Rudolf Steiner was preoccupied with rankings.

He espoused hierarchical lists of gods, races, mythologies ... almost anything.

The thinking behind some of these lists is hateful, 

while in other cases it is merely foolish.

Let’s look at a few examples.


We’ll begin with the hateful. Steiner’s defenders insist that he was not a racist. Yet scholars have located many distinctly racist statements within Steiner's lectures and publications. We have examined this issue on several other pages at Waldorf Watch [see, e.g., "Races", "Differences", and "Forbidden".] Let's begin with a somewhat oblique approach on this page. Let's consider Steiner’s remarks about aboriginal Americans.

Steiner discussed the “extinction” of the “American Indian race.” Steiner associated various races with planets, which have occult or astrological influence here on Earth, he said. The powers of the planets are exercised by spiritual beings on those planets. Steiner said that American Indians are influenced mainly by Saturn and its forces; hence, he called American Indians the "Saturn race." He said, further, that the extinction of the American Indians is a harbinger of the coming extinction of all mankind: “[T]he abnormal Spirits of Form [spiritual beings] who have their centre in Saturn [sic] work indirectly...into the glandular system. In the Saturn race, therefore, we must expect to find the combination of the forces leading to the twilight of mankind, forces which set the seal upon its development and sow the seeds of its ultimate decline. This...can be seen in the American Indian race and was the cause of its ultimate extinction.” [1] Notice how in this passage Steiner discusses the Indians’ end as something that has already happened (“was the cause”). It is undeniable that the native peoples of America were victims of an horrific genocide — but they were not pushed to their “ultimate extinction.”

Steiner said the American aborigine became (or will become) extinct due to a) Saturn and its allies, and b) the encroachment of Europeans: “Here we have an example of the Saturn forces and their activity and of what follows from the cooperation between Saturn and other Spirits at such a moment as this when two contrasting civilizations [European and aboriginal American] meet.” [2] Thus, Europeans effectively exterminated (or will exterminate) the Indians, but the underlying culprit is Saturn working alongside its spiritual colleagues.

The decline and elimination of peoples was a basic theme is Steiner's teachings. Steiner described evolution as a process of passage from lower levels of spiritual consciousness to higher levels, and here on Earth this has meant — he said — passage from one racial form to another. [See "Steiner's Racism".] As souls improve, they rise and reincarnate in higher racial forms. The lower races thus become depopulated and eventually disappear. Steiner used the "extinction" of the American Indian as an example of this process.

Steiner taught that mankind was divided into races during the days of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans".] There are five major racial types, he said, and each is associated with the spiritual effects of a particular planet. Lecture six of THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS is titled “The Five Root Races.” The synopsis includes the following:
 “The abnormal Spirits are centered in the five planets and create the five root races: Mercury, the Negro race; Venus, the Malayan race; Mars, the Mongolian race; Jupiter, the Caucasian race; Saturn, the Red Indians. This took place in Atlantis.” [3] Steiner adopted the concept of "root races" from Theosophy, although — as he usually did — he modified the concept to suit his own theological formulations. Essentially, a root race is the primary race existing during any historical epoch. If the gods' divine plan had been fully implemented, all humans would rise together from one root race to the next as evolution progresses, Steiner said.

According to Steiner, American Indians are peculiarly ossified or bony. This reflects their doom, he taught — their bodies reveal their inevitable decline. "Saturn," in Steiner's teachings, is a place and spirit in the current solar system, and — in a different but related sense — it is an ancient stage of cosmic evolution. [See "Old Saturn".] American Indians, according to Steiner, are influenced by the Saturn that exists now, and they are also a sort of throwback to the ancient Saturnian stage of evolution. “In a race such as this [i.e., "the old American Indians”everything pertaining to the forces of the Saturn evolution [i.e., Old Saturn] has become realized in a special manner; then Saturn withdrew into itself, abandoned man to his bony system and thus hastened his decline.” [4] 

