Or So Steiner Said
Who or what is God, according to Rudolf Steiner? Waldorf school students are expected to recite prayers, written by Steiner, that address “God,” “God’s spirit,” and/or the “Creator Spirit.”  To whom are these prayers directed?
Steiner spoke of the Godhead, which may be taken as the creative force behind the universe. Most people in the Western world, hearing of the Godhead, think of the monotheistic God recognized in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But Steiner described a universe populated by a vast number of gods. He said that polytheism is correct; monotheism is only an ideal vision: “Monotheism or monism can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, complete view of the world.” 
In Steiner's view, there is no One and Only God, at least not yet. The reality encompassed by the concept of monotheism is still being evolved: It is a condition the universe may reach eventually, not a condition that exists now, or so Steiner taught.
To repeat, then: To whom are Steiner's prayers directed?
Here is some of what Steiner said about the Godhead. He identified the Godhead as divine will. He depicted a nebulous force that activates good gods, and good humans, and everything else aside, perhaps, from evil gods and all the beings that lack real spirit. The Godhead is the “creator spirit” or the “kingdom” into which the good may enter. In this sense, it is blessedness.
“[A] Christian sees a mirror image of the Godhead, of divine will, in every single thing in the world. The universe contains the sacrificed Godhead, and this reflected image of the Godhead was called in esoteric Christianity ‘the kingdom’. What the kingdom meant to them was the divine will raying back to them multiplied a million times. The kingdom was the creative power of Atma, the living force of Buddhi in us, the creative force working in the outside world.” 
Atma, as described by Steiner, is the highest evolutionary stage of human consciousness. Buddhi is a second, lower stage, consisting of the transformed etheric body — one of the three nonphysical bodies that humans possess, according to Steiner. (Mana, not mentioned in this quotation, is the third, still lower stage, consisting of the transformed astral body — another of our three nonphysical bodies). 
Steiner's vision was Christian, in a sense. It was also Hindu, in a sense (Atma, Buddhi...). Steiner placed great emphasis on Christ, teaching that Christ is a key embodiment of divine will. On the other hand, he also said that Christ is the Sun God, one of the vast panoply of gods inhabiting our polytheistic universe. [See "Sun God".] Thus, Christ — like all other beneficent beings — is a fulfillment of the Godhead. Thus, we may find the Godhead in Christ. “True existence is the incarnation of the Godhead; the world process is the Passion of the incarnated Godhead and at the same time the way of redemption for Him who was crucified in the flesh....” 
The Godhead is a spirit that incarnates in true existence (false existence incarnates evil or it has no spiritual component at all). The Godhead, incarnated in Christ and enduring Christ's Passion (the Crucifixion), sacrificed itself for our sake. We ourselves can follow the world process that, if properly unfolded, will lead to our Christ-informed spiritual evolution — toward our own divinity, which may be considered the ultimate fulfillment of the Godhead.
The Godhead is beyond our current comprehension and, in a manner of speaking, the Godhead is outside our universe. The Godhead may be deemed the mysterious trinity standing above all ranks of gods — it is the transcendent union of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. In this sense, the Godhead is a union of three separate, highest gods. [See "Trinity".] All that exists — including the gods — arises from the Godhead and aspires to realize the Godhead. But, Steiner said, we cannot expect to understand the ultimate activities or purposes of divine will, at least not yet. [See "Origins".] The Godhead lies beyond. For our pragmatic purposes, trying to understand how to live and what to think, we should direct our gaze at the gods who are more directly involved in the life of our solar system, our planet, and ourselves.
God the Father
The spirit realm, Steiner said, has few defining lines or distinctions. Entities and essences interweave and overlap. Thus, Christ is a god standing below the Godhead; yet Christ is also, in a sense, a member of the Godhead. The same may be said of God the Father. The Father, according to Steiner, is that fulfillment of divinity toward which we are evolving. We will actually become the Father — not as companions of the Father, but literally as Himself. “[W]e shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.’” 
