"Two Falsehoods" and 

"The Goetheanum"



◊ "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...

provides religious instruction 

just as other religious groups do."

◊ “The mission of Anthroposophy to-day is 

to be a synthesis of religions."

◊ "The position of [a Waldorf] teacher 

becomes a kind of priestly office...."

— Rudolf Steiner


The practice of Anthroposophy entails faith, reverence, prayers, meditations, spiritual guides, spiritual observances, submission to the gods, and efforts to fulfill the will of the gods. Anthroposophy lays out the path to spiritual improvement and salvation for its adherents, and it threatens spiritual loss and perdition for everyone else. Anthroposophists believe that they are on the side of the gods, and they believe that their critics are on the side of the demonic powers.

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Anthroposophists and Waldorf faculty members deny many things. Crucially, they often deny that Anthroposophy is a religion. For instance, at the Waldorf Answers website, the denial is absolute: 

“No, anthroposophy is not a religion, nor is it meant to be a substitute for religion.” [1] 

Yet there is persuasive evidence to the contrary. Here are the words of Christopher Bamford, editor-in-chief of SteinerBooks: 

“[S]teiner felt...he had to infuse Theosophy, which had an anti-Christian bias, with the real meaning of Christ....” [2] 

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, the author of several books on occult and esoteric subjects, puts the matter this way: 

“Rudolf Steiner...a pivotal figure of twentieth-century esotericism...blended modern Theosophy with a Gnostic form of Christianity, Rosicrucianism, and German Naturphilosophie.” [3] 

To cite one more authoritative source, the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION says this:

“Anthroposophy is continuous with the Rosicrucian stream of the Christian esoteric tradition.” [4] 

Summarizing, then, we can say that Anthroposophy combines Theosophy, certain gnostic or esoteric forms of Christianity, and perhaps another spiritualistic thread or two.

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There can be no doubt that Christianity, in whatever form, is a religion. If Anthroposophy is Christianity blended with other spiritualistic traditions, we are justified in at least suspecting that Anthroposophy is indeed a religion. But let’s delve deeper. Bamford and Goodrick-Clarke agree that Steiner “infused” or “blended” Christianity with Theosophy. Steiner himself made no secret of the importance of Theosophy in his life and thought. [5] Steiner was a Theosophist before breaking away to set up Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement, and he was outspoken in his admiration for a key leader of Theosophy, Helena Blavatsky: 

“One thing can be said of the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Only one who does not understand them can underestimate them. Anyone who finds the key to what is great in these works will come to admire her more and more.” [6] 

Well, then, let's consult Helena Blavatsky, asking her whether Theosophy is a religion. She gives a typically scrambled occultist answer: 

“It is perhaps necessary, first of all, to say, that the assertion that ‘Theosophy is not a Religion,’ by no means excludes the fact that ‘Theosophy is Religion’ itself. A Religion in the true and only correct sense, is a bond uniting men together — not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning is that which binds not only all MEN, but also all BEINGS and all things in the entire Universe into one grand whole ... Thus Theosophy is not a Religion, we say, but RELIGION itself....” [7] 

So, is Theosophy a religion? No. Or, in other words, yes. It is the essence of religion. It is Religion. 

Where does this bring us? The two major sources from which Steiner drew, Christianity and Theosophy, are religions. According to its adherents, Christianity is the one true religion of salvation. And according to its  adherents, Theosophy is the one true overarching, whole-encompassing Religion. What, then, is Anthroposophy? It is a combination of these religions. The result, the blending of these sources, must necessarily be a religion as well. A religion added to a religion yields a religion. (Claiming that the result is a science, not a religion — because it provides the path to Truth — is unconvincing. Virtually all religions claim to provide the path to Truth. Indeed, making this claim in a system of meditations, prayers, and other spiritual exercises — a system such as Anthroposophy — is an identifying characteristic of religion.)

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Of course, to find the most compelling evidence for the religious nature of Anthroposophy, we need to examine the work and words of Anthroposophy's founder, Rudolf Steiner. The evidence there is overwhelming. Note, for example, that Steiner wrote many prayers for his followers to use — a compilation of his prayers is titled PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN. Note the first word in the title. Additional prayers, meditations, and spiritual exercises penned by Steiner can be found in such books as START NOW! and BREATHING THE SPIRIT. [8] Writing prayers for use by others is the activity of a religious leader, while reciting prayers written or prescribed by a religious leader is the activity of faithful adherents. 

In this context, it is important to note that Steiner wrote prayers to be recited by students in Waldorf schools. Here is one:

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. [9]


Steiner attempted to disguise the nature of this prayer, just as Waldorf schools generally disguise their nature as religious institutions [10], just as Anthroposophists generally disguise the religious nature of Anthroposophy. Steiner cautioned Waldorf teachers against allowing outsiders to know that Waldorf students are required to recite prayers. With specific reference to the prayer I just quoted, Steiner said: 

“We also need to speak about a prayer. I ask only one thing of you. You see, in such things everything depends upon the external appearances. Never call a verse a prayer, call it an opening verse before school. Avoid allowing anyone to hear you, as a faculty member, using the word ‘prayer.’” [11] 

Steiner enjoined Waldorf teachers from admitting the truth, which is that the “verse” he wrote is self-evidently a prayer. Not only does Steiner call it a prayer ("We...need to speak about a prayer"), but the substance and phrasing are clearly those of a prayer: The children address God, thanking her/him, and offering him/her love. When they recite this "verse," they are praying: "I reverence, O God,/ The strength of humankind / ... From Thee come light and strength,/ To Thee rise love and thanks".

Also revealing is Steiner’s decision to hold Sunday services for Anthroposophically inclined Waldorf students: 

“We hold the Sunday services within the context of the school. They are part of the school ... I would certainly deny any association with a Sunday service outside the school. It only makes sense if there are a number of children receiving religious instruction from an anthroposophical basis and there is a Sunday service in our school for these children." [12]

Children who are taught about  religion don't need Sunday services; only children who are taught to embrace  a religion need them. Because the services were held on Sundays, we can infer that the religion being practiced was Christianity or an offshoot of Christianity — i.e., Anthroposophy. Steiner’s meaning is clear. "[R]eceiving religious instruction from an anthroposophical basis" is tantamount to being taught Anthroposophy. Steiner often denied that Waldorf schools teach Anthroposophical dogma, and I believe this is generally true. But as I have argued in other essays, Anthroposophy can be injected into a child's psyche/soul by subtle, indirect, manipulative methods that I have called brainwashing. [13] Children at Waldorf schools can absorb the spirit and viewpoint of Anthroposophy without needing to learn the precise phrasing of specific doctrines. Explicitly, Steiner said that in the Waldorf school “there are a number of children receiving religious instruction" based on Anthroposophy, and he wanted to provide appropriately Anthroposophical "Sunday services" for them. And so, as we will see, Steiner acknowledged that Anthroposophy works much as "other religious groups" do. In this formulation of Steiner's, Anthroposophy takes its place in the ranks of world religions.

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Not all Anthroposophists deny that Anthroposophy is a religion or that Waldorf schools are religious. A few bold Anthroposophists break ranks and speak the truth. Here are two statements made by Anthroposophist and Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz:

"I'm glad my daughter gets to speak about God every morning: that's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She's learning stories from the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures ... She's learned that God created the world in seven days; she's learning about Abraham, and the terrible existential struggle he had when he was asked by God to sacrifice his son. She's going to learn about the king, the battles, the Israelites. [S]he's learning it as truth. She comes home filled with this, bubbling up with it. She speaks about it as she crochets socks for her sister, she talks about it as she gets out her violin and begs to practice. She's filled with it. That's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She can have a religious experience. A religious experience. I'll say it again: I send my daughter to a Waldorf school so that she can have a religious experience." [14]


"I would like to say if a public school superintendent came up to me and said [he would] like to start a Waldorf program, can you help me? ... I would say 'Yes, let me give you these ten books by Rudolf Steiner, starting with THEOSOPHY, OCCULT SCIENCE, THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM. Read them and let's talk.’ And if he came back and talked I'd go further: ‘Do you realize how much Christianity there is in our school? Do you realize that we are thinking about these children in the light of reincarnation and karma? That's how a teacher's working with them. Do you want me to say this to your parents? Do you know, Mr. Public School Superintendent, the degree of courage that it's going to take to have a Waldorf program in your district?’ If he hasn't jumped out of the window by then, maybe we can work with something. But how many public school superintendents have courage? Do we really think they are the people who are going to move Waldorf education forward into the future? I doubt it." [15]

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The following is an excerpt from a message historian Peter Staudenmaier posted on the free speech forum, waldorf-critics: I have modified the message slightly for use here.

“The leading historian of anthroposophy today is Helmut Zander, whose background is in the history of religion. In a 2002 article, Zander thoroughly explores the question of whether anthroposophy is a religion. [16] Zander's basic argument there is that Steiner rejected the label of 'religion' for his own spiritual teachings in order to posit anthroposophy as the transcendence of religion and science, a move that Zander considers unconvincing to non-anthroposophists.

“Other German historians of religion share this view, and characterize anthroposophy as ‘the most successful form of “alternative” religion in the [twentieth] century.’ [17] One of the better overviews of Steiner’s place within the broader religious landscape of early twentieth century Germany is Thomas Nipperdey's book RELIGION IN UMBRUCH: Deutschland 1870-1918. [18]

“Such classifications are by no means uniformly contested by anthroposophists themselves; consider for example the entry ‘Anthroposophy’ by anthroposophist Robert McDermott in ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION. [19]

“For further background on this question, I recommend the very extensive discussions of anthroposophy in Wouter Hanegraaff's book NEW AGE RELIGION AND WESTERN CULTURE.” [20] 

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Having established that Anthroposophy may justifiably be termed a religion, let’s shift focus slightly and ask how often this religion shows up in Waldorf classrooms. Steiner, as we have seen, claimed that Waldorf schools are not meant to teach Anthroposophy to the students. Here’s another form of this denial: 

“We are not interested in imposing our ‘dogmas,’ our principles, or the content of our world-view [sic] on young people ... We are striving to include in our instructional methods a way of dealing with individual souls that can originate in a living spiritual science.” [21]

But Steiner was propounding a distinction without a difference. If Waldorf pedagogy arises from “a living spiritual science” (i.e., Anthroposophy), then the “individual souls” of the students are continually being worked upon by Anthroposophy. And if Anthroposophy works much as other religious groups do, then the students are receiving religious ministrations.

Steiner came close to saying as much when he asserted the following:

“[W]e believe that spiritual science differs from any other science in filling the entire person....” [22] 

A little set of logical deductions: a) If Waldorf students are to be worked upon by living spiritual science (Anthroposophy), and if spiritual science fills the whole person, then Waldorf students will be filled by Anthroposophy. b) If Waldorf schools aim to fill their students with spiritual science (Anthroposophy), then a clear function of Waldorf education is to spread Anthroposophy. The spreading could occur by pouring spiritual science into the students (perhaps without divulging the dogmas), or by arousing interest among the students' parents, who of course would influence the students at home. Either way, directly or indirectly, the schools would spread Anthroposophy. And this is in fact what Waldorf schools aim to do. As Steiner said: 

“One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” [23] 

This is "one of the most important facts about" Waldorf schools; this is their aim. Waldorf schools set themselves up as conduits for the religion known as Anthroposophy. They are, in other words, religious institutions.

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Steiner was reasonably candid about the importance of Anthroposophy to Waldorf schools. 

“The anthroposophical movement is the basis of the Waldorf School movement.” [24] 

Still, he continued to maintain that Waldorf schools don’t explicitly teach Anthroposophy. 

