Michaelmas Star Project

Minnesota Waldorf School
Maplewood, MN
September 29, 2013

The Michaelmas festival at Minnesota Waldorf School is a celebration of the power of the last light of Fall and is a reminder that we all need to tend our inner flames over the long, dark winter. It is also an opportunity to reflect on our inner “dragons” and to make a commitment to overcome them. Festivals of its kind are ancient, and the need to shore up strength as individuals and communities before the coming darkness is universal, particularly in cold, northern climates. We celebrate the festival with a re-enactment of the taming of the dragon by St. George in which the whole community, children, teachers, and parents participate in word, song, and movement. In the pageant, St. Michael forges a sword and bestows it to St. George, who in turn, tames the dragon, saves the captive maiden and the town from the evil dragon (who was really just misguided in his anger!) Afterward, we have a feast and an afternoon of games. During the 2012-13 school year, we added a new event to the Michaelmas festivities: an iron pour.

In the weeks before the actual iron pour, Jim and Kristin taught the students how to carve a variety of molds into which molten iron would be poured.  Sixth graders made medallions that will be given to them on the occasion of their knighting ceremony this Spring. Seventh and Eighth graders carved stars. Jim also created a mold for St. Michael’s sword.

Before Jim and his team poured iron into molds that the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth graders had carved, each of those students had the chance to place in their sand molds a “dragon,” a written acknowledgement of something s/he is hoping to overcome in the coming year. The dragons burned as the iron poured red hot into the molds.

This project was conducted as part of the North Star Exchange. The stars created by the Waldorf students were inspired by "The Drinking Gourd," an American story about escaping from slavery. The students wanted to share this story with students in Latvia where James Brenner would be participating in a cast iron residency the following year. Brenner brought the story of "The Drinking Gourd" and the Waldorf stars in exchange for a Latvian story about the Big Dipper and stars created there during his residency.