The dragon is stirring!
Michaelmas preparations are underway on the Charlottesville Waldorf School campus this week. The older students are learning their lines for the pageant, the dragon puppeteers are discovering how to coordinate with each other to wind the fearsome beast on his way, and all across campus the traditional songs are being sung — with masks, perhaps, or the singers standing awkwardly distant in outdoor classrooms, but sung nonetheless — and, like all traditions of this kind, bringing along a kind of normalcy and confidence. We know how to do Michaelmas!
Of course, some things will be different this year. First and foremost, we are not able to invite our families and friends to join us on campus for the celebration, a loss for all of us but an important part of keeping our campus safe for the children.
And the Pageant and Tasks of Bravery have been adapted to keep contact to a minimum and spread the actors out across our beautiful open playground space.
Courage takes many forms. This past year has been a test for all of us and we look forward to celebrating — and encouraging ourselves to continue! — conquering fears within and without! We wish you a brave and joyous Michaelmas!
What is Michaelmas?
In Waldorf Schools around the world — particularly those in the Northern Hemisphere where the holiday coincides with the cooler weather and increasing darkness — Michaelmas is a beloved and highly anticipated annual celebration. But for our new families, this may be the first time hearing or experiencing this Festival.
Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September each year (our students will be celebrating on Friday, September 25). Falling near the Autumnal Equinox on the calendar, it is often the first Festival celebrated during the school year in the Waldorf School. There is usually a harvest aspect to the celebration, apple cider and pumpkin muffins are a staple! The fiery colors of the dragon are reflected in the changing leaves and the pageant costumes of the students.
The Michaelmas Pageant tells the legend of Saint George conquering the dragon with the aid of the archangel Saint Michael, freeing a noble princess from a horrible fate. Rather than kill the beast, Saint George tames it and the villagers take it in and teach it to plough the fields, overcoming their greatest fear and putting it to work for their advantage.
An archangel in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions, Saint Michael here represents the courage of each individual. Waldorf schools around the world celebrate Michaelmas because it is a reminder that the dragon and the saint are both within us, the dragon representing cold rationality with no moral compass, leading us to evil, and the archangel Michael demonstrating the inner strength, initiative, and selflessness we must nurture in order to conquer our fears and anxieties and harness them to serve our more noble purposes. Into darkness, fear, apathy and depression, Michael wields his sword of light that we may be inspired to face inner and outer darkness with renewed strength of will and purpose in our lives.
Make a Shooting Star Toy!
Enjoy this simple Michaelmas craft and spend some time playing outdoors in the crisp Autumn air! We would love to see if you make one – if you share it on social media please do tag @cvillewaldorf or send us a message!