Here in the Midwest, September brings change. Fall winds begin to blow as the air grows colder. Farmers bring in the harvest as the days grow cooler, shorter and darker. Toward the end of the month the Autumn Equinox heralds in the beginning of darker days and a few days later, on the 29th of September, we will celebrate Michaelmas.
For our family, this will be our first Michaelmas celebration as we are new to incorporating such holidays and traditions. September 29th is a special day for us for it is my middle child and only son’s third birthday. He was born on a cool fall day, a perfect memory for helping to create an image of Michael, the Archangel.
St. Michael is the Archangel responsible for hurling Lucifer from Heaven. He is seen as the “herald of light”, a sign of something brighter to come, and he is thought of as a protector during this darker time of fall and winter. St. George is viewed as the earthly representative for St. Michael and here is where the legend of slaying the dragons comes in. St. George, as it is told, slew dragons and saved princesses, thus creating wonderful, imaginative stories and plays enjoyed by Waldorf and LifeWays students and families all over the world. These stories create a physical manifestation of the importance of going within, finding inner strength and confidence and slaying our own personal dragons during this darker time of the year.
One of the greatest lessons I gained from my experience with the LifeWays training is how important such inner personal work is as a caregiver, a parent and a human being. Here in the Midwest, as the weather will soon change and the winds will bring cooler weather, I start to anticipate the cold season, filled with the wonder of snow but also with the dullness of shorter, darker days. As St. Michael is known as the herald of light – a protector of darker time – I take comfort that I too can work internally to start slaying some of my dragons.
One of my biggest dragons is impatience. I am a bit of a dreamer and a person of many passions. In many regards this is a blessing, but as my husband can attest, it also makes me a bit impatient. I look to the future to pursue some of these dreams and often forget to simply focus on the here and now. Sometimes the here and now seems so monotonous and mundane. But as we highlighted last month, rhythm, which may seem dull in its simplicity, is vital to a child’s and to our well being.
My impatience also gets the best of me at times, when I rush my babies, sometimes to usher them out the door to get somewhere on time, and at other times when I rush them ahead in age as I forget their current stage of development. My training with LifeWays, with training related readings, and readings on my own in books, blogs and articles, remind me one of the greatest lessons in life is to S…L…O…W D…O…W…N!
My toolbox has several tools to help slay this dragon, and though not one of them is a sword, as in St. George’s case, they do tend to work quite well. I think that it is vital to face your dragon head on, but rather than getting overwhelmed by the darkness of such dragons, it is best to let it be. By this I mean that what I’ve learned through parenting, especially in the early days and weeks after having my babies is that you need to allow yourself to have the dark moments. If you are feeling impatient, let yourself feel that way and then forgive yourself. If you find yourself being snippy with your child or spouse, allow it to happen, then forgive yourself and think of how to respond better to this kind of situation in the future.
I have often found myself, as I just did again this morning, berating myself for having had a “bad mom” moment. This doesn’t help anyone, and the dragon’s breath only gets fierier. If you find yourself in a tough moment, allow it to happen, forgive yourself, and maybe even add a bit of humor to the situation – say to yourself, “oops, I was impatient again.” Later on reflect on how you can do a bit of a better job the next time around. Dwelling on the rougher moments of parenting does not help anyone, child or adult. Allowing, forgiving, reflecting – these are wonderful tools to help slay my dragon of impatience and maybe they can help you too.
Michaelmas is a wonderful time to show thankfulness for the gifts of the earth, ourselves and others. While the Autumn Equinox and Michaelmas are signs of the closure of summer and beginning of a darker season, our moods do not have to grow dark. Instead, we can focus our energies during this time just as the earth does; we can go within and quietly strengthen ourselves and grow once again. We can rededicate ourselves to finding the ever elusive balance that we all seek and we can find new beginnings in all realms of our life, including how we parent.
To finish, I’d love to share this verse whose author is unknown. It has been passed down through oral tradition.
The autumn wind blows open the gate,
Saint Michael it is for you we wait.
We follow you, please show us the way…
With joy we greet this autumn day.
Oh Saint Michael, God’s great knight…
Strong and pure and shining bright.
I’ll be a knight of Michael, too…
And polish my crown to a golden hue.
And ask the gnomes to iron the mine,
Iron from the stars and the earth so fine.
To bring to the blacksmith, who with his might
Will make me a sword, so strong and bright.
I’ll polish my sword so fine and bright,
And I will use it for the right.
Drive evil away, I will try
And protect those who are weaker than I.
Mara Spiropoulos is the blog coordinator and parent voice for the LifeWays North America blog. She is a recent graduate of the LifeWays training program, resides in Milwaukee, WI, and a full-time mother to 3 young children. Mara enjoys spending time in nature, reading and researching natural parenting and living, and crafting. She would love to hear from anyone willing to be a guest writer and you can reach her by email at email@example.com.
3 thoughts on “Celebrating Michaelmas and Slaying my Own Dragon, by Mara Spiropoulos”
I can so relate to the notions of quick self judgement when I feel like I’ve “messed up” again as a parent! I have been practicing stepping back from the judgement and just acknowledging that I did not act the way I would like to have, and focusing on what to do better next time – just like you mentioned. I find it so much more helpful to stop judging myself in such a negative way because then I find myself dwelling in that instead of putting my energy to a better “next time.”
Thanks so much for all your articles, I really enjoy reading them and am glad that this blog is becoming more active! I can’t do the Lifeways training but I really value the teachings. I appreciate getting glimpses of what you learned and how you are applying it.
Thank you Renee
We are so glad to have some followers to the blog and thank you for your own personal experience as well as your appreciation for the blog’s articles. I am happy to be a part of such a wonderful way of parenting and living. I learn so much from those around me. I like the way you put it – to step back from the judgement for it wastes our energy focusing on what we did wrong. We can both keep up the hard, but worthwhile work of parenting as we know other mothers are in similar shoes!
I love this article! I love the idea of looking at your own ‘personal dragons,’ and what tools we have to combat them. I definitely relate to impatience…another one for me is feeling tired and run-down. I know that a strong rhythm helps immensely with this, and when my rhythm is upside-down, making sure I still schedule in down-time for myself each day, no matter what. It always feels like a work in progress. I guess it probably always will. In some of the Michaelmas stories Michael doesn’t slay the dragon–instead he tames it and sets it to work for the townspeople, pulling the mill-stone and ploughing the fields. I like this idea of taming our personal dragons and setting them to work for us. When my tiredness is tamed, it forces me to slow down, to appreciate the little things, and to go at kid-speed. Thanks for this imagery, Mara!
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