Organized for Peace Part One

This is the beginning of the holiday season as we turn toward our inward light during the darker nights. I love this time of year, having a cozy home and being home, and am planning to make the most of this time by organizing for peace. I hope you can join me, and if you blog or are on social media please drop a link to your own household and life organizing below.

You might be thinking this is a busy time of year and feels hard to get organized, but I think it can be done and an amazing way to head into a new year. I know a lot of people whose 2022 was one they would rather not repeat, so what better way than to think, dream, and create new spaces and new beginnings?

I have two threads going on in my home right now. One is holiday preparation and one is preparing for some of the big things for the new year that I really want to accomplish.

For holiday planning:

  1. I am planning simply. I am ordering online for the teens and young adults in my life a few things, and everything else will be handmade. If you want some ideas for handmade gifts, please follow my pinterest board here:
  2. We are decorating little by little as is our custom with Advent, but in the past I found we were pretty late often with the business of end of semester and end of year things, so this year we are starting now and having a more set plan for decorating and keeping things simple. I am decorating with real greenery and orange slices and pomegranates – you will be able to follow along on my IG/Facebook if you are interested in those crafts!
  3. We are planning some fun family things. This time is precious when young adults are home from college and we want to do some simple but fun things like go look at the holiday lights, have a sweet hot chocolate/cookie decorating party with friends, game nights.

For new spaces and new beginnings:

  1. The spiritual connection –My word of the year came to me early this year (it’s “BOLD” because I have big things that are going to be happening next year!) and I started brainstorming what areas of my life that I wanted to have boldness, confidence in. I started pinterest boards for these areas, which will help me make a few lists to take MASSIVE action steps to make things happen!

2. Ideas for the coming year –I have a list of farm projects and although we don’t have a large budget to do some of the serious things that really need to be done, we can move forward in several areas. This will include arena renovations, more barn work, planting fruit and nut trees and gardening, and adding more beehives.

3. The Environment –I am getting a small dumpster as there are things here that the former owner of the property left behind when they moved that we have been cleaning up little by little, and things we have been pulling out of the pastures (tons of leftover netting from hay bales) that need to go! And once things are super organized, I want to organize our space so we can have even more food and water stored. My goal is to be able to grocery shop from our stores and grow enough produce so I don’t have to go to the grocery store frequently.

4. The new beginnings — now that we are settling in and have had horses here for a year and through seasons, we have a better idea as to how to balance working on the farm, working outside the home, homeschooling – so new rhythms will be helpful. Our basic weekly rhythm right now will be:

BASIC WEEKLY PLAN for Holidays and Winter

Exercise daily

Sunday – church/youth group or rest, indoor crafting projects (sewing, crochet, handiwork, mending) and cooking/canning projects, look ahead and prep for homeschooling week, sometimes dinner with friends
Monday – work with errands afterwards as needed, homeschooling in afternoon with extra art or handwork, teen’s outside activities as needed
Tuesday – homeschooling, after dinner is time for continuing education courses and studying
Wednesday – work and our teen has an outside program day, teen’s outside activities as needed
Thursday – homeschooling with a break to connect via Zoom to our church’s Women’s Bible Study, I usually have home visits to patients in the afternoon but if not I do outside projects or cooking and canning projects. Sometimes we have a date night on Thursday nights or it is time for continuing education courses or you tube programming regarding homesteading after dinner.
Friday – work and our teen has an outside program day
Saturday – homeschooling as needed, cleaning and outdoor projects and big chores, sometimes during the winter our teen has horseback riding lessons, friends over

And to keep our daily family life solidly centered here: https://celebratetherhythmoflife.blogspot.com/p/waldorf-family_08.html So that means sneaking in times for playing games, laughing together, doing things together

You will notice there is not a lot of prepping for homeschooling in this rhythm. This is because this is my third time through these grades and everything is fairly laid out at this point. I do most of my planning over the summer so things are ready for the school year at this point. Our yearly rhythm still revolves around the festivals and seasons.

