The Modern Path
Rudolf Steiner said there are three paths leading to the spirit, and of these three one stands out. It is “the path that is right for modern humanity: the Rosicrucian path.” 
The Rosicrucians are “a worldwide brotherhood claiming to possess esoteric wisdom handed down from ancient times. The name derives from the order’s symbol, a rose on a cross, which is similar to the family coat of arms of Martin Luther. Rosicrucian teachings are a combination of occultism and other religious beliefs and practices, including Hermeticism, Jewish mysticism, and Christian Gnosticism. The central feature of Rosicrucianism is the belief that its members possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times.” 
Rosicrucianism arose in Germany during the 17th Century. “[A] number of strange, not to say startling booklets were printed in Germany concerning a mysterious Brotherhood ‘of the Rosy Cross’, causing what is still often termed the Rosicrucian furore.” 
The name and the symbol for the Rosicrucians were reflected in the name of the group’s supposed founder, Christian Rosenkreutz (in German, “Rosen” means roses and “Kreutz” means cross). What a fabulous name! How fitting! Christian, roses, cross.
Steiner accepted Rosenkreutz as a real historical figure, a man who has walked the Earth:
“[A]t the end of the Graeco-Roman period, in the thirteenth century, humanity was for a short period cut off from any clairvoyant capacity. This is why a great conference of the wisest people [i.e., spiritual masters] was held at that time, the ‘College of the Twelve’. The first seven [embodied] the seven Atlantean evolutionary stages [i.e., phases of our evolution on Atlantis]. Four other wise masters embodied the first four sub-races of our epoch [i.e., branches from the "root race" of our period] ... The twelfth represented all that followed. Among these twelve was a boy, the thirteenth, whom they took into their midst; and all twelve poured out their wisdom upon him ... He lived only a short while under this mighty influence, but during this time was able, through what he had taken up from the others, to become their teacher ... Then he died and was reborn in the fourteenth century as Christian Rosenkreutz. He then lived for a hundred years, and since then has been the teacher not only of the twelve wise men, but of all humanity. He has the task of protecting humanity against the luciferic influence [i.e., the sway of Lucifer]”. 
Without quite meaning to, Steiner often created tests for us. Here’s one: If you can accept the story he spun about C. Rosenkreutz, you might want to become an Anthroposophist. But if the story strikes you as improbable — perhaps, indeed, ridiculous — you may have learned almost all you need to know about Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Waldorf education.
Pressing on: Although Steiner believed in the actual existence of Christian Rosenkreutz, historical scholarship has reached a different conclusion. Referring to the three “booklets” that caused the Rosicrucian furor, the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITTANICA says: “The Fama Fraternitas of the Meritorious Order of the Rosy Cross (1614), The Confession of the Rosicrucian Fraternity (1615), and The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz (1616) recount the travels of Christian Rosenkreuz, the putative founder of the group, who is now generally regarded as a fictional character rather than a real person.”  Steiner almost invariably accepted myth as truth while rejecting real knowledge such as the products of modern science and scholarship.
Contradicting himself, as was his habit, Steiner sometimes said that Rosicrucianism is not the only path appropriate for modern people. He said there are three paths altogether, and modern people — by which he meant Europeans — can choose between two of them. Here are the paths:
“1. The Eastern way, also called Yoga. Here, an initiated man living on the physical plane acts as the Guru of another, who entrusts himself to his Guru completely and in all details. This method will go best if during his occult development the pupil eliminates his own self entirely and hands it over to his Guru, who must even advise him on every action he may take. This absolute surrender of one's own self suits the Indian character; but there is no place for it in European culture.
“2. The Christian way. Here, in place of individual Gurus, there is one great Guru, Christ Jesus Himself, for everyone. The feeling of belonging to Christ Jesus, of being one with Him, can take the place of surrender to an individual Guru. But the pupil has first to be led to Christ by an earthly Guru, so that in a certain sense he still depends on a Guru on the physical plane.
“3. The Rosicrucian way, which leaves the pupil with the greatest possible independence. The Guru here is not a leader but an adviser; he gives directions for the necessary inner training. At the same time he takes good care that, parallel with the occult training, there is a definite development of thinking, without which no occult training can be carried through ... [O]ne activity — logical thinking — goes through all worlds. Logic is the same on all three planes [i.e., the physical plane, the soul plane, and the spirit plane]. Thus on the physical plane you can learn something which is valid also for the higher planes; and this is the method followed by Rosicrucian training ... Here, then, the Guru is only the friend and adviser of the pupil ... But he [the pupil] will of course still need a Guru....
“Among Europeans, the Christian way is best suited to those whose feelings are most strongly developed. Those who have more or less broken away from the Church and rely rather on science, but have been led by science into a doubting frame of mind, will do best with the Rosicrucian way.” 
One of the main differences between the paths, Steiner said, is the relationship between the seeker and his/her guru. But no matter which path you take, you need a reliable guru: A seeker “would find himself plunged into the stormy sea of astral [i.e., soul] experiences if he were left to fend for himself. For this reason he needs a guide who can tell him from the start how these things are related and how to find his bearings in the astral world. Hence the need to find a Guru on whom he can strictly rely.“ 
You may surprised to learn that you need a guru aside from Christ himself if you choose the Christian way. Can’t you forge your own personal relationship with Christ? No, Steiner said — because by Christianity he meant Gnostic Christianity, which violates the teachings of mainstream Christian denominations. We’ll return to this point, below. 
