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The arrival of the Perseid meteor showers signals the start of autumn. The days are now noticeably shorter and the temperature drops. The heady, leisurely days of summer are over, and thoughts turn to more serious things. It must have been a time of reckoning for our ancestors.
They would have a sense of how much food they had after the harvest and what they had to bring them through the winter to next spring. Food would have to be stored and preserved. Portioned out. If it was a terrible summer (such as this one was), then the following months would be dangerous ones. Or perhaps there was a delight in an abundant year and a quiet celebration that there would be less of a hardship in the cold, long, dark end of winter months would have been the satisfaction of the village.
Because of this, this time of the year has traditionally been associated with not only the harvest, but courage – to take up your sword and meet the challenges that lie ahead. There was gratitude, of course, but there was also a steeling of resolve.
In Steiner schools the world over, this is known as the Michaelmas term and September is the time of the Michaelmas challenges. This is because Michael was the archangel of balance – light and dark (think of the autumnal equinox) – and vanquishing the forces of darkness.
Taking inspiration from this, our curriculum in September will be inspired by the harvest, foraged food, and dragons.
Dragons are very interesting aren’t they? In medieval iconography they are not slayed, but tamed. It was thought that if you are able to tame your dragon, you are well on your way to self possession. The Tibetians called this riding the wind-horse of lung-ta.
Dragons aren’t all bad of course. In China, they are seen as a symbol of extremely good luck! If you are born in the year of the Dragon, you are considered EXTREMELY lucky. Nevertheless dragons are a symbol of power and enormous potential.
Here are some very famous dragons:
In Spirited Away, Haku is a river which was concreted over and therefore had lost his way. In Chinese and East Asian mythology – even Hindu mythology – dragons known as loong or nagas – are associated with not fire, but water and the air. They bring the rains or untold destruction in the form of floods. Dragons are protectors and ward off evil. They are often seen alongside phoenixes.
Dragons in the West are associated with wonderful lore, including the hoarding of gold. Because gold cannot be set on fire and is a soft metal, dragons would use them as the bedding. In the most famous of myths and literature, the dragon which guarded the treasure which Siegfried sought, was slayed by him. When he tasted the blood of the roasting heart he was able to understand the language of the birds. This dragon reappears in Beowulf. The dragon in the Hobbit is based directly on these two giants of classic mythology.
Dragons in Norse mythology appear as protectors. The Viking longships were famously carved with dragons as mastheads.
The Mother of Dragons weirdly has a connection with Chinese Literature where Nu Kwa the Chinese goddess of order is able to create the world from chaos. There are of course any number of females who are associated with serpents – from Eve and Lilith in the Bible to the female nagas of Hindu mythology.
So come along for a Forest School experience which isn’t just about being outdoors, but also infusing meaning to the outdoors. Reconnecting not just physically and intellectually, but on a soul and spirit level too!!!
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