Happy Martinmas!

I have been posting some links for lantern making and Martinmas songs on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, and the big day is today!  Happy Veteran’s Day to my U.S. readers and Happy Martinmas to everyone! We will be doing our Lantern Walk in a few weeks, so today we can celebrate at home. Every festival celebration at home has, to me, a few components:

  • Handwork for the festival – in this case, beautiful lanterns and there are so many ways to make them!
  • Music – all those wonderful Martinmas songs
  • Story – you can tell the simple story of Martin, or there is a book on Amazon, which I am excited to check out because it seems like this is one festival where there is a lack of books.  No affiliation, but here is the link:  Snow on Martinmas
  • Food – for Martinmas, I like to keep it simple with a warming soup and warmed apple cider, and warm homemade pretzels are lovely for a group of lantern walkers
  • Any special elements – in this case, the Lantern Walk is special to this holiday, but so are things such as warm coat drives.

How to Have  A Lantern Walk In Four Super Easy Steps

If you have time to plan ahead, have participants learn the Lantern Walk songs!  This is the biggest trouble most people have at Lantern Walks  – if there isn’t a core group that knows the songs, it all kind of falls apart.

If people don’t have lanterns, you could always have a lantern-making session before your walk!

Light lanterns, sing and walk in the darkness.  It’s beautiful! Make sure the walk itself is long enough.  If you have tiny children, short may be fine, but older children appreciate a little longer. If you have a big community and some trails in the woods, it can be fun to have the adults come together before and set beautiful lanterns hanging from the trees as well (usually glass!)

Have some warm soup, cider, pretzels or gingerbread and celebrate together!

It’s such a beautiful festival!

Many blessings,

Carrie

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All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

Honoring the past.

Honoring our ancestors.

Honoring the goodness in people now departed.

In this world that often feels chaotic and crazy, holding on to the ideals of the good people who have come before us can be a small lifeline of grounding and stability.

I hear from people all the time who don’t feel as if they have this within their family lines.  Maybe their family ancestors, at least those that they know of, aren’t who they want to be or who inspires them.  That’s why I think sometimes a spiritual practice can be so helpful, and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day can be wonderful stepstones towards thankfulness and gratitude.

On All Saints’ Day, we remember those known and unknown who were holy.   I often think of how I can align with those known and unknown saints who stood up for the the right, the visionaries, the idealists.  What is my right, my vision, my ideal?  What people showed courage over fear, bravery over cowardice, and made a difference in the world?

In the Celtic Calendar, this day was called Samhain and was the beginning of the New Year. This beginning  implies that it is a space that hangs between the Old Year and the New.  This is how we began to see the boundary between the living and the dead can be blurred as we offer our great respect to those who have come before us.  The tradition of offering “soul cakes” to the dead began  out of great respect for the dead in many countries.  I also think this ties in with the warmth of the season – how do we show respect to the life before us?  Is it food, remembering, lighting candles, offering a prayer?  Death is part of Life, and finding a relationship between those two things is often something people try to avoid.  Yet, this is something that should be propelling what we do today – how do we take care of each other and the Earth as we don’t have forever here physically.

Create a beautiful harvest, an altar of remembrance, have a harvest dinner, plant some flower bulbs for the promise of spring!  Happy All Saints’ and All Souls’ from my family to yours.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

The Season Of Light

I love this time of year! Finally, the temperatures have finally dropped here in the Deep South, it hasn’t rained for too many days in a row yet (winters have tended to be rainy the past few years), and we still have had blue skies most days!  The leaves are finally turning colors, and the world is full of October.

But even more than that, I love this season of light we are entering into. I love how it begins with the ideas of harvest and jack o’lanterns, and heads into the festivals of All Saints Day, Diwali, Martinmas with its Lantern Walk, the soft candles of Thanksgiving dinner, and the lights of the winter holiday season.

Are you ready to bring this light to your family? Here are some of my favorite ways, by festival and by seasonal ideas:

Diwali is actually coming up on October 27, 2019 this year.  We usually celebrate this within our neighborhood. There is also usually a large celebration at our local library, and at our local mandir that is open to the public.   The largest mandir outside of India happens to be in my metro area, and it is always open for tours; you can read more about it here.