Please share your plans and drop your links below!
Many blessings and gratitude for you all,

Carrie

Heading Toward Winter

All outside is dark and cold

But just beneath the earth

Sleep seeds from which new life spring

Bringing Nature’s gifts to birth

  • Betty Jones, from “A Child’s Seasonal Treasury”

The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the leaves on the deciduous trees have fallen. We are headed toward winter, a time of deep rest, a time of projects, a time of wonder at snow and lights and the beautiful winter sky with the skeletons of trees etched against the horizon.

We can set up a seasonal table with snow white and pink silks, crystals of quartz and amethyst, glass vases, paper snowflakes or an beautiful Advent tableau with a dark blue silk with candles and gold paper stars. The traditional Advent wreath can come out.

We are moving from a time of mourning and remembering our ancestors, the saints, those who have gone before us to a new year and a new path. We are preparing for what is to come. What are the deepest longings of your heart for the coming year? Advent can be a time of fasting and preparing and contemplating for this new beginning. I have already chosen my word of the year for 2023 (for more on that tradition, see here)..I think this is going to be a BIG year, so I chose the word BOLD. I will have one child finishing college in December 2023, another child beginning college in 2023, we will have been on our farm for two years in the spring, and with this I am making some new and different choices in the midst of this seventh seven year cycle of my own life and also returning to my roots in many ways.

I am dreaming of some kind of Waldorf homeschool opportunity for high schoolers and I am back to wanting to teach at homeschool conferences. Waldorf parenting and education is so nurturing to all family members, no matter what the age. It draws me in with its healing impulse over and over again.

What is calling you for winter?

Blessings,

Carrie

November Action Steps

Do you ever feel as if the idea of having a simple, healthy, peaceful family life with joyful and peaceful family members would involve so many things and so many steps that it seems unattainable?

Since I began this blog in 2008, I have had the sole mission of helping families find peaceful parenting in a hectic world. We began homeschooling because we wanted our children to be healthy, so the mission of The Parenting Passageway has expanded slightly over the years to include the ideas of developmental parenting and health leading to peace, and now I even have more ideas about simple living and homesteading for peace and health since we have moved to our farm in 2021.

It sounds like a lot, but it always comes back to what is healthy also promotes peace. If you have smaller children, or perhaps you have much older children like me and feel like you have lost your way a bit from the things that were mainstays when your children were smaller. Let me help you narrow your focus for this month!

If you think about the month, there is a mood to it, a theme, or seasonal arcs. To help you figure that out for your family and where you live, you can always start with the monthly anchor kinds of posts that discuss the festivals of the month and ideas for working with children for the month and adapt it. I have done this for years, but here is the latest one for November 2022: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2022/10/30/november-light/

Here are some ideas for action steps:

My advice is to get a notebook or planner and write down some of the moods, stresses, challenges, joys as you go through this month. It will help you to look back next year and remember that October was always crazy in your family or July was endless or whatever typically happens for you where you are right now. You can’t plan ahead and be proactive and lead your family if you have no idea what happened in the past.

If you are concerned about health, or maybe like me you got into homeschooling or homesteading due to concerns about health in children, try some of the ideas here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2017/11/03/homeschooling-from-rest-the-rhythm-of-health/

This month, I am focused on exercising four days a week ( I use BODI, which was formerly Beachbody on Demand. No affiliation or anything, it just works for me!) and I am still enjoying juicing: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/18/give-us-our-daily-juice/

If you are concerned about discipline, try this very early post (oldie but still a goodie!): https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/16/gentle-discipline-as-authentic-leadership/ and this one: https://theparentingpassageway.com/gentle-discipline/

If you are concerned about homeschooling over the holiday season: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2018/03/01/planning-waldorf-simple/ and this one about homeschooling in December: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/18/what-to-do-with-homeschooling-in-december/

Creating warmth in your home this month: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/11/04/warmth/

Finally, large attitude of gratitude: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/11/23/an-attitude-of-gratitude/

You can follow along in my stories on Instagram for some of the farm projects this month, and bread baking. I would love to hear what you are up to, and if you have an IG account, please drop it below!

