"[J]ust as the physical forces of the stars have an influence on the earth, so do their spiritual powers also have an influence on the earth, and above all on the human being." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 55.
"[W]hereas all other forces — the forces of the planets and of the fixed stars — tend to draw us out into the distant Cosmos, the Moon wants to place us once more into the world of man. The Moon draws us away from the Cosmos. The Moon has forces that are directly opposite to the forces both of the Sun and of the Stars." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN'S LIFE AND EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Health Research Books, 1960), p. 52.
"You see, it was not for nothing that the ancients called the zodiac 'the animal circle'. The zodiac is twelvefold; it divides its totality into twelve separate parts. Those forces, which come out of the cosmos, from the zodiac, take on form and shape in the animals." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 3, GA 230.
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970.]
The thinking behind Waldorf schools inclines heavily toward astrology.
Steiner taught that powers flow down to us from the planets, the stars, and the cosmos.
Below are relevant quotations taken from books published by the Anthroposophical Press
in the series “Foundations of Waldorf Education”.
The quotations reflect astrology as it emerges in Waldorf schooling.
Some of what Steiner said sounds attractive
— saying that we are connected with the cosmos is nice —
but bear in mind what Steiner meant: he was speaking of the "influence"
of the stars and planets on human life and destiny
— he was speaking of astrology.
"The fixed stars work in the human being, the moving planets work in the human being, and all the elements of nature work there as well." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 84. The stars and planets work in the human being: This is the essence of astrology, and here we find it in the "roots of education," in the "foundations of Waldorf education."
"When you look up into the heavens, you see that the stars are clustered into definite groups, and that these groups are all different from one another. Those groups of stars attract the etheric human body, drawing it out into the far spaces." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 39. The groups are, of course, the constellations, especially the twelve constellations ranged along the zodiac. Constellations do not really exist: They are tricks of perspective. But Steiner says they have influence over us, as when they draw the "etheric human body" out into space. This is fantasy (the nonexistent constellations) compounding fantasy (the nonexistent etheric body). But it is a root of Waldorf education.
"The physical substances that make up the physical body connect it with the whole Earth; similarly, the astral body is connected with the world of stars. The forces that permeate the astral body and condition a person’s destiny and character were called astral by those who could look deeply into their mysterious connection with the astral world surrounding the Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION OF THE CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 52. Here another fantasy arises: the astral body. The "world of stars" is connected with this body, affecting "a person's destiny and character." This is astrology, discussed vis-à-vis the "education of the child."
"We must understand how, in facing the world, we first approach it with logical concepts and ideas. The being of the universe, however, gives human nature something that emanates from the cosmic formative activity working down from the spheres, just as earthly gravity works up from the central point of the Earth. And cosmic music, working from the periphery, is also a part of this. Just as the shaping activity works from above, and physical activity works from below through gravity, so cosmic music works in the movements of the starry constellations at the periphery." — Rudolf Steiner, ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 50. The music of the spheres is another fantasy that Steiner embraced, the idea that the stars and planets produce an inaudible "music" as they move. It is one of the forms of the "cosmic formative activity," that is, the shaping influences of the stars and planets and their presiding gods. The music comes through the "starry constellations." Astrology.
"The things that modern people reflect upon through their intelligence were not even thought about by the Egypto-Chaldean people, because they did not have the same kind of intelligence. When they thought, when they brought their intelligence into motion, their connection with the cosmos lived in that intelligence. The ancient Egyptians and Chaldeans knew how they stood in relationship to one or another of the zodiacal signs, they recognized the influence of the moon and the sun and the other planets upon their souls and their bodily constitution. They knew how the rhythms of the seasons affected their nature. They comprehended all that through their intelligence, and they gained a complete inner picture of their relationship to the cosmos through their intelligence". — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 73-74. Steiner affirmed ancient "wisdom" of this sort while decrying the blindness of modern science. Astrology, not astronomy, suited his vision. The wise ancients understood the importance of the "zodiacal signs" — the signs of the zodiac, astrological signs.
