You Are a Tree of Life
OpinionClosing Thoughts

You Are a Tree of Life

Dr. Terry Segal shares her thoughts on the upcoming start of Shevat.

Terry Segal
Terry Segal

The first day of Rosh Chodesh Shevat is Jan. 27, 2020. A whole lot is going on with the moon in this new decade. There will actually be 13 full moons this year, with four of them being lunar eclipse penumbral moons. Normally, they’re fairly rare, but it won’t feel like it with four of them occurring in one year. Two of them will actually be visible in North America.

A penumbral eclipse moon happens when the moon drifts into Earth’s penumbra, or outer shadow. A penumbral eclipse is different from a total eclipse, in that these lose brightness, specifically in their southern region, where one can actually see the effect of the Earth’s shadow. All of us had the chance to witness the full moon on Jan. 10, but only those in Asia, Australia, Europe or Africa, got to see the eclipsed Wolf Moon.

You might wonder what this has to do with Shevat and us at all. I’ll tell you. I think of astrological forecasts as I do weather forecasts. They help us prepare. Sure, you can go outside and be surprised when you’re suddenly caught in a downpour and look like you’ve entered a wet T-shirt contest. Maybe when you leave the house it’s sunny and warm and it doesn’t matter to you if the temperatures plummet by 20 degrees and you’re freezing at your son’s baseball game. Personally, though, I don’t care for such surprises. I like to check the weather forecast each day. It’s the same with astrological forecasts. I want to know if the planetary and celestial configurations are likely to result in an emotionally challenging time. My preference is to have a heads up about conditions that impact us.

Given that, the month of Shevat (best known for Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees) portends a time in which structures of the last 36 years begin to crumble and fall away. Beginning on Jan. 12, you may have become aware of events that urged you to transform yourself in some way. When there’s warning, we can at least invite space in which to make decisions, rather than be forced into change by others and circumstances. The planetary influences that converged Jan. 12 were created by the meeting of Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, which happened for the first time in almost 40 years. It actually ended one 36-year cycle and began another. Most people associate endings with sadness, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s say you’ve always carried around excess weight and you’ve finally decided that you’re through burdening your body with it. That decision can create permanent change and can lead to something that serves you well.

As we honor the New Year of the Trees, think about how the deciduous trees, themselves, model change. They have strong roots, a base trunk and branches. They visibly change each season. There’s a cycle that signals the tree to be bare in winter, sprout buds in spring, offer flowers and fruits in summer, transition the leaves to their autumnal splendor, and then fall off the trees in winter again.

Etz Chaim is the tree of life. Trees offer us healing. They provide shade and comfort. They present us with visual beauty and the bounty of fruits and nuts.

Almonds are the first trees to bloom in Israel and the almonds are shaped like eyes and so are called the “watchers of spring.” Tithing protects the trees, allowing them to mature and bear fruit in their own time, making them sweet and nourishing.

The original 38 Bach flower remedies, created by Dr. Edward Bach, are used by humans and pets for healing specific emotional imbalances. For instance, aspen helps with fear of unknown things. Elm assists with feeling overwhelmed by responsibility.

Meditation Focus: What if you thought of yourself as a tree of life, offering comfort, sustenance and beauty, while embracing change and honoring each season? What change would this require of you? Ponder what beliefs, behaviors and thoughts you’re willing to drop away and which you’d like to blossom.

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