The cycle of the Jewish year, like many calendrical cycles, takes
note of and weaves itself into the natural seasons: Passover falling
in the spring, the new year of Rosh haShanah in the autumn, Chanukah
in the winter, and so forth. One of the most important ways of
tying the earth to the spirit is to fully celebrate the holidays
as they pertain to the seasons and cycles of the earth. If one
looks at both the major and minor festivals of the Jewish year,
one will see that for the most part, major holidays fall at the
equinoxes and solstices, while four minor but powerful “transitional”
holidays fall exactly in between the equinoxes and solstices.
Like the eight branches of the Chanukah menorah, each of these
eight points on the calendar sheds its own light on our existence.
These eight points on the Jewish calendar are not meant to represent
the most important Jewish holidays in a traditional sense (though
all major Jewish holidays are covered somewhere in these essays).
They are evenly-spaced moments, whether major or minor according
to the tradition, that resonate with the transition of the seasons
and the cycles of time.
These eight points closely parallel the festivals of ancient
and modern European and Near Eastern calendars, and are deeply
rooted in the movement of the seasons. I discovered the eight
points on the Jewish calendar while looking for similarities and
differences between Jewish holidays and the calendar of modern
Goddess religion, which also has eight pivotal points based on
seasonal change.While there are many unique
qualities of the Jewish year, particularly the sense of repeated
yet historical time (such as the story of the Exodus at the Passover
seder or of the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B'Av) and the
sense of evolving covenant (that one experiences during the counting
of the omer, for example), it is instructive to note the similar
ways in which peoples and faiths experience time through the changing
“The work of the Weaver, its pillars are four and its
sockets are four.” —Exodus 27:16
Perhaps this is a hint of the eightfold structure of the calendar.
This partial phrase from the biblical description of the building
of the Tabernacle hints at the eightfold structure of the year:
four pillars (the equinoxes and solstices) and four sockets in