Michaelmas is this Week!

Every Friday the children in our school gather for an assembly. Right now, one of the songs they are singing is a round:

Round and round the earth is turning
turning always into morning
and from morning round to night.

I've been thinking about this song--the movement and circling of the earth that it reveals. It's simple to see how the seasons move round and round, but there's another way to look at it as well--as a rhythm of inbreath and outbreath.

We all work hard at helping children through the day to have activities that allow them to expand out and move back inward in a rhythmic way. So, too, one could say do the seasons and the earth.

At the Spring Equinox, or Easter, one could say that there is the beginning of an outbreath, a lightening--a time when the earth expands and the soul expands, breaths, lightens.

chalk pastel by Helen, age 12

The Fall Equinox, at Michaelmas, the opposite happens--there is a turning, a coming back, a final flare of energy in anticipation of the inward work that will spiral in through the Advent season.

watercolor by Helen, 3rd grade

Often, in order for the best inner work to happen, there has to be an obstacle, an encounter that can help us define what our inner work needs to be. It takes courage and strength to truly meet that obstacle.

For me, that's the picture of the Michaelmas festival--courage, strength, will. Will--a term that I define as the almost unconscious energy it takes to make yourself do something you don't want to do. Michaelmas is full of energy, color, fire, and strength.

watercolor by Lou, 3rd grade

So, at our school right now, I see this season coming forth in verses such as one the Kindergarten is doing right now: "I am a blacksmith, strong and true. Best of work I always do. All day long my hammers go, slinging, clanging, clanging, so,.." In first grade: "We will work, with our will. With our strength. And our skill til the sword shines bright!" In 6th grade: "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!" Many classes are also working on a math block--a subject where you have to work things through.

main lesson book page by Lou, 3rd grade

A picture of Michaelmas can be seen in "St. George and the Dragon." The children are performing this play on Friday. St. George encounters and tames the dragon with the help of the Angel Michael.

main lesson page by Helen, 2nd grade

After the play is our Harvest Festival--also a season of celebrating strength. At the Harvest Festival we not only celebrate with foods and harvest activities such as pressing cider, but we also play games of strength and skill such as obstacle courses and relay races. We try our hand at the blacksmith's forge and show our strength in a woodsman's challenge.

How to bring this important season home to children? I personally think that a strong connection to the seasons as they both turn and move inward/outward is important for our own adult inner work. Making a nature table is a way to reflect what is going on outside, inside. My nature table actually resides on my dining table and is constantly changing as the world outside our door changes.

In addition to having a nature table that reflects change, I think that engaging children in outdoor chores that celebrates their strength is another way to connect them to this season. Learning to chop wood, or build a bird feeder, or rake leaves all provide that energetic engagement with nature that will somehow leave a space inside them for the quiet, almost unconscious soul-work of the darker days.

Michaelmas Day is just the beginning of my favorite season. Smoky fires, bright red leaves, and warm savory stews fill all our senses and beg us to get out and embrace our world. Enjoy the season!

Jane  – (September 28, 2009 at 8:02 PM)  

I really enjoyed this post-thank you!

sarah haliwell  – (September 28, 2009 at 9:08 PM)  

I love this post, it has depth as well as beautiful description. Thank you for the effort that obviously went into it.

Gypsy  – (September 29, 2009 at 2:32 AM)  

What a great post, and as Sarah says - a lot of effort. It is one of the best descriptions of the autumn festival that I have read, I love it. Thank you for inspiring me.

Angela  – (September 29, 2009 at 3:38 AM)  

WOnderful... I always feel the need strongly to honor the changing of hte seasons, as they so affect our whole beings. Thank you for sharing osme great ideas that we do, but I had never related to the process.

Lisa Anne  – (September 29, 2009 at 6:56 AM)  

Thank you for this post, Happy Michaelmas!

Melissa Ellen (Making Honey)  – (September 29, 2009 at 9:19 AM)  

Thank you so much for writing about Michaelmas - a favourite time of year for me. In the Southern Hemisphere where everything is upside down - I feel like nature is breathing out and yet at the same time the spirtiual worlds begin to draw closer to us as we journey to Christmas - it always feels like such a blessing.

K.  – (September 29, 2009 at 7:20 PM)  

Michaelmas has become one of my favorite festivals. In our school we also have a festival, which ends in a 4-way tug of war (one for grades 4-8 and one for the High School). I am so glad that my children are growing up with this, because who hasn't felt this inner strength surging forth at this time of year, and they are lucky enough to be able to see their inner experiences reflected in this way.

Penny  – (September 29, 2009 at 9:01 PM)  

What a wonderful post! I love your definition of will, and your description of the seasons as well as the encouraging ideas with which to honor them.

Thank you so much for sharing something so close to your heart. The pictures are so special.

Cadi  – (September 29, 2009 at 9:21 PM)  

Beautiful. & my favorite festival. Thanks for this lovely sharing.

renee ~ heirloom seasons  – (September 29, 2009 at 9:40 PM)  

Dear Sarah, This was all so beautiful! I wish I could say I felt more full of courage on this day of Michaelmas... but your words were truly uplifting. Thank you!

Dawn  – (September 30, 2009 at 8:15 PM)  

I love this post..so well said. Your girls do such beautiful artwork.

gardenmama  – (September 30, 2009 at 8:47 PM)  

so beautiful, thank you for taking the time to share this!

Susan  – (September 30, 2009 at 9:41 PM)  

I loved this post - good thoughts and stuff to ponder about a magical time of year and how we are so deeply affected by the seasons.

renee ~ heirloom seasons  – (October 2, 2009 at 1:38 AM)  

A second comment from me, I have already expressed my thanks here for this beautiful post, but have now written at my blog as well. I just had to pass on the Kreativ Blogger award to you.

Teaching Handwork  – (October 2, 2009 at 7:42 PM)  

thanks for sharing....great post!

Please take more pics of their art work.....PLEASE!!!!!!

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