The Fruits of Clairvoyance
Anyone who wishes to believe Rudolf Steiner faces a serious problem. How should s/he deal with Steiner’s many demonstrable — sometimes hilarious, often deplorable — blunders? Let’s review a few of them. Steiner was either sincerely wrong in the following statements, or else he was lying — that is, intentionally misleading his eager followers.
A brief preface: Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to disprove a statement. If, for example, Steiner said anything as wacky as that fire-breathing beasts once roamed the Earth, or that goblins are present on the Earth today, most of us would be pretty sure he was wrong, but we would have a hard time proving it. Proving a negative (as in “There are no goblins”) is tough. But what does this mean, in practice? Simply that anything that anybody ever imagines may, just barely possibly, exist somewhere, somehow: unicorns, ghosts, little green men... The chance that any of these things actually exists is minuscule, but we can’t absolutely rule out such possibilities. We can, however, insist that people who make weird claims must give us supporting evidence. The burden of proof, in other words, is on them: You say that goblins exist? Show us. Convince us.
Other sorts of claims are easier to refute. Let’s imagine, for example, that Steiner said that the heart doesn’t pump blood or that the Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun. Science has clearly demonstrated that the heart is a muscular pump that sends blood coursing through our veins, and it has shown quite conclusively that the Earth (like all other planets in our solar system) orbits the Sun. One can challenge these findings, but they are extremely well established, so any challenge needs to be bolstered by very powerful proof. Steiner almost never gave evidence for his claims. He just made the claims, blew some people’s minds, and went his mystic way.
OK. So what did Steiner claim? Here are a few examples:
Steiner said that fire-breathing beasts once roamed the Earth  and that goblins exist.  His evidence? None. He did elaborate a bit on his belief in goblins. He said that goblins (sometimes called gnomes, he said) huddle together deep underground. Concerning the underground itself, he said that it consists of many layers (quite true) some of which are conscious, emotional, and given to crying if stepped upon (not so true).  He also taught that islands such as Great Britain are not attached to the Earth. They float in the sea and are held in place by the power of the stars. 
Steiner’s medical teachings do indeed include the preposterous idea that the heart is not responsible for circulating blood. Blood circulates of its own accord, he taught.  The heart, you see, is a sense organ, not a pump.  Likewise, the brain is different from what you may have been taught. Thinking does not occur in the brain  — except among materialists, who are incapable of real cognition (aka clairvoyance). 
Other medical truths, according to Steiner:
◊ Cancer can be treated with mistletoe. 
But on to other subjects. Steiner taught that Atlantis existed.  Before Atlantis, he lectured, there was another doomed human habitation: Lemuria. Problem for Anthroposophists: There is no shred of evidence that either such place ever existed.  Folklore and fables do not constitute evidence.
According to Steiner, the Aryan race arose from people who had lived on Atlantis. Problem: The Aryan race does not and never did exist.  A belief in Aryanism is only one doctrine in Steiner’s catalogue of racist teachings, many of which are — as you might expect — hateful. Different races and peoples have different mentalities and spiritual abilities, according to Steiner. Some races are moving upward evolutionarily, creating new spiritual realities as they progress; others are, deservedly, nose-diving, he taught. 
Steiner interwove his racist and other doctrines with tidbits of astrology. Not to be confused with the science of astronomy, astrology is the baseless, outmoded belief that the position of various heavenly bodies, as seen from the Earth, causes profound effects for everything upon the Earth. This is bunk — or, to be more diplomatic, it is a proposition that has not yet been confirmed by documented substantiation. 
Here are a few more blunders Steiner made concerning heavenly orbs:
◊ He taught that the Sun and other “planets” separated from the Earth. 
Coming back down to Earth, Steiner advocated “biodynamic” agriculture. This is a form of organic agriculture that may, in fact, have some virtues. But (leaving reality again) Steiner taught that farmers and gardeners should plant their crops in accordance with astrological conditions, especially the phases of the Moon.  To prepare fields for planting, use magic. Bury cow dung in a cow horn for a specified period of time (determined astrologically), then dig up the horn, empty the dollop of decayed dung into a bucket, add water, and stir vigorously, reversing the direction of the stirring every so often in order to maximize the magical effects. Then squirt the resulting cupfuls of liquid onto your fields (if you have no better way to spend your time). 
Steiner explained that evolution is not at all what Darwin and subsequent scientists have shown. Steiner taught that the first living beings on Earth were humans (in a very different shape than we now enjoy). Thus, humans did not evolve from lower forms of life; just the opposite: Animals evolved (or devolved, or involved) from humans. 
At least some of Steiner’s blunders resulted from the limitations imposed on him by the period in which he lived. He was largely confined by hypotheses current in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. He was a victim, in other words, of various notions that science has subsequently discarded.
◊ His ignorance of the outer reaches of the solar system was natural for a man of his time, before space probes and giant telescopes gave us new data.
The canal-like lines on Mars vanished in the 1960s when our first Mars probes sent back photos of the planet's surface. (And later probes, including landers, showed that Mars is dry and rocky, with a very thin atmosphere and no confirmed signs — as yet — of life.) For the retirement of Vulcan and the ether we can thank Einstein. He showed that the oddness of Mercury's orbit is caused by the Sun's mass, and he showed that light can be considered a stream of particles that do not require an etheric medium. Crucially, in the years since Einstein published his theories, scientists have tested the theories over and over, and confirmed them. (Anthroposophists sometimes jump on the term “theory,” as if it means that science is shaky. But in science, “theory” does not signify deep uncertainty; rather, a scientific theory is a testable, systematic explanation of phenomena. All scientific theories may eventually be supplanted by later, more advanced theories, but all stand on solid evidence. An Anthroposophist can test the “theory of gravity,” for instance, by jumping out of a high window. ) Scientific evidence for Steiner's doctrines, on the other hand, has been woefully lacking.
To completely avoid his errors about Mercury, Mars, ether, and so forth, Steiner would have required information that did not become available until after his death. But this does not acquit him, for two reasons.
◊ Einstein published his seminal paper on the nature of light in 1905. During that same year, he published his special theory of relativity, which he followed in 1916 with the general theory of relativity. Steiner died in 1925, two decades after Einstein’s first breakthroughs.  He had plenty of time to educate himself about Einstein's work; he had plenty of opportunity to stay abreast of scientific advances, if only by following accounts in the popular press.
We should linger over that point. While claiming that his doctrines are a form of “spiritual science,” Steiner advocated very different forms of thought than the rationality required by science: He beat the drum for imagination, intuition, and clairvoyance. The irony is that, without rational substantiation, these forms of thought often lead to the very uncertainty and relativism that Anthroposophists say they oppose.
Perhaps Steiner really saw the things he says he saw, clairvoyantly. We don’t know precisely how he operated or precisely what psychic experiences he had, within the confines of his consciousness: All we have is his word, i.e., the claims he made. But even if Steiner truly thought that he "saw" the marvelous things he reported, he himself couldn’t have known whether those things were real or merely products of his unconscious fancy. The visions he reported presumably came to him, one way or another (unless he was consciously making them up, of course). They may have felt right to him. He may have thought that they merited implicit belief. But how did he know that they weren’t mere figments of his imagination and thus false? He couldn’t have known, since he advocated imagination as a reliable investigative tool. Finding where to draw the line between imagination and self-deception is a great challenge, one that begs the definition of sanity. People fool themselves all the time, misinterpreting what they see and hear. When individuals develop an intense tendency to see and hear things that we can’t confirm — perhaps even things that aren’t real — we are justified in worrying about them, but we probably don’t want to follow their lead.
Consider the matter from the perspective of one who wishes to believe Steiner’s teachings. An Anthroposophist might well reject the argument I’m making right now because s/he intuits that Steiner was right and I am wrong. Steiner’s teachings feel right to her/him, and mine feel wrong. The obvious danger in applying such subjective standards is that no real proof is required, so one can easily end up believing fantasies or even lies. Going with one's feelings (or one's imagined visions, or the knowledge that "comes" to you internally) is the reverse of objectivity; it is the quintessence or unreliability. [See, e.g. "Why? Oh Why? Oh Why?"]
Steiner said that his psychic faculties provided objective visions, which he called “imaginations”.  But objectivity requires dispassionate reasoning, which is brainwork, which Steiner derided. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific".] The issue comes down to this: Which type of “thinking” is reliable: reasoning or clairvoyance? Unless you believe in clairvoyance, and what is more, unless you believe that Rudolf Steiner was wonderfully, majestically clairvoyant, you have little reason to accept the doctrines of Anthroposophy, which all depend on clairvoyance.
Let’s look again, very briefly, at a few of the most obviously fallacious assertions that Steiner’s clairvoyance produced.
◊ The heart doesn’t pump blood.
There is a huge amount of scientific evidence on all of these points, and all of it indicates that Steiner was wrong. This is where Steiner’s reliance on non-brain “thinking” led him: to error. 
So where does all of this lead us? Steiner’s demonstrable errors demolish his claim that he was a clairvoyant authority. Steiner “saw” marvels, but time after time when we can test these marvels, they turn out to be wrong. The form of thinking Steiner says he employed was unreliable, and the teachings he offers us as a product of that “thinking” are unreliable. Which is very good news. Rudolf Steiner was not a spiritual sage. His authority is zilch. We are led to freedom from his falsehoods.
Since writing the above, I have come upon many more errors
and dubious statements Steiner made. Here is a sampler.