In theory, the Rosicrucian way emphasizes thinking, in particular logic. This is striking, since Steiner often disparaged thinking, intellect, and logic.  Indeed, the affirmation of logic Steiner advanced in this instance is largely illusory. Steiner taught that at best, logic can take us a short distance toward our cosmic goals. To get farther than logic can take us, we need “living thinking,” which is something quite different.  Steiner said that real thought, “living” thought, is implanted in our souls before we are born. We ourselves are miniature versions of the entire cosmos: We carry everything in the cosmos within ourselves.  Thus, real thinking means gazing inward, intuitively, grasping the truths that come built into our “etheric bodies” — immaterial bodies that Steiner said we all have. The great truths that are written in the “cosmic ether” — a sort of spiritual gas that permeates everything  — were written into our etheric essence before birth:
“The cosmic ether, which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth. There, in the cosmic ether, are contained all the living thoughts there are; and never are they received from the cosmic ether during the life between birth and death. No; the whole store of living thought that man holds within him, he receives at the moment when he comes down from the spiritual world — when, that is, he leaves his own living element, his own element of living thought, and descends and forms his ether body. Within this ether body, within that which is the building and organising force in man, are the living thoughts; there they are, there they still are.” 
The sort of “thinking” Steiner describes bears almost no relation to logic or normal reasoning; it is hardly thinking at all, in any normal sense. Your brain is not really a thinking tool. At most, the brain and nervous system work like a mirror, reflecting the living thoughts of the cosmos. The brain does not create these thoughts; just the opposite, the thoughts create the brain. The brain then “excretes” the nerves, in a process that nearly stops the good natural processes:
“[T]hese [living] thoughts which we take from the universal cosmic ether build up in us, first of all, our brain [i.e., they create the brain], and then in the wider sense, our whole nerves-and-senses system. For it is the living thinking that forms our brain ... [I]n the brain, a beginning is actually made in the direction of a stoppage of Nature processes; matter is continually being secreted and then falling away. The matter that has fallen away, the matter that has been excreted and become useless, is the nerves. And the nerves...become in consequence endowed with a faculty that resembles the faculty possessed by a mirror. They acquire the faculty of enabling the thoughts of the surrounding ether to be reflected in them ... This means that the thinking, and the forming of mental pictures, which belongs to the superficial life of soul is nothing else than the reflection of the thoughts that live in the cosmic ether.” 
True, deep “soul life” does not merely reflect the thoughts that are present in the ether. True, deep soul-thinking is the internal, intuitive experiencing of living thoughts. It is the heartfelt inhabiting of living thoughts, approaching the living thoughts from the inside. We have a superficial soul life and a deep soul life. Brain-reflected living thoughts are part of our superficial soul life; deeply experienced living thoughts, thoughts that we live, are part of our profound soul life.
“This soul life that manifests in thinking, feeling and willing is...no more than a reflection, it is really just like a reflection in a mirror. It is all obliterated when we fall asleep. The really permanent soul-life is behind; it makes its descent and passes through repeated earth-lives [i.e., multiple incarnation on Earth].” 
Our permanent soul life arises from, and returns to, the Great Beyond. We visit the Beyond when we sleep, and we live in it wholly after we die. Thereafter, we will make additional descents into physical existence, being reborn over and over in the process of evolutionary reincarnation. If we are good, we will reincarnate at higher and higher stages; if we are bad, we will decline through lower and lower stages.
All of this may or may not sound right to you. It is, in any case, what Steiner said (without, I can’t help noting — this is my danged brain trying to “think” again — giving us the slightest evidence to support his statements).
Let’s dig into the nitty gritty of Rosicrucian wisdom, as conveyed by R. Steiner. We should start with some history:
“In the year 1459, a lofty, spiritual Individuality, incarnate in the human personality who bears in the world the name of Christian Rosenkreuz, appeared as the teacher, to begin with of a small circle of initiated pupils ... The exalted Individuality who lived on the physical plane in the personality of Christian Rosenkreuz worked as leader and teacher of the Rosicrucian stream again and again in the same body, as occultism puts it [i.e., he was reincarnated and continued his work as teacher in the Rosicrucian movement] ... Until far into the eighteenth century, the wisdom of which we are here speaking was preserved within a strictly secret Brotherhood, bound by inviolate rules which separated its members from the exoteric [open; opposite of esoteric] world ... In the course of the centuries many people have endeavoured, in one way or another, to discover the Rosicrucian wisdom, but they did not succeed. Leibnitz tried in vain....” 
Some people have penetrated Rosicrucian secrets to some extent, Steiner said. Among these are Lessing, Goethe, and (surprise) Steiner himself, who penetrated quite deeply. One essential Rosicrucian secret, according to Steiner, concerns the human constitution. We have physical bodies, obviously, but above these we have three nonphysical bodies, and above these were have still higher “members” (manas, buddhi, and atma).  Rosicrucian teachings on such matters are intricate and logical, according to Steiner, although the logic can be tortured. For example, we are made up of seven parts, ranging from the physical body to atma. But Rosicrucians need to see this as nine parts, because of the mystic importance of the number three (which, multiplied by itself, is nine), so the seven become nine, or vice versa: “[T]he Rosicrucian method speaks of three times three members = nine, which is reduced to seven. We must, however, recognise the nine within the seven; otherwise we shall reach only a theoretical conception.” 
Our physical body is created by the nonphysical body that is closest to us, the etheric body, which is essentially a constellation of life forces. The etheric body, in turn, is created by our astral body, which is essentially a constellation of spiritual forces. “[T]he astral body is the builder of the etheric and physical bodies. Just as the physical body with all its organs has hardened out of the etheric body, so everything that streams and is active in the etheric body has been born out of the astral body. Out of what is the astral body itself born? It is born out of the universal astral organism which weaves through the whole of the cosmos.” 