Many blessings to you,

Carrie

November Light

November is the beginning of the season of light – Martinmas gives us a beautiful opportunity to think about how to spread light into our communities in a world of darkness.

I love November in all its crisp -leaved, golden sunset, chill temperatures perfection.  The leaves are FINALLY turning here where I live, and it feels like the beauty and coziness of fall is upon us at last.

This is a wonderful month of celebrations for our family (yes, even now that our children are 20, almost 17, and 12!)

  • November 1 and 2 – All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day
  • November 8– Election Day
  • November 11 – Martinmas (and there are many other posts about Martinmas if you use the search engine box!) It’s also Veteran’s Day, which we celebrate every day with my husband and father in law who are veterans.
  • November 20- My handsome husband’s birthday!
  • November 24- Thanksgiving
  • November 27- First Sunday in Advent
  • November 30- The Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk – you don’t need a lot of people to do a Lantern Walk! I have done Lantern Walks with just one other family and I have done Lantern Walks with over a hundred people! You an also check your local churches – if you live in an area with a German population, there may be a church holding a celebration of this day. I went to a Lantern Walk one year at a German church and they had St. Martin on his white horse and everything!
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Try the book Cranberry Thanksgiving and make cranberry bread!
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.
  • Order some woolens for your family members; my favorite place to get them is Green Mountain Organics
  • You probably already have found your hats, mittens and gloves and coats, but we are a little slower down here with cold temperatures coming later so I just did that this week!

For littles especially:

For the older children:

  • Get them involved in your autumn traditions – baking, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the birds outside, hiking, star watching, volunteering.
  • Think of traditions of gratitude and light.  Some teens may no longer love a lantern walk (although I still love it and I am an adult), but some teens might go for a big bonfire with friends on Martinmas.
  • Some thoughts:  Cultivating Gratitude in Children
  • How do we help older children internalize the spirit of helping the most needy, the most destitute, the most poor? That is the work for this age.

Inner Work:

Other Ideas for this month:

  • Get a small jump on gifts for the holidays. Here is my Pinterest Board of holiday gifts to make
  • Make sure you are still getting your Vitamin N and get out in nature!
  • Dream a little about the next school year in homeschooling 
  • I always choose a word to encompass my year – this year, my word for 2023 has arrived early. It is the word BOLD, and I have some bigger projects planned after some more busy but more fallow years here in this space. More about that later!

Many blessings and peace to you and your family,

Carrie

Learning From Homeschooling

Our children are now 21, almost 18, and 13. We have homeschooled for over 15 years at this point, with grades 1-8 at home and with varying options for high school that involved homeschooling with accreditation for outside classes local to us. Our circumstances were such that we didn’t have a Waldorf School near us, and by the time we looked at public school, we were already very entrenched in homeschooling.

People often ask me what the most valuable lessons or things that I have learned in homeschooling this long.

One thing has been to understand that honoring the development of children and trying to continue the work of the spiritual world in our children through our own homeschooling has been the biggest help in raising children that are overall healthy human beings. To see education as a way to develop an entire human being is an important thread in Waldorf Education and also to me as a Christian. Our children are here for a purpose on Earth. It is my job to not stand in the way of their development and purpose, but also to bring balance and act almost as a buffer of the things that knock children off equilibrium – whether that is media, too much sedentary time, not being outside – essentially to be on guard against the things of modern life that hinder early development, and then to be able to stand back and let the things of this world come in at the appropriate time because our children are indeed made for these times. How can they handle it in the most healthy way possible? That is the question of homeschooling.

