To view traditional guidelines for Counting the Omer, click here.
TALKING STICKS AND THEIR ENERGETIC ATTRIBUTES
Rav Magus, R’Sarah Etz Alon
The Talking Sticks were originally conceived to facilitate small group discussion as objects that, when held, gave the bearer safety to speak, unobstructed. In their crafting, however, they evolved from agents of mediating group discussion, to agents that mediate discussion within ourselves. The Talking Sticks may be used for their original purpose, but they also may be used as meditative devices, and as tools for healing ourselves and others.
Each of the Talking Sticks carries an energetic attribute of the Ten Sefirot, as given in the Sefer Yetzira, an ancient document of the Hebrew mystery tradition. Additionally, the Talking Sticks have been individually imbued with a Divine Essence, one of the 72 Divine Names of God, specifically selected to compliment the sefirotic attribute it is paired with. These Talking Sticks are “Living Amulets.” They amplify energy going and coming, sending and receiving. If you open yourself to the Mystery of Creation, then they can be powerful vehicles for interfacing with the Divine elements of Creation and utilizing those elements for healing, growth and transformation. The Talking Sticks are an open invitation to dance with the Divine in the realm of Creation– to walk through the Portal of Comings and Goings, and seek the sacred within our inner selves.
*** Note, for those engaging the Hebrew Medicine Wheel during the counting of the Omer, the following Breakdown of the attributes of each Talking Stick can be an especially powerful meditation, dialoguing and journaling tool. Also, Nissan and Iyar, the time between Passover and Shavuot, is an especially potent time to do soul integration work– retrieving and balancing the many levels of the soul. The meditations and Divine Names associated with these Talking Sticks are perfectly suited for this type of soul work. ***
Medicine Wheel and Divine Name Attributes of the Talking Sticks:
EAST. The Place of New Beginnings, is also the place of our Past, for wherever we go from here, all of where we’ve been comes with us. The East is our place of birthing new resolve. The Lion resides in the East. It is the encampment of Yehuda, chieftan of chieftans, whose companions are Yissachar and Zebvulun, valor and service. Where have you come from? Into what newness are you being born? Where are your points of strength and integrity? What are you willing to fight for? And what can you let pass you by, knowing that, like the Lion, you are mighty enough that it will not harm you?
This is the East. The place of our past. The place of our birth. The place of our Strength.
The Divine Essence imbued in the Eastern Talking Stick is the letter “Heh” from the Tetragrammaton, three times itself. This is the pure Divine essence that manifests on Earth, magnified by three. It is an intensely powerful essence of strength and wisdom and majesty. The Chieftan of Chieftans. Call on this energy to amplify your own inner strength as you face challenges in life, or head off into the newness of a beginning.
SOUTH. The South is the Place of Cleansing and Self-Knowing. It is the direction of the Desert, where the soul is purified through the mikveh of fire. There is an old teaching in the Hebrew tradition that says, “what will pass through fire, pass through fire, what will pass through water, pass through water.” Meaning, to purify something, pass it through the element that it can tolerate and survive. In all other directions, the rite of human purification is through water, but in the South, in the immense expansiveness of the desert, the soul is also passed through fire. Only by burning away all the outer illusions of who we think we are, can we truly look inside ourselves, and know.
This is the South. The Present. The place we go for our inner truth. Where we cannot hide from ourselves. Where we take the birth that East has just gifted us, and mature it through our inner essence, our holy of holies, our inside of our inside of our inside. If we are going in the other direction (counter-clockwise around the medicine wheel) then South is the place where we find out who we are, as we prepare for a new beginning.
The Divine Essence imbued in the Southern Talking Stick amplifies the fine-tuned balancing of our spiritual and physical states of alignment.
WEST. The West is Ma’arav. The Blending Place. The place of transition and transformation, where everything is and isn’t, all at once. The West is Dusk, it is Autumn, it is Death– or more specifically, the process of Dying. The West is neither here nor there. Our adult place, where we really really want to see life concretely in black and white, but where it nebulously morphs into a smokey, hazy gray. The West is the place which eludes definition, for the color of the West is black, the color which has all colors within it. The West is our Future, born from all the swirling possibility within us. And, because the West is the place of Dying, it is also the place of Healing.
This is the West.
The Divine Essence of the Western Talking Stick is the attribute of compassion generated through the parallel universes and the mystery which unites them. How does this work? The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, upon which the Universe is founded, flow in part from this Divine essence.
Still don’t get it? Think Mercy and Compassion in their most balanced forms.
