Waldorf and Escapism


My father was an airline pilot. For this reason, as a kid, I was crazy about model airplanes (I had dozens) and dreams of flight (I had them nightly). By extension, I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed attending a Waldorf school. Being a Waldorf student produced, at least in some of us, a sense of detachment, almost levitation, floating above the world and its merely mundane concerns. Our concerns and interests were far more etheric.

For our reading pleasure, our teachers recommended such works as J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth trilogy (hobbits, goblins, elves, dragons, the Dark Lord, etc.) and C. S. Lewis's Silent Planet trilogy. [1] Lewis’s books are less well known nowadays, so let’s turn our attention to them. In the first volume of the set, OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET, the protagonist flies to Mars, which is populated by several intelligent but distinctly non-humanoid species. The Martians live deep in the canals of their ancient planet, and they are preparing to die out. They explain that since Christ took human form, all newly created intelligent species in the universe will assume that blessed form, and all the old intelligent species — such as themselves — will pass away. [2] The vision of the peaceful, doomed Martians in their snug otherworldly digs stirred me so much that for years I dreamed of traveling to Mars myself to meet them. 

In the second volume, PERELANDRA, our hero travels to Venus — aka Perelandra — where he finds the Martians’ prediction borne out. Intelligent life has only just begun on Venus, and our hero finds it in a delightfully naked but innocent Eve, the first woman on Venus — who, it so happens, has green skin. God loves diversity, even while insisting that all intelligent, physical creatures must now bear the form of humanity. As Eve says, “[I]n your world Maledil [Christ] first took Himself this form, the form of your race and mine....” [3] Eve, or The Green Lady, goes on to explain that what happened on Earth (Christ’s adoption of human form, crucifixion, resurrection, etc.) was so important that nothing like it will need to be repeated elsewhere. “[I]n your world a greater thing happened ... Because the greater thing happened in Thulcandra [Earth], this [i.e., the conditions prevailing on Venus] and not the greater thing happens here.” [4]

Earth is called “Thulcandra,” the silent planet. The presiding spiritual powers on other planets are faithful to God, and they therefore speak with one another. But Earth is under siege by the powers of darkness, who remain silent. The third volume of the series tells of the Earthly struggle against the demonic Hideous Strength (the book’s title: THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH). To give you a taste: The front man for the dark demon and his cohorts is a human known only as The Head. Near the end of the book, we learn that The Head is just that: A severed head kept alive artificially, and used by the forces of darkness as a marionette, mouthing dark instructions to his human underlings.) The hero of the series is named Ransom (get it? Ransom: Christ figure). In THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, he is aided by Merlin, who awakens from his Medieval slumber.

Why do I bother you with any of this now? C. S. Lewis was not an Anthroposophist. Plenty of people outside Waldorf schools read Lewis. Nothing in Lewis has a direct bearing on Waldorf education or Anthroposophy.

And yet, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien are relevant to a discussion of Waldorf schooling. Our teachers promoted books and tales such as these continually, beginning in the earliest classes. We heard and read fairy tales, legends, myths, and fantasies, over and over, year after year. [See, e.g., "Curriculum" and "Sneaking It In".] The Norse gods were virtual presences in our hallways. So were hobbits, and gnomes, and fairies, and ogres, and Martians, and dragons, and, and, and... I first became acquainted with Norse myths when our teachers recited them aloud to us. I first became acquainted with THE HOBBIT when one teacher read it to us, a chapter a day, in our classroom. I became acquainted with flying saucers and dragons and gnomes and mysticism by poking around in our school's small library, guided by the recommendations of librarians and teachers. I read cryptobiology, and antiscientific treatises, and jeremiads against technology, at the direction of our teachers. I learned to turn my attention to fantasy worlds, and to prefer them to the real world, at the direction of our teachers. I was led to think that the real is unreal and the unreal is real. I was led into a mindset that prepared me for possible allegiance to Rudolf Steiner and his fantasies — which our teachers believed to be true.

Fantasies, dream worlds, chimeras. These are promoted in Waldorf schools. They are passageways that may lead to Anthroposophy. They are also passageways leading to confusion and delusion. THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973) provides a fairly representative portrait of the fantasies and falsehoods that populate the mental space in and around Waldorf schools. The book takes flying saucers seriously, for instance. "Sound evidence can be found for the existence of these unheralded objects" (p. 85). Ditto fairies. "Evidence for the existence of the little folk comes mainly from photographs" (p. 82). Ditto all manner of occult oddities. Waldorf students are led to have, shall we say, open minds about "the psychic, mystic, occult" — that is, they are prepped to believe. While my classmates and I underwent this prepping, we were simultaneously prompted to disbelieve science and its reports about the real world. We were urged to read books such as SCIENCE IS A SACRED COW (by Anthony Standen, 1950), and we were required to read THE FAILURE OF TECHNOLOGY (by Friedrich Georg Juenger, 1956).

