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Warmth and Light, Waldorf Michaelmas

September 28, 2012

Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.

Through the field the farmer goes,
Seeds of ripened corn he sows;
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.

For he knows, that warmth and light
Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!

Deep below, deep below, new life will spring!

 

We  crossed the threshold of Summer to Autumn last Friday the 21st.  If summer is a great exhalation  this time of year begins the quiet breathing in for Mother Earth. Golden stars of meteor showers shoot across the sky, trees robe themselves in jewel tones.Where I live , one would be hard pressed to see the physical markings of the seasonal change. It has remained in the 80’s -90’s for weeks upon weeks now. But still Summer’s abundance has waned and we begin to enter the slowing down of the season of outward growth. It will grow dark soon enough.

Here in the West early childhood teachers in Waldorf schools seek to find the right pictorial imagination to welcome children to autumn. One of these is Michaelmas. An ancient Celtic celebration of harvest celebrated yearly on September 29th. It has held as a rite of the year  in England as well as Ireland and Germany  for centuries and since become fairly westernized. In the Waldorf schools, the tale of St. George and the Dragon help to imbue the day with an image and archetype of strength, courage, chivalry, light and good conquering evil.

In preparation for the day, kindergarteners will spend weeks sanding wooden swords that at end of school year turn to gold as they move onto 1st grade. As this time of year the sky is full of meteor showers containing iron, thus  the swords are symbols of not only the strength of great knights but also the iron of the stars. Classes will bake bread in the shapes of dragons and don yellow capes they have dyed with marigold flowers.

Our will forces are as the iron, we must strengthen ourselves for the coming darkness of winter, our Dragon. Gathering the early autumn richness and strength, looking inward and renewing our forces, fortifying our inner strength and courage.  We begin again, following the great wheel of time turning.

“Through celebrations in their seasons are the deeper powers of human nature realized.” – Rudolf Steiner

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