October

 

October has arrived. The school has enjoyed another Dragonfest which celebrates the presence of Micha-el, the archangel who towers over the world at this time and who is present in our hearts and minds as we press forward into the change of seasons. The iron will of the great figure, who is present in many cultures in different forms, represents the initiative and new energy that permeates the world and in human beings to do good works, take on good deeds, form new opportunities to care for one another and the community. We can see the evidence all around us with changing colors in Mother Nature, rapidly changing capacities of the children, the eager breathtaking faces ready to learn something new, do something new, take on a hard task like climbing a steep hill, trying a new food, learning something amazing and inspiring!  Adults, too, feel this sensation and this is a wonderful time to try out something new in your life - take up a hobby, a study, a book group, learn a new language or say yes to an adventure that has been waiting.

At the school, having kneaded and formed, then baked and eaten our traditional Dragon Bread, we are ready to tackle October in our studies and skills. Each age is presented with the perfect material for that stage of life, as we press forward with some traditional and non traditional topics. We still place a high value on penmanship, and our students do study and master the beautiful art of cursive handwriting.  Writing is such a human gift, and we begin with printing large capital letters in grade 1, then lower case in grade 2, then cursive in grades 2-3, then learning Hebrew alphabet in grade 3, runes in grade 4, Greek in grade 5 as well as cuneiform, then Latin in grade 6, calligraphy in grade 7, and these skill areas are practiced as both an art form and a skill form.

Children earn a real ink fountain pen in grade 4 by working hard to write a perfect sentence. These special pens are kept in good shape and valued as the teacher crochets a very pretty hand made pen case to store this precious item in.  We place high value on the traditional arts, and to see a class of children on a dark fall day, writing carefully by the light of a beeswax votive candle just nearby, is a beautiful sight.

Our school is constantly remaking itself and examining our classes, subjects, site and community needs.  This year we completed a gorgeous shed to store our play items safely and the children are loving its use as a clubhouse, too.  Several smaller wooden homes joined our playground which adds to the fun and adventures at recess and play.  

We are still seeking one family to join our Monday Moonbeams class with Ms. Kristin Luce, and both Wild Nest and Nature Immersion Fridays (ages 4-14) have a few precious spots open.  Please contact us to share with these wonderful teachers and classes, your special selves.

Blessings on the Fall!  The Autumn Winds Blow Open the Gate, St. Micha-el, for You We Wait!

Mrs. Marsha Johnson

Welcome Autumn

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Summer is gradually passing into Autumn. On clear mornings the intense golden light meets our eyes as we face east and the breezes begin to rustle the drying deciduous leaves. The plants no longer have a strong sprouting growth; they begin to wither and draw closer to the earth. In the spring and summer, the soul of the earth breathes far out in the cosmos and all the plants are drawn to the sun. Now in Autumn as the earth’s soul breathes back into its physical home, the mantle of Mother Earth, the plants also begin to live more in the roots. It is as if Mother Earth awakens from her summer sleep. The human being has a relationship with this great cosmic-earthly picture. The inner life of the human soul is awakening. Thinking becomes easier – school starts!


The festival of Michaelmas comes on September 29, just after the Autumnal Equinox, and is named for the Archangel Michael. In the Old Testament, Daniel names Michael as leader and guide of the Israelites. In the Book of Revelations, Michael battles the dragon. This archetype has appeared in the mythology of many cultures for many centuries. Ancient Asian writings describe Indra. The Bhagavad-Gita speaks of Mirtha. The ancient Babylonians tell of Marduk who slew Tiamat the dragon and created heaven and earth from his body. There are many examples, too, of human beings acting out of a Michaelic impulse; the Greek myth of Perseus, the English St. George and the American legend of John Henry.


The Michaelic archetype is of overcoming or transforming evil that is faced through heart-intelligence, courage and strength. Michael shows us the activity that is the essence of the human being – self-development. We all have the possibility of personal transformation. We all have our own dragons, our own lower and less noble aspects. Our selfishness, greed, fear, hate and anxiety can be overcome as we evolve. Michaelmas is a reminder of the process of the becoming human being as we strive toward our full human potential.


