The Waldorf or Anthroposophical conception of Christmas is very different from what you will find in any mainstream Christian church. Waldorf Christmas entails doctrines of evolution, the Sun God, Mysteries, Tarok, Tao, Spirit-Man, Atlantis, reincarnation, two separate Jesuses, and so on. Waldorf teachers may or may not explain any of these doctrines to their students. Generally, secrets will be kept secret; but the spirit underlying the Waldorf celebrations will resonant with occultism.

Below are some interesting statements Steiner made about Christmas. To introduce them, I will begin with Christmas messages ("A Waldorf Christmas", installments I - XII) that I posted on the Waldorf Watch "news" page in 2011:

A Waldorf Christmas

Christmas is coming; it will be celebrated in Waldorf schools around the world. In this festive season, it may be well to remind ourselves just who Christ is, according to Rudolf Steiner and his followers. Most mainstream Christians are likely to be surprised, if not absolutely shocked. What you have been taught in your churches and what you have read in your Bibles is wrong, according to Rudolf Steiner and his followers.

“Christ, the Sun God, who was known by earlier peoples under such names as Ahura Mazda, Hu, or Balder, has now united himself with the earth...." — Anthroposophist Margaret Jonas in the introduction to RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 4-5.

A Waldorf Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, anyone interested in Waldorf education should pause to absorb what Rudolf Steiner's followers believe about Christ. In Waldorf belief, Christ is not the being Christians worship in church. Christianity is monotheistic: There is one God, and Christ is one aspect or person of this God. By contrast, the Waldorf religion — Anthroposophy — is polytheistic, recognizing a vast number of gods. According to Anthroposophy, the three “persons” of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are really three separate gods who preside over different celestial spheres. The god Christians call the Father is really the god of Saturn; the god Christians call the Son is actually the Sun God; and the god Christians call the Holy Spirit is really a Moon god. 

The highest Ruler of Saturn, the Ego Spirit, appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth [i.e., the evolutionary stage before our current stage on Earth] appears to us as the Holy Spirit....” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100.

A Waldorf Christmas

In Christian belief, the birth of Jesus was a miracle. No man fathered Jesus; God fathered him. Jesus — the Messiah or Christ — is the Son of God.

In the Waldorf belief system, the story is remarkably different. According to Rudolf Steiner, Christ is the Sun God who descended to Earth and incarnated in an adult human body. The body he chose belonged to a man named Jesus — but there were actually two Jesuses, and they had to combine in order to receive the Sun God. One Jesus had the soul of Zarathustra and the other had the soul of Buddha.

“[T]wo Jesus children were born. One was descended from the so-called Nathan line of the House of David, the other from the Solomon line. These two children grew up side by side. In the body of the Solomon child lived the soul of Zarathustra. In the twelfth year of the child's life this soul passed over into the other Jesus child and lived in that body until its thirtieth year ... And then, only from the thirtieth year onward, there lived in this body the Being [i.e., the descended Sun God] Whom we call the Christ, Who remained on earth altogether for three years.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), p. 59.

“[N]ot one but two Jesus-children were born ... The important thing is to understand clearly what kind of beings these two children were. Occult investigation [i.e., clairvoyance] shows that the individuality [i.e., soul] who was in the Solomon Jesus-child was none other than Zarathustra ... Buddha forces permeated the astral body of the Nathan Jesus-child.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM JESUS TO CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), pp. 133-136.

A Waldorf Christmas

In our series "A Waldorf Christmas", we have been looking at Christ Jesus as portrayed in the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy. In Waldorf belief, Christ is the Sun God and Jesus is the man in whom Christ incarnated for three years. There were two Jesuses; they combined so that the Jesus who hosted Christ contained the souls of Zarathustra and Buddha. 

Are Waldorf school students taught these doctrines? Is this what they think they are celebrating at Christmas? No. In general, no. Steiner’s followers, including many Waldorf teachers, believe these doctrines, but in general they do not lay them on their students. In general. But in various subtle ways, they often suggest these doctrines to their students. Here, for instance, is part of a Waldorf Christmas story. It does not mention the Sun God. But it tells of “the Sun Child” descending to Earth, bringing precious gifts of light. Once you know what Steiner’s followers believe, you can easily interpret such stories. In this case, the Sun Child is clearly a Christ figure: the Sun God re-imagined, for children, as a child. 

“[T]he Sun Child bade farewell to the Angel fair and walked step by step down the Golden Stair. It led him to the land below, where no light did shine, nor flower did grow. Bearing carefully his gifts of shining life, he at last reached the land that was as dark as night. He made a little bed in the cool, dark earth, to hold the seed of light that would bring a flower to birth.” — Sue Conroy Moran and Cathy Bower, “The Little Sun Child”, THE SEASONAL FESTIVALS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2010), p. 97.

Waldorf teachers find various subtle ways to bring the "truths" of Anthroposophy to their students. They make heavy use of Christmas to do precisely this.

A Waldorf Christmas

In Anthroposophy and in Waldorf schools, Christmas merges with the ancient pagan celebration of the winter solstice. On December 21, the days stop getting shorter; they begin to lengthen, and the light of springtime begins to approach. This is the fundamental Waldorf view of Christmas: It celebrates the light, the return of the light, and the god of the light: the Sun God, Christ. 