You might start to notice that Rosicrucian wisdom, as described by Steiner, is basically indistinguishable from Anthroposophy and/or Theosophy. This is easily explained. Steiner said he gained his spiritual knowledge through the use of “exact clairvoyance.” What he mainly meant was that his views are right, they are “exact,” while all other views are wrong to one degree or another unless they exactly conform to his own views. Thus, to the extent that Rosicrucianism is correct, it offers the same wisdom that Steiner offered. 
Here is a quick digest of other Rosicrucian teachings, as formulated by Steiner. He laid out this information in a series of lectures delivered in May and June of 1907, while he was a Theosophist. His version of Theosophy differed markedly from that of other leading Theosophists; as early as 1902, he began calling his version “Anthroposophy.” In 1913, he broke from Theosophy and established Anthroposophy as a separate movement. True Rosicrucianism, according to Steiner, includes the following:
◊ There is an elemental world below man, and a spiritual realm (or several such realms) above us. We go to the latter during sleep and after death. (Lecture on May 26, 1907)
◊ After we die, we prepare for our next earthly incarnation — we take in wisdom and prepare for our next lives in the physical realm. (Lecture on May 28, 1907)
◊ Our lives on Earth and elsewhere are heavily influences by karma, the destiny we create for ourselves. We should work to improve not only our own karmas but the shared karma of all humanity. (Lecture on May 29)
◊ Destiny, karma — Steiner went on and on about this. (Lectures on May 30 and 31)
◊ During the long process of reincarnation, humanity gradually evolves from a very lowly condition to a godlike state. This evolution began on or during Old Saturn and will continue to and beyond Future Vulcan. (Lectures on June 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) 
All in all, the Rosicrucian secrets, according to Steiner, turn out to be the same fantasy that Steiner always pushed. Of course, Rosicrucianism does indeed lie behind Anthroposophy, if only to a minor extent. Steiner patched together his doctrines using bits and pieces he scavenged from multiple sources. But the resulting crazy quilt is distinctly his own: He trimmed each piece to suit his vision, discarding the rest as products of inexact clairvoyance. Among the distinctive characteristics of "Rosicrucian” thought, Steiner-style, is — unfortunately — Steiner's racism. We create our own karma, destining ourselves to rise or fall in our future lives, which means, in part, rising and falling through a racial hierarchy. People who think badly (i.e., materialistically) create evil races, which become the repository of evil souls. (Because the following quotation is couched in such obtuse language, I’ll interject frequent translations. As always, check to see if you agree with my explanations of Steiner’s words.)
“What humanity thinks today, that will it be in the future [i.e., we will become what we think]. A humanity that thinks materialistically will produce frightful beings in the future, and a humanity that thinks spiritual thoughts, so works upon and transforms the future organism that beautiful human bodies will proceed from it [i.e., evil thoughts create evil beings, which we may become; but good thinking creates good bodies, which we may inhabit] ... We have two streams today, a great materialistic one which fills the earth, and the small spiritual stream which is restricted to but few human beings [i.e., most people think materialistically; only a few think correctly (by inference, the good humans are mainly Steiner and his adherents)]. We should distinguish between soul-evolution and race-evolution. Do not think that if races pass over to a grotesque form that the soul too does the same [i.e., a race may descend and become horrible, but an individual soul may rise above the race’s general fate]. All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations, and what is done of a spiritual nature causes the bringing forth of a good race [i.e., materialistic thinking creates evil races; spiritual thinking creates a good race]. Just as mankind has brought forth that which has retrogressed in the animals, plants and minerals [i.e., these evolved downward from us], so will a portion split off and represent the evil part of humanity [i.e., evil humans will be separated from good humans]. And in the body which meanwhile will have grown soft the inner badness of the soul will express itself externally [i.e., the soft or plastic human body will reveal the evil residing within the members of the evil race]. Just as older conditions which have degenerated to the ape species seem grotesque to us today, so do materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, and will people the earth as evil races [i.e., apes descended from us; evil races descend likewise; materialistic races are grotesque "at the standpoint of evil"; they will populate the Earth as evil races]. It will lie entirely with humanity as to whether a soul will remain in the bad race or will ascend by spiritual culture to a good race.” 
The Rosicrucian “path” emphasizes thinking and knowledge — as defined in occult ways. There are seven stages along the way. They intersect with some elements of the “Christian” path, as described by Steiner.
“[P]assing through states of humility and deep devotion represents the nature of the Christian initiation, and he who earnestly goes through it experiences his resurrection in the spiritual worlds. Today it is not possible for all to undertake this path, and so the existence of another method leading to the higher worlds has become a necessity. That is the Rosicrucian method ... It has seven stages, though not consecutive, it is a question of the pupil's own individuality [i.e., different people may reach the stages differently]. The teacher [i.e., guru] prescribes what seems to him adapted to his pupil, and much else forms a part that cannot be made public.
“The seven stages are the following:
“2. Imaginative knowledge.
“3. Inspired knowledge, or reading the Occult Script.
“4. Preparation of the Philosopher's Stone.
“5. Correspondence between Macrocosm and Microcosm.
“6. Living into the Macrocosm.
“7. Divine Bliss.” 