When Steiner's followers pray to God the Father — and when Waldorf students are led in such prayers — the god being addressed is not the Godhead, precisely, nor the One True God of monotheism (which Steiner said is false), but the creative aspect of divinity embodied in our spheres of spiritual activity, a godliness that we see as the Father. Anthroposophical forms of the Lord's Prayer address this power. Steiner used multiple versions of the Lord's Prayer, usually framed to direct focus to the god or gods that enact divine will for our immediate benefit. So, for example, one form of the Lord's Prayer offered by Steiner addresses not “Our Father which art in heaven” but, instead, it addresses the “All-Father of Humanity”:
"We sense You above in the heavenly heights,
All-Father of Humanity.
Consecrated be Your Name.” 
The All-Father is, in a sense, Odin, the highest god depicted in Norse myths, the father of the gods who was often referred to as All Father. Indeed, the wide pantheon of gods found in Norse mythology is more akin to Steiner's vision than is the single God of the Bible. [See "The Gods".] But in Steiner's teachings, Odin is not the Godhead; Odin is not the sole source of divine creativity. Rather, all the good gods participate in creation, and thus all of the good gods are our fathers, as it were. So another version of the Lord's Prayer used by Steiner — the version that Steiner said underlies the others — addresses not "our Father" but "ye fathers":
Has separated itself
From Your Kingdom
And forgot your names
Ye Fathers in the heavens." 
We have many spiritual fathers because there are many gods who have assisted us in our evolution, Steiner taught. Creation and evolution, in the broadest sense, are the work of "spirit." We ourselves are spiritual beings when we acknowledge our bonds to spirit: “We are spiritual beings only when we recognize spirit as creator — the agent that works on and shapes the material world. It is not the worship of some abstract spirit in the clouds....”  The gods are all around us and even within us. If the Godhead is distant, the gods are present.
When we address a single Father, Steiner said, we must understand that we are not praying to Jehovah, the god of the Jews. According to Steiner, Jehovah (or Javhe) is only one of several collegial gods, the Elohim. Like many other gods, Jehovah has played a helpful role in our evolution, but we must see him in his context: “[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....” 
Actually, Steiner said, the god we address as Father is the presiding spirit of Saturn. "The highest Ruler of Saturn...appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth [see 'Old Moon'] appears to us as the Holy Spirit....” 
God the Son
In Christian belief, Christ is one of the three persons of God. Steiner’s conception overlaps this, but it is also extremely different. Christ is, in a way, the Son; but more particularly, according to Steiner, He is the Sun God — a god who dwelled on, and ruled over, the Sun. Steiner said that Christ, the Sun God, has involved Himself many times in human evolution [see "Events"], and His coming to Earth was foreseen long ago, even while we lived on Atlantis: “The Sun oracle [a being/place having the power of prophecy] of ancient Atlantis had already prophesied the coming of Christ, of the Sun-God.” 
Steiner taught that the Sun God entered Jesus, the man, for three years, after which He merged with the Earth. Early Christians understood Christ's true nature, more or less, but later Christians forgot. When humanity lost its ancient powers of clairvoyance, the reality of Christ's association with the Sun faded from our awareness: “With greater of less understanding, Christ was thus pictured by the Christians of the first centuries as the mighty ‘Sun God’. [paragraph break] But throughout Christendom at this time the faculty of instinctive clairvoyance once possessed by men was fading away. Then they could no longer see in the sun the great spiritual kingdom at whose centre the Christ once had his abode.” 
Christ came to Earth and quit the Sun. “Christ died to the Sun. He died cosmically, from the Sun to the earth. He came down to the earth. From the moment of Golgotha [Calvary] onwards his Life-Spirit was to be seen around the earth.”  The life-spirit is the Buddhi, which I mentioned before. Christ "died to the Sun", meaning that he withdrew his spirit from the Sun. He, or his body, Jesus, later died on the Earth, and Christ the spirit then merged with the Earth.
Dying to the Sun and later merging with the Earth is not quite the same thing as dying to redeem our sins. Christ is not so much mankind's savior as the role model humans should follow, Steiner taught. "Christ shows himself to him as the great human Prototype and Example, united with the Earth's true evolution."  Christ became the inverse of the entire universe, a microcosmic or "inverse macrocosmic" being when he incarnated in human form. He brought All — the Godhead, as it were — into physical existence. “The ‘being’ of Christ should be thought of as the inverse macrocosmic human being, but [also] identical with the second aspect of the Divinity, the Logos.”  We ourselves are microcosmic men, small reflections of the entire universe, the macrocosm; and we become macrocosmic men when we properly follow Christ, who is the living Word of God, Logos. [See "All".]