Over and over, Waldorf directed our attention to the otherworldly. Yet there were no astronomy classes during my years at Waldorf: no study of actual other worlds. The real, physical universe was downplayed by our teachers in favor of fantastical alternative universes. Actual space flight was of little interest. Unlike public schools, our Waldorf ignored the Project Mercury launches. Classes did not pause so that we could listen to the blast-offs, no photos or diagrams of the space missions — and no portraits of the astronauts, national heroes in other American schools — appeared on our bulletin boards. Even ordinary flight through the Earth’s atmosphere was deemed suspect. Once during a school assembly, our headmaster announced that jet aircraft make so much noise because the air being sucked into the engines is literally ripped apart by the rotating engine blades, and therefore the air screams as if in torment. (Because my father was then a jet captain, I had to reconsider my admiration for him.) The faculty’s antipathy to science and engineering was continually reaffirmed. The Earth is alive, they suggested to us; the air is alive; water is alive — all of nature is imbued with unseen, mystical presences — and modern technology is destroying it all! Come, turn your minds elsewhere. Follow us into mysticism. [5]

There was two forms of “flight” our faculty presumably approved. ◊ According to Anthroposophical lore, human beings make phantasmic nightly flights out of their bodies into the spirit realm (“astral bodies” leaving physical bodies), returning refreshed in the morning. [6] Steiner taught that maintaining and strengthening ties to the spirit realm is essential to human identity, and flying out of our physical body each night is one way we do it. [7] ◊ According to Anthroposophical lore, human beings migrated to various planets a while ago. I guess this counts as a form of flight: “[D]uring the Lemurian epoch...the majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets, continuing their life on Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and so forth ... [D]uring the Atlantean epoch, these souls gradually came [back] down to earth in order to incarnate in earthly bodies under the changed earthly conditions.” [8]

But these Anthroposophical flights remained, for us kids, shrouded in the background. We students were kept largely clueless. Science classes at Waldorf were distinctly human- and Earth-centric. (“Anthroposophy” means the wisdom of man; we were our own best subjects of “study;” the subjective and intuitive always aced the objective and empirical.) Once in a chemistry class, our teacher explained that matter occurs in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. I raised my hand and suggested that these three divisions were not as categorical as they might seem: On a hotter planet, materials that are solid for us would be liquids, whereas on a colder planet our liquids would become solids. The teacher was not at all pleased. “What is you point?” he asked me, glaring. He stared me down and I kept mum after that. So much for flights of intellect.


It is difficult for ordinary, rational people to believe that Waldorf schools are based on mysticism. Yet they are. Here are some of the things Rudolf Steiner and his followers believe. These are the sorts of things that are sometimes spoken aloud by Waldorf teachers, and that on other occasions are mooted, implied, suggested... These are the sorts of things that hang in the air for longtime Waldorf students who, from infancy, have been raised in an atmosphere of misty occultism.

◊ “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon together with the spiritual guides of humanity ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many ... As far as what concerns ourselves, as humanity on earth, the other pole, the opposite extreme to the moon is the population of Saturn.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.

◊  “The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars. " — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 207. Buddha...became for Mars what Christ has become for the earth.” — Ibid., p 72. 

◊ “If, as he had developed on the Sun, man was called plant man, the man of the Moon can be called animal man ... [T]he Sun man could only elevate himself into a plant by thrusting a portion of his companions down into a coarser mineral realm ... The animal man of the Moon does not yet [i.e., did not yet] have firm bones. His skeleton is [i.e., was] still cartilaginous. His whole nature is soft, compared to that of today ... His locomotion is not a walking, but rather a leaping, even a floating ... [T]he Moon of that time did not have a thin, airy atmosphere like that of present-day earth, but its envelope was considerably thicker, even denser than the water of today.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY: Prehistory of Earth and Man, from the chapter “Life on the Moon” (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 193-194.

◊  "[T]he most advanced among men, those who had survived the moon crisis, were able gradually to prepare themselves to envision not only the spiritual beings of Mars, Jupiter, or Venus, but those of the sun itself, the exalted sun beings. Having come down from the various planets the initiates were again able to behold the spirituality of these planets. From this it is clear why in ancient Atlantis there were institutions, schools, where those who had descended, for example, from Mars were accepted, when sufficiently mature, for the purpose of studying the mysteries of Mars; and that there were other sanctuaries where those who had come from other planets could learn their mysteries. Applying the later term 'oracle' to these institutions, we have in Atlantis a Mars Oracle, where the mysteries of Mars were studied, a Saturn Oracle, a Jupiter Oracle, a Venus Oracle, and so on. The highest was the Sun Oracle; and the loftiest of all the initiates was the ranking initiate of the Sun Oracle." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1948), lecture 6, GA 112.

