◊ "We cannot speak to them in the way

we speak among ourselves."

◊ "We must worm our way through."

— Rudolf Steiner


Some of What

You Aren’t Supposed to Know

Waldorf schools usually guard their secrets well. Rudolf Steiner often urged Waldorf teachers to mislead the public, students’ parents, and students themselves about many aspects of Waldorf education. Let's look at a few quotations, some of which I've posted prominently elsewhere. Here is Steiner speaking about secrets.

Some people are not human beings:

“I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings ... [W]e do not want to shout that to the world.” [1]

Islands float — but don’t tell the students — but get it across anyway:

“[I]slands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside ... Such things are the result of the cosmos, of the stars ... However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to the students...we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” [2]

(Waldorf teachers, as Anthroposophists, embrace many esoteric beliefs, and they hope to lead students to embrace those beliefs — but they should do so subtly, secretively. Avoid giving away our secrets; but "achieve" our beliefs when possible.)

Gravity doesn’t really exist, but we’ll have to teach kids about so-called gravity so that we don’t give the school a bad name:

“Over there is a bench and on it is, let us say, a ball ... [T]he ball falls to the ground ... Saying that the ball is subject to the force of gravity is really meaningless ... But we cannot avoid speaking of gravity ... Just imagine if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.” [3]

(Waldorf teachers embrace esoteric beliefs, but often they find it politic to conceal their beliefs. They don't want to stir up a fuss.)

Very importantly: Do not reveal the school’s religious agenda. Don’t confess that we require students to pray aloud each morning — say that the students are reciting a “verse”:

“We also need to speak about a prayer. I ask only one thing of you. You see, in such things everything depends upon the external appearances. Never call a verse a prayer, call it an opening verse before school. Avoid allowing anyone to hear you, as a faculty member, using the word ‘prayer.’” [4]

In general, don’t tell outsiders anything about what happens inside the school. This goes even for the parents’ of our students — treat them as outsiders:

“[D]o not attempt to bring out into the public things that really concern only our school. I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth ... We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” [5]

(In other words, don't stir up a fuss. Don't get people talking about us. Tamp down the gossip about us, if you can.)

Information given to the faculty cannot be given to students' parents. Don't let them have inside information.

“The things I say here [in a faculty meeting], I could not say to parents." [6]

(I can tell Waldorf teachers the truth, but I can't tell students' parents the truth. I must mislead them...)

Don't tell anyone that we will not prepare the kids for higher education.

"The question of final examinations is purely a question of opportunity. It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all, that it is a private decision of the student whether to take the final examination or not." [7]

Don't tell Westerners what we are all about. (Steiner considered Germany the central nation, standing between eastern nations on one side and western nations on the other.)

"[T]he western nations will not be able to understand what will arise out of the whole concrete Central European spiritual culture with regard to the art of education; on the contrary, it will annoy them, and it really ought not to be told them in its original form. It could have an undesirable effect on them." [8]

Pull the wool over visitors' eyes:

"Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious." [9]

(Bring religion into the classroom, but don't be obvious about it. Note that Steined did not worry that a Waldorf class might be religious in nature; he only worried that it might reveal itself to be "too religious.")

Protect the school's neck: Don't reveal the occult, Anthroposophical nature of Waldorf education.

“[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck.” [10]

(Don't stir up a fuss. Don't stir up gossip. And don't put our neck on the block.)

Secrecy and hidden knowledge are central concepts in the Waldorf worldview, Anthroposophy. Thus, for instance, Steiner taught that the Apocrypha (teachings that contradict the Bible) "are more correct than what is written in the Gospels." [11] Anthroposophy prefers secret, mystical "truths." Most so-called "authorities" are wrong about almost everything; only occultists (or specifically Anthroposophists) possess the mystical inside scoop. The goal for Anthroposophists — and dyed-in-the-Anthroposophical-wool Waldorf teachers — is to become occult "initiates" — insiders who possesses, and preserves, secret spiritual wisdom.

Anthroposophical doctrines contravene science, good sense, and orthodox religious teachings. Anthroposophy — and through it, Waldorf education — exists within a miasma of esoteric, gnostic, occult doctrines. Steiner and his followers embrace bizarre beliefs that would astound most outsiders. But hush! Tread carefully. Keep our secrets as we work, quietly, to promote our secrets. [See, e.g., "Gnosis", "Rosy Cross", "Occultism", "Everything", "Sneaking It In", and "Inside Scoop".]

< ◊ >

Let’s take a closer look at some of these secrets.

Concerning the Waldorf School's neck

Rudolf Steiner established his occult religion, Anthroposophy, as an independent movement in 1913. Six years later, the first Waldorf school opened in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner was the head of the school. In that capacity, on Feb. 5, 1924, he conducted a long discussion with the school's teachers and administrators. The chief topic was the relationship between the school and the Anthroposophical Society (the formal organization responsible for Anthroposophical activities). Steiner had recently formalized his own connection with the Anthroposophical Society, becoming its official leader. The first Waldorf school presented itself to the world much as Waldorf schools present themselves today: It claimed that it was not a religious school, and it claimed that it did not push Anthroposophy onto its students. But Steiner's remarks during the faculty meeting on Feb. 5 show that this was largely a pose — while not formally associated with the Anthroposophical Society, the school had always been Anthroposophical to its core. During the meeting, Steiner exposed this secret as well as the other great secret underlying Waldorf schooling: He admitted that Anthroposophy is a religion.

Here's a play-by-play. (The entire discussion lasts for many pages. If you want to read it all — which I recommend — you'll have to get the book, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Vol. 2.)

Toward the beginning of the discussion, Steiner says,

"Formally, the Waldorf School is not an anthroposophical institution; rather, it is an independent creation based upon the foundations of anthroposophical pedagogy. In the way it meets the public, as well as the way it meets legal institutions, it is not an anthroposophical institution, but a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy." [12]

Note the careful phrasing. The school is not "formally" Anthroposophical. "In the way it meets the public" it is not Anthroposophical; in the "way it meets legal institutions" (such as school inspectors) it is not Anthroposophical. Waldorf is "a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy," but it is not "an anthroposophical institution." The distinction is subtle, to say the least. The underlying reality is quite different from the image projected to the outsider world.