Although Christ took up a unique burden when he chose to incarnate on Earth, he was not the only god to descend in one form or another, according to Steiner. [See "Avatars".] Good gods have descended to assist us, but evil gods or demons have come down to do us harm. So, during the time when Christ walked the Earth in the form of Jesus, the dire forces of the demon Ahriman were also abroad. “[I]t was also possible for Ahriman to be active side by side with the Christ during the three years in which Christ was active in the body of Jesus of Nazareth."  Steiner's polytheistic vision encompasses vast numbers of gods, some of whom try to thwart divine will and subvert the actions of the beneficent gods such as Christ. [See "Evil Ones".]
The Holy Spirit
Finally, let’s consider the third person of the Christian triune God. The most obscure of the three, the Holy Spirit is, in a sense, what Christ bequeathed humanity. “[T]he living spirit speaks to us again. [paragraph break] It is no formula devised by human cleverness, the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is a reality deeply bound up with the whole evolution of the cosmos; and it becomes for us a living, not dead, knowledge when we bring to life within ourselves the Christ Who, as the Risen One, is the bringer of the Holy Spirit.” 
Three of Steiner’s devotees may help us, here. • In one sense, the Holy Spirit is a light beckoning us onward in our evolution: A “light appears from the future ... It is this, so to speak, beckoning light that Steiner speaks of as the Holy Spirit....”  • And, the “individual comprehension of the Christ Impulse is described by Steiner as the gift of the Holy Spirit, the direct reception of which is celebrated at Whitsun.”  The Christ-Impulse is the spiritual impetus and ability activated in us by Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us this impulse as a gift. Whitsun or Whitsuntide (or Pentecost) is a celebration of this gift. • At Waldorf schools, Whitsun is "the festival of awakening, or free individuality, of baptism ... Whitsun/Pentecost is both moveable and fixed [in the calendar], in that it follows fifty days after Easter; that is to say, the experience of death and resurrection leads in due course to the experience of understanding oneself as a spiritual being." 
Steiner taught that the Holy Spirit is the "universal I" — it is the universal spiritual ego, the cosmic spark of divine selfhood and illumination. During the process of initiation, the human astral body is purified, becoming the perfect receptive human soul with its inborn wisdom: the "Virgin Sophia": “Through all that is received during catharsis, the student cleanses and purifies the astral body so that it becomes transformed into the Virgin Sophia. Moreover, when the Virgin Sophia encounters the cosmic, or universal 'I' which leads to illumination, the student is surrounded by spiritual light ... If you prefer, one may say 'overshadowed by the "Holy Spirit," or cosmic, universal 'I.'" 
On other occasions, Steiner indicated that the Holy Spirit is itself the receptive feminine aspect of spirituality. "One could also say that the ‘Holy Spirit’ is the (feminine) ‘Mother’ principle of the (male) ‘Son’ principle, Christ. We owe the development of the ‘Christ in us’ to the ‘Holy Spirit’ (the female creator of Christ)."  The procreative power of the "mother" finds expression in our souls. “Here we have one of the central conceptions of Mystery-teaching, which acknowledges the human soul as the mother of god.”  In a sense, as we attain divinity and become "what is called in Christianity ‘the Father'”, we will have created God. And we will have done it thanks in large measure to the "mother" of God: Sophia/Artemis/Eve/Mary, who may be thought of as the Holy Spirit. [See "Goddess".]
Here are some additional statements which may or may not tend toward illumination. Trying to make all of Steiner's statements consistent with one another is, at a minimum, taxing. Sometimes it is better to just let the words flow.
“We must acquire the possibility of conceiving of the Christ in such a way that we do not identify Him with the Father god. Many of the modern evangelical theologians are no longer able to differentiate between the general concept of God and the concept of the Christ. To be unable to find the Christ in life is a different matter from being unable to find the Father God. You know that it is not here a matter of doubting the Divinity of the Christ. It is a matter of clear differentiation, in the sphere of the Divine, between the Father God and the Christ God. This comes to expression in the soul of man. Not to find God the Father is a disease; not to find the Christ is a misfortune. For the human being is so connected with the Christ as to be inwardly dependent upon this connection. He is, however, also dependent upon that which has taken place as a historical event. He must find a connection with the Christ here upon earth, in external life. If he does not find it is a misfortune. Not to find the Father god, to be an atheist, is an illness. Not to find the Son God, the Christ, is a misfortune.” 