The over-active "bony system" in American Indians has caused a process of ossification, Steiner taught. Thus, gradually, American Indians have hardened and deteriorated. “This slow decline is characterized by a kind of ossification which is clearly reflected in [the Indians’] external form. If you look at pictures of the old American Indians the process of ossification described above is evident in the decline of this race.” [5]

Drawing spiritual conclusions about people by studying photographs is perfectly valid, according to Steiner's doctrines, because people's outer forms manifest their inward conditions. Thus, apparently superficial racial characteristics, such as skin color, have great significance, Steiner taught. “One can only understand history...if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual...if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” [6]

The division of humanity into different races, dating back to humanity's sojourn on Atlantis, led to the dispersal of peoples over the face of the Earth, Steiner taught. Most of these peoples were defective in some way; only one evolved properly. European whites — Steiner's own race — were the most nearly perfect, Steiner taught, while races such as the American Indians were incapable of proper development. American Indians were backward-looking, Steiner said; they harkened back to the long-lost days of Atlantis. They preserved “a memory of that great Atlantean civilization which could not adapt itself to later evolution ... What the Red Indian valued most highly was that he was still able to sense something of the former greatness and majesty of a period which existed in the old Atlantean epoch ... The Atlanteans had not assimilated all that the Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter Spirits brought about in the East, to whom we owe all the civilizations which reached their zenith in Europe ... The descendant of the brown race did not participate in this development.” [7] The Red Indian, descendant of the inferior portion of the population of Atlantis, remained anchored in the past, and thus failed to participate in the human advances that were eventually brought to a “zenith in Europe.”

When the races dispersed, Steiner taught, each went to its proper place on the Earth — the portion of the Earth most influenced by the planetary spirit proper to that race. A hierarchy of races was thus created. Blacks, for instance, went to Africa, where they existed in a sort of perpetual childishness. “[A] centre of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces...which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” [8] The yellow peoples, Steiner said, found their proper places in Asia, where they existed at an adolescent level. Whites, migrating the Europe, attained adulthood, while red peoples, finding their home in America, formed an ancient, ossified, superannuated population teetering on the edge of extermination.


If humanity had not been divided into races (a regrettable event, Steiner said), today an ideal form of human beauty would be found everywhere. It would have been beauty such as has arisen only in Europe. “In that case, a human race of Grecian beauty would have spread over the earth, and in our age we would already see humanity approaching more and more this beautiful Grecian type....” [9] But now, because there are various races, good humans evolve upward through the racial hierarchy. “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type ... The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” [10] According to Steiner, a soul starts its series of Earthly incarnations at the lowest level, black, and gradually works its way up toward physical and spiritual whiteness.

Steiner's racial teachings are clearly abhorrent. Anthroposophists today rarely acknowledge these teachings publicly; but, by the same token, they rarely disavow these teachings openly and explicitly. Instead, Steiner's racism remains hidden in the heart of his doctrines, a dilemma and embarrassment for his followers.



Just as Steiner ranked human races, he also ranked the entities below and above humanity. “Now, as we know, other Spirits and Hierarchies are active in the world.” [11] There are many more beings above us than below us, which shows how far we have to go in our future evolution. Essentially, Steiner described a single linear pattern of spiritual progress, and he said that beings evolve upward (or downward) along this line. Thus, beings that are just a bit more evolved than humans are the Sons of Twilight, also called Angels. They evolved from a human level to their current divine level just a short time ago, as measured by the cosmological calendar. We will soon rise to their level, becoming gods ourselves, while they will advance to a still higher level, becoming Fire Spirits or Archangels.

Overall, Steiner said that there are nine ranks of gods above humanity, while there are a few levels of existence below us. A complication is that there are “normal” and “abnormal” varieties of various spirits. For example, “The abnormal Archangels have shown themselves to be, in reality, Spirits of Form or Powers who have only renounced in part the attributes of their evolution.” [12] In other words, some Archangels (gods two steps higher than humans) are actually Powers (gods three steps higher than humans) who have stayed behind at the Archangel level.

