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Some Meditations for a Stressful Time

I’m posting this a few days before Passover, in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Let me take this moment to send blessings of health and safety to each and every one of you! As a rabbi, I’ve been busy getting my synagogue online and supporting my community, but I wanted to share some resources with all my Wellsprings readers, too! Here are some Wellsprings of Wisdom Posts that may be helpful right now: Some calming guided meditations: A simple Breathing Meditation AND also a more involved but every effectve: Calming Ocean Breath And here is a recent post from my @Wellsprings account on Instagram, describing two more breathing meditations that are proving very helpful to me: Simple and Spiritual Breathing Meditations
Finally, as you celebrate Passover, enjoy these Wellsprings of Wisdom posts with Inspiration from Nature for Passover. As you can see, this entire site has a brand new look, thanks to talented web designer Sean Leber-Fennessy. (Still working on a few of the technicalities but really excited about it!) I hope that this virtual retreat center will be an oasis of calm away from the news and social media, and God willing I hope to add to it for your benefit. Be well and may this Passover bring hope and redemption to our world! Featured Image: Daffodil Hill at the New York Botanical Garden, Julie Danan


Happy Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat, the New Year of Trees, is always a happy time for tree-loving @wellsprings! Tu Bishvat this year begins Sunday evening, Februrary 9, into Monday, February 10, 2020. I’ve redone the post on Tu Bishvat and you can find it here, with lots of (mostly) free resources linked at the bottom of the post. And as always, you can learn more about trees–physical and spiritual–in the Gateway of Trees. I have recently added a mystical meditation on the Tree of Life energy centers in our bodies, and also updated the pathway post on the mitzvah of planting trees, to include a link to a great new initiative for Senegal.

New Meditation Recording

In honor of Rosh Hodesh Shevat, the Hebrew month in which we will celebrate the “New Year of the Tree,” I have added a special meditation based on the way that I learned it from my teacher, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Reb Zalman), of blessed memory. The meditation takes us through the Sephirot, or divine energy centers, in the “tree of life” within our own bodies. An accompanying chart was generously shared by my colleague and friend, Rabbi David Zaslow.

Saunter Into 2020

Nature Lovers, Julie Danan

Wellsprings of Wisdom’s last update was at the Jewish New Year. Now on January 1, 2020, I’ve added a new post to the growing Gateway of Holy Land. This Gateway is really taking shape and will soon be complete! It shows how my thinking and involvement in nature spirituality have evolved in the past couple of years. Take a look at the new post on the sacred art of sauntering in Nature, also known as Shinrin Yoku or Forest Bathing.

New and Expanded Posts to Get Ready for the New Year

Lakeside Ripples

Hooray! I’ve added a new post on taking outdoor walks to Let Nature Guide You Into the New Year and also expanded The King Is in the Field: A Meadow Gallery,  both in the new and expanding Gateway of Holy Land. These pathway posts will be part of Wellsprings first Webinar on Thursday, September 12, 7:30pm ET. Contact me through the contract form if you would like information on signing up for the webinar, which will also be recorded for those who can’t attend in real time.

Wellsprings’ First Webinar!

Great Egret, JHD

The King/Queen is in the Field: Let Nature Guide You Into the New Year
Join Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan, Ph.D., for a free webinar, Thursday, September 12, 7:30-8:45pm Eastern Time (US),. We will explore Hassidic and mystical teachings that connect us to nature and help us prepare our hearts for the Jewish New Year. This class is open to all spiritual seekers and will be recorded for those who can’t attend in person or who wish to watch again later (also we may schedule another session for those who live in divergent time zones).
If you would like information on signing up, please contact Wellsprings via the contact us link.

New Post! Talking to and listening to animals and nature

Deer at Rockefeller Stat Park Preserve, JHD

It’s been a while since I’ve added new content to this website, but happy to say that summer vacation has allowed me some time to continue working on the new and developing Gateway of Holy Land. Each new Gateway (content page focused on one symbol from nature) is a kind of spiritual adventure, as I’m not sure quite where the paths will lead me! The newest pathway (post) in this Gateway builds on the tradition that King Solomon could talk to the animals and plants. One of Wellspring’s  Facebook readers asked for more on that subject, which resulted in this new post on talking and (more importantly) listening to our fellow creatures.

Updated post on Rosh Hodesh in Gateway of the Moon

Waxing Crescent Moon, Niculina Archer

Waxing Crescent Moon, Niculina Archer

I’m very excited to be taking an online (live) course on the Zohar from Professor Daniel Matt, who translated this epic classic of Jewish mysticism into English. Its mystical meditations on the inner levels on the Bible often identify the Shechinah, the feminine divine presence, with the moon. That motivated me to update a post on the celebration of Rosh Hodesh, the new moon. I changed to a new featured image, a moon photo that I took myself. I also added a button link that takes to you At the Well, a new organization that uses Rosh Hodesh as a venue for women to connect with their spirituality and health. Explore the imagery and symbolism of the moon in depth, in Wellspring’s Gateway of the Moon.

Watch a new Gateway grow!


Robin, New York Botanical Garden, Julie Danan

Spring is here and new growth is everywhere! Spring comes a little slowly (but steadily) in the US Northeast. And so it is with the new Gateway of Holy Land here at Wellsprings of Wisdom. I’ve opened the Gateway and it has two posts, a Gallery of the Sea in Israel (also posted on the Gateway of the Sea), and a meditation on Natural sanctuary, which is a version of the post I recently shared on this page, from my rabbinic blog). The header for the whole Gateway of Holy Land is a photo that I took last fall at Brandeis-Bardin, an educational and retreat center that was originally built to create the atmosphere of an Israeli Kibbutz in southern California.

Keep checking back; I’ll be adding introductory content and more posts soon.

Spring and New Beginnings

Winter Sunset, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Julie Danan

Winter Sunset, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Julie Danan

Shalom! Like the dormancy of winter, this site has been quiet for a while. The quiet of the site is the mirror opposite of my busy life: leading a small congregation, teaching two classes for the ALEPH Rabbinic Program, traveling (to Israel, Colorado, and Florida in the past 3 months) and being involved with my family. It’s all wonderful and gratifying, but hasn’t left any time to work on this website (or on the book that I am slowly building from the site). However, with the awakening of spring, I have recently begun a new Gateway that I hope to launch soon, on the theme of “Holy Land,” to be accessed through the Portal of Earth. You can get a sneak peak at the type of content I plan to share there but checking out this post on my Rabbi’s Blog, Finding a Sanctuary in Nature.” 

Meanwhile, please keep in touch by following me @Wellsprings on Instagram, where I post daily original nature photography, often with accompanying spiritual reflections. Much of this content, along with other environmentally oriented posts, can also be found on the Wellsprings of Wisdom Facebook page.

And please continue to enjoy exploring the 14 Gateways (content pages) already on this site. Each Gateway explores an ancient symbol from Nature as a path to personal growth and action. In addition, three Resource Guides will help you continue your explorations of Jewish spirituality in nature.

Big Chico Creek