“It was by turning their gaze into the past that the men of those ancient times felt the reality of spiritual things. ‘I must look back beyond my birth, far into the past, if I would see the Spiritual. There is the Spirit; out of that Spirit I am born; that Spirit must I find again. But I have departed far from Him.’
“Thus did man feel the Spirit from whom he had departed, as the Spirit of the Father God. The highest Initiate in the Mysteries was he who evolved in his heart and soul the forces whereby he could make manifest the Father in his own external human being. When the pupils crossed the threshold of the Mysteries and came into those sacred places which were institutions of Art and Science and of the sacred religious Rites at the same time, and when at length they stood before the highest Initiate, they saw in him the representative of the Father God. The ‘Fathers’ were higher Initiates than the ‘Sun-Heroes.’ ... Thus in the course of human evolution, in the consciousness of man, the ‘Out of God — out of the Father God — we are born,’ was supplemented by the word of life, of comfort and of strength, ‘In Christ we die’ — that is to say, in Him we live.” 
“How are we to think about the Father God with truly spiritual comprehension
“Let us consider human beings, first in day-waking consciousness, then in night-sleeping consciousness, and let us compare the two states. We know that in full waking consciousness individuals are living as they have been placed to live within the order of this physical world. Just as the earth has had earlier stages of evolution — Saturn, Sun, Moon — and will undergo further evolution, so must humans themselves be recognized as the result of those earlier evolutionary periods. In this sense they belong in their waking state to the earth; by their nature they stand within the sphere of the earth. In waking condition they stand on a level with nature.
“It is not the same when human beings sleep. When we are asleep our physical and etheric bodies lie on the bed, and our astral body and ego are outside them. Let us look at the physical and etheric bodies. Of what do we consist, lying there in our physical and etheric bodies? We have — of course, at a more advanced stage — what we received in the old Saturn evolution and the old Sun evolution. That is now further evolved; we have the further development of our Saturn and Sun existence now during sleep. We do not have our Moon existence in what lies there on the bed. Nature has progressed from Moon existence to Earth existence. And the fact that the sleep condition is essential to us means that nature preserves in the sleeping human being a nature that is now below, a nature that only existed during the Saturn and Sun periods. That is subnature. That lies at the foundation of all beings through the fact that there is a human race. Humans fall during sleep into subnature, and from this fall illnesses appear. That is the realm of the Father God. When we sleep we enter the realm of the Father God, we enter subnature, the realm of the Father.” 
“For in early Christian times, up to about the third or fourth century, when there was still a good deal of the Oriental wisdom in Christianity, men were occupying themselves intently with the question of the difference between the Father God and God the Son. These fine differences that engaged attention in the early Christian centuries have long ceased to have meaning for modern man, who has been occupied in developing egohood as a result of the influences I have described.
“A kind of untruth has thus found its way into modern religious consciousness. Through inner experience, through his analysis and synthesis of the world, man comes to the Father God. From tradition, he has God the Son. The Gospels speak of Him, tradition speaks of Him. Man has the Christ, he wants to acknowledge Him — but through inner experience he has Him no longer. Therefore he takes what he should apply only to the Father God and transfers it to the Christ God. Modern theology has not the Christ at all; it has only the Father — but it calls the Father ‘Christ,’ because it has received the tradition of the Christ Being in history and, quite naturally, wants to be Christian. If we were honest, we should simply be unable to call ourselves Christians in modern times.” 
“Those who know that the progress of mankind depends upon living apprehension of the mighty Event of Golgotha are they who as the ‘Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings’ are united in the great Guiding Lodge of mankind. And as once the ‘tongues of fire’ hovered down as a living symbol upon the company of the apostles, so does the ‘Holy Spirit’ announced by Christ Himself reign as the Light over the Lodge of the Twelve. The Thirteenth is the Leader of the Lodge of the Twelve. The ‘Holy Spirit’ is the mighty Teacher of those we name the ‘Masters of Wisdom and of the Harmony of Feelings’. It is through them that his voice and his wisdom flow down to mankind in this or that stream upon the earth.” 