The overall hierarchy of beings goes more or less like this (Steiner's accounts varied somewhat): At the bottom are nature spirits or elemental beings. These are incorporeal entities having no true spiritual essence; they underlie the natural world. Above them is the natural world that they inform, which consists, at the lowest level, of minerals. Above the minerals are plants, above these are animals, and above these stands Man. [14] Thus, there is a subnatural level of existence (the realm of the nature spirits), and there is a natural level (the physical or material universe). The latter is divided into four kingdoms: minerals, plants, animals, and Man.

Above the natural world are the spirit worlds. These are occupied, as I've said, by nine ranks of gods. The lowest are the Sons of Twilight (Angels, Sons of Life), then one step higher are the Fire Spirits (Archangels, Agnishvattas), and one step higher yet are the Spirits of Personality (Archai, Primal Beings, Primal Powers, Zeitgeists). These three ranks of gods constitute the Third Hierarchy or lowest class of gods. They devote much of their time and energy to supervising us and the other members of the natural and subnatural worlds.

The Second Hierarchy (which works in the three “ethers” [15]) consists of Spirits of Form (Powers, Exusiai), and above them the Spirits of Movement (Dynamis, Mights), and above them the Spirits of Wisdom (Kyriotetes, Dominions) [16].

The First Hierarchy, which ascends through the astral realm, consists of Spirits of Will (Thrones), Spirits of the Harmonies (Cherubim), and Spirits of Love (Seraphim) [17].

The nine ranks of gods, subdivided into their three classes, can be summarized thus:

Spirits of Love

Spirits of the Harmonies

Spirits of Will

Spirits of Wisdom

Spirits of Movement

Spirits of Form

Spirits of Personality

Fire Spirits

Sons of Twilight

Standing above the nine ranks of gods is the Godhead, which may be taken as a version of the Christian triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), or a variant (Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma), or — more generally — divine will, the cosmic creative impulse, the force responsible for the divine cosmic plan of universal evolution. Despite often applying the term "Christian" to his own teachings, Steiner in fact offered us a polytheistic creed, heavily influenced by Hinduism. The three persons of God worshipped by Christians are, in Anthroposophy, three separate gods dwelling in different spheres. Most tellingly, Steiner's version of Christ is a pagan god: "Christ, the Sun God, who was known by earlier peoples under such names as Ahura Mazda, Hu, or Balder, has now united himself with the earth....” — Margaret Jonas, introduction to RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 4-5. To delve further into these matters, see "God", "Pagan", "Polytheism","All", and "Was He Christian?"

Additional complications also crop up. Thus, there are evil gods and demons. In a sense, these are the lowest of the low, lower than nature spirits. But in actuality, according to Steiner, many demonic beings are actually gods of various ranks above us, and their "evil" may, in at least some instances, actually be beneficial and part of the good gods' plans. Nonetheless, evil gods go to war against good gods, and their threaten humanity with spiritual destruction. Among the prominent evil gods or demons are Ahriman and Lucifer, whose actions may sometimes be seen as good. Then there is Sorat, the Antichrist — less justification can be offered for his behavior. There are also Asuras, spirits that have remained at the Old Saturn level of evolution. The great "sin," Steiner taught, is failure to evolve properly, so remaining at a previous, low level of evolution is, as it were, the essence of evil. [For more on these matters, see, e.g., "Evil Ones" and "Sin".]

Distinctions and gradations occur at all levels, and beings at various levels interact with beings at other levels. For instance, “The attendant Nature-spirits of the normal beings of the highest Hierarchy [are called] Undines, Sylphs, and Salamanders.” [18] There are four primary types of nature spirits, the three named here and gnomes. Undines dwell in the element of water, sylphs in the air, salamanders in fire, and gnomes in earth. Their functions are elementary, yet they serve, in a sense, various good or normal gods. On the other hand, they lack any real sense or morality and some of them (especially gnomes or goblins) behave in ways that seem naughty or worse. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Gnomes".]

