Michaelmas is September 29th and in the Christian liturgical year reflects the Equinox in the natural cycle of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the beginning of Autumn and the overcoming of light by darkness. Our soul’s natural task at this time of year relates to the inner experience of the struggle between inner light and inner darkness.
This is the festival of the Archangel Michael. Michael is the Protector/Warrior, the Dragonslayer and the being of Cosmic Intelligence. He is the Face of God. Islam, Christianity and Judaism revere Michael.
Sadly, in our modern world little attention is paid to Michaelmas and our souls suffer for it. Michaelmas gives us courage. Michael protects us. Michael is a model for facing the darkness, demons and dragons within our souls and our material world. Michael represents the intelligence to move out of our personal stories and into a pure relationship with our destiny. Michaelmas gives us the strength of will to face moral development, inner growth and the incredible redemptive power of forgiveness. We can slay dragons and we can tame dragons and we can actually know the difference between the two deeds.
I became aware of Michaelmas when I was 37. My children had just begun their Waldorf Education and so had I. Waldorf Schools celebrate Michaelmas as a festival recognizing the strength of will in the human spirit. The celebrations reflect on the slaying of the dragon. I didn’t quite know what I thought about this festival or the Archangel Michael but part of me, my soul, wanted to pay attention. Now 23 years later, I am writing about Michaelmas and the Soul here in my blog and this Tuesday evening, I will be giving a Michaelmas talk in NYC.
As this blog indicates, I feel the importance of awareness of the cycle of the seasons of the soul. The soul’s reflection of Nature gives our inner life and our practical life in the world an invaluable organizing principle, grounding framework and cosmic flow. There was a time when the human soul was innately and naively sensitive to the spirit living behind and within nature. We then evolved a capacity for the intellectual mastery of the world, the denial of the creative forces of spirit and the domination of nature. Now we seem to have evolved to a place where we are willing to consciously reconnect, to choose to attend to the spiritual forces living in nature and the spiritual freedom living in our own souls.
I live in Jersey City. It is urban with a capital U. Jersey City is an extension of New York City. But Jersey city is also the home of Liberty State Park – 1,212 acres of nature on New York Harbor. The park faces the Statue of Liberty. Liberty State Park is one of the amazing places on the planet. Earth – water, air and fire (the sun and the torch in Lady Liberty’s hand) are present in vast expanses and surrounded by spectacular manmade, earth bound structures and institutions.
At least five mornings a week I spend an hour walking in the park – the boardwalk along the bay and into the salt marshes and meadows. Nature nurtures my senses and my soul on these mornings. Now the meadows are filled with Michaelmas Daisies and the rich golds, reds and purples of early fall.
How aware are you of the relationship between the thresholds of nature and the thresholds of soul that exists at this time of year? What do you feel living in your soul? What kind of energies and emotions do you feel? Nature is beginning to drive you away from the outer environment and into the inner environment of your soul life and your relationship with darkness. How do you meet your inner dragons, your inner darkness? What kind of Cosmic Intelligence can we connect with to move us compassionately and courageously through this inner journey? Michael waits to give us some guidance and direction.
Here are some thoughts I have on these questions.
What are your dragons? How do you slay them as protector or tame them with cosmic intelligence?
How does the Michaelic Spirit live in you as courageous will?
Many of you are warriors. You are fighting battles, moral battles with moral dragons. You will attack lies and oppressions and you will defend rights and innocence. You do noble, incredibly noble, deeds, or, perhaps, you only think noble deeds and for some reason find little force to carry out that which you feel such a strong impulse to achieve.
Often you are one of the wounded warriors. You were wounded in your initiation into the battleground of the soul or you are wounded in the course of your moral and personal battle engagements. Yet, somehow, you sustain your inspiration and your commitment. Your heart rings true even though your actions fail to give evidence or truth or power to your imagination.
Before you condemn yourself, find self-compassion. Look at your wounds. Look at your needs. Michael is a friend of our souls. He represents self-compassion and urges restorative gestures. Michael’s sword serves self-compassion. You can ask Michael for guidance.
With our economic drama and potential devastation, in the US and worldwide, how do we restore our moral economy? Is this not a time to call upon the Michaelic forces of courage and cosmic intelligence?
We are facing challenges and questions that many of us have never considered. Our times are making moral and inner demands of our consciousness and soul life so that our material life begins to reflect our inner truth, beauty and goodness.
Michael can give us guidance as we think about materialism, greed, consumerism. Michael can give us courage as we wonder how we adapt to the threats and realities of dramatic changes in our material lives, how we witness and respond to changes in the material realities of our neighbors and the world. We, the world, are on a threshold right now. How we cross this personal and global threshold will be a Michaelic tale of strength or weakness.
So I realize I have moved between the personal, the collective and the cosmic in my writing. I have not made it easy or comfortable for you. I wish that Michaelmas was a time of comfort. It is not. Michaelmas is a time when we confront dilemmas and confusions. We must face dragons, inner dragons in our soul and outer dragons in our social, political and economic environments. But Michaelmas also declares the role of intelligence, compassion and courage.
Take time this season to consider your relationship to Michaelic courage, Michaelic compassion and Michaelic intelligence.
Here is a video I created for the International Day of Peace – September 21. From a Michaelic perspective every day is a day we need to bring a conscious sense of peace to our thoughts, feelings and deeds. The audio on the video is a beautiful expression of John Lennons’s Imagine. I tried to capture the mood of the lyrics in the visual images. Look at the video and bring an awareness of your sense of the making of peace during the Michaelic Season.