"A Lodge of twelve Bodhisattvas [enlightened beings, Buddhas] is to be regarded as the Lodge directing all Earth evolution. The concept of ‘Teacher’ familiar to us at lower stages of existence can be applied, in essentials, to these twelve Bodhisattvas. They are Teachers, the great Inspirers of one portion or another of what mankind has to acquire.
"Whence do these Bodhisattvas receive what they have to proclaim from epoch to epoch? — If you were able to look into the great Spirit-Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas you would find that in the midst of the Twelve there is a Thirteenth — one who cannot be called a ‘Teacher’ in the same sense as the Bodhisattvas, but of whom we must say: He is that Being from whom wisdom itself streams as very substance. It is therefore quite correct to speak of the twelve Bodhisattvas in the great Spirit-Lodge grouped around One who is their Centre; they are wrapt in contemplation of the sublime Being from whom there streams what they have then to inculcate into Earth evolution in fulfilment of their missions. Thus there streams from the Thirteenth what the others have to teach. They are the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Inspirers’; the Thirteenth is himself the Being of whom the others teach, whom they proclaim from epoch to epoch. This Thirteenth is He whom the ancient Rishis called Vishva Karman, whom Zarathustra called Ahura Mazdao, whom we call the Christ. He is the Leader and Guide of the great Lodge of the Bodhisattvas. Hence the content of the proclamation made through the whole choir of the Bodhisattvas is the teaching concerning Christ, once called Vishva Karman. The Bodhisattva who became Buddha five to six centuries before our era was endowed with the powers of Vishva Karman. The Nathan Jesus who received the Christ into himself was not merely ‘endowed’ but ‘anointed’ — that is to say, permeated through and through by Vishva Karman, by Christ." 
We began by asking to whom Waldorf students are expected to pray. In some cases, using the words written by Rudolf Steiner, they pray to God or to "God's spirit," however that may be defined. [See "Prayers".] For Westerners, such prayers may seem conventionally — and therefore unobjectionably — monotheistic. But as we have seen, Steiner also advocated prayers that address multiple gods — "ye Fathers in the heavens." Devotees of Eastern religions will likely be comfortable with such prayers; others may not.
Steiner's vision is of a universe populated by multitudinous gods who have varying ranks. The rank of a group of gods reflects the evolutionary progress made by that group in their ascent toward ultimate divinity. Gods evolve along the same developmental path we humans are traveling, Steiner taught — although he said we may eventually attain a higher rank than any other upward-evolving beings. [See "Tenth Hierarchy".] At present, however, we stand below nine ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".]
Anthroposophical prayers sometimes address or enumerate the nine ranks of gods above us. Often, if not always, Steiner's followers direct their attention to these multiple divinities:
"In the weaving of the ether
Man's web of destiny
Is received by Angels, Archangels, Archai.
Into the astral world
The just consequences of man's earthly life
Die into Exousiai, Dynameis, Kyriotetes.
In the essence of their deeds
The honest creations of man's earthly life
Are resurrected in Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim." 
To whom are Waldorf students expected to pray? The answer depends on the instruction individual Waldorf teachers provide to their students. Often, Steiner's complex vision is kept largely hidden from the kids. But sometimes the doctrines of Anthroposophy are revealed, to one degree or another, and the children's conception of the spiritual powers above them are affected as a result. Parents should certainly consider whether they are happy with this result.
— Roger Rawlings
"The animals, the sun, the soil, the rain, all of these are important and necessary on the farm.
But only God's grace will help the animals to be born and the plants to grow."
God is honored in Waldorf schools — and so are multiple gods
(Steiner said that polytheism is truth).
Whenever you see a Waldorf practice that seems consistent with Western monotheistic religion,
you may want to dig deeper.
[Waldorf student work,
courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.]
According to Steiner, God is
our evolutionary goal — the being
atop the universal hierarchies.
Eventually we ourselves will become
God the Father.
[RHETORICA CHRISTIANA, 1579.]
Few of Steiner's ideas were original;
he took most from his extensive reading.
(None of his ideas were what he claimed:
results of his own clairvoyant examination of the universe —
clairvoyance is a myth, it doesn't exist.)
For Christians, Steiner's most shocking tenet
is that Christ is the Sun God.
This heresy predated Steiner by centuries —
it was imported into Christian mysticism
by those who could not bear to relinquish pagan beliefs.
