“Modern exact clairvoyance, 

as developed by him [i.e., Rudolf Steiner],

reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision 

as clearly as men's ordinary senses

reveal to the intellect the facts 

of the physical world.”

— Floyd McKnight


(More or Less)

Steiner claimed to possess "exact clairvoyance," 

which made his doctrines nearly unquestionable.

Here are some statements of the claim 

as well as some wonderful indications

of the wisdom obtainable through  

the use of "exact clairvoyance."

(Steiner is hard to read. Aiming at clarity, 

I have appended paraphrasings

and I have added some explanatory endnotes.)

“There is no need for me here to explain first the methods by which one comes to know these things; I assume from the outset that you receive what I say as coming from the exact clairvoyance which you will remember I described in my lectures here in London, a few months ago.” — Rudolf Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON MANS LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 4, GA 218.

Paraphrase: I don't need to begin by explaining the methods I employ to acquire occult knowledge. [1] I assume you remember what I said about exact clairvoyance during my last visit to London.

“I have described in my [PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM] how the intellectual is further developed into conscious, exact clairvoyance. It then lives in a free inner constitution of the soul. Only then can man know himself and his relation to the other parts of his being, outside his pure thinking and his free will. Through such a higher consciousness — imaginative, inspired and intuitive consciousness — man may reach in self-knowledge beyond his intellect and know himself as part of the supersensible world. And then it will be clear to him that although he is fully human, as has become clear to him in his self-knowledge, full humanity requires of him that he perfect it ever more and more.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Self Knowledge and the Christ Experience” (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1988), a lecture, GA 221.

Paraphrase: In my book THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM, I describe how intellectual powers can be heightened, leading to the development of exact clairvoyance. Such clairvoyance then exists as a free inner power of the soul. Only after gaining this power can we understand the other components of our being, aside from our powers of pure thought and free will. Through exact clairvoyance (which involves imaginative, inspired, and intuitive consciousness, and goes beyond the limits of the intellect), we attain true self-knowledge and we realize that our true home is the spirit realm. Then we understand that to be fully human, we must develop our exact clairvoyance more and more. [2]

“[O]nly those who know such things as they are here communicated can undertake in full consciousness the exercises that lead to knowledge of the higher worlds. Without the latter no genuine esoteric training is possible, for it must be understood that all groping in the dark is discouraged, and that failure to pursue this training with open eyes may lead to mediumship, but not to exact clairvoyance in the sense of spiritual science.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947),  chapter 6, “Some Results of Initiation”, GA 10.

Only those who understand my teachings can, with their eyes wide open, perform the exercises that lead to true knowledge of the spirit realm. Real esoteric training depends on the exercises I have prescribed. You must understand that groping blindly will get you nowhere — you may develop the ability to function as a medium, but you will not develop exact clairvoyance. [3]

“Anthroposophy seeks for what may be called exact clairvoyance, again to borrow a term from scientific usage; that is to say it seeks to develop a knowledge and perception of the spiritual worlds which is no less exact, no less conscientious in the sense of exact science, than is the best tendency and striving of our natural scientific age ... Now with the development of a higher science, the science of initiation, according to modern requirements and to Anthroposophy, it is necessary to train, develop and evolve by our own conscious activity both the conceptual thinking-life and the will-life, and it is thus that we can trace what has been called an exact clairvoyance, a modern science of initiation.” — Rudolf Steiner,  KNOWLEDGE AND INITIATION (Steiner Book Centre, 1983), GA 211.

Anthroposophy seeks to help its adherents to attain exact clairvoyance. (Scientists use the term "clairvoyance," so we will use it here.) [4] In other words, we seek to gain knowledge of the spirit realm that is no less exact and precise than the knowledge scientists acquire of the physical realm ... We work to develop a higher science [5] — this requires us to consciously sharpen and develop our powers of thought and will, so that we can attain exact clairvoyance.

“The student of the world of the senses directs his science to outward things, to results; but the student of the spirit pursues science as a preparation of vision. And when vision begins, science must already have fulfilled its mission. If you like to call your vision ‘clairvoyance’ it is at any rate, an ‘exact clairvoyance’. The science of the spirit begins where that? of the senses ends. Above all, the research student of the spirit must have based his whole method of thought for the newer Science on the one he applied to the world of the senses.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMOLOGY, RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), chapter 1, GA 25.

People who study the physical realm (the world that is accessible to our senses) study outward things, physical causes and effects; but people who want to know the spirit realm consider ordinary science to be a preparation for spiritual vision. When we attain such vision, we no longer need ordinary science. We can call spiritual vision "clairvoyance" or, more precisely, "exact clairvoyance." Spiritual science begins where ordinary science ends. Above all, we must apply the same scientific rigor to our study of the spirit realm as we applied to our study of the physical realm. [6]

“What is necessary in order to return to a Philosophy, a Cosmology and a Religion that embrace all man, is to enter upon the province of an exact clairvoyance in Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition; and this consciously — that is in contradistinction to the old dreamlike clairvoyance. Man attains to his full consciousness in the province of a life of abstract presentations. It remains to him, in the further advance of humanity, to bring this full consciousness of the spiritual world to bear on his daily life.” — Ibid., chapter 2.

