Accepting Anthroposophical doctrines means accepting things that are neither proven by science

nor included in the creeds of large, established religions.

Thus, for instance, Rudolf Steiner's followers believe that Atlantis existed,

and they believe that King Arthur really did once walk the Earth.

For instance.

"After Atlantis sank, great initiates led two main streams of people from west to east, one through Africa, the other through Europe. The one that came through Africa toward Asia produced, in the course of incarnations and evolution, the individuality could could take up the Christ light. Meanwhile, in the northern stream initiates raised a strong, powerful stock of people who not only knew how to spite their enemies but were also physically a match for demonic influences. At various locations  in Europe there were mystery centers, the existence of which is reported in many old sagas. For example, behind the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table is hidden a report of such a secret school. King Arthur was a high initiate who made known the wisdom of the mysteries to his pupils." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007) p. 427.

Some people — for the most part, Anthroposophists — are amazed that Steiner was able to explain so much. Everything that ever happened (or didn’t) seems to fit neatly in his doctrines. This is the awesome “inner logic” of Anthroposophy, a body of teachings that must  be true because — look for yourself — it ties everything together in such a coherent, compelling whole. Of course, the Anthroposophical attitude overlooks a slight blemish. In order to make everything fit his scheme, Steiner had to change everything. Each piece fits only because he took out his scissors and cut it to the size and shape he wanted. King Arthur, now. Notice how this piece fits! Amazing. But notice, also, that it fits only because Steiner completely changed Arthur’s identity. Arthur was not an ancient king, so much — he was an ancient Initiate! He was a bearer of Mystery Knowledge. He was, in other words, one of Steiner’s predecessors.

On the question of the actual existence of Atlantis, Arthur, and other fantasies: Steiner offered no evidence. That wasn’t his way. He just made pronouncements, take ‘em or leave ‘em. He understood that legends such as Arthur’s are fiction, not accurate historical accounts. But he insisted that the figures behind the legends are real people or spirits, who actually lived or continue to live now. King Arthur really lived; he was an initiate who had many pupils; the legends distort this by calling Arthur a king and his pupils knights, but Steiner can tell us the underlying truth. Here’s a passage in which Steiner “explains” the King Arthur legend further:

"[T]he persons who expressed the transit of the cosmic forces through the signs of the Zodiac were those called “The Knights of King Arthur's Round Table”. Twelve in number, they had around them a band of other men, but they were the principal Knights. The others represented the starry host; into them flowed the inspirations which were more distantly distributed in cosmic space; and into the twelve Knights flowed the inspirations from the twelve directions of the Zodiac. The inspirations which came from the spiritual forces of the Sun and Moon were represented by King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. Thus in King Arthur's Round Table we have the humanised Cosmos. What we may call the pedagogical high school for the Sentient Soul of the West proceeded from King Arthur's Round Table. Hence we are told — and the legend here refers in pictures of external facts to inner mysteries which were taking place in the dawn of that epoch in the human soul — how the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table journeyed far and wide and slew monsters and giants. These external pictures point to the endeavours of human souls who were to make progress in refining and purifying those forces of the astral body which expressed themselves for the seer in pictures of monsters, giants and the like. Everything that the Sentient Soul was to experience through the later Mysteries is bound up with the pictorial concepts of King Arthur's Round Table." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MYSTERIES OF THE EAST AND OF CHRISTIANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 4, GA 144.

Arthur the Initiate headed a sort of pre-Christian Christianity, what Steiner sometimes called pagan Christianity. [1] Steiner taught that all religions prior to Christianity were steps along the road to Christianity (as revised by Steiner), which is the final and true religion. [2] Thus, pagan rituals, like all other early religious rites, were forms of pre-Christianity, and they often conveyed clairvoyant visions of the Christ that lay in mankind’s future. After Christ came to earth and was crucified, post-Christ Christianity began to spread around the world, while pre-Christ Christianity also spread, closing the circle, as it were. Pagan Christianity came out of such things as the Norse myths, which describe a god, Baldur, who can be seen as a Christ figure (Baldur and Christ are both associated with the Sun; they both were supernally pure; they both died only to rise again; etc.). Baldur really existed, Steiner said, and his message was spread by Arthur, who also really existed. Meanwhile, Christianity was spreading through such things as the Grail myth: The search for the Grail (in which Arthur and his followers participated) is the search for the ancient hidden meaning within true Christianity. This true meaning, of course, can be found in Steiner’s own teachings, according to Steiner.

"A sublime and wonderful phenomenon was unfolding here behind the scenes of world history. From the west, pagan Christianity, Arthur Christianity, which also appeared under other names and in different guises, was advancing. And from the east, Christ was passing westward in human hearts. These two converged: the actual Christ who had descended to earth encountered his image flowing toward him from west to east. This convergence and encounter occurred in 869. Until this point we have clearly differentiated a stream in the north, and passing through central Europe, that bore the Christ within as sun hero — whether called Baldur or some other name. Under the blazon of Christ as sun hero, the Arthurian knights spread their culture.