Picking up the same passage where it left off:

"...a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy. Suppose the Independent Waldorf School were now to become officially related to the School of Spiritual Science [the education wing of the Anthroposophical Society, based] in Dornach [Switzerland]. Then the Waldorf School would immediately become an anthroposophical school in a formal, external sense. Of course, there are some things that would support making such a decision. On the other hand, consider whether the Waldorf School can fulfill its cultural tasks better as an independent school with an unhindered form than it can as a direct part of what emanates from Dornach." [13]

Steiner prefers the latter course — the school is not Anthroposophical "in a formal, external sense" (i.e., as perceived by outsiders). But we can see that informally, internally the school is deeply Anthroposophical. After all, the only reason to even consider attaching the school to the Society is that the school is committed to Anthroposophy. The school's Anthroposophical nature is what "would support making such a decision."

Steiner contemplates the possibility of tying the school more tightly to the Anthroposophical Society, but he also stresses the benefits of maintaining the legal and public-relations fiction that the school is independent.

"[I]f the school suddenly became an [openly] anthroposophical school, that would upset both the official authorities and the public." [14]

The public would be upset, in part, because the school would be exposed as an occultist institution. German educational authorities would be upset, in part, for this reason, but also because the school would be revealed as taking orders from a foreign organization, the Society based in Switzerland.

Steiner wants the public and the officials to be misled, but he speaks candidly to the teachers.

"[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School's neck." [15]

That, basically, says it all. Waldorf is Anthroposophical, but out of a need to mislead outsiders, the school has to pretend otherwise. The survival of the school depends on denying Waldorf's "anthroposophical character," a character that creates goals that "coincide with anthroposophical desires."

Steiner discusses various useful misrepresentations and misconceptions about the Waldorf School. The school was named "Independent," and the Waldorf School Association is generally perceived as the institution controlling the school.

"You see, the outside world views the Waldorf School Association as the actual administration of the school." [16]

But in reality, the school is run by Anthroposophists for Anthroposophical purposes. Specifically, the school is actually guided by Rudolf Steiner himself, who is officially the head of the Anthroposophical Society.

The school's only openly acknowledged involvement with the Anthroposophical Society is that the Society provides some of the religious instruction in the school. This arrangement allows the school to deny that it is, itself, religious. Instead, the Anthroposophical Society and other, outside religious institutions provide religious instruction at Waldorf.

"When the school was founded, we placed great value upon creating an institution independent of the Anthroposophical Society. Logically, that corresponds quite well with having the various religious communities and the Anthroposophical Society provide religious instruction, so that the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [17]

Pause again. This says it all. Steiner acknowledges that the Anthroposophical Society is a religious group: "the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do [emphasis added]." The Anthroposophical Society is one of a number of "religious groups" involved in the school. The Society is a religious group. Anthroposophy is a religion — and here we have Steiner saying so.

Picking up the last quotation where it left off:

"...just as other religious groups do. The Anthroposophical Society gives instruction in religion and the services. That is something we can justifiably say whenever others claim that the Waldorf School is an anthroposophical school." [18]

Discussing how to mislead outsiders, Steiner clearly states the very things he wants to deny. The Waldorf School is Anthroposophical; and Anthroposophy is a religion; hence, the Waldorf School is a religious institution. But Steiner remains committed to denying these realities — he stresses how Waldorf "can justifiably" make its denials. The justifications are, however, a matter of legalisms and hairsplitting: legally, formally, the school is not associated with the Anthroposophical Society; and, in appearance, the school is run by the Waldorf School Association, which is not legally, formally Anthroposophical. But the truth is that the school is run by Anthroposophists who are devoted to the religion of Anthroposophy. (Offering instruction in other religions also conforms to the aims of Anthroposophy, which borrows doctrines from many faiths.)

During the meeting, Steiner both reveals the truth and continues to stress denials of the truth.

"A teacher: `Hasn't a change already occurred since you, the head of the Waldorf School, are now also the head of the Anthroposophical Society?'

"Dr. Steiner: `That is not the case. The position I have taken [as head of the Society] changes nothing about my being head of the school." [19]

Perhaps the teacher and Steiner found this answer cogent, but none of the rest of us are likely to. If Steiner, head of the Waldorf School, had recently become head of the Communist Party, there would clearly be reason to think that something important had been revealed concerning the Waldorf School. Steiner’s new post at the Anthroposophical Society has the same sorts of implications.

As the meeting continues, Steiner considers ways to bind the school more closely to the Society without getting the school's neck broken. He wants to satisfy the Waldorf faculty's desire for direct connection with the Anthroposophical Society's School of Spiritual Science (i.e., the esoteric educational institution at the Society's headquarters):

"I think you should decide to become members of the School of Spiritual Science as individual teachers, but with the additional remark that you want to become a member as a teacher of the Independent Waldorf School. I think this will achieve everything you want, and nothing else is necessary for the time being." [20]

Thus, the Waldorf School itself would not be formally connected to the School of Spiritual Science, but the Waldorf teachers would establish connections for themselves as individual representatives of the Waldorf School. The effective result would be to tightly bind the school to the Anthroposophical Society without doing this openly or formally.

"Through such an action, you would accomplish something you actually want, namely, making the Independent Waldorf School part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy." [21]

Independent? The school would remain, in name, independent; but in reality, it has always been deeply immersed in Anthroposophy, and now the immersion will become even deeper: It will be "part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy."

To summarize: We here see Steiner describing the deceptions that the Waldorf School has been involved in; he reveals the real nature both of the school and of Anthroposophy; and he proposes possible future steps that would bring the school into closer connection with the Anthroposophical Society without establishing an official bond (which might cause the school to get its neck broken).

Steiner's two biggest secrets were that Anthroposophy is a religion and that Waldorf schools promote Anthroposophy. Here we have seen him giving away both secrets.

The Waldorf school movement is built on lies, especially the lies we have examined just now. The deceptions practiced by many Waldorf schools today began with the establishment of the very first Waldorf School, in accordance with the wishes of Rudolf Steiner himself.

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Concerning those floating islands

Steiner said that islands float in the sea. They are held in place by the powers of the stars. This is such nonsense that even Steiner — who was deeply ignorant about real science — knew it needed to be kept secret. Yet Steiner wanted Waldorf teachers to slip the idea across to the kids. How they could do this while still keeping it secret is a bit of a puzzle.

“With the students, we should at least try to...make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside. In general, the cosmos creates islands and continents, their forms and locations ... However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to the students...we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” [22]

Even the Waldorf teachers found Steiner's meaning elusive, so they asked for a clarification. Did Steiner really mean that fixed land floats? Yes, indeed. Pressed on the matter, Steiner doubled down, asserting explicitly that continents as well as islands float in the sea:

“[T]he continents swim ... All fixed land swims and the stars hold it in position.” [23] But hush, don't tell the kids. Except, hush, do — somehow. "That is actually what we should achieve in geography.”

