On the Michaelmas Celebration
Reprinted from the October 2002 issue of Roots & Wings, our former school newsletter.
“… We live in a time of hard tests for humanity, of hard tests which must become still harder. We live in a time in which a whole host of old forms of civilization to which men still erroneously cling, are sinking into the abyss, a time in which the claim insistently arises that man must find his way to something new.” – Rudolf Steiner.
It is strange how applicable things from the past can seem in the world of today – such is the quote from Dr. Steiner above. So much about the Waldorf way of educating remains as true today as it was 80 years ago [now 90]. As parents, we continue to find meaning and direction in Waldorf Education and the words of Steiner and others, to guide and inspire us through this delicate and often difficult time of child-raising.
Michaelmas is a festival all about guidance and inspiration and we continue to respond to its meaning each year as the autumnal equinox grows near.
As we approach the coming winter months when so much of the world is asleep, we also come to a time of increased internal energy and consciousness. Michaelmas is a celebration acknowledging the human need to build and strengthen our inner lives just as the forces of nature transition, changing the relationship of light to darkness, bringing the desire to turn inward and prepare.
The festival is named for the Archangel Michael, conqueror of the powers of darkness, the harvester of the deeds of human souls. This image challenges us, and demands more attention to our inner lives – a renewal of the soul, a desire to build strong, brave, free wills, to overcome fear and anxiety. Michaelmas is the festival of the will.
Michael is often portrayed as the angel warrior, astride his mighty steed, wielding a sword of light. Our children hear stories about St. George, a brave knight, who with the help of Michael, slays or tames the dragon. Michael is the angel who hurled Lucifer down from heaven for his evil workings against God. St. Michael, warrior of courage, fighter against evil, rules the heavenly spheres; he guides and inspires us to take courage against darkness. St. George symbolizes the human aspect of this conflict – he is the knight who looks to Michael for strength and guidance.
At our school-community celebration of Michaelmas, we gather with friends, share a meal, take joy and draw strength from our bonds as a community, looking forward to the long months ahead.