Sunday, February 28, 2010

Purim, during the rx

I'm still dealing (fighting with) the whole Mars retrograde in Leo business. Much of my thought processes feel as if they are large ornamental koi, swimming up near the surface of the water that is my conscious self; and just when I think I have a really good look at them or even a chance to grasp them, they sink below the surface again. Possibly, this is because my natal Mars is in Leo, possibly because I was born on a Tuesday, moments after dawn (Mars day, Mars hour).

In honor of Purim, which is today, I will leave you with an old blog post I wrote some years ago, and a link to a new post, by Rabbi Dennis.

Friday, March 21, 2008
Purim and Hamentashen
(apologies to those with delicate sensibilities...)The word "hamentashen," which refers to the cookes eaten at Purim, is commonly translated into English as "Hamen's Hats." Which is strange, because "taschen" means pocket, not hat. I found this blog post attempts to explain this, but wearing my more rad-fem mythologist hat (or pocket) I don't think that it goes far enough. The blog post:The etymology of hamentaschen is fairly well known. They did not originally refer to Haman (and therefore the Hebrew אוזני המן oznei haman - came much later.) These pastries were originally called "mahn-taschen". Mohn means "poppy" in German, and tasch is a pocket. When you add the Hebrew definitive article ha, they become ha-mahn-taschen, which is easy to associate with Haman. Of course there are many "midrashim" (really Purim torah), that expound on the connection: that Haman had three-cornered ears like the pastry, or had a three cornered hat, or a new one for me, that it refers to המן תש - "Haman became weak." Posted by DLC at Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:47 AM

OK, but why pockets. Or hats? Or ears (another name for the cookie)? What do all of these things have in common, besides not usually being triangular (the shape of the cookie)? Answer: they are all receptacles-something to put something in. Purim is the least "Jewish" of modern Jewish holiday observances. A holiday of the full moon of the spring Equinox, the main player is a woman celebrated for her beauty, rather than piety, or observance, or obedience. Esther (think Aster, Ishtar, Innana) has the power of life and death, renewal; regeneration in her hands. Power she exercises by touching the "scepter" of the king. The man that Queen Esther chooses gets to rule the people. (does this sound familiar to you, Tammuz?)

But, back to the cookies. Look at them. Really look at them. Dark triangles (traditional fillings being poppy seed or prune), bounded by a paler, finer textured border. We already have the kings scepter, held out. So what exactly are these little pastry triangles, given the names of various receptacles? What do we celebrate so joyously, each spring?

My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my heart was moved for him.I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with flowing myrrh,
My beloved is white and ruddy, pre-eminent above ten thousand.His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are curled, and black as a raven.His eyes are like doves beside the water-brooks; washed with milk, and fitly set.His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as banks of sweet herbs; his lips are as lilies, dropping with flowing myrrh.His hands are as rods of gold set with beryl; his body is as polished ivory overlaid with sapphires.His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold; his aspect is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether
lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend. (Song of Songs)

And, from Rabbi Dennis:

Friday, February 26, 2010


On the Yartzeit (Yid. "anniversary"), the soul is at its greatest strength and in its fullest glory. With each ensuing year, this radiance again shines forth in the world and in the Heavens, as the soul is elevated to a higher spiritual level...


This is the first year anniversary of death of my Grandmother. My sister posted this very glamourous picture of her and I thought I would share another story of this amazing woman who influenced so many.

For much of his career, my Grandfather traveled quite a bit, leaving my Grandmother to raise their three daughters without his presence. As anyone who has raised children knows, this can take quite a toll on the resident parent. After one overseas trip or another, my Grandfather said to my Grandmother; "Helen, you have really let yourself go." Years later, when my Grandmother told me the story, she emphasized that she didn't think he was meaning to be unkind, he was just very tired and glad for the opportunity to say anything to the one person he didn't need to edit himself for. Even so, in telling me the story decades later, I could hear just how much the words stung.

A few months later, my Grandfather left for a short trip, and since he wouldn't be away all that long (and, traveling light, had little luggage), it was decided that he and my Grandmother would meet at the opera and have a night out together, upon his return. As soon as he left, my Grandmother went shopping for (for lack of better word) a Va-Va-Voom type dress and shoes, and then went and had her hair bleached and dyed platinum blond. At the agreed upon meeting place in the lobby of the opera, she had the pleasure of watching my Grandfather walk past her, and do a double take before accepting that she was, in fact, his "dowdy" wife.