Some of these are outright blunders;
others may be debatable. All are passing strange.
◊ [Magic Is For Real] “The white magician would impart to other souls the spiritual life he bears within him. The black magician has the urge to kill....” — Rudolf Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978), lecture 11, GA 94. “The black magician, therefore, employs Moon forces that still exist on Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INITIATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, GA 243.
◊ [Alchemy Is For Real] “And what about true alchemy? That does not come from doing research in the manner of chemists today but....” — Rudolf Steiner, ALCHEMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 18. True alchemy, forsooth. "True alchemy, on the other hand, makes itself independent of sensory perception in order to behold the spiritual nature of the world that is external to humanity, but is concealed by sensory perception." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SECRET STREAM (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 162.
◊ [Atomic Physics Is Nonsense] “[A]toms are really tiny little caricatures of demons, and our learned scholars would not speak about them as they do unless people had grown accustomed, in education, to putting everything together out of its parts.” — Rudolf Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 161. When reading Steiner, you have to get used to his sarcasm directed at rational people. (And you have to resist the urge to piece things together out of their parts — that is, figure things out.)
◊ [If Not Caricatures, Atoms Are...] "[T]he atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. — The thought itself is composed of the same substance." — Rudolf Steiner, "The Work of Secret Societies in the World" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. Steiner's followers share his troubled view of atoms and electricity. See, e.g., Georg Unger's ON NUCLEAR ENERGY AND THE OCCULT ATOM (Anthroposophic Press, 1982), and Richard Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002): "Electricity drives out of the nerves everything that tends toward spirit." — Seddon, p. 31. This helps explain the Waldorf aversion to TVs and computers, among other high-tech gizmos: They are deemed demonic. See David. B. Black's THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981. Ahriman is a dreadful demon. [See "Ahriman."]
◊ [Seances Are Serious Business] “[A] medium becomes talkative and allows his own organs of speech to articulate spiritual things....” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press 1998), p. 80. Seances represent one alternative to rationally figuring things out. You see, mediums are for real (although modern ones aren't up to the old standards): “You know, of course, that the activities of mediums have not been entirely curtailed, that they still exist, even today. But the art of training mediums to a level where their revelations could become significant has, so to speak, been withdrawn ... But the door to the spiritual world had been opened....” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 217. (If mediums no longer provide reliable information, Steiner offered himself as a substitute. He claimed to receive messages from the dead. See "Steiner and the Warlord".)
◊ [Mediums Produce Ectoplasm, Thanks to Nature Spirits] "[W]hen experiments are made with a medium, ectoplasm issues from a certain part of the body, a form that embodies a spiritual element not to be found on Earth ... Something streams out of the medium. It is [a] skin emanation ... The phenomena...are simply exudations which materialize through the skin emanations an ectoplasmic form that is activated by...elementary beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), lecture 7, GA 243. (Elementary beings, also called nature spirits, are creatures such as gnomes and sylphs. They really exist, Steiner taught. We'll get to them.)
◊ [Beware the Witches] “It might have been very awkward for certain brotherhoods if, before being burned at the stake, a witch had revealed what lay behind them. For it is true that...there can be a kind of telephone connection with the spiritual world, and that by this route all sorts of secrets can come out. Those who burned the witches did so for a very good reason: It would have been very awkward for them if the witches had revealed anything to the world....” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 217.
◊ [Age of the Earth] “The Earth was not in existence twenty million years ago....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 6 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1989) p. 16. Actually, the Earth is approximately 4.6 billions years old, more than 230 times older than Steiner said. Check, e.g., THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA (bearing in mind that Steiner and his followers pooh-pooh such resources).
◊ [Future of the Earth] “The physicists today calculate the changes that will occur in various substances in twenty million years ... [O]nly the earth will no longer be in existence [then] as a physical cosmic body.” — Rudolf Steiner, MICHAELMAS AND THE SOUL-FORCES OF MAN (SteinerBooks, 1982), p. 57. Note that Steiner isn’t guessing or predicting — he knows. Not.
◊ [25,815] “When you come back after 25,815 years the earth will have dissolved in the meantime.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 130. Note that Steiner isn’t guessing or predicting — he knows. (25,815 years, by the way, is the period it will take you to be reincarnated 11 or 12 times. [Ibid., p. 128.] It is roughly equal to the period of the precession of the equinoxes — the length of time required for the Earth to work its way through one cycle of the zodiac.)
◊ [Guys and Gals: Different Lineages] “Human beings in whom the physical, astral, and ego predominated, are the physical ancestors of males today, while those in whom the etheric, astral, and ego predominated, are the physical ancestors of females of today.” — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1979), p. 110. Etheric, astral, and ego, in Steinerspeak, refer to nonphysical human bodies and capacities. (“Ego” is not the same as that found in psychology.) We are our own ancestors, in Anthroposophical belief, because we return to Earth many, many times through the process of reincarnation. [See "Incarnation", "Reincarnation", and "Karma".]
◊ [Ghosts] “When human beings cling too strongly to earthly things it may be difficult for them to find their bearings in the sphere of the Moon Beings ... The moon-influences are not really active below the roots of plants ... The moon-influences, rising like mist from this shallow layer, may cause human beings who have to pass after death into the Moon sphere — the soul-world — but are unable to understand the Moon Beings, to be trapped by this shallow stratum of moon-influences and they can actually be seen by sensible-supersensible perception [i.e., clairvoyance] wandering about as ghosts, as spectral shades.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 150-151. Steiner had severe problems trying to express himself. I’ll translate: The Moon sphere is the soul-world; it is occupied by Moon Beings; the influence of the Moon extends only a short distance below the surface of the Earth; people who can’t understand the Moon Beings may, upon death, get trapped in the shallow parts of the Earth that are under the influence of the Moon; thereafter, these poor dead people will become what are commonly called ghosts.
◊ [Moon Beings] See the foregoing revelation.
◊ [Giants and Dwarfs] “Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic myths [i.e., Norse myths, so important in Waldorf schooling], we feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 117. If you can think up something that doesn't exist, Steiner will probably tell you that it does — or did:
◊ [Nymphs, Etc.] “Imagine what the people of ancient times perceived, entrancing them, pouring through their heads, till they exclaimed, 'Ah, the nymphs! Ah, the gnomes! How the nymphs whirl in my head, how the gnomes hammer....' That no longer exists for us. Today the hammering, surging, and whirling are eclipsed and overwhelmed by what comes from actual seeing or hearing.” — Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 230. Steiner acknowledged the existence of actual perception, but he preferred clairvoyance, which he called actual "cognition." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. Steiner preferred the fantasies of the past to the scientific truths of the present — indeed, he mistook the fantasies for reality. He taught that gnomes, fairies, etc., actually exist. [See "Beings".]
◊ [Gravity - Loony] "Anyone going about the physical Earth, or even when lying down, is always subject to the laws of gravity. If he were to escape from them for a few minutes, the opposing force, counter-gravity, comes into play. He then experiences within himself a force dragging him away from the Earth, instead of chaining him to it. This is the same force that comes from the Moon." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), chapter 7, GA 227.
◊ [Gravity, Locally] “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.” — Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137. No cigar. Gravity exists everywhere, including on gaseous/fluid planets such as Jupiter — where gravity is far greater than on any solid planet in the solar system.
◊ [Oops — Gravity, Generally] “The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 29. Steiner explained that gravity doesn't really exist, but Waldorf teachers should pretend that it does so that Waldorf schools will not look bad. “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.” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 2000), pp. 116-117. Note the title of the book. Steiner gave good, practical advice, indeed.
◊ [Our Bodies] “As we appear physically, we are clearly divided into the head system, the chest system, and the abdominal system, including the limbs....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press. 1996), p. 59. This explains why your stomach has arms. Steiner distorted the function of our actual bodily systems, such as the nervous system (unconnected to real thinking), the cardiovascular system (the heart isn't a pump), the immune system (diseases are linked to the stars), the reproductive system (the Moon is paramount), and so on.
◊ [Animal Bodies] An organ in a human “may have an entirely different task from that of the corresponding organ in the animal world ... That which is said...with reference to the essential nature of the organs in the case of the human being, cannot be said in the same way with regard to the animals.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 14. There is no scientific basis for this claim. None. Gal bladders, hearts, kidneys, etc., work much they same in all species.
◊ [Animal Minds] Steiner argued that animals do not have memories. “To attribute memory to animals is an error ... [T]he animal's behaviour implies the absence of all memory.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 46-47. Wrong. Many animals seem to have better memories than humans. Birds who learn extremely long migratory routes have astonishing memories, as do animals who memorize the locations of food stores they create for the winter. See, e.g., Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION (Scribner, 2005), p. 285ff. “Some bird and mammal species that have to remember where they've hidden their food are memory specialists and have extra large brain areas devoted to visual memory. The Clark's nutcracker, a type of crow, buries as many as thirty thousand pine seeds in the fall in a two-hundred-square-mile area, then finds over 90 percent of them during the winter.” — Grandin and Johnson, p. 263.
◊ [Blond Minds] “If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. In the case of fair people, less nourishment is driven into the eyes and hair; it remains instead in the brain and endows it with intelligence. Brown and dark-haired people drive the substances into their eyes and hair that the fair people retain in their brains.” — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86.
◊ [Nonsense re. Senses] "Fish don't smell things." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 146. Untrue. "Fishes perceive the world around them by the usual senses of sight, smell, [etc.]." — "." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 28 Nov. 2011.
