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September 23, 2008


Kyla Levi

Hi Donna,

When would the southern hemisphere celebrate Michaelmas? And other festivals for that matter. Is there a resource for us here?

Warm Wishes,



Oh boy - this is a really complex issue! Anthroposophists have been struggling with finding a right view toward celebrating festivals in the Southern Hemisphere since they got there! And the conversation is far from over.

From my point of view - and this is also one of the views expressed by other anthroposophists - the Earth is One Earth. There are certainly differences between the hemispheres, but they are neither truly opposite nor are they separate. There is also One Cosmos. Thus a festival such as Michaelmas has a reality which is expressed in our material world, in the Earth and though the Earth itself is different from one area to the next, the spiritual forces, at essence, are not.

I think what makes it difficult for people in the Southern Hemisphere (as well as people living, for instance, in desert regions such as Arizona or Texas in the Northern Hemisphere) is that the bulk of resources available to people in anthroposophical or Waldorf communities are written from a Northern European or north of North American point of view. So when one reads of the leaves falling and turning color and of other natural phenomena and their correlation to the seasons, one can feel that without them, one cannot celebrate a festival such as Michaelmas, that if it is not revealed by the natural phenomena where one lives, then it must not be happening at all!

I have never lived in the Southern Hemisphere (though I did live in Florida and though its winters were not like those in NYC where I grew up, they were discernible) and so am not familiar with how the seasons turn and how the Earth reveals the festivals there. But I am sure that though Nature in the Southern Hemisphere is totally unlike Nature in Mid Atlantic USA,for instance, that surely there is something which can be experienced which shows how the Cosmic world is turning through the One cycle of the year.

And ultimately, it comes down to how each human being works with and experiences the spiritual reality of festivals within him or herself. Perhaps we even have it too easy here in the North of the Northern Hemisphere where I am. Perhaps I would be more challenged if I lived in the Southern Hemisphere to feel within myself the inward gesture of Michaelmas and the search for my own sense of 'I' when around me Nature was moving in a more outward fashion. I don't know. That is a question for each of us to work with.

I am sure there are many books and articles available in places like Australia which deal with this question. You could contact Waldorf bookstores in Melbourne or Sydney and see what they have available. Or maybe you are in South Africa or New Zealand - there are large anthroposophical communities in both of these countries which will have resources available. Or in South America. It would be lovely if you were able to let us all know here if you found anything useful so that others with your question could also share!


I come from a Neopagan background (Christian before that) and we had holidays keyed to the seasons. Our solution for the Southern Hemisphere problem was that folks in the SH celebrated the holidays keyed to the seasons as well. So Beltaine in the NH was Samhain in the SH. It worked out pretty well. The calendar is a human invention, after all, and it makes more sense to celebrate the seasons as they are rather than force half the globe into celebrating something that is not there.


Yes - the calendar is indeed a human invention but if a religious calendar is indeed a reflection of real events happening in the spiritual worlds, then it is not arbitrary but instead a reflection of spiritual truths. If Michaelmas is a real event in the spiritual worlds which has ramifications for human beings, then it effects all of us, whereever we are.


Having moved the the southern hemisphere myself, this question has occupied me for the last 25 years, and I it is only recently that I have come to terms with it when reading an article in "Das Goetheanum", September 2007.In this excellent article by Michael Debus - unfortunately only in German - he argues that Christ died in April for the whole world, whether one lived in Israel, Japan or Mexico. It is this event that is remembered and commemorated every year, whether one lives in Israel, japan or Mexico. And since this event happened for the whole of the Earth, the commemoration and celebration can also happen at the same time for the whole world, regardless of the season one is experiencing. The happening of a world event is remembered and commemorated as world event the world over at the same time. Consequently, the other festivals are also celebrated at the same time the world over. This means that the question is not: "When do we celebrate Michaelmas, etc", but "how." And the answer to this question is as wide and open as the cosmos itself.

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