◊ “[T]here exists an unbroken connection between the planets. The moon is connected with the earth in the same way that, for instance, Berlin and Hamburg are connected by the telephone. Beings who live on the moon can carry out their operations on the earth using this celestial connection. Malevolent moon beings have their counterparts in other beings who also exist in the celestial world — beneficent beings who are much, much sweeter than the sweetest Earthly beings ... These good beings are spiritually connected to us here on Earth, but they have their actual existence on another planet ... [T]hese sweet beings inhabit Mars and are in fact the main population of that planet ... If we look still higher in the heavenly spheres, we find other beneficent beings who have a mild, peaceable nature; and these beings are extraordinarily clever. These beings of the celestial spheres have their actual home on the planet Venus ... But on Venus we also find a second kind of beings who (unlike the gentle, amiable Venusians) embody a wild and furious vitality. Their chief activities are mutual fighting and plunder.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS UPON MAN, lecture 1, GA 102, revised translation 2011 by Roger Rawlings. For a longer version as published by the Anthroposophic Press, see "Quotes of the Day 2011 (d)".

◊ “Whereas in the ancient Atlantean times these human beings [sic] descended to earth from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the other a time is beginning when beings who are not human are coming down to earth from cosmic regions beyond ... Just as the Vulcan men were the last to come down to earth [during Atlantean times], so Vulcan beings are now actually entering this earth existence ... And it is thanks to the fact that these beings from beyond the earth are bringing messages down into this earthly existence that it is possible at all to have a comprehensive spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] today.” — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 261.

◊ "There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man.... ” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 62.

◊ “A gnome is only visible to someone who can see on the astral plane, but miners frequently possess such an astral vision; they know that gnomes are realities.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 27, GA 93a.

◊ “The predecessors of our Earth-gnomes, the Moon-gnomes, gathered together their Moon-experiences and from them fashioned this structure, this firm structure of the solid fabric of the Earth, so that our solid Earth-structure actually arose from the experiences of the gnomes of the old Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 9, GA 170.

◊ "[W]e now see these water-beings, these elemental beings of the water, these undines ... These undine beings differ in their inner nature from the gnomes.  ... They dream incessantly, these undines, but their dream is at the same time their own form. They do not hate the earth as intensely as do the gnomes, but they have a sensitivity to what is earthly. They live in the etheric element of water, swimming and swaying through it, and in a very sensitive way they recoil from everything in the nature of a fish; for the fish-form is a threat to them ... They wish to remain in a condition of metamorphosis, in a condition of eternal, endlessly changing transformation." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 7, GA 230.

◊ "[S]ylphs, which live in the airy-warmth element, press towards the light ... When in spring or autumn you see a flock of swallows, which produce as they fly vibrations in a body of air, setting an air-current in motion, then this moving air-current — and this holds good for every bird — is for the sylphs something audible. Cosmic music sounds from it to the sylphs ...  And because this is so, because its ego is kindled in it from outside, the sylph becomes the bearer of cosmic love through the atmosphere. It is because the sylph embodies something like a human wish, but does not have its ego within itself but in the bird-kingdom, that it is at the same time the bearer of wishes of love through the universe.” — Ibid.

◊ "Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on a knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic [i.e., Norse] myths, we feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 117.

◊  “Myths and sagas are not just ‘folk-tales’; they are the memories of the visions which people perceived in olden times ... Human beings were aware of the spiritual both by day and by night. At night they were really surrounded by that world of Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were not inventions; they were experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.

I know it is hard to believe, but this is the mental universe of Waldorf education — these are the sorts of fantasy flights that Rudolf Steiner led his followers on, the fantasy flights that Steiner's followers would like to lead you and your children on. Because Steiner's followers don't see these as fantasies. They see these as the truth.

— Roger Rawlings

Flight, wings, escape — these are central concepts and images
in mankind's romance with "higher worlds" — our unappeasable
yearning for transcendence. It is built into us, the desire to fly away,
beyond the skies.

Steiner's version of this ancient yearning is just one on the endless roll.
The question is whether he has provided any more realistic hope
of attaining this release than any of his innumerable predecessors did.

[R. R., 2010.]

The dream of transcendence.
[R.R., 2010.]

Steiner frequently described flights to and from various planets or celestial spheres/orbs/planes.
We've seen some statements of this sort, above
(e.g., "[I]n the ancient Atlantean times these human beings descended to earth from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars...")
Here are some more.
Sometimes Steiner spoke of human beings (or proto-humans) making trips to and from the planets; 
sometimes he spoke of super-humans traveling around the solar system;
sometimes he referred to planets as we understand them now;
sometimes he meant planets or their spheres as they once were or will be...
The details need not detain us at the moment.
I suggest we simply sit back and enjoy the flights.
If they seem indistinguishable from fantasy flights, well,
that might just tell us something.

(Serving as your tour guide, I have highlighted some revealing phrases in the following quotations,
and I have a added some commentary and notes.)

