Michaelmas, Michaelmas the time to show both courage and form
Look well around, inside you must wake
Trees may shake, I shall stand the storm
In these simple Michaelmas songs, the essence of Michaelmas is well described. There is much darkness in the world we live in. Michaelmas time reminds us how we need to "be awake" and have "courage and form" to face many challenges.
Since Michaelmas is not a familiar festival for many new volunteers, we spent time to introduce the festival. We sang Michaelmas songs from the middle of September. During the morning gathering on Monday, September 24, we heard a short introduction about Michaelmas. We also had a festive evening gathering on September 25th, where we sang Michaelmas songs and heard what we would do for this year's Michaelmas in Triform.
This year, we focused on spraying the biodynamic spray called the Harmonizing Spray of Hugo Erbe. According to the website of Josephine Porter Institute (JPI), "the Harmonizing Preparation is intended to serve as an expression of gratitude to the elemental beings." The Harmonizing Spray "helps to make it possible for the higher beings (the warmth, light and air beings) and the lower elemental beings (the water and earth beings) to work together again harmoniously for the restoration of fertility to the earth." (Quote from JPI website, the Harmonizing Preparation)
The ingredients of the Harmonizing Spray is egg white, honey, cow's milk, (red) grape juice, sunflower oil, cooking salt, and whole wheat. These ingredients could produce bread and wine, what was shared at the Last Supper.
On September 28th, Friday, there was an opening ceremony of Camphill Academy in Camphill Village Copake. Not everyone from Triform attended, but a number of people went. Camphill Academy in Copake has the opening ceremony near Michaelmas to make the ceremony part of Michaelmas festival.
On September 29th, we stirred the preparation from 1pm. From 2pm to 4pm, we sprayed the original Triform property and also the Stewardship property.
At 5pm, we all gathered at the new property Triform purchased in 2017. This new property connects the original Triform property and the Stewardship property. We call this property, Pegasus property. We had our Michaelmas community meal there.
Triform day students worked on a large painting of St. Michael. The art work was about 8 feet times 7 feet. It is wonderful when students and coworkers work together to prepare an art work for festivals.
The bakery also created a small Michaelmas art work made of bread dough. The bread was displayed as part of the harvest table.
The evening was beautiful. The mood of the meal was wonderful. It was a perfect day to eat outside with everyone in the community.
We had the Bible Evening later in the evening. One of the volunteers commented how much he enjoyed the conversation.
The Festival of Offering was celebrated on Sunday morning.
The North American Council held the yearly conference this year in the province of Quebec, Canada, at Maison Emmanuel.
I felt so happy to see so many old friends, meet new friends, and to experience the energy of the people and places across the continent: from east to west and all the way to Hawaii! We must have been 80 people!
Val David, where most of the conference was held, is a picturesque and quaint French Canadian village north of Montreal in rocky, hilly terrain. Maison Emmanuel has a home, a craft and coffee shop, all there on the main street. Members of their community work in a pottery nearby. We met in an old church that is next door to the convent a few doors down from Maison Julia and the coffee shop. The convent has recently become a Waldorf School, and the school community was kind enough to let us use the classrooms for the artistic activities. Everything nestles together on the street very nicely!
The weather up there in the Gatineau Hills was rainy and cold! But nothing could dampen our spirits.
Mary Small welcomed us with a wonderful meal created by their café staff, and then she gave a talk on the arts based on a lecture by Carlo Pietzner. I had never really understood that lecture, but I feel that I understand a lot more now thanks to Mary!
We practiced the arts all Saturday… Painting, drama, music, poetry, dance, eurythmy and spatial dynamics… it was fun and exhilarating! I did skip some activities though, because I wanted to spend time with my old friend Inge Sell, who was the founder of Maison Emmanuel. We have known each other for many years and it was beautiful to reconnect. We found we had a lot to share as we talked about our lives and about the changes and growth in the places we started.
On Sunday we met at the Maison Emmanuel farm property where there are several beautiful homes. It was cold and rainy again, and there were too many of us to meet inside one of the large houses for the Sunday gathering, so we met outside! That was an experience!
For me there were many memorable experiences as we celebrated art and community through the time together. One thing in particular stood out for me. Both languages, French and English, were spoken. Everything was shared first in one language and then the other so no one was left out. The quality of listening and the opportunity to live into the other language for a time was very special.
I had a wonderful meaningful time. And I know my friends from Camphill Ontario were smiling the whole weekend.
I am looking forward to next year. Where will we go? What will we talk about and do together?
Joining a Camphill community is an exciting opportunity. When I joined Camphill communities California I had a to learn to live in community and be part of an unconventional social formation while carrying out the task of caregiving to which I was a novice. I was glad to join the community’s training program when offered the opportunity. I thought that it would be nice to balance the practical work with a formalized learning process. Looking back, I can only express gratitude because this decision enabled me personally to get the most out of my Camphill experience. Over time, the Camphill academy became a very clear way for me to attain a Bachelor’s degree through the accumulation of college credits, but more importantly it became a resource for my work and helped provide perspective and guidance in community life and life in general.
Camphill is a place where each aspect of life is imbued with consciousness. We attempt each day to walk through our community mindful of our surroundings and the social intricacies of community life; this requires the cultivation of openness and willingness to live in a way that allows for healing and social wellbeing. In community, we strive to live in a way which brings out the best in each other, we strive to recognize each other’s humanity. It is the social therapist’s task to perceive the potential in the other and hold it quietly as a guiding light for the unfolding human being. The social therapy training attempts to cultivate this attitude as the therapeutic backdrop of social therapy and the work in the adult communities.
The Camphill academy’s training in social therapy is a community integrated course designed to support individuals in carrying out their task in the Camphill communities. The Social Therapy training offers a rich array of subjects ranging from various components of Anthroposophical study to artistic engagements through music, Eurythmy, visual arts and drama.
The training organically flows into community life and in many instances, extends to the entire community. Whether it happens through drama or Eurythmy performances, or through student projects, the community is involved. Social Therapy at its heart seeks to teach the art of living so it is no surprise that the training takes place in community life.
The student projects, which are different each year, come to fruition in many different ways. The first-year students are asked to partner up with another community member and explore a new activity through a project. In the second-year students are asked to help an individual explore and share their biography. After several months of regular meetings, the project concludes in a festive sharing of the biography among invited guests. The third and final project is a research project connected with the final thesis of the social therapy training. There is a lot of freedom within the parameters of these projects and in many cases the community is directly involved. These projects create meaningful activity and often times fulfill a community need or add to the wealth of community experience.
Anthroposophical study is another corner stone of the training. In the course of the training students study “Theosophy”, “How to Know Higher Worlds”, “Esoteric Science” and “The Philosophy of Freedom” by Rudolf Steiner. Each year one of these works is studied in a study group setting where students and instructors explore the works alongside. Each week students are responsible to prepare the reading and have discussions with the group based on summaries given by the students.
Each year the students get to be part of retreats and all students have the opportunity to experience another community. Students get the chance to have weekend retreats exploring different themes through intellectual and artistic avenues. These retreats range in subjects from inner life and meditation to cosmic evolution and embryogenesis.
From a student perspective, I can say that this training has added a whole new level of understanding and appreciation to my experience at Camphill. I am able to appreciate my task and the different ways in which we work at Camphill based on this personally transformative social therapy training.