A festive and meaningful Michaelmas to all on this profound holiday.
I thought I was going to write something about Michaelmas that included an explanation of the beautiful and quite esoteric nature of its symbols and stories but with all the birthday planning and visitors and cleaning, I'm afraid it will have to wait. What I would like to do is just share the way the struggle of will and consciousness conquering desire and psychological sleep is manifesting in a cute and cuddly way for our daughter in our home. As with all meaningful celebrations, we don't talk to our almost-five-year-old about the internal significance and substance of these observances but just let the stories and pictures act upon and through her in a gentle subconscious manner.
For a few days now we have been reading (with a fair amount of editing) the wonderful story of St. George and the Dragon as retold by Margaret Hodges. There aren't a great many picture books out there for Michaelmas and this is one we really enjoy.
To hold the pictures of the story, we set up our Nature Table for Michaelmas to include a scene from this book (as seen in the photo up top). A pattern for the sweet Michaelmas dragon can be found at Rhythm of the Home.
When Naiya arrived home from school today we decided to bake Dragon Bread for the first time using a recipe we found here.
Additionally, at school today, some of the classes died silks with calendula flowers for the children to wear as capes, others crafted paper crowns from their yellow watercolor paintings. In Naiya's kindergarten, the children helped to make the darling throwing stars seen below to celebrate the day. (Inside is a sealed cloth packet of corn kernels with ribbons sewn on. The children's portion of the craft was to place the packet inside and then stitch up the star's edge with yarn.)
Since we're always looking for ways to bring these holidays to the children I thought others might find some of these ideas and discoveries useful. To that end, lastly I'd like to share this story that I found in Autumn from Wynstones Press which is especially nice for very young children:
"The Kite" by U. de Haes
Once upon a time there was a boy whose father helped him make a kite. They worked on it in the winter, until its wooden cross was surrounded by transparent paper of yellow, red and blue.
In the summer the boy flew his kite and the sun was so pleased with its colours that he sent his clearest rays of light. And so the kite looked like a flaming cross in the sky. The boy let his kite rise as high as it could until the string came to an end and the kite could go no further.
Whoosh! Then came a gust of wind. The string snapped and the kite went flying into the sky. The boy saw it rise higher and higher. Soon the kite had gone so high that he could barely see it.
Up there in the blue there was much to be seen. First the kite saw a crow.
“Good morning,” croaked the crow.
“Good morning,” replied the kite.
“Are you a bird, with your flaming wings and long tail?”
“No, I am not a bird.”
“What are you then and from whence do you come?”
“I come from the lad standing down there; he made me himself.”
“And where are you going?”
“That I do not know. I want to fly into the sky.”
“Then you do not belong here. Up here every being knows whence he comes and whither he goes. I fly every winter to the south, and every summer to the north. I advise you to return to the human beings below, for if you do not know where you are going, you will lose your way in heaven.” But the kite was determined and rose further into the heights.
Then the kite met a seed.
“Good day,” whispered the seed.
“Good day,” replied the kite.
“Are you also a seed with your roots and shoots?”
“Where are you going?”
“I do not know. I want to travel into heaven.”
“Then you do not belong here. Up here everyone knows where he is going. I sail through the air and take in that which moves from the east to the west - the warmth of the sun. When I have taken it into myself, I travel down again and bring it to the earth. The earth then lets a flower grow out of me. If you do not know what to do, I advise you to descend to the earth or you will lose your way in these heights.” But the kite did not hear and soared higher.
Then he glided past a cloud.
“Good evening,” murmured the cloud.
“Good evening,” said the kite.
“Are you a cloud with your flaming sunset red?” asked the cloud.
“No, I was made by human beings. I came from the boy down there.”
“And where are you going?”
“Oh, only into the sky.”
“Then you do not belong here. Everyone here knows his purpose. I collect the last red of the sunset and turn it into the red of the sunrise. I rain down with the red of the sunrise and bless the earth and when I have done that the sun carries me up once more, so that the red of the sunrise can again be made. And so I travel up and down. I advise you to go back to the boy, for without a goal you will lose your way up here.” But the kite would not return and rose higher.
Then he came to the stars.
“Good night,” sang the stars.
“Good night,” sang the kite with them.
“What news do you bring to us, you comet of the earth?” sang the stars.
“I come from the boy who lies sleeping down there on the earth,” said the kite. “He is waiting until I return but in the meantime he has fallen asleep, and is dreaming about me.”
“We ask you to take our blessings back to the boy,” sang the stars and every one of them gave the kite some of their light.
Then came the Angel Michael. He took a star and hurled it towards the strange newcomer. The kite burst into flames and like a torch plunged into the depths.
The boy awoke from a dream. But when he looked around he realised that it could not have been an ordinary dream for next to him lay the cross of his kite and the coloured paper had been devoured by flames.
And the cross was no longer wooden but was of bright, heavenly iron. The boy was astounded when he saw that. But he was also vexed because his beautiful kite was gone.
At home his father comforted him: “Let us be glad. If your kite was not burnt you would never have received this cross of heavenly iron. This iron is lighter than the lightest wood and stronger than the strongest steel. Let us use it to make a new kite.”
This they did. And next summer when the kite rose to the heavens he again met those who traveled from north to south, from east to west and from heaven to earth. And when he came to the stars he again met Michael and again he plunged burning to the earth. But the cross of heavenly iron shone even more brightly than before.
And this happened for many years and with every year the cross became brighter and stronger. And when the boy had grown up the cross took on a different form: it turned into a shining sword which gleamed with the light of the stars. With this sword the growing man traveled through the world and he became a knight and servant of Michael.