Waldorf schools may present their view openly, or almost openly, or they may disguise it deeply. Usually, they choose disguise. Seeking to be — or to at least seem to be — nonsectarian, Waldorf schools often couch their beliefs in the mildest terms. By doing so, they often conceal more than they reveal. The following is from an article written by a Waldorf teacher for the parents of her students. It is quite mild — and yet, fervor breathes within it. Most parents would likely find it inoffensive; only a few might perceive the Anthroposophical doctrines within and behind it. 

“As the year draws toward the darkest days of winter, we observe a season of anticipation and preparation for the turning of the year, observed since ancient times, when the sun at the Winter Solstice begins once again to bring longer days ... During this season, the children in our class will hear a story of the birth of a child, and the hope, expectation, and joy of this event ... The return of the sun at the Winter Solstice is, in a sense, a birth on the cosmic level. On the human level, the birth of a child offers the same experience of hope and joy.” — Nancy Foster, “The Turning of the Year: Midwinter and New Birth”, THE SEASONAL FESTIVALS IN EARLY CHILDHOOD (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2010), p. 97. 

The solstice is the triumphal renewal of the power of the sun, and that power is greatest in the mighty Sun God. 

• “Within pagan traditions of both North and South, there still lived a religious consciousness uniting the gods with the stars and the mightiest divine figure with the sun. And within the pagan mind lived the thought that the time of the earth’s darkest days, the winter solstice, is also the time when the victorious power of the sun, working in all earthly fertility, begins to unfold again.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), “The Revelation of the Cosmic Christ”, pp. 96-97.*  

• “The divine spirit we should venerate is...connected with the power of the sun, the living nature of the sun which the Christ has taken into himself.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 228.  

• “Had Christ not appeared on the earth, had He remained the Sun-God only, humanity on the earth would have fallen into decay. Increasingly men would have come to believe that material things alone exist, that the sun and the stars are material bodies.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, p. 277. 

This is the meaning of Christmas at Waldorf. [For more on Christ as the Sun God, see “Sun God”. To consider some of the pagan elements in the Waldorf belief system, see "Pagan".] 

* Here Steiner speaks of ancient pagans. But note that his teachings accord with theirs.

A Waldorf Christmas

A Waldorf Christmas tree can be unique. Usually, there are no electric lights on the tree, since in the Waldorf view modern technology is demonic. Instead, the tree may bear numerous candles, roses, and unusual. symbolic ornaments. Rudolf Steiner prescribed these ornaments; they embody esoteric Anthroposophical doctrines.

"The Roses, growing out of the green, are a symbol of the Eternal* ... The square is the symbol of the fourfold nature of man; physical body, ether-body, astral body and ego.** The triangle is the symbol for Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man.** Above the triangle is the symbol for Tarok . Those who were initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries knew how to interpret this sign. They knew too, how to read the Book of Thoth, consisting of 78 leaves on which were inscribed all happenings in the world from the beginning to the end, from Alpha to Omega and which could be read if the signs were rightly put together ... Above this symbol is the Tao — the sign that is a reminder of the conception of the Divine held by our early forefathers ... [T]hese early forefathers of ours lived on the continent of Atlantis ... Finally, the cosmic symbol of Man is the pentagram, hanging at the top of the tree. Of the deepest meaning of the pentagram we may not now speak. But it is the star of humanity, of evolving humanity; it is the star that all wise men follow, as did the Priest-Sages of old.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), lecture 2GA 96.

If you see a Christmas tree decorated this way in a Waldorf school, you may want to pause and reflect. 

[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955]

* Roses are the key symbol in Rosicrucianism, the occult path that Steiner said is correct for modern humans. [See “Rosy Cross”.]

** These are components of human nature, according to Anthroposophical doctrine. [See “What We’re Made Of”.]

A Waldorf Christmas

According to Christian tradition, a group of Magi or wise men traveled from the East bearing presents for the infant Jesus. Anthroposophy accepts this tradition, but — as usual — Rudolf Steiner gave it his own interpretation. In his version, the three Magi were occult initiates and the gift they brought was Oriental “mystery” wisdom.

Initiation is a central concept in the Waldorf belief system. Spiritual truths are hidden, mysterious, occult. Only initiates — people who have been admitted to the innermost circles of spiritual knowledge — comprehend these truths. At a fundamental level, the purpose of Anthroposophy is to lead its follower to initiation. One of Steiner’s central texts is HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS: A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophic Press, 1994). Many Anthroposophists — including Waldorf teachers — believe that they are initiates.

• “Who are the Magi? They represent the Initiates of the three preceding races or epochs of culture, the Initiates of mankind up to the time of the coming of Christ....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), lecture 6, GA B60.

• “This is the mystery of the ancient initiates bringing their offerings to the new mystery — the Wise Men who are bearers of the wisdom of times past....” — Rudolf Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 143-144.

Steiner’s followers, including many Waldorf teachers, believe that they possess secret spiritual knowledge extending far back into the ancient past. They think that ancient initiates, studying in their “mystery centers,” understood the spirit realm well, but today’s initiates (i.e., themselves) understand it even better because initiation today includes the knowledge and powers that Christ brought to humanity. Christ is the “new mystery” that Anthroposophists claim to 
comprehend. Thus, in the Waldorf universe, the mass of Christ — Christmas — revolves around initiation.

