We celebrated the turning of the season last week in our Harvest Festivals through the school. From Preschool to High School there was the annual celebration of the bounty of Nature, and the gathering of the fruits of the summer sun as we prepare for the coming cold and greater darkness of winter. These festivals go back thousands of years and have their origins in humankind’s profound connection with the cycles of the seasons. In this time of deep concern over our environmental crises, more than ever we need to remind ourselves of our dependence on the cycles of the earth and cosmos that sustain our lives. After a beautiful series of offerings by the students, the high school festival gathered fresh fruit and vegetables for OzHarvest which supports the homeless and disadvantaged in our community.
The primary school harvest festival had a deeper symbolism as well. Ancient Harvest festivals also drew on the dragon story of St Michael and his taming of the dark forces that threaten to overwhelm our humanity. The taming of the dragon was a centre piece of the primary festival at Castlecrag, and all the children provided characters in the story, from Class 1 with their symbolic swords aloft through to Class 6 as the main actors in the story. Class 5 children manned the dragon in a suitably menacing way. It was a potent statement of the dark forces in our world, as Class 6 teacher Katherine Arconati introduced the festival with the reminder that the story was an imaginative picture of our own battles with forces within us, and around us.
We do not need to search very far for such reminders in the state of the world today. On the weekend I saw a post from a European Steiner connection who is in daily contact with biodynamic farmers in Ukraine. The Ukraine produces a significant amount of grains, particularly wheat, and the biodynamic farms there work closely with the seasons, planting in the spring to harvest at the end of summer. Their spring is just arriving and yet at this moment their country is threatened by invasion. I was inspired to read of their steadfast response in the face of such threat, a truly courageous and heroic stand.
One contribution to this question reached me from Ukraine on 15 March, in the daily report from Shiva Semliya (Living Earth), a biodynamic farm in Potutory, 100 kilometres south-east of Lviv: "Today was a wonderful, warm early spring day. The mosaic of our fields in dark brown and pale yellow extends in the sunshine and it seems as if the fields were rising toward the light, ready for the power of spring streaming in from the cosmos. And in the morning, Venus, the star of love, stood mighty and high above the Eastern horizon. Life and love will always prevail."
End of Term
We close Term 1 today and I wish all families, students and staff a restful and refreshing break. May Easter be a time of blessing and renewal in spirit. We look forward to welcoming all our students back on Wednesday 27th April for the start of Term 2.
Head of School