Below the primary types of nature spirits are lower and worse beings, including phantoms and specters. [Again, see "Neutered Nature".] Moreover, there are "subordinate" nature spirits who are human beings who, through sin and error, have fallen below the human level of development. They become subhuman and drop out of the evolutionary cycle, losing the ability to reincarnate. They are, in effect, lost souls. "Now let us take an extreme case and imagine that a man unites too fully with what is to constitute the character of an incarnation [i.e., he separates too completely from the spirit realm]. Let us suppose he reaches what is to be reached in sixteen incarnations; he takes the sixteen false paths [i.e., he repeats and deepens this error sixteen times]. The earth does not wait for him, the earth goes forward [i.e., the Earth and its inhabits evolve forward while he stands still or regresses] and he finally arrives at a point where he can no longer incorporate [i.e., incarnate] in a human body, for none are in existence [i.e., there are no more bodies suitable for him because humanity has evolved to a higher level]. There will be no more bodies in which souls that have grown too much involved in their bodily nature can incarnate. Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... They must therefore live a bodiless existence. They must cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution. Why have they deserved this? By reason of the fact that they have not made use of life [i.e., they have not used their incarnations to improve themselves]! The world is around them; they have possessed senses in order to perceive the world, to enrich the life-kernel [i.e., their inner essence] and mold it to a higher stage. They do not advance with world evolution, they remain behind at a certain stage. Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch with approximately the character of the earlier age. They have grown together with it, but not in the forms of the later epoch [i.e., they stay at a stage of development that others humans leave behind]. They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits." [19]

So, in Anthroposophy, it is possible to evolve upward, but it is also possible to evolve (or involve) downward. There are, really, just two paths: the correct, proper, "normal," upward "white path" and the incorrect, sinful, "abnormal," downward "black path." This is why, after death, you will be confronted by a spirit who may say to you "The purified world will develop above and beyond thee, and thou shalt be excluded from it. Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path." [20] In essence, Steiner taught that you can either follow him and ascend the white path, or you can fail to see the light in which case you will descend along the black path. There are really no other options. (And in a sense the two paths are the same: The "white path" is the upward course one can take along the one and only path, while the "black path" is the downward course that sinners takes along the same path. The "white path" is upward movement, the "black path" is downward movement.)

The spiritual hierarchies of Steiner's doctrines are linked to the racial hierarchies we examined, above. Remember that, according to Steiner, racial forms are levels of spiritual development. Good, normal people rise to the high, white form; "sinful," abnormal people fall to lower levels and/or they remain trapped at such levels. Individuals at these lower levels have substandard souls. So, for instance, “By bringing about the ‘opiumising’ of Chinese bodies and causing generations to come into being under the influence of opium's forces, it was possible [for demonic forces] to condemn the Chinese to take in, to a certain extent, some very immature, sub-standard [sic] souls [i.e., substandard souls have tended to incarnate in Chinese bodies].” [21] 



For Anthroposophists, myths reflect human evolution. [22] According to Steiner, human evolution during the period since Atlantis sank has passed upward through a succession of civilizations and mythologies: Asian Indian, Persian, Egypto-Chaldean, Greco-Roman, and modern European. [See "Epochs".] You will not be surprised to learn that Steiner and his followers have found special virtues in Northern European mythologies, particularly the Norse and Teutonic (German). E.g., “Pictures or symbols of Teutonic mythology contain occult truths.” [23] And “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of evolution than Northern mythology. Germanic mythology in its pictures is close to anthroposophical conception [sic] of future evolution.” [24]

Giving the most accurate conception of our future development, Teutonic myths summarize and cap the wisdom of previous, less evolved peoples. Steiner taught that, as we have risen spiritually and racially, we have moved toward the highest stage of human culture and civilization yet attained, the European, "our own" stage of development. “We can scarcely understand the fundamental character of Teutonic mythology unless we review once more the five successive stages in the post-Atlantean epoch [i.e., the history of our own period, which began after Atlantis sank]. These five [were]...primeval Indian civilization...[then] Persian...[then] Egypto-Chaldean-Babylonian, then the Greco-Roman civilization and finally our own.” [25]

According to Anthroposophical belief, myths are true reports of the clairvoyant observations made by ancient peoples. Steiner said that everyone in the past had clairvoyance powers, through which they directly observed the gods in action. The ancient Nordic peoples, being the most highly evolved — and white — had the most accurate clairvoyant visions. “Myths...are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night [Germanic people] were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were...experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” [26]