Modern philosophy, cosmology, and religion no longer truly reflect a full understanding of human nature. To correct this, we need to develop exact clairvoyance and its components (imagination, inspiration, and intuition). This means developing a truly conscious clairvoyance, unlike the dreamlike clairvoyance that people used to possess. [7] Human consciousness today is largely dominated by abstract concepts. To evolve to higher stages, we must apply full spiritual consciousness to the daily realities of our lives. [8]

“One looks up with comprehension to what is accomplished outside when the cosmic spirit-forces send the iron arrows into the animalised desire-world of the cosmos; one feels oneself entirely bound up with the cosmos and surrendered to it. Precisely in these particular phenomena, one feels entirely surrendered to the cosmos ... [W]hen the soul has risen to exact clairvoyance, it is not possible for it to do otherwise, when it experiences such things as this — when its feeling turns inwardly towards its own meteoric process, and when looking outward it beholds in the cosmic meteor-process that rich fullness of life which is thus revealed — than to bring it all together in a comprehensive, inwardly saturated picture form, an Imagination in which is displayed how the human being, the Microcosm, and the Macrocosm are grown together. This does not mean that such an Imagination is merely built up out of fantasy; rather is it a real and true expression of a living process permeating the world and the human being.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, IV, MICHAELMAS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1957), “The Michael Inspiration”, GA 229.

Under the influence of Ahriman [9] we are in danger of descending to a level of animalistic desires; but the gods send us a countervailing force in the form of meteors ("iron arrows") that reconnect us to the wider cosmos. [10] Exact clairvoyance sees this with undeniable clarity. The gods' influences pour down inside us just as they pour down in the outer world (we have our own internal "meteoric process"). Exact clairvoyance reveals this in true mental images — "imaginations" that are not fantasies but accurate depictions of reality. We see that what happens in the cosmos, the Macrocosm, also happens within us, the Microcosms. [11]

“Oriental cultures lay nearer to the Torrid Zone, where such things were more readily accessible to the ancient elementary clairvoyance. Today, however, it is possible to come to these things in the Temperate Zone through free, exact clairvoyance ... Yet people want to go back to the ancient cultures!” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS BREATHING-PROCESS OF THE EARTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1984) lecture 3, GA 223.

Ancient cultures, such as oriental cultures located near the equator, had spiritual knowledge based on their peoples' elementary clairvoyance. Today we, in the temperate latitudes, can acquire higher knowledge through higher, exact clairvoyance ... It is foolish to want to revert to ancient ways. [12]

“The moment a man enters the realm of Moon-evolution, he behaves as though he did not live in the physical realm of the Earth at all, but in the astral world, though the astral enters into the physical and makes use of the physical body. And that which the astral develops physically in this way was at one time Moon-evolution. We are reminded that astral activity in the physical was once world-evolution — Moon-evolution — and will be so again. But then a man will be able in full consciousness to walk up steeply sloping surfaces, as flies can do today. This is an indication of what will come about in the future during the Jupiter-evolution. Thus, if we rightly understand the somnambulist, we can study the physical picture he presents, as if nature herself were giving us a demonstration of what we experienced during our Moon-existence — not, certainly, in a physical body of flesh, but in an infinitely finer substance — and of what we shall experience again when we learn to master physical substance quite consciously, during the Jupiter-evolution. So this sleep-walking state points both to the past and to the future in the evolution of the world.

“In this connection we are concerned entirely with human beings whom we can call Moon-men, who in certain moments of their life become somnambulists. But this sleep-walking behaviour, this going about in the imponderable, can be accomplished spiritually, in full consciousness, if at the same time one has sufficient strength to keep perfectly still. The somnambulist follows the impulses of the Moon-forces; he gives himself over unconsciously to them and makes every movement to which they impel him. But anyone who goes through this experience with exact, conscious clairvoyance refrains from any such movements; he keeps still. The effect is that the movements undergo a metamorphosis in him and become Intuitions. Conscious Intuition, therefore, the highest development of strict clairvoyance, actually consists in arresting the actions which a sleep-walker is instinctively compelled by the Moon-forces to perform. Anyone who brings about this metamorphosis does not give himself up to the physical forces of the Moon but holds them in check within himself. Thus he is enabled to devote himself intuitively to the relevant spirituality; that is, he attains to Intuition.

“Hence it is really very good to study in these Moon-men how, on the one hand, man is related to world-evolution, and on the other how the somnambulist and the exact clairvoyant are opposites. Whereas it is instinctive people who are the moonstruck sleep-walkers, exact clairvoyants are intuitive seers who, refraining from action, hold their own against the Moon. That is what we are shown at this point in the relation of man to the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 7, GA 227.

An individual who falls under the sway of the Moon enters a condition equivalent to the Old Moon stage of evolution. [13] It is as if he leaves ordinary physical reality and lives in the astral world [14] — astral influences pervade his physical reality and make use of his physical body. The effects of astral influences are then like conditions that prevailed during Old Moon. We are reminded that astral influences dominated our evolution during Old Moon and they will do so again. [15] But in the future our consciousness will be larger as will our physical abilities, so that physical forces such as gravity will have less hold on us. This is a glimpse of what life will be like during Future Jupiter. [16] Sleepwalking thus points back to a prior stage of evolution and it points forward to a future stage. [17]

People who reenter the Old Moon stage may be called Moon Men, and they sometimes walk in their sleep. They unconsciously enter the imponderable astral world, but we may enter that world in full consciousness if we attain sufficient spiritual discipline. [18] The sleepwalker behaves as the forces of the Moon impel him to do, but when we enter the astral world through the use of exact clairvoyance, we remain motionless. The result is that the motions we would otherwise make are transformed within us and become intuitions. [19] Intuitions which we possess in full consciousness — the highest form of exact clairvoyance — are the transformed movements that a sleepwalker is impelled to make by the Moon. [20] When we exercise spiritual discipline, we do not submit to the physical forces of the Moon, but we master them. We thus devote our consciousness to spirituality, attaining intuitive clairvoyance.