The blocks of each grade in Waldorf homeschooling is such a huge help and guide in these areas, and to be able to study the light of the human being and the development of the human being. To be able to work with head, heart, and hands, with movement and stillness, with nature and art. This helps us rise towards goodness, truth, and beauty, and this is something I do not regret in our family life. This journey has deepened me, deepened my Christian faith, and deepened how I view the world and the people in it.

May we always and absolutely remember that our children are capable. They are kind, compassionate, generous, dependable, responsible problem solvers!

In the book “Life Is The Curriculum” by Cynthia Aldinger, she mentions a verse written by Herbert Hahn ,one of the first Waldorf teachers:

Remember daily that you are continuing the work

of the spiritual world with the children.

You are the preparers of the path for these young souls,

who wish to form their lives in these difficult times.

The spiritual world will always stand by you in this task.

This is the wellspring of strength which you so need.

Blessings,
Carrie

Halloween in the Waldorf Home

October is one of my favorite months of the year!  Here in the Deep South, we are in uncharacteristic cold snap where temperatures plummeted from the 70s (F) to in the 30’s (F). Typically at this time of year, we are just gearing up for cooler weather, the leaves on the trees changing colors and crunching under our feet, and preparations for Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are underway!

How will you celebrate this month in your homeschool?

Continue reading

October

Nature! Your maternal being

I carry in my deepest will

The fire of my will makes strong

The mettle of my spirit

And thus is born that sense of self

That steels myself to carry me

  • The Illustrated Calendar of the Soul: Meditations For the Yearly Cycle with 52 Pictures by Anne Stockton

Michaelmas is still here, calling us to become strong, to find ourselves, to carry ourselves and our inner light through the wintertide of nature and the darkness of the world. May you steel yourself to shine bright this month!

The best way to find this and do this is to set boundaries. Boundaries are where I end and where I begin. Where I can walk beside you, but I cannot be you. I find a lot of people are really struggling with boundaries, whether from childhood or from trying to parent in a different way than the very authoritarian way they were raised. If you would like to get some of your boundaries in order headed into fall and the holidays (where typically many boundary issues come up!), here are a few back posts for you:

https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/19/preparing-for-the-sixseven-year-change-the-importance-of-boundaries/

October is a golden month at the farm. The nights are crisper, we are preparing for colder weather. I just cleaned out a bunch of closets and drawers because simplicity and less clutter is cozy!

This month we are celebrating:

October 4-The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (we celebrate at church with the blessing of the animals)

October 9 – Our youngest child will be 13! Very exciting!

October 31 – Halloween, which really is low key in our house, especially on the farm because no one comes here. However, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are big!  You can see a back post about Halloween In The Waldorf Home, and this one about preparing for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

The little things that make ordinary October days magic:

Playing in the leaves

Apple picking

Pumpkin farm visits

Making pumpkin muffins and breads

Longer nights with deeper and later sleep

Warming foods

Fuzzy flannel sheets

Warm teas

Lantern making for Martinmas but I love to light lanterns in the school room as the days get darker and the darkness gets earlier and longer

Finding ideas to make for holiday gifts

Besides, the above post, I always think about:

Warmth

Warming Foods – this back post is from January, but it might give you some ideas for warming foods

Autumn Circles and Autumn tales for little ones

Make lanterns

Re-instating tea time if you lost it over summer and early fall– so warming and lovely

If you have small children, you might really enjoy this post from Liza Fox about meaningful work for toddlers

Rhythms From Scratch:

If you are wondering where I was this time of year a few years ago, try this back post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2016/10/21/october-rhythms-and-meal-planning/

Right now, I have a different schedule:

Get up, help get horses in unless my husband and daughter are doing that, feed barn cats and dogs. My high school senior drives herself to her hybrid high school. Soon we will be putting horses out during the day instead of at night, so we will feed and let them out and clean everything.