I don’t love Halloween, (sorry, I know many do), but I do love harvest and pumpkins (and i do have a few back posts about Halloween on this blog if you are searching).  I so like  what the book “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz says about experiencing Halloween as a transition point between Michaelmas and Martinmas:  “The candle inside the pumpkin or turnip, both fruits of the earth, is like the very last memory and afterglow of the summer sun with its ripening strength.  Then for Martinmas a candle is lit within the home-made lantern; this is the first glow of a light with a completely different nature, the first spark of inner light.”   The holiday we actually celebrate the most is All Saints Day and you can read some of our traditions in this back post.

November 11 is Martinmas.   Martinmas marks the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD).    St. Martin may be well-known for his compassionate gesture of sharing his cloak with a beggar.  This charitable gesture is at the heart of this festival for many Waldorf schools, who hold coat drives and other charitable drives around this festival. One symbol of this is working with light from lanterns in the traditional Lantern Walk.

Regarding Lantern Walks, the authors of the book “All Year Round” write:  “The traditional way of celebrating Martinmas is with lantern walks or processions, accompanied by singing.  St. Martin recognized the divine spark in the poor man of Amiens, and gave it the protection of his own cloak.  When we make a paper lantern, we, too, may feel that we are giving protection to our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world.  It may only be a small and fragile light- but every light brings relief to the darkness.”  There is more about this festival with links to stories, how to make lanterns, the idea of coat drives and warmth and more in this post.

Then that leads into the gratitude of Thanksgiving in the United States; Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the and , championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the Thursday in the month of November in 1863.  We can use this holiday for gratitude, for being together and making wonderful food, and for serving others.

Lastly, we head into the Season of Light.  My family celebrates Advent, so I have many posts about Advent but also other different winter festivals on this site.  Here is a back post about Advent and other Winter Festivals in the Waldorf Home but there are many back posts about each specific winter holiday (St. Nicholas Day, the weeks of Advent, Winter Solstice).  If you are looking for Winter Solstice ideas, try this back post as the reader comments with ideas were terrific!

This is a wonderful time to draw inward, and to really penetrate what you want these festivals to be about for your family and how you will celebrate these special times of closeness together.

I can’t wait to hear what you have planned!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Michalemas Is Almost Here!

“Spring and Summer require of man that he give himself up to Nature; man lives his way out of himself and into Nature. Autumn and Winter would have man withdraw into his own human domain and set over against the death and decay of Nature the resurrection of the forces of soul and spirit. Spring and Summer are the time of man’s Nature-consciousness; Autumn and Winter are the times when he must experience his own human self-consciousness.” – lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Michael and the Dragon, found compiled in Festivals and Their Meaning IV Michalemas.

Michalemas is often celebrated in Waldorf Schools and around the world as a festival of courage.  Indeed, as the darkness descends and the days become longer, we hope we can take in the sunshine and strength of the meteor showers of August, the growth of summer, for strength and fortitude into the darker spiraling days of autumn and winter.  Autumn and winter can be an time of intense personal and spiritual work; just as children’s physical bodies often grow during the summer and as we go back to school we remark how tall all of the children have become, this time can now be the time of spiritual examination and growth for us as we move forward in our purpose in the world.  Our special day is September 29th for this festival, but the season of Michaelmas itself extends for months.

Of course, none of this is directly told to the children, but they sense this idea of courage and growth with the Michaelmas festivals, the songs about “a knight and a lady”, the taming of the dragon at school or in their homeschool group. This is based upon  St. Michael, one of the four archangels, and who was the angel who threw Lucifer out of Heaven.  He is  seen as the Angel of Courage, the Angel of the Fight Against Evil.  Take courage for the long, cold winter from Saint Michael!  Saint Michael usually is painted as riding a white steer, carrying a heavenly sword, and slaying a dragon.  Sometimes he is portrayed as carrying scales, because he also has the task of weighing the souls of men.

