Here’s a little bit of deep spiritual practice, disguised as light fun, for Tevet. This month of Tevet, which began at sundown on December 26th, 2011 and ends at sundown on January 24, 2012, is associated with the concept of seeing. The letter associated with the month, according to Inner.org, is the Ayin (ע) — the eye. Over at PeelaPom.com I used this concept to explore the lighting of candles as a practice for the month. Then I had a flash of inspiration or insanity right before Rosh Chodesh services at OneShul.org — a little divination for the month of seeing!
Now, before you panic, yes — many kinds of divination are … frowned upon in Jewish tradition. Of course, if it’s the BESHT doing it — it doesn’t count. But I’m not the BESHT. Several sources, including the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Supersitiion, call the Jewish tradition of bibliomancy “Sheilat Sefer” (שאלת ספר). Sheilat Sefer simply means, “Question a Book.” This makes sense since dream interpretation is often called Sheilat Halom – Question a Dream (שאלת חלום).
Techniques like Sheilat Sefer allow us to tap into our deep intuition, and open ourselves to the wisdom of the Divine. They allow us to move beyond our rational minds to finds ideas, answers, or inspiration. Technically you could use any book for this practice, but traditionally it’s done with either a Chumash (The Five Books of Moses) or The Book of Psalms. But there’s a host of other amazing Jewish (and not Jewish) texts that can provide a powerful experience. Personally, as the folks at OneShul found out, I like to use the Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols by Ellen Frankel. I think the Perek Shirah, the Song of Nature, is another fabulous Jewish text to use for this practice
Curious? Want to give Sheilat Sefer a try? It’s pretty easy. Just grab a book, and flip randomly to a page. Then either without looking put your finger on something and read, or use whatever your eyes first fall upon. Don’t cheat — that’s really not the way to go. Just read and see what thoughts, feelings, or images the words bring up for you. This all works a bit better if you clear your mind, maybe state your Kavanah (intention) or question, and even give a little prayer to center yourself. Be sure to also give a prayer of thanks for the wisdom received — even if you don’t feel like you got much!
Want to learn more? Check out these articles
- Jewish Encyclopedia article on Bibliomancy
- ZEEK: Priestesses, Bibliomancy, and The Anointing of Miriam by R’Jill Hammer
- Peeling a Pomegrante Bookstore – lots of books on and for bibliomancy