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Why Do We Celebrate Michaelmas?

Why Do We Celebrate Michaelmas?
Sherry Jennings

Autumn has come once again in the round of the seasons. The elderberry umbrellas are bent over with purple fruit. Trees are laden with crisp, red apples. The acorns sound a drumbeat for the passing of summer as they strike the earth. The heavy, humid air is gone. Now the fresh air, crystal-clear sunlight, and deep blue sky accentuate the golds of the corn shocks, the fading grasses, the sweet pears, and the rich, glowing bronzes of the marigolds. A new fragrance is in the air. The breezes blow, filling the air with a sense of excitement and impending change. Who of us can fail to feel joy and a sense of well-being at this time of year?

Yet the onrush of the ripening and fruiting foretells of the fading, decaying, and dying in outer nature. Seeds in their little cases float to the earth to be covered by the falling leaves. After the luxuriant growth and bounteous harvest, the landscape begins to simplify.

During the warm days human beings, too, have been touched by the sun. Their souls have been drawn outward; their hearts nourished by the season of growing, ripening, and harvesting and by outings and joyful gatherings of family and friends. Summer has been a time of expanding and giving in to warmth and fun, of dreaming through the hazy summer days.

But what of the soul of the human being? What happens at the moment of equinox? Is stillness only emptiness? Here at this turning point comes the festival of Michaelmas. From out of summer's dream Michael calls us to wake up, not to go to sleep as outer nature is doing. Something within man stirs. That which is truly human awakens. There is a renewed consciousness, a new energy. As the activities of outer nature recede, humans turn inward and their inner life awakens once again. Tasks are taken up with new vigor and commitment.

However, the clear light of autumn brings something else — sharper shadows — and there the dragon lurks. So too in our thoughts and deeds the shadows stand out. The dragons of harsh judgments, lack of commitment, unkind words, fear, greed, thoughtlessness, apathy rear their heads. The form of each dragon is different; only each one of us can name and tame our own dragon. However, it is important to remember that the dragon is not to be feared but is our friend; the dragon gives us information about the true human being beneath the spines and prickles. By looking at the shadow we can learn what direction to head in to find our true selves. By shining the light of consciousness on the dragon we can be the vehicle for the dragon’s transformation and take away its power over us.

At this time of year, Michael calls us to wake up, to look around, to look into the shadows, to welcome the dragon for what it can tell us about ourselves. Michael also sends to mankind the courage to take on the dragon if Michael's help is sought. If we begin to transform our dragons through our conscious deeds, Michael will come to our aid.

Let each one take up the call of Michael and with clarity in thought and courage in heart seek to understand the truth and mystery of life.


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