The Spiral Walk: A Distinctive Steiner Ceremony
I am still coming to terms with my first ‘Canberra Winter’. As I tell members of our School community how cold I am, they just wryly smile at me and say, “You haven’t seen anything yet.” The days are getting colder and shorter; Winter has well and truly arrived!
This week, I had the privilege of participating in the Spiral Walk with Years 1 and 2. The Spiral Walk is a traditional ceremony celebrated in Steiner Schools around the world. Conducted in silence and reverence, the Spiral Walk reminds us of Winter, the cycles of nature and the seasons, and of the light within us all. For our Orana children, it is a special event which has become a rite of passage to be cherished and celebrated.
It is my understanding that the tradition of the Spiral Walk began in the 1920’s, when a dedicated nurse first conducted a Spiral Walk in a group home dedicated to the care of children with disabilities. She had been inspired by the custom from long ago in Bavaria, where farmers would bring moss and twigs into their homes and fashion a garden on a table, which was lit with candles in apples.
Evergreen boughs (a symbol of life) are placed in a spiral form on the floor with a large candle in its centre. The room is darkened, and the mood is peaceful and reverent. The spiral begins; one at a time each child walks into the spiral with an unlit candle in an apple. They walk without help from teachers and make their way to the spiral’s centre. There they find the large, lit candle and from it they light their own. They then place their candle with care along the spiral’s path, and then walk in silence and reverence back to their seat.
In the days leading up to the Spiral Walk, the teachers take the time to explain the symbolism and meaning to the children; our human experience of a time of darkness, of shorter days and longer nights, followed by going forward with hope and joy to welcome the light of the sun after the Winter Solstice.
It was my delight to watch the children on their Spiral Walk as they participated with joy, awe, and wonder. My sincere thanks to our wonderful teachers who worked hard to make the Spiral Walk for Years 1 and 2 such a meaningful experience. Thanks also to the many parents who supported the event by not only attending, but by participating in the Spiral Walk themselves. Now I can’t wait to experience my first Winter Festival; lanterns, firesticks, and all!
Geoff Fouracre – Principal