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Grave thoughts on gravity

Steiner’s ignorance of science is even clearer when we consider gravity. Here are two more remarks Steiner made on the subject:

“Gravity is...perceived only by those beings that live on a solid planet ... Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity ... And beings who live on a gaseous planet would regard as normal something that would be the opposite of gravity ... [B]eings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling towards the planet would see them always flying off ... Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet.” [24]

In fact, gravity exists everywhere in the universe — it is woven into the very substance of the space/time continuum. But Steiner didn’t know this. So he told Waldorf teachers:

“It would be wonderful if you could stop speaking about gravity. You can certainly achieve speaking of it only as a phenomenon. The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” [25]

Gravity is a phenomenon, but a meaningless one, a concept that is really just an empty word. At least, this is the secret about gravity that Waldorf teachers should internalize, without — perhaps — letting it out. They should guard this secret, not because the secret is ridiculous, but because letting it out could make Waldorf look ridiculous.

"Just imagine if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.”



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Never call it a prayer

Calling the morning prayer a verse is just one of the many ploys Steiner wanted Waldorf teacher to use in order to hide the religious nature of Waldorf education. Actually, Waldorf schools exist to spread Steiner’s religion, Anthroposophy. As Steiner himself said,

“One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” [26]

And the morning verses, which Steiner himself wrote, are definitely prayers: They address and praise God. Here’s part of one of them:

“I reverence, O God,

The strength of humankind,

That Thou so graciously

Hast planted in my soul...

From Thee come light and strength,

To Thee rise love and thanks.” [27]

Waldorf students typically say this prayer in unison, standing behind their desks, before the first class of the day begins.

The secret, religious nature of Waldorf education is not hard to discern, although Waldorf teachers continue to strenuously guard the secret. [For more on this topic, please see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School”.]

About telling faculty members things that students' parents cannot be told: This may be a sensible policy, but it means withholding truth. It means deceiving parents.

Here's the context of the pertinent statement: The first Waldorf school had come under attack after it expelled some pupils. Also, some students' parents complained they were not being adequately informed about their children's progress — some had received assurances that all was well, only to find later that this was untrue. Perhaps written progress reports should be considered; or perhaps there should be a meeting with the parents. Steiner blamed the faculty for allowing a bad situation to get out of hand. His lengthy statement to the faculty includes the following:

"Progress reports? Giving in to someone like Mrs. X (a mother who had written a letter to the faculty) is just nonsense ... Concerning the parent meeting, you could do that, but without me. They might say things I could not counter, if I hear something I cannot defend. The things I say here, I could not say to parents. We need to clear the air, and the teachers must take control of the school again. You do not need to talk about the things not going well." [28]

We see several worrisome but typical Waldorf problems, here. Parents are not fully informed. Secrets are kept from them ("The things I say here, I could not say to parents"). And even when there is a need to "clear the air," all that the Waldorf administration really has in mind is a public relations exercise. The school will try to reassure the parents and quiet their concerns without actually telling them the truth. Secrets will still be kept ("You do not need to talk about the things not going well"). In general, Steiner's attitude is defensive and dismissive (complying with a parent's request would be "nonsense"). Secrecy and deception will remain standard operating procedure.

All of this is tied to the underlying Waldorf mindset. Waldorf teachers, as Anthroposophists, believe that they possess esoteric knowledge that no one else possesses or is capable of possessing. They deem themselves to be occult initiates, bearers of supernal wisdom. [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds" and "The White Lodge".]

< ◊ >

Dare we tell?

About not preparing students for final exams: The examination in question was a state-administered test. Steiner here clearly contemplates misleading parents and students about the goal of a Waldorf curriculum — and he hesitates not over whether to conceal the truth but whether to reveal it. "It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all." Do we dare tell the truth?

The primary mission of a Waldorf school is to promote Steiner's brand of occultism, Anthroposophy. Giving the students a strong academic education, and preparing them for higher education — these are, at most, secondary goals, not really very important. But of course this must be kept secret. [See, e.g., "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

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It will annoy them

About not telling Westerners about the "art of education" arising from Central Europe (i.e., Germany): Steiner was a German nationalist, with a grounding in the sorts of mysticism found in Germany and the Nordic countries. Here we see him saying that people outside Central Europe should not be told the truth about the type of education Waldorf aims for.

"[T]he western nations will not be able to understand ... [I]t will annoy them, and it really ought not to be told them...."

But it is worth noting that all the other deceptions I've listed here apply to Germans as well — they too should be kept in the dark. Basically, Steiner wanted everyone except Anthroposophical insiders to be misled about the nature and purposes of Waldorf schools.

[Concerning Steiner's nationalism, see, e.g., "Steiner and the Warlord".]

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Who got a slap

About “outsiders” and treating students' parents as “outsiders”: Note that, among other things, Steiner wanted to suppress information about which students had been slapped. Steiner permitted Waldorf teachers to slap students. He said that "astral" (spiritual, nonphysical) slaps are better, but...

The slapping must have begun almost as soon as the first Waldorf School opened — the passage I quoted is dated September 25, 1919, during the first weeks of the school’s existence. In extenuation, we should recall that this was in Germany almost a century ago. Standards were different there and then. Still...

Here is another passage in which Steiner mentions slapping. The date is March 15, 1922. Steiner is holding a faculty meeting at the Waldorf School:

"Dr. Steiner: 'If you give them [i.e., students] a slap, you should do it the way Dr. Schubert [one of the Waldorf teachers] does.'

"Dr. Schubert: 'Did somebody complain?'

"Dr. Steiner: 'No, but you are always slapping them.'

"Dr. Schubert: 'When did I do that?'

"Dr. Steiner: 'Well, I mean astral slaps. There are physical slaps and astral slaps. It doesn’t matter which one you give, but you cannot slap a child sentimentally.'” [29]

Several points about this discussion are noteworthy.

◊ Steiner does not tell Waldorf teachers to stop slapping the kids. He assumes that slapping in some form will occur: “If you give them a slap....” At most, he tries to steer teachers away from physical slapping.

