Iyar: From Material to Spiritual
New Moon MeditationsReflections on The Book of Formation

Iyar: From Material to Spiritual

The month of Iyar is about elevating yourself beyond materialistic, animal instincts

Terry Segal

Dr. Terry Segal is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with a Ph.D. in Energy Medicine. She is the author of "The Enchanted Journey: Finding the Key That Unlocks You.”

Rosh Chodesh Iyar begins Thursday, April 27. The focus of this month is on healing in the glowing luminescence of the sun.

Iyar’s acronym from Exodus 15:26 is “I am G-d your healer.” The challenge is to harness the fire, or lower the vibrations of passion or animalistic energies, and elevate that fire to the higher realm of spiritual thoughts and actions that light and repair the world.

We do this through the wisdom of the Sefer Yetzirah, the Book of Formation.

Iyar’s Hebrew letter is vav; zodiac sign, Taurus; tribe, Issachar; sense, thought; and controlling organ, right kidney.

Imagine the letter vav as an elevator moving up and down between the material and spiritual realms.

Taurus, the bull, represents dense, immovable, raw, physical energy. We all have Taurus somewhere in our charts. When people behave like bulls, they’re careless, charging, blinded by their emotions, inflexible, and stubborn. They can also be too concerned with material possessions, keeping them on the ground floor.

The positive qualities of Taurus are dependability and patience. The more we can practice Midot, Kabbalah’s “seven attributes” of mercy, judgment, beauty, victory, splendor, foundation and kingship, the more we can rise up to the higher elevations.

Issachar is the tribe. It was composed of the scholars and mathematicians, who also understood astronomy and the esoteric secrets of the universe.

Thought is the sense. It involves flipping negative, hateful thoughts and actions that make the spirit stagnant. Being mindful of the impact of your words is key.

The controlling organ is the smaller and lower right kidney. As with any set of limbs or organs, there’s a flow between the feminine yin and the masculine yang energy. The right kidney is yin, making it more passive. Kidneys regulate the flow of energy and fluids with regard to qi (life force), urine and blood. The yin water quenches the yang fire.

We’re supposed to spend the month of Iyar taming our primitive, animallike nature and refining ourselves in preparation for receiving the Torah next month during Shavuot.

We usually think of our animalistic qualities as unrefined, base and aggressive. We often associate them with unrestrained sexuality or other behaviors without boundaries. There’s so much aggression activated in the world that the incidence of it is becoming frighteningly common.

I’m not so sure that people are more refined than animals. What if we, in this month, could achieve the cleansing of our souls and elevation of our spirits through becoming more like the animals?

I’m thinking specifically of my dog. Her default is to love everyone, unless she has a reason not to, which she hasn’t found in 10 years. She doesn’t hold grudges.

Each day begins with yoga stretches, down dog being her favorite. When she feels pent-up, she runs herself silly for a few minutes, then plops down on the ground, smiling while panting. Kisses are shared freely, and she’ll stand to full height to slow-dance if invited.

She responds to nonverbal cues, licks my tears when I’m sad and nudges me outside when she knows I need to go for a walk. Toffee’s an ascended Zen master. I venture to say that the tribe of Issachar and she would understand each other.

Always ready to play by day, she sleeps deeply at night in the curve of my bent legs. She snuggles into her wolfpack between my husband and me, restoring her energy for the day ahead. Not one to watch news on TV, she observes the world from her chair at the kitchen window. Her cue to sit at attention before eating is “Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.” She offers her paw but doesn’t move to eat until she hears “Go get it.”

Toffee is more refined than most. Imagine if everyone in the world behaved like her.

Meditation focus: On the elevator between the material and spiritual worlds, on which floor do you spend the most time? How can you lighten yourself from the burdens of life to live like Toffee or your beloved dog or cat?

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