Let’s review these seven stages briefly. #1: Studying involves learning to think properly. An especially good way to do this, according to Rudolf Steiner, is to read a couple of books by that eminent expert, Rudolf Steiner: “One who will press forward into the higher worlds must accustom himself to the kind of thinking in which one thought proceeds from another. A thinking of this nature is developed in my PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY and TRUTH AND SCIENCE.”  Obviously, study and thought should be important components in almost any spiritual quest. Bear in mind, however, that if you strictly rely on a guru — even one who is more a friend than a leader — your journey will be largely predetermined.  The guru will help identify the right thoughts for you, the prepackaged “living thoughts” you should heed. Thus, your independence will be strictly circumscribed, and the thinking you accept will come from others, not yourself.
#2: Imaginative Knowledge. Among the thoughts you will need to accept is this: Imagination is an important source of spiritual knowledge. “Imaginative knowledge” goes beyond thought; it is information gained through use of the imagination, that is, a form of clairvoyance. A skeptic would call this fantasizing, but that’s where s/he would be wrong. “The pupil must educate himself to see in each single flower in the meadow he crosses, the outer expression of a living being ... Some flowers seem to be tears, others are the joyful expression of the earth's Spirit ... The teacher would say: Behold the flower chalice which receives the ray of the sun, the sun calls forth the pure productive forces which slumber in the plant and hence the sun's ray was called the ‘holy lance of love’ ... Imaginative knowledge works down on the etheric body and thence on to the blood ... The best educator is imaginative knowledge, if man is only strong and devoted enough for it to be able to work on him.”  Of course, the right form of imaginative knowledge consists of ideas that confirm the “truths” the guru wants you to comprehend and embrace. You imagination or clairvoyance must be, ultimately, “exact” (meaning that it conforms to Steiner’s doctrines).
#3: The “Occult Script” is sort of a movie you make in your head by splicing together the imaginative pictures you have created. Of course, Steiner didn’t say it quite this way; instead, he said: “The third stage is Reading in the Occult Script, that is, not only seeing isolated pictures but letting the relationship of these pictures work upon one. This becomes what is called occult script. One begins to coordinate the lines of force which stream creatively through the world forming them into definite figures and colour-forms through the imagination. One learns to discover an inner connection which is expressed in these figures and this acts as spiritual tone, as the sphere-harmony, for the figures are founded on true cosmic proportions. Our script is a last decadent relic of this old occult writing....”  The movie you create should be essentially indistinguishable from the true super-worldly production embodied in the Akashic Record, a celestial storehouse of wisdom accessible only through clairvoyance. [See "Akasha".]
#4: The “Philosopher’s Stone” was originally the magical substance sought by alchemists for changing base metals into gold. The Rosicrucian version of this, according to Steiner, is a process of changing yourself so that you no longer have to depend on plants to create oxygen for you to breathe. Through a special Rosicrucian procedure, you develop a new organ that converts carbon into oxygen. “What is today done by the plant externally, will later on, through a future organ which the pupil is already developing through his training, be effected in man himself ... [H]e will have become akin to the plant, whereas now he is of a mineral nature ... [H]ence his body will later on be more plant-like, then he can turn towards the holy love lance [Steiner’s picturesque way of referring to sunlight] ... This is the Alchemy which leads man to build up his own body as does the plant today. One calls this the preparation of the 'Philosopher's Stone' and carbon is its outer symbol ... The teaching [on how to perform this alchemy] can only be given from teacher to pupil, it is wrapped in deep secrecy, and only after he is completely purified and made ready can the pupil receive this mystery. If it were to be made public today, then men in their egoism would gratify their lowest needs through the misuse of this highest mystery.”  So, you see, Steiner knew how to preserve some secrets even while revealing others.
#5: Concerning the “Macrocosm”: Steiner taught that Rosicrucians taught that man is a microcosm, a miniature copy of the entire universe. Everything outside yourself also exists inside yourself. This is how living thoughts come to be inside you: Everything that you are came from the cosmos, the macrocosm. “The human body is, as it were, pieced together from what was spread outside it, each separate member of your physical body, etheric body and astral body was somewhere outside in the universe. This is the macrocosm in the microcosm. Your very soul was outside in the Godhead. Whatever is within us corresponds to something which is outside, and we must learn to know the true correspondences in ourselves.” 
#6 & #7: Once you understand the correspondences between yourself and the cosmos, you can find everything within yourself, and you can attain communion with the cosmos, which will lead you to divine bliss. But realize that when you gaze inwardly, you are not focusing on yourself: You are actually gazing outward: “[Y]ou learn about the macrocosm through sinking yourself into your own body. This is no mere brooding within yourself! You should not say: God is within and I will seek Him. You would only find the puny human being whom you yourself magnify into God! ... The universe is full of beautiful and marvelous things, one must be absorbed in these ... [W]e learn to read the book [that is the] microcosm and the book [that is the] macrocosm from beginning to end ... [I]t fuses the human being with the whole universe ... If a man has reached this point, he voluntarily performs all his deeds in accordance with the will of the whole cosmos and this is what is known as Divine Bliss.” 
Since I so rarely credit Steiner with saying anything sensible, perhaps I should say at this point that I find the notion of fusing with the cosmos and attaining divine bliss quite appealing. And, indeed, I agree with Steiner that we are made of stuff coming from out of the cosmos; we are thus united with it, in a sense. As Carl Sagan said, we are star stuff, made of elements forged in the heart of stars.  I’ll go a step further: I agree that we must not sink into ourselves, in self-absorption. We should seek knowledge and connections that transcend our puny egos. So, in my view, what Steiner has said here is attractive and it even contains seeds of truth. Unfortunately, it also contains bushels of fantasy: performing alchemy on ourselves, reading occult script, relying on imagination and/or clairvoyance, rising and falling through higher and lower racial forms... Steiner has painted a picture that is, in part, quite pretty; but it is also, in part, quite ugly. Steiner’s picture corresponds, more or less, to pictures painted by some other mystics. But Steiner has given us no reason to think that his picture is true, and in fact he has given us numerous reasons to think it is false.