So studying sleepwalkers is productive; we see how cosmic evolution has affected humanity, and we see that sleepwalking and exact clairvoyance are opposite ends of a spectrum. Sleepwalkers are swayed by instinct, they surrender to the Moon forces, whereas exact clairvoyants achieve intuitive perception and, by controlling themselves, resist the Moon forces. This is what we see now concerning man's relation to the cosmos. [21]

Steiner did not claim to be omniscient — he did not claim that his "exact clairvoyance" made him wholly incapable of error. He acknowledged that he might slip up a little, here or there, now and again. But very, very rarely. He sometimes said that spiritual investigation is so difficult, anyone using exact clairvoyance will get some things wrong sometimes. He even said, sometimes, that future spiritual investigators may take "spiritual science" farther than he was able to go.

He tended to make such statements defensively, as if to cover himself, much as he sometimes argued that contradictions are inevitable in spiritual matters, since the truths of the spirit realm are not confined by narrow rules of logic. [See "Steiner's Illogic".]

Nonetheless, Steiner claimed that his teachings are extremely solid, coming as they do from the use of an extremely reliable faculty, exact clairvoyance. He generally claimed that he was right about almost everything almost always, since his insights derived from such dependable investigative procedures. And his followers have generally accepted his assurances on these matters, looking on him as a virtually unquestionable source of wisdom.

— Compilation and commentary

 by Roger Rawlings

For more on the wisdom Steiner attained 

through exact clairvoyance,

see, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders" and "Millennium".

Somehow, Steiner's extremely reliable, 

precise psychic powers led him over and over

into error, not truth.

Yet Steiner specified the need for 

Waldorf teachers to follow his lead

and develop their own powers of clairvoyance.

Failing that, he said, they should accept 

his clairvoyant word for virtually everything.

See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".

For an overview of the cosmology Steiner 

developed through his claimed use of clairvoyance,

see "Everything".

For pointers on how to develop clairvoyance,

see "Knowing the Worlds".

Although it was not meant as such, 

this is a fairly good representation 

of Anthroposophy as it may first appear 

to anyone beginning the process of 

trying to comprehend Steiner's 

bizarre teachings.

But take heart. It is possible to work 

your way through the maze

and leave it behind.

[Dave Phillips, 


(Dover Publications, 1979.]

"The Round Dance of the Seven."

[R.R. sketch, 2014, based on a painting by Gerard Wagner,

based on indications given by Rudolf Steiner


(SteinerBooks, 2014), p. 102.]

Here are items from the Waldorf Watch Annex
dealing with "exact clairvoyance."
(There is some duplication and overlap.
Feel free to skip over any repetitions 
that become wearisome.)


NATURE SPIRITS (Anthroposophic Press, 2003).

"Based on knowledge attained through his highly trained clairvoyance, Steiner contends that folk traditions regarding nature spirits are based on spiritual reality. He describes how people possessed a natural spiritual vision in ancient times, enabling them to commune with nature spirits. These entities — also referred to as elemental beings — became immortalized as fairies and gnomes in myth, legend, and children’s stories." — Anthroposophic Press

Books published by Rudolf Steiner's followers often present clairvoyance as a real faculty. Anthroposophists — many of whom work as Waldorf school teachers — may not believe that cats have ESP, but they believe in clairvoyance, and they think that by using clairvoyance they can discern such "realities" as nature spirits. When Waldorf teachers tell their students myths and fairy tales about gnomes, sylphs, fairies, and the like, they usually think that they are telling the kids spiritual truths.

"Does Your Cat Have ESP?

"Participate in Dr. Rupert Sheldrake's ground-breaking research on cats with ESP, and share your results with him

"Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals, wants cat owners to participate in his research by conducting experiments themselves. He says not enough research regarding cats and extrasensory perception (ESP) abilities is available." 

• ◊ •


"Does Your Cat Have ESP?" is not an Anthroposophical posting; it does not represent the Waldorf worldview. It comes, rather, from one of the weirder outlying segments of the community professing belief in ESP and/or clairvoyance. Anthroposophy and Waldorf schools occupy a more central, serious-minded position in that community (if terms likes "serious-minded" can be applied in any discussion of nonexistent psychic powers).

The entire Waldorf movement is based on clairvoyance. Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant. Indeed, he claimed to use "exact clairvoyance," meaning that his "clairvoyant" discoveries about human nature, the spirit realm, etc., are essentially unquestionable — they are "exactly" true. Steiner also taught that Waldorf faculty members should develop their own powers of clairvoyance or, at a minimum, unhesitatingly accept the pronouncements of "clairvoyants" such as himself. Here are a few of Steiner's statements on these matters:

• "[P]hilosophy does not suffice, only pedagogical principles and methods do: exact clairvoyance."  — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 1, p. 208.

