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To give you a feel for the sort of mood and thinking that prevail inside Waldorf schools — what I have sometimes called the schools’ spiritualistic vibe — I’d like to quote a few of Rudolf Steiner’s meditations. They are bits of spiritual enlightenment he gave to his followers. Meditate upon these wonderful words. Waldorf faculty members often have such words ringing in their minds.
97) [The Living I]
“In the distance beckons spirit image
and the spirit image is with God
and a God is the spirit image;
in him is the living I
and the living I is the light of human beings.”
— Rudolf Steiner, BREATHING THE SPIRIT:
Meditations for Times of Day and Seasons of the Year
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 53.
Note how the meditation moves from “God” to “a God,” implying the existence of other gods. Anthroposophy embraces the ideal of a single, ultimate God, but it affirms the reality of many gods. [See "Polytheism".] The image of spiritual fulfillment — with God — beckons. The image is a God, implicitly Christ, the Sun God* — who, as the living Word, is with God. The “I” is the human spiritual ego. In the image of our future selves we perceive our higher “I”: Christ, the living light that guides us, empowering the "I." As we emulate Him, we ourselves may become the living I, the light, with God.
* 98) “Had Christ not appeared on the earth, had He remained the Sun-God only, humanity on the earth would have fallen into decay.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 277. [See "Sun God".]
99) [Spirit Pastures]
“In the airy light of spirit land
blossom the roses of the soul,
and their red streams out
into earth’s heaviness — in us
is condensed into heart form,
raying back in the vigorous blood
to spirit pastures once again
as earth’s pink and rosy red.”
— Rudolf Steiner, BREATHING THE SPIRIT, p. 41.
Steiner taught that colors have occult power. Red is especially potent, being associated with roses, hearts, and blood.* Roses represent love and, especially, Christ’s love.** Christ, symbolized as the roses of the soul, blossoms in the light of spirit land and streams down to us. Earth and we on Earth are heavy with the the density of physical embodiment and the receipt of Christ’s blood. Divine red flows to Earth, and then — out of us — back into spirit land and its bucolic pastures. The fresh pink and rosy red bespeak our fulfillment of the Christ impulse, the spiritual/evolutionary empowerment Christ bestowed.
* 100) [Blood] Blood has both physical and occult significance. [See Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Health Research Books, 1972).] Blood determines racial and other characteristics. It is vigorous, moving of it own vital force.
Christ’s blood, pouring into the Earth at the Crucifixion, sanctified our future evolution on Earth and beyond Earth, Steiner said.
** 101) [Rosy Cross] As Steiner knew, the symbols of Rosicrucianism are the rose and cross; one or more roses, positioned on the cross, represent Christ. Indeed, Steiner taught that Rosicrucianism (as redefined by himself) is the correct spiritual path for humanity now. [See "Rosy Cross".] Steiner used Rosicrucian images in his own teachings, e.g.:
The number of roses in this image is significant. For Steiner, seven is a divine cosmic number, the number of perfection, repeated throughout his teachings. [See "Magic Numbers".]
102) [Weaving Destiny]
“The earth body,
longing for spirit,
lives in withering.
The seed spirits,
Take up strength.
And warmth fruits from
the far-spread breadths of space
fortify earth life.
And earthly senses,
see future things
within creating form.
The spirits of space,
look peacefully upon
— Rudolf Steiner, BREATHING THE SPIRIT, p. 97.
Our physical body is fulfilled by dying away, releasing our spirit into spiritual life. Seeds of spirit are perfected here on Earth, becoming dense and strong.* Fruitful spiritual warmth comes from beyond, fortifying us in our lives here below. Earthly senses are dim, except for clairvoyance, which can penetrate deeply and see the forms of future things, being prepared within. The gods look upon the destiny (karma) that we weave for ourselves here.**
* 103) [Seeding a New Earth]
** 104) [Karma]
“Here on earth we have the unfolding life and action of men with their instinct of karma, their ceaseless weaving of destiny....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 3 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977), pp. 35-36. For more on the weaving of destiny, see "Karma".
The gods are not always peaceful, nor are the pastures of heaven always bucolic. The meditation on p. 98 of BREATHING THE SPIRIT begins with these words: “Battling spirit forces/strive in substance....” There are good gods but also bad gods. “[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. II (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 251.
105) [Spirit Battles]
Michael is a warrior god; according to Steiner, he is the Archangel of the Sun, the battling champion of Christ, the Sun God. Michaelmas celebrations in Waldorf schools often center on the warfare conducted by Michael. (In particular, Michael fights on our behalf against the dreadful dragon or demon, Ahriman. For more on all this, see "Michael" and "Ahriman".)
Although Waldorf schools often seem to be bright, happy refuges, they often betray disquieting impulses toward conflict. Much of the warfare woven through Waldorf thinking derives, ultimately, from Norse myths. These ancient pagan tales, stressed so much in Waldorf classes (especially in fourth grade), are intensely violent. (See, e.g., "The Gods".)
106) [Good and Evil Gods]
Steiner often said that the gods are good. Indeed, he said so in the very passage when are considering here ("[V]erily the gods are good" — p. 251). And he often said that the gods turn evil into good. Indeed, he said so in this very passage ("To what end does calamity exist in the world? To the end that the gods may transmute it into well-being" — p. 252). Yet he also, on numerous occasions, spoke of evil gods, demons, minions of Ahriman, Luciferic spirits, nether gods...
Anthroposophy tells us that the gods fight their own battles, good vs. evil, high vs. low. Anthroposophy is polytheistic, telling of a vast number of gods, who have their own karmas, their own impulses, they own struggles. Perhaps you agree that Steiner presented a true picture of the cosmos; perhaps you don't. But in either case, you should see the picture he painted, as clearly as you can, when contemplating Waldorf education.
Rudolf Steiner's cosmology — replete with Rosicrucianism, numerology, karma, polytheism, celestial wars, and a pagan conception of Christ (the Sun God) — looms over Waldorf education. Although many of Steiner's doctrines may remain unspoken in class, such doctrines color and shape the life within Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Sneaking It In", and "Spiritual Agenda".] Like it or not, this is the sort of vibe students may pick up in Waldorf schools. It is mystical, occult, semi-Christian, and — at root — pagan. It is essentially religious, which may or may not appeal to you. But in either case, you should understand that the religion involved is not Christianity as found in any mainstream Christian denomination — it is Anthroposophy, which is a very different kettle of fish. [See, e.g., "Waldorf Worship".]