This mosaic dates from the first century AD,
when Christianity and paganism overlapped in the Roman Empire.
Christ is depicted as Helios, the Sun God.
He is also given characteristics of Mithras and Sol.
[J. C. Cooper, AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS,
(Thames and Hudson, 1978), p. 163.]
Steiner's conception of the Godhead is related to that of other gnostics and mystics.
The following is from THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA:
"Negative mysticism: God and the GodheadENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 11 Dec. 2012.
"The most daring forms of Christian mysticism have emphasized the absolute unknowability of God. They suggest that true contact with the transcendent involves going beyond all that we speak of as God—even the Trinity—to an inner 'God beyond God,' a divine Darkness or Desert in which all distinction is lost. This form of 'mystical atheism' has seemed suspicious to established religion; its adherents have usually tried to calm the suspicions of the orthodox by an insistence on the necessity, though incompleteness, of the affirmative ways to God. One of the earliest and most important exponents of this teaching was the Pseudo-Dionysius, who distinguished 'the super-essential Godhead' from all positive terms ascribed to God, even the Trinity (The Divine Names, chapter 13). In the West this tradition emerged later; it is first found in Erigena in the 9th century and is especially evident in the Rhineland school in the 13th and 14th centuries. According to Eckhart, even being and goodness are 'garments' or 'veils' under which God is hidden. In inviting his hearers to 'break through' to the hidden Godhead, he exclaimed, 'Let us pray to God that we may be free of "God," and that we may apprehend and rejoice in that everlasting truth in which the highest angel and the fly and the soul are equal' (German Sermons, 52). The notion of the hidden Godhead was renewed in the teaching of Jakob Böhme, who spoke of it as the Ungrund—'the great Mystery,' 'the Abyss,' 'the eternal Stillness.' He stressed the fact of divine becoming (in a nontemporal sense): God is eternally the dark mystery of which nothing can be said but ever puts on the nature of light, love, and goodness wherein the divine is revealed to human beings." — "Christianity."
In borrowing from others, Steiner sometimes stayed fairly true to his sources,
although he often altered things almost beyond recognition.
Steiner called Christ Jesus the "Representative of Humanity" —
He is the ideal human we may all become.
Likewise, Steiner taught that humans are microcosmic reflections
of the entire universe.
The image above — not Anthroposophical —
depicts Christ as the microcosm,
embodying all the elements and powers of the universe.
[J. C. Cooper, AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS,
(Thames and Hudson, 1978), p. 103.]
Sketch of background scenery used for staging
a mystery play written by Steiner —
suggesting our choice of paths
on our journey toward becoming "what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.'"
[R.R., 2009, based on p. 25,
GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthrposopsophical Press, 1961).
Painting by a young Waldorf student
[courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools].
For more on God, the Godhead,
Christ, and related teachings,
please see "All",
For explications of God's name
as given to Moses, see "Moses".
To delve into Steiner's teachings about
the Book of Genesis, see "Genesis".
And for the Anthroposophical view
of the Old Testament more generally: "Old Testament".
[R. R., ~2004.]
Charts of Ramon Lull's occult art, meant to lay out divine wisdom.
[Martin Gardner, SCIENCE: GOOD, BAD AND BOGUS (Prometheus Books, 1989), p. 45.]
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 9. WALDORF AND RELIGION ◊◊◊
If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here,
you might begin by consulting the following resources:
THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY
THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
WALDORF WATCH INDEX
WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS
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.
 Here are the two prayers generally used in Waldorf schools, both of them written by Steiner for use by the students. They can be found in Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995).
“The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day;
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs;
In sunlight shining clear
I reverence, O God,
The strength of humankind,
That thou so graciously
Hast planted in my soul,
That I with all my might
May love to work and learn.
From Thee come light and strength,
To Thee rise love and thanks.”
“I look into the world;
In which the Sun shines,
In which the stars sparkle,
In which the stones lie,
The living plants are growing,
The animals are feeling,
In which the soul of man
Gives dwelling for the spirit;
I look into the soul
Which lives within myself.
God’s spirit weaves in light
Of Sun and human soul,
In world of space, without,
In depths of soul, within.
God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee
I turn myself in prayer,
That strength and blessing grow
In me, to learn and work.”
