Some of you may be familiar with fiber artist and teacher Judy Forster from her handwork shop on Etsy called Mama’s Jude’s Plant Dyed Stuff (http://www.mamajudes.etsy.com ) and a post she wrote for this blog some time ago here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/03/28/handwork/. Today she is sharing her personal reflections upon St. John’s Tide.
Judy Forster grew up in a family where all kinds of Handwork were important and appreciated. While working as an adjunct instructor of English, she was happily recruited to her first position teaching Handwork at the Susquehanna Waldorf School where her son was a kindergarten student and her husband had taught German. She completed the first Applied Arts training offered in the United States at Sunbridge College. Over the years, Judy has taught Handwork to students of all ages in Waldorf schools and private schools, for homeschool Collectives, and at summer camps. She is currently working at home while enjoying time with her younger daughter; her son is now graduated from college. Judy teaches homeschool students, homeschool parents, and runs her on-line business for naturally plant dyed stuff at Mama Jude’s Plant Dyed Stuff.
This is Judy’s meditation on the meaning that St. John’s Tide holds for her:
I wanted to share some things in general about St. John’s (the Summer Solstice). Some of what I am writing can be found in the book All Year Round. Other sources include Summer (from Wynstone Press), Waldorf Education, A Family Guide, and an old book I have titled Earth Wisdom. I’d like to share some of the impulse behind the celebration of St. John’s. It begins in very ancient times when folks recognized this as the longest and in many areas the hottest time of the year. People would build bonfires to help in the renewal of the sun’s energy. By jumping the fire, one could burn away woes and weakness. This festival of the “strongest sun” is in balance with the Winter Solstice, a time when we really need Light to return. For a very, very long time, people have done things such as place stone markers to show streams of light on these two days at sunrise or sunset. Even many early churches in Europe would have this feature—where sunlight streams into the building in certain places to commemorate these sacred times of the year.
St. John was a very Holy man who helps us prepare a way for Light to come into our lives. He felt that we should “practice helpfulness to all mankind, spend not all you have upon yourselves….Be honest in your work….Do not increase for selfish gain….Do violence to no one.” The image of the “seed” is often associated with St. John’s. We make fertile the soil in our hearts that the seeds of Summer can grow into the truth, beauty, and goodness of our lives.
Personally, I am using this festival to help me focus on what is important in my life—my own inner life, my marriage, my parenting, my community, my teaching, my work. Are there habits, thoughts, practices that I can leave behind? What is most important? I will leave you with this quote from All Year Round.
The most noble quality of fire is its ability to transform substance. In the
alchemy of the soul, there is always the possibility that the dross in our
lives may be changed into something more precious. By “burning up” what
is unfruitful within us, we gain the strength to rise above ourselves, to
jump over our own inner St. John’s Fire.
— Ms. Judy
Thank you to Ms. Judy for sharing her words of wisdom, and many blessings to you all,