"You know from the book Occult Science [written, it so happens, by R. Steiner] that during the Lemurian epoch of earth-evolution only very few human beings...remained on the earth ... [T]he majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets, continuing their life an Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and so forth. Then, from the end of the Lemurian epoch and during the Atlantean epoch, these souls gradually came down to the earth [again]...." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36.*

*Steiner taught that proto-humans left the Earth and then returned during the Earth's prehistory. Here's how Steiner discussed this business on another occasion: "Let us recall what is described in Occult Science — how from the Lemurian Age onwards souls gradually came down from the other planets (with the exception of one principal human pair who had stayed on earth [i.e., Adam and Eve]) and were incarnated in human bodies throughout Atlantean times. We must accordingly think of Earth-evolution as being such that the souls withdrew from the Earth's cosmic surroundings and at various points of time took up again their evolution on Earth. We know that before the Lemurian Age they had gone away to other planets." — Rudolf Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD - THE SEARCH FOR THE HOLY GRAIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 3, GA 149.

Hard as it may be for most people to believe, Rudolf Steiner's followers accept the literal meaning of such teachings. Thus, for instance, the following has been posted at the Rudolf Steiner Archive: "Steiner says that migration of souls from other planets ended late in the Atlantean period. This I have read recently, so I take that none have stayed on Venus, Mars or Jupiter until now, which may be called extra-terrestrial." —

Another such posting: "In 'Occult Science', Rudolf Steiner mentions of [sic] beings taking residence on other planet[s] of the solar system because of varying levels of evolution ... [In another book he says that] other beings, too advanced to live on Earth, migrated to Venus. Beings that were innapropriately [sic] evolved for the Earth left for Mars. In the same 'Occult Science', Steiner says that Mercury, Venus and Jupiter are home to more evolved beings than humans on Earth."—

You might consider whether you want your children to be "educated" by people who think this way.

“[T]he great majority of human souls had to relinquish their union with the earth. Here we come to something of great importance in the relationship between man and earth, something which happened during the time between the separation of the sun [from the earth] and that of the moon. During this interval human soul-spirits, except for a very small number, abandoned earthly conditions, and pressing upward into higher regions, continued their evolution upon the several planets belonging to our solar system, each according to the stage of his development. Some souls were fitted to pursue their evolution on Saturn, others on Mars, others again on Mercury, and so on. Only a very small number of the strongest soul-spirits remained in union with the earth. During this time the rest dwelt upon the earth's planetary neighbours. This came about at a time preceding (to use our own terminology) the Lemurian age.” — Rudolf Steiner, GENESIS: Secrets of the Bible Story of Creation (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1959), lecture 9, GA 122.

"The descendants of advanced human beings intermingled with the less advanced ones...allowing the Luciferic force to reach them ... But the life bodies of souls returning from the planets could not be protected to the same extent as those belonging to the descendants of souls that had remained on Earth, who were protected by an exalted being whose leadership in the cosmos was in effect when the Sun separated from the Earth. In the domain under consideration here, this being appeared as the ruler of the Sun kingdom." — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 237.

Steiner taught that various impulses needed for human evolution had to be brought to Earth from other planets. "The first new impulse (Kama [i.e., desire]) was only to be found as a force on Mars. It was added shortly before man incarnated [on Earth]. The second impulse (Manas [thought]) came from Mercury ... The stimulus of these new principles had to be brought to the Earth from other planets through still higher beings [i.e., gods] ... From Mars they added Kama, from Mercury Manas." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 6, GA 93a.*

*When Steiner speaks of Saturn or Jupiter, a certain amount of confusion is possible: Sometimes he was referring to planets, but sometimes he was referring to stages of evolution (Old Saturn, Future Jupiter). When Steiner speaks of Mars, Mercury, and Venus, however, there is less room for confusion — he does not use these names for stages of evolution. In his lessons, references to these planets are generally, explictly, references to planets and their spheres (the portions of the solar system bounded by their orbits).

Here is another statement Steiner made about influences brought from Mercury: "The human astral bodies had still to receive a third impact. This was brought down from Mercury ... In the middle of the Atlantean [period] quicksilver was brought down from Mercury in etheric form." — THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM, lecture 26.

Some high beings or gods came down from Mercury; others came down from Venus. "[T]he Spirits of Personality [i.e., gods three levels above humanity] came down to earth, as Spirits of Venus, in ancient Lemurian times. And we can say, that the distinctive features of these messengers from Venus...signified something quite new with regard to the whole Universe ... They could lead the people from one place to another, for they knew the connections that can only be known by those, who are acquainted with the surroundings of the earth [i.e., the planets beyond the Earth], and not only with the Earth itself." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 7, GA 110.*

*Steiner often told of gods traveling around the solar system. Here is another example. To understand it, you must realize that Steiner accepted the teachings of ancient initiates as essentially true, and what he says here about Osiris is, he claims, true. (Note that he explains what Osiris has done, not merely what myths say he might have done. The Egyptians knew about Osiris, and so did the Greeks: "They too knew....") "In his study of earth-evolution, the Egyptian initiate saw that the god Osiris had separated himself from the sun and had gone to the moon, whence he reflected the light of the sun. What this god did was also sacred to the Greeks. They too knew that it was this god, Osiris, who formed the twenty-eight moon-aspects, and thereby laid the groundwork for the twenty-eight nerves in man. Through Osiris, the nervous system is built onto the spinal column, thereby forming the whole upper body of man." — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 7, GA 106.