A Waldorf Christmas

Christmas celebrations at Waldorf schools sometimes seem conventional and thus inoffensive: a tree is decorated, carols are sung, presents are exchanged. Where’s the harm in any of that?

No harm at all, if you believe the doctrines of Anthroposophy. But if you are not a devout Anthroposophist, you may want to think long and hard before joining Waldorf observances of Christmas.

Here is how Christmas is described by one Anthroposophical spokesperson:

“[T]he whole evolution of humanity* can be seen as a gradual approach to what approaches us in the figure of Christ ** ... Jesus and Christ are not one and the same***, but the former provided a vessel for a wholly non-material force and love to infuse...the being of Christ who embraces, renews and transfigures the darkness and dead weight of earth, and seeds it with inner light.****” — Matthew Barton, introduction to CHRISTMAS, a collection of pronouncements made by Rudolf Steiner (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 3-5.

* Many Christians do not believe in evolution. In Anthroposophy, the spiritual evolution of humanity is a central doctrine and goal.

** In Anthroposophy, Christ is our “prototype” — we should evolve to become like him. [See “Prototype”.]

*** Christ is the Sun God who incarnated in the body of the man Jesus.

**** Compare this to “The Little Sun Child”, which we reviewed in episode IV of A Waldorf Christmas. Waldorf teachers often sneak Anthroposophical doctrines into the classroom. [See “Sneaking It In”.]

A Waldorf Christmas

Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe in a single all-powerful God. This God occupies the central position in normal Christmas observances. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of God’s son on Earth.

Anthroposophy sees things quite differently. There is no all-powerful God in Anthroposophical belief.* Omnipotence and omniscience are only distant ideals, which the evolving universe may reach in the distant future — but they do not exist now. According to Waldorf belief, God does not exist, at least not as the monotheistic faiths describe Him. In Anthroposophy, there are many, many gods, including evil gods such as the arch-demon Ahriman. (Steiner imported Ahriman from Zoroastrianism. References to Ahriman are just one of the strange elements in the Anthroposophical version of Christmas.)

“We can speak of omnipotence as a kind of ideal, but at the same time this conjures the contrary image of Ahriman.** We can speak of omniscience as an ideal, but at the same time this conjures the opposing force of Lucifer ... The Jesus child as embodied in the Gospel of St Luke can be felt as a personification of love — placed between omniscience and omnipotence.”*** — Rudolf Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 51.

When a Waldorf school celebrates Christmas, concepts such as these — the existence of Ahriman, etc. — are in the minds and hearts of many of the Waldorf faculty members. The faith enacted in Waldorf Christmas celebration is not Christianity. It is Anthroposophy.

* Anthroposophists sometimes speak of God, and the prayers Waldorf students recite often address God. But this is a disguise or misunderstanding. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See “Polytheism”.]

** A note at the end of CHRISTMAS explains “Lucifer and Ahriman are the two polar forces of evil in Steiner’s cosmology. Lucifer tempts us away from the earth while Ahriman fetters us to it.” [p. 151.]

*** Steiner taught that Christ stands between Ahriman and Lucifer. These demons offer humanity gifts or temptations that must be balanced by the influence of Christ. Thus, the powers we are evolving toward — including omnipotence and omniscience — must be moderated by Christ so that they are not perverted by Ahriman and Lucifer.

A Waldorf Christmas

What is Christ's central message to us? Perhaps it is this: We should love God above all else, and we should love our neighbors as ourselves.* Most Christians, when considering their faith, will think of this injunction. For Rudolf Steiner’s followers, however, the central Christian teaching is quite different. For them, all the statements attributed by the Bible to Christ have passed through the mind of Rudolf Steiner and emerged as something else. Here is the Anthroposophical version of "Love God and love your neighbor":

“The Gospel says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself, and God above all.’ Another way of putting it is, ‘If one looks upon the divine in the light of the present day aspect of the three ideals [religion, art, and science]** as a modern human being must, one learns to love the divine.’” — Rudolf Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 83.

Whoa. Steiner has not given us the same message in different words. He has given us a different message. And this, gentle reader, is the point. If you are a spiritual person and you want to embrace the spirituality of Waldorf education, fine, do so. Enroll yourself and your children — enter the Waldorf universe. But, please, do so with your eyes open. Know what sort of universe you are entering. It is not the universe of Christianity. Nor that of Judaism. Nor Islam. Nor Buddhism, nor Hinduism, nor even Theosophy. It is the universe of Anthroposophy, which Rudolf Steiner invented. Steiner’s new religion incorporates bits and pieces of many other religions (which is why Waldorf students are often required to study many world religions), but it is identical to none of them. It is something different, something very strange. It is the gnostic, esoteric, occult concoction called Anthroposophy. If you want it, it is available to you. But walk through that door with your eyes open — and send your children through that door only if you are completely sure that you are making the right decision for them.

* Matthew 22:365-40: 

“One of [the Pharisees], an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”

** Here is Steiner’s explanation of the three ideals. Note that it is polytheistic and thus incompatible with monotheistic Christianity. 