Although humanity is climbing to higher and higher stages of spiritual consciousness, we have — at least temporarily — lost something. Our clairvoyant abilities were, in some ways, sharper in the past. “In old Atlantis [sic] man...enjoyed direct perception into the old primeval states of human evolution.” [27] People today have largely lost the old clairvoyance, but ancient Europeans still retained it, and they put it to good use. Steiner frequently stressed the actual, living truth of the clairvoyant/spiritual experiences recorded in Norse myths. “Nordic man perceived the figures of the Gods [sic], the divine Beings working directly on his soul ... This was direct experience to him.” [28] Nordic man “came to know Odin as one of the abnormal Archangels ... Nordic man experienced the activity of Odin....” [29] If we study Norse myths, we can divine true accounts of the gods and their purposes.

Young students are Waldorf schools are often present myths — especially Norse myths — as if these are factually true reports. Here is how Waldorf educator Charles Kovacs, in his book NORSE MYTHOLOGY, recommends beginning the study of myths. The Waldorf teachers should say to the students, “The stories I am going to tell are very special. They are wonderful stories of strange beings called ‘gods’ and of giants and dwarfs ... These stories were not just made up; they came about in a different way ... As long as Adam and Eve were still in paradise they could see God ... Then came the children of Adam and Eve, and their children’s children; they could still see God, but not very often ... The more people became used to living on earth...the less they could see God ... [B]ut very many of them, not just a few, could see the angels ... There were many peoples in the world who worshipped the angel-gods, and they had wonderful stories about them. The most wonderful stories were told among people who are called Norsemen ... When these brave, fierce Norsemen had fought a battle, they came home to celebrate their victory with a great feast ... The most important part of the feast was when a man called a ‘bard’ took a harp and sang or recited a poem ... These bards could see the angel-gods better than the others. This is how the stories I am going to tell you came about. They are stories that these wise bards among the Norsemen heard from the angels, from the angel-gods.” [30]

Waldorf students are exposed to many other myths and legends, from many cultures. But Norse mythology occupies an unparalleled place of honor in the Waldorf curriculum. Steiner taught that not only do the Norse gods really exist, but one of them — Thor — played an extremely important role in human evolution. Thor assisted us in attaining our spiritual egos, our individual spiritual identities. In this sense, Thor has a personal relationship with all properly evolved humans. “German-Nordic man has an interest in an Angel-being who is endowed with special power, but who at the same time is closely related to the single human being ... And that Being is Thor...a Being who could have risen to far higher rank had he followed the normal course of evolution, but who renounced advancement comparatively early and remained at the stage of a [sic] Angel in order that, at the time when man awoke to ego-consciousness in the course of his soul’s evolution, he [sic: Thor] could become the guiding Spirit ... ” [31] 

Waldorf education was originally created for young Germans, to assist them in fulfilling the destined mission of the German people. [The German] must be educated to [his] mission...[which is] looking at the world from the most varied points of view. This is the special mission of the German people ... They shall take hold upon world culture from this side, even as the German people ... [C]ertain things that I shall touch upon today, for example, in the realm of knowledge, can be evolved only through the German people....” [32] For this reason, among others, Germanic/Nordic mythology is stressed in Waldorf education. Whether Waldorf schooling is appropriate anywhere outside Germany becomes, then, a very real question. (Of course, we might ask whether a curriculum drenched in ancient superstition and fantasy is appropriate for anyone at all, including German youths.)