Some schools substitute the term “Creator Spirit” and/or “World Creator” for “God’s spirit.” Thus, at the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor (Michigan) the second prayer ends this way:
“I look into the soul,
That lives within my being
The World Creator weaves
In sunlight and in soul light,
In world space there without
In soul depths here within.
To Thee Creator Spirit
I will now turn my heart
To ask that strength and blessing
For learning and for work
May ever grow within me.”
— I last checked this on July 1, 2009.
For an analysis of these prayers, see "Prayers" here at Waldorf Watch.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 115.
Steiner said that the Trinity exists, but so do other trinities: The Christian triune God exists, but in a distant sense; it stands beyond a plethora of other gods who are nearer to us and more busy in our affairs. The highest attendants of God have experienced the presence of the Trinity, but perhaps only they have done so. "The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones come from an earlier solar system. They have been in the vicinity of the highest godhead of all, namely the Trinity." — Synopsis of lecture 5, Rudolf Steiner's THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1928), GA 110.
In a sense, on the matter of origins and ultimate powers, Steiner chose silence. He focused on events in our own solar system, which is distant from the "highest godhead," and he discouraged investigation into ultimate origins. “In a purely intellectual way it is possible, of course, in the case of every given origin, to ask again after its origin ... [But in doing this] we only prolong questioning, as it were, mechanically ... [T]he facts themselves will put a natural end to questioning.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 126-127.
The Godhead as conceived by Steiner most closely resembles the Hindu Brahma. Steiner said the universe is polytheistic, but he also said that all of the many gods arise (like everything else) from an underlying, unified "principle" or spirit. "Monism or monotheism in itself can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, concrete view of the world. Nevertheless, in the post-Atlantean age the current of monotheism also had to be represented, so that the urge, the impulse toward monotheism devolved upon a single people, the Semitic people. The monistic principle is reflected in this people by a certain rigidity or inflexibility, whilst all the other peoples, in so far [sic] as their different divinities are comprehended in a unity, receive the impulse toward monism from them. The other peoples are inclined to pluralism.
"It is extremely important that this should be borne in mind and whoever is concerned with the continuance of the old Hebraic impulse will find the extremes of monotheism at the present day Monotheism amongst the learned Rabbis, in Rabbinism. The task of this particular people to propagate the doctrine that a single ultimate principle underlies the world. The task of all other peoples and Time Spirits was analytic, to representing the one World-Principle as being articulated into different Beings. In India, for example, the ultimate abstraction of the Unity underlying all things was divided into a tri-unity, just as the one god of Christianity is divided into Three Persons." — THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, pp. 115-116.
Steiner tried to affirm both polytheism and monotheism, which is logically absurd. "Pluralism is not possible without monism. We must recognize the necessity for both." — Ibid., p. 116. As a point about mental concepts, this is true: One concept implies its opposite; we must have both concepts. But applied to existential reality, the concept is wrong. In reality, the universe is either one or the other, a monotheistic reality or a pluralistic reality. Thus, there may be one and only one god (monotheism), but in order to exist this god does not require the existence of multiple other gods (polytheism). Indeed, the existence of multiple gods would mean that there is no single, one-and-only god.
So, if pushed to the wall, what would Steiner say? "Monism or monotheism in itself can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world."
For more on Anthroposophical polytheism, see "Polytheism".
 Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD'S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 64.
When Steiner speaks of "Christianity," he sometimes means his own teachings and sometimes he means mainstream Christian teachings, which are often quite different from his own. When he uses terms such as "esoteric Christianity," he refers to teachings distinctly allied with his own.
Note that in some, perhaps reductive Anthroposophical interpretations, the Godhead is equated with the Holy Trinity. To understand this, however, we must remember that Anthroposophy is polytheistic, so many gods are invoked, and the Trinity itself is a sort of committee of gods. Within this polytheistic vision, the terms "God," "Godhead," and "Trinity" can be taken, sometimes, as synonymous. "God — referring to the Christian concept of the holy Trinity, the three aspects of one godhead ... The Trinity, as ultimate origin of the Creation of the world, inspires the hierarchies of [gods] ... [T]he same gods appear under different names in various cultures ... Anthroposophy sheds light on this complicated world of the gods and reveals the pattern of underlying connections." — Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 49-50.