It may not seem surprising that gods come down to Earth from other planets (if you believe that the solar system is populated by multiple gods),* but Steiner also taught that the traffic goes both ways. High spiritual beings from the Earth have gone to other planets: “A Conference of the greatest and most advanced Individualities was called together by Christian Rosenkreutz. His most intimate pupil and friend, the great teacher Buddha, participated in these counsels and in the decisions reached.” They decided that Buddha should go to Mars and fix things there. “At that spiritual Conference it was resolved that henceforward Buddha would dwell on Mars and there unfold his influence and activity. Buddha transferred his work to Mars in the year 1604.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950), lecture 7, “The Mission of Gautama Buddha on Mars”, GA 130.

“Buddha, the Prince of Peace, went to Mars — the planet of war and conflict — to execute his mission there. The souls on Mars were warlike, torn with strife. Thus Buddha performed a deed of sacrifice similar to the deed performed in the Mystery of Golgotha [i.e., Calvary — Christ's Crucifixion] ... Buddha performed this deed on Mars in the service of Christian Rosenkreutz. Thus do the great Beings who guide the world work together, not only on the Earth but from one planet to another[paragraph break] Since the Mystery of Mars was consummated by Gautama Buddha, human beings have been able to receive different forces from Mars during the corresponding period between death and a new birth.” — Ibid.**

*Steiner explained that beings from other planets are the gods recollected in ancient myths, especially Norse myths. "These were beings belonging to Venus and Mercury who interposed into human existence and were with man day and night. The remembrance of these beings remained in the souls who incarnated again and again among the peoples of Europe, and they recalled them when they uttered the names Wotan, Thor, etc." — Rudolf Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Henry Collison, 1931), lecture 7, GA 105.

There are gods on all the planets, and all are connected to our Moon, since that sphere enables them to have clairvoyant vision. "[T]he Divine Beings who belong to the earth and who people Mars, Venus, Jupiter or another of the planets — also the Sun — would be blind if they inhabited only one of these spheres. They would live, they would be active — just as we can walk about and take hold of things even if we have no eyes; but they would not see — I mean, of course, in the way in which Divine Beings ‘see’ — they would lack a certain faculty for perceiving what is happening in the cosmos. But this, my dear friends, will lead you to ask: Where, then, is the eye of the gods, where is their organ of perception? This organ of perception is provided by the Moon, our neighbour in the cosmos — in addition to all its other functions. All the Divine Beings belonging to the Sun, to Venus, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, have their eye in the Moon and are at the same time in the Moon." — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), lecture 13, GA 236.

**Concerning the "souls on Mars": Steiner had a good deal to say about this population. For example, "The men of Mars tend to settle permanently on a certain spot. Men on the Earth are cosmopolitanly inclined; Mars men are wedded to the soil, there are very few cosmopolitans among them. And there is, or rather was, on Mars constant war and strife, due to the astral bodies that are very strong and not tempered and made gentle by an I [i.e., a spiritual ego]. If you will think it over you will understand that among men who develop in this way there must inevitably be a terrible amount of strife and conflict. Mars is nothing else than a kind of re-incarnated Moon; what the astral body holds is not tempered with the softening influence of the I, with the result that the men of Mars have quite an exceptional lust for war. The Greeks acted on a true knowledge when they made Mars the God of War." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 10, GA 137.

There have been a number of Buddhas or "enlightened ones." Steiner tells of a Buddha going to Mars, as we have seen. He also tells of a Buddha going to Venus. "Let us consider for a moment the exit of Venus from the Sun. Together with Venus are Beings who had also at first gone with the Sun but were not able to remain there. These break away and inhabit Venus. Among them is the Being who stands behind the later Buddha. He went as a messenger from the Christ to the dwellers on Venus. The Christ sent him to Venus, and here on Venus Buddha passed through all manner of stages of evolution. Later on, souls came back from Venus to Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 10, GA 137.

Various beings have left the Earth for other orbs. "[Certain] guiding Powers, with the rest of the Lunar population, were once upon a time on Earth, whence they withdrew to the Moon more than 15,000 years ago." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS A PICTURE OF THE LIVING SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), GA 228.*

*Concerning "the Lunar population": "The Moon Beings keep the records of the past of humanity and of every individual man. Such records determine karma." — Synopsis of Rudolf Steiner's fourth lecture in KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 6 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 240.