◊ “Astral” slapping might well be worse than the physical variety. If the term has any meaning at all, it refers to psychological and/or spiritual punishment. Is this really preferable? Ask yourself what sort of effects a teacher like Dr. Schubert would have on children if he is “always slapping them.” Assuming this means he is always punishing them psychologically and/or spiritually, students could well be traumatized. So, would you want Dr. Schubert to be your child's teacher?

◊ Dr. Schubert doesn’t deny slapping students. His first response to Steiner is simply to ask if anyone has complained. He then asks Steiner when the slapping occurred, which in context may simply mean that he’s asking Steiner for particulars: What episodes does Steiner know about? This seems to rattle Steiner a bit — he isn’t accustomed to being challenged — so Steiner introduces the surprising notion of invisible ("astral") slaps. But then Steiner recovers with the undeniable observation that slapping children is not, or should not be, a sentimental action.

◊ This discussion occurred two-and-a-half years after Steiner first mentioned the gossip about slapping, etc., in the Waldorf school ("I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth..."). Inferentially, teachers may have been slapping the kids — one way or another — at least occasionally during this two-and-a-half-year period. And, because Steiner does not ban it, some form of slapping probably continued after this second discussion.

[For more on treating parents as outsiders, see, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".]

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Deceiving visitors

Steiner worried about the opinions visitors to Waldorf would form about the school. Hence, he said such things as, "I was...worrying that the visitors would think...." Here's the full quotation. Speaking to a teacher about the way s/he conducts classes, Steiner said:

"[Y]ou are often too anthroposophical, like Mr. X [sic]. Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious. We should not allow the history class to be too religiously oriented. That is why we have a religion class. The visitors seem to have been well-meaning people. Nevertheless, had they noticed that, they could easily have categorized the Waldorf School as being too anthroposophical and bringing that into the classroom." [30]

At first glance, this may seem exculpatory: Steiner is telling a teacher not to bring so much Anthroposophy into the classroom. Note, however, that he does not tell the teacher to bring no Anthroposophy into class — he merely says to tone it down. Steiner proceeds from the premise that Anthroposophy will indeed be conveyed to students ("Anthroposophy will be in the school" [31]). Steiner's admonition to the teacher hinges on the presence of visitors. Steiner worries that visitors might see beneath the school's facade and figure out what the school is really doing: promoting Anthroposophy. Steiner says to tone down the Anthroposophy in class not because bringing it into class is wrong, but because the school's central secret must be guarded. The central secret is that the school is an Anthroposophical religious institution. Steiner is extremely concerned about maintaining this secret: "I was sitting on pins and needles worrying...."

Linger over the question of religion. I have written, elsewhere, on the question whether Anthroposophy is a religion. [32] In this passage we are considering now, Steiner himself says that it is a religion or at least that it sure looks like a religion. If there were too much Anthroposophy in the class, the visitors would think the class was "too religious." In other words, infusing a class with Anthroposophy is effectively the same as infusing it with religion. Why? Because Anthroposophy is a religion — or, at a minimum, visitors would find it indistinguishable from religion.

Here's a related passage. Again, Steiner is addressing a teacher during a faculty meeting:

"The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level." [33]

Once again Steiner corrects a teacher's method of conveying Anthroposophy to the students. He does not say that Anthroposophy should be left out of classroom instruction; instead, he refers to a directive about how Anthroposophy should be presented. The errant teacher's mistake is not that s/he tried to bring Anthroposophy to the students, but merely that s/he lectured little children on the subject of Anthroposophy instead of finding a way to make Anthroposophy more understandable to the youngsters.

Linger again. "Little children." I have claimed that Waldorf schools indoctrinate even very young children in Anthroposophy. Here we see Steiner saying as much. And this is the grave danger in Waldorf schooling, especially for the very young. Waldorf teachers will try to find a way to "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." [See "Sneaking It In".] When they succeed at this, they indoctrinate little children in an occult religion — and, very often, they do this without the parents' consent. This is indefensible.

In sum, in these passages we probe beneath the surface to two fundamental Waldorf secrets. Waldorf faculties almost always deny that their schools are religious institutions, and they almost always deny that they teach Anthroposophy to the students. Here we see that both of these denials are false.

[These secrets cause many complaints. Parents are often shocked to realize what Waldorf schools are really up to. See, e.g., the section "Two Falsehoods" in "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"; also see "Cautionary Tales", "Moms", and "Pops".]

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Something really wrong inside

Let’s look into Steiner’s statement that “there are people who are not human beings.” Steiner was saying, among other things, that some people are demons in human form.

Most of us, if we allowed ourselves to make such an awful statement, would be using the words metaphorically. We would mean that some people are very wicked — they do not behave as we think humans should. We would not mean that some people are literally demons, devils, evil spirits. But Steiner taught that demons really exist, and he taught that some people are real, literal demons. Here is the complete section from which I took the quoted passage:

"Dr. Steiner: 'That little girl L.K. in the first grade must have something really very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the nineties [the 1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but are only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.'

"A teacher: ‘How is that possible?’

Dr. Steiner: 'Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been [pre]determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in. This is something that is now quite common, that human beings go around without an I; they are actually not human beings, but have only a human form. They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences.

"'The riddle of life is not so simple. When such a being dies, it returns to nature from which it came. The corpse decays, but there is no real dissolution of the etheric body, and the natural being returns to nature.

"'It is also possible that something like an automaton could occur. The entire human organism exists, and it might be possible to automate the brain and develop a kind of pseudomorality.

"'I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.

"'Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short period between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world.'" [34]

This very remarkable, and horrid, statement deserves close scrutiny.

◊ Having decided that little L.K. “must have something really very wrong inside,” Steiner does not seek a sensible medical or psychiatric diagnosis. Instead, he passes what amounts to a spiritually damning judgment: The child is not human. A little girl in the first grade, for whom he has responsibility, is — according to the great humanitarian Rudolf Steiner — subhuman.

◊ BUT! argue some Anthroposophists, he only says she isn’t human “in relation to [her] highest I.” Surely that minimizes the severity of the judgment? No, it does not. Humans have three nonphysical bodies, according to Steiner. We have etheric bodies, but this does not define our humanity — animals and plants also have etheric bodies. We also have astral bodies, but this does not define out humanity, either — animals also have etheric bodies. We are human because we have “I”s or human “egos.” If L.K. lacks a full-fledged, functioning human “I,” she is not human. This is what Steiner asserts. L.K. is subhuman. (Steiner distinguished between the "I", the "higher I", and the "highest I" — see the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Someone who lacks the "highest I" cannot fulfill the ultimate purpose of human existence, rising to divinity. People who can't fulfill this purpose are not really, fully human.)

