Rudolf Steiner did not conduct seances, although he claimed to be able to contact the dead. [See "Steiner and the Warlord".] Steiner disparaged some self-proclaimed mediums, but he indicated that other mediums possess true clairvoyant powers. He indicated, for instance, that genuine mediums can read the Akashic Chronicle — a celestial storehouse of knowledge hidden from ordinary vision. [See "Akasha".]
Steiner's followers are often quite prepared to believe in mediums and their professed visions. Thus, for instance, here is the definition of "Medium" given in an Anthroposophical reference work:
"Medium A subject who, under certain conditions, can be the means of relaying information from deceased persons to the living. The physical state of mediumship is not pathological as it leads to an expansion and development of original powers, and is distinct from hysterical states or epilepsy which degenerate the mentality." — George Riland, THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 131.
Below are some of Steiner's own statements
about mediums and seances.
“When mediums are possessed of the necessary faculties, they can see the Akasha Chronicle, although in most cases only its astral reflections. Now there is something singular about the Akasha Chronicle. If we discover some person there, he behaves like a living being. If we find Goethe, for example, he may not only answer in the words which he actually spoke in his life but he gives answer in the Goethean sense; it may even happen that he utters in his own style and trend, verses he never actually wrote. The Akasha picture is so alive that it is like a force working on in the mind of the human being. Hence the picture may be confused with the individuality himself. Mediums believe that they are in contact with the dead man whose life is continuing in the spirit, whereas in reality it is only his astral Akasha-picture. The spirit of Caesar may already have reincarnated on earth and it is his Akasha picture that gives the answers in seances. It is not the individuality of Caesar but only the enduring impression which the picture of Caesar has left behind in the Akasha Chronicle. This is the basis of errors in very many spiritualist seances. We must distinguish between what remains of the human being in his Akasha-picture and what continues to evolve as the true individuality. These are matters of extreme importance.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 4, GA 99.
A wonderful, mystical photo of a wonderful, mystical seance.
Do you spot any problems?
“[S]eances tell us nothing people do not know already and would be unlikely to make any strong impression on anyone. But one thing did make a strong impression on the eminent scientist Sir Oliver Lodge and his whole family, who up to that point had been very sceptical about such things. At one of the seances a group photograph was mentioned, showing Oliver Lodge's son together with other people. This photograph, one of several, was described as showing the same people at the same place, but in varying arrangements; the same people are seen, but with differing gestures. Raymond Lodge described this photograph through the medium at that seance in England. But Sir Oliver Lodge and his family knew nothing about this picture, for it had been taken at the Franco-Belgian front at the end of Raymond Lodge's life and sent by him to his family, though it had not yet arrived. So this medium described a group photograph which existed but was unknown to the family: the participants in the seance. They only saw it after it had been described by the medium.
“For those who dabble in the occult, this is naturally tremendously convincing ... However, Sir Oliver Lodge's interpretation can only have been reached by someone who merely dabbles in the occult. If he had known nothing much but had investigated the literature ...he would have found countless examples of something that every genuine occultist knows: When consciousness is damped down even slightly, future events can be seen. The most simple case of seeing a future event is when someone experiencing a moment of lowered consciousness sees a funeral procession which will not take place for several days. A person has not even died, yet someone sees his funeral. Something in the future is seen. This is quite normal when consciousness is lowered. So this is what took place: A photograph has been taken in Flanders and is on its way to England. The time will come when the family will focus their eyes and their understanding on it, when they will bear it in their thoughts. The medium foresees it as an image of the future. Whether you foresee a funeral procession, or whether you foresee how a family receives such and such a photograph of their son in a few days' time — it is the same phenomenon: that of seeing a future event in advance. This is just a phenomenon.
“If he had known something about real occult facts, he would not have interpreted the event as he did. Such an interpretation arises because occult values, occult laws, are seen from a materialistic standpoint ... As the Anthroposophical Society we only succeeded in saving ourselves from becoming materialistic by emancipating ourselves from the Theosophical Society.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992), lecture 17 , GA 174.
