"Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave."
-Rainer Maria Rilke
In Waldorf Communities, the season of Michaelmas is an important time. It is a time for children to return to school in the fall, it is a time of Summer's ending and the Autumn Equinox, and it is a time characterized by dealing with the dragons that confront us in our lives. This is when we summon our courage and bravery, and face these challenges head on, so that we may conquer these proverbial dragons. It's funny, before my children attended the Waldorf school, and before I knew much about Michaelmas, I had this picture someone had given me from a "Lord of the Rings" calendar that was a painting of Eowyn slaying the Nazgul and his dragon, and I often put it up where I could see it and take courage from it to aid in all my endeavors this time of year.
This week, our Waldorf school put on their annual Michaelmas play of the Legend of Saint George and the Dragon. All of the grades participate, playing parts in unison. The first graders are the gnomes, the second and third graders are the farmers, and so on. The only individuals are St. George, the King, the Queen, and the Princess. Here is how the story goes:
The procession comes marching down the stone steps to the lower field led by the first grade gnomes.
The farmers, played by the second and third grades, perform their dances and songs of the apple orchards and harvest time.
The King and Queen address the village on the matter of the dragon who has been terrorizing them. Someone must be given as a sacrifice, and the Princess loses the blind contest. She bravely offers her life to appease the dragon and walks down the road to meet her fate.
As she walks down the road, she meets St. George riding along on his steed, who says he will slay the dragon and save her life.
The villagers march and sing songs of battle.
Streaming comets of St. Michael's meteoric iron fall from the sky...
And the gnomes use the iron to fashion St. Michael's sword, which they present to St. George.
St. George marches off to meet the dragon, sword in hand.
The dragon appears in the distance.
St. George boldly tames the dragon, and saves the Princess and the Village.
The Michaelmas Play is a tradition I truly enjoy at our school. Year after year, the community gathers in the field to sit on blankets and watch the performance, sharing a picnic afterwards. As the children grow, they will get to play a new part with their class, and see the younger children playing the role they were in the previous year. It's a real measuring of growing up for them, when they look at the gnomes and realize they were that young once, and how far they have come since. I think it's important that we have this time to recognize and honor the brave deeds we do in everyday life, whether they be small or large. Michaelmas is a time to reflect on these and give ourselves some appreciation for what we have accomplished, and the feats of bravery that lie ahead. Good luck with those dragons!