Faculty and parents might try stripping some of the peculiar, irrelevant, or objectionable strands out of the Waldorf tapestry, but it would be difficult — almost as difficult as stripping racism and mysticism out of Anthroposophy itself. As Waldorf educator Roy Wilkinson has written, “Some parents appreciate the education [offered at a] particular [Waldorf] school but have a reservation about its anthroposophical basis! It has been known for parents to say that they like the school, but wish it were divorced from certain ‘crazy’ ideas which they may have garnered, or which a teacher may have expressed. [paragraph break] The Waldorf school and the ‘crazy’ ideas are, however, inseparable. Waldorf schools would not exist if they were not related to these ideas.” [33]

Waldorf education is fundamentally an enactment of Anthroposophical doctrines. Steiner once said to Waldorf teachers, “[W]hat you are inserting into the children in a roundabout way...continues in the astral body and the ego.” [34] The astral body is one of the three invisible bodies that, in Anthroposophical belief, incarnate during the first twenty-one years of a human's life. The ego is the third of these bodies, the one Thor has helped us with. Unless you are prepared to accept teachings such as these, Waldorf education cannot ultimately suit you and your children.

Your options, according to Steiner, are stark. You can choose the upward white path or the downward black path. You can aspire to evolve upward spiritually, which includes evolving racially, a process that has been depicted mythically — or you can fall to your doom. "If this is your choice, then yours is the black path. But those from whom you separate yourself tread the white path." [35]

When deciding whether to send your children to a Waldorf school, please do so with your eyes fully open, having informed yourself about the real nature and goals of Waldorf schooling. Waldorf students are encouraged to move toward the white path, as defined by Anthroposophical belief. If you subscribe to Anthroposophical belief, this path will seem bright indeed. If you are less sure about Anthroposophy but still feel generally comfortable with the spiritual vibes in Waldorf education, the Waldorf path will be proportionately alluring. But if you find Anthroposophy alien, perhaps even mad, then you will want to find a different path — or, better yet, an entire network of different paths — somewhere else.

— Roger Rawlings


For more on the spiritual hierarchies,

see "Polytheism".

For more on races, see "Races"

and "Steiner's Racism".

For more on myths,

see "Oh My Word" and "The Gods".

The worlds are stacked up, one above the other.

The "science of the spirit" investigates the worlds

we cannot see with our normal senses.

Anthroposophy is a science, Steiner often said.

But he was wrong.

Anthroposophy is not, in fact, neutrally objective,

even by Steiner's own account.

It has a goal: to assist us in our upward evolution,

our spiritual salvation. In this sense

Anthroposophy is actually a religion.

[See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

Sending children to a Waldorf school

means having them educated in an atmosphere

permeated by the religion of Anthroposophy

The presumed divinely ordained structure of the universe

is often called the Great Chain of Being.

Here is one representation of the chain,

which extends from God the Highest

down to the lowliest inanimate matter

and thence down into Hell.


The chain is sometimes developed into a system

of concentric rings, more or less consistent with

astrology. Steiner's system derives in part

from this concept.

[Fludd, Robert, 1574-1637;

Folger Library.]

Hu was the Egyptian god of the spoken word.

Some occultists equate him with Christ since Christ

is taken as the embodiment of the Word.

Christ is also equated with various Sun gods.

Here are three Egyptian gods associated with the Sun:

Horus, Ra, and Bast.

Horus, the greatest god, contained both sun and moon. Ra was the Sun god. Bast was the Sun goddess.

[Ernst Lehner, SYMBOLS, SIGNS & SIGNETS (Dover Publishing, 1950), p. 18.]

In Anthroposophy, Christ is the Sun God.

[See "Sun God".]

Anthroposophy exists within the wide

spectrum of occultism, wherein we find many strange faiths.

Some of these are somewhat consistent with Anthroposophy,

and some of them are not. 

"Figure 5 shows the triangle of triune Divinity in the midst of a cross. At the left is a small triangle containing the words The Secrets of Elohim, and at the right is another inscribed The Secrets of Nature. On the horizontal arms of the cross are the words The Tree of Life and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The plate explains the interblending of the spiritual and infernal powers in the creation of the universe. Figure 7 is called The Road to Paradise. It probably indicates the positions of the sun, moon, and planets at the moment of their genesis. Figure 8 is the earth before the flood, when it was watered by a mist or vapor. The words at the left are The Tree of Life; those at the right, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The diagram with the symbol of Mars is devoted to a consideration of the rainbow."

[Manly P. Hall, THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES, http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/sta/sta35.htm]

[Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1999.]