“[M]en's beholding of the gods became the inner life of the religious ideal. Their symbolical-allegorical expression of divine forms through the various media was the life underlying the ideal of art. In their re-telling of what the gods had told them lived the ideal of science. These three ideals merged into one in ancient Oriental times, for they were at bottom one and the same.” — AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY, p. 74.

A Waldorf Christmas


“Christ was always the representative of the Sun, namely, the intelligence of the Sun ... The sign of the intelligence of the Sun is the following ... This is, at the same time, the occult sign of the lamb. The lamb receives the book with the seven seals ... The seven corners of the sign are called 'horns.' But what do the 'eyes' mean?

“In occult schools the signs of the seven planets are written next to the seven eyes. The seven eyes signify nothing other than the seven planets, while the names of the planets designate the spirits incarnated in them as their intelligence... The lamb, Christ, contains all seven. Christ is the alpha and the omega; the seven planets are related to him like members to an entire body." — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993), pp. 19-21. [R.R. sketch, 2010, based on the one in the book.]

To find the true meaning of Christmas, we need to examine the teachings of Christ. One of Christ's most important teachings is the Lord's Prayer, in which He showed us how to address God. Here is the prayer as traditionally used:

Our Father who art in Heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name; 
Thy kingdom come; 
Thy will be done 
On earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread; 
And forgive us our trespasses 
As we forgive those who trespass against us; 
And lead us not into temptation, 
But deliver us from evil. 
For thine is the kingdom 
And the power 
And the glory, 
[See Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13;

As usual, Rudolf Steiner found the Bible insufficient; he used several alternatives to the Lord's Prayer. The most extreme is this:


Evils reign

Bearing witness to I-being

Separating itself

and to selfhood's guilt —

Incurred through others,

Experienced in the daily bread

Wherein the will of heaven

Does not reign,

Because humanity

Has separated itself

From Your Kingdom

And forgot your names

Ye Fathers in the Heavens.


(SteinerBooks, 2002), pp 21-22.

This truly bizarre text can also be found 

— in some cases with minor alternations — 

in Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), p.221,

Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 147,

and Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 66.

Anthroposophists proudly affirm it.

Steiner's version reworks the prayer extensively, using different words, reversing the order, and addressing a plethora of gods rather than one God. If you are looking for the true meaning of Christmas, don't look for it in a school that accepts Rudolf Steiner's teachings.

A Waldorf Christmas

What is the true meaning of Christmas? Surely it is to be found in the teachings of Christ. One of Christ's most important teachings is the Sermon on the Mount, in which he pronounced blessings on suffering mankind. Here are the first three of these beatitudes as given in the Bible:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

[Matthew 5:3-5]

As usual, Rudolf Steiner found the Bible insufficient; he changed it to conform to his own teachings. Here is some of what he substituted for the first three beatitudes:

Beatitude 1:

“All the members of [man’s] being — the physical and etheric bodies, the sentient, rational and consciousness souls, the ego, and even the higher soul members — receive new life through the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. These teachings are in complete accord with the teachings of primeval wisdom.

“In order for an individual to enter the spiritual world in earlier times, the etheric body had to be slightly separated from the physical body, which was thus formed in a special way. Christ Jesus therefore said in regard to the physical body, ‘Blessed are the beggars, the poor in spirit, for if they develop their ego-ruled bodies in the right way, they will find the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

Beatitude 2:

“Of the etheric body He [i.e., Christ] said, ‘Formerly, men could be healed of illnesses of the body and soul by ascending into the spiritual world in a state of ecstasy. Now those who suffer and are filled with the spirit of God can be healed and comforted by finding the source, the comfort, within themselves.’”

Beatitude 3:

“Of the astral body He [i.e., Christ] said, ‘In former times those whose astral bodies were beset by wild and tempestuous passions could only be subdued when equanimity, peace and purification streamed to them from divine spiritual beings.’ Now men should find the strength within their own egos, through the in-dwelling Christ, to purify the astral body on earth. Thus, the new influence in the astral body had to be presented by saying, ‘Blessed and God-imbued in their astral bodies are those who foster calmness and equanimity within themselves; all comfort and well-being on earth shall be their reward.’” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), pp. 29-30. [For more of Steiner's reworking of the Sermon on the Mount, see "Sermon".]

If you are looking for the true meaning of Christmas, don't look for it in a school that accepts Rudolf Steiner's teachings. Rudolf Steiner considered the Bible so inadequate, he wrote his own amendment. Literally. THE FIFTH GOSPEL gives Steiner's "clairvoyant" account of the life of Jesus, studded with unbiblical concepts such as karma and reincarnation. This is the gospel embraced by Anthroposophists. 

"The Fifth Gospel is the anthroposophical Gospel ." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 37. 

Unless you are willing to accept Steiner's new gospel, and his revised Sermon on the Mount, and his revised Lord's Prayer, and all of his occult doctrines, you are unlikely to find what you seek in the Waldorf universe. The real meaning of Christmas — like the real meaning of almost everything else — lies elsewhere.

