Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rhythm of Life, Wheel of the Year

"Monday is rice day" - a statement familiar to many Waldorf homes, where families attempt to craft and follow  rhythmical life.  Following a rhythm is not only something that parents of young children discover, often with initial dismay ("Too boring!") and later with firmness and comfort ("Today is our park day!"). Rhythmical life naturally evolves around animals or farm activities - rhythmical life is synonymous with engaged life.  Seasonal rhythms lead us through the cycles of inhale (winter) and exhale (summer), stillness (Winter Solstice) and expansion (Summer Solstice), through breathing in of the late fall, and breathing out with excitement, anticipation, tender joy of spring. The dial of the year must go through the incredible stillness of Christmastide, emerging with new energy of resolutions, year planning and quickening of pace that follows return of sun light in the early days of January. 

In our home, we strive to follow a rhythm, or rather the idea of a rhythm. Naturally, our weeks and months are all affected by the turn of the Wheel of the Year. As much as we love the idea of rhythm as something that brings predictability, the rhythm is rhythmical on its own, adjusting to seasons, festivals, travel and life. The photo below shows a wall hanging that illustrates some elements of the week's activities to a non-reading 5.5 year old child. He is attempting to orient himself to flow of time, and this thing helps him to know what is coming when. Our son goes to a kindergarten, and we use this Rhythm of the Week to assist us on the days when he is home, or when we have lost our inner guide to the day and are struggling with "What to do?"

This Rhythm of the Week took much thinking before I was able to manifest it. First, it was important to me to keep the layout circular, to acknowledge circular nature of time. Our week could not be linear, as you see on printed calendars, there was no logical explanation for that layout. The center of the wall hanging is a little scene from our farm - our own two goats who became so iconic that here they are used to communicate the idea of the microcosm of the home. 

Animals and the surroundings are needle felted on a piece of wool felt. Wetfelting would also work. The goal is to keep the painting very dreamy and soft, just like the consciousness of a young child.
There is no clear beginning or end of the week, either, you see.  There are no words/ letters - that was important as well, not to label. Also, there are no icons to describe activities (with a few exceptions) - I opted out for actual symbolical items instead (clothes pin, crayon etc).

Lets start with Monday, and follow the week as we assign colors of the rainbow to each day. Red is the Monday, Rice day in our home. Waldorf pedagogy assigns each day its own planet, which in turn informs selection of food, choice of  activity, and color. I must say that in due time I researched it and tried to glean information, and most of it is accommodated in this Rhythm of the Week. But by now much of it is a bit forgotten, plus adjustments were made to bring it all in correlation with our own real life. Monday is Moon day, the energy is watery, thus watercolor painting is the choice of activity for the day. Rice, I suppose, is very much moon-like in its appearance, and it is a water grain.
Monday is my day for piano time. I get to play music for about 15-20 minutes, after dinner. That is also time when my son cleans up the room, right under and around said piano, or leafs through his book. The little piece of music sheet paper reminds him of respect for my special time better than words ever had.

Tuesday for us Barley day. That translates into barley pancakes, made in the Nourishing Traditions style. Sometimes, I make barley soups on Tuesday. There is grinding of barley grain the day before, on our little Farina mill, operated by child power.  We draw with crayons on Tuesday (or do pretty much anything else too). By Wednesday we usually lose our focus, and don't have much of a designated plan for the day. By Thursday we are back on track, with buckwheat and beets incorporated into meals of the day, and some type of ironing/washing  action (thus the clothes pin).

Friday is our Home Day, after four days of Kindergarten we rejoice in cleaning the house, dragging pillows outside to air, washing windows, or floors or something like that. Friday is oatmeal, which is considered the easiest of breakfast cereals to digest and thus is offered on the day of the week when children are exhausted. We honor this tradition at home, as they do at Waldorf kindergarten.  Saturday is play circle day, when friends come over in the afternoon. Saturday is also Animal Care day, when we muck the shed, give goats their herbs and carrots, do other in-depth projects.

Sunday has a church drawn on it, though we are not currently going to church, but there is that gesture of a special day, the gesture of gratitude. I still strive to bake on Sunday, so we have that smell and warmth in the house that speaks about having reached the end of times and beginning of times, with new cycle upon us tomorrow.

And for those who read until the very end, here is the special gift - my Wheel of the Year. This is a very rich subject, and not a very good one to describe online... but this picture will offer you much food for thought. The words on it are mine - and those of my friends, with whom we all crafted that Wheel of the Year one evening.

What is your rhythm of the week, of the day? Share your comments!
Thank you
- Arina

1 comment:

MamaWestWind said...

Greetings from the South! Beautiful post, I love your wall hanging and all it means to your family. It's such a beautiful way to guide & reflect the week. I'm very inspired to make something that speaks to our family as personally. :)