“[W]e had to create our curricula and educational goals on the basis of a true understanding of the human being, which can only grow out of the fertile ground of anthroposophy. Then we would have a universally human school, not a school based on a particular philosophy or denomination....” [25]

It is impossible to know whether Steiner believed his own statements, but we can usually understand the meaning of his statements. In this case, his position was that Anthroposophy is not a philosophy or denomination. It is “spiritual science.” It is objective truth. It represents “true understanding.” Thus, Steiner could argue that a Waldorf is “not a school based on a particular philosophy or denomination,” because he had waved his wand (metaphorically speaking) and defined Anthroposophy as being neither of these things. But calling a religion something other than "religion" does not, in reality, change the nature of the religion. A religion by any other name is still a religion.

Steiner himself sometimes undercut his claim that Anthroposophical dogma is not taught in Waldorf schools. For example, speaking to Waldorf teachers, he said this: 

“For the seventh, eighth, and ninth grade independent religious instruction we could move into a freer form and give a theoretical explanation about such things as life before birth and after death. We could give them examples. We could show them how to look at the major cultural connections and about the mission of the human being on Earth. You need only look at Goethe and Jean Paul [i.e., Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, a German author] to see it. You can show everywhere that their capacities come from a life before birth.” [26] 

Teaching Waldorf students about reincarnation in the way Steiner specified, in a school which has its “basis” in “the anthroposophical movement,” is tantamount to teaching the students Anthroposophical dogma. Karma and reincarnation are central tenets of Anthroposophy. And note that Steiner was not saying that karma and reincarnation should be taught in the abstract. He said that they should be presented as living truths, as facts for the students to embrace: "You can show everywhere that [great men's] capacities come from a life before birth.”

Steiner’s most important admission about the place of Anthroposophy in Waldorf schooling came in the following statement, which he made in private during a meeting with Waldorf faculty members: 

“You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth ... Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” [27] 

Since Steiner promoted Anthroposophy as the one system that provides true explanations for virtually all phenomena, physical and spiritual, he was here effectively acknowledging that Anthroposophy will pervade virtually every subject in the Waldorf curriculum. And it will do so in order to provide the concepts, principles, and conclusions that reveal "objective truth" about the subjects being studied. Anthroposophy will not go unspoken; it will be present in the instruction, either overtly or covertly (or both). 

When will Anthroposophy be “called for by the material” in Waldorf schools? Almost always. Waldorf teachers have little choice in the matter. Anthroposophy is, for them, the truth. To omit the Anthroposophical perspective from academic classes would be to omit the truth, in which case the teachers would be knowingly telling the students falsehoods. The good intentions and professionalism of the teachers would prevent them from doing so.

So, when will Anthroposophy be present in a Waldorf school? Almost always. And because Anthroposophy is a religion, this means that religion will be omnipresent in a Waldorf school. To remove the religious (Anthroposophical) practices and content from Waldorf education would be to gut it.

We can drive this point home further with the following anecdote. Rudolf Steiner once corrected a Waldorf teacher who had brought Anthroposophy into the classroom. Here's what Steiner said:

"The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level." [28] 

Note this well: Steiner did not tell the teacher that he had erred by bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom or by openly teaching the students about Anthroposophy. He told the teacher he had erred by not explaining Anthroposophy in language the students could grasp.  "You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level." This is completely different from saying that Anthroposophy should not be taught. In fact, it is the direct, absolute opposite of saying that Anthroposophy should not be taught. It is an explicit admission that Anthroposophy belongs in the Waldorf classroom. Anthroposophy belongs there in a form the students can understand. It belongs there in a form that will affect the students as strongly as possible. It belongs there because that is the whole point of Waldorf education. This is the "directive" Steiner gave to Waldorf teachers: "bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to [your students]."

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Footnotes for the Foregoing.

(Scroll down to reach other sections.)

[1]   [I checked this on Oct. 5, 2007.]

Steiner called Anthroposophy “spiritual science.” He said all of his teachings are objective reports of spiritual facts he discovered through clairvoyance. He further said that anyone can confirm his teachings by developing similar clairvoyant powers. But clairvoyance is almost surely a sham. We have very little evidence that anyone has ever had clairvoyant abilities, and Steiner’s own use of such claimed abilities led him to make many absurd statements, such as that the earth does not orbit the sun. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders".) 

Result: No one can confirm Steiner’s teachings; the only way to follow Steiner is to accept his unsubstantiated word. This boils down to having faith. For example, Steiner defender Richard Ramsbotham has written “I could not myself have carried out Steiner’s research" because it requires clairvoyant capacities Ramsbotham has not attained. Instead, Ramsbotham accepts Steiner’s word: "[M]any people have become able to place a certain trust in Steiner’s research.” Steiner’s followers develop their trust by “living with the results of this research” so that “over many years even [sic], they find this [i.e., their trust] not to have been disappointed by Steiner.” Eventually, their trust leads them to be “certain of what Steiner is saying.” Ramsbotham places himself firmly among those who trust Steiner. Note that “living with” Steiner’s teachings is not the same as confirming them — Ramsbotham has admitted that he cannot confirm them. So Ramsbotham must trust Steiner. But trust is faith — the words are synonymous — and faith is a requirement of religion, not a requirement of science or reason. [See Richard Ramsbotham, WHO WROTE BACON? (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2004), pp. 4-7.] 

Other Anthroposophists have indicated a similar faith in Steiner. See, e.g., the third Afterword to this page, and endnote 72, below.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY: THREE SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVES ON SELF-KNOWLEDGE (Anthroposophic Press, 2002), p. 19, introduction by Christopher Bamford.

Steiner’s gnostic Christianity veers so far from orthodox Christian doctrines that it may be considered actually antithetical to the essential teachings of Christ. [See “Was He Christian?”.] Nonetheless, Steiner's variant of Christianity is clearly a form of religion, as the next two references show. Anthroposophy is aligned with gnostic Christianity and/or Rosicrucianism.

[3] Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, in RUDOLF STEINER, Western Esoteric Masters Series (North Atlantic Books, 2004), an anthology edited by Richard Seddon, general editor's preface by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, p. 7.

Gnosticism was a heretical movement in the early history of Christianity stressing the need for mystery wisdom or gnosis to attain salvation. The term “gnostic” later was applied to all doctrines tied to the search for mystery wisdom. Rosicrucianism is a secretive, semi-Christian order claiming to possess esoteric knowledge handed down from the ancients. The order’s symbol combines a rose and a cross (hence the name). The form of Naturphilosophie, or nature philosophy, that influenced Steiner most was promulgated by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, whose tenets include the ideas that nature tends toward spirit, that the existence of nature shows the existence of the divine, and that man aspires to equality with God or the gods. 

“Suddenly, in place of the old rationalistic philosophy there appears in Schelling a real awakening of the ancient philosophy of the gods of mythology, a reawakening of the old gods ... I myself again and again returned to Schelling.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 4 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 94.

[4] ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION (Detroit: MacMillan Reference, 2005), pp. 392-394.

We do not need to rely on such sources to see that Steiner combined Theosophy with a strain of Christianity. Steiner was head of the German branch of Theosophy, and even before breaking away from Theosophy he began calling his own doctrines Anthroposophy. The chief difference between Theosophy as it is usually understood and Anthroposophy lies in the emphasis Steiner put on Christ, whom he identified as the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[5] See Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY: An Introduction to the Spiritual Processes in Human Life and in the Cosmos (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), and Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY: AN EYEWITNESS VIEW OF OCCULT HISTORY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001).


[7] H. P. Blavatsky, "Is Theosophy a Religion?" (LUCIFER, Vol. 3, November 1888, Theosophical Society in America). [See, e.g.,  I last checked this link on Jan. 31, 2014. Also see] 

[8] Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995).

Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises (SteinerBooks, 2004). The title page includes this: "Meditation Instructions, Meditations, Exercises, Verses for Living a Spiritual Year, Prayers  for the Dead [emphasis added] & Other Practices...."

Rudolf Steiner, BREATHING THE SPIRIT: Meditations for Times of Day and Seasons of the Year (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007.)

Other relevant books include Rudolf Steiner, PRAYER (Anthroposophic Press, 1966); Rudolf Steiner, RELIGION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003); Rudolf Steiner, REVERSE RITUAL (SteinerBooks, 2001); etc.

[9] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 38.

[10] According to the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America, “Waldorf schools are non-sectarian [sic] and non-denominational [sic] .” [, Frequently Asked Questions, Are Waldorf Schools Religious?  I last checked this on Oct. 5, 2007.]


It would have been different, perhaps, if Steiner began his statement by saying “We also need to speak about a morning verse." We might then understand him as saying that days in Waldorf schools should begin with the recitation of verses, and we could infer that these verses should not be explicit prayers. But instead he said “We also need to speak about a prayer." His subject was prayers, specifically the prayers he wrote and disguised under the label "morning verses."

Steiner used the term "verses" often when referring to the prayers he wrote for use in Waldorf schools. This comes in a larger context. He wanted each Waldorf day to begin with prayers, including — if only it were possible — the Lord's Prayer. He told the teachers at the first Waldorf school ,

“It would be nice to begin instruction with the Lord’s Prayer and then go on to the verses [sic] I will give you.” — Ibid., p. 38. 

Steiner is said to have recited the Lord’s Prayer each day, so loudly that he could be heard in adjoining rooms. [See Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises (SteinerBooks, 2004), p. 218.] However, the versions of the Lord's Prayer he used are not those found in the Bible. (Matthew 6:9-13 gives the version usually recited in churches; Luke 11:2-4 is essentially the same, but shorter, omitting the final line “For Thine is....”) Steiner used one non-Biblical version before 1913, then he used a different one afterward. His most extreme version was addressed to multiple gods, not the One and Only God, and it essentially reversed the order of the lines in the prayer as given in the Bible. [See "Power Words."]

Let’s look first at the earlier version. Instead of beginning with “Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” Steiner recited, 

“Father, you who were, are, and will be in our innermost being! 

May your being be glorified and praised in us in all things.” — START NOW! p. 218.

And instead of ending with the words recorded in Matthew, “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever,” Steiner recited,

“May your power and glory work with us in all the cycles of time.” — Ibid

After 1913, Steiner used the following words: 


you who were, are, and will be 

in our innermost being, 

your name in us 

is glorified and praised. 

"May your kingdom increase 

in our deeds and our conduct. 

"May we perform your will, 

as you, O Father, have laid it down 

in our innermost being ... 

"May your power and glory

 work through us in all cycles of time.” — Ibid., p. 219. 

From an Anthroposophical perspective, these reworked versions of the Prayer are preferable both because they partially shift emphasis from God to us (“our innermost being,” “in us,” “with us,” “through us”) and because they allude to esoteric concepts (e.g., “cycles of time,” which is a shorthand for Steiner’s convoluted description of human evolution. ["Everything" and the essays that immediately follow it]).

Here is Steiner's most extreme version of the Lord's Prayer:



"Evils reign

"Bearing witness to I-being

Separating itself

and to selfhood's guilt —

Incurred through others,

Experienced in the daily bread

Wherein the will of heaven

Does not reign,

Because humanity

Has separated itself

From Your Kingdom

And forgot your names

"Ye Fathers in the heavens." 

[START NOW!, p. 221.]

Note that this version is distinctly polytheistic: It address "Ye Fathers [sic] in the heavens."

[12] Ibid., pp. 85-86. Steiner said Sunday services were arranged for students of various religious backgrounds: Catholic, Lutheran, etc. But here he clearly refers to “children receiving religious instruction from an anthroposophical basis.”

[13] See “Unenlightened”.

[14] “Waldorf Education — For Our Times Or Against Them?” This is a transcript of a talk by Eugene Schwartz delivered at Sunbridge College, Nov.13, 1999. Edited by Michael Kopp. 