NORTH. The North is the Mystery Place. The place of the unknown and unseen. It is the direction of Vision. Where we go for clarity and illumination. And it is the only direction to have four animal totems assigned to it. The Eagle and the Scorpion, representing the rational, as you see it world. The Phoenix and the Snake, representing the world of mystery. Which world are you in? The rational, as you see it? Then look skyward to the Eagle to strengthen your spirit self, or Earthward to the Scorpion– but watch out for its sting! If you are in the mystery world, then the Phoenix is your spirit totem, calling you to rise from the ashes of your broken places, to transform from death into something strong and beautiful. Earthward is Nachash, the Snake, the trickster being who challenges us to be awesomely human, awesomely ourselves.
This is the North. The Unknown. The Mystery. Go to the North, if you dare, but be warned– in the North, you never know what you’re going to get.
The Divine Essence of the Northern Talking Stick opens the flow of the 32 gates of wisdom, further amplifying the mystery attribute of the North.
UP. The Climbing Place. The place that beings that grow skyward yearn for. It is the realm of spirit. Where our souls call out to for strength and support. Up is the giving place. The place of Blessings and Grace. Up is where we almost always look to find God, and it is the place from which we are reminded that God is everywhere. Something to remember about Up, is that if you go too far Up, into the sky or into spirit, you can lose your frame of Earthly reference, lose your sense of up and down– so if you’re going up, get grounded first! (This is one of the reasons the Kohen HaGadol, the High Priest, wore bells on the hem of his robe– so that during certain shamanic rites, he would hear the bells and be recalled Earthward.)
The Divine Essence imbued in the Up Talking Stick is the love the Creator has for each and every individual element of Creation, including each of us wee little human beings.
DOWN. Down is the Tribal Place. The place of our Ancestors, and of all that came before. It is the Earthy Place. The place of rocks, of underground waters, and the roots of trees. All the elements of Creation reside in the Earth, thus, Down has all that we need– it is a place of respite and nurturing.
Earth. Elements. Ancestors. Creation.
This is Down.
One is the Breath of the Living God (also understood as One is the Breath of the Living Forces)
The Sh’ma says it all– Everything is God. God is Oneness. Unity. Wholeness. Everything is Breathed by God.
The Divine Essence imbued in the One is the Breath of the Living God Talking Stick is the attribute of the unification of the Ten Sefirot into one unified Divine manifestation.
BREATH FROM BREATH. The element of Air. The element of Spirit. The Breath of the Living God which, when breathed, animates Creation. In the Hebrew mystery tradition, air corresponds to the mother letter Aleph, whose function it is to balance opposites so that they can exist simultaneously without destroying each other. An example of this occurs in the Biblical narrative when the archangel Micha’el and the archangel Gavri’el manifested as pillars of fire and of ice, one on either side of the Ark of the Covenant. Although they stood side by side, fire and ice, neither the one consumed the other. Air (manifesting as Spirit hovering in and around the Ark) balances these opposites because it contains both fire and water within it. Thus Air is balance and harmony in a universe of opposites.
The Divine Essence attached to the Breath from Breath Talking Stick is the attribute of Creation which binds Heaven and Earth.
WATER FROM BREATH. Water is the stuff of Life. It is the single defining element of Earth, the Water Planet. Without water we have nothing. Without water, we might as well pack it in and go back to the Pleiades. Water is essential to our physical being, but it also represents our psychological and spiritual being as well. Water is fluid. Water changes from one state to the next, solid-fluid-gas, and then back again– and so too does life. Water is reminiscent of the circle. It’s not linear, it goes round and round and round, and yet water, unobstructed, will always flow to the sea. Thus also with the soul, which moves round and round, turning turning, through one lifetime, through many lifetimes, and left unobstructed, will always seek to return to its source, to the Creator.
Water is Life.
The Divine Essence invested in the Water from Breath Talking Stick is the attribute of the flow back and forth of the energies that surround the Divine Presence as manifested in the physical plane.
FIRE FROM WATER. Fire is the primal energy of Creation. The spark that gets things going, and the fuel that keeps them moving. Light is fire. So is darkness. Everything in our knowable reality is Fire Fire Fire. Fire also is the agent that, with Air, forms Ruach, spirit breathed from the Creator to animate living beings. Thus, Fire is the primal life-force of Creation within us.
The Divine Essence invested in the Fire from Water Talking Stick is the attribute of Life-Force emanating from the Great Mystery downward into Creation.