Michael is an Archangel who represents heart-intelligence, courage and the activity of the will. He awaits our call of help before entering into our affairs, just as he waited for St. George to make all his material preparations to conquer the dragon. St. George must fashion his sword, dress himself in armor and walk into the dragon’s lair before Michael’s activity can come to uplift him and help him to tame or slay the dragon. It is the same with us. We must recognize the aspect of our selfishness, greed, fear, hate and anxiety and really attempt to turn for the better before Archangel Michael can come to our aid. We must engage our will and step into what we know as goodness. Michael does not hold to any bloodlines or nationalism. Instead his task is cosmopolitan; bringing all people of the earth together, to see each other not as Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, etc. but as human being. This is the Michael Imagination that we work with in the Waldorf Schools.


Rudolf Steiner brings a spiritual scientific picture of Michael’s fight with the dragon in his lectures. He says that the dragon forms itself through the sulphurizing that happens on the earth during the summer heat. This sulphurizing makes the haze that settles into the valleys, it is the naturally occurring sulphur that condenses in the atmosphere because of the increased warmth and light. Counteracting the phenomena of sulphur on earth is a cosmic force that is connected with iron. At this time of the year we can experience some of the most magnificent meteor showers. These meteors are mostly made of iron and as they enter the earth’s atmosphere they contribute a finely vaporized iron that breaks up the strong sulphur quality.


Michaelmas is midway between the Summer and Winter Solstice during harvest season. The iron-filled fruits of nature are ripe. We come from the fields and gardens with a bounty of food to nourish us through the darkness of winter and we are filled with gratitude to our Mother Earth. It is earthly-produced food and nourishment that allows us to keep our strength and seek our inner life and purpose. As the sunlight decreases let us keep our inner lights alive and harvest the fruits and gifts of our own and each other’s development. May we, through our courage and our work gain the enthusiasm we need to lead our community into beautiful and good deeds.

Join us in celebrating Michaelmas at our annual Dragon Festival! Saturday, September 30th, 11am-2pm at Columbia Park. Food, games, crafts and even a dragon! All are welcome!

Summer

In the Waldorf school, life quiets down after the last day, the last assembly, the last presentations, the last time to say the morning verse, sing the last song, call the last roll, hug the last time, tie up packets of paintings, drawings, main lesson books, and put away flutes, wash cups, store pencils for the autumn, and at last, the building is quiet and the classrooms empty.  The teachers sit in meetings for a few days to review and relish the year just past, the cups of tea warm the empty spot that the leaving of the children and parents is felt, and everyone feels a bit like the Pied Piper of Hamlin wandered in and removed all of the fun of teaching: the kids!

The staff is generally pleased as significant work can resume and the constant and sweet rhythm of interruption that arrives with dozens of small kids and parents and faculty, all needing something, yes right away please, diminishes and some projects can actually be finished.  The schoolrooms generally are tidied up to some degree and things stored away, the walls are bare and bereft and the kindergarten is sleeping again….

And then the summer camps and art camps start up and the children come in with happy faces and they are so pleased to be back in school, it was SO LONG, Ms. Laura, we were GONE for a whole week!  And then the work of paint, art, craft, imagination, fantasy, fun, songs, games, just pure pleasure of designing and art immersion surrounds the group and life is again restored to some proper perspective!

Our school is deliberately smaller than most, we have around 60 students from a mixed aged K with 3-5 year olds up to 8th grade.  We graduated our first 8th grade in 2016.  Our classes are splits and mixes and groups and we have six lead faculty to hold these children and a dozen subject teacchers and staff.  A smaller setting on purpose with smaller rooms that will hold about 16 comfortably, we are brought into constant interaction with one another, the ages intermix, we purposefully plan group blocks, teach in each others’ classes, know all of the children well, and parents form a tight knit friendly community who also interact with all of the faculty and all of the staff.   A purposeful model, to awaken and strengthen community and surround the children with a caring dedicated group of adults who work collaboratively.  A model community, an experiment, and a success after 14 years (founded in 2003).

But oh, the summer school, is…….too quiet!