"In this fine book, Ernst Uehli explains what lives in these myths and why Rudolf Steiner felt that these tales were so important to the child and the [Waldorf] curriculum." 

— from the back cover


[Johannes Gehrts].

"The way in which healing processes are continuously working downwards in us calls forth a feeling of pleasure in the higher hierarchies [of spiritual beings]. It constitutes the joy of the higher hierarchies in the earthly world. They look down and continually feel illness arising out of what streams upward in man from the earthly, from what remains of the earthly attributes of the substances. And they see that the impulses of forces that work out of the earthly realm, forces that lie in the air that moves all around and so on, are continually active as processes of healing. This arouses satisfaction in the higher hierarchies." — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 172.


[R.R., 1993.]

"[P]icture to yourselves: There before me is no mere rainbow!
Beings are coming out of it and disappearing into it — here anxiety and fear, there courage ...
And now, here the rainbow receives a certain thickness and you will be able to imagine
how this gives rise to the element of Water. In this watery element spiritual Beings live,
Beings that are actually a kind of copy of the Beings of the Third Hierarchy."
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), I, "Research into the Life of the Spirit During the Middle Ages".

"Passing upwards beyond the Angels we have the Archangels, Archangeloi; then the rank of the 'Original Forces' whom we also call Archai; and then the 'Revelations' or Powers, Exusiai; the so-called Mights or Dynameis; the Dominions or Kyriotetes; the Thrones; the Cherubim, and the Seraphim. Then only, beyond the Seraphim, should we speak of what in the Christian sense, one calls the actual 'Godhead.' Genuine occultism, true spiritual science, cannot share the usual trivial notion that man can look up direct to the highest Divinity; we have the whole ladder of Beings whom we call Angels, Archangels, and so on, standing between. In a certain respect it is a sign of indolence to say — as we can often hear today — 'Well, why do we need the whole succession of beings? Man can quite well come to a direct relationship to the Godhead.' The student of spiritual science cannot share this indolence, for the beings are absolutely real." — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 7, GA 102.

For Steiner's view on abnormality, 

see "Abnormal".

Quotations there also bear on quack medicine,

human freedom, the central position of humans in the cosmos,

Jehovah, and the temperaments of nations.

For more about God and the Godhead,

see "All".

For the Anthroposophical view of Old Testament stories,

 see "Old Testament".

 To examine some of Rudolf Steiner's statements

about ordinary forms of thought or intellect,

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


A look back, plus

Mystical thinking, realistic thinking


Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools

A report by a mother who was drawn to a Waldorf school but left disillusioned

Talking it over

Had enough?

Describing the near-collapse of the Waldorf school I attended

Deprogramming myself after Waldorf

Who the heck am I?

Doom and deliverance

Short and sweet

Can you trust me?


[1] Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 108: facsimile of 1970 edition.

[2] Ibid., p. 110.

[3] Ibid., pp. 15-16.

[4] Ibid., p. 108.

[5] Ibid., p. 108.

[6] Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE -ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), p. 52.

[7] THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS., pp. 108-109.

An aside: During a seminar for adults held at my Waldorf school, a participant quoted Steiner as saying that American Indians had a gift for intuitive ideas [Sylvester M. Morey, AMERICAN INDIANS AND OUR WAY OF LIFE (New York: The Myrin Institute Inc. , 1961), p. 6]. This is consistent with Steiner’s statement that Indians remain/remained attached to the perspective of an earlier stage of evolution, “still able to sense something of” Atlantis and the “Great Spirit of the primeval past.” Anthroposophist Morey worked to ferret out Steiner’s meaning. As Morey expresses it in his booklet, the underlying difference between Indians and whites is that “The white man has been swept along in the tide of evolution....” [p. 18] whereas the “red man” remained stuck at a prior stage.