◊ [The Moon and Eggs] “Women discharge...human eggs every four weeks. At first they are given up to the moon’s influence for a short time and are protected. But when the female organism dispatches the human egg during the course of the monthly period, it comes under the influence of the earth and is destroyed.” — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press), 1981, p. 127. No comment. (Except: No.)
◊ [Racial Extinction] "The forces which determine man's racial character follow this cosmic pattern. The American Indians died out, not because of European persecutions, but because they were destined to succumb to those forces which hastened their extinction." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 76. This is very interesting and very sad. Certainly, Native Americans were subjected to terrible injustice amounting to genocide. There's just one problem with Steiner's statement, however. Native Americans are not extinct; many Native Americans are very much alive in America (North and South) today. (We can't excuse Steiner by arguing that he was just exaggerating a smidgen. He thought Native Americans provided an example of a key portion of his racial doctrines, which is that races become extinct for good reason. See, e.g., http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25329.)
◊ [Volcanic Ring] “[A]round the South pole in particular there are many volcanic mountains.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 184. Nope. (There are volcanos in Antarctica, but so are there volcanos most everywhere else. Moreover, the Antarctic volcanos do not cluster near the South Pole. They are not "around the South pole in particular.")
◊ [Fauns and Satyrs] "If the whole reality is revealed to us as we look over towards the East of Europe to-day, we see not human beings alone but an astral [i.e., supernatural] sphere which since the Middle Ages has become the Paradise of beings once known as the Fauns and Satyrs." — Rudolf Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (ANTHROPOSOPHY, No. 3, Vol. 6), GA 225. No comment. (Really, none.)
◊ [Celestial Hangouts] “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93. The Apollo astronauts didn't report discovering that the Moon is like a fortress, but then the Apollo moon landings may have been faked, right? Some Anthroposophists argue so, anyway. Steiner himself did not clairvoyantly foresee the Apollo program (which is odd), so he didn't weigh in on this fallacious controversy. (But for some of Steiner's forecasts that did not pan out, see "Millennium". To peek into the Anthroposophical denial that man has walked on the Moon, see, e.g., "Today" and "Today 3.")
◊ [More Celestial Hangouts] "[M]any planetoids [i.e., asteroids] are interspersed between Mars and Jupiter ... They make up the region which in its spiritual aspect is experienced by a man after death because he cannot yet reach Jupiter. They have the remarkable characteristic of being spiritual colonies, as it were, of beings from Jupiter and Saturn who have withdrawn there.” — Rudolf Steiner, The EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227. Golly. 
◊ [The “Star” Venus] “Lucifer himself takes part in Earth evolution with the perpetual longing within himself for his true home, for the star Venus ... [W]hat Lucifer casts off as a husk...as the physical body is cast off by the human soul at death, shines down from heaven as Venus.” — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 77. [For more on Lucifer, see "Lucifer". For more on Venus, et al, see "The Planets".]
◊ [Negating Newton] Newton was wrong: Prisms do not split white light apart. "Newton said to himself: 'There the white light is coming in; the prism gives me the seven colors of the rainbow ... The sun [i.e., sunlight] already has all the colours in it, we only have to draw them out.' But that is not at all the way it is." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 24-25. Standing up for his hero Goethe (who was wrong), Steiner bravely disputed Newton (who was right). Newton correctly said that white light contains all the colors, and a prism can split these apart. Steiner and Goethe incorrectly said that the splitting is an illusion, that white light cannot be split. This is brave — and totally wrong.
◊ [Deep Throat] “The larynx is the future organ of procreation and birth. At present we give birth to words through it, but in future this seed will develop the capacity to give birth to the whole human being once we have become spiritualized.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 50. Anything is possible, I suppose.
◊ [Rickets] “The ashes that a thought leaves strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. Well, not everything is possible.
◊ [Insect Souls, Human Souls] “The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being ... It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach....” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176. Surprised? Confused? You should know that after the Earth and the entire solar system blink out of existence, everything will reemerge in a new form called, occultly, "Future Venus" [see "Future Stages"]. And, "Social life on Venus resembles [i.e., will resemble] a beehive, which is built of carbon created out of its own being, has a consciousness at the Imaginative level, and where work is the main concern." — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 125. Eager to get there?
◊ [Foolish Astronomers] “I have spoken to you of the ingenious description of the sun given by astrophysicists. But if it were possible to journey to the sun it would be found with amazement that nothing of what is to be expected from these physical descriptions exists.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 35. Space probes passing near the Sun have shown the opposite: They have confirmed (and, of course, improved upon) the observations made by earthbound astronomers. The astrophysicists speak truth; Steiner spoke fantasy.
◊ [Negative Suctional Space] “[M]aterialistic physicists would be immensely astonished if they went up into space expecting to find the sun as they describe it in their science. Their descriptions are nonsense. If by some convenient transport the physicists could reach the sun, they would be amazed to find no gas whatsoever. They would find hollow space, a real vacuum. This vacuum radiates light.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 143-144. The same vacuum exists in all stars, Steiner said. (There is a vacuum somewhere, certainly.) "I am always saying that if people could really travel to a star, they would be amazed to find it different from the modern ideas about it determined by their life on earth. They imagine that it contains a glowing gas. But that is not at all what is found out there. Actually, where the star is, there is empty space, empty space that would immediately suck one up. Suction forces are there. They would suck you up instantly, split you to pieces. If people would work with the same consistent research and the same unprejudiced thinking as we do here, they would also come to see with intricate spectroscopes that there are not gases out there, but negative suctional space." — Ibid., pp. 46-47.
◊ [Those Silly Physicists (cont.)] “[T]here is no such thing, my dear friends, as what the physicists call matter." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 55.
◊ [No Growth] “[T]he idea that the population of the earth increases is just superstition on the part of modern science, which always makes its calculations from data to suit itself. The truth is that even in the most ancient times there was a vast population in China, also in South America and North America. There too in those ancient times the land reached out to the Pacific Ocean. If that is taken into account the population of the earth cannot be said to have grown.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 68.
◊ [Doings on the Sun and Venus (bees, again)] “[Y]ou will not be able to find out what happens on the Sun or on Venus if you cannot apply this method of placing your consciousness into the life and activity of a bee community.” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 170.
◊ [Plant Aspirations] “The desire to become treelike is actually present in every plant.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 105.
◊ [The Accuracy of Dreams] Changes “occur in our dreams when we undertake the ascent to higher knowledge. Our dreams lose their meaningless, disorganized, and disconnected character and begin to form an increasingly regular, lawful, and coherent world.” — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW THE HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophical Press, 1994), p. 163. Various other religious say something similar. Science, on the other hand, has shown that dreams are essentially meaningless. Some dreams, indeed, lap over into delusion and hallucination.
◊ [The Shape of the Earth] “[T]he earth stands in the universe, curiously, as a rounded tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid. That, gentlemen, is actually still the form of the earth!” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 185. *Sigh.*
◊ [Not Really Planets?] “Then come Uranus and Neptune ... [T]hey circle much farther out and their orbits exhibit such irregularities that in reality they cannot be counted among the planets even today.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 290. When speaking in public and wanting to seem reasonable, Steiner often hid the occult teachings that he shared privately with his followers. Here’s one example of Steiner referring to orbits, although unfortunately he did it in the context of denying that two real planets do not count as planets “even today.” When he spoke more candidly, in private meetings with his followers, he derided the scientific knowledge of his time, relying on his claimed clairvoyance instead. (His faithful followers kept careful notes, for which we must thank them.) To accept Uranus and Neptune as members of the solar system would have upset his mystical, astrological, numerological depiction of the Sun and its six attendant planets, so he rejected the outermost planets.
◊ [The Outermost Planet (Said He)] The same blunder that led Steiner to discount Uranus and Neptune caused him to designate Saturn as the outermost planet: “To the modern materialistic view of the cosmos, Saturn is observed merely as a body moving about in cosmic space; and the same with the other planets. This is not the case; for if we take [i.e., consider] Saturn, the outermost planet of our Universe [sic], we must represent him as the leader of our planetary system in cosmic space. He directs our system in space.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 10, GA 201. Note that Steiner here confuses the solar system with the entire universe or, at least, "our" universe.
◊ [Earth Was Alive; Hard Rocks] “The hardest rocks in the mountains are residues of early plants. The whole of our earth was once alive. It was first a plant, then an animal.” — Rudolf Steiner's FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), editors’ synopsis, p. vii. “[T]he hardest mountains have arisen from plant nature, and the whole earth was a kind of plant ... But the whole earth did once live, and we find a remnant of what once was living earth in the hardest mountain rocks ... [T]he whole earth was in plant form, because the sun’s position was very different, and later on in animal form.” — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., pp. 8-14. *!*
◊ [Oops: Earth IS Alive] Remember what we just learned: "The whole of our earth was once alive." No learn this: “For the earth is really a living being....” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003, p. 67. Contradictions pockmark Steiner’s statements. Is the Earth alive? Steiner both says that • it once lived but has since died, and • it is alive now. The Gaia hypothesis suggests that the Earth may be considered a single organism. But Steiner meant something far more specific, occult, and silly. Remember, for instance, that the Earth contains a layer that would cry out if stepped upon:
◊ [Just Think] “Just think, children, our Earth feels and experiences everything that happens within it ... [I]t has feelings like you have, and can be angry or happy like you.” — Rudolf Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 132. But I promised silly:
◊ [Tonsorial] “[T]he whole earth is a living being ... [I]t bears the plants as a man bears his hair.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1926), p. 64.