If it’s a work day, I am out the door. If it’s a school day, we usually do opening activities, math practice and language arts/ spelling practice right off the bat because it is hated and if I leave it it won’t happen, Main Lesson, read alouds. We usually take a break to check on the horses. Afternoons we usually either go to the park, our son has horseback riding lessons or 4H or we work on the farm. This season I will be setting aside several afternoons a week to create holiday gifts and create art.

At dinner time we have dinner and feed all the animals. If the horses are in, we check on them about 9 and make sure they are good for the night.

Weekly I plan something for myself – lunch or dinner with friends. This week I have a facial scheduled which I haven’t probably done in 4 years, so that’s fun. We go to church most weeks, although I do tend to take one weekend a month and stay home and clean, organize, and rest. My husband and I try to do date night a few times a month, but it’s easier for us to do that as our children are older. 🙂

Seventh grade homeschooling – the first time I went through seventh grade, I detailed what we did weekly. I did not post it in one huge block as people often take things from this website and put it in a curriculum and I figured it would be harder if the information was spread out.

My original plan was to start the year with physics, but we actually ended up starting with Medieval as we were behind from sixth grade. We also covered quite a bit of African geography. Plans are always evolving but I am planning on sticking to my initial plan for the rest of the year, although I am contemplating sneaking in a little physiology. Our seventh grader had a lot of physics last year at an outside class, so I am not sure if I will swing back to that or not or just tack on a little time this summer and review some of the major concepts with him in preparation for eighth grade.

SEPTEMBER 26-30 FALL BREAK

Week  Eight October 3-7- Renaissance

Week Nine October 10-14 – Renaissance

Week Ten October 17-21  – Renaissance

Week Eleven  October 24-28 – Renaissance and Father-Son Trip

Week Twelve  October 31-November 4 – Perspective Drawing

Week Thirteen November 7-11 – Perspective Drawing

Week Fourteen November 14-18 – Catch Up Week

NOVEMBER 21-25  THANKSGIVING BREAK 

Week Fifteen November 28-December 2 – Astronomy and Navigation

Week Sixteen December 5-9 – Astronomy and Navigation

Week Seventeen  December 12-16  – Astronomy and Navigation

DECEMBER 19- JANUARY 4  – CHRISTMAS BREAK

Week Eighteen  January 5/6 – Grammar and Writing

Week Nineteen January 9-13 – Grammar and Writing

Week Twenty January 16-January 20 – Grammar and Writing

Week Twenty One January 23-27 – Chemistry

Week Twenty Two January 30-February 3 – Chemistry

Week Twenty Three February 6-February 10 – Chemistry

FEBRUARY 13-17 WINTER BREAK

Week Twenty Four  February 20-24- Math Main Lesson

Week Twenty Five February 27-March 3- Math Main Lesson

Week Twenty Six March 6-10- Math Main Lesson

Week Twenty Seven March 13-17 – American Colonial Times

Week Twenty Eight March 20-24 – American Colonial Times

Week Twenty Nine March 27-31 – American Colonial Times

APRIL 3-7 SPRING BREAK

Week Thirty  April 10-14 – Writing (probably will base in physiology)

Week Thirty One April 17-21 – Writing

Week Thirty Two April 24-28 – Writing

Week Thirty Three May 1-5 -Writing

Week Thirty Four May 8-12 – Catch Up Week

I would love to hear what you are up to!

Blessings,

Carrie

When Life Derails: Building A Rhythm From Scratch

Sometimes life has a way of changing either dramatically and smacking us in the face, or changing so gradually that we barely recognize that it is different than it was in the past. We grow and change as a family through the seasons, for sure. But sometimes we need a hard reset to get back to our own values and the things that matter most.

This week is Michaelmas, a favorite festival of mine and I love this opportunity to think about shifting into the season. What has been lost in busyness? What has changed and required a new rhythm? What needs more time? If you feel like hiding in a blanket fort and not seeing people, how can you get some more downtime? Where is the time for yourself?

