Michaelmas is celebrated at Gaia Waldorf school, toward the end of the third term, during the start of spring. It is known as the festival of strong will, challenging us to develop strength, courage, bravery and reverence in our everyday trials and tribulations so that we may overcome our anxieties and fears. This festival requires us to strengthen our inner qualities.
This is depicted with reference made to the archangel Michael who conquered the powers of darkness with his sword of light. He is always drawn with a dragon which is associated with darkness. The dragon symbolizes our daily challenges, that which tempts the human race and drags us down into the earth away from our purpose. St. Michael has three qualities that we can learn from: The first being that he did not kill the dragon, instead he subdues the evil force. The dragon is tamed and kept at bay. So must we subdue our dragons to build courage to face our challenges and to overcome them. Secondly, St. Michael has an uprightness about him which indicates to us that his deed is done and he now walks in confidence. We too, need to come to this state whereby we confidently tackle any hurdle that comes our way. Thirdly, he had a striving attitude towards his challenge and he gently waited for the right moment to act. We also have to have a quiet patience in difficult times so that we may see or understand the situation clearly. The children are told a beautiful story of St. George and the Dragon which weaves the idea into a much more imaginative picture for them to understand.
The season of spring requires us to take up a new task, different from that of the barren winter. New life brings new possibilities and therefore we must ‘take up a new task’, the way St. Michael had taken up his task with strength, bravery and courage, We need to raise ourselves above our nature. We shouldn’t get caught up with the severe conflict, weight and inflexibility of our hidden ‘dragons’ in our beings.
The St.John festival sent out a message of burning one’s inner light in the heart of winter , that it may bring warmth and guidance in the dark days. The Michaelmas festival is challenging us to put that light to use, engaging our will, against the darkness so that we may become conquerors and springinto our purpose during the season of new life and growth.
“…We live in a time of hard tests for humanity, of hard tests which must become still harder. We live in a time in which a whole host of old forms of civilization to which men still erroneously cling, are sinking into the abyss, a time in which the claim insistently arises that man must find his way to something new.” – Rudolf Steiner