◊ [Oops Again; Dead Again] "[T]he earth is a huge human head, indeed, a huge, dead human head." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002, p. 149.
◊ [Stone-Cold Alive; Living Rocks] "The maha-para-nirvana plane is [where] the solid stone has its life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 93a.
◊ [Crying Rocks] Rudolf Steiner, “The Fire Earth [a subterranean layer of the Earth]...is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped upon.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 31. But I already told you this. Let's move on:
◊ [Here Comes the Moon] “[C]onventional textbooks do not mention that the Moon comes closer to the Earth each year. Because this fact is not in the textbooks, most people are unaware of it. It is true nevertheless.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 57. Why oh why isn't this important information in the textbooks? Forget about the textbooks of Steiner's time. This crucial info is left out of today's textbooks mainly for one reason — because it is untrue. The Moon is receding from the Earth, gradually but distinctly. [See THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.]
◊ [Horny and glassy] " [T]he moon, which has around it what we have in the interior of the earth, produced a thickish, horny mass on the outside. This is what we see when we look up. It is not like our mineral kingdom, but it is as if our mineral kingdom had become horn-like and turned into glass. It is extraordinarily hard, harder than anything horn-like that we have on earth, but it is not quite mineral. Hence the peculiar shape of the moon mountains; they actually all look like horns that have been fastened on.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), GA 354, p. 26. Steiner was able to peddle astonishing nonsense about the Moon because, in his day, no one had been there (contrary to what he said). Our Moon probes and manned landings have shown that the Moon is nothing at all like Steiner described. (Although his followers today often argue that the moon landings never occurred. One reason they take this line is that, if they were to accept the findings of the astronomers and astronauts, they would have to confess that much of what Steiner said about the Moon is flat wrong.)
◊ [Moon Men, Moon Air] “The animal man of the Moon [did] not yet have firm bones ... [T]he Moon of that time did not have a thin, airy atmosphere ... [I]ts envelope was considerably thicker, even denser than the water of today.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 193-194. Whether the Moon ever had an atmosphere thicker than water is, shall we say, unproven. And as for "the animal man of the Moon," his existence may possibly be speculative. All of this is complicated by Steiner's weird cosmology. When he spoke of the Moon, he often meant Old Moon, which was not the natural satellite of the Earth (i.e., a place) but an ancient phase of evolution (i.e., a time). [See "Old Moon".] The "animal man of the Moon" was us as we existed at that time. Fortunately for Steiner, when Old Moon ended the entire solar system was transmuted to a totally different form ("Present Earth"), so don't bother to look for physical evidence from Old Moon. There is none. (Surprised?)
◊ [Moon God: Jehovah] “Yahweh [i.e., Jehovah] resides on the Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 43. Maybe yes, maybe no. (No.)
◊ [Christ: Son? Sun] “[A]t a certain point in the earth's evolution, a sublime Sun being, the Christ, did not remain on the sun but came down from the sun to the earth....” — Rudolf Steiner, REVERSE RITUAL (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 170. Just as most Jews, Muslims, and Christians (and Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, agnostics, and atheists — among others) are likely to doubt that Jehovah lives on the Moon, most Christians (and Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, agnostics, and atheists — among others) are likely to doubt that Christ is the Sun God and/or that he came to Earth from the Sun. Indeed, the only people likely to accept this teaching are Steiner's faithful adherents. Maybe they are right, of course. But would you like to bet? [See "Sun God".]
◊ [Arthur and Atlantis] "After Atlantis sank, great initiates led two main streams of people from west to east, one through Africa, the other through Europe. The one that came through Africa toward Asia produced, in the course of incarnations and evolution, the individuality could could take up the Christ light. Meanwhile, in the northern stream initiates raised a strong, powerful stock of people who not only knew how to spite their enemies but were also physically a match for demonic influences. At various locations in Europe there were mystery centers, the existence of which is reported in many old sagas. For example, behind the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table is hidden a report of such a secret school. King Arthur was a high initiate who made known the wisdom of the mysteries to his pupils." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007) p. 427.
◊ [Planetary Hanky-Panky] If you trace your genealogy back far enough, you'll be in for some surprises. You may come upon “human beings who had their origins in the interbreeding of Earth offspring with humans who...moved to Jupiter.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 238. Wanna bet?
◊ [Saturn, Saturn Man, and the Planet Sun] “Even on the planet Saturn man was present. Saturn...gradually vanished away, was for a long time invisible, and then shone out as the Sun. The planet Sun passed through the same process ... Saturn man was very different from the human being of today....” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 73. Passages like this are breathtaking in their nuttiness. Can I prove that Steiner was wrong about all this? I can at least point out that there is no scintilla of evidence supporting Steiner. (Note that, as in the case of "Moon," the words "Saturn" and "Sun" often mean something different, in Steinerspeak, from what they mean in real-world-speak. Here, Steiner is talking about stages of evolution, again. Old Saturn came first, then Old Sun, then Old Moon. [See "Matters of Form".])
◊ [They’re Alive!] “When you make Shakespearean characters living [i.e., “bring them to life”]...you can raise them into the supersensible world [i.e., the spirit realm] where they remain living. Of course, they do not do in the higher worlds what they do on the physical plane, but they remain alive, nevertheless, and they act there.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998, p. 336. Let’s hope Caliban behaves himself.
◊ [Numerology, As It Were] "[A] certain relation between the numbers seven and twelve, and that this relation has something to do with time and space ... By starting with the incarnation of a man of the present day and looking back at his three former incarnations it is possible to draw certain conclusions concerning his next three incarnations. The three former and the present incarnations, plus the three following make seven again. Seven is a clue for everything that happens in time." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1940), chapter 9, GA 114.
◊ [Numerology, As It Were] "[N]umbers and numerical proportions have a certain meaning for the cosmos and the world. It is in numbers, we might say, that the harmony that wells through space is expressed ... [N]umbers can give you a clue to what is called meditation if you have the key to plunge deeply enough." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 31-32.
◊ [Handy Horoscopes] “Now let us turn to the horoscope of the younger child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together ... [W]hen we examine more nearly [i.e., more closely] the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation of opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 196. (I have this quote in an endnote, too. It merits some attention, IMO.)
◊ [In The Palm of His Hand] “Palmistry...requires a special, a very special facility which maybe one or two people possess in order to investigate the lines of the hand... [W]e can see a person’s whole karma in his left hand ... In the right hand we see the personal capability which that person has obtained in this life ... There is more to all these things than people think but it is exceptionally dangerous to speak about them in public....” — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING HEALING: Meditative Reflections on Deepening Medicine Through Spiritual Science (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), pp. 88-89.
◊ [Speaking of Hands...] "[C]hildren will become idiotic through lefthandedness." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Gerda Hueck in THE PROBLEM OF LEFTHANDEDNESS (St. George Publications, 1978), p. 15.
◊ [So, On This Hand...] “We should always correct left-handedness. However, in this connection [i.e., learning to play the piano], we should also take the child’s temperament into account so that melancholics give the right hand preference. You can easily find a tendency with them to play with the left hand. We should emphasize the left hand with the cholerics. With the phlegmatics you should see to it that they use both hands in balance, and the same is true for sanguines." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETING WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 345-346.
◊ [The Stars and Us] As I mention in an endnote, Steiner taught that children can be classified according to the ancient concept of the four temperaments. These temperaments are associated with astrological powers, Steiner taught. “In cholerics [Libra], you will generally find ... In sanguines (Virgo) ... in melancholics (Leo) ... in phlegmatics (Cancer)....” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 91. All of this is baloney, of course.
◊ [Lightning] "Modern science holds a strange view ... It says that it is electricity that causes the lightning to flash out of the clouds. Now you probably know that electricity is explained to children at school by rubbing a glass rod with a piece of cloth smeared with some kind of amalgam; after it has been rubbed for some time, the rod begins to attract little scraps of paper, and after still more rubbing, sparks are emitted, and so on. Such experiments with electricity are made in school, but care has to be taken that everything has been thoroughly wiped beforehand, because the objects that are to become electric must not even be moist, let alone wet; they must be absolutely dry, even warm and dry, for otherwise nothing will be got out of the glass rod or the stick of sealing-wax. From this you can gather that electricity is conducted away by water and fluids. Everyone knows this, and naturally the scientists know it, for it is they who make the experiments. In spite of this, however, they declare that the lightning comes out of the clouds — and clouds are certainly wet! ... This shows you what kind of nonsense is taught nowadays ... Lightning is the heat generated in the air itself that makes its way to where there is a kind of hole in the surrounding air ... Lightning is not caused by electricity, but by the fact that the air is getting rid of, emptying away, its own heat." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 183-184. Baloney squared. It is worth noting, in passing, that Steiner here sets himself up in direct opposition to science — i.e., real knowledge. He often did this, despite claiming to be a kind of scientist and claiming that science would confirm his clairvoyant "discoveries." It hasn't.
◊ [Electricity, Magnetism] We peeked into Steiner's teachings about electricity and atoms, previously, and now he has set us straight about lightning. Let's peek further. “What is light? Light decays and the decaying light is electricity [sic] ... And the chemical force that undergoes a transformation in the process of earth evolution is magnetism [sic].” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 84. Light and magnetism are actually variants of the same force, electromagnetism. Light does not decay to become electricity, and magnetism is not a chemical process. Otherwise, this statements checks out wonderfully.