◊ Steiner proceeds to widen the circle of subhumanity. “Such cases are increasing,” he says. “Quite a number of people have been born...without an I.” So there are a lot of subhumans walking the earth (“This is something that is now quite common”). You see, these beings have not been reincarnated — they have not participated in human evolution, which occurs over the course of many earthly lives alternating with lives in the spirit realm. Subhumans like L.K. are involved. (And note that Steiner here does not refer to the "highest I" — he speaks here of the "I.")

◊ These subhumans look like human beings, but they “really are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon.” As in the case of L.K., there isn’t much that we real humans can do for the subhumans. “We cannot...create a school for demons.” Later in his comments, Steiner refers again to "demons in human form." He does not, in this passage, explicitly label demons as evil, but the implication is hard to ignore. Humans demons such as L.K. are evil. And there is no place for them in Waldorf schools. “We cannot...create a school for demons.”

◊ Some subhumans may appear on Earth due to “cosmic error.” The universe doesn’t always work as it should; in Steiner’s doctrines, there is no presiding, omniscient God; the cosmos is populated by billions of gods, some good, some evil, none of them able to control the universe wholly. So demons may come to earthly life because of failures by the gods. The subhumans, then, are truly misbegotten.

◊ Some real humans elect not to return to earthly existence on schedule, which creates openings that subhumans can grab for themselves (i.e., the real humans give up their places in the queue). The subhumans are profoundly different from real humans: They differ from real “human beings in regard to everything spiritual.” Everything spiritual. So the judgment Steiner passes on the little girl and the other subhumans is indeed severe.

◊ Subhumans are “natural” rather than reincarnated; they are more fully part of the lowly natural or physical world than to the higher spirit realm. They are, in essence, nature spirits — beings that have no real spirituality. When they die, they do not go to the spirit realm, like real humans — they sink into that sink hole called nature: “the natural being returns to nature.” [For more on nature and nature spirits, see "Neutered Nature".]

◊ Another possible reason some subhumans exist is that evil forces (e.g., evil gods, black magicians, demons) have created “automatons” — fleshly robots that have no spirit or morality. [For more on the machinations of black magicians, see “Double Trouble”.]

◊ Then, too, subhumans may result from the degeneration of real humans. “[A] number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human.” This is the process Steiner describes elsewhere as falling out of evolution and sinking to the level of subordinate nature spirits. “Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits.” [35]

◊ Almost inevitably, all this nastiness leads Steiner to explicitly voice his racism. Steiner says he was once compelled (by his utter commitment to Truth) to “say that a very famous university professor, after a very short period between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist.” Talk about evil! This nasty univ. prof. failed to stay in the spirit realm the proper length of time between lives, so when he came back to Earth he was both black (i.e., member of a lowly, childish, always-cooking-inside-with-passions race) [36], and he was a scientist (an advocate of scientific trash, materialistic falsehood, unSteinerian lies). [37]

◊ Interestingly, Steiner almost admits that he once made a mistake. Perhaps he should not have revealed the truth about the nasty univ. prof. So, profiting from experience, he urges Waldorf teachers to keep the lid on. “Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people ... We do not want to shout such things out into the world.” Good, well-meaning Waldorf teachers: Don't reveal the truth. Bob and weave. Clam up. (And, if need be, lie.) Keep our secrets.

◊ In sum, the little girl L.K. is not human. She is a demon, and we can’t run a school for demons.

This is very possibility the most unforgivable statement Steiner ever made. But we don’t want to shout that to the world.

< ◊ >

And about the Apocrypha

Anyone who thinks that Anthroposophy is consistent with the Bible should think again. Steiner taught that the Bible needs to be corrected, as through study of the Apocrypha. However, this study needs to be kept generally hidden. Students should not be told about it.

“The children are not mature enough to go through the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha contains [sic] many things that are more correct than what is written in the Gospels. I have always extended the Gospels by what we can verify [sic] from the Apocrypha. Sometimes there are strong conflicts. When they take up the Gospels, the children must grasp them. It is difficult to explain the contradictions, so if they took up the Apocrypha nothing would make sense anymore. I would simply study the Gospels [in class].” [38]

Should students' parents be told that the Bible needs correction? This, from an Anthroposophical perspective, is a tricky question. There are deep secrets and less-deep secrets. Some parents may be ready to receive gnostic or occult or secret truths, others are surely not. In general, secrets need to be preserved; that's what makes them secrets. [For more on Steiner's "corrections" of the Bible, see, e.g., "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".]

Anthroposophists guard their secrets. Waldorf teachers guard their secrets. Withholding secrets from students may be justified. Withholding secrets from students' parents and from outsiders in general may be justified. But the point is that Waldorf faculties think they possess many secrets, and they work to guard their secrets.

Waldorf schools are centers of secrecy.

< ◊ >

Footnotes for the Foregoing Sections

(Scroll Down to Find Further Sections)

[1] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650.

[2] Ibid., pp. 607-608.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 2000), pp. 116-117.


[5] Ibid., p. 10.

Steiner was surely right to oppose gossip. But notice how his prohibition goes far beyond gossip to cover virtually anything that happens in the school. (And would you agree that, if students are being slapped, this is something that concerns only the school?)


[7] Ibid., p. 712 .

[8] Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Anthroposophist John Fentress Gardner in "The Founding of Adelphi's Waldorf School," ONE MAN'S VISION: In Memoriam, H.A.W. Myrin (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1970), p. 46.


[10] Ibid., p. 705.

[11] Ibid., pp. 615-616.

[12] Ibid., p. 698.

[13] Ibid., pp. 698-699.

[14] Ibid., p. 703.

[15] Ibid., p. 705.

[16] Ibid., p. 707.

[17] Ibid., p. 706.

[18] Ibid., p. 706.

For a look at "the services" provided by Anthroposophy in Waldorf schools, see "Waldorf Worship".

[19] Ibid., pp. 706-707.

[20] Ibid., p. 708.

[21] Ibid., p. 709.

[22] Ibid., pp. 607-608.

Steiner said the teachers could convey the idea of floating islands as he had done when addressing a group of laborers:

"With the students, we should at least try to achieve what I have striven for with the workers in Dornoch [who were erecting the Goetheanum], pictures that make it clear that an island...." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 607.

[23] Ibid., p. 617.

[24] Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137.


[26] Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.

[27] Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 45.


Steiner and the Waldorf teachers went on to consider a PR offensive they could undertake. They were concerned about reports that young Waldorf students lack basic academic skills.