"The other stream, inwardly rooted in the heart and later becoming the Grail stream, can be found in the south and coming from the east, and bears the true and actual Christ within. The stream coming from the west bears towards him what one can call a cosmic picture." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), pp. 158-159.

[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009.]

Pagan Christianity can also be found in such things as Druid lore. As it happens, we know very little about the Druids, in part because they apparently produced no written records. But our ignorance of the Druids simply cleared the field for Steiner to imagine and say whatever he liked about the Druids. Thus, he said that the Druids had the sort of ancient clairvoyance that most humans once possessed, according to himself. The line of logic Steiner used, and that Anthroposophists find so compelling, was something like this: Steiner posited the idea of ancient clairvoyance. Then he posited the idea that the Druids had this ancient clairvoyance. Then he used the ancient clairvoyance of the Druids to prove that people once had ancient clairvoyance. Neat, huh?  “[W]e have to see the Druids as heirs to the old clairvoyant consciousness....” — Andrew J. Welburn, introduction to Steiner's THE DRUIDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 5. Why do we “have to see” this? Because Steiner said it, so it must be true.

Druids got their instinctive clairvoyance in the way other ancient peoples did; such clairvoyance was common, although to us today it may seem quite astonishing. Today we rely on science, which cannot tell us anything deep or deeply true; but people used ot have psychic powers, and fortunately Steiner developed his own psychic powers.

"I have indicated how in a certain very early condition of our planet, Sun, Moon, Earth (indeed the other planets too, only this will not concern us today) were one whole ... [A]s regards the further evolution of the Earth we cannot merely speak of a detached Sun, exerting its physical and etheric influences on the Earth, but, when it is a question of taking the spiritual element of the cosmos into account, we must speak of a Sun population, of Sun Beings, who although they were once united with the Earth now lead an existence outside the Earth-evolution ... It is exactly the same in the case of what may be called the Moon population. And...within the Earth-evolution itself there once existed a primordial wisdom ... [I]t proceeded from Beings who do not assume a physical body in the human sense, but who, as the result of the instinctive clairvoyant forces possessed by man at that time, did nevertheless live in man ... These are the Beings who passed over into the figures of myths and sagas in picture form, who did not assume forms perceptible to the ordinary consciousness; they are primordial Beings who were once the founders of the primordial wisdom among Earth men ... On the basis of such conceptions we are able to penetrate in some degree into the Druid culture. With the means accessible today to external science man will ask in vain as to what was the real soul-constitution of these Druid priests." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN IN THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 66.

The leading Druids were initiates, like King Arthur, like Steiner. They bore early forms of the wisdom Steiner later was able to spell out at such length. Let’s circle back to Atlantis:

"Very long ago, there was land in the region of the Atlantic Ocean — the so-called land of Atlantis, where dwelt the Atlanteans, our ancient ancestors. All the people who lived later on in Europe and also in Asia as far East as India, were descendants of the Atlanteans. The Atlanteans lived under entirely different conditions from those that prevailed in later times. Life was hierarchically ordered. All control and rule was in the hands of the initiates.

"In the North of what is today Russia a famous school of initiation existed in earlier times. The initiates of this school were known as 'Trotten.' In the West of Europe were other initiation schools, and in them the Druids were the initiates. The whole social life of the people was still even then ordered and regulated by these initiates." — Rudolf Steiner, “Parsifal” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 97.

Being an Initiate like Steiner conveys many benefits. For example, and Initiate’s “life body” (aka the etheric body) doesn’t die — it lasts from one incarnation to the next. The result is sort of like being a tree. And by the way, we can intuit the truth about Druids because the very name “Druid” refers to a tree, the oak. This is Anthroposophical logic: Find or invent ways to connect things that have no real connection at all; use your scissors to cut each piece to suit your predetermined ideas; and then claim that the neat fit of the piece proves your point. The less trimming the better, of course.

"When a human being wants to undergo esoteric development, the glands must dry up ... Something similar occurs in a tree, which can form itself continually only by the hardening of part of its inner fluid into bark ... Hence there was deep significance behind the ancient Germans calling their initiated priests 'Druids' or 'Oaks'...." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), pp. 288-289.

By the way, bark is not dried sap.

["Perrault's Fairy Tales,THE DORÉ GALLERY

Dover Books, 1998), p. 72, detail.]

King Arthur — one of the many legendary characters Anthroposophists accept as real beings. There is somewhat more evidence suggesting that Arthur is based on a real person than is true for many other legendary characters affirmed by Anthroposophists — but the evidence is slight. According to the BRITANNICA, Arthur is a “legendary British king who appears in a cycle of medieval romances ... It is not certain how or where...these legends originated or whether the figure Arthur was based on a historical person .... The 9th-century Historia Brittonum, traditionally attributed to Nennius, records 12 battles fought by Arthur against the Saxons, culminating in a victory at Mons Badonicus. The Arthurian section of this work, however, is from an undetermined source, possibly a poetic text. The Annales Cambriae also mention Arthur’s victory at Mons Badonicus (516) and record the Battle of Camlann (537), ‘in which Arthur and Medraut fell.’ Gildas’ De excidio et conquestu Britanniae (mid-6th century) implies that Mons Badonicus was fought in about 500 but does not connect it with Arthur.” — "Arthur." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 01 Jan. 2010. There is no evidence at all that Arthur was a pre-Christian Christian initiate, as Steiner claimed.

