Month of Elul, 5778
August 12-September 9
The Hebrew month of Elul marks the beginning of the end of the Jewish Year. During Elul we blow the shofar every day, announcing to all within hearing distance that Rosh Hashanah is only a month away. Elul is associated with the constellation of Virgo and the Tribe of Gad. The Hebrew gad could be translated as “a troop,” which is fitting for this Mercury-ruled month during which we strengthen ourselves spiritually, like soldiers preparing for battle, to prepare for the upcoming Days of Awe.
It is said during Elul that “the King is in the Field,” that the presence of God is very near to us, on the same plane that we exist upon, as opposed high and lifted upon a throne as during the High Holidays. This closeness is meant to inspire teshuva (turning to the proper path, aka “repentance”) out of love, not fear; Elul can be read as an acronym for “ani l’dodi v’dodi li” (I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,” a phrase from Song of Songs. Virgo is the Mutable Earth (Transformative Manifestation) sign, whose function is that of sifting, analyzing and choosing that which is useful while discarding that which, while perhaps pretty or pleasant, does not serve the highest purpose.
This year, Rosh Chodesh Elul, a solar eclipse and the Torah portion Re’eh all occur on the same day (Saturday, August 11). The light of the Sun is blocked during a solar eclipse, making it harder to see (re’eh). The primitive psychological experience of an eclipse is heightened anxiety as the light is diminished, followed by relief at the light’s return. During the brief but dramatic episode of darkness, we face our own shadowy fears. When we can see again, we see things differently. May we see each other and ourselves in a new light, and may the light of Elul illuminate our path as we make our way towards Rosh Hashanah!
Aries / Taleh
Aries is related to Yehudah and Mars, and Libra to Ephraim and Venus. They are opposites, but they powerfully attract. Venus’ transit through her home sign of Libra this month opposite your Aries Sun creates a powerful attraction and desire for partnership. In Ezekiel 36 we see the two sticks with “Yehudah” and “Ephraim” written on them being placed together and becoming one. That’s how you’re feeling this month, Aries! Irresistibly drawn toward your opposite, you’ll find it easier to speak your mind (and words of wooing) after Mercury in Leo goes Direct on August 18.
Taurus / Shor
Retrograde Uranus in Taurus is backtracking now through the first three degrees of your sign, temporarily relieving pressure you’ve been feeling around issues of change — at least for now. All the recent indications of instability will diminish and allow you time to prepare for the big and inevitable change coming your way by the end of next year. Issachar, the tribe of Taurus, was known to have an understanding of the times. Understand your own times now — they are a’changin’, and you now have time to ready yourself after having had a preview over the last couple of months.
Gemini / T’omim
Your ruling planet of Mercury stations direct on August 18, bringing some sense of order to what may have seemed an unnecessarily chaotic summer for you. The Sun enters the other Mercury-ruled sign Virgo on August 22, further supporting your quest for a feeling of normalcy. Gemini’s Tribe is Zevulon, who went about in ships from one seacoast community to another, trading goods and interfacing with all his neighbors. Travel and communication are your superpowers. As the new normal takes shape, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to use them in service to those you feel closest to.
Cancer / Sartan
Retrograde Mars will enter your opposite sign of Capricorn and stay there from August 12 to September 9. Like your Tribal leader Reuven, Cancerians are famously emotional. This brief but intense Mars in retrograde Capricorn transit may supercharge that emotional nature by challenging your sense of security. Like Reuven who was concerned with family honor, you take any perceived threats to your core identity personally — but right now what you’re seeing as threats are merely temporary illusions. Don’t allow yourself to succumb to externalized hostility, which isn’t really about you.
Leo / Aryeh
Relief ahead: Mercury in retrograde Leo stations direct on August 18. Like your Tribal leader Shimon whose famous outrage was powerful enough to slay an entire city, you’ve been roaring about this and that, all the while feeling ignored. The new moon/solar eclipse in Leo on August 11 brings an upgrade in respect from those you most desire to take you seriously. Your Tribal ruler Shimon, whose descendants later became known as melameds (teachers of young children), corresponds to Leo’s manifestation as the inner child, inviting your inner child to be your teacher.