He never criticized the way she looked, ever again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I will be so glad when the Mars Retrograde is over for the year

I dream a lot. I know everyone does, but I remember most (?) of mine, in detail, color and sound. I always have. I stopped keeping a dream journal when I realized that I was spending nearly an hour a day writing the dreams down, and that I was on my fourth volume for the year. My sister once read a magazine article which said that the "average" person remembers X number (I don't remember the number) of dreams a year. Looking back at one of the books of my dreams, I realized that I remembered that many in 6 weeks. Even knocked out on cold medicine I tend to remember bits and pieces; the last time that happened, I floated up toward consciousness with the thought "Damn, I hate having dreams that foretell my death." That was annoying, because I couldn't remember what came before that point. (oh, and the romantic and possibly Victorian idea that if you die in your dream, you will actually die in reality is false-I've seen my own death several times, and I am still here.)

Last night, I had a series of nightmares. After each one I awoke, practiced some calming breathing patterns and tried to turn the mood. It didn't work.

In the first dream, my younger daughter and I were on the run from the Nazis. If you are of Jewish background and raised post World War II, there is no easier symbol of complete and unbeatable evil for the subconscious to use, than the Nazis and their death camps. In the dream, a friend offered to hide us in his house, even while knowing the danger that he was putting himself in by doing so. Alas, we were betrayed by a neighbor of his, and as I woke up, heart pounding in panic, the final experience was of being in a desperate crowd, being driven by whips and trying unsuccessfully to hold onto my child.

The second dream was far less linear. There was something to do with shopping in a huge food warehouse, full of tropical and summer fruit. Then, I was enclosed in a room with a hungry and possibly rabid, bear. The room was filled with bear-proof hiding places, but they were all already filled with people and there was no room for me in any of them. I had placed all of those people in those places of safety and they trusted me. I could displace any one of them, merely by asking them to move, then I would be safe, but that other person wouldn't be. I tried to escape the bear by climbing to the top of a file cabinet, knowing that if the bear really wanted to, it would have no trouble climbing after me.

The final dream again had a clear story line. I am on some sort of business trip with both people I know very well and some that I cannot now identify. And from the hotel that we were staying at, we had to make a side trip to another city. On the return to the hotel, the taxi exited a tunnel into what looked like a war zone, with tumbled and destroyed buildings. Our hotel, and the buildings directly surrounding it were in a clear and safe area, though. It wasn't safe within the hotel, however all of the threats to me were of the mental, emotional and psychological variety (and of these, I am NOT going to go into any details on the blog.), although at one point, I did say "Fine, I will just go play in traffic!" which sounds far more petulant now than it did, then. In the end, I packed my suitcase, full of iridescent tee shirts and dresses and left. I woke up very depressed at that point.
I spent the morning thinking about each dream and what it might possibly mean. But I have come to the conclusion that individually, they mean less than they do as a set. They are meant to be thought of as chapters in a single story.

Dream #1 I am completely helpless and totally dependant on the aid of someone else. When that aid fails, not only am I destroyed, but so are my works, my hopes, and my future.

Dream #2. I am not completely helpless. I have managed to feed and protect my work as well as others, but only at the price of sacrificing me. This, however was not so much a deliberate sacrifice as much as not thinking things through and re-acting rather than acting deliberately.

Dream #3 I am not helpless. And I carry with me (as long as I remember that I do, and "pack my suitcase.") the tools that I need to recreate and reincarnate who and what I am, although not necessarily who and what I appear to be at any given time. (I apologize for the skimpiness of the details about dream #3, but this is a public blog. I doubt very much that anyone who might read this could send Nazis or bears after me, but the situations of dream # 3 could be recreated by the malign and skilled.)

This is the story of growing up. Not just the growing up from baby to legal drinking or driving age, but the growing up into being the self that you are intended to be. A review, if you will of what I have come out of and where I am heading. I suppose I should be grateful for the Mars rx review that has shown me that there has been progress. But I really wouldn't have minded some peaceful sleep.