More of what you may not have known about Christmas:

"The Christmas Festival is the Festival of the Holy Night, celebrated in the Mysteries by those who were ready for the awakening of the higher Self within them, or, as we should say in our time, those who have brought the Christ to birth within them.

"Only those who have no inkling of the fact that as well as the chemical and physical forces, spiritual forces are also at work and that the workings of both kinds of forces take effect at definite times and seasons in cosmic life, can imagine that the moment of the awakening of the higher Self in man is of no importance. In the Greater Mysteries man beheld the forces working through all existence; he saw the world around him filled with spirit, with spiritual Beings; he beheld the world of spirit around him, radiant with light and colour. There can be no more sublime experience than this and in due time it will come to everyone. Although for some it may be only after many incarnations, nevertheless the moment will come for all men when Christ will be resurrected within them and new vision, new hearing will awaken. In preparation for the awakening, the pupils in the Mysteries were first taught of the cosmic significance of this awakening and only then was the sacred Act itself performed. It took place at the time when darkness on the earth is greatest, when the external sun gives out least light and warmth — at Christmas time — because those who are cognisant of the spiritual facts know that at this time of the year, forces that are favourable for such an awakening stream through cosmic space. During his preparation the pupil was told that one who would be a true knower must have knowledge not only of what has been happening on the earth for thousands and thousands of years but must also be able to survey the whole course of the evolution of humanity, realising that the great festivals have their own, essential place within that evolution and must be dedicated to contemplation of the eternal truths. The pupil's gaze was directed to the time when our earth was not as it is now, when there was no sun, no moon out yonder in the heavens, but both were still united with the earth, when earth, sun and moon formed one body. Even then man was already in existence, but he had no body; he was still a spiritual being. No sunlight fell from outside upon these spiritual beings, for the sunlight was within the earth itself. This was not the sunlight that shines from outside upon objects and beings to-day, but it was inner sunlight that glowed within all beings of the earth. Then came the time when the sun separated from the earth, when its light shone down upon the earth from the universe outside. The sun had withdrawn from the earth and inner darkness came upon man. This was the beginning of his evolution towards that future when the inner light will again be radiant within him. Man must learn to know the things of the earth with his outer senses; he evolves to the stage where the higher Man, Spirit-Man [1], again glows and shines within him. From light, through darkness, to light — such is the path of the evolution of mankind." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), lecture 2, “Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival”, GA 96.

"Everywhere it was the same: in the Egyptian Mysteries, in the Eleusinian Mysteries [2], in the Mysteries of Asia Minor, of Babylon and Chaldea, as well as in the Mithras-cult [3] and in the Indian Mysteries of Brahman [4]. Everywhere the same experiences were undergone by the pupils of these Mysteries at the midnight hour of the Holy Night." — Ibid.

Concerning decorations on the tree: There should be roses, and also occult symbols:

"The Roses, growing out of the green, are a symbol of the Eternal which springs from the Temporal.

"The square is the symbol of the fourfold nature of man; physical body, ether-body, astral body and ego. 

"The triangle is the symbol for Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man. 

"Above the triangle is the symbol for Tarok [5]. Those who were initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries knew how to interpret this sign. They knew too, how to read the Book of Thoth, consisting of 78 leaves on which were inscribed all happenings in the world from the beginning to the end, from Alpha to Omega [6] and which could be read if the signs were rightly put together. These pictures gave expression to the life that dies and then springs again to new life. Whoever could combine the right numbers with the right pictures, were able to read the Book. This wisdom of numbers and of pictures had been taught from time immemorial. In the Middle Ages it was still in the fore ground although little of it survives to-day.

"Above this symbol is the Tao [7] — the sign that is a reminder of the conception of the Divine held by our early forefathers; it comes from the word: TAO. Before Europe, Asia and Africa were scenes of human civilisation, these early forefathers of ours lived on the continent of Atlantis which was finally submerged by mighty floods. In the Germanic sagas of Nifelheim or Nebelheim [8], the memory of Atlantis still lives. For Atlantis was not surrounded by pure air. Vast cloud-masses moved over the land, like those to be seen to-day clustering around the peaks of high mountains. The sun and moon did not shine clearly in the heavens — they were surrounded by rainbows — by the sacred Iris. At that time man understood the language of nature. To-day he no longer understands what speaks to him in the rippling of waves, in the noise of winds, in the rustling of leaves, in the rolling of thunder — but in old Atlantis he understood it. He felt it all as a reality. And within these voices of clouds and waters and leaves and winds a sound rang forth: TAO — That am I. The man of Atlantis heard and understood it, feeling that Tao pervaded the whole universe.

"Finally, the cosmic symbol of Man is the pentagram [9], hanging at the top of the tree. Of the deepest meaning of the pentagram we may not now speak. But it is the star of humanity, of evolving humanity; it is the star that all wise men follow, as did the Priest-Sages of old. It symbolises the very essence and meaning of earth-existence. It comes to birth in the Holy Night because the greatest Light shines forth from the deepest Darkness. Man is living on towards a state where the Light is to be born in him, where words full of significance will be replaced by others equally significant, where it will no longer be said: ‘The Darkness comprehendeth not the Light,’ but when the truth will ring out from cosmic space: The Darkness gives way before the Light that shines in the Star of Humanity — and now the Darkness comprehendeth the Light!