• "[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, if I may so express it. This is only possible, however, when in the field of education we come to an actual experience of the spiritual. Such an experience of the spiritual is difficult to attain for modern humanity. We must realize that we really need something quite specific, something that is hardly present anywhere else in the world, if we are to be capable of mastering the task of the Waldorf school ... [We need] what humanity has lost in this respect, has lost just in the last three or four centuries. It is this that we must find again.” [Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p. 21.] Steiner taught that modern people do not have the natural clairvoyance possessed by the ancients, and thus we no longer have direct experience of the spirit realm. By following his directions, however, we can attain a new, higher form of clairvoyance — and here he explicitly tells Waldorf teachers that they should do so.

• "Along with exact clairvoyance, you must also achieve something I refer to as ideal magic." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, p. 18. "Ideal magic," according to Steiner, is the ability to enter the spirit realm through the use of Anthroposophy.

• "Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientific investigation concerning the human being." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, p. 224. "Spiritual science" is Anthroposophy. "Spiritual-scientific investigation" is the use of exact clairvoyance.

The problem in all of this is that there is no reliable evidence that clairvoyance of any kind actually exists. Careful research has been done, repeatedly, and despite occasional bursts of excitement, the final results have always been negative. [See "Clairvoyance". To look into what appears to be recent false alarm, see "ESP".]

Unless you believe in clairvoyance, you really cannot logically affirm Waldorf education. Waldorf education is built on a fantasy. Of course, you are perfectly within your rights to believe the fantasy and to choose Waldorf education for your children. But having the right to do these things is not the same as being right about these things. Parents, please think very carefully before sending children to schools where reality is spurned and fantasy is embraced as exact truth. You may unintentionally inflict serious harm on the people you love most in all the world. [For more on the Waldorf view of clairvoyance, see "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

Belief in clairvoyance pervades all parts of the Waldorf curriculum. This is from the description of a Waldorf teacher's guide, published by the Rudolf Steiner College PressThe subject is history. The subtext is clairvoyance. 

"The History curriculum for fifth and sixth grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision and, with it, the awakening of independent ego awareness and materialism. The teacher is guided to a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics, and shows how the ancient world points the way to the future." — TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).

Students taught history in this way are being fed Anthroposophy, which considers itself the "way to the future."  "Changing human consciousness." "ancient clairvoyance," "the loss of spiritual vision," "independent ego awareness," "the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics" — these are all terms and concepts that have special importance in Anthroposophy. And, clearly, if a child is taught that human history has involved the loss of an ancient form of clairvoyance, that child is being taught Anthroposophical doctrine.


November, 2011

Help wanted; a posting by the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand:

"This is an exciting new opportunity for inspired educators at this new Whitianga Kindergarten. We are seeking experienced, fully qualified Early Childhood educators who wish to work & live in an idyllic location.

"This new Kindergarten will work alongside the established Kuaotunu Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten & be managed & governed by the Kuaotunu Kindergarten Charitable Trust."  


• ◊ •


When the official bodies representing Waldorf education use words like "inspired" (an "opportunity for inspired educators"), they presumably know precisely what they mean. In Anthroposophical belief, inspiration is a form of clairvoyance, and Waldorf teachers are expected to cultivate it. Rudolf Steiner taught that most human beings today lack clairvoyance, but Waldorf teachers should attain it. No other preparation is sufficient, he said: 

"[P]hilosophy does not suffice, only pedagogical principles and methods do: exact clairvoyance." [i] 

Precise, focused clairvoyance is the "basis" of Waldorf schooling. 

“Now, if we are working as teachers — as artists in education — on human beings, we must enter into relation with their supersensible [i.e., supernatural], creative principle...the supersensible [soul] that lives in the human being’s self. The anthroposophical method of research [clairvoyance] makes this possible and so provides the basis for an art of teaching and education." [ii] 

Those Waldorf teachers who have not yet become clairvoyant should at least accept the guidance of those among their colleagues who claim to possess clairvoyance now.

"Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientific investigation [i.e., the use of clairvoyance]." [iii] 

According to the Waldorf belief system, there are three primary levels of clairvoyance: imagination, inspiration, and intuition. By following Steiner's instructions, people can attain these levels now (or so Steiner said). The rest of humanity will not reach these levels until mankind evolves to higher "planets" following our existence on today's Earth.

“Now let us consider the three states of consciousness which are still to come ... The next state known to the initiate is the so-called ‘psychic-consciousness’ or Imagination ... On the planet which will replace our Earth, the whole of humanity will have this psychic-consciousness’ or Imagination, the ‘Jupiter’ consciousness ... Then there is the sixth state of consciousness man will one day possess ... Man will look deep, deep into the nature of beings, when he lives in this consciousness, the consciousness of Inspiration ... This will be the consciousness of man when our planet will have passed into the ‘Venus’ condition ... The seventh state of consciousness is the ‘spiritual consciousness’ or Intuition...which [man] will have in addition to all the other states of consciousness when he will have reached ‘Vulcan’.” [iv]

Believe me, please. I understand how bizarre all this is. But I am not telling you what I think; I am telling you what Rudolf Steiner's followers think. You and I may have difficultly believing that Steiner's followers embrace such doctrines, but they do. Some Waldorf teachers have more faith in Steiner than others have, but the great majority accept the "wisdom" provided by Rudolf Steiner. Bear in mind, Waldorf schools are also called Rudolf Steiner schools. The central authority in the Steiner system is clearly identified — it is Rudolf Steiner — and you have just read some of his authoritative statements.