Painting by a Waldorf student,
courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.
"The head develops first in the embryo. It is utter nonsense to regard it as being merely inherited. Its spherical shape tells you that it is truly a copy of the cosmos, whose forces are active in it. What we inherit enters the organism of our arms and legs. There we are our parents’ children. They relate us to the terrestrial forces. But our heads have no access to the earth’s forces, not even to fertilization. The head is organized by the cosmos. Any hereditary likeness is caused by the fact that it develops with the help of the other organism, is nourished by the blood that is affected by the other organism. But it is the cosmos that gives the head its shape, that makes it autonomous and individual. Above all, the work of the cosmos — inasmuch as it is connected to the head — can be seen in those things that are part of the nerve-sense organism. We bring our nerve-sense organism with us from the cosmos, allowing it to impart itself into the other organism." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 36. Here is a fine example of Steiner's "logic." The human skull is spherical (more or less — in fact, it is not a sphere, but Steiner pretends that it is). Therefore, Steiner deduces, the skull is shaped by the heavens (the celestial vault, the apparent celestial sphere). Cosmic influences (astrology) beam down and shape our heads. Makes perfect sense. (If you think about it, however, you will realize that other parts of the male and female anatomies are more nearly spherical than the skull. What are we to make of this? Nothing. Steiner has not shown that the stars or cosmos affect the shape of any part of our bodies — all of this is astrological hooey.)
"The ego was then sought outside the circle of the zodiac, in a sphere that was pure spirit, for which a physical correlate could not be found except in its outer picture, the sun. This is the idea of the sun held by the people of still earlier times; it had become somewhat decadent during the Greek cultural period.
"Our physicists and astronomers imagine the sun as a huge gaseous ball some twenty million miles away in the universe. This huge cosmic gas stove — without walls — radiates light and warmth in all directions. It is the only explanation, the sole idea for us — if we wish to be experts and not naive dilettantes. Indeed it is only an “expert,” a “specialist,” who could hold such a view." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 114. The ancients, believing in the powers of the zodiac, were wiser than modern experts — those dilettantes, those so-called "specialists." So reject modern knowledge and embrace ancient ignorance. This will equip us to educate adolescents. Astrology, not astronomy.
"[P]eople have completely neglected to connect the soul of individual human beings to the cosmos. People are not in a position to understand how the human soul relates to the cosmos. You can get an idea of human nature only when you can see the relationship of the individual human being to the whole cosmos." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 49-50. People — that is modern people, especially modern thinkers such as scientists — have forgotten the ancient wisdom (i.e., ignorance). But Steiner remembers it and would spread it again in an improved form — through Waldorf schools, for instance. Steiner has an elaborate system for describing the relationship to the human being to the whole cosmos. It is Anthroposophy, "human wisdom," which tells us the truth about human nature (such as that the cosmos shapes our skulls and the stars help shape our destiny...).
"People can develop a strong will in the proper way only if we continue to enlarge their perspective and direct them toward those things that act spiritually in the world, those things coming from the stars that have a spiritual effect upon world history and upon the depths of the human heart. It is only when people’s worldview includes the spiritual that they can properly activate their wills." — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2001), p. 238. "Things coming from the stars...."
"Whenever the Sun’s forces are active, the plant expands and opens its leaves; when Moon forces act on it, plant life contracts ... [W]hen we consider this expansion and contraction as Goethe has shown it to us, we see in it the alternation of Sun and Moon forces, and we are led out into the distant spaces of the cosmos. When we can see how the stars are at work in the plant, we do not remain bound and limited.