"This should resound and the spiritual Light ray forth from the Christmas Festival. We will celebrate this Christmas Festival as the Festival of the supreme Ideal of mankind, for then it will bring to birth in our souls the joyful confidence: I too shall experience the birth of the higher Man within me! In me too the birth of the Saviour, the birth of the Christos [10] will take place!" — Ibid.

"What was the nature of this primeval festival that was celebrated all over the earth at this time of year? In answering this question, we shall restrict our considerations today to those marvelous fire festivals that were celebrated in ancient times in regions of Europe, Scandinavia, Scotland, and in England by the ancient Celtic priests, the Druids.

"What was the nature of their celebration? They celebrated the end of the winter season and the approach of spring. Though, to be sure, winter deepens as we move toward Christmas, nevertheless, a victory proclaims itself in nature at this time that is the symbol of hope, confidence and trust for man. In this way the victory of the sun over the counter forces of nature was expressed in most languages. Today we have felt how the days have grown shorter, which is an expression of the withering and falling asleep of the forces of nature, and this will continue until the day we celebrate as Christmas, a day that was also celebrated by our ancestors. From this day on, the days begin to grow longer. The light of the sun celebrates its victory over darkness. Materialistic thought does not reflect much on this event, but for those endowed with vital feeling and knowledge, it was the living expression for a spiritual experience of the Godhead that guides our lives. As an important and decisive event is experienced in the individual personal life of a man, so the winter solstice was experienced as a decisive event in the life of a higher being — as the memorial of something uniquely sublime. We are thus led to the fundamental concept of the Christmas festival as a cosmic festival, a festival of the first order for humanity." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL (Anthroposophic Press, 1967), lecture 2, “The Christmas Festival as the Symbol of the Sun Victory”, GA 54.

"Our ancestors felt themselves to be spiritual children of the whole universe and understood that we have become human beings through what the sun spirit had called forth as our spirit. For us, the victory of the sun over darkness signifies a memory of the victory for our soul when for the first time the sun shone down upon the earth as it does today. It was a sun victory when the immortal soul descended into the physical body and immersed itself in the darkness of instincts, desires and passions." — Ibid.

"Those initiated [11] into the second degree were called the 'Occult Ones,' those of the third, the 'Warriors,' and those of the fourth, the 'Lions.' The initiates of the fifth degree were called by the name of their people — Persian or Indian, for example — because only these initiates were true representatives of their peoples. The initiate of the sixth degree was called a 'Sun Hero,' that of the seventh, bore the name 'Father.'” — Ibid.

"Our scientists know little about these things. To be sure, they see that sun myths are crystallized around the lives of all the great founders of religions. But they do not know that in the initiation ceremonies the leaders were raised to Sun Heroes [12], and it is not at all remarkable when materialistic research rediscovers these customs of the ancients. Sun myths connected with Buddha and even with Christ have been searched out and found. Here you have the reason why they could be found in these myths. They had been put into them in the first place because they represented a direct imprint of the sun rhythm and were the great examples that should be followed.

"The soul of such a Sun Hero who had attained this inner harmony was no longer considered to be a single individual human soul, but one that had brought to birth in itself the universal soul streaming through the whole cosmos. This universal soul was called 'Chrestos' in ancient Greece, and the sublime sages of the Orient knew it by the name, 'Buddhi.' When one has ceased to feel himself to be only the bearer of his individual soul and comes to experience the universe within himself, then he has created an image in himself of what as Sun Soul12 was united with the human body at that time. Then he has achieved something of tremendous significance for the evolution of mankind." — Ibid.


"What were the feelings of men who had some inkling of the secrets of Christianity during those early centuries? They said to themselves: The Christ Spirit10 weaves through the world that is revealed through the senses and through the human spirit. In the far distant past this Christ Spirit revealed Himself to Moses. The secret of the human ‘ I ’ resounded to Moses as it resounds to us from the symbol on the Christmas Tree from the sounds I A O — the Alpha and the Omega, preceded by the I. This was what resounded in the soul of Moses when the Christ Spirit appeared to him in the burning bush. And this same Christ Spirit led Moses to the place where He was to recognise Him in His true being. This is described in the Old Testament where it is said that the Lord led Moses to Mount Nebo ‘over against Jericho’ and showed him what must still come to pass before the Christ Spirit could incarnate in the body of a man. To Moses on Mount Nebo, this Spirit said: But thou to whom I revealed myself in advance, mayest not bear what thou hast in thy soul into the evolution of thy people; for they have first to prepare what is to come to pass when the time is fulfilled.

"And when, through many centuries, the evolutionary preparation had been completed, the same Spirit by Whom Moses had been held back, did indeed reveal Himself  — by becoming Flesh, by taking on a human body, the body of Jesus of Nazareth. Therewith mankind as a whole was led from the stage of Initiation signified by the word ‘Jericho’ to that indicated by the crossing of the Jordan.

