemporary practice that combines the contemplative and the ecstatic. He is the Visiting Rabbi of The Aquarian Minyan and Rosh haYeshiva of the Aquarian Minyan Yeshiva. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The week of Shabbos haGadol: Mars and Saturn conjunct in Aquarius; Jupiter-Pluto Conjunction and Corona Virus Star Patterns


Friends, I will cut right to the chase here. There are two huge things happening in the stars this coming week. One is the conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Aquarius on Tuesday March 31, and the other is the first of the three Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions of 2020, which happens on Saturday April 4, Shabbos Parshat Tzav. 

Medieval astrologers understood the conjunction of Mars and Saturn in Aquarius as being the signature celestial pattern reflecting the presence of plague

My interpretation of these two events is that the coming week will see severe spikes in infection news and the result will be a big government crackdown on personal movements - even more strict than measures currently in place.
 
I am hoping that by Chodesh Iyar ("Ani HaShem Rofecha") we will see a lot of healing. The Jewish Calendar would indicate that
the plague to turn around by Lag b'Omer (May 12) with significant relief by Shavuot (May 30) but ONLY IF YOU STAY THE F*&K HOME. If you don't stay home, we'll all be quarantined until Tisha b'Av.

Regarding the Mars-Saturn conjunction, which is relatively rare: The last time Mars and Saturn were conjunct in Aquarius was March 1992, during which the "Michelangelo computer virus" ravaged DOS-based computer systems world-wide. 

The time before that was February 1964, during which the USA was in the throes of Beatlemania, an extremely contagious phenomenon. This was also the peak of the Rubella epidemic. Rubella, also called at that time “German Measles”, infected 12 million people and 20,000 babies were born with severe complications from the disease.

The time before that was January 1934, during Hitler was elected Chancellor of the Reichstag and when Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring". I don't think I need to elaborate on the contagious nature of vile antisemitic hatred - that's obvious to all.

So: Sunday March 29 and Monday March 30 the Moon is in Gemini, with the Sun in Aries, you can bet on a lot of aggressively delivered information, data dumps, and Mars enters Aquarius on Monday as well, leading up to his conjunction with Saturn on Tuesday.

The point where Mars and Saturn meet in Aquarius meet on Tuesday is 0 degrees Aquarius – the exact point of the upcoming “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn in December 2020, the one I’ve been talking about here on this podcast, on my FB page and my blog, etc. for months and months. Events taking place around the Mars / Saturn conjunction this week will be revisited, dare I say with a vengeance, at the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at the same cosmic address in December. 

The Moon moves into Cancer Tuesday morning the 31st as well, preparing for her First Quarter Moon Wednesday. That’s what you call “reva l’Pesach” – 15 minutes before Passover – on the cosmic clock or the Cycle of Sacred Time known as the Jewish Calendar. Moon in Cancer is food, home, mother, money. These security triggers will be HUGE this week, especially on Thursday as the Moon in Cancer opposes Jupiter and Pluto in Capricorn, and later in the day when the Moon moves into Leo, opposes Saturn and Mars in Aquarius. The inherit emotional volatility of this week will be a wild ride as every possible trigger will be activated. 

Friday with Moon in Leo adding a dramatic dimension to just about everything – and melodramatic in many cases – sees Venus move out of her Earth-home sign of Taurus and into Gemini, followed by Mercury’s conjunction to Neptune in Pisces. Widely varied interpretations of data and the level of distortion around the flow of information both skyrockets. 

Saturday April 4 is Shabbat haGadol, the Great Shabbat before Pesach. Venus in Gemini trines Saturn in Aquarius which might supercharge creative ways of overcoming loneliness during this time of self-isolation. Connection to each other will be the prime directive as later on Saturday Jupiter makes the first of his three conjunctions of 2020 to Pluto at 24 degrees Capricorn. Remember Jupiter supersizes and giganticises everything he touches, and Pluto is raw power, raw ambition, raw need to seize what is desired: control, and wealth. They don’t call it a “Plutocracy” for nothing – governments controlled by the wealthy. I think we will see a power grab move by controlling powers which may in the short term, or medium term, be seen as a drastic measure to flatten the curve or stop the spread of the corona virus, but in the longer term these measures will be fought against and opposed by some. 