◊ [Or...] "Electricity is light in the sub-material state. Light is there compressed to the utmost degree. An inward quality too must be ascribed to light; light is itself at every point in space. Warmth will expand in the three dimensions of space. In light there is a fourth; it is of fourfold extension — it has the quality of inwardness as a fourth dimension." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. Even if we discount the double-talk, this is nonsense.
◊ [Er...] "The greatest contrast to electricity is LIGHT. If we look upon light as electricity we confuse good and evil. We lose sight of the true conception of evil in the order of Nature, if we do not realize that through the electrification of the atoms we transform them into carriers of evil ... For electric atoms are little demons of Evil ... The modern explanation of Nature set out along a path that really unites it with Evil ... [W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons, we merely listen to him explaining that Nature really consists of little demons of Evil! And if we acknowledge Nature in this form, we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940. It's hard to know how long to stick with any of Steiner's constellations of blunders. Maybe this is enough on that. So, moving on:
◊ [Telepathy and -kinesis] “[I]f a person falls victim to encroaching age too early...[l]ower forms of clairvoyance, such as telepathy, telekinesis and so on...occur abnormally ... [They] are simply the result of this premature aging....” — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 132. Don't mature too fast, lest you develop only low forms of clairvoyance. We might note, tangentially, that Waldorf schools take care to retard the maturation of their students. [See "Thinking Cap".]
◊ [Curing Mediums (with 'Baccy)] "It is very difficult to cure mediums by physical means. They could only be cured by injections of highly potentized tobacco in some part of a sense organ ... A psychic healing requires that the healer have a stronger will than the medium outside of the trance condition...." — Rudolf Steiner, COURSE FOR YOUNG DOCTORS (Mercury Press, 1994), Appendix, answer to question #10.
◊ [Only Off By a Million] “When we took around us in Europe we can really say: Ten, twelve or fifteen thousand years ago the earth, the ground, became sufficiently firm for men to dwell upon it. Before that, only marine animals were there which developed out of the sea.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 66. Actually, the ground in Europe was sufficiently firm for humans and pre-humans to live there starting about a million years ago. So, roughly speaking, Steiner was wrong by, oh, let’s call it a million years (minus ten, twelve or fifteen thousand). ”By 1,000,000 years ago hominins were widely distributed in Africa and Asia, and some finds in Europe may be that early. The earliest securely dated material is from Isernia la Pineta in southern Italy, where stone tools and animal bones were dated to about 730,000 bce. Thereafter the evidence becomes more plentiful, and by 375,000 bce most areas except Scandinavia, the Alps, and northern Eurasia had been colonized ... From the beginning of the last major Pleistocene glaciation about 120,000 bce, the hominin fossils belong to the Neanderthals, who have been found throughout Europe and western Asia, including the glacial environments of central Europe ... From about 35,000 bce, anatomically modern humans — Homo sapiens sapiens, the ancestor of modern populations — were found throughout Europe." — "history of Europe." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 19 Nov. 2011.
◊ [Ghosts] We've seen that Steiner believed in ghosts. Let's see it again. “One day he [Steiner when a boy] was sitting in one of his favorite hiding places, the railway waiting room. He saw the door open and a woman enter who was unknown to him but nonetheless resembled a member of his family. She walked to the middle of the room and, gesturing, said in effect, 'Help me as much as you can.' ... Then she went over to the stove and disappeared into it. Later, he heard that a distant relative had committed suicide and he understood that it was her soul that had visited him....” — Christopher Bamford, introduction to START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), a collection of Steiner's works, p. 25. “Beginning with this experience, a new soul life began in [me]....” — Rudolf Steiner, A WAY OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE (SteinerBooks, 2006), p. 155. Apparently this was when Steiner began to veer severely from reality.
◊ [Bulls’ Eyes] “When the bull confronts red he simply says, ‘Dash it all, all the blood in my head is being destroyed! I must defend myself!’ So he goes wild....” — Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992), p. 132. Despite folklore, bulls have little or no ability to see red, and they are not particularly bothered by red cloth. But Steiner fell for folklore just as he fell for fairy tales and myths, mistaking fantasy for reality.
◊ [Pachyderm Peculiarity I] “When death approaches — this is the peculiar thing with pachyderms — these animals feel this particularly strongly ... Their instinct then makes them go into caves. People tend not to look for them in those earth caves. If they were to look for them there they would find more dead elephants in the regions where elephants are. They are not found in the open.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 4-5. Steiner accepts the myth that elephants have special graveyards, adding the nice twist that the graveyards are inside caves. But there's a good reason why people don't look for elephant bones inside caves. Can you guess what it is? As for the whole idea of elephant graveyards, the benighted ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA says "Evidence does not substantiate the existence of so-called 'elephant graveyards,' where elephants supposedly gather to die." — "elephant." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 27 Jan. 2009.
◊ [Pachyderm Peculiarity II] By the way, Anthroposophists accept the myth that elephants have extraordinary memories (even though this is contradicts Steiner's general statement about animal memory): "The elephant's mind, able to remember everything...." — Synopsis of Steiner's first lecture in FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. vii.
◊ [Phlogiston] Discussing why things burn, Steiner referred to the old theory (phlogiston) and the new (oxygen). He went with the old, at least in principle. “Phlogiston is the invisible principle that disperses ... Oxygen is a substance you can weigh ... Materialism arose because people began to believe only in the things that could be weighed.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 3. Phlogiston is a discarded scientific concept. Phlogiston is "fire stuff" — the nonexistent "element" that was thought to exist in all flammable material. Sometimes Steiner suggested phlogiston doesn't exist, but sometimes... Steiner's eagerness to embrace an antiscientific, anti-materialistic view often led him to embrace nonsense.
◊ [Heady Thoughts] “Although there will always be a great deal to be said against the charlatan phrenology that is commonly practised, a genuine phrenology really should be studied by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite inevitably in deformations of the physical organism.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 68. "Genuine phrenology," forsooth.
◊ [Doggone] “It is well known that if dogs are removed from conditions where they are in contact with human beings to places where they have no such contact, they forget how to bark....” — Rudolf Steiner, RELIGION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 170. I wish barking feral dogs knew this. But perhaps they believe wildlife experts, not Steiner: "Coyotes and to a lesser extent feral dogs are a problem throughout California ... Coyotes do not bark ... Feral dogs growl and bark." — http://www.sbcounty.gov/Uploads/CAO/Brochures/Archives/49.pdf.
◊ [Solar Silliness] “Occultists know that a fixed star need not always have been a fixed star; the Sun only became a fixed star after having been a planet.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 79. Where to start? • Despite what occultists "know," there are no fixed stars. All stars are in motion. • The Sun is not a fixed star, since there are no such things. • The Sun was never a planet. • Steiner was an occultist, by his own admission, which (although he didn't know this) means that he "knew" almost nothing. At least, his occult visions brought him no real information about the actual universe. [For Steiner's affirmation of occultism, see "Occultism".]
◊ [Stellar Silliness II] "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. Basically, this is Steiner affirming another fallacy, astrology. The "fixed stars" (of which the universe contains zero) do not "work in the human being" any more than the planets do. Astrology is bunk. [See "Astrology".] (By the bye, Steiner differentiated "fixed stars" from "planetary stars." But there are no such stars. The correct term is "planets." The point is that Steiner remained mired in obsolete astronomical concepts. See, e.g., Steiner's THIRD SCIENTIFIC LECTURE COURSE: Astronomy (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 12, GA 323.)
◊ [A Surprise for Buddhists] “The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 207. Zowie. Lucifer and Venus, Jehovah and the Moon, Christ and the Sun, Buddha and Mars... [See "Mars".]
◊ [A Surprise for Everyone] “Mars is not densely solid in the sense in which today the earth is solid ... [T]he earth too was once in a condition when mineral, solid matter took shape for the first time ... [T]here were then gigantic animals which, however, had as yet no solid bones. Mars today is in a condition similar to that of the earth in that earlier epoch and therefore also has upon it those living beings, those animal beings which the earth had upon it at that time. And ‘human beings’ on Mars are as they were on the earth at that time — still without bones ... These things can be known. They cannot become known by the means employed in modern science for acquiring knowledge; nevertheless it is possible to know these things.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), GA 354, lecture 10, Sept. 9, 1924. Actually, Rudolf...
◊ [The Sun's Stomach, etc.]
“So, we find the meteorites: they are the remains of shattered comets. But the comets are something quite different; they are alive! The sun, too, is alive, has a stomach, and not only consumes comets but eats exactly as we do ... If the comets consisted merely of iron, and then fell into the sun, you would see how quickly all of it would be excreted again ... Now think back to the time when the sun was inside the earth ... As long as the sun was in the earth, the latter was able to get nourishment from the cosmos with the help of the sun ... Yes, the earth was well provided for while the sun was in it. You must of course also visualize at this point that the sun is far larger than our planet so that the sun was actually not inside the earth, but the earth was inside the sun. We must imagine that the sun contained the earth, which in turn had the moon in it." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 152-153. [My sketch is based on the one in the book. The sun's stomach is the small pink sphere.]
