Richmond Waldorf School celebrates many festivals throughout the year that demonstrate and deepen our values to make a positive impact on the world.
Late September brings us Michaelmas season! Michaelmas falls during the harvest season, midway between the northern hemisphere’s summer and winter solstices. Although Michaelmas is not commonly celebrated in North America, it is an important festival in Waldorf schools throughout the world. As J Fleming from Shining Mountain Waldorf School explains, “Saint Michael is an archangel mentioned in the Bible, Apocrypha and Koran. He appears as a spiritual figure and protector of humankind, inspiring strength, courage and will throughout history. The motif of a conqueror of the dragon can be seen in much Chinese art, in Apollo and the serpent, in Krishna slaying demons, and in the story of Saint George and the dragon.” Michael gives human beings the courage to meet the trials of the present and the confidence to look to the challenges of the future without fear.
Our own Ms. Deboarah Boes reflects that in school, the children hear stories about brave knights who overpower the dragon with swords of light, or children who gather their courage to encounter what is difficult and overcome fear to help others or the earth. In terms that the children can understand, these stories and verses give the message that they have the ability to stand in equanimity in the face of life’s challenges. That every moment is one of decision in how they act and they can choose to act with courage, imbue all they do with care, and call on their own inner power or will to persevere.
As we reflect on the meaning of Michaelmas this year, we see an ever-pressing need to face today’s challenges with strong hearts and minds. Each of us has a gift to bring to the world. We seek to recognize and appreciate each other’s gifts, and encourage one other toward our full potential. Michaelmas reminds us that as the sunlight decreases, we can shine our inner light and courageously do what is right, even if it is hard.
This year, since we are unable to gather and share in the spirit together, we hope to inspire you to shine your inner light and to share your gifts with others in your own way.
Dragon Bread is a traditional activity at RWS for both grades and Early Childhood students. We’d love you to give it a try this weekend with your child and see how much fun it can be to bake something together. Maybe make two and share with a neighbor!
Courtesy of http://bobbinsandbrambles.blogspot.com/
This recipe makes TWO loaves of bread, or ONE very large loaf, and is nut-free.
If you’d like to tell the story of St Michael while you make this bread, click here for this recipe in story form!
6 c flour (white or whole wheat works great)
2 c warm milk
1 tsp. raw sugar
5 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 c melted butter
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 c raw sugar
1/2 c golden raisins (or more! you could use dried apricots or even cheddar cheese for a savory bread)
1 egg yolk
1/4 c sunflower seeds (or more! also, you can use pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or sesame)
- Measure the flour into a big mixing bowl. Set this aside.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the teaspoon of sugar and the yeast into the warm milk. When it is frothy, stir the butter in as well.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and stir to combine.
- Add remaining sugar and salt, raisins, egg yolk and seeds to the dough.
- Knead dough for several minutes. Place in a bowl, and cover it with a damp cloth. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour to double in size.
- After an hour, punch it down, shape it (on a parchment lined baking sheet) and leave it to rise again (about 30 minutes).
- Bake at 375 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes to an hour depending, on how you divided up the dough (several small loaves or one huge one?) Bread is done when you tap the underside and hear a hollow sound.
Songs of Michaelmas
In autumn Saint Michael with sword and with shield,
Passes over meadow and orchard and field
He’s on the path to battle ‘gast darkness and strife
He is the heavenly warrior, protector of life
The harvest let us gather with Micahel’s aid;
The light he sheddeth fails not, nor does it fade
And when the corn is cut and the meadows are bare
We’ll don Saint Michael’s armour and onward will fare.
We are Saint Michael’s warriors with strong heart and mind;
We forge our way through darkness Stain Michael to find
And there he stands in glory; Saint Michael to find.
And there he stands in glory; Saint Micahel we pray,
Lead us on to battle and show us thy way
Brave and True
Brave and true I will be
Each good deed sets me free.
Each kind word makes me strong.
I will fight for the right,
I will conquer the wrong.
Earth grows dark and fear is lurking,
O St. Michael, Heaven’s knight,
Go before us know and lead us,
Out of darkness, into light
Make a Difference in our City
Richmond Waldorf School believe that schools should awaken social responsibility, service to community, and stewardship of the earth. In the spirit of the Michaelmas season, now is the perfect time to step up into action. Especially in these times, we are called to not only reflect, but also to act. We each have our own gifts, abilities, and interests, and we hope you will take it upon yourself to find a way to help others this time of year.
Need some help with where to start? Check out HandsOn, a Richmond-based nonprofit that connects volunteers to projects that need help! https://www.handsonrva.org/
We specifically loved the DIY Volunteer opportunities for local schools and nonprofits that need our help. Things like snack bags, cold weather supplies, and cards are great for students! Or get some fresh air and make a difference by participating in a James River clean up or picking up litter in your neighborhood.