michaelmas :: days 1 and 2
Wednesday, 26 September 2012
This is our third year celebrating Michaelmas, and I have to say I’m starting to really enjoy it. It took me a while to fully understand it, and each time we celebrate, I think I get just a little bit more out of it. Michaelmas is the first festival in the autumn season, and it coincides closely with the autumnal equinox. So much so that I tend to roll the two into one and just spend a week celebrating the arrival of autumn. In a nutshell, I would say that Michaelmas is really about going inward and taming one’s inner dragons. In a world long ago, when we lived more in-tune with the earth and its changing seasons, one had to really muster the strength to go forward into the autumn and winter, into a time of decreasing light and possible scarcity of food. In a word, Michaelmas is about bravery.
Typically this bravery is portrayed through the metaphor of the knight conquering the dragon, but really, any tale of good versus evil will do. I let these word be the backbone of our celebration:
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.
You can see our first celebration here. Last year’s celebration fizzled out after The Boy expressed deep outrage over all of the dragons dying. The Boy identifies with dragons in a very deep way, and I did not want him thinking all his dragon friends were going around dying all the time. That led me to rethink the festival for him this year, so that the same ideals would resonate, but the stories would be a bit different.
With festivals, I’ve learned to let the story and anticipation build over several days. We’ve been incorporating a bit of Michaelmas into our daily life and homeschool, and it’s been working well. On the first day, I told a story I wrote specifically for my own children. In the story, the children meet an angry dragon who has to learn to use his fire for good rather than evil. The children, the dragon, and the villagers in the story have to overcome their own fears and embrace their interdependence.
After the story, we talked about what it means to be brave, and in what occasions we have all had to be brave or face our inner demons. Following our conversation, we were in the kitchen preparing a calendula oil, for use in a healing salve. Sometimes when you are brave, you stumble and fall–all good knights need a good healing salve for their wounds! We simply placed dried calendula petals in a glass canning jar, and covered them with olive oil. We set the jar in a sunny window, where it will steep for a few weeks, becoming stronger with the healing properties of the herb. When it is finished, we will use this recipe to complete the salve.
On day two, I read the story The Strong Boy by Christine Natale, which can be found in the comments of this Michaelmas post from The Parenting Passageway. Afterwards, we took turns telling stories about dragons.
I have lots more Michaelmas fun planned for the next few days….