Here is an extended statement Steiner made about native Americans. Descended from people who could not evolve properly, "Red Indians" remain close to nature, and thus they have a sort of natural piety and natural clairvoyance that whites have generally lost. This is an advantage, in some ways, but it keeps Indians tied to the past. Native Americans will be left behind as the good, normal humans evolve upwards. Still, we can feel some sorrow and pity:

"European colonists had induced some Red Indians — in whom we have to see the descendants of Atlanteans who had failed to make headway and had then become retrograde — to relinquish their lands on condition that new hunting-grounds were allotted to them. But the promise had not been kept and the Indian Chief could not understand this. Hence he addressed the Europeans as follows: 'You pale-faces promised us that your Chief would give our brothers other lands in place of those you have taken from us. Your feet are now on our land and you are walking over the graves of our brothers. The White Man has not kept the promise he made to the Brown Man. You Pale-faces have your black instruments with all kinds of little magic signs' — he meant their books — 'from which you learn the will of your God. Yours must be a bad God if he does not teach his people to keep their word. The Brown-man's God is not like that; the Brown-man hears the thunder and sees the lightning and this language he can understand; his God speaks to him in this language. He hears the rustling of the leaves and trees in the woods, and in them also his God speaks to him. He hears the water rippling in the brook, and the Brown-man can understand that speech also. He knows when a storm is brewing. Everywhere he can hear his God speaking, and the lesson his God teaches is very different from what your magical black signs say to you.'

"This is really a very significant speech, for it contains a sort of confession of faith. The Atlantean [i.e., man living in Atlantis] did not raise himself to his God through concepts and ideas. He discerned something holy in nature as a keynote of the Divine ... When he touched a leaf, or saw a flash of lightning, he was aware that part of the Godhead was displayed before him; it was as if he were touching the garment of the Divine. Just as we make contact with some element in a man's soul when we shake hands with him, so the Atlantean, when he took hold of a form in nature, felt that he was touching the body of the Godhead. He lived in a religious feeling quite different from our own. The Atlantean, too, was still clairvoyant and was thus in direct communication with the world of spirits.

"But then the type of thinking associated with logic and mathematical calculation began to develop, and the more it did so, the more did clairvoyance fade away. People began to concern themselves more with what the senses could perceive externally, and so nature was increasingly divested of divinity. People acquired a new gift at the cost of an old one." — Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1986), lecture 11, GA 95. Note that for Steiner, the Godhead is a sort of abstraction. The Godhead sits above all other gods, but the universe is aswarm with gods, and our connection with the spirit realm chiefly comes through contact with these gods. Steiner’s vision was polytheistic.

[8] Ibid., p. 75. In Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Dornach: Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), Steiner speaks of races becoming “extinct” when they move away from their allotted places on earth. This happens because races tend to have deep spiritual bonds with their allotted places on the earth. “To a certain extent the etheric forces emanating from the soil permeate the human organism so that man becomes dependent upon the soil of a particular geographical area.” — MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, p. 74. Such doctrines are troublingly close to the Nazis’ belief in blood and soil.

[9] Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 82.

[10] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.


[12] Ibid., p. 64.

[13] “Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings....” Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650].


[15] Ibid., p. 15.

[16] Ibid., pp. 65 & 83.

[17] Ibid., p. 84.

The term "spirits of love" usually applies to the Seraphim. However, Steiner also applied it, sometimes, to the Spirits of Form: "We must therefore describe the Spirits of Form in their totality (because their particular mission is to harmonize the three former conditions) as the Spirits of Love." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE INDIVIDUAL FOLK-SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 5, GA 121.


[19] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 69-70.

[20] Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1994), p. 152.

[21]  Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1988), lecture 13, GA 173.

[22] See, e.g., Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 1996), pp. 61-66.


[24] Ibid., p. 17.

[25] Ibid., pp. 125-126.

[26] Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.


[28] Ibid., p. 132.

[29] Ibid., p. 132.

[30]  Charles Kovacs, NORSE MYTHOLOGY, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2009), pp. 7-9. 

[31] THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, pp. 134-135.

[32] Rudolf Steiner THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (SteinerBooks, 1979), pp. 207-209.


[34] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 46-47.

[35] Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (SteinerBooks, 2002), p. 204.

Hierarchies, ranks, layers.

[R.R., 2010.]