It is difficult to catalogue all the blunders contained in this one Steiner passage. Here are a few corrections: • Meteorites are not broken-off bits of comets1. • Comets are mainly made largely of ice and dust; they generally contain little iron. • Comets are not alive. • The Sun is not alive. • The Sun does not have a stomach. • The Sun does not excrete material in a digestive sense. • The Sun was never inside the Earth. • The Earth was never inside the Sun (unless by "Sun" you mean the primordial solar disc). • The Moon was never inside the Earth, although parts of it were part of the Earth.2
1 Bits of space debris that hit the Earth's atmosphere and burn up there are called meteors. Meteorites are meteors that survive the plunge through the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface. In some rare cases, some meteorites may have come from comets; in this very partial sense, Steiner was correct. But Steiner's generalization — that all meteorites are bits of comets — is wrong. Whereas comets are mainly ice, meteorites are almost always rock, nickel, or iron, or a combination of these, and they originated among asteroids or other rocky/metallic bodies that have shattered, usually due to collisions.
2 According to modern astronomy, the Earth was formed within the gaseous cloud swirling around the condensing Sun. The Moon was formed much later, when a huge asteroid or planet smashed into the Earth, nearly shattering it. The Moon consists of material left over from the collision — some portions came from the Earth and some came from the object that nearly destroyed the Earth. The fragments, hurtling in chaotic orbits around the Earth, were drawn together by mutual gravitational attraction and ultimately formed the solid body that is now the Earth's natural satellite. (A more recent refinement of this account, not yet widely accepted, is that the present Earth and Moon were both formed by the collision of two planetary bodies, which were of almost equal size.)
Have I missed any of Steiner's blunders? Probably. Or, rather, certainly. There are too many to keep tabs on them all. But you get the idea. Steiner was a fountainhead of misinformation. Taking his word for almost anything is hazardous to your mental clarity. Accepting Steiner as a great authority, on anything, is an enormous leap of faith — a leap for which there is no rational justification; a leap into mystical darkness.
Here are two items from the Waldorf Watch "news" page:
Bad news for astrology buffs, including numerous Waldorf teachers: The star charts you have been using are wrong. Due to precession — the gradual drift of the Earth's axis away from its prior position — the constellations have shifted over time, so you probably were not born under the sign you think. Moreover, there really should be 13 constellations, not 12.
(Waldorf teachers: Among other things, this means that any astrological conclusions you have drawn about your students are wrong — not wrong merely because they are based on astrology, which is nonsense, but doubly wrong because they are based on a faulty comprehension of the zodiac.)
How can this possibly be of concern to Rudolf Steiner’s followers? Well, for one thing, Steiner advocated the use of horoscopes (based on a faulty 12-constellation conception of the zodiac), including horoscopes that Anthroposophists could use to guide their treatment of the children under their care. [See “Horoscopes”.] More generally, astrology is a big deal in Anthroposophy because Steiner's followers believe it reveals the actions and influences of the gods. [See “Astrology” and “Star Power”.]
To quote the new "news":
“The zodiac signs we associate with our birthdates may not be the correct ones ... Parke Kunkle, board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, says that the moon's gravitational pull has caused the Earth to slowly wobble on its axis, shifting the stars' alignment by about a month. So for the faithful Aquarian out there, this may mean you've just been bumped into the Capricorn constellation.
“Our astrological signs correspond to the position of the sun within the constellations as they appeared more than 2,000 years ago...
“The [newly updated] list [of constellations] now includes Ophiuchus, a constellation the ancient Babylonians dropped because they wanted 12 star signs instead of 13, one for each month of the year.”
• ◊ •
Wrong again, Rudolf. The constellations reveal nothing about spiritual realities. The constellations do not exist. There are not 12 constellations, nor 13. There are none (zero: 0). The constellations are illusory patterns we subjectively piece together in our minds. The “stars” — some of which may be galaxies or nebulas — that we think constitute a constellation are nowhere near one another nor are they connected with one another. We piece various "stars" together because they are bright and because they appear to us to be near one another in the sky. But their apparent proximity is an illusion. If we were to move far enough away from the Earth, the constellations would disappear — the illusory patterns would break apart because we would be viewing the stars, galaxies, and nebulas from a very different perspective.
Let’s hear from Steiner on the significance of the 12 constellations:
“We relate the heavenly bodies of our solar system to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, and we can find our bearings in the World of Spirit only by viewing it in such a way as to be able to assert that spiritual Beings and events are realities; we compare the facts with the courses of the planets but the spiritual Beings with the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.” — Rudolf Steiner, MACROCOSM AND MICROCOSM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 108. [Emphases by Steiner.]
As to the number 12: Steiner loved to lump phenomena together in groupings of 12, since he considered 12 to be one of the sacred numbers (along with 3, 4, 7, etc.). This was part of his version of numerology. [See “Magic Numbers”.] He was superstitious, not sensible. His groupings were arbitrary, false patterns imposed in the same way that we impose the false patterns of the "constellations" when we gaze at the sky.
By the way, deluding ourselves by "seeing" things that don't really exist is what comes from the sort of thinking advocated in Waldorf schools. By directing our thoughts with emotion and will, Steiner taught, we can can gain greater clarity and, indeed, penetrate to spiritual realities. In fact, however, all that we do by using such "thinking" is to create subjective fantasies, things that we want to perceive but that, as far as such "thinking" can reveal, do not objectively exist at all. Some spiritual beings and states may be quite real, of course. But we cannot find them by using subjective, self-deluding forms of perception. [See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".]
* Parke Kunkle is receiving a lot of attention over his "revelations" about the zodiac. But, actually, astronomers have known about these matters for a long, long time. a) Precession happens. b) Astrology is bunk. c) Due to precession, astrology is doubly bunk.
"While it receives no light from this side, Venus is illuminated from the other side by the sun, and it eats up the sun's light, so to say. Then, when you see it on a dark night, it is throwing off the light, it becomes phosphorescent. In days when people had better eyes than they have now, they saw the phosphorescence of Venus. Their eyes were really better in those days; it was in the 16th century that spectacles first began to be used, and they would certainly have come earlier if people had needed them! Inventions and discoveries always come when they are needed by human beings." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 181.
• ◊ •
Rudolf Steiner’s followers are awed by his nearly encyclopedic knowledge of almost all subjects. But they overlook a serious problem: Most of what Steiner "knew" is wrong. Thus, for instance, Venus is generally not visible on dark nights — it is always close to the Sun, from the Earth's perspective, and thus it sets soon after the Sun sets. Moreover, if we define phosphorescence strictly (radiation similar to fluorescence but on a longer timescale), Venus is not phosphorescent. It shines by reflecting sunlight, just as all other planets and moons do. As for eyesight and spectacles, we have no evidence that people's eyes were better in the past, and spectacles were invented long before the 16th century. "In 1268 Roger Bacon made the earliest recorded comment on the use of lenses for optical purposes, but magnifying lenses inserted in frames were used for reading both in Europe and China at this time...." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, Feb. 5, 2012.
That a system of education — Waldorf schools or Steiner schools — is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner almost beggars belief. Few people have ever been more wrong about more subjects than was Steiner.
RUDOLF STEINER'S HEAD-SCRATCHERS
(Some of them, anyway —
he had a million of ‘em.
For any items I have not substantiated
sufficiently on this page, please see
the Index or use the "Search Site" function.)
Here are falsehoods Rudolf Steiner proclaimed as truths.
These are his blunders, his bloomers, his boners.
(Some of them, anyway.)
Fire-breathing dragons really existed
Goblins (aka gnomes) exist now
dwarfs (not short people: dwarfs,
as in Snow White: or, specifically,
as in Norse myths),
giants (not tall people: giants,
as in Jack and the Beanstalk: or, specifically,
as in Norse myths),
Norse gods (they really exist,
just as do the dwarfs and giants; myths tell us
the truth: see below),
spirit salamanders (aka fire-spirits),
(You name it, Steiner probably said it existed or exists:
Anthroposophy is his spiritual theory of everything,
his attempt to explain everything through his marvelous,
clairvoyant "spiritual science.")
Optical illusions are useful investigative tools
(e.g., they allow you to see
some of the above — because they are not really illusions)
The shapes of clouds are also meaningful —
they are formed by truthful spirits
And of course dreams can be accurate tools
Witchcraft is for real
White magicians and black magicians exist
Islands float in the sea
Blood circulates on its own
Hearts aren't pumps
(there's nothing more absurd than believing
that they are pumps)
Real thinking doesn't occur in the brain
Real thinking is clairvoyance
(In all other stages of our evolution, clairvoyance
has been and will be much more obviously real
than it is today; we just happen to live in the epoch
when clairvoyance is muted, so — sadly —
we cannot immediately see that Steiner was right
about everything; in the future, we’ll know)
Telepathy is for real
Real people can develop organs of clairvoyance
But some people aren't real people:
they aren't really human
Some stars are "fixed" (i.e., motionless)
The constellations in the sky are not mere
constructs of our eyes and minds —
they are real formations having real astrological powers
The twelve constellations in the zodiac
have special powers for us on Earth
The zodiac exists
Human consciousness is less evolved
than that of bees, sort of
To know what happens on the Sun or Venus,
you must enter bee consciousness
When we evolve to our next "planet," Future Venus,
human social relations will resemble those of a beehive
Bees have an aura:
they are accompanied by fire-spirits
Auras are for real
Venus is visible on dark nights;
it is phosphorescent
Venus is the home of Lucifer
Venus is a husk cast off by Lucifer
Jehovah lives on the Moon
Christ came to Earth from the Sun
Spectacles (eyeglasses) were not invented
until centuries after they were invented
(people didn't need them earlier)
Imagination is more truthful than reasoning
Cancer can be treated with mistletoe
Pneumonia is caused by the stars
Ditto flu epidemics (and...)