Did the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand have any of this in mind when specifying that they want "inspired" teachers? Perhaps not. But this is what the word actually means in the Steiner/Waldorf universe. I thought you might like to know.

[i] Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 1, p. 208.

[ii] Ibid., p. 207.

[iii] Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, p. 224.

[iv] Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), pp. 30-31. Note that when Steiner speaks of planets in such contexts, he was describing future stages in the evolution of the solar system. Thus, for instance, the Jupiter that lies in our future is not the Jupiter we see in the sky today. Rather, it is a new incarnation of the entire solar system. After the "Jupiter" incarnation, the solar system will reincarnate as "Venus" and then, later yet, as "Vulcan."
Here is the description of a course offered in the Waldorf teacher-training program at Rudolf Steiner College (Rudolf Steiner College 2011-2012 Catalogue):

"The Philosophy of Freedom (1.5 credits). The student will develop understanding for the epistemology underlying Anthroposophy. Answering the question, 'Can I gain certainty in knowing the world?' affirmatively leads to'‘Can I become truly free?'" 

• ◊ •


The Waldorf/Steiner belief system, Anthroposophy (the word means “human wisdom”), is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge and truth. Rudolf Steiner’s followers think they can "gain certainty" by developing powers of clairvoyance. They work to develop heightened powers of imagination, inspiration, and intuition — which Steiner identified as three stages of clairvoyance. When they think they have attained these, they believe that the views they form through these types of consciousness are true. They imagine something, or get an inspiration, of have an intuition, and this yields Truth. Such “human wisdom” becomes, in their view, essentially unarguable. [i] They are then freed from any need to dispute their views with outsiders; they feel no need to consider the opinions of outside scholars and scientists. [ii] All external knowledge (i.e., knowledge developed through use of the senses, the brain, and the rules of logic) becomes suspect, in their view; to know the Truth, they look inward, not outward. They are “free” of external rules, limitations, and doubts; they are “free” to think what they want. 

This freedom is not absolute, however. Steiner often said that spiritual seekers need to follow gurus or spiritual guides, such as (guess who?) himself. [See "Guru".] He also spoke of the crucial difference between the white path of truth (his own) and the black path of falsehood. He said that he apprehended the truths of the white path through his use of “exact clairvoyance” — his occult “discoveries” are virtually unquestionable because they are exactly true. Thus, his followers have the choice between the path of truth and the path of fallacy. Their “freedom” is little more than the power to make a single decision. They can freely decide to believe in Steiner and his system, or they can freely choose to suffer the dreadful consequences of failing to believe in Steiner and his system. [iii]  

On the Waldorf Watch "news" page, we have looked at numerous courses included in Waldorf teacher training programs. Here's a recap. Aspiring Waldorf teachers are taught about planetary stages of evolution/cosmic evolution, the evolution of consciousness, karma, reincarnation, macrocosm/microcosm, astrology, astrosophy, seven-year-long phases of incarnation, the twelve human senses, the four temperaments, the Anthroposophical take on the kingdoms of nature, the Anthroposophical take on human nature, planetary soul types/soul types in children, spirituality in art, mystery or occult centers, occult wisdom, Atlantis, cultural epochs (i.e., historical periods of spiritual evolution), meditative work to be done by teachers, spiritual streams, initiation, Sun initiates, and Isis. Among other things. All of this is taught, of course, "from the standpoint of Anthroposophy." 

There is no separation between the mysticism of Anthroposophy and the Waldorf worldview. Waldorf trainees study these subjects in order to become Waldorf teachers. Gentle reader, please bear this in mind. The people being taught to separate themselves from reality in this manner, the people receiving this instruction in the practice of self-deception, are aspiring Waldorf teachers. Soon after completing their training, they will offer themselves as educators for your children. If they have taken to heart the lessons given at Rudolf Steiner College and other Waldorf teacher-training schools, they may well rank among the very last people you should consider for such important work.

[i] Some Anthroposophists are more sophisticated than others in sorting through their "clairvoyant" findings; some are more scrupulous in "controlling" their clairvoyant powers. But all of them harbor the same fundamental delusion, accepting the most unreliable states of consciousness as the most reliable.
[ii] Anthroposophical books sometimes include this prefatory note: “No person is held qualified to form a judgment on the contents of this work, who has not acquired — through the School of Spiritual Science itself or in an equivalent manner recognized by the School of Spiritual Science — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded....”  The School of Spiritual Science is a central Anthroposophical institution preserving and extending the results Steiner's claimed clairvoyance. In essence, the prefatory note rejects all views except those stemming from Steiner and his clairvoyant system.

[iii] Anthroposophists do have a bit of wiggle room. They can disagree with one another about the meaning of Steiner’s various teachings — doctrinal disagreements are as common in Anthroposophy as in any other faith system. Thus, each Anthroposophist can be “certain” that his or her “clairvoyant knowledge” is true, even if others have different “clairvoyant knowledge” and even if Steiner, by some accounts, taught something different from what an individual Anthroposophist has “certainly” learned through inward vision.