"[We should] bear in mind the actual purpose of the journey of the wise human Guides of old to the moon-colony ... [They] withdrew to the moon in order, so far as lay in their power, to bring the Luciferic and Ahrimanic elements into the right relation to human life ... After these primeval Teachers of humanity had withdrawn to the moon they had to seek, during their moon-existence, for an arrangement with the Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers." — Rudolf Steiner, MYSTERY CENTRES (Garber Communications, 1985), lecture 2, GA 232.*

*Concerning the "moon-colony," remember what we have already learned: "This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many ... [T]he other pole, the opposite extreme to the moon is the population of Saturn.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.

Let's return to the phenomenon of beings coming from other worlds to the Earth. In the past, as we have seen, high beings came down to the Earth from various planets and spheres. What people often overlook is that the process is continuing today and will extend well into the future. We must welcome these cosmic visitors properly, or we will suffer a terrible fate. "[B]eings...will descend gradually to the earth. Vulcan beings, Vulcan supermen, Venus supermen, Mercury supermen, sun supermen, and so on will unite themselves with earth existence. Yet, if human beings persist in their opposition to them, this earth existence will pass over into chaos in the course of the next few thousand years.”  — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204.

The following is a paraphrase of Steiner, offered by one of his adherents; we heard Steiner on this subject previously, and in a moment we will hear some more. Here's what a fervent Anthroposophist has written: "Since the 1880s, Beings from Vulcan have been entering Earth existence, bringing the connected body of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] from the spiritual world, and they will gain a foothold if we are imbued with the thought of their existence. People behave very shabbily towards these Beings; we should understand their language. Their objective is that spiritual science be translated into social behavior and action." — Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND - From the Work of Rudolf Steiner (Temple Lodge, 1996), p. 39.*

*Here is how the matter is put in the official synopsis of Steiner's fourteenth lecture in MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY: "Cultivation of spiritual science facilitates arrival from other planets of spiritual beings who are striving to come to earth since the end of the nineteenth century." [See p. 272 of that book, or glance at]

Note that the beings from Vulcan will succeed only if we believe in them ("if we are imbued with the thought of their existence"). This proposition is reminiscent of the play PETER PAN, in which the fairy Tinkerbell will die unless the children in the audience believe in her. [See "Thinking Cap".] The distinction between Steiner's teachings and fairy tales is often vanishingly slim. Steiner believed in fairy tales, after all. [See "Fairy Tales".]

The traffic between the planets is pretty heavy. To meet our visitors, and to understand them properly, we need (what else?) Anthroposophy — i.e., Rudolf Steiner's teachings, enabling us to become clairvoyant like him. "What would be the conditions necessary in order to meet the beings from other planets as they pass through the earth sphere? One would have had to develop points of contact with them in their own planetary realms, but this is only possible if on earth one has already reached the stage of being able to contact beings other than those of the earth as a result of the development of supersensible powers. [paragraph break] Thus the possibility is there for those who have undergone a higher development to encounter the beings who wander through from other planets. It may sound peculiar and yet it is so, that for those who have intercourse with the wanderers from Mars and learn to know of the nature of that planet, the strange theories that physics and astronomy weave about Mars inhabitants appear most comical, for the facts are quite different." — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH, lecture 11, GA 140.*

*As he often did, Steiner here distinguishes his teachings from those of ordinary (i.e., real) science. Physicists and astronomers are wrong about "Mars inhabitants," Steiner asserts. To get the truth about "wanderers from Mars," we need to turn to Anthroposophy (i.e., spiritual science, i.e., Rudolf Steiner).

Perhaps surprisingly, human beings still come down to Earth from other planets, such as Mars. The traffic from Mars is of a lower quality than previously, however. "[T]here was born on Mars that particular tendency which, in man, comes to expression in Copernicanism [i.e., the illusion that the planets orbit the Sun]. When these conditions came into force on Mars, the natural consequence would have been for Mars to continue sending down to earth human beings who only brought Copernican ideas with them, which are really only maya. What we are seeing, then, is the decline of the Mars culture. Previously, Mars had sent forth good forces. But now Mars sent forth more and more forces that would have led men deeper and deeper into maya." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 289.

One reason to be kind to our less-fortunate fellow Earthlings is that they may well have recently arrived from other planets. They probably went to the other planets with the rest of us, and now they are returning long after the majority of us made the return flight. "It is a great error to believe that one need not behave compassionately towards...'I'-less, individuality-less human beings [i.e., people who lack spiritual egos] ... [They] might be retarded souls who have come back from another planet to which the whole of humanity went at some specific time." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BOOK OF REVELATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), pp. 181-182.


Maybe that's enough for the moment.
Bear in mind that by "Mars" and "Moon" and "Vulcan" and so forth,
Steiner sometimes did not exactly mean Mars or Moon or Vulcan or so forth.
But sometimes he did.

