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Steiner taught that human evolution can occur only if some people are separated out and left behind — perhaps to be saved later, or perhaps not. If not, then the people who are left behind will be permanently lost.

43) [Separation]  

“Evolution is possible only by means of differentiation and separation ... In order for special qualities to develop in human evolution, certain groups of human beings must be separated off for a time." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 25. 

"For a time" suggests some hope — maybe the ones left behind can be rescued later. In general, Steiner said this is what happens. But he also taught that some people sink so low that they cease to be human. Their plight is dreadful. They get left behind permanently.

The process of separation began as far back as Old Saturn. But for now, let's consider more recent times and the stories we have told ourselves about ourselves.

44) [Decadence]  

“A wonderful legend describes to us the state of development of the soul. The soul is in a different line of evolution than the body of the human being. The difference between soul and racial development can be seen if we look into the past. Souls were incarnated many times in the Atlantean race; all of you were Atlanteans at that time. The souls worked themselves out of that situation and the remaining human bodies belonged to the races that had become decadent and were falling into decline. The [good] souls...rose up to [join] higher races. Human bodies afflicted with fundamental evil will not have souls within them that are striving to rise above their present state to a higher one.” — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993), pp. 49-50.

As we have noted previously, reading Steiner can be a trial. Here is a clarifying paraphrase:

The wonderful legend of Atlantis helps us to understand that the soul and the body evolve differently: souls may rise to higher racial forms while bodies stay behind at their original racial levels. When we all lived on Atlantis, we reincarnated several times on that continent. Good souls evolved higher, leaving behind their previous bodies. The remaining, lowly bodies were then inhabited only by races that were decadent and declining. The good souls rose to inhabit newer, better bodies as members of higher races. Lowly, fundamentally evil bodies do not long house souls that work to evolve upward. 

This is no mere legend to Steiner. It's what he taught. Good souls rise out of the bodies they possessed when they were members of lower races; they reincarnate as members of higher races, inhabiting new, better bodies. Bad souls, inhabiting lower bodies, either get stuck at one stage of evolution or they move downward. Fundamental evil is incurable, generally. Humans who sink too low become demonic beings or subordinate nature spirits (who have no real spiritual essence). These humans cease to be human; they become literally subhuman.*

And yes, Steiner taught, Atlantis really existed. (We'll look into this in a coming installment.)

Steiner said, many times, that good souls reincarnate in higher racial forms. The existence of, and difference between, high races and low races is one of his basic teachings.

45) ["Morality"]  

“Souls previously incarnated in quite subordinate races, raised themselves to a higher level and could incarnate in the bodily descendants of the leaders in Europe ... This was the reason that the lower races had fewer and fewer descendants, while the higher races had more and more.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 30. 


Souls that had previously incarnated as members of quite low races raised themselves to such high levels that they incarnated as the bodily descendants of Europe's spiritual leaders. This is why lower races shrank while the higher races grew (souls evolved upward from low levels to high levels, depopulating the lower races).

Note the title of the book in which this quotation appears. We are glimpsing Steiner's concept of morality and its foundation — its "spiritual" foundation. Can you spot any morally questionable concepts in it?

Even Europe — home of the highest racial form, the white — has sometimes been overrun by evil, Steiner said. 

46) [Demons of Decay and Asiatic Hordes]  

“[W]ith the dying out of the worst parts of the ancient population of which I have been speaking, the whole region gradually became filled with demonic beings that represented the products of the decay of what had died out. The whole of Europe and also Asia Minor were thus filled with the spiritual products of decay out of the worst parts of the population. These demons of decay...endured a long time ... Their influence can best be seen at the time of the Great Migrations, when large masses of people, including Attila and his hordes, came over from Asia and caused great terror among the people in Europe. This terror made the population susceptible to the influences of the demonic beings ... As a consequence of the terror produced by the hordes coming over from Asia, there gradually developed what manifested during the Middle Ages as the epidemic of leprosy.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 31.


When the worst humans died out, they were replaced by demons; the entire region became filled with demons produced through the decay of those who died out. All of Europe and Asia Minor became filled with these demons, produced through the decay of the worst parts of the population. These demons of decay lasted a long time. Their influence is shown by what happened during the "Great Migrations" when Attila the Hun and others invaded Europe from Asia, spreading terror. The terror caused Europeans in the Middle Ages to be susceptible to the demons. Due to the terror spread by the invaders, an epidemic of leprosy spread across Europe.

In this passage, Steiner combines racism, quack medicine, and demonology. The demonic beings are ex-humans, products of decay, essentially subhuman byproducts of human evolution. They were the Asiatic hordes, the yellow menace — and their malign effects manifested as leprosy in Europe. [For more of Steiner's racial views, see, e.g., "Races". For his medical teachings, see "Steiner's Quackery".]

Belief in the existence of subhumans is appalling, yet it is part and parcel of Steiner's worst doctrines:

47) [Subhumans; Supernumerary]  

“[I]n our time certain supernumerary people are appearing who have no 'I' [i.e., no true spiritual ego] and are therefore not human beings in the full sense of the word." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 180.

"Supernumerary people" — Steiner is speaking here of people whom he considers unneeded, excess, inhuman, subhuman. They are people who are "not human beings in the full sense of the word." They are essentially worthless. One is reminded of a line from Dickens: "'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'" But Dickens was giving us a sweet Christmas tale. Steiner was offering us something very different.

Such thinking, appallingly, has shown up in Waldorf schools. Steiner injected such thinking into the very first Walsorf school.

48) [Subhumans; Demons in Human Form]  

“[C]ases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings ... [They] are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon ... [T]here are people who are not human beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650. 

If you are considering a Waldorf school for your children, you can at least take comfort from this: In the same passage, Steiner explains that Waldorf schools are designed for children who are real humans, not demonic subhumans: "We cannot...create a school for demons."

While Steiner's doctrines offer the hope that most humans will evolve upward, they also contain the appalling idea that some people move downward, toward subhuman degradation. Moreover, some people walking the Earth today are already subhuman, Steiner said. There are good humans and demons in disguise, just as there are high races and low races. There are real human beings and there are "people who are not human beings.” 

All of man's inhumanity to man is implicit in such thinking. And such thinking forms part of the ideology underlying Waldorf education.

* 44a) [The Subhuman Population of the Earth] People who descend in this way no longer reincarnate, so they no longer evolve from life to life — they enter an unending, 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.

This passage cries out for a paraphrase, but I will refrain. If you want to penetrate to the occult doctrines behind Waldorf education, you'll need to thrash your way through such material on your own. So give it a shot.

For another practice passage, and to learn more about subordinate nature spirits, see quotation #64, below.

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

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also see "Evil, Perdition"

abnormal : off

moral view

morality : Anthroposophical ethics I

sin : Steiner on

sphere 8 : the wages