Virgo / Betulah
Rosh Chodesh Elul falls on August 11, but the Sun doesn’t enter Virgo until August 22, creating a 10-day gap between the Hebrew and Gregorian months. Virgo’s ruling Tribe of Gad is called “a troop” and it will take a troop of warriors to make you use that time to nurture yourself with deep rest and healthy sustenance. You’ll be burning the candle at both ends after Mercury, your ruling planet, goes Direct on August 18 and enters his home sign of Virgo on September 5. Rest while you can, because by the new moon in Virgo on September 9, you won’t be able to!
Libra / Moznayim
Venus, your ruling planet, enters your home sign on August 6 and stays there until September 9. This is your chance to make everything beautiful, harmonious and romantic — just the way you like it, Libra. Like your Tribal leader Ephraim who mourned over the loss of many Ephraimites who left Egypt prematurely and whose bleached bones in the desert testified to their error, you cannot bear evidence of your own mistakes. Challenge yourself to accept your most vulnerable, wounded and even unattractive parts during this upcoming Venus in Libra transit. It’s an opportunity for healing and personal growth.
Scorpio / Akrav
Your winning streak continues this month as Jupiter in Scorpio makes a tender trine to Neptune in Pisces, deepening sensitivity, empathy and emotional connectivity. Like your Tribal forbearer Manasseh’s name which means “forgetting,” the impediments you’ve experienced since early March are forgotten as you rise from the depths, stronger and more determined than ever. Manasseh’s tribal banner was a black flag with the figure of a unicorn (some say a horned ox). Like the unicorn, your regenerative powers are both mythical and envied by others. It’s time to rise, and a glorious ascension it will be if you forgive and forget.
Sagittarius / Keshet
Venus in Libra through September 5 puts a pretty and positive spin on everything, for which you are immensely grateful. Just as your Tribal leader Benyamin recited the names of his 10 sons to his long-lost brother Joseph, each name illustrating a life milestone the brothers had missed during Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt, you can recite missed opportunities, dreams and long-held desires. All that has been withheld from you will be restored after your ruling planet Jupiter enters his home sign of Sagittarius in mid-November. Until then: Hold on tight and don’t let go!
Capricorn / Gidi
Your ruling planet Saturn will finally station direct in your home sign on September 6, giving you the opportunity to live the difference between alone and lonely. The mountain you’ve been climbing has a surprise at the top: It’s you, comfortable in your own skin and accepting of your unique, individual self. Your Tribal ruler Dan guards the borders of Israel, and your inner boundaries are guarded just as diligently. Venus in the early degrees of Scorpio, September 9-13, encourages intimate connection, and this time you’ll be ready to get closer because you’re finally closer to your own center.
Aquarius / D’li
The long Mars retrograde in Aquarius is almost over, but not until the planet of war retreats even further into the last degrees of Capricorn before stationing direct on August 29 and returning to Aquarius on September 10. Rabbinic literature illustrates how the blessed and bounteous Tribe of Asher, ruler of Aquarius, worked hard to reconcile disputes among his brothers. Like Asher it is your role this month to share your abundance of wisdom with others. Thanks to Mars’ direct motion, you can now share that wisdom without being overly aggressive.
Pisces / Dagim
The full moon in the early degrees of Pisces on August 26 sextiles both Saturn and Uranus, illuminating both order (Saturn) and chaos (Uranus) in a compassionate, empathetic light. Forgiveness is the key to serenity; letting go of grievances creates space for growth. The Targum Onkelos portrays Naphtali, the Tribal ruler of Pisces, as a swift runner. The new moon of Virgo on September 9 invites you to race towards your goals. When you understand that you are an empathy magnet, you’ll run as fast as Naphtali in the opposite direction of demanding emotional vampires who drain your precious energy.