The Wikipedia definition cites where Michael fits into Christianity, Islam and the Jewish religions (and more,) here:

Michael (Hebrew: מִיכָאֵל‎, Micha’el or Mîkhā’ēl; Greek: Μιχαήλ, Mikhaḗl; Latin: Michael or Míchaël; Arabic: میکائیل‎, Mikā’īl) is an archangel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He is viewed as the field commander of the Army of God….The Talmudic tradition rendered Michael’s name as meaning “who is like El?”, – so Michael could consequently mean “One who is like God.” But its being a question is alternatively understood as a rhetorical question, implying that no one is like God.”

If you would like to read more, here is the link to the full entry:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_%28archangel%29

And indeed, on this Sunday, the 29th, the Western Church celebrates The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and the Jewish religion begins the beautiful holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

Some traditional ways to celebrate Michaelmas with children include:

  • Start learning Michaelmas songs and verses.  Try Autumn Wynstones and many other traditional Waldorf books for ideas.  You may also have hymns or music within your own religious path.
  • Look for Michaelmas Daisies.
  • Have Harvest Foods. (This used to include roasting a goose – tell me, my European readers, does it still??)
  • Tell stories about Saint Michael  or St. George.
  • St. George is  the Earthly counterpart to Saint Michael – you could make Saint George tunics (white pillowcases with red crosses sewn on).  Swords and shields are also customary,
  • You could dye capes from marigolds for the big day.
  • You could make a Courage Salve from Calendulas.
  • You could do something that requires bravery that day – a hike, an obstacle course?   How about a scavenger hunt for Dragon Tears?
  • Making dragon bread is very traditional. There is a lovely bread recipe and  corresponding story in the festival book “All Year Round”.
  • You can make Michaelmas Candles, see page 143 of “All Year Round”
  • Crafting “shooting stars” and dragons are also traditional.

For adults, the work of this season is deeper.  If you are a parent, I urge you to pray and meditate over your children and their growth toward goodness, kindness, beauty, truth, responsibility and duty, and most of all self-control and compassion towards others.  It is a wonderful time for spiritual growth as a family in whatever way this is meaningful to you all as we will be heading into a season of Light for the world.

For my own personal spiritual work, I have a book I am working on out of my Epsiscopalian traditions – “The Four Vision Quests of Jesus” by Rev. Steven Charleston, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma,  who is an Episcopalian priest ordained at the Standing Rock Rservation and who has served as the director for Native American ministries in the Episcopal Church.  (Link on Amazon)

Rudolf Steiner said in the lecture “The Michael Imagination” found in “Festivals and Their Meaning IV Michalemas”,  “We must learn to know this process as the expression of the inner conflict of Michael with the Dragon; we must learn to raise this process into consciousness. Something has then come about to which the Michael Festival may be linked. But it must first be there, be fully understood, inwardly, deeply understood. Then it will be possible to celebrate the Michael Festival in the way a festival drawn from the cosmos can be celebrated by men. Then we shall have the knowledge which is really able to see something in iron other than what the chemist of to-day or the mechanic sees in it. Then we shall have what teaches us how to take in hand the iron in our own organism, in the inner part of our human nature. Then we shall have the majestic picture of Michael in battle with the sulphurous Dragon, of Michael with the flaming sword of iron, as an inspiring impulse to what man must become, if he is to develop the forces of his evolution for progress and not for decline.”

May we all be learning and progressing forward for the goodness and beauty of our children and their generation, and for the progress of all of humanity.

Many blessings for a happy season of strength,
Carrie

Whitsunday: The Wild Goose

When we had Leonbergers, we frequently took them to our closest large lake to swim.  We swam on days in the late summer and early autumn when the leaves were changing and no one was really around.  One day I pulled up to the lake, ready for our preschooler and baby and dog to swim, only to find our car literally surrounded by so many geese I couldn’t open the door.  Our dog was lying peacefully on the floor, but once I made the decision to open the door, she sprang into action and chased the geese not only away from the car, but jumped into the lake, furiously paddling with that spent up energy from chasing the unpredictable birds.

