In autumn St. Michael
With sword and with shield
Passes over meadow and orchard and field
He’s on his way to battle
‘Gainst the darkness and strife,
He is the heavenly warrior
Protector of life
The festival is named for St. Michael, known as the protector of humanity, who inspires qualities of courage, initiative, and steadfastness. Waldorf schools utilize this allegory of good versus evil to incite courage and inner strength in the students. It is especially useful in the fall, in preparation for school work and the upcoming academic year.
In The Waldorf School of Atlanta’s tradition, the Michaelmas festival is celebrated on the last Friday of September. A variety of activities will take place for our grade children to celebrate this festival of courage. As in past years, the grade school students will be joined by the faculty and students of Academe of the Oaks to celebrate Michaelmas. There will be games, drumming, festive songs, and a visit from St. Michael and the dragon! Parents are joyfully welcomed.
Michaelmas is a symbolic, ancient tradition celebrated in autumn. As the days grow shorter and the sun wanes, human beings often feel called to sleepiness. The strength of our will seems sapped, and we feel pulled towards complacency. To conquer this lethargic “dragon,” we must look inward to find strength and an “inner light” to guide us through the darkness of winter. We cannot sleep like many of the plants underground or hibernate like some of the animals. We have work to do, we must awake!
~Ashley du Pont
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.