To explore these fantasy flights a bit, see, e.g.,


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983.]

Steiner was an openly avowed occultist.
See "Occultism".

Whether describing flying creatures or swimming creatures — or, come to that, anything else — all of Steiner's teachings are flights of fantasy. "The butterfly rightly regards itself as a creature of the light, the bird as a being of warm air, but this is impossible for the lower animals — amphibians, reptiles and fishes ... A fish lives primarily in the element of water. But water is certainly not just the combination of hydrogen and oxygen which it is for the chemist. Water is permeated by all kinds of cosmic forces. Stellar forces also enter into it ... [T]he bird actually feels the air that enters into it and is everywhere diffused through it, as its own being ... The fish has water within it, but it does not feel itself to be water ... It feels itself to be the glittering shell or vessel enclosing water .. [T]he fish experiences the ether to be the element in which it actually lives. It does not not feel the astral as something belonging to it." — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), pp. 99-100. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the one in the book.]

Steiner said that the ego (red) and the astral body (yellow)
separate from the physical body (blue) and the etheric body (ochre)
each night. The ego and astral body spend the night hours
in the spirit realm. They rejoin the two earthbound bodies in the morning.
[This is my rendering of a black-and-white illustration
on p. 115 of Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997).
The value of such schematics — which Steiner created
during his lectures — is perhaps open to question.]

Here is some additional, surprising information about our bodies. “[T]he astral body makes itself very much at home everywhere in the [physical] body. It gets too strong. It attacks all the organs and wears them down. And that is the consequence of rapid arsenic poisoning. If someone takes a lot of arsenic, quickly, his astral body begins to become terribly active, whirling, whirling, whirling ... The ether body gives life, the astral body gives sentience. But there can be no sentience unless life is suppressed. To draw it in diagrammatic form, therefore, it is like this. There you have the astral body [darker areas], there the ether body [lighter areas]. They are always fighting one another. If the ether body wins we get a bit sleepy; if the astral body wins we come wide awake ... [T]he astral body gets what it needs...from the arsenic human beings produce themselves." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 19-20. [R. R. sketch, 2009, based on the sketch on p. 20.]

The Earth from which parts of us depart each night is, perhaps, different from what you think. The Earth is not flat, obviously — but neither is it a globe, in any normal sense. "[T]he earth stands in the universe, curiously, as a rounded tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 185. 

Here we see one panel of the tetrahedron: It extends from a volcano in Mexico to the numerous volcanos at the South Pole to the volcanic mountains in the Caucasus. Problem: There is no cluster of volcanos around the South Pole. But let's not quibble. The main point is that the Earth is not a tetrahedron, rounded or otherwise. 

[I've added a touch of color in my version of the book's b&w sketch, and I've omitted Antarctica because the book's sketch omits it — even though the point of the sketch depends on the mythical volcanos way down there.]

Speaking of flights:

Anthroposophical art can seem very modern —

strange angles, slanted perspectives,

undulating forms. A flight of steps leading up to

a double door becomes an abstract sculpture.

You may or may not like such art, but you should

learn to recognize the idiom. When such patterns

and forms show up in Waldorf schools,

devotion to the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy

is being pronounced. The strange exteriors

enclose strange interior beliefs and practices.

[This is the entry to the eurythmy training center

on the campus of the Anthroposophical

headquarters, the Goetheanum.

R. R. sketch, 2010.]

Rudolf Steiner was a polymath — he dabbled in many fields, asserting his superior knowledge in each. His influence outside the circle of his devoted followers has been modest, at best. Thus, he designed various buildings, and his followers today admire his creations greatly. But his influence in architectural circles outside Anthroposophy has been virtually nil. Our concern here, however, should be to acquaint ourselves with the occult doctrines that his work in all spheres was meant to advance. Ultimately, you can celebrate Steiner and his creations, such as Waldorf schools, only if you embrace — to one degree or another — his occultism.

The worldview that underlies Waldorf education is so fundamentally divorced from reality,

even some defenders of Rudolf Steiner admit that it resembles science fiction.

To see how far from reality Steiner flew — and how far many of his followers are willing to fly with him —

please see my essay "Everything" and the essays that follow it.

After outlining Steiner's account of cosmic evolution, Steiner devotee Gary Lachman writes:

"I wouldn't be surprised if the last few pages have taxed some readers' capacity for giving Steiner 

the benefit of the doubt and left them wondering who could possibly believe this science fiction story.

Yet this cosmic history is the backbone of Steiner's work."

— Gary Lachman, RUDOLF STEINER (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2007), p. 147.

And Steiner's work is the backbone of Waldorf education.

[R.R., 2010.]

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



Steiner unconsciously making a fool of himself, over and over

No laughing matter: Steiner’s quack medicine

Human nature as conceived by Steiner and acted upon in Waldorf schools


Macrocosms, microcosms, and fallacies

The Waldorf view of the natural world

Quack agriculture: astrology and magic

What's what, clearly

The quality of Steiner’s thoughts

Bizarre ideas about the universe: Vulcan, the Zodiac, Mars, etc.