Jupiter will make his second conjunction to Pluto June 30, at the same degree of Capricorn, but Retrograde. This week during the first Jupiter-Pluto conjunction, Mars will be in Aquarius, the futuristic sign of progress and science, at same zodiacal point of the upcoming Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in December, signaling a change in leadership or the rise or fall of a society or government. At that second conjunction in June, the retrograde one, Mars will have just entered Aries, the sign of war. It’s possible civil liberties and personal privacies superseded by emergency conditions in April will, by June, be revised with aggressive resistance. 

The final conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto on November 12 occurs when Mars is in Retrograde Aries. That conjunction, exactly on the Saturn-Pluto trigger point of January 12 which started this whole thing off (seems like a million years ago, doesn’t it?) brings the progression of these three conjunctions to a climax. But OMG, it is impossible to know what life will be like in mid-November. Will America even have an election? Will there be some big power grab by the government? Will Mars in aggressive Aries square Jupiter-Pluto reflect G*d forbid people taking the law into their own hands? A massive march on Washington? Nobody knows, and I’m not guess-estimating. 

So keep a lookout for key events this week; they’ll be revisited over and over again this year as we try hard to find a place to rest our foot during this freefall, during which the old normal is dead and the new normal hasn’t really begun.

Saturday April 4th is Shabbos HaGadol is also Parshat Tzav, which includes the details of the "Thanksgiving Offering" brought by someone who survives great danger, as well as the warning to Aharon the High Priest & his sons the priests not to leave the confines of the Tabernacle for the entire 7-day inaugural process. We are supposed to be a "nation of priests" and this week we need to understand that we must not leave the confines of our homes. We may also take this time to contemplate what kind of "offering" we are moved to give to this world if we are blessed, please G*d, to survive this (and may we all be!). We give to G*d by giving to each other. What might be your gift? Something to think about here.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

CHODESH NISSAN: FIRST THE PLAGUES, THEN THE REDEMPTION

"When Israel went out of Egypt" (Psalm 114:1) occurred under the sign of Aries," states the caption to an illustration in a 1769 Haggadah manuscript from Amsterdam, scribed by Yehoshua ben Mordechai of Wolentz. . In the painting, a lamb can be seen floating in the sky; connecting Aries to the Pesach sacrifice.

CHODESH NISSAN: FIRST THE PLAGUES, THEN THE REDEMPTION 

Chodesh Nisan 5780 (March 26 – April 24, 2020)
 
Why is this Chodesh Nissan different from all others which have gone before it? It’s the first time since the original Chodesh Nissan during which the Israelites experienced the Ten Plagues from the safety of their dwellings that we’ve huddled indoors, either alone or with our families, praying that the Angel of Death will pass over us.   

The celestial cycles have spoken: the Saturn-Pluto conjunction of January 12 kicked off these traumatic times. April 4th will see the first of 2020’s three Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions triggering larger and larger waves of powerful paranoia, doubt and fear. Government crackdowns on personal freedoms during times of great global pandemics may trigger rebellious reactions by those whose trust in our societal structures and institutions have already been eroded by the untrustworthy actions of those institutions themselves. 

Nissan is the month in which we remember and reenact the deliverance which seemed impossible by human standards, and yet came anyway. The Full Libra “Super” Moon of Erev Pesach April 8 brings hope as we recall how the burden of Egyptian slavery was rolled away in a single night – the night we hid ourselves indoors. 

The Last Quarter Moon in Capricorn with the Sun square Pluto April 14 on the eve of the seventh day of Pesach reveals the impotence of top-down structural solutions to a crisis which can only be addressed from the bottom up. Individual responsibility rather than governmental caretaking or corporate culpability turns out to be the defining difference between life and death. 

The Sun/Saturn square April 20 reveals the uselessness of an “us vs. them” mentality. The decisions you make today determine your own future as well as those you’ve never met. The virus of contagious collective fear must be battled by individual faith. Choose wisely and choose life while you still can!