At the time he made the remarks I have quoted, Eugene Schwartz was in charge of Anthroposophical teacher training at Sunbridge College. Reportedly, he was subsequently fired. Here’s the story as related by Dan Dugan, secretary of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools:

“I asked Eugene Schwartz about the rumors, and he kindly told me his story.


“In March, 2000, Schwartz was dismissed as Director of Teacher Training at Sunbridge College. This was a consequence of his November, 1999, ‘Schools in Transformation’ conference, at which I was invited to speak, and Schwartz challenged the Waldorf movement to "come out" about its religious nature.


“After that meeting I said I hoped he would survive his next board meeting. Unfortunately, I wasn't far wrong.


“His firing in turn had the consequence of ‘a near revolt of the students,’ and ‘a serious dip in next year's enrollment.’ Schwartz feels that the resulting addition of some younger faculty and staff will have a beneficial effect on Sunbridge, though it was too late for him.” — Dan Dugan, May 30, 2000, posted at free-speech forum associated with


[15] Schwartz, “Waldorf Education — For Our Times Or Against Them?”

[16] Helmut Zander, ‘Die Anthroposophie — eine Religion?’ Hairesis (Jahrbuch für Antike und Christentum, supplemental volume no. 24), Münster 2002, pp. 525-538.

[17] Stefanie von Schnurbein and Justus Ulbricht, VÖLKISCHE RELIGION UND KRISEN DER MODERNE, Würzburg 2001, p. 38.

[18] RELIGION IN TRANSLATION: Germany 1870-1918, (Munich 1988), pp. 145-46.

[19] Mircea Eliade, ed., ENCYCLOPEDIA of RELIGION (New York 1987), pp. 320-21.

[20] NEW AGE RELIGION AND WESTERN CULTURE: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Leiden 1996).

[21] Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL: Lectures and Addresses to Children, Parents, and Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 26.

[22] Ibid., p. 79.

[23] Ibid., p. 156.

[24] Ibid., p. 162.

[25] Ibid., p. 186.


[27] Ibid., p. 495.

[28] Ibid., pp. 402-403.

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Waldorf art is almost always spiritual — 

implicitly spiritual or explicitly.

[An emulation of Waldorf-style art, R.R.]


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We need not, at this moment, attempt to survey the doctrines of Anthroposophy. It is sufficient to understand that Anthroposophy bears some resemblance to Christianity, in that it centers on Christ. We have Steiner's word for the centrality of Christ in Anthroposophy:

"Those who are not cowards know Christ is always revealing Himself; therefore, we may accept what He has revealed in the form of anthroposophy as a true Christ-revelation. Members [of the Anthroposophical movement] have often asked me how they can establish a relationship with Christ. This is a naive question; for everything we strive for, every line we read of our anthroposophical science, is an entering into a relationship with Christ. In a certain sense, we really do nothing else." — Rudolf Steiner, TOWARD IMAGINATION (SteinerBooks, 1990), p. 36.

The Christ of Anthroposophy is not, however, the deity worshipped in any major Christian denomination. The Christ of Anthroposophy is one of a vast horde of gods. He is the Sun God (Ra) who elected to come down to Earth. He did not redeem us in the sense Christians usually mean; he redeemed us by imparting a new impulse to our evolution. Or so Steiner taught. (The following is dense, but it is a representative sample of Anthroposophical religious teaching. Work your way through it as well as you can.)

"We have often emphasised that one...important point in the development of humanity on earth was reached when the Christ-Impulse was given at the beginning of our era ... When we look back beyond the Atlantean into the Lemurian age, we come to that point in time when the first rudiment of the human ego was implanted in the human being ... We know that the implanting of the ego in man is part of the collective development of the earth. The earth passed through the Saturn, Sun and Moon ages, and then only did it become the structure it is to-day. On Saturn the germ of the physical body was laid, on the Sun that of the etheric body, on the Moon that of the astral body, and the germ of the ego was added on the earth ... The Christ-Impulse would have been given to man at the middle of the Atlantean epoch. Now, however, on account of the luciferic influence, man had to wait as long a time for the Christ-Impulse as had elapsed between the intervention of the luciferic influence and the middle of the Atlantean epoch. There was the same span of time between the entrance of Lucifer and the middle of the Atlantean epoch, as between that time and the arrival of the Christ-Impulse. Thus, through man's having acquired a likeness to the gods before he was meant to do so, we have to describe a delay of the Christ-Impulse." — Rudolf Steiner, "The Entrance of the Christ-Being Into the Evolution of Humanity", a lecture, GA 116.

So, Anthroposophy teaches about our evolution "on" Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon. Those stages of our development occurred before we arrived "on" Earth. Here on Earth, we lived on the continents of Lemuria and Atlantis before reaching the continents we dwell on today. We should have received the "Christ-Impulse" — the beneficent influence of the Sun God — while we lived on Atlantis, but Lucifer interfered, and thus Christ's evolutionary influence did not become real for us until the Roman era when the Sun God, incarnate in the body of a man named Jesus, was Crucified.

There is much more to the Anthroposophical account of evolution, but we can leave it aside for the moment. It is a complex story, involving many, many gods and their activities on many, many worlds. Christ was very important to us here on Earth, but other spirits were equally important to other souls living on other planets. Thus, for instance, Buddha served Mars much as Christ served Earth.

◊ “Buddha...became for Mars what Christ has become for the earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 72.

◊ “The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars ... [T]he Buddha accomplished a Buddha crucifixion there.” — Ibid., p. 207.

Anthroposophy should not be confused with Christianity. Nor should it be confused with Buddhism or any of the world's other major religions. It is a new, strange religion. It is Anthroposophy. 

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To explore the doctrines of Anthroposophy, see, e.g., 


"Knowing the Worlds", 

"Matters of Form", 


"Was He Christian?"

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The Goetheanum, Anthroposophy's headquarters,

in effect a cathedral.

[See "The Goetheanum", below.

R. R. sketch, 2013, based on photo on


(Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]

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“One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ ... It is not a religious school in the way that we commonly think of religion ... And yet, in a broad and universal way, the Waldorf school is essentially religious.” — Waldorf teacher Jack Pettish, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION(Nova Institute, 2002), p. 134.

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“The mission of Anthroposophy to-day is to be a synthesis of religions. We can conceive of one form of religion being comprised in Buddhism, another form in Christianity, and as evolution proceeds the more closely do the different religions unite — in the way that Buddha and Christ themselves are united in our hearts.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Buddha and Christ: The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas”, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, 1964), GA 130. 

Sometimes Steiner acknowledged the truth, wittingly or not. Anthroposophy, a synthesis of various religions, is itself a religion. (A cocktail consisting of several alcoholic drinks is itself an alcoholic drink. A philosophy synthesizing several philosophies is itself a philosophy. A spiritual system synthesizing several religions is itself a religion.)

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Anthroposophy purports to be a method of acquiring knowledge about the spiritual realm. Its adherents say it is a science, not a religion.  But centering on a panoply of good and evil gods, Anthroposophy aims for far more than the acquisition of "knowledge." Anthroposophy, a synthesis of various religions, is itself a religion, combining teachings from Theosophy, gnostic Christianity, and Hinduism, with admixtures from other spiritual belief systems including Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. The practice of Anthroposophy entails faith, reverence, prayers, meditations, spiritual guides, spiritual observances, submission to the gods, and efforts to fulfill the will of the gods. Anthroposophy lays out the path to spiritual improvement and salvation for its adherents, and it threatens spiritual loss and perdition for everyone else. Anthroposophists believe that they are on the side of the gods, and they believe that their critics are on the side of the demonic powers.

Anthroposophy is a religion. (But perhaps I am repeating myself. I apologize. But the denials of this reality are repeated almost endlessly, which means we must rebut the denials nearly as often.)

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To further examine whether Waldorf schools 

are essentially religious institutions, 


"Here's the Answer

"Schools as Churches

"Waldorf's Spiritual Agenda


"Soul School"

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Here is an excerpt from an item

posted at the Waldorf Watch "news" page



"Waldorf schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interest [sic]. Monadnock Waldorf School [in New Hampshire, USA] observes the cycle of the year through both traditional and lesser known [sic] festivals, most importantly Michaelmas in the autumn and Advent in the winter."

Waldorf Watch Response:

As far as I know, no one has accused Waldorf schools of being "part of any church." But the religious nature of Waldorf or Steiner schools is obvious even from the denial quoted here. The schools have a "belief" in the "spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life." This is the essence of religion. Moreover, the schools "observe" such festivals as Michaelmas and Advent. These are religious observances. Michaelmas is the "mass" or celebration for the archangel Michael. Advent is the celebration of the coming ("the advent") of Christ.

 And what do Waldorf teachers think they are doing, even as they conceal their purposes behind such misleading statements as calling Rudolf Steiner a "scientist"? They think they are fulfilling the religious purpose of channeling the gifts of the gods to all beings here on Earth. As Steiner himself said to Waldorf teachers,

“Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

It is perfectly true that "Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions." But all Waldorf students are steered in a single direction: toward the religion created by Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy.

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Steiner wrote numerous prayers, meditations, and spiritual exercises

for his followers to use. Here are some pertinent publications.


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004, front cover.]

From the back cover: 

"This collection of special prayers is a wonderful companion for parents and carers seeking to help children on their journey through childhood. There are verses for every occasion: for the mother to speak as the incarnating soul prepares to be born; for the baby after its birth; for very young and older children; as well as prayers for morning and evening, and graces to be spoken at table."


A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises.

"Meditation Instructions, Meditations, Exercises,

Verses for Living a Spiritual Year, Prayers for the Dead

& Other Practices for Beginning and

Experienced Practitioners."

[SteinerBooks, 2004, title page.]


[Temple Lodge Publishing, 2004, front cover.]

“The year has a life of its own, and the human soul can share in that life and become part of it. In listening week by week to the language of the year, the soul will find a way to discover also its own nature ... In this Calendar the verse given for each week is intended to help the soul into an experience of that week as part of the life of the whole year. The Calendar is designed to express all that echoes in the soul when it unites itself with that life." — Rudolf Steiner, p. i.


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004, front cover.]

From the back cover: 

"Featuring over 90 of Rudolf Steiner's best-loved verses and meditations, this volume collects a range of material on various themes, such as working with spiritual beings, connecting with loved ones who have passed over, developing selfhood, and celebrating festivals and seasons."

Bear in mind that Anthroposophists often use the word "verse" when speaking of a prayer. Indeed, Steiner sometimes indicated that virtually all of the spiritual/mental activities he recommended amount to forms of prayer. For instance: 

"Rudolf Steiner described how in the three successive stages of the life after death the spiritual Hierarchies [i.e., ranks of gods] progressively receive and transmute the fruits of man's earthly life. Expressing it in these meditative sayings, he recommended the practice of thinking thus concretely about the Dead. 'We utter a simple and good, a wonderful and beautiful prayer, when we think of the connection between life and death, or of one who has passed through the gate of death, in this way.'" [p. 236.]


[Floris Books, 1996, front cover.]

This volume, compiled by a priest of the Christian Community, includes prayers from many sources — predominantly Rudolf Steiner. There are prayers for meal times, prayers for children, prayers for the dead, etc. One of Steiner's prayers, on p. 57, asks for "strength and power from spirit lands." Another, on the same page, is addressed to "Ye who watch over the souls in the spheres." One on p. 62 enumerates gods of nine different ranks. [For more on the gods of Anthroposophy, see "Polytheism".]

Steiner sometimes described the purpose of his movement in terms that are clearly religious, even while using the misleading term "science." For example: 

"The mission of the Spiritual Science Movement [i.e., Anthroposophy] is to prepare those who have the will to allow themselves to be prepared, for the return of the Christ upon earth ... In order to be led to real Christianity, the men of the future will have to receive that spiritual teaching which Spiritual Science is able to give." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1973), p. 189.