"These Sun and Moon forces that influence plants act in a more complicated way on the human being, and this leads us to think that the human being is not just a citizen of Earth, but of the cosmos as well. We know that when we eat — for example, cabbage or venison — or drink something, whatever relates to life pursues its own course within us. We nevertheless know about such things, because can perceive them. But we have no knowledge of how we are connected with the starry worlds in our soul and spirit — how the forces of contraction live in the sphere of the Moon, the forces of expansion in that of the Sun; we do not know that these forces maintain the balance more or less perfectly in a human being — that melancholic tendencies have their roots in the Moon realm, sanguine tendencies of soul in the Sun, and balance and harmony are brought about by cosmic activity." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION, pp. 82-83. "The Sun's forces" certainly do affect plants. "Moon forces," not so much. (In fact, there are no Moon forces aside from reflected sunlight and the gravitational tug of the Moon.) What effects do such forces — and the "starry worlds" in general — have on human beings? Steiner's fancy takes flight. He alludes to souls and spirits (he distinguished between them), celestial forces of expansion and contraction, the Moon realm, cosmic activity, humours (melancholic, sanguine...) — Steiner branches out into Anthroposophical doctrine, which stands in opposition to modern knowledge — i.e., truth and reality.
"The knowledge of Sun and Moon that I mentioned leads us to see how we receive spiritual nourishment from what flows from the whole galaxy of stars; it becomes a strength within us, a driving force." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 83. Sun forces, Moon forces, planetary influences, forces of "the whole galaxy of stars" — astrology.
"If one wants to become a Waldorf teacher, it means working from a true philosophy of life, and this mysterious relationship between the human being and the cosmos must become an unconscious wisdom of one’s feelings." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 131. To be a Waldorf teacher, one should be a true Anthroposophist deep in one's feelings. "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. Among other things, this means accepting the astrological concepts we see here — take them into your heart so that they form part of your "unconscious" (i.e., unthinking) "wisdom."
"In discussing the zodiac, you should begin with the mammals, represented by Leo; then birds, Virgo; reptiles, Libra; amphibians, Scorpio; fish, Sagittarius; articulates, Capricorn; worms, Aquarius. Then continue on the other side, where you have the protists, Cancer; corals, Gemini; echinoderms, Taurus; ascidians, Aries; mollusks, Pisces. You should realize that the zodiac arose at a time when the names and classifications were very different. In the Hebrew language, there is no word for fish, so it is quite reason able that you would not find fish mentioned in the story of creation. They were seen as birds that lived in water. Thus, the zodiac is divided in this way, into seven and five parts for day and night." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 659-660. This is part of what a Waldorf teacher should transmit to the kids, linking zoology and biology to astrology.
"The continents swim and do not sit upon anything. They are held in position upon the Earth by the constellations. When the constellations change, the continents change, also. The old tellurians and atlases properly included the constellations of the zodiac in relationship to the configuration of the Earth’s surface. The continents are held from the periphery; the higher realms hold the parts of the Earth. In contrast, the Earth holds the Moon dynamically, as if on a leash. The Moon goes along as if on a tether." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 618. Note: Steiner made this statement to Waldorf teachers in a faculty meeting. What did the teachers then tell their students?
"The Egyptian astral body was well developed and could, under certain circumstances, observe the etheric body well. Egyptians could see the astral areas of the etheric body particularly well, that is, the Sun, Moon, and stars. That is expressed in the Book of the Dead, in the clear view of life following death." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 789. More wisdom for Waldorf teachers (i.e., ancient ignorance): astral and etheric bodies; influences of the Sun, Moon, and stars (producing an astral area in the etheric body); and life after death (reincarnation, in Steiner's teachings — an alternating series of evolutionary existences in higher and lower worlds). How much of this do you accept? How much of this do you want your children to accept? These are the sorts of things discussed by Steiner and his true-believing followers in Waldorf faculty meetings.
For more on Waldorf astrology,
Steiner devised his own versions of the Zodiacal symbols.
Here is his revision of the sign for Taurus:
Design by Rudolf Steiner, drawing by Imma von Eckhardstein
(copy by R.R., 2010)
— Rudolf Steiner, CALENDAR 1912-1913,
(SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 40ff.
"Taurus. The larynx becomes the creative word."
— Ibid., p. 159
— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings