• Michaelmas Dragon


Michaelmas, traditionally celebrated on September 29, commemorates the deed of the Archangel Michael, who with his angels fought against the devil and the powers of darkness.  Michael hurled Lucifer down from heaven for his treachery and cast him into the earth. This saint is usually depicted with a shield and lance or fiery sword, gazing outwards while subduing the dragon underfoot. Sometimes he is shown holding a scale with which he weighs the souls of men.  

At this time of year daylight and darkness are in fact very close to their exact balance point (September 29 falls within the astrological sign of Libra the Scales). While in spring we contemplated the resurrection of the physical body, now in fall we need a resurrection experience for the soul that acts as a counter force to autumnal decay in the world. Through our own efforts we must discover new inner resources which can help us grow towards life and light. 

Historically Michaelmas has long been a time of new beginnings. As an English Quarter Day it was the time when contracts were renewed between landlord and tenant, the time when hiring fairs were held. Many universities still begin their year at Michaelmas. Taking up a new task is a theme of the season and Michael’s task can become real for us when we try to take a new step on our inner journey and discover that we must battle with the hidden “dragon” in our own being. 

Michael beckons us to find the spirit to come alive through the dying year. Flashing meteor showers in the autumn are said to be the sword he wields for us; each falling star is made of iron – the iron we need to strengthen the resolution of the heart. Seed-thoughts of summer can be harvested now as deeds and find their place in the world among people, to generate a life of their own that goes on in the future. 
I allow the radiant figure to shine into my heart and soul and mind
And so gain the strength to vanquish the dragon.
Powerful, wise spirit of the will, 
Weaving in the far reaches of the spirit over all,
Working through spiritual beings ---
Surely you are working too
In the depth’s of my soul’s being
So, in loving working, bind fast
My inner life to your illumined strength
In finding you, I find myself.
--Rudolf Steiner

Autumn in the Early Childhood Classroom

A message from Eileen O'Meacham, KWS Early Childhood Teacher:

Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheath,
Rosy the apple,
Crimson the leaf,
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white,
Autumn good morning,
Summer good night!

My porch overlooks a meadow and forest that has true colors of late summer: hunter greens of the forest, chartreuse by the creek, mustard yellow on the goldenrod, straw mixed with the grass. It is a vision of beauty. The above simple verse holds imagery of the external mood I feel while looking off my porch.

In Waldorf Early Childhood, the teachers prepare verse, song, and story to facilitate seasonal imagery. The teachers share the imagery during story and circle time during daily rhythm. During Michaelmas time, a festive story or circle will hold thematic images of feats of courage, caring for others, and stewardship for the earth, and leaving the mood of Summer and entering the mood of Autumn.

One visible observation of Summer coming into Autumn is "The Harvest."  Miss Therese, White Rose Kindergarten teacher, and the White Rose children took an adventure to the garden to find a beautiful pumpkin! (The garden building at KWS is bursting; families may always check out the school Facebook page for opportunities to help Celia Martin in the garden. Or help preserve "The Harvest" by volunteering with Food for Thought, our organic school lunch program.) Children at Rosebud Garden enjoy popping juicy, ripe tomatoes into their mouths! The early childhood children participate with harvesting!

Another outward sign of Autumn are the apples! The apples are so plentiful; take time to make homemade applesauce with your child(ren). It's so simple: peel apples, core and slice, add a little water, lemon juice, cinnamon, and your choice of sweetener. In Waldorf Early childhood, a teacher chops the apples with the children. Sometimes children may nibble; children love to help!

Just like rosy apples, bulb planting is an Autumn activity! Planting bulbs remind me of Michaelmas and the care of the earth! Early childhood teachers often plant bulbs with children this time of year. This gesture of planting bulbs is a prayer of hope for a more beautiful tomorrow. An imaginative story describing the intention of the bulb is perfect for a young child; for example, dig a 2 inch round by 10 inch deep hole, look for worms and bugs, get dirty, notice how the bulb has a lovely night gown to keep him(her) warm in Mother Earth, put all the blankets (the dirt) on your lovely bulb snugged up in Mother Earth's embrace and sing a sweet lullabye.

Early Childhood classrooms have a Nature Table or Nature Corner. A nature table is a simple place which imitates what your family may see outdoors. You may collect bits of nature and display them on the nature table for everyone to enjoy. A beautiful late summer bouquet of grasses and goldenrod with marigolds can be complimented with some pressed leafs, a lovely rock found on a nature walk, acorns, 'helicopters' from the sycamore tree, and some simple wooly bees. If you want to make a wooly bee, wrap some yellow wool around a small pine cone, give it some white whispy wings and tie a string from the "bee" to a stick! Your child will love dancing his(her) bee on the treasures of your Nature Table!

Most important, keep life simple! The more a family feels settled in a season through simple gestures, the more peace and harmony a home will feel. Teachers sometimes take hikes at school to simply enjoy the season. Sharing your favorite trail hike with your child during early Autumn's splendor warms the heart and soul.