As an Episcopalian, our strongest roots may be in the Celtic Church.  On Sunday, our priest mentioned that for the Feast of Pentecost (Whitsunday), Celtic Christians associated this festival not with a dove, but with a wild goose. The account of Pentecost – bewildering, astonishing – was seen as symbolized not as much with peace but as with perhaps fiery new beginnings, a sense of wonder and astonishment, a sense of  the untamed and wild.  What would happen next in the big story of the lives of these people, the world?

As we come into the season of Summer (and in the church calendar “Ordinary Time”), I often see the expansiveness and new beginnings of this time of year.  Children grow so much physically over the summer, and go back to school ready to begin new material, new growth.  Summer can be a time for casting off the old, and making room for the new. This can be a time of unparalled strength and creativity.  Here are some beautiful cross-cultural images to help you get started.  If you create something, please post it here or on the FB thread on The Parenting Passageway FB page.  I would love to honor you and your creation!

So, in that vein, I wish you time to create every day – whether that creation is in art, in music, in writing, in care of your home, in care of your neighbors.  Enjoy this beautiful season.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

june abloom

I love June – beaches, lakes, and pools.  Puffy and fluffly clouds sitting on blue skies. Glowing fireflies, campfires, and friends.  June is a wonderful month.

This month we will be celebrating:

The Slow Summer – think lakes and pools, tubing, horseback riding, camping, spending time with family and friends. All of my favorite things in one month!  Here is a wonderful guest post by Christine Natale, Master Waldorf Teacher and author about creating the magical summer

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

How to Celebrate:

  • I am enjoying decluttering many homeschool books.  I am on my last child to homeschool and he will be in fourth grade, so I feel like it is time to let some resources go.
  • Blueberry Picking
  • Kayaking, boating, going to the beach (at the lake, no chance to drive to our nearest beach)
  • Enjoying time on the farm with horses
  • Being together – game nights; movie nights with our older teens
  • Chalk and bubbles for our rising fourth grader, who is enjoying just playing.

The teaching fun:

  • Yup, it is time to gather up the high school transcripts for our oldest who will be a senior in the fall.  She has visited all the colleges she wanted to visit, and now we need to get the transcripts and applications together.
  • I am teaching a group of teachers at a local Waldorf homeschooling enrichment program this month.  That brings me energy and should be fun.
  • I start my own journey as a student again in July for a certification in physical therapy for the pelvic floor.  Lots to do there!
  • And, I have homeschool planning to do.  I have been posting about that on FB and IG, and go in spurts, so I need to jump back in this week with more doing.
  • We are still homeschooling until  at least the end of June and possibly into the second week of July as we have some things to finish up.  That’s just the way that worked out this year.  It isn’t my ideal, because I like the break for myself, but sometimes it happens. 🙂

Inner Work:

I have been super focused on having gratitude.  This includes affirmations, writing down things I am grateful for large and small, and reaching out to people to whom I am grateful and who had an impact upon my life.  It’s a lovely month to do this.

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,
carrie

ideas for the first week of eastertide

The season of Eastertide lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost on June 9th this year, which of course also corresponds with traditional and pre-existing Jewish feasts.  These 50 days, no matter what your spiritual or religious traditions,  seems to be a wonderful time for renewal and new beginnings.

Easter Monday is often a religious holiday in many countries, but it isn’t in the United States. (I was so tired yesterday and wishing it was a holiday!) If you have leeway or such, you might consider using a vacation day for this day and enjoy it being outside with your family.  You could even eat your meals outside after the long period of Lent.  Gather the family on this special day!

Other ideas for the first week of Eastertide:

  • Dye eggs!
  • This is a good time for egg races!  Take your dyed eggs and find a hill and see who can get to the bottom first.
  • This week is a great time to set up a little gratitude jar to keep track of all the wonderful in the ordinary for these 50 days if that is not something you ordinarily do
  • How about setting up a little Easter tree?  There are a number of ways to make egg ornaments just by searching on Pinterest.
  • Spend time outside in nature; consider getting up early for sunrises.
  • Make prayer and meditation a priority; I like religious themes but also the ideas of new beginnings.  What does the idea of new beginnings look like to you?
  • Make Easter bread – it is a perfect time, even if it is past Easter Day.

Blessings and love,

Carrie