This has been a busy time of life for me personally. I really ramped up during the pandemic with working and moving to a farm, plus still homeschooling and obligations with our other children, it seems kind of whirlwind.

So, I am looking ahead to October and seeing what I can do to tame things. It should be calmer, but I am also making it calmer. If I wait for things to calm down, at least with the ages that our children are, that could be a long time!

Here are a few things I am doing and maybe they will help you:

  1. Scheduling exercise 4-5 times a week. Not negotiable even if things are crazy.
  2. Back to meal planning and batch cooking, which fell off in September.
  3. Keeping our homeschooling times as non negotiable times.
  4. Scheduling farm work times daily for routine tasks. The list of special projects is often overwhelming, and the projects require money, so while not everything on that list can really happen, maybe small pieces of it can as we break projects down into pieces.
  5. Scheduling appointments, things around our place of worship, and seeing friends for October now so they don’t get shoved aside. Also, if I schedule them across a month I can see how busy or calm it is and how I need to balance things to make the month match my energy.
  6. I have patients that email and ask me to make space in my schedule for them. I started a cancel list rather than keep adding to my hours. If I burnout, no one will be seen and treated.
  7. Set one goal for each area (for me – farm, patient care/continuing education, homeschooling) this month that I would like to see happen. Find the top focus in each area.
  8. Prioritize rest and sleep. Rather than continuing to go at warp speed, honor my body and emotional state.

What is helping you shift into the season where you live?

Blessings,

Carrie

Taking Your Time Back

I firmly believe in parenting that there are seasons to everything. Some seasons or years are being at home (especially, for example, when you have younger children). Some seasons are expansive. Some seasons might be about you and your partner – I have friends who just had the summer of “husband and wife” and traveled.

This time of Michaelmas is a calling back to our inner most selves as we prepare for winter and prepare for rest and being in our homes more.

In my season of having very different things happening – running up to our daughter’s college for varying things this fall, senior year for our middle, seventh grade activities, working, homesteading and running an equine business – I have needed some different tools to keep myself on track. I am trying these out this fall:

  1. Menu planning. I always was a good menu planner but somehow got off track with moving to the farm last year. Back to planning!
  2. Blocking out days to be home with a big “X” on my calendar. I usually see patients even on the weekend, so it’s important I garner some time at home.
  3. Blocking out self-care – I have tried this all different ways. I do better with exercise classes outside the home so it doesn’t get shoved aside and is more treated like an appointment.
  4. Not scheduling things during our homeschooling hours.
  5. Making time with my husband a priority. It’s easy to lose each other because we have to divide and conquer so much of the time.
  6. Keeping to the rhythm of the year. I find it very nourishing!
  7. My calendar is blocked off into spring and the end of the school year with some things, and I try to schedule out exercise and self care at the beginning of each month.

I would love to hear some ways you keep yourself on track as far as your time!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Michaelmas: The Inner Work

Michaelmas is celebrated in the Western Church and in Waldorf Schools on September 29. In Waldorf Schools these days this festival is celebrated with themes of bravery and courage, of the idea of slaying dragons as a physical embodiment of overcoming challenges.

The season of Michaelmas, for me, really lasts from a few weeks before Michaelmas until a week or so before Halloween.  In honor of this occasion, I have been reading the words of Rudolf Steiner from his lectures  collected and entitled, “Michaelmas and the Soul- Forces of Man”  In the fourth lecture, he relates the four major festivals of the year:  Michaelmas, Christmas, Easter and St. John’s.  He says, “ Easter: death, then resurrection; Michaelmas: resurrection of the soul, then death. This makes of the Michael Festival a reversed Easter Festival. Easter commemorates for us the Resurrection of Christ from death; but in the Michael Festival we must feel with all the intensity of our soul: In order not to sleep in a half-dead state that will dim my self-consciousness between death and a new birth, but rather, to be able to pass through the portal of death in full alertness, I must rouse my soul through my inner forces before I die. First, resurrection of the soul — then death, so that in death that resurrection can be achieved which man celebrates within himself.”