A pagan is someone whose beliefs do not conform to the teachings of any of the world's major religions. By this definition, Anthroposophists are pagans. Anthroposophists usually say that Anthroposophy is not a religion; or, when they wobble a bit, they say that Anthroposophy is essentially Christian. But these claims are untrue. (See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?" and "Was He Christian?") [3] Anthroposophists believe in a sort of Christ (not the Son of God in the usual sense, but the Sun God), and Atlantis, and King Arthur, and Ahriman, and reincarnation, and karma, and Thor, and gnomes, and astrological powers, and magic, and, and, and... Their beliefs span the entire spectrum of esoteric, occult, and religious belief — with a lot of myths and folklore and superstition thrown in. They believe things that no Christian believes, and things that no Hindu believes, and things that no Buddhist believes, and things that no Muslim believes... Their beliefs are consistent with none of the world's major religions. (If you believe in the biblical Christ, for instance, you must believe that when you die you will go to heaven or hell — or perhaps, briefly, to purgatory — and this will depend heavily on whether you have embraced Christ as your Savior. But Anthroposophists don't believe that. They believe that after we die we go to a higher spirit realm for a while, and then we are reincarnated on Earth in accordance with karma. They believe that we are reincarnated many, many times, and we evolve under the guidance of the gods, and there are many, many gods, and after Earth we will live on "Jupiter," and Buddha is the Christ of Mars, and the Moon is a fortress with a large hidden population, and wonderful sages and gurus sit in the White Lodge to help fulfill the gods' cosmic plan, and black magicians and other horrible beings are working in hidden, occult brotherhoods to thwart the White Lodge and the good gods, and some human beings are not really human at all but demons in disguise, and, and, and... ) Anthroposophical beliefs are incompatible with biblical Christianity and with all other major religions. (If you are Hindu, you believe in karma and reincarnation. But do you also believe that Christ the Sun God is the most important of all the gods, and that the gods of Norse myths really exist, and that the white race is the most highly evolved, and, and, and...? ) Anthroposophy is pagan. I'm sorry, but there it is. Anthroposophy borrows a bit from one religion, and a bit from another, and a bit from this superstition, and a bit from another... The result is incompatible with all major religions. The result is pagan. I'm sorry, but there it is. 

"[O]ur species is prone to, and can coexist with, the most grotesque absurdities." — Christopher Hitchens, THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, Jan/Feb 2010, p. 114.


[1] Don’t confuse Steiner’s term with the identical title of a book published in 2008 by George Barna and Frank Viola: PAGAN CHRISTIANITY (BarnaBooks). Barna and Viola argue that many trappings found in Christian churches and ceremonies have pagan roots, and for this reason these should be stripped away to create a pure, unblemished form of Christianity. Barna and Viola do not argue that a valid pre-Christian form of Christianity existed.

[2] But it will be replaced, too. Religion will become obsolete when humanity develops the highest powers of clairvoyance.

[3] Why do Anthroposophists make untrue statements? In some cases, they intend to deceive — they are withholding occult truths that they think most people are not equipped to handle, or they are protecting their movement, which they think is on a holy mission. 

But in many other cases, the reason is different. In these cases, Anthroposophists believe their untrue statements. They are not consciously trying to deceive us, but they are clearly — and unconsciously — deceiving themselves. Some Anthroposophists are quite smart, and I'm prepared to stipulate that most Anthroposophists are decent, moral, kind, caring individuals. They have good intentions, and many of their actions are good. But there can be little doubt that they deceive themselves — they must deceive themselves to believe the things they believe. This is a troubling phenomenon, but by no means is it unique in human history. Many, many smart, decent, moral, kind, and caring individuals have believed a lot of astonishing nonsense down through time. It's sad, it's frustrating, but it is so. [See "Fooling" and "Why?" And if you aren't entirely sure that Anthroposophists believe a lot of undeniably nonsensical nonsense, see "Steiner's Blunders".]

- Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

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

also see "Anthroposophical Christianity"
and "Judaism, The Hebrew Bible"

adepts : putting it to use

all : God and Godhead

basics : where he got it (Theosophy)

breathing spirit : meditations

Buddhism : and Anthroposophy

Clearing House : sneaking it in (cont.)

commandments : Steiner's ten

Father : beginning and end

grail : what's being sought

Islam : Steiner's view

Krishnamurti : disagreement

Manichaeism : and Steiner and Augustine and gnosticism and...

Mithraism : the proto-Christ

Old Testament : the Waldorf interpretation


seances : and mediums

signs : and symbols

Sun God : the Christ you didn't know

trinity : God, gods...

Veda : via Theosophy

Yoga : sort of

Zoroastrianism : and Anthroposophy