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  • Writer's pictureMichael Martin

Michaelmas and the Battle Against Evil

"The Vision and Inspiration" by Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel

Michael is interpreted as meaning ‘Who is like God?’ and it is said that when something requiring wondrous powers is to be done, Michael is sent, so that from his name and by his action it is given to be understood that no one can do what God alone can do: for that reason many works of wondrous power are attributed to Michael. Thus, as Daniel testifies, in the time of the Antichrist Michael will rise up and stand forth as defender and protector of the elect. He it was who fought with the dragon and his angels and expelled them from heaven, winning a great victory. He fought with the devil over the body of Moses, because the devil wanted to keep the body hidden so that the Jewish people might adore Moses in the place of the true God. Michael receives the souls of the saints and leads them into the paradise of joy. In the past he was prince of the synagogue but has now been established by the Lord as prince of the Church. It is said that it was he who inflicted the plagues on the Egyptians, divided the Red Sea, led the people through the desert, and ushered them into the Promised Land. He is held to be Christ’s standard-bearer among the battalions of holy angels. At the Lord’s command he will kill the Antichrist with great power on Mount Olivet. At the sound of the voice of the archangel Michael the dead will rise, and it is he who will present the cross, the nails, the spear, and the crown of thorns at the Day of Judgment.” ~ from Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend [1]

Ever since my days as a Waldorf teacher, the festival of Michaelmas has held a special place in my heart as well as in my family’s celebration of the Christian Year. At the Waldorf school where I once taught, the children form the “body” of the dragon, partially hidden under various interpretations of “dragon skin” made from bed-sheets and, led by a student wearing the dragon’s “head” (some sort of headdress) process around the precincts of the schoolyard until they meet St. Michael (usually a community member in angelic swag) who then transforms the beast. I’m not sure if all Waldorf schools still do this, as they have become increasingly allergic to anything remotely Christian (and, I am sad to report, most Waldorf teachers these days only have a superficial familiarity with the work of Rudolf Steiner), but my family has carried on the tradition at Stella Matutina Farm, the place where we reside, for the last six years. A wonderful community of people join us, and our celebration gets bigger every year.

Our celebrations have a very medieval folk-Christian/pagan vibe to them, as not only do we have St. Michael and the Dragon but we also feast and make merry, often with mead or metheglin I have made—with the help of my bees!—on the menu. My younger children look forward to it for weeks.

Michaelmas at Stella Matutina Farm, 2019

But conviviality is not the only thing we celebrate at Michaelmas; we also celebrate the intersection of the Church year with cosmic realities.

Rudolf Steiner paints a beautiful imagination of this reality. For Steiner, the cosmos (the Creation, that is) speaks to us, but only if we have ears to listen and eyes to see. As he points out, Michaelmas—as well as the harvests that accompany it in the northern hemisphere—is anticipated in the Perseid meteor showers (Perseus another great fighter of monsters) that occur in late July and August. For Steiner, this symbolizes St. Michael’s victory over Satan and his angels as well as the introduction of meteoric iron into the atmosphere that can steel the resolve of perceptive individuals attentive to what happens on both heaven and earth. “If,” Steiner says,

a man enters thus into the enjoyment of nature, the consciousness of nature, but then also awakens in himself an autumnal self-consciousness, then the picture of Michael with the dragon will stand majestically before him, revealing in picture-form the overcoming of nature-consciousness by self-consciousness when autumn draws near. This will come about if man can experience not only an inner spring and summer, but also a dying, death-bringing autumn and winter. Then it will be possible for the picture of Michael with the dragon to appear again as a powerful Imagination, summoning man to inner activity.” [2]

This Michaelic strength can be seen politically as well. St. Joan of Arc, to cite a famous example, was directed by St. Michael to save France from the corruption of the Burgundian machinations with England that oppressed French sovereignty. At her trial, her interrogators asked whether God hated the English. “She said that as to love or hate that God had for the English, or what He would do for their souls, she knows nothing; but she is well assured that they will be driven out of France, except those who die there; and that God will send the French victory over the English.” [3]

Joan was an illiterate peasant girl (only nineteen at her death), a “useless eater” as some would say. That she fearlessly confronted the amassed power of the medieval Catholic Church without so much as quaking is evidence of Michaelic iron in action, echoed recently by an army of construction workers in Australia.

Michael’s battle with the Dragon is always already happening. Again Steiner:

Then men will come to understand these things, to reflect on them with understanding, and they will bring mind and feeling and will to meet the autumn in the course of the year. Then at the beginning of autumn, at the Michael Festival, the picture of Michael with the Dragon will confront man as a stark challenge, a strong spur to action, which must work on men in the midst of the events of our times. And then we shall understand how it points symbolically to something in which the whole destiny—perhaps indeed the tragedy—or our epoch is being played out.” [4]

As I’ve mentioned before, the Celtic churches had a deep reverence for St. Michael, and invoked his protection with startling regularity:

I beseech you by the tenth order on the compact earth; I beseech praiseworthy Michael to help me against demons.

I beseech the people of heaven with bright-armed Michael; I beseech you by the triad of wind, sun, and moon.” [5]

The “tenth order” mentioned above has another name: mankind.

It is my profound hope that the Feast of St. Michael will become more and more richly and enthusiastically observed in this post-Christian epoch. For his moment, as always, is now. Invoke his aid, and fear not.

Michael’s latest books are an edition of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz and Transfiguration: Notes toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything. He can be reached at See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Divine Feminine. Watch for his Sophia in Exile, due momently from Angelico Press.

1. Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton, 1993), 2 volumes.

2. Rudolf Steiner, The Four Seasons and the Archangels (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1984), 15.

3. The Trial of Joan of Arc, trans. W. S. Scott (Associated Booksellers, 1956), 123.

4. Rudolf Steiner, The Four Seasons and the Archangels, 21.

5. From “The Litany of Creation” in Celtic Spirituality, ed. Davies and O’Loughlin (Paulist Press, 1999), 298.

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2 Kommentare

22. Sept. 2021

A propos that Einhorn clip: If you haven't seen it, you should check out Criterion Collection's edition of Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" which includes a version (in addition to the original silent film) synced to Einhorn's "Voices of Light" performed by Anonymous 4.

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Michael Martin
Michael Martin
22. Sept. 2021
Antwort an

I have both the DVD and the CD!

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