"[W]e need to show why it only seems that students are not so far along at the end of the second grade. The examples of [a former student's] work we sent along show that Z [the former student] did not progress very far, that he could only write 'hors' instead of 'horse.' There are many such examples. 'He could only add by using his fingers.' That is not so bad. It is clear he could not add the number seven to another number ... The situation is quite tempting for someone [i.e., a critic] with a modern pedagogical understanding. That is how we can most easily be attacked. We will have to defend ourselves against that ... We need to ward off this matter with bitter humor ... We need to write back...sarcastically." — Ibid., pp. 409-410.

The underlying reality is that a Waldorf school typically does not view ordinary education (such as reading and arithmetic) as its primary goal. It is out to achieve occult aims, but it must keep these aims secret. Secrecy and deception are thus basic to the school's operations — and when the school is criticized, the criticism may be brushed off, since anyone who criticizes Waldorf is a dolt whose views are nonsense.

[29] Ibid., p. 323.

As is often true with Steiner, establishing the historical record can be complex. On February 6, 1923, Steiner professed not to know whether teachers at the school slapped children, and he said slapping should be avoided because it does not improve discipline and could damage the school's reputation.

“There may be teachers in the Waldorf School who slap the children, and so forth ... I have heard it said that the Waldorf teachers hit children, and we have discussed that often. The fact is, you cannot improve discipline by hitting the children ... Perhaps no one [i.e., the teachers] wants to say anything about this, but my question is whether that is simply a story that has been spread like so many other lies, or have children, in fact, been slapped in the Waldorf School? If that has occurred, it could ruin a great deal. We must hold the ideal of working without doing that [i.e., hitting the students]; discipline will also be better if we can avoid it.” — Ibid., p. 547.

This statement seems disingenuous, in light of what we've seen previously. And, significantly, note that even in this apparently straightforward statement opposing corporal punishment, Steiner does not lay down an outright prohibition. Also, he is on record as permitting corporal punishment:

“Under certain circumstances it may be necessary to spank a child ... I have to admit that there are rowdies....” — Ibid., p. 22.

(Note that Steiner was speaking of teachers spanking children; his statement came in response to a teacher's question: "How far should we go with disciplining the children". — Ibid., p. 22.) In sum, it would seem that Steiner allowed corporal punishment but wanted it to be minimized because of the harm it could do to the school's standing.

[30] Ibid., p. 655.

[31] Ibid., 495.

“You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth ... Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.”

Since Steiner promoted Anthroposophy as the key to human wisdom, he is here effectively acknowledging that Anthroposophy will pervade every subject in the Waldorf curriculum. When will Anthroposophy be “called for by the material”? Almost always.

[32] See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"


[34] Ibid., pp. 649-650.

It is stunning to read of these Waldorf teachers sitting quietly, accepting Steiner’s statements. Imagine what L.K.’s parents would have felt, if they had read the transcripts I’ve been relaying to you.

A “daemon,” a genius or spiritual force, may be good, but a “demon” is almost inevitably bad. For instance, Steiner identifies the Antichrist as Sorat, the Sun Demon. —Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 19. Demons are devils. Two more quick examples:

◊ The “demon of love” represents corrupted love:

“The demon of love lives in all this intellectualized talk about sexuality.” — Rudolf Steiner, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2002), p. 79.

◊ The "demon of materialism" represents the loss of human spirituality:

“[T]he spirit was squeezed out of human life, and in its place there appeared the demon of materialism.” — Rudolf Steiner, SOCIAL ISSUES (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 100.

[35] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.

People who descend in this way no longer reincarnate, so they no longer evolve from life to life — they enter an undying, subhuman state. Ahriman and his cohorts hope to drag all humans down to such a hellish condition.

“[S]ubhuman entities are subject to the rule of powers I always refer to as ahrimanic. These ahrimanic powers with their diverse sub-spirits — including sprite- and goblin-like beings who dwell in the elements of earth and water — have set themselves a [specific] task ... [These] beings, who have their fortress directly under the earth’s surface, exert influences that rise into our metabolism ... [They] battle to harden us and make us resemble them ... If someone has fallen prey during his lifetime to the ahrimanic powers...these beings can ‘harvest’ this after his death to create a whole population, a subhuman populace of the earth, which does indeed already exist ... And if we ask what such ahrimanic beings intend with this subhuman populace, it is this: to draw this kind of instinctual nature from a human being and make it into a being of earth and water. And beings of earth and water do now actually populate the strata directly below the earth's surface. There they dwell. People who can use spiritual vision to observe mines know such entities very well: they exist there, having been torn from a human being at the moment of his death. And there waits Ahriman, there wait the ahrimanic powers for a person's karma, caused by instincts, drives and passions, to lead him down into an incarnation where he takes special pleasure in such a being, and therefore finds in a particular life on earth that he does not wish to return to the world of spirit. Having left his physical body...he will seek instead to be embodied in a kind of subsensible being of this kind, to remain united with the earth: no longer to die but choosing to remain united with the earth as a subsensible entity ... [A]hrimanic beings...[seek] to entice so many people into their race that eventually the earth will be populated entirely by subhuman ahrimanic entities of this kind.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRIT AS SCULPTOR OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2014), pp. 108-109.

If Ahriman does not prevail, good highly evolved spirits may be able to reach back and redeem the lost subhumans. But there are no guarantees. Ahriman means to have his way, if he can.

[36] Steiner made numerous racist remarks. Concerning blacks, he said — among other things:

◊ “[A] centre of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces emanating from the soil which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 75.

◊ “[E]verything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives. The Negro has a powerful instinctual life. And because he actually has the sun, light, and warmth on his body surface, in his skin, his whole metabolism operates as if he were being cooked inside by the sun. That is where his instinctual life comes from. The Negro is constantly cooking inside, and what feeds this fire is his rear-brain.” — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993), p. 55.

For understandable reasons, some of Steiner’s most outrageous statements about race are omitted from English-language editions of Steiner’s work. They have become, in effect, additional secrets.

[37] Steiner dismissed real science often and in many ways. One pithy comment is the following, in which Steiner criticized a rationalist:

“He did not want any fairy tales told to children, or to teach children anything other than scientific trash....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 94.



Early in June, 2009, I was asked to provide more information on some of these matters. Here is the response I posted. It overlaps some of what we have already seen, but it also expands and extends the discussion. I have revised it for inclusion here.

