The festival of Whitsun, which is 50 days after Easter, is, in part the festival of brotherly and sisterly community, when we strive to come together with a new and developing understanding of each other.
Whitsun is each person finding the balance between their own individual freedom and the well-being and furtherance of the community, out of understanding and respect for each.
The striving during this Whitsuntide is when we are inspired by the Christ impulse, we share with our sisters and brothers an enlightened experience and awareness for each other, and for servant leadership – where we serve for the sake of the other.
At this time we turn to each other and our light of interest kindles a flame in the other, and so in turn they share their light of interest with another, and so it is that Whitsuntide becomes a myriad of lights, as we all reflect the light of each other.
At the Whitsun Festival Table there can be a circle of 12 candles around one in the middle, which should be a little longer than the others. The 12 and one more 13 – candle holders could be made by children out of clay (and dried or fired.)
Flowers are particularly well suited as a nature contribution on the Whitsun table. Composite flowers such as daisies are wonderful as this shows the many manifold experience of Whitsun.
The lighting of the candles can be done by each child, with the middle one already lit.
Every year at Stellenbosch Waldorf School, the festival has developed further and further, with the enthusiasm of more teachers adding new elements. In 1999 we worked with the 12 senses and came to the idea of the memory and the etheric and the sense of smell being strongly linked. Then we decided to create the orange-clove candle holders – while the children work on the candle holder they can associate oranges with water, rain, fallen leaves, fires
There is also the white dove symbol of the Holy Spirit and also of peace … We can make white paper doves and hear a white bird story! The flames burning together emphasize the community created in a school – the overcoming of what separates us, for in each of us there exists the eternal!
We all dress in white in the old Stellenbosch tradition, perhaps symbolizing our pure intentions? We also in this way look ahead to the great St. John’s Bonfire at the end of term.
I found this piece from ‘The Characteristics of a Waldorf School’
‘In summary we can say: a school is a Waldorf/Rudolf Steiner school when a majority of the teachers lives by the spark of the spirit. It makes what is difficult easy, what is impossible possible and illuminates the dark.’
Upon deeper reflection I realize that the impulse that is Waldorf education, is a Whitsun impulse, particularly in this year as it comes into being for 100 years, and how the light of the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart, whose flame was lit in 1919, mirrors and reflects an exquisite and accumulating light, throughout the world.
Let our individual light, which shines in the form of interest and enthusiasm we have for teaching and learning, be born as the essence of the very best of who we are, linked with the ever growing light of Waldorf Education, continue to develop a communal light throughout the world.
Reflection by M Laubser
Sources of Reference:
Festivals with Children – Brigitte Barz
Information from SWS Update – previous issue, written by a past teacher.
Characteristics of a Waldorf School: International Forum for Steiner/Waldorf Education (Hague Circle)