Just as the seasons influence the Jewish calendar, and govern the rhythm of the natural world, people also experience the seasons, internally.
This is a basic idea in Judaism: Rosh Hashana, the new year, is a time of individual renewal; Chanuka is a time of spiritual light, even in the darkest darkness; and Pesach is a time of redemption.
How it plays out each year, and within each of us, is a matter of Divine plan, but there's always a seasonal 'flavour', or back drop.
In a similar vein, there's something in Chinese medicine called 'Five Rhythm' or 'Five Element' theory. Without boring you with all the details, a lot of Chinese medicine, particularly the more diagnostic aspects, revolve around these theories.
According to the Chinese, each person consists of their own unique blend of these five elements, or seasons. Most people have between two and three 'main' seasons or elements, which governs much of their behaviour, their personality and their physical strengths and illnesses, with smidgens of the others around the edges.
I should mention a caveat here that Rebbe Nachman, and other Jewish sages also write about elements, but they usually talk about there being four main elements or humours, not five. I don't know how it all fits together, but clearly, Rebbe Nachman knew a heck of a lot more about stuff than the Yellow Emperor did.
What I can tell you in the meantime, though, is that I really like the idea that there is a season for all things.
As I've written about elsewhere, until recently, I've had the (mistaken) idea that serving G-d is a linear process: each year, you add a few more mitzvahs, a few more humrot (stringencies), another inch to your skirt hems, another blatt of Gemara to your learning schedule.
And truly, that's kind of been what's happened the last eight years' or so. But when me and my husband got to Jerusalem, it's like we left one planet and landed on another, and a lot of my 'old' life just kind of vanished without a trace.
A lot of it, like the arrogance and the judgmentalness, clearly wasn't useful. But I also lost things like my desire and ability to make challahs; and my willingness to socialise and make an effort with new people, and my ability to 'see' G-d behind everything in my life.
I had no clue what was going on. It felt like I was losing my faith and my connection to G-d, and it was a very, very hard test.
Then, along came the Energy Medicine module on Chinese 5 Season theory, and all of a sudden, I had a paradigm to explain what had happened: I'd moved out of my comfort zone (which is associated with Indian Summer), and moved into spiritual Autumn.
Autumn can be a very tough season: everything's dying, everything's decaying. A person in Autumn time feels as though they are being stripped bare of everything they ever knew, owned or believed in. If you didn't know it was just a season, and that it was just the down before the 'up' that's going to manifest in Spring, you'd get overwhelmed by despair, and think that you're dying, G-d forbid.
If you don't know it's just a season, you can truly think it's never going to end, and that there is no hope and no future. The only thing that keeps you going in Autumn time is emuna, the belief that it's all for a good reason, and it's all going to turn around.
Thank G-d, a couple of weeks' ago, I think G-d finally took me and my husband out of Autumn, and brought us into Winter. Winter is a time when plans are being made, and a lot of activity is happening deep underground. Seeds are decaying and dying, ready to burst through the ground as new plants in spring. It's a season of intense external darkness, but also where the turning point happens: the nights start to get shorter again, and Chanuka comes along to remind us that G-d can and will rescue us from impossible odds and terrible circumstances.
As it is personally, so it is nationally: as a people, Am Yisrael is going through a very intense period of Autumn time right now, where all the old certainties, all the old ways of being, and believing and doing, don't seem to be working any more.
We can all feel that the 'old' is dying, and it's a terrifying prospect. "What's going to be? What's going to come next? How's it going to end well?" These are all 'Autumn' questions.
But as Jews, we know what's just around the corner: redemption. Moshiach. A whole new way of being and doing and living. But to get there, we first need to let go of all the old, unhelpful stuff. And that's where a lot of us are getting stuck, as we'll explore more in the next post.