The Rosicrucian path, as described by Steiner, includes various meditations. Here’s one:
“I raise my eyes
To the black wooden Cross
And surrender myself with my soul
Into the power of the World Spirit;
As the black Cross gives itself
Wholly to the light.” 
[See "Gnosis"] There is also a clear emphasis on submission (“I...surrender myself”), which runs contrary to Steiner’s claim that Rosicrucianism stresses independence. Following the Rosicrucian path means accepting particular religious beliefs, specifically (according to Steiner) the doctrines propounded by Steiner — although Steiner spoke in terms of science, knowledge, and independence, rather than religion and belief.
The dark cross is central to the “Rosicrucian” meditations, as laid out by Steiner.
“Imagine the Cross arising from burning wood. Then, on the Cross, the seven reddish roses, separate from it, and gradually becoming illuminated.
First Rose, lighting up: the left half of the head
May your warmth warm through me.
Second Rose, lighting up: the right half of the head
May your light shine through me.
Third Rose, lighting up: left hand
May your awakeness stream through me.
Fourth Rose, lighting up: right hand
May your peace pour through me.
Fifth Rose, lighting up: left foot
May your ray move powerfully through me.
Sixth Rose, lighting up: right foot
May your raising up penetrate me.
Rose, lighting up: above
I am in your sphere.” 
Aside from being Christ’s cross, what does the rosy cross signify? And what are the seven roses?
“The Rosicrucians are a brotherhood that has fostered a genuinely spiritual Christianity within the spiritual life of Europe ever since the 14th Century. This Rosicrucian Society which, ignoring all outer historical forms, has endeavored to bring to light the deepest truths of Christianity, always called its members 'Christians of St. John.' If we come to understand this term the whole spirit and trend of the following lectures will be — if not mentally comprehended, at least imaginatively grasped.
"As you know, the Gospel of St. John — that mighty document of the human race — begins with the words:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and a God was the Word.
"The same was in the beginning with God.” 
The Word is Christ; or, more properly, Christ is the living embodiment of God’s Word. And each of us has within us (remember the living thoughts) a spiritual essence that is attuned to the Christ essence: “And that is precisely what the Johannine Christians of the Rosicrucian Society deemed of greatest import and significance: that there is in every human soul something directly related to the events in Palestine as brought about through Christ Jesus.”  Steiner called this responsive essence within us the “ego” or the “I.” One's “higher ego” is the portion of the "I" that resides in the spirit realm. The "higher ego" of mankind as a whole is humanity’s shared spirit-dwelling “I.” “Those who called themselves the Johannine Christians and whose symbol was the Rose Cross held that precisely what was reborn for mankind as the secret of its higher ego has been preserved — preserved by the close community which grew out of Rosicrucianism. This continuity is symbolically indicated by that sacred vessel from which Christ Jesus ate and drank with His disciples, and in which Joseph of Arimathia caught the blood that flowed from the wound — the Holy Grail which, as the story is told, was brought to Europe by Angels. A temple was built to contain this vessel, and the Rosicrucians became the guardians of what it contained, namely, the essence of the reborn God.” 
The myth of the Holy Grail — such as was undertaken by King Arthur and his knights — is the search for God’s living Word, the knowledge of God’s essence. This is the gnostic search, the quest for mysterious divine knowledge. “In the beginning was the mystery of the higher ego; it was preserved in the Grail; with the Grail it has remained linked. And in the Grail lives the ego united with the eternal and immortal, just as the lower ego [i.e., the part of the "I" that descends to Earth] is bound to the ephemeral and mortal. He who knows the secret of the Holy Grail knows that from the wood of the Cross there springs ever new life, the immortal ego, symbolized by the roses on the black wood of the cross.”  We see Steiner, here, bending Bible texts to his own vision. The Bible, the Word of God Steiner refers to, says “In the beginning was the Word” and “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible does not say “In the beginning was the mystery of the higher ego.” Do Steiner’s words improve on the Bible, telling us more than the Bible does? He certainly tells us something different; whether this is an improvement may be a matter of opinion.
Rosicrucianism, the quest for the Grail, gnosticism, Anthroposophy — these all become one in Steiner’s teachings. The roses on the cross may be seen as drops of Christ’s blood, or divine beauty, or the efflorescence of mystery knowledge — they are all these, since all these are one and the same, according to Steiner. The number seven always has a deep, occult significance, Steiner said: We evolve through seven major evolutionary stages, for instance. “Seven is the number of perfection. Observation of man himself will make this clear.” 
The most important historical occurrence was the Christ Event, Steiner taught. Everything that happened on Earth before the Christ Event — the incarnation and ministry of Christ in the body of Jesus — led up to it and then became obsolete. This is why the Yoga path is not appropriate for civilized, high-race humans today; it embodies obsolete thinking. This is also why the two paths truly fitted to civilized, high-race humans today are twin aspects of the holy, Christian, gnostic quest: “That which dwelt as the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth was the higher divine ego of all humanity, of the reborn God Who, in Adam, as His image, became earthly [i.e., Adam and all humans share the image of Christ, the God who entered a human body; Christ entered into Adam, as it were]. This reborn human ego was perpetuated as a holy secret, was preserved under the symbol of the Rose Cross, and is now proclaimed as the secret of the Holy Grail, as the Rose Cross.” 