As we will see, the Trinity as described by Steiner (at least sometimes) consists of the gods of Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon. But in a broad sense, we must reconcile ourselves to the proposition that the Godhead lies beyond our comprehension. “Above [man], in the spiritual world, are three ranks of [gods], reaching to the Godhead which is so far beyond him as to be incomprehensible in his present state of development.” — Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER: An Introduction to His Spiritual World-View (Temple Lodge Publishing 2005), p. 185.
Anthroposophists believe that a spark of divinity resides within each real, fully incarnated human being. This is called the "I" or spiritual ego, or (sometimes) the "ego body." The highest component of human spiritual nature, however, is called "spirit man," and this is sometimes described as the expression of the Godhead in human nature. For a survey of human components as described by Steiner, see "Our Parts."
 OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, p. 332, translator’s note; also Gary Lachman, RUDOLF STEINER (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2007), p. 141.
 Rudolf Steiner, INTUITIVE THINKING AS A SPIRITUAL PATH (Wilder Publications, 2008), p. 92. A different translation is available from the Anthroposophic Press.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17.
Many of Steiner's remarks come to us not from books he wrote but from lectures he delivered. Faithful adherents made transcriptions. Whether or not certain words should be put in quotation marks was, in these cases, a matter of interpretation. If the transcriber understood Steiner to put a certain spin on certain words, s/he may or may not have decided to put these words inside quotation marks.
 Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises (SteinerBooks, 2004), p. 220.
 Ibid., p. 221.
 THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 49.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 99.
 Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100.
For more on this theme, see "Polytheism".
 Rudolf Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY IN CONNECTION WITH QUESTIONS OF REINCARNATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1986). p. 5.
 Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. VI (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1989), p. 125.
All such spiritual truths are complex and mysterious, Steiner taught; hence, the term "Sun God" appears here in quotation marks, to stress the incomplete nature of human comprehension.
 Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. VIII (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1975), p. 78.
 OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, p. 272.
 Rudolf Steiner, CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS 1901-1925 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1989), p. 83.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL, (Rudolf Steiner Press), p. 225.
 Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 75.
Note that the triune God is a formula devised by “human cleverness.” Seen from this perspective (which Steiner alternately assumed and discarded), the trinity is illusory.
 Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 163.
 THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), introduction by Malcolm Ian Gardner, p. xiv.
 "Whitsun or Pentecost", by Karen Mortenson, WALDORF EDUCATION: A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1995), edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers, p. 171.
Whitsun may also be mixed, at Waldorfs, with the Jewish Shavu'ot and other observances.
 Rudolf Steiner, "Christ, the Virgin Sophia, and the Holy Spirit", THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, 2009), ed. Robert McDermott, p. 164.
For more about Sophia, see "Goddess".
 Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 49.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE MYSTERIES: Rudolf Steiner's Writings of Spiritual Initiation (Floris Books, 1997), ed. Andrew Welburn, p. 86.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 4, GA 174a.
 Rudolf Steiner, “The Mystery of Golgotha” (ANTHROPOSOPHY QUARTERLY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1926), a lecture, GA 214.
 Rudolf Steiner, PASTORAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), lecture 11, GA 318.
 Rudolf Steiner, “The Seeds of Future Worlds” (THE GOLDEN BLADE, 1963), a lecture, GA 207.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE DEED OF CHRIST (Steiner Book Centre, 1954), lecture 1, GA 107.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 7, GA 114.
Re. the "Nathan Jesus": see "Was He Christian?"
 Rudolf Steiner, a prayer on p. 62 of PRAYERS AND GRACES (Floris Books, 1996), compiled by Michael Jones.
[Ernst Haeckel, ART FORMS IN NATURE (Dover Publications, 1974).]
There is clearly much beauty, symmetry, even "design" in nature.
Whether this amounts to evidence that a designer — a Creator — exists
is, perhaps, open to question.
Many people in the modern, Western world
— perhaps a majority —
believe that God exists.
But Steiner would have us believe in a vast pantheon of gods,
nature spirits, and other invisible beings.
To substantiate his vision, he offered essentially
his unsupported word —
he used "exact clairvoyance," he assured his followers.
Really, he said, I did. Believe me, he said, I did. I really did.
He also assured them them that if they accept his word,
and follow his directions, and develop exact clairvoyance, too,
then they will see exactly what he saw.