Steiner's conception of "real" Christianity is, however, far removed from the teachings offered in mainstream Christian churches. [See "Was He Christian?"]

Logically, if we are to understand whether Anthroposophy is a religion, we need to decide what we mean by the word "religion." Here is the Anthroposophical view: 

"Religion means the establishment of a connection with the divine." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER: An Introduction to His Spiritual World-View (Temple Lodge Publishing 2005), p. 229.

This is precisely what Anthroposophy is meant to do: to help us comprehend and connect to the divine. Thus, by Anthroposophy's own standards, Anthroposophy is a religion.

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Here is an excerpt from



By Ian Robinson

[Victoria is a state in Australia.]

There is no doubt that Steiner's Anthroposophy in general, and in its educational aspect in particular, is a religion. It possesses all the characteristics we are familiar with in other religions:

There is a 'founding father', Rudolf Steiner, who is revered by his followers.

There are a number of texts written by Steiner which are seen as holding the key to spiritual truth and all other aspect of life by his disciples.

The ideas in these texts arose out of the religious and mystical experiences of their author.

The followers of Steiner see themselves as having privileged access to the truth through the insights of Steiner.

The Steiner system touches all aspects of the life of its followers, and especially their spiritual and philosophic beliefs.

The followers of Steiner see themselves as an elite of initiates, often misunderstood by an ignorant general populace who have not yet seen the (Steiner) light.

There are, within the movement, different 'sects' with slightly different views of how the founder is to be interpreted.

The system of Anthroposophy has remained fixed and unalterable in its main tenets since the death of its founder.

Steiner 'Education' is not something separate and distinct from Steiner religion, but is an integral part of it:

“The subjects you teach will not be treated in the way they have been dealt with hitherto. You will...have to use them as a means with which to develop the soul and bodily forces of the individual in the right way.” [PRACTICAL ADVISE TO TEACHERS, p. 9.]

As a religion, Steiner 'Education' has no part in a secular education system.

— Ian Robinson

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The first Waldorf school opened in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. On Feb. 5, 1924, Rudolf Steiner held a long discussion with the school's teachers about the relationship between the school and the Anthroposophical Society (the formal organization responsible for Anthroposophical activities, based at the Goetheanum, in Dornach, Switzerland). Steiner had recently formalized his own connection with the Anthroposophical Society, becoming its official leader. He was also, at this time, head of the Waldorf School.

During the discussion, Steiner made clear that maintaining official separation between the school the the Society had been advisable to date, but he now was considering how the two organizations might draw closer together, even if only informally.

Background: The Anthroposophical Society had become more explicitly, openly esoteric as a result of actions taken at a conference during the previous Christmas. The Waldorf School had always presented itself as neither esoteric in general nor Anthroposophical in particular. But Steiner's remarks during the faculty meeting on Feb. 5 showed how this has been largely a pose — while not formally associated with the Anthroposophical Society, the school had been, from the start, Anthroposophical to its core. During the meeting, Steiner exposed this secret as well as the other great secret underlying Waldorf schooling: He admitted that Anthroposophy is a religion.

Here's a play-by-play. (The entire discussion lasts for many pages. If you want to read it all — which I recommend — you'll have to get the book, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Vol. 2.)

Toward the beginning of the discussion, Steiner said, 

"Formally, the Waldorf School is not an anthroposophical institution; rather, it is an independent creation based upon the foundations of anthroposophical pedagogy. In the way it meets the public, as well as the way it meets legal institutions, it is not an anthroposophical institution, but a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy." [29] 

Note the careful phrasing. The school is not "formally" Anthroposophical. "In the way it meets the public," it is not Anthroposophical. This is the school's pose. But the underlying reality is quite different.

Picking up the same passage where it left off: 

"...a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy. Suppose the Independent Waldorf School were now to become officially related to the School of Spiritual Science [the education wing of the Anthroposophical Society] in Dornach. Then the Waldorf School would immediately become an anthroposophical school in a formal, external sense. Of course, there are some things that would support making such a decision. On the other hand, consider whether the Waldorf School can fulfill its cultural tasks better as an independent school with an unhindered form than it can as a direct part of what emanates from Dornach." [30] 

Steiner preferred the latter course — the school should not be Anthroposophical "in a formal, external sense" (i.e., as perceived by outsiders). But we can see that informally, internally the school was deeply Anthroposophical. After all, the only reason to even consider attaching the school to the Society was the school's devotion to Anthroposophy. The school's Anthroposophical nature was what "would support making such a decision."

Steiner contemplated the possibility of tying the school more tightly to the Anthroposophical Society, but he also stressed the benefits of maintaining the legal and public-relations fiction that the school was independent. 

"[I]f the school suddenly became an [openly] anthroposophical school, that would upset both the official authorities and the public." [31] 

The public would be upset because the school would be exposed as an occultist institution. German educational authorities would be upset for the same reason, and also because the school would be revealed as taking orders from a foreign organization, the Society based in Switzerland.

Steiner wanted the public and the officials to be misled, but he spoke candidly to the teachers. 

"[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School's neck." [32] 

That, basically, says it all. Waldorf is Anthroposophical, but out of a need to mislead outsiders, the school has to pretend otherwise. The survival of the school depends on denying Waldorf's "anthroposophical character," a character that creates goals that "coincide with anthroposophical desires."

Steiner discussed various useful misrepresentations and misconceptions about the Waldorf School. The school was named "Independent," and the Waldorf School Association was generally perceived as the institution controlling the school. 

"You see, the outside world views the Waldorf School Association as the actual administration of the school." [33] 

But in reality, the school was run by Anthroposophists for Anthroposophical purposes. Specifically, the school was actually guided by Rudolf Steiner himself, who now was officially the head of the Anthroposophical Society.

The school's only openly acknowledged involvement with the Anthroposophical Society came through the religious instruction provided by the Society in the school. This arrangement allowed the school to deny that it was, itself, religious. Instead, the Anthroposophical Society and other, outside religious institutions provided religious instruction at Waldorf. 

"When the school was founded, we placed great value upon creating an institution independent of the Anthroposophical Society. Logically, that corresponds quite well with having the various religious communities and the Anthroposophical Society provide religious instruction, so that the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [34] 

Pause here. THIS says it all. Steiner acknowledges that the Anthroposophical Society is a religious group: "the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." The Anthroposophical Society is one of a number of "religious groups" involved in the school. The Society is a religious group. Anthroposophy is, thus, a religion — and here we have Steiner saying so.

Picking up the last quotation where it left off:

"...just as other religious groups do. The Anthroposophical Society gives instruction in religion and the services. That is something we can justifiably say whenever others claim that the Waldorf School is an anthroposophical school." [35]

Discussing how to mislead outsiders, Steiner clearly stated the very things he wanted to deny. Anthroposophy is a religion, and the Waldorf School — which is committed to Anthroposophy — is a religious institution. But Steiner remained committed to denying these realities — he stressed how Waldorf "can justifiably" make its denials. The justifications were, however, a matter of legalisms and hairsplitting: legally, formally, the school was not associated with the Anthroposophical Society; and, apparently, the school was run by the Waldorf School Association, which was not legally, formally Anthroposophical. But the truth is that the school was run by Anthroposophists who were devoted to the religion of Anthroposophy. (Offering instruction in other religions also conforms to the aims of Anthroposophy, which borrows doctrines from many faiths.)

During the meeting, Steiner both revealed the truth and continued to stress denials of the truth. 

"A teacher: 'Hasn't a change already occurred since you, the head of the Waldorf School, are now also the head of the Anthroposophical Society?' 

"Dr. Steiner: 'That is not the case. The position I have taken [as head of the Society] changes nothing about my being head of the school.'" [36] 

Perhaps the teacher and Steiner found this answer cogent, but none of the rest of us are likely to. If Steiner, head of the Waldorf School, had recently become head of the Communist Party, there would clearly be reason to think that something important had been revealed concerning the Waldorf School: People would have reason to suspect that the school was, at a minimum, sympathetic to Communism. Steiner’s new post as head of the Anthroposophical Society carried the same sorts of implications.

As the meeting continued, Steiner considered ways to bind the school more closely to the Society without getting the school's neck broken. He wanted to satisfy the Waldorf faculty's desire for direct connection with the Anthroposophical Society's School of Spiritual Science (the institution at the Goetheanum that taught Anthroposophical doctrines to the membership): 

"I think you should decide to become members of the School of Spiritual Science as individual teachers, but with the additional remark that you want to become a member as a teacher of the Independent Waldorf School. I think this will achieve everything you want, and nothing else is necessary for the time being." [37] 

Thus, the Waldorf School itself would not be formally connected to the School of Spiritual Science, but Waldorf teachers would establish such connections for themselves as individual representatives of the Waldorf School. The effective result would be to tightly bind the school to the Anthroposophical Society without doing this openly or formally. 

"Through such an action, you would accomplish something you actually want, namely, making the Independent Waldorf School part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy." [38] 

Independent, my eye. The school would remain, in name, independent; but in reality, it had always been deeply immersed in Anthroposophy, and now the immersion would become even deeper: "the Independent Waldorf School [would be] part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy."

To summarize: We here see Steiner describing the deceptions that the Waldorf School had been involved in; he revealed the real nature both of the school and of Anthroposophy; and he proposed possible future steps that would bring the school into closer connection with the Anthroposophical Society without establishing an official bond (which might cause the school to get its neck broken).

Steiner's two biggest misrepresentations were 1) Anthroposophy is not a religion, and 2) Waldorf schools do not promote Anthroposophy. Here we have seen Steiner revealing the truth hidden behind these misrepresentations. Steiner presumably thought that deceiving outsiders was justified; it served a higher morality. Yet the fact is that he advocated deception; he promoted unethical conduct on the part of Waldorf faculty members. We need to see his falsehoods for what they are, and adjust our thinking accordingly.

The Waldorf school movement is built on falsehoods, especially the falsehoods we have examined just now. The deceptions practiced by many Waldorf schools today began with the establishment of the very first Waldorf School, in accordance with the wishes of Rudolf Steiner himself. [See "Secrets".] The truth is that Waldorf schools exist to promote the religion called Anthroposophy.

— Roger Rawlings

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The worldwide headquarters of Anthroposophy is the Goetheanum, located in Dornach, Switzerland. The structure is intended to embody, in physical forms, the spiritual meaning of Anthroposophy. We can gain an important insight into the nature of Anthroposophy, then, by noticing that the Goetheanum is, in effect, a cathedral. Steiner meant the Goetheanum to be the successor of humanity's previous temples and churches, and he hoped it would be the inspiration for many more Anthroposophical religious centers.

Speaking to priests of the Christian Community (the openly religious Anthroposophical adjunct), Steiner described the purpose of the Goetheanum thus: 

“[T]he inner spiritual impulse that is intended to flow from the Goetheanum through the anthroposophical movement always contains an aspect that goes far beyond any theoretical understanding, indeed beyond any understanding altogether ... The tasks human beings must undertake today are growing great again ... [H]uman evolution cannot proceed further unless forces from the Mysteries [i.e., gnostic revelations] enter into evolution once again....” [74]

Front face, second Goetheanum,

with large etched-glass windows.

[R.R. sketch, 2009.]

