Friday, March 26, 2010

What is the battle of Michael and the Dragon? Who is Michael, who is the Dragon?

In autumn Saint Michael
with sword and with shield,
Passes over meadow
and orchard and field.
He’s on the path to battle
‘gainst darkness and strife,
He is the heavenly warrior, protector of life.
Saint Michael is perhaps one of the better known angels. Like Saint Gabriel, Saint Samael and Saint Raphael he is not only an angel but also an Archangel, or a chief angel. He is honoured in Christian tradition but also among the Jews and Moslems.

In English we pronounce his name My-Kull, but when his name is separated into three syllables, Mi-cha-el,  it remind us of his name's meaning - he is Micha of el (Micha of God) — el is the last syllable of all various archangels, Gabriel, Raphael and Samael.

After the creation of the heavens and earth, there was a battle in heaven. Lucifer, the "light-bearer", the "morning star", who was the chief among angels, rebelled against God. Lucifer's did not want to be subject to God or to serve him. He was envious and proud and desired to sit upon God's throne so he took a third of the angels into revolt.

This rebellion took place long before the form of humans or even higher animals came into being; as a result, a unique form that did not correspond to any animal on Earth was created, the form we know as a dragon.

Michael however, was loyal to God, and declared he would serve God, for "who is like unto God" ("Michael"). With the other two-thirds of the angels he defeated Lucifer and cast him and his supporters out of heaven.

Lucifer then became called Satan ("adversary") and those angels who supported him became devils. As a reward for his loyalty Michael was made the chief angel.

In both Western paintings and Eastern iconography, St. Michael is represented in certain standard artistic ways. He has a halo, denoting his sanctity, and is winged as most angels are. he usually carries either a sword (denoting his defeat over Satan and evil), and/or a scale (depicting his role in the last judgement). Often a horned, winged, Satan or dragon is being trampled under foot and put to death. The best pictures do not portray the dragon under his feet as dead, but with its overpowering force broken

During Michaelmas festivals around the world (St. Michael's feast day, which was originally celebrated on the Autumn Equinox), the battle of Michael and the Dragon is re-enacted and the Dragon is slain during the ceremony. Children are given toy swords, and are encouraged to slay the Dragon.

At our school Michaelmas is celebrated through a play performed by grades 1 through 4, depicting the valour of St. George, Michael's earthly counterpart, as he overcomes the dragon. Children in grades 5 through to 12 join in the singing and play musical accompaniment.

Grade One children played the gnomes, forging the breastplate and shields of protection from the iron in the shooting stars

Grade Two children are the shooting stars: each falling star made of iron, the iron that we need to strengthen the resolution of the heart.

Grade Three children played the dragon;

*my big girl is the 8th set of legs from the head (lol)

and the Grade Four children are the warriors (St Michael) and people of the village with their King and Queen.

For those of us chosing to partake - Michaelmas is not just a day; it is a time for celebrating deeds of strength and courage, for facing dragons, external and internal. It is a time for harvest, a time for work, a time for storing away that which we need for the cold dark months to come.

*I find all this Christian mythology quite facinating. Although Christened and send to a Catholic school i don't have a 'faith' tho i certinally try to live but some decent values - don't steal, lie, kill, treat as you wish to be treated, that kind of thing. When we sent out daughter to a Steiner school it was originally because of the wonderful colourful, soulful way of teaching, plus the music and the art and importantly for us the sense of community. Steiner school are not Christian schools but they do pinch a few of their festivals and it is wonderful fun.


MM said...

Poor dragon, he gets all the bad pres.

Linda said...

Such a lovely post, thanks for sharing:)

S said...

Yes MM he does.
My pleaseure Linda,the first year i watched the play i didn't have a clue what was going i set myself a little research project.