One day, during a faculty meeting, Steiner and the teachers at the first Waldorf School discussed what had gone well and what had not gone so well in various classes at the school. Steiner said:

"In the humanities, there is a danger of teaching unprepared. That is, you [i.e., the teachers] are in danger of leaving the material as you know it now, as you learned it yourself. You need to rework it. That is one problem.

"The other problem is that you are often too anthroposophical, like Mr. X [sic]. Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious. We should not allow the history class to be too religiously oriented. That is why we have a religion class. The visitors seem to have been well-meaning people. Nevertheless, had they noticed that, they could easily have categorized the Waldorf School as being too anthroposophical and bringing that into the classroom." — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 655.

Steiner wanted Waldorf teachers to present Anthroposophy, but in disguised form. They should "rework" what they had learned about academic subjects; their classes should be Anthroposophical, but not "too Anthroposophical." There's a big difference between saying that Waldorf classes should not be Anthroposophical at all and saying that Waldorf classes should not be "too Anthroposophical." In the latter case, the premise is that of course Waldorf classes will be Anthroposophical to at least some extent.

To what extent will they be Anthroposophical? As we will see in a moment, they should be deeply Anthroposophical — but not obviously so. Waldorf schools exist in order to quietly, subtly lead the students toward Anthroposophy. [See "Indoctrination".] But visitors, parents, perhaps even the students themselves should not recognize too readily what is going on.

The balancing act for Waldorf teachers is difficult. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers need to be deeply committed Anthroposophists. [See "Here's the Answer".] And because Anthroposophy, in their opinion, is the truth, they want to lead their students toward that truth. But they need to be careful about it.

< ◊ >

Concerning the presence of Anthroposophy in the Waldorf School, Steiner said the following to teachers at the school:

“...It is important that the youth of our Waldorf School talk less about world perspective. The situation is that we need to create a mood, namely, that the teacher has something to say that the children should neither judge nor discuss. That is necessary, otherwise it becomes trivial. An actual discussion lowers the content. Things should remain with simply asked questions....

"We also need a second thing. The older students often mentioned that we emphasize that the Waldorf School is not to be an anthroposophical school. That is one of the questions we need to handle very seriously. You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 494-495.

This is quite revealing. Waldorf teachers are to be treated as august authority figures — students have very little if anything to offer in a discussion. Students should "neither judge nor discuss" what the teachers say — they should just absorb it. Simple questions may be asked, but that's it. The students should essentially adopt an attitude of unthinking acceptance.

Also, "world perspective" is unimportant, Steiner says. What counts is the Anthroposophical perspective. And even though Steiner said, over and over (mostly in public), that Waldorf is not to be an Anthroposophical school, he here contradicts himself, blatantly (in private, speaking with Waldorf teachers). Anthroposophy will in fact be present throughout the curriculum — i.e., "when it is objectively justified" — because Anthroposophy is the truth and surely a teacher's job is to convey the truth. And a student's job is to accept Anthroposophical "truth" without judging or discussing it. "Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified." When will Anthroposophists teaching in a Waldorf school think that bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom is justified? Since Anthroposophy is the truth, its presence will always be justified. Anthroposophy will be in the school, at some level, always. "We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school...."

< ◊ >

A Waldorf teacher once asked Steiner if his (the teacher's) "teaching has become worse." Steiner replied:

"The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level. That worked in the beginning because you taught with such enormous energy. It must have been closer to your heart two years ago than what you are now teaching, so that you awoke the children through your enthusiasm and fire, whereas now you are no longer really there. You have become lazy and weak, and, thus, you tire the children...." — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 402-403.

Steiner continues correcting the teacher for several more sentences. His main point — what we need to understand clearly — is that the Waldorf teacher did not err by bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom. It was not a mistake for the teacher to teach the kids Anthroposophy. The mistake was failing to "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." In other words, the teacher should have found a way to present Anthroposophy in a form the kids could grasp or internalize.

So, should Waldorf teachers bring Anthroposophy to their students? Is this their purpose? Yes. "Anthroposophy will be in the school." It will be present; and, when at all possible, it will be present at "a child's level."

Aside from the essential point that Steiner was telling teachers to present Anthroposophy to little children in a way they can respond to, Steiner was also stressing his requirement that Waldorf teachers be wholly, deeply committed to their Anthroposophical work. Waldorf teachers should be zealots — they should work with "enthusiasm and fire."

In brief, unless a Waldorf teacher is "lazy and weak," s/he will bring Anthroposophy into class, and s/he will do so in a manner that the children can accept. She will "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." S/he will transfer the fire in her heart to the children's hearts.

— Roger Rawlings

A brief except from

"My Life Among the Anthroposophists":

"My lawyer: 'In the name "Steiner-Waldorf" education, we find the name of Rudolf Steiner. One may imagine that there is a link between Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf education, since they are derived from the same person. Is this not so? But do you inform parents that Anthroposophy is behind this education? Do you tell them, for example, during visiting days?'

"Mrs X [Steiner-Waldorf representative]: 'No, it is for the parents to learn.'

"My lawyer: 'But where can they learn this? On the website of the [Steiner-Waldorf] Federation? I went there and I saw no mention of Anthroposophy or Rudolf Steiner!'

"Mrs X: 'Well, they are adults, they just need to look harder!'"

— Grégoire Perra

[See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", Part 3.]


In 1920, the German government passed a law that would have prevented the original Waldorf school from operating as Steiner wanted. Steiner's response? In a faculty meeting at the school, he told the teachers to worm their way out of the situation. Lie to the officials; deceive them; make fools of them. Practicing deceit would be all right as long as the teachers knew, in their hearts, that their actions were justified. (Be realistic, he said. This is how the world works. Be deceitful — not in the underhanded way Jesuits are, but in the upright way Anthroposophists can be.) Do whatever is necessary, he said:

"We must worm our way through. We have to be conscious of the fact that this is done in life — not through an inner provocation, then it would be the way the Jesuits work — but done with a certain mental reservation in response to external requirements. We have to be conscious that in order to do what we want to do, at least, it is necessary to talk with the people, not because we want to but because we have to, and inwardly make fools of them." — Rudolf Steiner, CONFERENCES WITH THE TEACHERS OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL IN STUTTGART, Vol. 1 (Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications, 1986), p. 125.