“We must be quite clear as to the fact that when a man passes through the gate of death, the human individuality is at first for a short time, enshrouded in the astral body and etheric body; and that the latter after a more or less brief period — varying in different cases, but never lasting more than a few days — passes out into the etheric world and there pursues its further destiny; so that the individuality enters the Spiritual world with the astral body only, and continues its further wanderings in that world. The etheric body is severed from the human individuality just as the physical body was on earth. Now we must clearly understand that in Spiritualistic seances, — and the whole work of Sir Oliver Lodge is based on these, — only one who has real knowledge is able to distinguish whether the communications come from the actual individuality, or only from the cast-off, forsaken etheric corpse. This etheric corpse still remains in continual communication with the individuality. Only, when one gets into connection with the spiritual world in a round-about way through a medium, one comes in touch with the etheric corpse first, and so can never be sure of reaching in this way the actual individual. It is certain that there is in our age a striving to find for Spiritual existence some sort of proof such as is found by experiments in the laboratory, something which can be grasped with hands and that one can see before one in the world of matter. Our materialistic age does not care to follow the inner path the soul must take in the Spiritual worlds, the purely Spiritual path. It wants the spirit to descend into the material world and be discovered there. We are experiencing all kinds of materialistic Spiritualism, a materialistic turning to the worlds of the spirit.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC AND HUMAN METAMORPHOSES (Garber Communications, 1989), lecture 1, GA 175.
“When a man has lived through his time in Kamaloka*, he will be ready to raise the higher part of his astral body, the outcome of his own endeavours, and to leave the lower part behind. With savages and uncultivated people, a large part of the lower astral body remains behind; with more highly developed people there is much less. When for example a Francis of Assisi dies, very little will be left behind; a powerful higher astral body will go with him, for he will have worked greatly on himself. The remaining part is the third human corpse, consisting of the lower impulses and desires which have not been transmuted. This corpse continues to hover about in astral space, and may be a source of many dangerous influences.
“This, too, is a body which can manifest in spiritualistic seances. It often survives for a long time, and may come to speak through a medium. People then begin to believe that it is the dead man speaking, when it is only his astral corpse. The corpse retains its lower impulses and habits in a kind of husk; it can even answer questions and give information, and can speak with just as much sense as the 'lower man' used to display. All sorts of confusions may then arise, and a striking example of this is the pamphlet written by the spiritualist, Langsdorf, in which he professes to have had communication with H. P. Blavatsky. To Langsdorf the idea of reincarnation is like a red rag to a bull; there is nothing he would not do to refute this doctrine. He hates H.P.B. because she taught this doctrine and spread it abroad. In his pamphlet he purports to be quoting H.P.B. as having told him not only that the doctrine of reincarnation was false but that she was very sorry ever to have taught it. This may indeed be all correct — except that Langsdorf was not questioning and quoting the real H.P.B. but her astral corpse. It is quite understandable that her lower astral body should answer in this way if we remember that during her early period, in her ISIS UNVEILED, she really did reject and oppose the idea of reincarnation. She herself came to know better, but her error clung to her astral husk.
“This third corpse, the astral husk, gradually dissolves, and it is important that it should have dissolved completely before a man returns to a new incarnation. In most cases this duly happens, but in exceptional cases a man may reincarnate quickly, before his astral corpse has dissolved. He has difficulties to face if, when he is about to reincarnate, he finds his own astral corpse still in existence, containing everything that had remained imperfect in his former life.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 3, GA 95.
* "If we can clearly envisage what will remain when we are parted from all our physical organs, from everything that normally fills our daytime consciousness and enlivens the soul, from everything for which we have to be grateful to the body all day long, we shall begin to form some conception of what the condition of life is after death, when the two corpses have been laid aside. This condition is called Kamaloka, the place of desires. It is not some region set apart: Kamaloka is where we are, and the spirits of the dead are always hovering around us, but they are inaccessible to our physical senses.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE, lecture 3.
"Kama-loka (Sanskrit) [from kama desire + loka world, sphere] Desire world; a semi-material plane, subjective and invisible to us, the astral region penetrating and surrounding the earth. It is the original of the Christian purgatory, where the soul undergoes purification from its evil deeds and the material side of its nature. It is equivalent to the Hades of the Greeks and the Amenti of the Egyptians, the land of Silent Shadows." — Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (Theosophical University Press, 1999).
— Compiled by Roger Rawlings
To visit other pages in the sections of Waldorf Watch
that include "Seances", use the underlined links, below.
also see "Anthroposophical Christianity"
and "Judaism, The Hebrew Bible"