The song that accompanies this time of year in the early years is usually this one.
The Knight and the Lady went riding one day,
Far into the forest away, away,
Dear Knight said the Lady I pray have a care,
This forests is evil beware, beware,
The Knight slew the dragon
The Lady was gay,
They rode off together away, away.
One child is the Knight and one the Lady. One is the dragon in the middle of the circle who acts fiercely like a dragon. Then the Knight takes his sword and touches it to the dragon, who then lays down.
The first time I watched this in my daughter's kindergarten I had mixed feelings. She let both girls and boys play the parts of the Knight, Lady and dragon so I wasn't quite sure where my discomfort about the situation lay. Luckily, I had the most patient teacher ever who would always indulge my questioning about these things. When I would approach her with all my, "I don't get it. Why the slaying of dragons? Aren't we past that in our evolution? Do we really need to be reinforcing conflict resolution through violence? Why the sword? Why does the Knight save the Lady?" and on and on.
It took my quite a few years to really move beyond the physical literalness of all of these images and go to that place of deeper metaphor and really 'get' some of these things on feeling level rather than mental. The way I now understand these images are the same as they are represented in fairy and folk tales through the ages. All characters are just aspects of each of us. They are not outside of ourselves. They are ourselves. We are the dragon, the Knight and the Lady. Our dragons (or demons) are all different on the physical level, yet all stem from ideas of separation. The Knight, as in fairy tales, is that part of ourselves that many of refer to as Spirit, God or higher self- the only self that has a chance of bringing our demons to rest. The Lady is our smaller, ego self using traditional psychology language- the ego is the opposite in Waldorfian language. Semantics all get very confusing in Waldorf worlds. In any case, that part of ourselves that exists outside of Spirit or God that sometimes thinks it can do things on its own.
These concepts can be translated into any religious terms that are comfortable to each individual or none at all simply saying that we need to adhere to the laws of the Universe and work with that energy rather than against it. We can't make up our own laws and try to force them. From a scientific non-religious point of view it could be as simple as looking at gravity. No matter how hard we push against it it will not go away. We can overcome certain aspects of the law- like flying- but we still need to work with the law itself to figure out how to get around it. Airplanes would not fly if the scientists didn't understand gravity first. To slay our dragons we have to submit to the laws that govern us and surrender to them.
In Waldorf worlds we hear so much about 'strengthening the will.' It is this will that must be strong to silence our dragons. Take something simple like gossip. It is so easy to succumb to the desire to gossip. It requires a very strong will to walk away silently without engaging. This is the Knight at work. We want strong Knights with sharp swords that can cut through these temptations in life. And we need the soft side of the feminine energy to surrender, not in weakness but in strength. Both men and women need these aspects of themselves working together in order to slay the dragon. Feminists often have a very difficult time with these images feeling it makes women weak and submissive. If they only understood the deeper meaning. We are our own Knights saving ourselves by surrendering to that thing that is more than our little helpless selves in distress. That 'thing' that people refer to as God, Spirit, the Universe, Jah, Allah, Jehova, the love intelligence that rules the Universe, the laws of quantum physics, magic, and on and on... So many names for something so simple and yet so profoundly complicated.
It is often said in Waldorf schools that Michaelmas is not just a day; it is a season that extends from September 29, the Feast of St. Michael, to October 31, All Hallows Eve. It is a time for celebrating deeds of strength and courage, for facing dragons, external and internal. It is a time for harvest, a time for work, a time for storing away that which we need for the cold dark months to come.
In celebration we attended a faire over the weekend.
There was the best face painter there that was a true Artiste. The temps are still in the low 100's here so we did our best not to pass out from heatstroke. The line for this guy were over an hour long and the kids waited patiently for a bit of his art. Even I stood dripping sweat for an hour plus to watch the magician at work. Each time he was faced with a new canvas you could see his resolve to move a little quicker but then his artistic vision would take hold and he didn't stand a chance. He had to pursue his vision. He sometimes even called certain kids back to him to add one tiny detail after they left the chair.
The blacksmith was in town.
Ah, the satisfaction of holding a real, heavy, handmade item...
I like how she used very non-traditional Japanese foods in this. Sometimes I think people get a bit put off by not having access to steamed fish paste or dried shrimp powder. The backdrop for the dragon is a humus sandwich and the tree is dried fruit leather.
I finally found it! After all these years of thinking it was a metaphor here it is in the middle of the Arizona desert. It's real. State certified. Official. I don't know exactly why I found this so reassuring. All this talk these days of the journey really being what "it's" all about and how the destination is not what we make it out to be- it's nice to know that certain destinations do exist. I think next time I have one of those days that feels a bit much I'll just head off for carefree highway and put the car on cruise control for a while...
This was posted by Susana , who has a blog about living in Mexico with her family. I love the contrasts of this photo, which is really enhanced by the black and white nature. The darker skin of the older woman in contrast to the fairness of the little one eyed newbie. It says so much. Thanks for a wonderful shot and giving us a little peak into your world Susana!
The winner of the Global activities, crafts and celebrations goes to...
Danielle at Journeys in Parenting, Crafting and Keeping up with the Laundry, who is also a bloggin' mama and quite the scrapbooker! She says, "Every other month we pick another place to "visit." We study that area for a few days, watch documentaries, do crafts or activities from that area, then have a Passport dinner. We dress up, make food, and usually play a game or watch a movie about that place or spoken in the language."
That's such a great idea! It would be lots of fun to get a few families together or a homeschooling group. Also, if you live near a Chinatown take a trip there. So many possibilities.
Thanks again for all the entries! I'd love to see them keep coming so we can all get ideas and share inspiration.