You can read these four lectures for yourself here:  http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/MichSoul/MiSoul_index.html  There is also this really interesting collection of articles, lectures, verses and stories all about Michaelmas available in  Waldorf Journal Project #15, edited by David Mitchell.  You can find that here:   http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/WJP15.pdf

I love this festival as one that illuminates the soul into the winter, takes up the challenges in front of us as we wind our way ahead in the dark to help us find that small space of courage and bravery that lets us know we are not defeated yet. We have not given up yet. Imagine a humanity where this was the theme before us of overcoming, of bringing new into the world. I may be attacked along the way of this new birth and new bringing, but I am not decimated. I can move forward.

There is a very old Polish legend about St. Michael converting his sword into a lyre. A lyre is often seen as an instrument that works to harmonize the threefold capacities of mankind: thinking, feeling, and willing. The strings of St. Michael’s lyre will be made from the valiant thoughts of mankind. You can see a version of this legend here: http://lyreassociation.org/blog/2017/12/5/st-michael-the-crescent-moon-and-the-lyre#:~:text=Michael%20will%20stand%20on%20the%20crescent.%20As%20a,He%20will%20perform%20his%20office%20as%20%E2%80%9Cheavenly%20lyrist.%22

These are lovely spiritual ideas to bring forth in our inner work this month.

Here are some physical, tangible ideas for celebrating Michaelmas with your children from young to teens.

We have done all sort of things over years past:

  • Made felted shooting star balls
  • Made dragon bread
  • Dyed capes and sashes either golden yellow with natural dyes or red
  • Had obstacle courses
  • Hunted for “dragon tears”
  • Made dragons out of felt
  • Made dragons out of thin modeling material and put it on candles
  • Made blackberry crisp
  • Had puppet shows with older children presenting for younger children
  • Had music and verses specific to Michaelmas
  • We have made Calendula Courage Salve.
  • In accordance with our religious tradition, we have shared stories of angels and verses and prayers about angels from The Bible and other sources of tradition within our church.
  • We have told many stories of St. Michael and the Star Children, Little Boy Knight, St. George and the Dragon.  There are so many wonderful stories and legends!

Other ideas:

**Stress doing good for others during this four-week period.  In the book, “Festivals With Children,” Brigitte Barz talks about bringing a balancing scale into the children’s space with dark stones on one side and helping the child choose a task each day to  help the archangel.  In this way, different stones can be added to the other side of the balance and hopefully by Michaelmas, the scale will be in complete balance.

**Make kites to fly.  This has been associated with Michaelmas for some time.

**Make a dragon out of clay or modeling beeswax

**Decorate a candle with a Michaelmas theme with the thin modeling candle wax.

**Tell fairy tales to the grades-aged children that fit into Michaelmas:  The Devil With The Three Golden Hairs, The Drummer, The Crystal Ball, The Two Brothers, Sleeping Beauty are all suggested.

**For children ages 9 and up, find Christine Natale’s story “The Golden Soldier”.  You can find Christine’s work here.

**For even older children, Parsifal is read in eleventh grade, so those 16 or so may enjoy this tale.

**Tell stories about St. George, a brave knight, who is a human symbol of this conflict of slaying and taming dragons; the personification of carrying inner light at a time when the outward light is diminishing

** For tiny children, try Suzanne Down’s story “The Brave Little Knight” or  the story “The Far Country” in the back of the book “All Year Round” for those five and up.

**Make plans to make “dragon bread” or a Michaelmas Harvest Loaf.  There is a story to go with this in the book “All Year Long”

**Learn Michaelmas songs.    There are some good ones in the Wynstones Autumn Book and yes, also on You Tube!

Most of all, 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.

Thinking thoughts of courage and bravery,

Carrie