Michaelmas is the festival which really celebrates Autumn and allows us to revel in the darker nights and cooler days without a sadness for the Summer passed. The light is lower, and shadows longer, and we start to look inward to our own inner strength and reserves – like a flower we opened up to the sun during the summer, and now we can fold our petals in and take strength and sustenance from the world under our feet.
Michaelmas is named after Saint Michael, one of the four archangels, the angel who threw Lucifer out of Heaven. He is the Angel of courage and the Angel of the fight against evil, often depicted fighting off fearsome dragons! The festival of Michaelmas is the moment when we can take the light and love that has warmed us through the summer months into ourselves to feed us as we enter the colder, darker months of autumn and winter.
“When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.
No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.
Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.” Jan Struther & Ralph Vaughan Williams
“But the dragon never forgot, and never quite gave up. He remembers his beauty from long ago, and rises out of the earth in early summer to fly high in the air. Then, as summer ends, a shower of shooting stars beats the dragon back into the earth with swords of heavenly iron”
As we were growing up, we always enjoyed the meteor shower of shooting stars in late August in the night sky, and used to weave a story as to why they are showering down on us at this time of year… and in later years, Michaelmas had become a time in the year which we rather dreaded – it all felt rather heavy and fearsome, but finding Tiptoes with our children allowed us see the beauty of the date, the 29th September. It is a very special day!
Making dragon bread is always a wonderful family activity, or making dragon’s from conkers is great fun too!
To bring the light of St Michael into our homes, we can light a new candle at the supper table. Always a favourite activity at Kindi was to make a candle each using strips of wax wound around the candle to become the dragon, and as the candle burns, the flame slowly conquers the dragon until he is banished completely!
As you light your Michaelmas candle this year, perhaps you will have the dinosaur pasta on your little ones’ plates, so that they can be St. Michael fearlessly fighting dragons, just like Jeremy Mouse in the Tiptoes Story. http://www.ulula.co.uk/alb-gold-organic-pasta-for-babies-and-kids-dinosaur-shapes.html