Michaelmas Time

Sixth Grade Dragon

Dragon and Archangel Michael from 2009

It’s Michaelmas time again, one of my favorite times of year. Over the years, as I’ve engaged in our Waldorf school’s Michaelmas Festival, I’ve come to see Michaelmas as a truly enlivening and uplifting event that reaffirms my faith in humanity’s goodness. Michaelmas happens each year at a time when I find myself noticing nature turning toward dryness and decay. I notice all the upheaval in the world, both personal and global. It’s not that such things don’t happen at other times of the year, but something about this season makes them more poignant for me. As the nights grow longer and the year begins to die, my own dragons surface and start making noise that cannot be ignored. And so, I pay them some attention.

We all have faced some dragons recently! Ian faced the Tough Mudder and emerged victorious, having worked so hard to prepare both physically and mentally. Asher has faced down his own fears about being in a new school. Lucas is wrestling with new expectations on him now that he is older, and finding that sometimes he wants to quit piano and sometimes he doesn’t—for playing requires discipline and fortitude and stick-to-itiveness. My own issues revolve around some beloved family members, and their ill health is weighing on my mind. (Oh, and fear of failure. And fear of success. Money woes. All those old standbys are still present, too.)

Michaelmas Nature Table

Our Michaelmas nature table display, with handmade figures

For me, the Michaelmas festival reminds us that we all have a part of us that lurks in the murk, with our dragons—fears, angers, resentments, jealousies, laziness, etc.—as bitter (and sometimes comfortable) companions. Our societal dragons are fear, hate, bigotry, greed, and isolationism. And yet despite our foibles and in the middle of our challenges, we keep striving, working for the good. We shine our lights into our days and nights and work to make the world brighter in small ways and in big.

With Michaelmas, we have our metaphor of plucking up our courage and going out on the field to meet our dragons head-on. Though we are frightened, we call them by name and take a good hard look at them in the sunlight. And in doing so, we shrink them and corral them, tame them or banish them, or simply bring them under our better control. When we face reality with honesty and bravery, we are imbued with light and can use this strength daily in our interactions will all people.

But let me be clear, dragons are mighty teachers, too. Our dark sides can be a source of inspiration, power, and mystery. The fertile soil of our inner darkness must be balanced and harnessed by the light in us, that we may live healthy, happy lives and do soulful work.

Asher is experiencing in Kindergarten the story of a simple boy, George, who acts out of bravery and righteousness to help others and in doing so overcomes fear and darkness. He retold the story to me yesterday with great gusto. The older Kindergarten children are making their wooden swords of righteousness. They are dyeing silken capes with golden light. They are preparing themselves to be bold and good in the world.

Lucas's Sculpture of St. Michael Battling the Dragon within a Ring of Fire

Lucas’s 2010 modeling clay scene of Archangel Michael battling the dragon within a ring of fire

Lucas’s class, the fourth grade, are making shields. In the Michaelmas festival this Friday, they will protect the villagers when the dragon arrives. Their great courage will shield the innocent from harm.

So, if you’re curious about this festival, here are some other places you can look. I hope that it might inspire you as it has inspired me.

My post about Honoring Our Dragons.

A Michaelmas craft the boys and I enjoyed last year.

Last year’s 2010 School Michaelmas Festival. And here’s 2009’s festival post.

Last year’s family Michaelmas celebration at home. How might you make a dragon dinner?

Individual Dragons

Third graders making dragon breads at Sacramento Waldorf School

Here are some other wonderful Michaelmas links for you to explore:

Read this one. I promise you won’t be disappointed: Barbara Klocek’s article about Michaelmas in the Kindergarten. (Mrs. Klocek was one of Lucas’s Kindergarten teachers.)

Lots of info about Saint Michael and Michaelmas here.

Carrie’s 2009 post about Michaelmas on the Parenting Passageway is here.

A great post about building a dragon with a sixth grade Waldorf class is found on The Waldorf Way blog.

A new article about Michaelmas “The Festival of Human Becoming” by Danielle Epifani on The Wonder of Childhood online magazine.

Mamaroots has a tutorial for making stick dragons

The meaning of the Michaelmas festival by Rudolf Steiner is here.

Rocking Granola has a great list of more resources here.

Dragon Day

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7 Responses to “Michaelmas Time”

  • Hilary
    September 28, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I always love to read your musings. Oh, what a magical and transformational time of year! Yes, my dragons are making themselves heard and I find that my relationships become my shield or lantern of golden light at such times. May we be courageous, righteous and remember the divine in all! Blessed Be, my friend.

    Reply

    • Sara
      September 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      Hi Hilary,
      Transformative and magical, indeed. Autumn can be tough but there is always so much juicy living and learning to do. Thanks for reading, babycakes! I appreciate the support.

      Reply

  • Janelle
    September 28, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Will there be a celebration at Waldorf open to the public? I could use some dragon-facing magic right about now.

    Reply

  • Cat
    September 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Hey there — this is Hilary’s sister Cat, we met briefly at your place a month or two ago. I SO would like to get to know you better as I continue my degree in ECE, especially as I plan on enrolling at Steiner when I’m done. My heart’s desire is to be a Waldorf ECE teacher and I love, love, *love* reading your blog and seeing the beauty. Hope we met again sometime soon!

    ~Cat

    Reply

    • Sara
      September 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Hi Cat, It’s great to hear from you! Thank you for reading and for your kind words. There is so much magic in the Waldorf early childhood curriculum! You’ll love it. I certainly do and I am not a teacher. I just see how my children thrive within it. I look forward to seeing you again!

      Reply

  • Jennifer Tan - Syrendell
    September 28, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Love all of the dragons! And, your Michaelmas table is fantastic. Davis Waldorf School’s festival is this Friday and our little Wilson is going to be St. Michael in the play! 🙂

    Reply

  • Doug Morkner Brown
    September 29, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    “The power of the dragon is working within me, trying to drag me down. I do not see it – I FEEL it as something that would drag me down below myself. But in the spirit I SEE the luminous Angel whose cosmic task has always been the vanquishing of the Dragon. I concentrate my heart-mind soul upon this glowing figure; I let its light stream into me. Thus illumined and warmed I bear within, the strength of Michael.”

    -Rudolf Steiner, from lecture 1 of Michaelmas and the Soul-Forces of Man (September 27, 1923)

    Reply

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  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I'm Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2017 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    "Love doesn't just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new." —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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