The Goetheanum’s purpose — which surpasseth understanding — is to help Anthroposophy to save mankind by promoting our proper evolution, which requires a renewal of holy mysteries. This purpose is explicitly religious, albeit polytheistic: 

“It means that the human being is endeavoring to rise up with his forces into the divine, spiritual region; there he meets with the gods....” [75]

Importantly, Steiner's words belie the usual claim made by Anthroposophists, that their ideology is a science, not a religion. "Spiritual science" aims for knowledge of the spirit realm. Knowledge. But note that Steiner said the impulse of Anthroposophy "goes far beyond any theoretical understanding, indeed beyond any understanding altogether." This is not knowledge but the transcendence of knowledge. This is religion. The Goetheanum is meant to manifest the thrust of this new religion, the new force that can bring the Mysteries "into evolution once again."

The present Goetheanum, a concrete structure, was preceded by an earlier Anthroposophical cathedral, the first Goetheanum, which was built of wood. Both were/are huge buildings, with large central meeting halls or auditoriums. The wooden Goetheanum was destroyed by fire on New Year's Eve, 1922. Anthroposophists blamed right-wing arsonists, although no proof has ever been offered. By Steiner’s own account, that original Goetheanum was used to establish a new priesthood. Afterward, he addressed priests of that order, the Christian Community, using these words: 

“In that moment over there in the now burnt-down Goetheanum when you inaugurated a new priesthood in the movement for a Christian renewal, in that moment a new age of the mysteries began, a new age for the Act of Consecration of Man and for an understanding of apocalypse, of revelation.” [76]

So, on at least one occasion, the first Goetheanum was used for an openly religious purpose. Indeed, that purpose — the investiture of priests — is precisely the sort of divine ceremony for which cathedrals are created. Note, also, that the Christian Community priests — the immediate beneficiaries of the religious ceremony held within the Goetheanum — turned to Steiner for instruction about the true meaning of a book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. The text from which I have been quoting is a collection of Steiner's works titled THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST. Steiner’s relation to these Anthroposophical priests is comparable to the Pope’s relation to Catholic priests.

After the fire, a second structure, built of concrete, was erected as a replacement. Resembling a gargantuan outcropping of opaque crystal, Goetheanum #2 houses classrooms and offices in addition to the auditorium. The building’s colored glass windows (in effect, stained glass windows), “organic” sculptural forms, and other features are intended to convey spiritualistic meaning. A large sculpture of Christ and other spiritual beings stands in a special recessed area. The arched ceiling above the auditorium displays a huge mural representing occult mystical phenomena. The floor plan is cruciform, as in most cathedrals: a long axis intersected about two-thirds of the way up by a shorter transverse axis. [77] The nave or auditorium, which has a large pipe organ, is used for diverse events including lectures, eurythmic performances, and presentations of Steiner’s mystery plays. The stage sets often suggest portals into spirit realms. A rostrum resembling a pulpit can be set at the center front of the stage. [78]

The group that we might call the inner priesthood of Anthroposophy — the College of Cardinals, as it were — is headquartered at the Goetheanum, within the School of Spiritual Science. 

“According to its constitution, the task of the School of Spiritual Science is to conduct research in the field of spirit in ways that can complement and take further the results obtained by mainstream academic research ... In Rudolf Steiner‘s plan, three Classes were to form the core and esoteric practice of the School. This work was to be rooted in mantric and meditative inner schooling. He was only able to create a First Class [he died before creating the other classes] ... The circle of First Class Holders [oversees] the appointment of new Class Holders.” [79] 

The members of the First Class provide spiritual guidance for Anthroposophists worldwide — they attempt to use their inner powers, bolstered by special spiritual practices, to attain clairvoyant knowledge of the spirit realm. They are the inner initiates.

A quick reprise: Huge building, big meeting hall, colored glass windows, statue of Christ, pipe organ, cruciform layout, ceiling with a mural of the spirit realm, pulpit/rostrum, spiritualistic activities including the investiture of priests, center for the inner circle of initiates... This is a cathedral.

Main hall, first Goetheanum,

with pipe organ, mystic columns, and occult ceiling mural.

[R.R. sketch, 2010.]

Steiner revealed perhaps more than he meant to when discussing the creation of the Goetheanum's colored glass windows:

“These creations [the windows] will move the souls of those who gather together up there on the hill [the Goetheanum stands on a hilltop] and show them the path leading to the spirit. [paragraph break] May this holy mood pervade this building; may every strike of the cutter on the glass be carried out with the feeling,: ‘I am shaping something for the souls listening up there on the hill, something that will lead them out through space into the realms of spirit.’”  [80]

The Goetheanum is a place of holiness. It leads people not just to knowledge of the spirit realm, it leads them literally into the spirit realm. In serving the advancement of human evolution, it shows people the "path," the way toward humanity's ultimate perfection, its ultimate ascension to divinity. This is the path to salvation.

"‘Find thus, O Man, the path to the spirit!’” [81] 

The holiness of the Goetheanum and its windows is the holiness of the ultimate religion, the true path, Anthroposophy.

Steiner taught that, by following the true path, humans will ultimately become gods. This is the same evolutionary course that has been followed by many upwardly evolving spirits superior to us in the celestial hierarchies, Steiner said. Those spirits — who themselves have become gods — passed through their own "human" phase during their ascent. If we are wise, we will follow them upward. 

“[T]he gods who dwell in exalted regions had not always been gods, but had once been human beings ... [H]uman beings can become a god [sic] only when they are ripe for that condition ... Two paths are therefore open to humanity. Either a person can live patiently in anticipation of...deification (theosis), or one can imagine oneself prematurely already a god [hubris]. The first path leads to true deification; the second, to folly and madness.” [82]

According to Steiner, ancient seekers partially understood but also partially misunderstood these realities. True comprehension of the true path has become available only since the advent of Christ, particularly Christ as revealed in Anthroposophy. Steiner’s formulation of these matters was often opaque and disingenuous. Still, we can glean his meaning. 

“Anthroposophy did not come to found sects or new religions. It came to call to life again what is the religion of humanity, the synthesis of all religions, the religion that is already there — Christianity. Not only is it able to call Christianity into fresh life, but for those who have been bereft of Christianity by modern science and the doubts arising from it, it is able to bring about, in the fullest sense, a resurrection of the religious life. Amongst all the other life-giving forces, Anthroposophy is able at this present time to enliven us and to bring about the resurrection of religious experience for all mankind.” [83]

By "Christianity," Steiner often meant Anthroposophy itself — Christianity as redefined by Steiner ("Christianity [called] into fresh life"). This Christianity is the “synthesis of all religions,” Steiner taught, because it is the culmination of all religions. All previous faiths were steppingstones leading toward this Christianity (Anthroposophy). But notice that Anthroposophy contains many elements not found in orthodox Christina faith: reincarnation, karma, multiple gods, Ahriman, Buddha... Anthroposophy itself  is the synthesis Steiner advocated — it is the “Christianity” Steiner advocated. In this sense, “Anthroposophy did not come to religions” — Anthroposophy revived an existing religion, Christianity. This is sophistry, but we can recognize a truth within Steiner’s statement. Anthroposophy, aka an occult reinterpretation of  Christianity, is a religion. It brings about “the resurrection of religious experience for all mankind.” [To consider whether Anthroposophy is truly Christian, see "Was He Christian?"]

The ultimate payoff for mankind in following the true path as described by Steiner will be stupendous: 

“[W]e shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.’” [84]

This is a stunning vision. It is a vision that, by the standards of mainstream Christianity, is blasphemous. But perhaps we need not concern ourselves with that issue at this moment.* Let's return to Steiner's comments about the windows of the Goetheanum: 

“If all our labours are made living by the spirit on whom I call here this evening, if all the work on this hill is filled with the spirit of love — which is at the same time the spirit of true art — then from our building [the Goetheanum] there will flow out over the earth the spirit of peace, the spirit of harmony, the spirit of love. There will then be a chance for the work on this hill to find successors, so that many such centres of earthly and spiritual peace and harmony and love may spring up in the world ... The god dwelt in the Greek temple, and the congregation can dwell in Romanesque or Gothic churches. Now let the world of spirit speak through the building of the future.” [85]

Here Steiner clearly locates the Goetheanum in a holy line of descent: temples, churches, the Goetheanum.

The Goetheanum is not a collection of study halls, libraries, and laboratories. It does not embody a disinterested scientific examination of ultimate truths. It embodies a messianic intention, the potential salvation of humanity. Steiner said that love as well as wisdom will flow from the Goetheanum — as from Anthroposophy itself — spreading across the world. Humanity's eyes will be opened, the true path will be recognized, and many new Anthroposophical churches and cathedrals will rise, inspired by the first such cathedral, the Goetheanum, the "building of the future," the harbinger of mankind's future spiritual ascent.

This, at any rate, was Steiner's intention.

— Roger Rawlings

* To look into this issue, see, e.g., "The Father", "God", "Sun God", "Polytheism", and "Was He Christian?".


The movable rostrum at the Goetheanum — 

more akin to a pulpit than an ordinary lectern.

[Detail, photo on p. 19 of THE GOETHEANUM

(Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961); color added.

I bought this booklet at the Goetheanum in 1963,

when several schoolmates and I toured the place,

chaperoned by our Waldorf German teacher.]


For information about the Christian Community

please use this link: "Christian Community".

To see images of the first and second Goetheanums,

click here: Google/Goetheanum.

To consider the need for faith

as affirmed by Steiner,

see "Faith".

For Steiner's view of Goethe,

see "Goethe".


The monumental statue in the Goetheanum 

is dominated by the figure of Christ.

He is the "Representative of Humanity."

The statue, which also includes figures of 

Ahriman and Lucifer,

is approximately 27 feet (nine meters) tall.

Christ mediates between Ahriman and Lucifer,

establishing the correct path 

for future human evolution.

Christ is our representative, our prototype:

Anthroposophy teaches that we will evolve to become

the same sort of perfected spirit Christ Jesus was.

[Public domain photo, color added.]


The main hall of the second Goetheanum,

showing pipe organ and colored glass windows. 

[R.R., 2009, based on photograph on p. 18,


(Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]

A movable rostrum/pulpit can be positioned 

center stage, front.

The stage is often used for eurythmic performances

and productions of Steiner's mystery plays — 

in effect, religious ceremonies.

This is how the hall looked for many decades, 

until 1997 when mystic columns

were added on each side, 

based on Steiner's conceptions:

[R. R. sketch, 2010, 

based on p. 129, Rudolf Steiner,


 An Introductory Reader 

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003).]

This shows the main hall as it appears today. 

Taken from roughly the position where the rostrum goes, 

the photograph looks toward the pipe organ on the rear wall. 

A portion of the ceiling mural is visible, 

along with the mystic columns, 

and the lighting effects created by the colored windows.



For information about eurythmy,

see "Eurythmy".

For an introduction to Steiner's

mystery plays, 

see "Plays".

o o 0 o o

Variant of a mystical Anthroposophical seal, 

reflecting Steiner's interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

"The time will...draw near in which great changes will take place in the cosmos. When men will have attracted the sun power, the sun will once again be united with the earth. Men will become sun beings, and through the power of the sun, they will be able to bring forth suns. Hence, the woman that bears the sun in the fifth seal. Mankind will be so far along morally and ethically that all destructive forces resting in his lower human nature will have been overcome. This is represented by the animal with the seven heads and the ten horns. At the feet of the sun woman is the moon, which contains all those base substances that the earth could not use but had not tossed out. Everything in the way of magical forces that the moon still exerts on the earth at present will then be overcome. When man becomes united with the sun, he will have overcome the moon." 

— Rudolf Steiner, 


(Anthroposophic Press, 1972), p. 55.

[R.R. sketch, 2014, 

based on the image in the book.] 

o o 0 o o


Like virtually any religion, Anthroposophy offers rewards to its adherents, and it threatens punishments for those who do not adhere. Thus, Steiner described various forms of what we might call perdition:

Individual humans may descend to lower and lower stages in successive incarnations until they fall out of evolution. 

"Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits." — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.*

At the end of our current cultural epoch, evil humans will form an "evil race" that will be consigned to a hellish fate. 

"The evil race, with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103. 

Salvation will be gained by only a select few: 

“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. 

Who will the "best of all humanity" be? Who will "be chosen"? Those who have heeded Steiner, of course. Like so many cult leaders before him, Steiner effectively promised his followers salvation, while consigning everyone else to destruction. 

"[O]ur epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife ... A tiny handful of men will make good and thus insure their survival in the sixth epoch of civilisation." — Rudolf Steiner, "The Work of Secret Societies in the World" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. 

In the distant future, when good humans are preparing to move on to Vulcan, those evil humans who have somehow remained will be sent to an "irreclaimable moon": 

“[A]t a certain stage, a separate celestial body becomes [i.e., will become] detached. This — as it were, an  ‘irreclaimable moon’ — includes all the beings who have persisted in withstanding the true course of evolution. It enters now upon a line of development such as no words can portray....” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 309-310.

These are the dooms that the religion of Anthroposophy would save us from. The salvation offered by Anthroposophy is “correct” spiritual knowledge that permits us to move upward in an evolution leading to Vulcan and beyond.

* People who descend in this way become subhuman. They no longer reincarnate, so they no longer evolve from life to life — they enter an undying, subhuman state. Ahriman and his cohorts hope to drag all humans down to such a hellish condition. 

“[S]ubhuman entities are subject to the rule of powers I always refer to as ahrimanic. These ahrimanic powers with their diverse sub-spirits — including sprite- and goblin-like beings who dwell in the elements of earth and water — have set themselves a [specific] task ... [These] beings, who have their fortress directly under the earth’s surface, exert influences that rise into our metabolism ... [They] battle to harden us and make us resemble them ... If someone has fallen prey during his lifetime to the ahrimanic powers...these beings can ‘harvest’ this after his death to create a whole population, a subhuman populace of the earth, which does indeed already exist ... And if we ask what such ahrimanic beings intend with this subhuman populace, it is this: to draw this kind of instinctual nature from a human being and make it into a being of earth and water. And beings of earth and water do now actually populate the strata directly below the earth's surface. There they dwell. People who can use spiritual vision to observe mines know such entities very well: they exist there, having been torn from a human being at the moment of his death. And there waits Ahriman, there wait the ahrimanic powers for a person's karma, caused by instincts, drives and passions, to lead him down into an incarnation where he takes special pleasure in such a being, and therefore finds in a particular life on earth that he does not wish to return to the world of spirit. Having left his physical body...he will seek instead to be embodied in a kind of subsensible being of this kind, to remain united with the earth: no longer to die but choosing to remain united with the earth as a subsensible entity ... [A]hrimanic beings...[seek] to entice so many people into their race that eventually the earth will be populated entirely by subhuman ahrimanic entities of this kind.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRIT AS SCULPTOR OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2014), pp. 108-109. 

If Ahriman does not prevail, good highly evolved spirits may be able to reach back and redeem the lost subhumans. But there are no guarantees. Ahriman means who have his way, if he can.

o o 0 o o



Not long ago, I wrote the following in response to a message posted at the Waldorf Critics discussion site. The message included these statements by Steiner: “Now anthroposophy will never make the claim that it somehow wants to become a religion. However....” And “The discovery of the spiritual world in a wholly new form is necessary.” [39] My reply — which I have edited slightly for use here — returns to the ground I covered above, but it also adds some additional thoughts. (When you come upon things you have seen before, please just skip ahead a short distance.)

Rudolf Steiner declared that Anthroposophy is not a religion but a science, employing the tool of “cognition” (which for Steiner meant clairvoyance) to probe metaphysical mysteries. “Spiritual science” thus approaches spiritual matters without, Steiner claimed, sacrificing its objectivity. But the truth is that Anthroposophy assuredly is a religion, albeit an odd one.

According to Steiner, Anthroposophy shows humanity’s “true” relation to the “gods,” and it directs its adherents toward salvation (which in Steiner’s terms is an evolutionary progression toward spiritualization and ultimate deification). To attain the glories Steiner promised, we must follow his teachings; otherwise, we will not evolve properly, and the result will be dreadful. “Those who use the life in the body for anything more than an opportunity to gain ego-consciousness [40] will descend into the abyss and form the evil race. They have [sic] turned away from the impulse of Christ Jesus [41], and out of the ugliness of their souls they will again develop the animal form man possessed in former ages. The evil race, with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." [42] Such talk amounts to an updated rendition of the old fire-and-brimstone threat that preachers sometimes employ: Attend to me, or you will go to Hell. In this case, the preacher was Steiner.

Anthroposophy sprang from Theosophy. Helena Blavatsky, a founder of Theosophy, said that Theosophy is not a  religion — it is the sum and essence of religion: “[T]he assertion that ‘Theosophy is not a  Religion,’ by no means excludes the fact that ‘Theosophy is Religion’ itself. A Religion in the true and only correct sense, is a bond uniting men together — not a particular set of dogmas and beliefs. Now Religion, per se, in its widest meaning is that which binds not only all MEN, but also all BEINGS and all things  in the entire Universe into one grand whole ... Thus Theosophy is not a  Religion, we say, but RELIGION itself....” [43]

Steiner modified Theosophy, largely by emphasizing Christ. In other words, he took the religion of Theosophy and semi-Christianized it. The result is hardly consistent with real Christianity — Anthroposophy is heretical, for instance in its polytheism — but a heretical religion is still a religion. Essentially, Steiner’s adaptation seeks to meet Blavatsky’s criterion, that true religion is a spiritualistic system binding together all elements of the universe. That is the type of religion Anthroposophy is meant to be. Steiner placed a version of the triune God (the Godhead, as described by himself) at the top of a series of spiritual hierarchies, but he populated those hierarchies with numerous other gods. Central to Steiner’s enterprise is his claim that few humans aside from himself grasp the real significance of Christ Jesus. Theosophy fails to give Christ the importance He deserves, yet Christian churches also go astray. Indeed, all conventional denominations are erroneous: “I want you to understand what is religious in an anthroposophical sense ... [R]eligion connected with a specific church is not actually religious....” [44] What is religious, “in an anthroposophical sense,” is Anthroposophy, which Steiner taught possesses esoteric or mystery wisdom.

Steiner usually employed cool, detached, “scientific” language, which is a great relief compared to Blavatsky’s bombast. His self-possessed tone convinces some people that Steiner was an objective, “scientific” observer, as he claimed. This is one way that the real nature of Anthroposophy is disguised. There are others. Anthroposophy dispenses with many of the trappings of ordinary religions. It has no steepled churches, for instance, and no grandly robed clergy. But such things are just trappings. An offshoot of Anthroposophy called the Christian Community is overtly religious, which is suggestive, but it does not prove that Anthroposophy as a whole is a religion. [45] If we want to understand Anthroposophy’s spiritualistic purposes and how they show up in Waldorf schools, we need to look elsewhere. 

To get at the truth, consider Anthroposophy’s prayers, many of them written by you-know-who. Steiner filled a traditional role for religious leaders by writing prayers to be used by his followers. See, e.g., PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN. [46] At least one of Steiner’s prayers — usually disguised as a “morning verse” — is recited in unison by students and teachers in the lower grades at many Waldorf schools. The prayer includes the words “I reverence, O God,/ The strength of humankind,/ That Thou so graciously/ Hast planted in my soul/ ... From Thee come light and strength,/ To Thee rise love and thanks.” [47] Speaking directly to God, the children and their teachers praise and thank Him. This is worship. The inevitable conclusion is that Anthroposophy actually does have churches, in the form of those Waldorf schools that truly abide by Steiner’s intentions. [See "Schools as Churches".] Other Anthroposophical churches can be found in other Anthroposophical structures, the foremost of which is the Goetheanum, the cathedral of Anthroposophy, located in Switzerland. [48] 

And Anthroposophy does have clergy, in the form of devout Anthroposophical Waldorf teachers: At such schools, "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." [49] Other Anthroposophical clergy can be found ◊ among the scribes who, like latter-day monks, pore over Steiner’s utterances, cataloging, annotating, and repackaging them in Anthroposophical publications; and ◊ among those modern-day Anthroposophists who present themselves as clairvoyant seers and sages. Many Anthroposophists claim such status for themselves, becoming gurus for other Anthroposophists. [See, e.g., "His Education".]

The practices and observances of Anthroposophy largely consist of following Steiner’s spiritual instructions. Steiner told his followers how to find Christ, how to know higher worlds, how to stay in touch with dead loved ones, how to connect with guardians angels, and so forth. [50] Much of this is solitary work, undertaken by the devout within the privacy of their minds and souls. But — as we’ve seen with group prayers — some Anthroposophical religious activities involve gatherings of various sorts. The observance of Christian and seasonal festivals is important among Steiner’s followers, and consequently it can be found at many Waldorf schools. [51] The arts, too, play an important occult role in Steiner’s teachings. Steiner taught that creating, performing, and receiving the spiritualistic effects of artworks can plug us into transcendent realms. He didn’t mean this in a metaphorical sense, but quite literally. Concerning, for instance, an odd form of dance called eurythmy (a form of dance instituted by Steiner himself), he said “Eurythmy shapes and moves the human organism in a way that furnishes direct external proof of our participation in the supersensible world [i.e., the invisible spirit world]. In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world.” [52] The arts as displayed in Waldorf schools often have such esoteric purposes. [See “Magical Arts”.] Performances or readings of Steiner’s mystery plays allows Anthroposophists to manifest some of their beliefs in particularly dramatic form. [53] All in all, committed Anthroposophists have many ways to observe religion Steiner-style.

Steiner’s followers usually hold their occult secrets closely, as Steiner encouraged, but occasionally they openly attest to their faith. Eugene Schwartz, an American Anthroposophist and Waldorf educator, once said on the record that he sent his daughter to a Waldorf school for religious reasons. "I'm glad my daughter gets to speak about God every morning: that's why I send her to a Waldorf school ... She can have a religious experience. A religious experience. I'll say it again: I send my daughter to a Waldorf school so that she can have a religious experience."[54] Obviously, children can have shared, repeated religious experiences in a Waldorf school only if religion is consistently present there. [55] What form of religion prevails inside Waldorfs? Steiner told the teachers at the first Waldorf school, “As Waldorf teachers, we must be true Anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” [56] This doesn’t sound like the language of science, does it? “We must be astrophysicists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” Scientists don’t talk that way, but people of faith do. The religion underlying the morning prayers at Waldorf schools is Anthroposophy, espoused by deeply committed followers of that religion — teachers who are supposed to feel their unusual faith to the very core of their being.

Near the end of his life, American Anthroposophist John Fentress Gardner wrote a pamphlet, TWO PATHS TO THE SPIRIT: Charismatic Christianity and Anthroposophy. [57] In it, Gardner says “Both paths acknowledge Christ Jesus as the ultimate Shepherd of human souls, finding in His life the archetype of all human experience, and seeing in His Baptism, Crucifixion, and Resurrection the pivotal events of human history.” [58] In declaring the essential equivalence of charismatic Christianity and Anthroposophy — he says both are valid spiritual paths — Gardner underscores the religious nature of Steiner’s doctrines. (Full disclosure: Gardner was headmaster at the Waldorf school I attended. I knew him. I can attest that he rarely if ever attended church. Yet he was deeply religious — he believed in the immanence of spiritual beings all around, and in the upward-yearning transcendent path to salvation. He was a believer, as his pamphlet shows.) 