Quotes of the Day, 2011

"Modern exact clairvoyance, as developed by him [i.e., Rudolf Steiner], reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision as clearly as men's ordinary senses reveal to the intellect the facts of the physical world.” — Floyd McKnight, RUDOLF STEINER AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in America, 1977), p. 4.

• ◊ •


According to Rudolf Steiner, the Bible is obsolete. The Bible offers a simplified narrative created for unsophisticated people in prior centuries. Today, we are ready for a more up-to-date revelation, one that Steiner himself provided. Steiner used his “exact clairvoyance" to study the Akashic Record — a celestial storehouse of wisdom. Or so he said. Thanks to this “research,” he was able to produce a “fifth gospel” that corrects the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Or so he said.

“Dr. Steiner called what he shared ‘additions’ because he said the four synoptic Gospels also draw their imagery from the same starry ‘picture book’ of the Fifth Gospel in the Akasha. Dr. Steiner is clear; his research shows the synoptic Gospels are — in part — imagery drawn from the Akashic Records. He discusses the service the authors of the original four Gospels performed in creating elementary ‘picture books’ of the spiritual path of Christianity, appropriate for people of their day and the next 1,500 years to come.” — Bruce Dickson, RUDOLF STEINER’S FIFTH GOSPEL IN STORY FORM (Dickson, 1991), p. 7.

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, “akasha” is a universal ether, sometimes defined as starlight. The Akasha Chronicle or Record is a sort of universal encyclopedia recording everything that have ever happened (which may include everything that will happen), inscribed on akasha. [See "Akasha".] And if you believe that...


Quotes of the Day, 2011

“This notion, that imagination is the heart of learning, animates the entire arc of Waldorf teaching.” — Todd Oppenheimer, “Schooling the Imagination”, THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, September, 1999.

• ◊ •


Waldorf schools emphasize imagination. They display “imaginative” art and they encourage “imaginative” play. What they don’t usually spell out is the reason for this emphasis. In the Waldorf belief system, imagination is the first stage on the path toward clairvoyance. The stages are imagination, inspiration, and intuition. These lead to full-fledged clairvoyance, and, ultimately, “exact” clairvoyance. [i] Rudolf Steiner claimed to use exact clairvoyance. (Hence, very few of his teachings can be disputed, since he knew the exact Truth.) The forms of imagination, etc., attainable now by Waldorf students pale in comparison to the perfected forms that can be attained by initiates and that all humanity will attain in the future, according to Steiner. 

These stages are spiritual — they are not seated in the brain but in invisible spiritual “organs.” The brain is held in low esteem at Waldorf schools. The use of the brain — in particular, disciplined, rational use of the brain, that is, intellect — is faulty, Steiner taught. At most, the brain can tell us about the physical plane of existence — the lowest and least important plane. For higher cognition, we have to turn to clairvoyance and its precursors. In stressing imagination, etc., Waldorf teachers attempt to deflect students from rationality, thereby opening the portals to the worlds beyond our own.

Believe it or not, what I have described just now is one of the central (but generally concealed) pillars of Waldorf belief. We have this on the highest authority. Consider the following: 

“These things can, of course, be truly observed only when we press forward to the mode of cognition I described previously as the first stage of exact clairvoyance, imaginative knowledge. The abstract, intellectual knowledge of the human being that is common today does not lead to this other knowledge. Thought must come to life from within, and become imaginative, so that through thought as such, one can really understand. Nothing can be truly understood through intellectual thinking; its objects all remain external.”  — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004),  p. 60.

Steiner was emphatic: 

“The artistic element, then, begins to be the guide to the first stage of exact clairvoyance — that of imagination.”  — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, p. 64.

And he laid out the succeeding stages. Concerning the second stage, he said:

“If one goes beyond imagination and reaches the second stage of exact clairvoyance (described in greater detail in my books), one attains inspiration — perception of independent spirit, no longer connected to the physical body.” — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION, p. 66. [ii]

We could trace this farther, but since Steiner wanted you to search out (and, presumably, buy) his books, perhaps we shouldn’t. So round up his books and settle down for a good read. Particularly interesting are the books in the series Foundations of Waldorf Education. Waldorf teachers study these books intently. Before sending a child to a Waldorf school, perhaps you should, too.

[i] These terms merge and mingle, and various Anthroposophical accounts conflict with one another to various degrees. Imagination, inspiration, and intuition may be considered precursors to clairvoyance, or they may be deemed actual forms of clairvoyance. Under the latter interpretation, intuition is often deemed to be full-blown clairvoyance, which when perfected becomes exact clairvoyance. Steiner said that clairvoyance is exact when it is disciplined and precise, as he claimed his was. If the goal of mental and spiritual training is to attain exact clairvoyance, then disciplined imagination, inspiration, and intuition can be considered stages of exact clairvoyance — which is how Steiner describes them in statements we will consider here.

Things get muddier when we consider the sorts of "imagination," etc., stressed by Waldorf schools for the students. The kids are not taught the techniques of exact clairvoyance or, indeed, any form of clairvoyance, defined literally. But they are shepherded onto a path that is supposed to lead to clairvoyance. Note that the Steiner statements we are considering come from a book about education.

[ii] Here, Steiner identifies imagination as an actual form of clairvoyance; indeed, he calls it a very high form of clairvoyance, a "stage of exact clairvoyance."

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.


The missing basis of Waldorf thinking

Occult initiation in Anthroposophy

Oh why? Oh why? Oh why?