"The hearts and minds of those who in the early centuries of our era understood the true import of Christianity turned to the Baptism in the Jordan of Jesus of Nazareth into whom Christ descended, Christ the Sun-Earth-Spirit [13]. It was this — the birth of Christ — that was celebrated as a Mystery in the early Christian centuries [14]. The insight for which we prepare ourselves to-day through Anthroposophy, through the wisdom belonging to the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch of civilisation, flashed up in the form of vision from the vestiges of ancient clairvoyance still surviving during the age when the Mystery of Golgotha [15] took place; it flashed up in the Gnostics [16], those remarkable, enlightened men who lived at the turning-point of the old and the new eras, whose conception of the Christ Mystery differed in respect of form but not in respect of content, from our own. What the Gnostics were able to teach trickled through into the world and although what had actually come to pass in the event indicated symbolically by the Baptism in the Jordan was not widely understood, there was nevertheless an inkling that the Sun Spirit had been born at that time as the Spirit of the Earth, that a cosmic Power had dwelt in the body of a man of earth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955) lecture 3, “The Birth of the Sun-Spirit as the Spirit of the Earth”, GA 127.

"The Jesus of the Gospel of St. Luke — not the Jesus described in the Gospel of St. Matthew — is the Child before whom the shepherds worship. [17] To them the proclamation rang forth: Now is the Divine revealed from the heavenly heights, bringing peace to the souls of men who are of good-will. And so for the centuries when the higher reality was beyond man's grasp, the festival was instituted which every year brings to his remembrance: Although you cannot gaze into the heavenly heights and there recognise the great Sun-Spirit, you bear within you, from the time of your earthly beginning, the Child-Soul [18] in its state of purity, unsullied by the effects of physical incarnation; and the forces of this Child-Soul can give you the firm confidence that you can be victorious over the lower nature which clings to you as the result of Lucifer's temptation. The linking of the festival of Jesus' birth with remembrance of Adam and Eve gave emphasis to the thought that at the place visited by the shepherds a human soul had been born in the state of innocence in which the soul existed before the first incarnation on earth." — Ibid.

"But one soul — one soul only — remained in this condition, namely the soul of the Jesus Child described in the Gospel of St. Luke. This soul was kept back in the spiritual life when the other human souls began to pass through their incarnations on the earth. This soul remained in the guardianship of the holiest Mysteries through the Atlantean and Post-Atlantean epochs until the time of the events in Palestine. Then it was sent forth into the body predestined to receive it and became one of the two Jesus children — the Child described in the Gospel of St. Luke.

"Thus did the festival of Christ's Nativity become the festival of the Birth of Jesus.

"If we rightly understand this festival we must say: That which we believe to be born anew symbolically every Christmas Night, is the human soul in its original nature, the childhood-spirit of man as it was at the beginning of earth-evolution [19]; then it descended as a revelation from the heavenly heights. And when the human heart can become conscious of this reality, the soul is filled with the unshakable peace that can bear us to our lofty goals, if we are of goodwill. Mighty indeed is the word that can resound to us on Christmas Night, do we but understand its import [20]." — Ibid.

Jerusalem —
where preparations were made for
Christ the Sun God to come to Earth.
[Monica Gold.]

Here is a Christmas message I posted 
on the "news" page in 2010:

“Not only does [a] purifying and ennobling process continue throughout a single lifetime, but through many, as the ego evolves to higher and higher stages of development through successive lives or re-embodiments ... [T]he twin concepts of reincarnation and karma or destiny are central to [Steiner’s] spiritual-scientific system.” — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 28.  

There is no science in Anthroposophy (i.e., “spiritual science”). And, sadly, there is very little real spirit in it, either.

Anthroposophists disparage reality, calling the physical universe a “materialistic” sphere of entropy and death. They want to inhabit a higher, immaterial universe of living spirit. Probably most human beings can sympathize with this aspiration. We all want meaning and magic in our lives. But unless we open our eyes to real, factual truth, the aspiration in and of itself will get us nowhere. Consider. We know for certain that some forms of life exist: ourselves, dogs, cats, whales, cattle, horses... And where do they exist? Right here, in the real, physical universe.

And what about spirit? Do we know for certain that some forms of spirit exist? Of course. The spirit of friendship, the spirit of love, the spirit of mercy, the spirit of honesty, the spirit of truthfulness, the spirit of reverence... And where do these forms of spirit exist? Right here, in the real, physical universe; they exist in the hearts and minds that we, as real forms of life, possess.

To anyone who wishes for a universe of living spirit, I would say: Open your eyes. It is right here. It is all around you. In the real universe. We don't need drummed-up spiritual fantasies such as Steiner's. Reality is more than sufficient.


[1] In Theosophy/Anthroposophy, Spirit-Man or spirit man is Atma(n), a spiritual component of human nature, the transformed physical body, the Godhead within.

[2] The Eleusinian Mysteries were ancient Greek observances in honor of the gods Demeter and Persephone.

[3] Mithras is the Sun God as worshipped in ancient Persia. He thus may be seen as a precursor or variant of Christ.

[4] In Hinduism, Brahman is the ultimate ground of being.

[5] The Tarok is a mystic symbol resembling a capital T with a P grafted to its right side. It represents ancient Egyptian occult or mystery wisdom as found in the Book of Toth.

[6] Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In occultism, they represent the beginning and the end of all things.