Perhaps the best way to summarize what we have learned is to quote one of Steiner’s leading spokesmen today, Christopher Bamford, who is the editor-in-chief of SteinerBooks.  “Rudolf Steiner spoke of three ways: what he called the way of ‘yoga’; the ‘Christian’ or ‘Christian-Gnostic’ way; and the ‘Rosicrucian’ way. The three ways are not mutually exclusive but overlap in many ways. They may be said to be distinguishable, but not necessarily divisible ... The yoga way (as interpreted by Steiner) begins with the embodied being and uses the breath and different parts of the body...in meditation. The Christian path works more with the interaction of soul and spirit...and tries to hold love as its beginning and end. ‘Thinking’ (in the sense of ‘living thinking’) lies at the heart of the Rosicrucian practice. Steiner himself practiced and taught all three ways.” 
There’s a built-in contradiction for Steiner to have followed all three ways. The Yoga way is obsolete, he said. But perhaps his immense soul transcended past and present and thus found wisdom in all sorts of traditions and thinking. Anything is possible, I suppose.
— Roger Rawlings
For a review of some related topics,
please see "Manichaeism".
Although he enumerated three paths, Steiner essentially taught that we have only one correct option:
It is to follow the Sun God, Christ, who is our "Prototype" — meaning we must imitate him.
"In Christ Jesus we have the great prototype of everything that the human soul is destined to bring forth out of itself."
— Rudolf Steiner, ISIS AND MADONNA (Mercury Press, 1987), a lecture, GA 57.
And the correct understanding of Christ comes from one source:
"spiritual science," i.e., Anthroposophy.
“As we have often emphasized, this Christ impulse can only be fully understood through what spiritual science gives us.
It is only when a growing number of people can more and more grasp, think, and feel what actually entered our earthly evolution
in the fourth post-Atlantean period that understanding for that event [i.e., Christ’s earthly mission] will increase.“
— Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 86.
[Ernst Lehner, SYMBOLS, SIGNS & SIGNETS (Dover Publishing, 1950), p. 116.]
“Yet a step higher is when we consciously find ourselves in the higher spheres. We feel ourselves there not as an 'I' but entirely selfless. Then the following temptation approaches: the devil shows us the world which then reveals a certain splendor. The devil says, 'Behold, there lies the world. It is to be yours, if you attach yourself to me.' ... In order to withstand the temptation of the devil, one should meditate on the rose cross." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 394-395. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 395, where the cross is shown solid black.]
Here is the same cross as shown on the cover of Steiner's THE SUBMERGED CONTINENTS OF ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA (Rajput Press, 1911):
"The original symbol of the Rosicrucian Fraternity was a hieroglyphic rose crucified upon a cross. The cross was often raised upon a three-stepped Calvary. Occasionally the symbol of a cross rising from a rose was used in connection with their activities. The Rosicrucian rose was drawn upon the Round Table of King Arthur, and is the central motif for the links forming the chain from which the 'Great George' is suspended among the jewels of The Order of the Garter. Hargrave Jennings suspects this Order of having some connection with the Rosicrucians." — Manly P. Hall, THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES (H. S. Crocker Co. 1928), "The Fraternity of the Rose Cross".
"The rose is a yonic symbol associated with generation, fecundity, and purity. The fact that flowers blossom by unfolding has caused them to be chosen as symbolic of spiritual unfoldment. The red color of the rose refers to the blood of Christ, and the golden heart concealed within the midst of the flower corresponds to the spiritual gold concealed within the human nature. The number of its petals being ten is also a subtle reminder of the perfect Pythagorean number. The rose symbolizes the heart, and the heart has always been accepted by Christians as emblematic of the virtues of love and compassion, as well as of the nature of Christ--the personification of these virtues. The rose as a religious emblem is of great antiquity. It was accepted by the Greeks as the symbol of the sunrise, or of the coming of dawn. In his Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, Apuleius, turned into a donkey because of his foolishness, regained his human shape by eating a sacred rose given to him by the Egyptian priests.
"The presence of a hieroglyphic rose upon the escutcheon of Martin Luther has been the basis of much speculation as to whether any connection existed between his Reformation and the secret activities of the Rose Cross." — Ibid. Hall's work is distinct from Steiner's. Here at Waldorf Watch, I include some images and passages from non-Anthroposophical sources in order to place Steiner's teachings in the context of broader esoteric traditions.]
The rose cross of Christian mysticism stems from
the similar cross of Jewish mystic (Qabalistic) tradition:
[J. C. Cooper, AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS
(Thames and Hudson, 1978), p. 143.]
The meaning of the Qabalist rose cross is, of course,
different from that of the Rosicrucian cross.
The Qabalistic roses grow on the Tree of Life,
and their petals represent the infinite variety of creation.
Here are more occult symbols than you can shake a stick at.
The whole shebang. The works. The big ball of wax.
[J. C. Cooper, AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS
(Thames and Hudson, 1978), frontispiece.]
Steiner's doctrines exist within the universe of occult beliefs,
but they are distinctive and should not be confused with other forms of occultism.
Primeval man, naturally attuned to the cosmos,
and fallen man, contaminated.
Many of Steiner's teachings harken back to ancient,
deep human longings. Anthroposophy is, in a sense,
an elaborate effort to rationalize ancient myths and fantasies.
King Arthur's Round Table.
Note the Rosicrucian rose at its center.