Delusional or fraudulent?

Case closed?

Being fooled

Getting happy


You may also want to consult the following essay 
posted in the first section of Waldorf Watch:

The use of "clairvoyance" by Waldorf teachers

[R.R., 2013.]


[1]  The lectures were "Knowledge and Initiation" and "Knowledge of the Christ through Anthroposophy".

The "things" Steiner "knew" were the results of his claimed clairvoyant powers. Primarily, Steiner said that he knew the truths of the spirit realm — he had knowledge of the "higher worlds." He acquired much of this knowledge, he said, by reading the "Akashic Record," a celestial storehouse of wisdom accessible only through the use of clairvoyance. [To pursue some of these matters, see "Everything", "Knowing the Worlds" and "Akasha".] 

[2] Steiner sometimes claimed that his teachings are consistent with, or arise naturally from, conventional teachings. Thus, he sometimes claimed that his "spiritual science" is consistent with the natural and physical sciences, and "exact clairvoyance" is an extension of intellectual capability. More often, however, Steiner described opposition between his teachings and conventional teachings. Thus, often, Steiner taught that brainwork (intellect) does not produce truth; to find truth, we need something quite different: clairvoyance.

Steiner himself was an intellectual, and his criticisms of intellect were necessarily equivocal. Intellect can help us to understand the purely physical realm, he taught, but it has little power to penetrate the spirit realm. The chief benefit of intellect is that it makes us more mentally alert, more fully conscious. Hence it strengthens us, allowing us to pursue clairvoyance of a more precise, discerning type — exact clairvoyance — than was available to humanity in the past. But in and of itself, intellect is deadening, Steiner often said.

The fundamentally anti-intellectual nature of Anthroposophy and Waldorf education is reflected in the specific tenets of Anthroposophical belief, which frequently have no basis in factual knowledge or rationality. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders" and "Steiner's Illogic". To delve into the Anthroposophical take on freedom, see "Freedom".  For Steiner's views on intellect, see "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".]

Steiner taught that imagination, inspiration, and intuition are stages of clairvoyance; or, at a lower level, they are stages leading to clairvoyance. This is why such forms of thinking are stressed in Waldorf schools. [See "Thinking Cap".]

[3] Steiner's two central texts are KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT — in which he outlines the process of developing exact clairvoyance — and AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE — in which he outlines the "knowledge" he has attained through the use of exact clairvoyance. [See "Knowing the Worlds" and "Everything".]

The fundamental flaw in all this is that clairvoyance is a delusion. [See "Clairvoyance".]

"Mediumship" is the power to function as a medium, one who can contact the dead and/or spirits. [To sample Steiner's teachings about mediums, see, e.g., "Seances" and "Double Trouble". For some messages Steiner relayed from the dead to the living, see "Steiner and the Warlord".]

[4] Steiner himself often used the term "clairvoyance," but he also used such alternatives as "higher knowledge" or "higher cognition."

[5] Taking his cue from Theosophy, Steiner called Anthroposophy "spiritual science." He also used such terms as "occult science" and "the science of initiation" — that is, the science that only occult initiates can practice. The central proposition is that by developing and employing exact clairvoyance, one can gain objective, "scientific" knowledge of the spirit realm.

[For more on initiation, see "Inside Scoop".]

[6] As I indicated earlier, Steiner sometimes said that there is no inherent contradiction between conventional science and his higher "spiritual" of "occult" science. Here, he says that conventional science, pursued properly, leads to spiritual science. On other occasions, however, Steiner stressed the conflicts between conventional science and spiritual science. [See "Science".] Thus, Steiner wrote "Occult Science is the antithesis of Natural Science.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), preface to editions 16-20, p. xiv, GA 13.

[7] Steiner taught that in the past most human beings were clairvoyant. They had direct awareness of the spirit realm, although their clairvoyance was of a low, dreamlike order. People today have generally lost such clairvoyance, he said, but now we have the possibility of attaining a higher, more precise clairvoyance: exact clairvoyance. In this sense, he said, we need to regain a power we have lost, clairvoyance: 

“Essentially, people today have no inkling of how people looked out into the universe in ancient times when human beings still possessed an instinctive clairvoyance.... If we want to be fully human, however, we must struggle to regain a view of the cosmos that moves toward Imagination again....” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 256.

[8] Steiner decried the abstract thinking that he said dominates modern consciousness. (Intellect deals largely in abstractions.) Steiner argued that spiritual science and its clairvoyant insights need to suffuse our daily lives. Thus, one of his books bears the title INVESTIGATIONS IN OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Putnam and Sons, 1929).

[9] Ahriman is an arch-demon. [See "Ahriman."] Here Steiner tells of Ahriman's dire influence spreading during particular times of the year. 

"We see, as it were, man's lower aspect, that which is animalised in him, arched as Nature's formation above us at the height of summer ... What we thus recognise in its sulphurous quality when it weaves and lives in human nature, we call the Ahrimanic; in it the Ahrimanic actually lives. So we can also say: when in high summer-time we turn spiritual vision towards the heights, then in the cosmic sulphurous desires the Ahrimanic is revealed to us. So if we conceive of man in relation to this whole world nexus, we must say to ourselves: the Earth takes up in winter what exists in man as his lower nature and spreads over it crystalline snow, and in so doing the Earth receives the Ahrimanic from it. When in high summer the Ahrimanic is free, it works as cosmic desires out in the wide spaces of the world and is, indeed, subject to laws which proceed from the planetary neighbours of the Earth and are effective on them." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, IV, MICHAELMAS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1957), “The Michael Inspiration”, GA 229.