This one makes me laugh so hard. Just imagine opening a lunch box and finding this inside. When I worked in Japan it was very popular for newly wed women to make extravagant lovey dovey lunches for their new men. I sat near a young teacher who had just been married and every day he would open his bento with such embarrassed caution. All the older women would come over and watch him open it and sure enough there would be little hearts out of egg and pink shrimp sprinkles in hearts on his rice. He would turn pink and the older women would clap. I could just imagine the older women's horror if he opened this up!! too funny!
The sound of giggles coming from down the hall- usually such a sweet way to wake up. Until that awful revelation that the toothless child has woken up before me and I went to bed too late with my head too full of other stuff to remember that a tooth was lost today. So the mad dash to the wallet for a 'golden coin' (Susan B. Anthony), reach to the top shelf of the closet for a dash of fairy dust (proof that it was a real fairy and not me) and a run down the hall are followed by leaping onto the child with a huge hug- one arm sliding under the pillow and kiss on the cheek. The child looks up and begins the story of how the tooth fairy left nothing! So I say, "let's look together." And upon lifting the pillow the golden coin is laying there and the tooth has been knocked on the floor behind the bed that will need to be retrieved later. Barely safe, once again. I hate to admit how many times this has happened to me over the last few years. Each time I berate myself for not being present enough and being too frazzled to remember the little things. At this point I'm just glad most teeth are already out. Between the two of the girls last year we were having weekly visits at one point.
The little sister also just turned 7. For those familiar with the 7 year wonder book it is such a magical and wonderful thing to do for your child- if you can remember! The book has these little stories each night and then the child leaves out their 'wonder book' - a blank artists pad. The little gnomes come at night to draw a picture from the story and the child wakes to find it next to their bed. This is an incredibly magical and wonderful thing to do for your child. If you remember. But the horror of two little girls coming down the hall with 2 blank notebooks in the morning is near unbearable. "Why didn't they come?" "Maybe we didn't say it right?" (There's a little verse you say to invite the gnomes). And so the next night we'd try again and they would say the verse louder with all their might and lay out the book again. Then I'd be sitting up half asleep writing little poems and drawing pictures that would take me an hour to do both. A few weeks into it I hid the book and the journals! I was feeling so overwhelmed by the process that all the magic was lost for me. I wish I would've done it, but sometimes I think you just need to cut your losses and move on. A few days after the little sister's birthday she said, "I wonder if I'll get a 7 year wonder book?" My stomach lurched and I replied in a near whisper, "hm... I wonder..."
In California we lived right behind and Indian restaurant. It was difficult sometimes to get out of the car when hungry and smell all that yummy garlic coming at us when I still had to cook, but it was still worth it. Well, we found a good little place here as a replacement. I won't pretend their chicken tikka masala is as good as we're used to, but it was still yummy! and floor seating to boot!
As I've so often stated, I do believe in culturally appropriate manners and the girls often eat with their right hand- even in the US suburbs.
This place is The Guru Palace in Gilbert. It's in an unimpressive strip mall, like much of this area but was a nice find in the sea of major chains. They actually cook from scratch and is family run. Love that.
The little sister has wanted a dream catcher for years. Each time we're in a craft store she comes with the box with the little pink plastic hoop and tacky ribbons kit and begs for me to buy it for her, which I never do. The other day we saw a table set up at the side of the road selling some jewelry and dream catchers. We stopped and had a look and the man selling them told us that a Navajo woman made them and how makes these to help support her family. Now there was a dream worth supporting. So we bought it.
Then all sorts of conversations were spurred about dreams and what they are and where they come from. At this point in parenting I usually go into default mode on these types of esoteric questions. I usually answer, "I wonder..." not because I don't have my own opinions about where dreams come from, but because more than anything I want to instill a sense of wonder in my children and stimulate their own thoughts on subjects like these. If they sit and ponder questions like these for 5 minutes on their own I think it is far more beneficial than listening to my version of reality on the subject. If they ask me what I thought about a particular subject I would answer my own opinion. But they didn't. They are asking questions looking for answers for themselves, which is quite different than asking me what I think. The latter requires a certain amount of maturity on their part to understand differing points of views on things. They are just getting to that place in their age right now, but I still don't want to push it.
The little sister was particularly concerned with what happens to the bad dreams when they get stuck in the webbing. Do they stay there and what if they fall out. The big sister assured her, "No, they get stuck and then disappear." I love nothing more than to be witness to these types of conversations between them trying to figure out the world. And each time I'm reminded of how easily I could have killed this inspiration by offering an answer. It also is worth noting, that saying "I don't know. What do you think?" does not have the same effect in pondering as an "I wonder..." response that leaves the subject open to exploration rather than putting the child on the spot to come up with an answer.
We found these bamboo drinking straws in the clearance bin at a local supermarket. I thought they were a great find in general for use as a straw, but then we thought we'd try making flutes out of them.
The power drill was our weapon of choice for this. It worked better to drill tiny holes first and then bigger ones because bamboo does split easily.
We rolled up sandpaper to smooth out the holes after they were cut and put a wad on bees wax in the bottom of the flute to block it. The girls just spaced all the holes in whatever way they wanted. It was definitely an experiment in how it would sound with the holes in random places and different sizes. There are instructions online for making a toned accurate flute, but we were just playing around.
We also experimented with the angle at the top. The one that worked best was the slant on the opposite side of the lip, like a Japanese shakohachi. This activity is not those without patience. It look quite a bit of effort to get this to sound like a flute. I would definitely recommend 7 and over and make sure a child can first get a good sound off of a glass bottle before trying this.
These were inspired by small bamboo flutes found in every little souvenir shop in Japan. It would be fun to decorate with paper like this as well. Also, check our amazon store for lots of bamboo flutes!