[7] Tao looks like a capital T with a small o sitting atop it. In Anthroposophy, it is taken as a reminder of Atlantis, which Steiner said really existed.

[8] In Norse myths, Nifelheim is the place of mists; it stands opposite Muspellsheim, the place of fire. Between them is the Yawning Gap, which may be equated with the Abyss.

[9] A five-pointed star. Such a star atop an Anthroposophical Christmas tree is not the ordinary Star of Bethlehem: It is the occult symbol for man and/or for man’s etheric body. (If a five-pointed star is turned upside down, it becomes the occult symbol for black magic. A six-pointed star signifies man’s astral body.)

[10] Do not confuse Jesus with Christ. At Christmas, Anthroposophists celebrate the birth of the human being who would become the host for Christ, the Sun God, or Christos, the spirit of Christ. Christ is not so much the Son of God as a cosmic power, one of the gods. Also note that, according to Steiner, Christ is our “Saviour” only in a special sense: He is our "Ideal", our Prototype. Christ points the way to the “higher Man” we should become. According to Steiner, the spirit of Christ was known (imperfectly) to occultists in the distant past, usually under names other than "Christ," names such as "Hu" or "Apollo." Prior religions paved the way for Christianity — by which Steiner meant Anthroposophy. The "Christianity" found in churches is errant, Steiner taught. (Sometimes Steiner applied to term "Christianity" to the religion found in churches; at other times he applied it to his own doctrines. But he always stressed the difference between mainstream church beliefs and his teachings. Anthroposophy, he said, is corrected Christianity.)

[11] Initiation is entry into the inner circle where occult secrets are revealed. Initiation is needed in Anthroposophy as in prior mystic cults.

[12] There is not complete uniformity on all these points; there are factions and schisms. The Sun Soul is the spirit of the Sun, usually deemed to be the Sun God, Christ. But Michael, the Archangel of the Sun, is sometimes taken to be the Sun Soul or one Sun soul. Sun Heroes represent or champion the Sun Soul(s). (The Antichrist, Sorat, is the demon of the Sun.)

[13] Anthroposophists believe that Christ, the Sun God or Sun Spirit, became the Earth Spirit when Jesus was crucified — his blood flowed into the Earth, bearing with it the Sun Spirit which then united with the Earth.

[14] Early Christian mystics, Steiner said, understood Christ and Christmas in the true way, which subsequently has been forgotten in mainstream churches. Thus, in celebrating the birth of Jesus, early mystic Christians were really celebrating the "Mystery" of Christ: how He came from the Sun, entered a human being, and then became the Earth Spirit and our Prototype.

[15] The central event of the Christ Mystery occurred at the Crucifixion, upon Calvary, also known as Golgotha.

[16] The Gnostics were 2nd-century Christians whose teachings were later rejected by the Church — they were heretics. Anthroposophy draws many teachings from the Gnostics.

[17] The Biblical accounts of Jesus’s boyhood years do not mesh. One solution — adopted by Steiner and some others — is to claim that there were two separate Jesus children, two separate human beings who both contributed to the miracle of Christ's incarnation on the Earth. Steiner taught that the two Jesus children — the Solomon Jesus child and the Nathan Jesus child — eventually combined, in the sense that the second (Nathan) Jesus received the spiritual essence or Ego of the first (Solomon) Jesus. The combined Jesus went on to host the Sun God, Christ. The first Jesus child was the reincarnated being who had once been Zarathustra. The second Jesus child was the being described in the Koran. The combined Jesus was "the Solomonic Nathanic" Jesus. 

[18] Anthroposophists believe that every real human being is a microcosm, carrying within itself all that is best in the macrocosm, the universe. The soul of a child arrives on Earth carrying within itself the unsullied essence of spiritual wisdom. One consequence is that Waldorf schools try to keep children young. (Anthroposophists also believe that some people are not really human. These subhuman or demonic people are not true microcosms, of course.)

[19] Christ is our model, the one who shows us how to evolve properly. Evolution lies at the heart of Anthroposophical doctrines — not Darwinian evolution, but Steiner's occult, mystic version of evolution, which is a carefully scripted plan laid down for us by the high spiritual powers.

[20] Anthroposophists believe that only they, who accept the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, understand the true import of Christmas.

- Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

The formatting at Waldorf Watch aims for visual variety, 
seeking to ease the process of reading lengthy texts on a computer screen. 

To visit other Waldorf Watch pages
related to this page, 
use the underlined links, below.

also see "Religion, Spirituality"


community : the Christian Community

events : specifically, Christ Events

JvH : she does it her way

Logos : the Cosmic Word

prototype : our representative

Sermon : on the Mount

Sun God : the Christ you didn't know

trinity : God, gods...



extremity : love, out of bounds

fairy tales : their use in Waldorf schools

gender : boys and girls

holistic education : the "whole child"

if only : wishing, hoping...

more on education : quotations about education, religion, health...

PR : efforts to "re-brand" Waldorf schools

pseudoscience : at Waldorf schools

Q&A : informed opinions, and others

schools themselves : the

spiritual syllabus : in the open

star power : astrology Waldorf-style

this very day : Waldorf and Steiner schools pledging allegiance

visits : welcome?

Waldorf priests : doing their duty

BBC & SWSF : on the air