British Anthroposophist Richard Seddon published an anthology of Steiner’s work — the rather shocking quotation about the abyss, quoted above, can be found in it. [59] After many of the prose selections that Seddon offers, we also find “meditative verses” written by Steiner. Most of these “verses” can be understood only as religious ruminations and/or prayers, full of fervor. E.g., “Spirit triumphant!/ Send flame through the weakness/ Of timorous souls./ ... That selflessness/...May rule as the well-spring [sic]/ Of spiritual rebirth.” [60] The religious content of these lines is undeniable — spirit, soul, “spiritual rebirth.” Or consider this, again by Steiner: “May God’s grace-bringing guardian ray/ Brim-over my expanding soul/ That it may apprehend/ Strength-giving forces everywhere.” [61] This verse goes on to say that the strengthened soul “[b]eholding thus God’s power” vows to work “as God would work/ With everything it has.” [62]

Seeking to work as God would work may strike some as blasphemous — can we really compare ourselves to God? [63] But this is part of Steiner’s theology, as is the belief that we may ultimately become gods ourselves — arguably another blasphemy. Seddon describes humanity’s final triumph this way in THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER: “At the end of Vulcan [our seventh major evolutionary phase], mankind has the form of an archetype in Higher Spiritland. [64] This is a fully purified condition of godliness or divine bliss, the highest stage accessible to humanity, into which the fruits of all planetary evolutions are gathered. [65] Then one can truly say, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’ ....” [66] The quotation at the end of the passage repeats a statement attributed to God in the Book of Revelation: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ declares the Lord God, ‘the one who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty.’” [67] Steiner would have us put God’s words in our own mouths, as if we ourselves are to become the Almighty. To many, this is rank blasphemy. But to Anthroposophists, it is an article of faith — their faith, their heretical religion.

Let’s circle back to the subject of students praying aloud, in unison, in Waldorf classrooms. Having attended a Waldorf school, I can remember reciting “morning verses.” The “verse” I quoted above was penned by Steiner for use in the first four grades. Older Waldorf students and their teachers often recite a somewhat more august Steiner prayer, which includes these words: “God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee/ I turn myself in prayer.” [68] The students reciting these words are, indeed, reciting a prayer. The Waldorf classroom in which they do so is, then, a prayer site. The prayer the children utter comes to them from the creed known as Anthroposophy. The highest prophet of that creed is Rudolf Steiner. [69]



On May 2, 2009, I posted a summary at

Adding a few small revisions, I'll append here:

Anthroposophy certainly is a religion. It's a queer religion, with few of the ordinary outward indicators; parish churches or temples, clerical robes, and so forth. But it is a religion:

◊ It offers the one sure path to salvation (as many other religions do);

◊ it requires faith (critical thinking, Steiner said, must be suppressed);

◊ it entails prayers and meditations; 

◊ it is focused on the spirit realm;

◊ it has a theology; 

◊ it specifies correct behavior and mindset;

◊ its headquarters (the Goetheanum) is a cathedral;

◊ it prescribes spiritualistic observances and practices; 

◊ it pairs gnostic Christianity (a religion) with Theosophy (a religion).

It is a religion.



Steiner said he used "exact" clairvoyance. This means that anyone else using "exact" clairvoyance would necessarily confirm his observations. "Anthroposophy seeks for what may be called exact clairvoyance, again to borrow a term from scientific usage; that is to say it seeks to develop a knowledge and perception of the spiritual worlds which is no less exact, no less conscientious in the sense of exact science, than is the best tendency and striving of our natural scientific age." [70] If Steiner attained "exact" clairvoyance, then his insights would be scientifically precise and unarguable.

But, did Steiner attain this level of exactitude? Anthroposophists for the most part say that he did, which means his teachings are virtual gospel. According to Floyd McKnight, "Modern exact clairvoyance, as developed by him [i.e., Steiner], reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision as clearly as men's ordinary senses reveal to the intellect the facts of the physical world." [71]

Another example: Franz E. Winkler was a leading German-American Anthroposophist. On April 8, 1955, he delivered a lecture to the Anthroposophical Society in New York. The title was "Our Obligation to Rudolf Steiner in the Spirit of Easter". What a title, and how much it tells us about the Anthroposophical attitude toward Steiner. Winkler argued that Anthroposophists "owe" Steiner their belief, almost as if he were a god. Belief is not a scientific attitude, it is a religious attitude. In this case, it is an attitude centering on the teachings of an extremely reliable spiritual savant: R. Steiner. [72]

Steiner himself sometimes lowered his guard and revealed the importance of belief — not careful scientific inquiry — in the forms of "truth" he offered. Here is how he described the future period when physical reality will begin to disintegrate, giving way to a new, more-fully-spiritual stage of human evolution. Good, upwardly-evolving people will gladly move on to the next stage. They will be able to do so because of, what? Belief. Able to believe, the good humans will be aware of spiritual realities and thereafter they will escape spiritual death. But the bad, degenerate humans of that time will be trapped — unable to believe in things spiritual, they will have nowhere to turn when their illusory physical realm comes a cropper: “[W]hen things of the physical world of the senses cease to be all-important and fade into shadow, human beings will either find that the physical is vanishing while they remain incapable of believing [sic] in the spiritual realities before them or they will be able to believe [sic] and preserve for themselves an awareness of these spiritual realities — and for them there will then be no spiritual death.”[73] Note the words: "believing" and "believe."

What do we find in such words? The old religious claim: Those with faith will be saved, while those without faith will be doomed. Faith. Belief. Religion.

o o 0 o o

Rendering of the large west window 

in the Goetheanum.

This is the primary window in the building,

positioned high on the front wall.

The abyss, animal forms, monstrosities, 

angels, gods, spheres, ascent...

[R.R., 2014.]

o o 0 o o

Footnotes Continued



[29] Ibid., p. 698.


[30] Ibid., pp. 698-699.


[31] Ibid., p. 703.


[32] Ibid., p. 705.


[33] Ibid., p. 707.


[34] Ibid., p. 706.

Note that Steiner was speaking to his followers; his defenses were down, and thus he spoke the truth. His defenses were generally up, and he generally denied the truth, when speaking in public.


[35] Ibid., p. 706.


[36] Ibid., pp. 706-707.


[37] Ibid., p. 708.


[38] Ibid., p. 709.

[39] Rudolf Steiner, THE ANTHROPOSOPHIC MOVEMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), lecture 5, GA 258.

[40] Gaining “ego-consciousness” is to achieve true human selfhood, evidenced by the possession of an “I” — a nonphysical body, one's divine essence or individuality. The only sure path to attaining higher levels of consciousness, Steiner taught, is laid out by Anthroposophy.

By “more than” Steiner evidently meant “less than” or “other than.”

[41] Note that turning away from the “impulse” of Christ is different from turning away from Christ Himself. The subtle distinction is part of Anthroposophical doctrine. The main point for us, here, is that Steiner’s understanding of Christ is quite different from what is taught in orthodox Christian churches, that is, churches that base their teachings on the Bible as the true Word of God. Steiner’s teachings derive largely from heterodox sources.

[42] Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103.

[43] H. P. Blavatsky, "Is Theosophy a Religion?"

[44] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998) p. 45.

The degree to which Anthroposophy departs from Christianity is a matter of contention. There are many strands in Christian tradition; accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and explanations of his teachings, vary. Several of the strands Steiner selected trace back to the mystical vision promulgated by St. Paul. The following summary of Paul's vision will seem familiar and true to some Christians (depending on the particular version of Christianity they embrace), but it will seem alien to others. Likewise, some Anthroposophists will be struck by the similarities to Steiner's teachings; others will spot many significant areas of divergence.

"Paul’s Christ is not even human, though he has taken on the likeness of one (Philippians 2:7). He is a cosmic being who existed before time. He is the first of God’s creations, through whom the rest of creation was formed (1 Corinthians 8:6). He is God’s begotten son, God’s physical progeny (Romans 8:3). He is the new Adam, born not of dust but of heaven. Yet while the first Adam became a living being, 'the Last Adam,' as Paul calls Christ, has become 'a life-giving spirit' (1 Corinthians 15:45–47). Christ is, in short, a comprehensively new being. But he is not unique. He is merely the first of his kind: 'the first-born among many brothers' (Romans 8:29). All those who believe in Christ, as Paul does — those who accept Paul’s teachings about him — can become one with him in a mystical union (1 Corinthians 6:17). Through their belief, their bodies will be transformed into the glorious body of Christ (Philippians 3:20–21). They will join him in spirit and share in his likeness, which, as Paul reminds his followers, is the likeness of God (Romans 8:29). Hence, as 'heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ,' believers can also become divine beings (Romans 8:17). They can become like Christ in his death (Philippians 3:10) — that is, divine and eternal — tasked with the responsibility of judging alongside him the whole of humanity, as well as the angels in heaven (1 Corinthians 6:2–3)." — Reza Aslan, ZEALOT - The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, 2013), p. 189.

[45] “The Christian Community is part of an international movement for the renewal of religion, founded in 1922 in Switzerland by the eminent Lutheran theologian and minister Friedrich Rittlemeyer, with the help of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian thinker and mystic ... [T]he teachings are rich, varied and evolving. They are inspired by traditional Christian theology, the original work of Rudolf Steiner, and by independent research and insights of priests and members. There is room in this modern Christian theology to incorporate such ideas as reincarnation and karma, a truly cosmic conception of Christ, and the role of spiritual beings at all levels of existence.” 

The Christian community is the overtly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy itself is covertly religious — although the cover is generally easy to penetrate.

[46] Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995).

[47] Ibid., p. 45.

[48] Steiner considered German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to have been a sort of pre-Steiner. Steiner edited Goethe’s “scientific” writings, after which he adopted some of Goethe’s teachings while “correcting” others. When Steiner established the headquarters for the Anthroposophical movement, he named it the Goetheanum, in honor of Goethe.

The Goetheanum houses the Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science. The Society is a “public” organization open to those who have sincere Anthroposophical inclinations. The School of Spiritual Science devotes itself to the Anthroposophical study of mankind, evolution, and esoteric initiation. Steiner laid the groundwork for both the Society and the School. To see the official, carefully worded descriptions of the Goetheanum, Society, and School, visit .

[49] Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.

[50] Relevant titles of Steiner books include HOW DO I FIND THE CHRIST? (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006), HOW CAN MANKIND FIND THE CHRIST AGAIN? (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), HOW TO KNOW HOW WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), STAYING CONNECTED: How to Continue Your Relations with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), and GUARDIAN ANGELS: Connecting with Our Spiritual Guides and Helpers (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001).

Bear in mind that Steiner did not actually write many of the books now attributed to him. Many consist of transcripts of lectures he delivered — the transcribers usually were devoted followers who wished to preserve every syllable he uttered. The transcripts are thus presumably reliable, but they should not be accepted uncritically as Steiner's literal statements.

[51] Relevant titles of Steiner books include THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), THE EASTER FESTIVAL IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE MYSTERIES (SteinerBooks, 1988), THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS BREATHING PROCESS OF THE EARTH: The Four Great Festival-Seasons of the Year (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1956), SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1941), and THE WHITSUN FESTIVAL: Its Place in the Study of Karma (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1945).

Festivals at Waldorf schools sometimes seem to be innocent seasonal celebrations or, at most, mildly Christian observances. But the Anthroposophical meaning of the festivals is occult (as can be inferred, sometimes, from the odd costumes Waldorf students are urged to wear during the festivals). On the back cover of THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, we find hints of the agenda: 

“...Festivals are not merely the commemoration of mighty historical events or truths within the Christian tradition, but are themselves — each year — spiritual events [sic], manifesting in seasonal and natural rhythms, which carry a significance that grows and deepens with the developing of human evolution.” 