[Hargrave Jennings, THE ROSICRUCIANS, THEIR RITES AND MYSTERIES
(G. Routledge & Sons, Lmt., 1921).]
Friends have said this photo seems mystical,
but there is nothing mystical in it — no intimations of spirit.
Indeed, Anthroposophists might consider this an Ahrimanic image:
It depicts remnants of jet contrails mingling with clouds, near sunset in winter.
Jets: machines, technology, Ahriman.
Actually, it's just a photo, of the real sky, marked by nature and by man.
The truth can be disappointing, sometimes, but it has one inestimable advantage: It is the truth.
[R. R., 2000.]
Here are three more statements by Steiner, bearing on the subjects we have been considering. I won’t comment on them; I’ll just invite you to consider them in whatever light you choose.
“Buddha transferred his work to Mars in the year 1604 ... Christian Rosenkreutz had known what the work of Buddha on Mars would signify for the whole Cosmos, what his teachings of Nirvana, of liberation from the Earth would signify on Mars. The teaching of Nirvana was unsuited to a form of culture directed primarily to practical life. Buddha's pupil, Francis of Assisi, was an example of the fact that this teaching produces in its adepts complete remoteness from the world and its affairs ... Christian Rosenkreutz realised that for a certain purification needed on Mars, the teachings of Buddha were pre-eminently suitable ... The souls on Mars were warlike, torn with strife. Thus Buddha performed a deed of sacrifice ... He was as it were the lamb offered up in sacrifice on Mars and to accept this environment of strife was for him a kind of crucifixion. Buddha performed this deed on Mars in the service of Christian Rosenkreutz.” 
“I wrote an article on The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz and I drew attention to the fact that it was written down by a boy of seventeen or eighteen. The boy himself understood not a word of it. We have external proof of that. He wrote down this Chymical Wedding from beginning to end. The last page is not extant, but he wrote down the whole of the Chymical Wedding, without understanding a word of it. If he had understood it, he would have been bound to retain the understanding in later years. The boy, however, became a pastor, a good, honest pastor of the Württemberg-Swabian type, who wrote exhortations and theological treatises which are distinctly below the average, and very far indeed from having anything to do with the content of the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. Life itself proves to us that it was not the Swabian pastor-to-be who wrote this Chymical Wedding out of his own soul. It is an inspired writing throughout.” 
“Many ascetic nuns celebrated mystical marriages. I will not enter into the nature of these inner mystic unions today; but something took place in their inner being which could afterwards only be expressed in words. In a sense it was something that subsisted in the ideas, feelings and also the words in which these were clothed. In contrast to this, Valentine Andrea, as the result of certain conceptions and Spiritual connections, wrote his Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz. This chymical — or, as we should say today, chemical — marriage is also a human experience, but when you go into the matter you find that this does not only apply to a soul-experience but to something not merely expressed in words, but which grips the whole man; it is not merely put into the world as a soul experience, for it was a real occurrence, an event of nature, in which a man accomplishes something like a natural process. Valentine Andrea in The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz, meant to express something that was more permeated with reality than the merely mystical marriage of Mechthild of Magdeburg, who was a mystic. The mystical marriage of the nuns only accomplished something for the subjective nature of man; by the chymical marriage a man gave himself to the world. Through this, something was accomplished for the whole world; just as something is accomplished for the whole world by the processes of nature. This is again to be taken in a truly Christian sense. Those who thought more real thoughts, longed for concepts through which they could better lay hold of reality, even if only in the one-sided way of the old alchemists — concepts through which they could better grasp reality, ideas in fact which were really connected with reality. The age of materialism has at present thrown a veil over such concepts; and those who today believe they think aright about reality are living in greater illusion than these despised men at the time of the old alchemists, who strove for concepts which should help them to master it.” 
This may be the one drawing I still possess that I made
while a Waldorf student. Or perhaps I drew this soon after graduating.
[R.R. ~ 1963?]
The pentagram is the occult symbol for man
(the microcosm: embodying all of the cosmos).
[Ernst Lehner, SYMBOLS, SIGNS & SIGNETS (Dover Publishing, 1950), p. 77.]
The inverted pentagram is the occult symbol
for black magic.
The Holy Grail is often depicted as a goblet like this.
[HARTER'S PICTURE ARCHIVE
(Dover Publications, 1978].
For Steiner's teachings about the Holy Grail,
please use this link: "Grail".
Christ, as the prototypical innocent child,
vaguely emerging from the heart of a mystic rose.
[Based on image in John Fletcher's ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER
(Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 219. R.R. sketch, 2010.]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000.]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001.]
The advice may seem strange, coming from me,
but I urge you to buy and study several books of Rudolf Steiner's teachings.
Perhaps you will be won over — perhaps you will see the great wisdom
Steiner offered the world. Or perhaps you will reach
a somehwat different conclusion.
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 9. WALDORF AND RELIGION ◊◊◊
If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here,
you might begin by consulting the following resources:
THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY
THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
WALDORF WATCH INDEX
WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.
 Rudolf Steiner, MACROCOSM AND MICROCOSM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 94.
 "Rosicrucian." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 07 Sep. 2009.
 Andrew J. Welburn, introduction to Rudolf Steiner's CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 1.
 Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 306-307.