Mediums can be cured with tobacco
Fattening foods separate the "spirit-soul"
from the body and empty the head
The human being is antimony
Males and females have different lineages
People have twelve senses
People exhibit four "temperaments"
Phrenology can be reliable
Numerology is for real
Ditto palm reading
Left-handedness leads to insanity
Hence, left-handedness should be corrected
Native Americans are extinct
Real, non-extinct humans have three nonphysical bodies
Extreme flatulence (pardon my French) is caused
by a mismatch between the
physical body and the "astral body"
The use of the French language corrupts the soul
Treatment for rickets:
Our three bodily "systems" are the head system,
the chest system, and the abdominal/limb system
Atlanteans had flying cars
(Steiner had this amazing insight at about the time
the airplane was being invented;
I wonder where he got the idea?)
Some Atlanteans were gigantically tall,
but the better ones were short (like Steiner)
Europe became habitable a million years
after it became habitable
Fauns are for real
Satyrs are for real
Astrology is for real
Astronomy generally isn't
(i.e., astronomers — like most natural scientists —
don't know diddly)
Horoscopes are useful, as in figuring out children
Newton was wrong:
White light cannot be split (the prismatic effect)
The Sun is a light-emitting vacuum
Ditto all other stars
(they are hollow)
Another error scientists make:
they think the Earth's population is growing
The Sun, Moon, and various planets
split off from the Earth
The planets don't orbit the Sun
Ancestors of humans migrated to other planets
And some have come back
Earthlings and these others have interbred
Meteorites are bits of broken comets
Comets are alive
The Sun is alive
The Sun has a stomach
The Sun was once inside the Earth
(unless the Earth was once inside the Sun...)
The Sun was once a planet
Alchemy is for real
Chemistry, not so much
Seances are for real*
(although the modern ones
aren't a patch on the old ones)
Mediums can produce ectoplasm,
thanks to nature spirits
(gnomes and the like)
We can receive messages from the dead
(Steiner claimed to do so)
Secret occult brotherhoods know what's what
Most animals evolved downward from humans
Fish have no sense of smell
Human eggs are protected by the Moon,
Lightning is not electricity but heated air
The larynx will replace the womb, one of these days
The Earth is less than 20 million years old
The Earth was once alive —
first as a plant, then as an animal
Oops — the Earth is alive now
(Oops — the Earth now is a huge dead human head)
Anyway, rocks are alive
The Earth's interior includes such layers
as "water" and "air"
(which aren't water or air)
Some layers are prone to crying if you step on them
All layers are emotional
Plants are the Earth's hair
Plants grow due to cosmic forces
conveyed through a universal ether
The Earth is a tetrahedron
There are many volcanos around the South Pole
The Earth's doom is sealed — and known to Steiner
The hardest rocks come from plants
Besides being hair, plants have ambitions —
dandelions (to give just one
example) wish they were trees
Reincarnation is for real
You reincarnate approximately once every
2,166 years —
under the successive signs of the zodiac
(remember that astrology is for real
and the zodiac exists)
Karma is for real
Animals' organs don't work like ours
Modern biology generally is wrong
Bulls hate red
Animals have no memory
Oops — except elephants
Elephants have graveyards inside caves
Universal ethers exist
Phlogiston is for real
Modern physics is generally wrong
The atomic theory is wrong
Atoms are caricatures of demons
and/or they are empty bubbles
Or they are congealed electricity
Or they are essentially just thoughts
Although really they are the quintessence of evil
There is no such thing as matter
Einstein was clever
but the theory of relativity is wrong
Electricity is decaying light
Or electricity is the opposite of light
Or, er, electricity is sub-material light
having an inward fourth dimension
Magnetism is chemical
Gravity is only a word
On some planets, there is no gravity
On some planets, there is
antigravity instead of gravity
The force of antigravity comes from the Moon
Vulcan is for real
Mars is liquid
Mars is crisscrossed by straight lines
they are winds, as it were
Buddha moved to Mars
He did this following a meeting
with Christian Rosenkreutz
Christian Rosenkreutz exists
Ditto the White Lodge
King Arthur was real
Ditto his knights and the Round Table
The Moon today is a fortress housing
reclusive former Earthlings
(they’re reclusive, you see;
that’s why we aren’t aware of them,
except for those of us who are)
The Moon is coming closer to the Earth
each year — not
The Moon has a horny, glassy surface
with mountains like horns that have been stuck on
The Moon does not have minerals
such as the ones found on Earth
There are many colonies on planets
There are even some on asteroids
Goblins, by the way, are purely physical and yet invisible
(they’re invisible, you see;
that’s why we don’t see them,
except for those of us who do)
Shakespeare's characters are
alive and well on the astral plane
This is true for the characters of other
good poets and playwrights, but not
for those created by certain French poets
There is an astral plane
Mars is the home of huge beasts and
"human beings" who are boneless
Moon men lived in an atmosphere
thicker than water
Saturn men were different from us today (duh)
Saturn became the "planet Sun"
Christ is the Sun God
Sorat, the Antichrist, is also from the Sun
Ditto Michael, the archangel of the Sun
Uranus and Neptune are not true
members of the solar system
(and as for Pluto, the other minor planets,
the Oort cloud...)
The outermost planet is Saturn
Fairy tales are true (case in point:
Puss in Boots — honest)
Legends are true
Myths are true (like fairy tales and legends,
they contain clairvoyant
insights gained by the ancients,
who were clairvoyant)
Jews are especially prone to diabetes
Anti-Semites are harmless
Jews have little spiritual insight
The Aryan race exists
White people belong to the highest race
Various other races are lower and in decline
Some people descend to subhuman status
(it's their own fault)
Blonds are especially smart, since they channel
energy into their brain
(which don't really think — oops)
instead of into their eyes and hair
* Steiner trod carefully on the subjects of seances and mediumism.
His mentor, Helena Blavatsky, demonstrated her psychic "powers"
in public, and was found to be a fraud.
Steiner had the good sense not to make public demonstrations.
He used his "powers" in private, and then publicly announced
his "discoveries" — without supplying any evidence or substantiation.
Yet some people believed him.
To consider a special category of Steiner's blunders
— his predictions concerning the end of the twentieth century —
For information about clairvoyance
and other "psychic phenomena,"
For Steiner's views on horoscopes,
For thoughts on the effect of brain chemistry
on belief, see "Dopamine".
For some intriguing statements Steiner
made about science, see "Science".
For more quotations about modern foolishness,
as seen by Steiner (including the foolish idea
that planets orbit the Sun), see "Materialism U."
Anthroposophy — the belief system underlying Waldorf education —
is a blend of ancient superstition, occult error, and mystic nonsense.
Steiner rarely incorporated anything into
his brainchild without changing it,
but the result suffers from all the problems of its sources.
Anthroposophy contains no more truth than they.
[Non-Anthroposophical of occultism, from Herbert Silberer's
HIDDEN SYMBOLISM OF ALCHEMY AND THE OCCULT ARTS
(Dover Publications, 1971).]
Implausible though it might seem, followers of Rudolf Steiner sometimes try to defend even the most indefensible of Steiner's statements. Most people, hearing that a self-appointed guru made such astonishing claims as that islands float and the Earth doesn't orbit the Sun, would feel that they'd heard enough, case closed, the guy was a kook. But how should we respond when the guru's followers offer elaborate arguments trying to show that their man's claims are actually correct? What can we say in such circumstances?
Let’s take a look. Here is an examination of three egregious blunders made by Steiner. The first two are straightforward factual mistakes. The third — Steiner's defense of anti-Semites — is even more profoundly deplorable.
“[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.” This statement certainly seems laughable on its face, and yet Steiner went even farther, extending his claim to include continents. “[T]he continents swim ... All fixed land swims and the stars hold it in position.”  Steiner's defenders, casting about for justifications, turn to such statements as the following: “Usually people do not think about how it looks if you move toward the center of the Earth. You would soon come to regions where it is very fluid, whether it is water or something else.”  Perhaps in speaking of the sea ("Great Britain swims in the sea"), Steiner was actually referring to such subterranean fluid layers, not to the sea itself. The islands and continents "float" because there are liquid layers deep below. Can you buy it?
It doesn't prove much, but here is a colored rendition of
Steiner's sketch of the stars holding islands and continents in place.
The blue region is the heavens; the green is the earth.
The forces of the stars are shown in orange.
Do you know more now than you did before?
[To see Steiner's original, consult
FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 617.
The original contains no more information than my rendering.]
Don't buy it. If, in order to make sense of Steiner's words, Anthroposophists have to replace those words with completely different words, they are obviously not defending Steiner so much as correcting him. Still, for the sake of argument, let's examine the matter in more detail to see if Steiner's words may contain any kernel of truth. The Earth's oceans — the Atlantic, Pacific, etc. — exist in depressions in the Earth's crust. The landmasses that jut above sea level are the tops of formations that rise from the ocean floor. They do not swim in the Atlantic, Pacific, etc. — they are attached to solid earth. Nor are there any subterranean layers of water lower down for landmasses to swim in. Nor are there any other subterranean layers consisting of any other liquids that might conceivably be called seas. No region that we would find “soon” below the Earth's crust is “very fluid.” The crust, which is essentially rigid, sits above the mantle, which is also essentially rigid.