If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here, 

you might begin by consulting the following resources:


[A - D]   [E - I]   [J - O]   [P - R]   [S]   [T - Z]


[A - B]   [C - D]   [E - F]   [G - I]   [J - M]   [N - Q]   [R - S]   [T - Z]


[A - E]     [G - M]     [N - S]     [T - Z]


Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch 
are closely connected to the essay on that page; 
others are not — they provide general context. 


[1] Our teachers did not assign us any Steiner books [see “Unenlightened”]. Instead, they assigned and recommended books by writers whose ideas bore some relation to Steiner’s. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis were two of these writers. The Tolkien trilogy — as we all now know, thanks to Hollywood — consists of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and THE RETURN OF THE KING. The trilogy tells of a mighty, apocalyptic war between the forces of good and evil. The war parallels, in some ways, the coming War of All Against All foreseen by Steiner. [See "All vs. All".] When I was in grade school, our Waldorf sold the Tolkien trilogy — in the original British editions — in the school lobby at Christmas time. 

As for Lewis: “The Lewis trilogy (OUT OF THE SILENT, 1938; PERELANDRA, 1943; THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH, 1945) is a science fiction PILGRIM’S PROGRESS. The war of the Christian Good and Satanic Evil becomes an interplanetary struggle within the entire solar system. Consistently the villains are scientists, who, to Lewis, embody the sin of pride.” — Martin S. Day, HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE 1837 TO THE PRESENT (Doubleday, 1964), p. 347.

Steiner’s vision is, in various ways, similar to Lewis’s. 

◊ Both men locate “gods” on or in celestial spheres: planets, moons, and stars. Thus, Steiner places Jahve (Jehovah) on the Moon: “[The] further evolution of man has only been possible because one of the Elohim, Jahve, accompanied the separation of the Moon [from the Earth] — while the other six spirits remained in the Sun — and because Jahve cooperated with His six colleagues....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 99. For “Elohim,” see THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, “Elohim” — it was a Canaanite plural noun that the Hebrews adapted as a single noun, a name for God. 

◊ Just as Lewis distinguishes between Jove and God, Steiner finds a difference between Jehovah and God. Note that, in the passage I’ve quoted, Jahve is only one of the “Elohim” and he must cooperate with his “colleagues” to achieve his benevolent purposes. The distinction Lewis draws between gods seems valid; Steiner’s distinction may be something else.   

◊ Both Steiner and Lewis posit variants of the great chain of being, beginning a short distance below mankind and stretching far, far above. According to Steiner, entities superior to humanity include zeitgeists, spirits of form, exusiai, dynamis, and kyriotetes; while attendant nature-spirits include undines, sylphs, and salamanders. “Abnormal” spirits are associated with planets and cause mankind’s five “root races” (Negro, Malayan, Mongolian, Caucasian, and Red Indian). [THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, pp. 15-16, 65, 83-85.]   

◊ Both Steiner and Lewis tell of interplanetary journeys, Lewis in fiction, Steiner in “truth.” As we will see, Steiner recounts human migration to various planets [e.g.,  OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36]. 

Lewis was an orthodox Christian who used fiction to express his beliefs in fanciful terms. Steiner often strayed far from Biblical teachings, asserting that his heterodox doctrines describe reality.

[2] “[A] world is not made to last forever, much less a race; that is not Maleldil’s way.” — OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET p. 100. I should explain that Maleldil is Lewis’s name for God or Christ (Christ is sometimes referred to, in Lewis's work, as Maleldil the Younger). Lifting the siege of Earth will require something like Steiner’s War of All Against All. “The best of all humanity must be chosen and prepared for survival beyond the time of the great War of All against All, when people will oppose them who bear in their countenances the sign of evil....” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 194.

[3] PERELANDRA, p. 62. There is no overestimating the impact Christ had on the Earth. “In the future, scientists will perceive that the Christ has arranged every atom of the earth, and a new physics and chemistry will result.” — Hilmar Moore, introduction Rudolf Steiner's THE SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND HUMANITY (SteinerBooks, 1992), p. xiv. Also see Rudolf Steiner, APPROACHING THE MYSTERY OF GOLGOTHA (SteinerBooks, 2006).

[4] PERELANDRA, p. 197.

[5] See, e.g., "Neutered Nature", “Oh My Stars”, and “Steiner’s ‘Science’”.

[6] “During sleep our astral bodies return to the harmony of the universe again. When we awaken, we bring enough strength with us out of the cosmic harmony into our bodies so that we can go without being in that state for a while. The astral body returns home during sleep and brings renewed forces back into our life when we awaken ....” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 68.

[7] See, e.g., “Unenlightened.”

[8] Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36.

[R. R., 2013.]

[R.R., ~ 1997.]