Some Anthroposophists contend that Steiner was initiated by Christian Rosenkreutz. “Rudolf Steiner himself speaks of two initiatory encounters ... The first is with the herb gatherer Felix Koguzki and the other with the Master ‘M.,’ traditionally taken to be Christian Rosenkreutz.” — Chrisopher Bamford, afterword to Rudolf Steiner's THE SECRET STREAM: CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ AND ROSICRUCIANISM (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 248. Others are less sure of M's identity, although links to Rosicrucianism are suspected. “Steiner informed the French occultist Edouard Schuré that at about this time in his life [before turning 21] he had been ‘initiated’ by the ‘M.’ Anthroposophists say they do not know who ‘M’ was ... The impersonality and the letter are reminiscent of the Tibetan ‘Masters’ ... ‘M’ — if he was of flesh and blood — may have followed a more Western path, particularly a revived Rosicrucianism ... The term ‘M’ is also reminiscent of the mythical ‘Book of M’ of Christian Rosenkreutz over two centuries later, and indeed, Steiner saw Anthroposophy as a spiritually complete Rosicrucianism.” — Geoffrey Ahern, SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), pp. 28-29.
Note that “Rosenkreutz” is sometimes spelled without the “t”: Rosenkreuz.
 Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 12, GA 95.
 An alternate name for the “Christian” path is the “Christian-Gnostic” path. Steiner referred to “the occult form of Christian-Gnostic wisdom.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 10. For more on Gnosticism, please see “Gnosis”.
 See “Steiner’s Illogic”.
Contradicting the affirmation of logic we find here, Steiner more typically derided logical use of the brain. For instance, “Logic does not apply when we come into a sphere that can no longer be comprehended by physical means. We finally have to realize that our physical logic works neither in the realm of philosophy nor anywhere else where we concern ourselves with other than physical forms of existence." — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 84.
 There is a logical contradiction between advocating logic and advocating “living thought.” The latter is not a process of rational thinking but the recovery of concepts implanted in our souls before birth. We do not think any “living thought” on our own; we do not reach a “living thought” through logic. I develop this point later in the essay.
 See “The Center”.
 In 19th century physics, a universal ether was posited: It was thought to be the medium through which light is propagated. [See "ether", ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.] The concept was later discarded, but Steiner held on to his own spiritualistic version of the theory.
 Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 317.
For more on the incarnation of the etheric body, see "Incarnation."
 CURATIVE EDUCATION, lecture 2.
"[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE: Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.
 CURATIVE EDUCATION, lecture 1.
 Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 2.
Note: This is essentially a later edition of THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN.
 See “What We Are”.
 ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM, p. 23.
 Ibid., p. 25.
 What are the real teachings of Rosicrucianism, as opposed to Steiner’s Theosophical/Anthroposophical take? It’s a little hard to say, since the teachings are secret, and there have been various Rosicrucian orders. In general, Rosicrucian doctrines correspond in some ways to Steiner’s teachings on the human constitution, but not to his teachings on evolution through planetary stages (which Steiner derived mainly from Theosophy). Rosicrucians place emphasis on spiritual development, which for them usually requires a process or reincarnation; in Steiner's teachings, reincarnation is an absolute reality and requirement. Interest in alchemy has been high among Rosicrucians; Steiner's alchemical teachings are, if anything, more esoteric but otherwise similar. Holistic medicine and natural healing constitute another area of common interest. Most fundamentally, Steiner shared the Rosicrucian interest in Gnostic Christianity. Explications of Rosicrucianism you might consult are ROSICRUCIAN MANUAL, by H. Spencer Lewis, THE TRUE AND INVISIBLE ROSICRUCIAN ORDER, by Paul Foster Case, WISDOM OF THE MYSTIC MASTERS, by Joseph Weed, and THE ROSICRUCIANS, by Christopher McIntosh. Perhaps the most reliable and learned is THE ROSICRUCIAN ENLIGHTENMENT, by Frances A. Yates.
For an explication of planetary stages, see "The Planets".
 ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM, p. 150.
 THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN, p. 159.
The same text, in slightly different wording, can be found in ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM, pp. 159-160.
 THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN, p. 161.
 Remember that Steiner said the seeker must “find a Guru on whom he can strictly rely.“ [AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE.]
 THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN, pp. 161-163. In ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM, this information appears on pp. 162-163.
 THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN, p. 163.
 Ibid., pp. 164-165.
 Ibid., p. 165.
The Godhead may be considered the highest God, living apart, or it may be considered the creative force that is extended throughout Creation. The Godhead can be considered the origin as God is the goal of evolution. See "All".
 Ibid., pp. 165- 166.
While in this passage Steiner refers to God, he more often referred to multiple gods and denied that monotheism presents an accurate view of reality. “Monotheism or monism can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, complete view of the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 115.
 “The fate of individual human beings may not now be connected in a deep way with the rest of the universe, but the matter out of which each of us is made is intimately tied to the processes that occurred immense intervals of time and enormous distances in space away from us. Our Sun is a second- or third-generation star. All of the rocky and metallic materials we stand on, the iron in our blood, the calcium in our teeth, the carbon in our genes were produced billions of years ago in the interiors of a red giant star. We are made of star-stuff.” — Carl Sagan, CARL SAGAN'S COSMIC CONNECTION (Cambridge University Press, 2000), p. 190.
 Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), p. 197.
 Ibid., pp. 195-196.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1948), lecture 1, GA 112.
 Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), p. 43.
 THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN, lecture 1.
Steiner’s convoluted language and thought may result from the profundity of the spiritual truths he intimated. Or not.
 I am writing these words on Sept. 8, 2009.
 START NOW!, p. 188.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950), lecture 7, GA 130.
 Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 12, GA 235.
 Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC AND HUMAN METAMORPHOSES (Spiritual Research Editions, 1989), lecture 4, GA 175 .