"And now we see how against this Ahrimanic desire-element, against this animal desire-nature of man turned inside out, as it were, in the cosmos, an opposing force is present. The force which brings the human being into subjection through his emotions, dragging him down below the human to the animal level, and is revealed in full summer high above us — against this a counter-force is provided in the cosmos. This counter-force is seen in those remarkable products which from time to time fall on to the Earth as products of the cosmos and contain meteoric iron. If you look at a piece of meteoric iron, you have in it a remarkable witness of the iron dispersed in the cosmos. In the shooting stars which come so frequently in August and bring iron into special activity, as it were, in the cosmos, we see revealed this counter-force of Nature acting against the desire-element which by that time is out there in the cosmos. And in this cosmic iron, condensed to meteoric stones, we have the arrows which the cosmos sends out against the animal desire element which, as I have just described, is cosmically manifest.— Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, IV, MICHAELMAS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1957), “The Michael Inspiration”, GA 229.

Some cosmic/astrological influences reach us from the planets ("the planetary neighbours of the Earth") and others reach us in the form of meteors. [For more on Anthroposophical astrology, see "Astrology" and "Astrosophy".]

[11] See "The Center".

[12] Steiner generally affirmed ancient wisdom, but he also taught that today we have the possibility of attaining greater wisdom based on a higher form of clairvoyance. [See, e.g., "The Ancients" and "Altogether".]

Steiner often attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that Anthroposophy does not have various objectionable characteristics that, in fact, it does have. Thus, for instance, he said that Anthroposophy is free of superstition and magic, whereas in fact these run deep in Anthroposophy. Likewise, he said that Anthroposophy is not a reversion to ancient beliefs and practices, whereas it actually finds far more value in ancient "wisdom" than in the discoveries of modern science and scholarship. [See, e.g., "Superstition", "Magic", "Steiner's 'Science'", and "Materialism U."] Despite his talk about evolution to higher and higher spiritual stages, Steiner would effectively lead us backward into a benighted time of irrationality and falsehood.

[13] According to Anthroposophical belief, Old Moon was the third incarnation of the solar system, an evolutionary phase that preceded our current stage of evolution on the present-day Earth. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]

[14] Steiner's varying use of terms can cause confusion. Sometimes he used the term "astral world" to denote the entire universe that lies beyond the reach of our senses; in this sense, it contains multiple worlds. 

The Astral World  As long as we are only observing the physical world, the Earth as our dwelling-place appears like a separate cosmic body. However, if supersensible cognition [i.e., clairvoyance] rises to the level of other worlds, this separation ceases ... In addition to the Earth’s supersensible aspect, other cosmic bodies that are physically separate from the Earth are embedded in the world that we enter in this way. Those who perceive supersensible worlds do not observe only the Earth’s supersensible aspect but to begin with they also perceive the supersensible aspect of other cosmic bodies.” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 402. 

On other occasions, he said the "astral world" is the plane of existence intermediate between physical reality and the spiritual world. 

"The three worlds are 1. The physical world, the scene of human life. 2. The astral world or the world of soul. 3. The devachanic world or world of spirit. The three worlds are not spatially separate. We are surrounded by the things of the physical world which we perceive with our ordinary sense, but the astral world is in the same space; we live in the other two worlds, the astral and devachanic worlds, at the same time as we live in the physical world." — R. Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 10-11.

[15] Steiner taught that conditions in our current stage of evolution are extremely hardened and physical. We were more ethereal and spiritual in previous stages, he taught, and we will become so again, at higher levels, in future stages. [See "Future Stages".]

[16] According to Steiner, after the solar system ceases to exist in its present form, it will reincarnate as a stage called Future Jupiter. Our evolution during that stage will be what is called "Jupiter evolution."

[17] Sleepwalkers are, as it were, moonstruck — they are strongly influenced by the astral forces of the Moon, Steiner indicated. Sleepwalkers remind us of conditions that prevailed during Old Moon, and they give a hint of what is in store for us during Future Jupiter. We were less densely physical during Old Moon, and we will have more conscious mastery of physical substances during Future Jupiter.

[18] This is the essence of "spiritual science," or Anthroposophy, as framed by Steiner: the spiritual discipline that enables one to consciously apprehend the spirit realm through the use of exact clairvoyance.

[19] Intuition is the highest of the three clairvoyant stages: imagination, inspiration, intuition. Here Steiner says that through spiritual discipline (spiritual science: Anthroposophy), one internalizes the effects of the Moon forces, so that they become intuitive connections to the astral world.

[20] As we evolve, we become more and more conscious; we move toward full, conscious comprehension; we move toward becoming fully awake, Steiner said. This is the promise of Anthroposophy. Full, conscious spiritual awareness is the antithesis (the transformed counterpart) of the moonstruck unconsciousness exhibited by sleepwalkers.

[21] When discussing "the world" in such contexts, Steiner did not mean the present Earth but the entire solar system as it has evolved from stage to stage. Hence, I have substituted the term "the cosmos," which is closer to his evident meaning. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".]

[R.R., 2017.]