Rudolf Steiner: “The cycle of the year is a mighty breathing of the earth in relation to the cosmos. Festivals create a sense of belonging and mark the rhythms of the year.”
On Friday, 21st September, we celebrated our Spring festival. This year, we have shifted our festival focus to be in line with Steiner’s teachings with regards to the season, and herewith some supportive information for interested parents:
In years past we would combine a focus on Spring with activities testing courage and initiative. Such activities are typically associated with the archetypal story of a ‘hero’ (Archangel Michael/Saint George), taming a dragon – a theme that is aligned with autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. According to Rudolf Steiner, the angel of Autumn is Archangel Michael. In the Southern Hemisphere, a better fit for this third term is a festival that acknowledges Spring in all its fullness, with the deeper awareness of re-birth, healing and coming into the light after the winter slumber – a feeling that the Northern Hemisphere naturally experiences in an Easter Spring Festival.
At the South African National Waldorf Teachers Conference in 2017 one of our teachers attended the seminar on Southern Hemisphere festivals and brought back stimulating insights and questions. We had began exploring this theme at Raphaeli at such time, and have continued to do so with input from other Waldorf schools. Thus we now take time to explore with the children the particular symbolism and power of the Archangel of Spring, which is Raphael, the healer, the transformer. This is also acknowledged in cultures wherever there is a figure like the Greek Hermes or Roman Mercury, who is the bridge leading from the old to the new.
Green is the colour of this figure and this season, not only because it is the colour of new natural growth but also because green is literally the mediating bridge colour between light and dark, between blue and yellow. Through stories of change and healing told in the classrooms and crafts arising from them, the universal message of rebirth and resurrection is brought to the children. There are many such stories found and held in the cultures throughout the world, in South African fairy tales, in The San stories of the Festival of the Stars, Easter stories and Pagan Ostara stories to name but a few. These story seeds work deep within the soul-life of the each one to emerge and flower in them as Spring progresses into Summer. We would like to suggest some activities that you can share with your children to support the Spring festival at home.
Taking time to do deeds of kindness (How fitting that many of the children are busy with their Santa’s shoeboxes).
● Writing letters and cards, sending them to charity organisations or the elderly.
● Experiencing a sunrise with your child.
● Taking a long hike together with times and spaces for quiet reflection.
● Practicing cultural dances.
● Baking bread (the classic food that rises/resurrects).
● Taking time to focus on different aromas and smells in nature and in the kitchen: making decorations, particularly with purple and yellow, and also with green.
● Taking early morning walks in the brisk air.
● Having afternoon talks and discussion in the warm sun.
● Making music together – using different instruments – singing.
● Talking about rebirth in nature – the caterpillar’s metamorphosis into the butterfly.
● Talking about biographies where suffering and sorrow are transcended – for the younger child fairy tales or fables with this message such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella. The Grimm Brothers’ versions are authentic and leave the child free to imagine for themselves what the characters look like.
We truly hope that your Spring will be full of wonderful nature experiences and that the healing energy of the Archangel Raphael bless all who need it.
The Teachers and Staff of Raphaeli Waldorf School