Most of the festivals date from pagan celebrations of “seasonal and natural rhythms,” marking the passage of the Sun through the various signs of the zodiac. In Anthroposophy, Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God" and “Was He Christian?”]. Thus, according to Steiner, Christmas is not primarily the celebration of Jesus’s birth in Nazareth; rather, it is the observance of “the victory of the Sun.” [See THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, p. 5.] Or consider Steiner’s description of another Christian festival, a description that severely distorts traditional Christian meanings: 

“[T]he soul of the earth dwells within the earth during the winter, and is out in the cosmic spaces during midsummer time; while in spring it is emerging and ascending towards the cosmos. The Spring festival, the Easter festival, cannot therefore be fixed on a particular day...but must take into account the constellations of the stars. A deep wisdom lies in this, which originated in an age when people were still able to perceive the spiritual nature of the year’s course through an ancient instinctive clairvoyance. We must come to perceive this once more.” — THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING p. 379. 

For Steiner, the “Spring festival” is designed to promote clairvoyant capacities in children. The other festivals have similar purposes — they are “spiritual events” that, supposedly, manifest and advance “the developing of human evolution” — in particular, they are focused on the students’ evolving spirit-souls, in order to improve the kids’ karmas for their future reincarnations. Students and their parents often are not told what is going on, but at any Waldorf school where Steiner’s intentions are followed, the festivals are occult Anthroposophical religious functions. [For more about Steiner’s evolutionary doctrines, see “Evolution, Anyone?”]

[52] Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247. Note the title of this book. Other relevant titles include  ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996) and THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964).

Examples of Anthroposophical painting can be found in Rudolf Steiner, THE ILLUSTRATED CALENDAR OF THE SOUL (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2004), paintings by Anne Stockton. In many, swirling water colors, sometimes creating an impression of layered veils, reflect spiritual presences, some of which hover above human forms.

[53] Mystery plays are, generally, pageants depicting Biblical themes and stories. The form largely died out after the Middle Ages, but some mystery plays continue to be performed. The most famous today is the Oberammergau passion play, about Christ’s Crucifixion. Steiner wrote four mystery plays, which contain Christian elements alongside occult and gnostic elements: THE PORTAL OF INITIATION, THE SOUL'S PROBATION, THE GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD, and THE SOULS' AWAKENING. [See Rudolf Steiner, FOUR MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2014).] Visually stunning performances have been staged at the Goetheanum. [For more on Steiner's plays, see "Plays".]

[54] “Waldorf Education — For Our Times Or Against Them?” Transcript edited by Michael Kopp.

[55] Any individual can have a religious experience at any moment, quietly, inwardly. But bear in mind that the religious experiences at a real Waldorf school (one devoted to Steiner's teachings) include group recitations of prayers. For these experiences, the students depend on the words prescribed for them by Steiner and conveyed to them by their teachers.


[57] John Fentress Gardner, TWO PATHS TO THE SPIRIT: Charismatic Christianity and Anthroposophy (Golden Stone Press, 1990).

[58] Ibid., p. 8.

[59] UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING. The book is also available as RUDOLF STEINER, Western Esoteric Masters Series (North Atlantic Books, 2004.)

[60] Ibid., p. 173.

Numerous other prayers and meditations can be found in books such as Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Exercises (SteinerBooks, 2004). Tellingly, in that book, there are chapters on the “Esoteric School,” the “Rosicrucian Path,” and the “Christian-Gnostic Path.” Steiner drew from all these esoteric sources, and he attempted to weave them together in Anthroposophy.

[61] Ibid., p. 89.

In plainer English: The devotee asks for a beam or ray of God’s protective (“guardian”) grace to fill his/her soul to the brim, in order to see (“apprehend”) — and consequently use — the strengthening spiritual forces that are available at every hand.

[62] Ibid., p. 89.

[63] Steiner accused the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche of blasphemy (“[H]e formulates his tremendous indictment of Christianity, which of course is blasphemous”). What did Jesus say about motes and beams?

[64] According to Steiner's indications, Higher Spiritland is one of the “Stages of Form,” which are phases of our evolution. There are seven Stages of Form, which we might call Higher Spiritland, Lower Spiritland, Astral Stage, Physical Stage, Perfected Astral Stage, Perfected Lower Spiritland, and Archetypal Higher Spiritland. Basically, we move from Higher Spiritland downward to our present existence in the Physical Stage of Form, and then, transformed/transforming, we ascend back up to a different version of Higher Spiritland.

An archetype is a Platonic or Goethean transcendent being or axiom, from which particular objects or conditions in the real world are derived. For humans to become archetypes is to be purified, raised to the level of the transcendent. [See, e.g., UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING, p. 143.]

Here is a further elaboration quoted from Richard Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 98-99. Steiner is quoted as saying “Goethe’s archetypal phenomena are empirical axioms ....” Seddon adds “The Archetypal Stage. All that now remains is raised to Higher Spiritland, where everything is again in formless, seedlike [sic] condition. This realm comprises the creative forces and purposes of the archetypes....”

[65] Steiner’s evolutionary scheme, which he essentially lifted from Theosophy, is extremely convoluted. The seven largest phases of our evolution are named for planets (Saturn, Earth, etc.). Within these are nested seven recapitulating Kingdoms (we’re now in the Mineral Kingdom). Within these are nested seven recapitulating Stages of Form. Within these are nested seven recapitulating Epochs (we’re now in the Present, which seems to make sense). In general, each lower phase is recapitulated in each higher phase: wheels within wheels, cycles within cycles. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".]


During or "on" Vulcan, we recapitulate — in a finer form — everything that has come before, including the archetypal perfection we attained at the end of Archetypal Higher Spiritland.

[67] THE HOLY BIBLE, Book of Revelation 1:8, International Standard Version.

Alpha and omega denote the beginning and the end; they are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.


[69] True spiritual seekers can learn from children who “have a respect that forbids them, even in the deepest recess of their heart, to harbour any thoughts of criticism or opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1923), p. 10. Critical thought is generally taboo in Anthroposophy and in its extension service, the Waldorf school movement:

“A youth whose childhood has been touched by the blight of 'critical thinking' will come to the moment of independent insight badly crippled ... Because skepticism has long since robbed him of part of his heart, he will now feel unable to embrace enthusiastically what he has come to understand.” — American Anthroposophical educator John Fentress Gardner, THE EXPERIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE (Waldorf Press, 1975), pp. 127-128.

Waldorf students who never learn to think critically will never learn to question, and possibly see through, the bizarre mystical beliefs promoted by their teachers. They will therefore uncritically "understand" precisely what their teachers wish them to "understand," and nothing more.

[70] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE AND INITIATION - COGNITION OF THE CHRIST THROUGH ANTHROPOSOPHY (Steiner Book Centre, 1983), lecture 1, GA 211.

[71] Floyd McKnight, RUDOLF STEINER AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in America, 1977), p. 4.

[72] Winkler's essential summary for Anthroposophists is this: "[W]e have learned to believe in Rudolf Steiner's teachings." — Franz E. Winkler, OUR OBLIGATION TO RUDOLF STEINER IN THE SPIRIT OF EASTER (Whittier Books, 1955), p. 11. 

Believing the pronouncements of a spiritual guide is an enactment of religious faith; it is not a scientific practice.

[73] Rudolf Steiner, EASTER: An Introductory Reader (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 129.

Despite denying that Anthroposophy is a religion — despite claiming that Anthroposophy is a science — Steiner repeatedly stressed the importance of belief and faith. Thus, he equated the "faith body" with the astral body, one of our essential spiritual members. Losing faith would mean losing the means of evolving upward spiritually: 

“[T]he forces expressed in the word ‘faith’ are necessary to the soul. For the soul incapable of faith become withered, dried-up as the desert ... If we do not possess forces such as are expressed in the word ‘faith’, something in us goes to waste ... Were men in reality to lose all faith, they would soon see what it means for evolution. By losing the forces of faith they would be incapacitated for finding their way about in life; their very existence would be undermined by fear, care, and anxiety. To put it briefly, it is through the forces of faith alone that we can receive the life which should well up to invigorate the soul. This is because, imperceptible at first for ordinary consciousness, there lies in the hidden depths of our being something in which our true ego is embedded. This something, which immediately makes itself felt if we fail to bring it fresh life, is the human sheath where the forces of faith are active. We may term it the faith-soul, or — as I prefer — the faith-body. It has hitherto been given the more abstract name of astral body. The most important forces of the astral body are those of faith, so the term astral body and the term faith-body are equally justified.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 162-163.

Belief must be paired to spiritual knowledge, Steiner said — his system, Anthroposophy, is intended to provide such knowledge. But belief is nonetheless indispensable; indeed, it is the "fruit" of Christ's cross: 

“Out of the womb of time there is born for us human beings that which is beyond time. If we stand on this firm support, we base upon it, not a blind belief, but a belief permeated by wisdom, truth and knowledge, and we may say: What must, will come; and nothing prevents us from throwing our best energies into what we believe to be inevitable. Belief is the real fruit of the cross.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Kessinger Publishing, 1999), pp. 2-3.

[74] Rudolf Steiner, THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 11-12.

Steiner taught that religion, as such, will become unnecessary in the future. Religion will be replaced by his own teachings, spiritual science; that is, religion will become unnecessary because men will possess occult knowledge. 

"Religion is the re-binding of the sensible with the supersensible. In an age of approaching materialism human beings needed religion. But the time will come when they will again be able to experience the supersensible world; then they will no longer need religion. The necessary antecedent of the new vision is that human beings shall be bearers of spiritual Christianity. This is the basis of the sentence of which I would ask you to realize the profound significance: Christianity began as a religion but is greater than all religions.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 283. 

Note that "Christianity" is not greater than all other religions; it is greater than any and all religions. This strange remark reflects Steiner's claim that his teachings are not a religion. "True" Christianity, he taught, is Gnostic, it consists of secret knowledge. His teachings (Anthropo-sophy: human knowledge) embody the secrets. That is, he possessed true Christianity; churches do not possess it.  

"I also want you to understand what is really religious in the anthroposophical sense ... [R]eligion connected with a specific church is not actually religious.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1998) pp. 44-46. 

In this sense, Anthroposophy is the one true religion.

[75] Ibid., p. 30.

[76] Ibid., p. 21.

[77] Rudolf Steiner, ARCHITECTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 186.


The original Goetheanum had a similar cruciform layout. See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE DRUIDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 15.

The windows are not literally stained glass: They are colored glass with designs etched into them. The effect is essentially the same as stained glass.

[78] For photos of the building’s spiritualistic accouterments and the ceremonial productions enacted in the auditorium, see GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).

Why is there no altar in the Goetheanum? Because most Anthroposophical priests work at invisible altars. Steiner said that Waldorf school teachers fill priestly offices: 

"The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23. 

The "altar of universal human life" is a spiritual, not physical, structure. Note the implication that Waldorf schools function as Anthroposophical churches. [See "Schools as Churches".] The clergy, in this case, are Waldorf faculty members. 

“The proximity to the teachings of reincarnation results in a notion of education as an aid in incarnation and spiritual development. The educator becomes the child's priest and spiritual leader.” — Heiner Ullrich, RUDOLF STEINER (Continuum Library of Educational Thought, 2008), p. 81. 

Generally, there are no physical altars in Anthroposophical structures, including Waldorf schools, but this rule is not absolute. Christian Community services, sometimes performed in Waldorf schools, occur in front of physical altars. [See "Waldorf Worship".]


[80] Rudolf Steiner, ARCHITECTURE: As a Synthesis of the Arts, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 96-97.

[81] Ibid., p. 94.

[82] Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996, p. 54.

[83] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE AND INITIATION - COGNITION OF THE CHRIST THROUGH ANTHROPOSOPHY (Steiner Book Centre, 1983), lecture 2, GA 211. 

[84] Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17.

[85] ARCHITECTURE, pp. 97-98.

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