The secrecy in and around Waldorf schools is not absolute. Anthroposophists generally withhold their most prized spiritual "knowledge" from the uninitiated. Likewise, Waldorf schools generally disguise their occult purposes and beliefs from outsiders. Nevertheless, starting with Steiner, Anthroposophists have engaged in efforts to disseminate some of their occult beliefs through public lectures, the circulation of books and pamphlets, etc. This outreach work is often less than candid, however. Texts are often framed and edited in ways that suppress and mislead. Only rarely can outsiders arrive at clear formulations unless they undertake considerable detective work — and some secrets may well lie beyond such detection.

Most of my own knowledge of Anthroposophy has come from reading publicly available texts. This means that, in all probability, I am not privy to the most esoteric, hidden Anthroposophical lore. Steiner drew a sharp distinction between knowledge available to the “initiated” — that is, insiders who are permitted access to occult mysteries — and knowledge that can be shared with the general public. Initiates should convey wisdom to those who are worthy, but they must withhold it from everyone else.

“[I]t is a strict law with all Initiates to withhold from no man the knowledge that is due him. But there is an equally strict law which insists that no one shall receive any occult knowledge until he is worthy and well prepared.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE WAY OF INITIATION (Macoy Publishing and Mason Supply Co., 1910), p. 52.

Everyone is capable of initiation, Steiner said. For this and other reasons, knowledge should be spread as widely as possible — but only within the limits of the second law, stated above. By his own account, Steiner wrote OCCULT SCIENCE — his most important book — to make much occult wisdom known far and wide.

“The hidden knowledge which is gradually taking hold of mankind, and will increasingly be doing so, may in the language of a well-known symbol be called the Knowledge of the Grail. We read of the Holy Grail in old-time narratives and legends, and as we learn to understand its deeper meaning we discover that it most significantly pictures the heart and essence of the new Initiation-knowledge, centering in the Mystery of Christ. The Initiates of the new age may therefore be described as the 'Initiates of the Grail.' ... We are now living at a time when the higher knowledge needs to be far more widely received into the general consciousness of mankind than hitherto; it is with this view in mind that the present work has been written." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), p. 305.

But in that same book, Steiner withholds various information. One example: Concerning a future stage of human evolution, the “Vulcan” stage, Steiner is extremely close-mouthed:

“The evolved humanity...goes forward to the Vulcan evolution, any description of which would be beyond the compass of this book.”— Ibid., p. 310.

OCCULT SCIENCE is an “outline” only. Its compass is limited by the ability of ordinary language to frame spiritual mysteries, and by the requirement that people who are unworthy and/or unprepared — that is, the uninitiated — must not be told certain things.

Three key concepts run like threads through Steiner's theology: the "occult", "mysteries", and "initiation." They all reflect the need for secrecy. The most innocent definition of the term occult is "hidden." Mystery knowledge is necessarily hidden or hard to attain — it is secret. Initiation is the process of attaining hidden or secret knowledge.

Steiner's devoted followers undergo initiation, after which they face the difficult task of deciding how much of their "knowledge" to divulge to the uninitiated — that is, to you and me. Various Anthroposophists and Waldorf schools make various decisions about where to draw the line; some are more candid than others; but all presumably recognize the need to withhold at least some of their doctrines from outsiders, including many if not all parents of Waldorf students. This does not, however, prevent Waldorf schools from acting on Anthroposophical doctrines and thus leading children toward occultism. They merely have to be circumspect about it, which means not explaining their actions. As Steiner said,

"The ancient teachers of the mysteries used to preserve such secrets as esoteric knowledge because they could not be imparted directly. In a certain sense, all teachers must be in possession of truths that they cannot directly pass on to the world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 84.

For more on the subject of initiation, see "Inside Scoop" and "Knowing the Worlds". Also see chapter five of OCCULT SCIENCE, which is titled "Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (Concerning Initiation)". In a more recent edition, the chapter's title is given as "Knowledge of Higher Worlds: Initiation." — AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 281. Changing "occult" to "esoteric" in the title of this text is just small one instance of the Anthroposophical effort to downplay alarming Anthroposophical beliefs in public. If you read much of Steiner's work, you will find that older editions are generally blunter and more informative than newer, more guarded editions. Also, if you compare Steiner's words in the original German with their translations in English-language texts, you will find that some troubling passages and lectures have been omitted from the English texts.

THE WAY OF INITIATION, which I quoted above, is old and difficult to find. Newer editions include KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944) and HOW TO KNOW THE HIGHER WORLDS - A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophical Press, 1994). Read the older editions of Steiner's works whenever you can. But stay alert, and be prepared for surprises. The newer editions often use plainer, less convoluted language, which means that despite efforts to withhold various secrets, they sometimes let revealing tidbits slip through.

Steiner coached his followers to preserve their secrets.

But at least occasionally he favored greater openness.

Sometimes, indeed, he chided his followers

for concealing too much:

“It is obvious that knowledge of the human being must be the basis for a teacher's work; that being so, teachers must acquire this knowledge for themselves, and the natural thing will be that they acquire it through Anthroposophy. If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is behind it." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 4.

To examine a pair of lectures that

Steiner's English-speaking followers

have tried to keep secret,

see "Forbidden" and "Also Forbidden".

For more on Anthroposophical indoctrination

in Waldorf schools, see "Indoctrination".

For background on clairvoyance

and other "psychic phenomena"

use this link: "Clairvoyance".

For information on alchemy: "Alchemy".

For more on magic in general: "Magic".

For information on signs and symbols

you may spot at a Waldorf school

(including pentagrams, hexagrams, bees,

snakes, fish, Alpha, Omega, Tarok, and Tao)

see: "Signs".

For information about the Antichrist

and other evil powers, see "Evil Ones".

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 135 of Rudolf Steiner, ARCHITECTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003).]

Waldorf teachers — like Anthroposophists in general — generally don't like to say this, but Anthroposophy has a cathedral. And, as it so happens, it was designed by Rudolf Steiner. Located in Dornach, Switzerland, it is called the Goetheanum. In fact, there have been two versions of the cathedral. Steiner originally designed the building you see here. A wooden structure, it burned to the ground. So Steiner designed a second version, to be built of concrete. You'll find pictures of that version elsewhere here at Waldorf Watch. [See, e.g., "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Both versions of the Goetheanum were designed as places of worship (although this is usually denied). Consistent with this purpose, both were designed to have multiple occult murals and other mystic paintings, a large statue of Christ, an organ, a pulpit, colored glass windows, and so forth. They were designed as cathedrals (although this is usually denied). The religion for which these cathedral were erected is the central religion of Waldorf schools: Anthroposophy.