A couple of weeks ago I wrote about marking seasonal transitions in your family after I had written a letter to my friend about the same. She and I are both leading our children through Waldorf inspired homeschooling and family life but neither of us have any particular religious leaning and we both have struggled with the role of festivals, as most of the festivals typically celebrated by the Waldorf community seem Christian based. Even those celebrated with mass appeal (Christmas, Easter, etc) come from a Christian stand point. So, why celebrate them at all, if you can’t relate? Or celebrate them in purely a nature based way. You could do this, and believe me I found this tempting, but I think if we do that we miss all that these festivities have to offer.
I have always had the philosophy that life is worth celebrating and these celebrations need to serve as the cornerstones of our year. Grace, of the blog ‘Uncommon Grace‘ writes “If there is one thing that I would like to share with any young family just finding its way, it’s this: seek celebration, and embrace it. You will be blessed many times over.” And I wholeheartedly agree! But how are we to relate to any of them? For me, the most important to celebrate are those that highlight essential elements of the human spirit and help to align our spirits to the natural and cosmic world.
With my children we are taking them one by one, not all, at least not all at once. And feeling out how they pertain to us and how they can enrich our lives. I am also reexamining many that we have taken for granted over the years and celebrated in ways typical to our culture. Last winter we started with St Lucia Day, St. Nicholas Day and the Winter Solstice. You can find my reflections on putting spirit and sacredness back into our celebrations here. I didn’t want to celebrate these days with the focus of materialism, but wanted to truly emphasize the reason for celebration. If you follow the links for each day you can read how we brought meaning into them for ourselves. St. Lucia can remind us all to be a shining light in the world and the giving spirit of St. Nicholas is something we all should foster in ourselves. What lives to celebrate and emulate!
This week we are joining in Michaelmas celebrations for the first time. This festival really speaks to me. It focuses on taming or slaying our inner dragons and gearing up our courage and strength as we proceed into the dark of the year. The archetype figure associated with Michaelmas is, of course, Michael, the archangel responsible for throwing Lucifer into hell and is usually portrayed carrying a sword and slaying a dragon. “He is the Angel of Courage, the Angel of the Fight Against Evil.” But, it is not necessary to view Michael in literal terms. He is a representation of basic human qualities that each of us must reach deep into ourselves and find in our time of need, in this time of coming darkness.
In our home we focusing our homeschooling activities around Michaelmas this week, learning songs, telling the stories of George and the Dragon, Story of the Star Children and *The Story of the Harvest Loaf. Our crafting is also Michaelmas themed. I don’t expect my small children to fully be able to grasp the significance of this festival, or any of them, but we start slowly and are laying a foundation of celebration and seeking what is holy and sacred in life. In time, as they grow, the meaning will come and, I believe, will enrich and nourish their souls.
Below you will find resources that may help you further understand and incorporate more festivals and celebrations into your own life.
*All Year Round– A book filled with seasonal stories, activities, crafts, poems and recipes.
Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education: Do the Festivals have a Future?– Article
Festivals– Understanding how the festivals relate to us and the changing seasons.
The Inner Year– The soul’s calender of enlightenment, healing and creativity
Festivals, Family and Food– Another book of seasonal stories, activities, crafts, poems and recipes.
Michaelmas- The Soul’s Season of Dragons and Courage
Michealmas Is Coming!
Michaelmas Thoughts on “The festival of Human Becoming”
Julie Hunter is a single mama raising 3 spirited girls, two babydoll sheep, angora rabbits and a gaggle of chickens and ducks in the North Carolina Foothills. She spends her days at home, crafting with her children, homeschooling, taking long gathering walks in the woods and knitting Waldorf-inspired toys. You can find her blogging and keeping shop at This Cosy Life.