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Kislev - Dreaming the Light


Kislev - Dreaming the Light by Chana-Toni Whitmont, created Kislev 25, 5782, December 19, 2022 - Chanukah day 1.

My garden kabbalah exploration continues as Kislev drawn to a close.

Kislev is the month of dreams. Most of our foundational dream stories are found in the Torah portions read in this month. The month is also synonymous with Chanukah, a solstice festival so often explained in terms of bringing light into a dark and cold world. This proves a challenge for those of us living in the southern hemisphere as the festival occurs in summer.


Summer infuses my garden with a symphony of multi-hued greens. After the explosion of colours of spring, summer is the season of settling, of long deep breaths. In this shady garden, summer flowers are shy and hidden. The exceptions are the iceberg roses which this year put on a magnificent display, moving from bud to the fullness of opening, to petal fall, rather like the cycles of the moon that waxes through fullness before waning.

For this collage I was influenced by a video class on Kislev by livekabbalah.com's Miriam Cohen as well as AJS’ s Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein’s Kabbalah through the Calendar course.


Materials

  • Patterned papers and fussy cut embellishments from Wojowniczka Srberbnego Serca/Silver Heart Warrior collection by Craft O'Clock’s Katarzyna Kedzierska

  • Transparencies - my creations

  • Photo of sleeping stone statue with infinity/eight rose garland taken in the garden earlier in Kislev

  • Moon die cut from Stamperia’s Cosmos Infinity collection

  • Wooden numbers, polished moonstone from my collection.


Collage elements references:

  • Hebrew etymology and word play - Kislev can be understood as Hidden (kis) 36 (numerology of the letters lamed and vav). There are 36 candles (not counting the worker candles) lit during Chanukah. The number also refers to the hours of light after the creation of Adam and the first Shabbat and before the expulsion from the garden. This light is referred to as or haganuz, the hidden light, the spiritual light that is potentially accessible during Chanukah. Other references to 36 include the 36 lamed vavniks, the tzaddikim who at any given time hold up the world with their deeds of loving kindness. The two letters spell lev, which means heart.

  • The month’s Tetragrammaton letter combination - vav hei yud hei - the order of which implies a double dose of drawing down miraculous light/energy/sparks into the vessels of this world (ie from vav to hei, and then again from yud to hei).

  • The tribe of the month is Benjamin. Benjamin is known as a tzaddik tachton, a lower level tzaddik, as it was in the territory of Benjamin that the Temple was built. The temple was the place of revelation of godliness, the place that elevated the world from below to above. Jacob’s blessing to his son Benjamin emphasised his potential to reveal the hidden blessings in apparent curses.

  • The sense of the month is sleep, hence the photo of the statue, the reference to dreams and the choice of fantasy images and papers. Kabbalah suggests that through sleep and dreams we can tap into our prophetic nature, seeing beyond the veils of darkness of this world and stepping into our own inner light

  • The letter of the month is samekh, the letter associated with support and surrounding, the letter with a secret, sibilant, circular internal sound (and form). Where the shin/sin is bold and sassy, the samekh is much more subtle about revealing its potential.

  • The constellation of the month is Sagitarius, the archer (keshet). Keshet also means rainbow, first introduced to the world as the flood ended (in Kislev), the symbol the covenantal trust in Divine compassion.

  • Moonstone - associated with dreamlike visions, representing the Shekhinah who is often hidden in our darkness.

  • Amphora of oil, candle sticks - In the Chanukah story, our heroes had to search for the hidden oil. Once it was discovered, its flame miraculously lasted for eight nights. Eight is the number of transformation (one more than the natural cycle of seven). Eight rotated 90 degrees makes the infinity sign.


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Chana-Toni Whitmont is a collage artist, crystal sound practitioner, creative, teacher and student whose practice and passions are born from her spiritual connection to her Jewish lineage and the ebbs and flows in the annual calendar cycle. She lives with her husband close to nature in magnificent Dharug and Gundungurra country (also known as the Blue Mountains of eastern Australia).



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