BACKGROUND
The Shmitah Year & Seven-Year Cycles

In the Shmitah year, cultivated land lies fallow, returning to the wild.

I took this photo at Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) when I visited this Jewish and Palestinian-Arab cooperative village in Israel in 2006 (which was also the year I first connected with Yigal Deutscher who introduced me to the Shmitah year).

dedication

As the Shmitah year invites in a return to the wild and living in peaceful coexistence—with the land and all who dwell on earth—I want to honor the efforts of all those who devote their lives to living in harmony and integrity for the sake of all living beings and the well-being of our planet. 🙏 This website is dedicated to them.

The Shmitah Year & Seven-Year Cycles

On the Hebrew calendar, this year of 5782 (September 2021 – September 2022) is a Shmitah (sabbatical) year.

The Shmitah year, rooted in the agrarian foundation of Jewish tradition, comes every seventh year on the Hebrew calendar. Biblically, it is framed as a sabbatical year for the land, a time to let cultivated fields lie fallow and return to the wild. Like Shabbat, which comes every seventh day, Shmitah is a time of experiencing complete rest and restoration. A time of reflection and attunement with all that is sacred and holy in our lives and in the world.

I first became aware of Shmitah observance eight or nine years ago (in the lead up to the Shmitah year of 5775, September 2014 – September 2015) through Yigal Deutscher who, along with Anna Hanau and Nigel Savage of Hazon, shared insightful and creative ideas of how we could take up Shmitah practices in modern life.

Click here for more information and resources on Shmitah, and to see Yigal, Anna and Nigel’s beautiful Shmita Sourcebook.

In addition to ancient Hebrew seven-year cycles, Rudolf Steiner, founder of Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education, framed the stages of human development in seven-year cycles as well. The tenth stage of development, from ages 63 to 70 is described as:

A Time of Harvesting, Sharing Experience and Spreading Wealth

This period is a time of blessing, grace, and opportunity. In traditional communities, these were the elders, those who were turned to for their wisdom, vision, and intuitive gifts. We have been freed from the struggles of life. Yet, we may still have considerable energy and vitality. We are teachers, advisors, guides, and sources of inspiration to others. This is the period when we wish to give back to the those who come after us, and are still embroiled in the struggles of life. It is a time of great power and reward. We still care deeply about the struggles of others, yet we are no longer bound by those struggles ourselves. Our main tether to society is our love and caring and the knowledge that others still need the gift of our experience, wisdom, and guidance.”

And, according to Steiner’s teaching: “As well as the seven-year cycles themselves, there is also significance in the midpoints of those cycles … These often represent a significant turning point in that phase of development.”

On August 1, 2021, I reached the exact midpoint in this tenth stage of development. And in September 2021, attuning to the rhythms of the land, and celebrating the cycles of life, I set out on a Shmitah adventure of my own.

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