The three other annual feasts, Christmas, Easter, and St. John's, are well-known feasts in their own right. The feast of St. John is less well known in northern Europe, but anyone who is in Spain in June, for example, will see the grand preparations for June 24, the feast of St. John, and the fact that it is a very special day, shortly after the beginning of summer, is not something strange to all cultures.
The feast of St. Michael is much more connected to anthroposophy and is in fact, as it were, a new annual feast, which has not yet found the proper form of celebration. Of course, Michael defeating the dragon is an image familiar to every art lover. And in cultures other than Christian, this image also appears with other names. Think Marduk, Indra, think Mithras. Actually, we all know this image and in painting there are countless impressive depictions of Michael defeating the dragon. But actually celebrating this feast on September the 29th is not very common in the world, except in anthroposophical circles.
But what does this feast mean during the year, one must ask, and of course one can find much about it in the literature.
We must see the dragon as a spiritual, invisible being who was first in heaven and who was thrust upon the earth by Michael as a defilement of heaven. This beast is invisible among and in the human being. In itself, the earth is a pure being, with an innocent mineral realm and, say, an obediently growing and flourishing plant realm and a wonderfully instinctive animal realm and an extraordinarily complicated human realm.
The mineral realm, the plant realm and the animal realm are in themselves untouchable by this dragon being. But as soon as man interferes with any of these three realms of nature, the dragon seizes his power and lust strikes, violating the dignity of the realms of nature and especially that of man. So we must painfully relate the image of Michael with the dragon to ourselves. It is not an image that conveniently takes place outside of us, but it is an image that must necessarily be set in motion within us. We are the bearers of the dragon, and we must invoke Michael to cause the dragon to fade within us, so that the realms of nature may retain their innocence within us.
Oh, how different the world would be if this all-consuming desire in us were put to rest, if it were transformed into a soul force that would have the same power and strength, but would not destroy innocence, but on the contrary make it be reborn. And we can feel this power if we go out into nature now and are sensitive to it. Not in the city, not just in the backyard or on the balcony. But really in nature, where one is well aware that the growth and flowering of nature is past its peak, has passed into fertility and is slowly coming to a halt, after which the leaves fall and nature takes on winter gloom.
It is not yet that far, but we can already feel in nature how quiet it is gradually becoming and how a certain power is being released in its place. And that force you can experience in the place of your body which, after all, also belongs to nature. You can learn to experience that you are not only made up of molecules and natural processes, but that as the natural force diminishes, you sense an enormous force in its place, a force which if you have to give it a name is best called courage.
This courage is, as it were, a bridge to sensing the force of spirit which, instead of the force of nature, is now beginning to be released. While in the spring we were allowed to experience the resurrection power of nature, now, as nature loses its power, we are allowed to experience the resurrection power of the spirit. What power, what majesty. What an all-conquering courage we can feel.
And what is such an overwhelming power of nature in spring and summer now becomes spirit power for us.
Nature, your maternal being
I bear it in the being of my will;
And the fiery power of my will,
Steels the driving forces of my spirit,
That they may give birth to self-assurance
To bear myself in me.