Steiner's words are virtually impossible to reconcile with the findings of science, as he himself knew (take another peek at endnote 37). But let's go into even further detail. Bending over backwards, I'll quote an encyclopedia entry that might, at first blush, excite Steiner's followers. “The mantle is composed of denser rocks, on which the rocks of the crust float. On geologic timescales, the mantle behaves as a very viscous fluid and responds to stress by flowing. Together the uppermost mantle and the crust act mechanically as a single rigid layer....”  So, we find the words “fluid” and “float” and “flowing.” Are these points in Steiner's favor? Hardly. Certainly we see nothing here resembling a sea. (It is also wise to remember Steiner's actual words, which can get lost in the torrent of verbiage vented by his defenders. Steiner said "Great Britain swims in the sea.") And note that “very viscous fluid” is nearly the antithesis of Steiner's phrase, “very fluid.” The material described by the encyclopedia is not a “very fluid” layer where things “swim.” The “floating” involved is the excruciatingly slow grinding and shifting of rocks on top of other rocks, a process of solid bodies rubbing against solid bodies, occurring in very slow motion over geologic time spans.
The crust and the outer layer of the mantle, extending down about 60 miles, are rigid. A second layer of the mantle consists of plastic silicates (pliable rocks), and below that is the main mantle, which is rigid. The plastic layer, the asthenosphere, comes closest to meeting Steiner's terms, a region of movement fairly near the surface. But like the rest of the mantle, the asthenosphere consists of rock. Scientists deduce that some portion of this layer is molten, heated by radiation from within the Earth, but mostly the layer is firm. The very slow sideways motions of the asthenosphere lead to torpid movements at the surface — this is the process known as continental drift, which I'll return to. For the moment, note that a) the asthenosphere is in no way a "sea" (a word usually defined as a body of salt water surrounding dry land), b) islands and continents are not located in the asthenosphere (cf., “[A]n island like Great Britain swims in [emphasis added] the sea”) but well above it, and c) the gradual shifting of continents is quite different from the notional swimming of islands and continents in the sea, supervised by the stars. 
To find the only other region below the surface that might conceivably be considered “very fluid,” we have to look to the Earth's core. Contrary to common belief, the core is not wholly liquid. Beginning approximately 1,800 miles below the surface and extending to the center of the Earth, 3,963 miles down, the core contains a region of extremely dense liquid metal, mostly iron. Below that, the deepest portion of the core (3,200 miles down and deeper) is solid metal. Crucially for our examination of Steiner's teachings, the mantle and the lands above it do not float or swim on the core — with increasing depth, the mantle gradually transitions to the core, which it encompasses. The transition from mantle to core is almost indistinct, but the resulting condition is that the core is held within a space enclosed by the layers above it. Nothing floats on the core; rather, the core is held within the upper layers. 
The glaring flaws in Steiner's version of geology are reflected most obviously in his references to swimming and seas. Steiner claimed that landmasses swim in a fluid layer that he referred to as seas(s). In his remarks to the Waldorf teachers, Steiner used the words “swim” and “swims” five times and he referred to the “sea” or “seas” twice. The second reference to the sea(s) is especially interesting, since it came near the end of Steiner's commentary, when he was wrapping things up. He said “The seas tend to be spherical.”  The Earth's seas would be fully spherical only if they enfolded the entire Earth. They clearly don't do this on the surface, where dry land interrupts the waters, so if they completely fulfill their spherical tendency anywhere, it is below the surface. In this sense — if some sort of seas entirely enfolded the Earth below the surface — then land would float on these seas. This would validate such statements as “The continents swim and do not sit upon anything.”  But in fact the islands and continents sit firmly on foundations that are integral with the ocean floor. Below that, each layer of the Earth sits firmly on the layer below. There is no spherical subterranean sea.
In THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH, Steiner says that the Earth's layers, from top to bottom, are the crust or Mineral Earth, and below that the Fluid Earth, then the Air Earth, the Water Earth, the Fruit the Earth, the Fire Earth, the Earth Mirror, and the Splintering Earth.  His comments about these layers are not quite consistent with his remarks to the Waldorf faculty about islands and seas, but such inconsistencies run throughout his work. The “Fluid Earth” and the “Water Earth” obviously may be relevant to our current discussion. But don't get your hopes up. Steiner said that the Fluid Earth does not consist of water or any other known liquid but of “substances comparable to nothing upon the earth.”  The Water Earth also does not consist of water but of “forces which produce effects in the material realm which occur spiritually in devachan.”  (Devachan is a Theosophical term for the spirit realm we enter after death.) In the afterword to THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH, Anthroposophist Adolf Arenson tries to help by explaining that the Fluid Earth “is not fluid in a physical sense” and the Water Earth is a place where we find “the negative images of physical objects.”  In no way, then, are these layers liquid seas. (And bear in mind, these layers do not exist, except in Anthroposophical imaginings.)
Does any of this help us in deciphering Steiner's comments to the Waldorf teachers? Perhaps a little. Both science and Anthroposophy say that the region below the surface is not truly fluid. So far, so good. But what can we make of Steiner's assurance that the “Water Earth” doesn't consist of water? One might wonder why he intentionally used the wrong word (“water”), but this is something he did pretty often, and as we have just seen his attempts to explain himself don't produce much clarity (unknown substances, devanchanic effects). Perhaps in speaking to Waldorf teachers about seas he didn't mean water seas or even seas at all. But if so, his statements seem to take us precisely nowhere. Mystifying language can be beguiling, it may lure spiritual seekers, but if it is to convey information, ultimately it has to make sense. In any event, islands and continents do not float on the Fluid Earth (which is not fluid) or the Water Earth (which is not water).
If we assume that Steiner actually meant something when speaking to Waldorf teachers about islands and seas, then we're stuck with the notion of landmasses somehow swimming in the seas. Steiner was pretty definite on this point, after all. Islands and continents have no earthly moorings, he said — and, he added, this leads to a question. As the islands and continents swim around in the sea, why don't they collide with each other? Why do they swim in place, as if stationary? “The question is, of course, why they don't bump into one another, why they don't move back and forth ... We can find no explanation for that from within the earth. That is something that comes from outside...[from] the stars.”  Despite what his defenders may wish, these words are not a description of continental drift, since a) Steiner says there is no drifting (the stars are in control, so any changes are directed from above), and b) in reality, continents do “bump” into each other, the very thing that Steiner denies. Mountains pile up because large landmasses collide. This is part of the process of the crust being shifted, over geologic timescales, by the mantle. 
When Steiner says that land swims in the sea, we ultimately have little recourse but to take him at his word. What he said is absurd, but it is what he said.
2. The Planets
In analyzing Steiner's comments about islands and continents, I bypassed the question of whether the stars could possibly hold these landmasses in place. My omission was intentional. The landmasses don't need to be held in place by any exterior force since they are attached to the firm substance of the rocky Earth. And, in any event, there is absolutely no evidence that the stars have any direct, powerful influence on events, objects, or creatures on the surface of the Earth — astrological or otherwise. To debate whether the stars hold islands and continents in place would be a waste of time and an insult to the reader's intelligence. So, instead, let's turn our attention to a different question about the heavens. Once again, Steiner said something preposterous, and once again his followers have tried to defend him. He said that the planets do not orbit the Sun. This statement — which, when questioned, he repeated — was and is preposterous.
On Sept. 5, 1919, Steiner told teachers at the first Waldorf school that the movement of the Earth around the Sun is an illusion. He said that the planets actually accompany the Sun along a spiral path. “This creates the illusion [sic] that the Earth revolves round the sun. The truth is that the Sun goes ahead, and the Earth creeps continually after it.”  Steiner said that, instead of revolving around the Sun, the planets move in line with the Sun. At the head of the line is Saturn, followed by Jupiter, and then Mars. The Sun occupies the midway point along the line. Following the Sun are, in sequence, Mercury, Venus, and — at the end of the line — Earth. The sequence is interesting. Steiner actually wobbled on it, a bit. On Sept. 5, he placed Venus ahead of Mercury, whereas in a later discussion he put Venus behind Mercury. (In some occult teachings, the identities of these two planets cross.) In either case, the sequence scrambles the real order of the inner planets, displacing the Earth so that, of the three inner planets, it is the most distant from Mars. In reality the Earth and Mars and next-door neighbors. Also, perhaps a minor point, the sequence omits the outermost planets. The true order of the planets, counting from the outskirts inward, and omitting minor planets such as Pluto, is this: Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury. Note: This list represents the planets' distances, in their orbits, from the Sun; it does not specify the planets' order on any mythical line of motion.
Despite the Mercury/Venus wobble, Steiner insisted that the planets proceed in a fixed order. Tracing the procession of planets along the line he postulated, he explained: “[H]ere are Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, and here are Venus, Mercury, and Earth ... [W]hen the Sun has progressed to the second position [i.e., when the Sun has moved from one place in the line to a second place further along the line] we have Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars here, and we have Venus, Mercury, and Earth over there [i.e., the planets have moved along the line in tow with the Sun].”  This is not how the planets actually move, of course. But the biggest flaw in the sequence is Steiner's placement of the Sun between Mars and Venus (or between Mars and Mercury). In reality, the Sun sits at the center of the solar system, nearest to Mercury, with Mercury and all the other planets orbiting the Sun.
Steiner's Sept. 5 statement quite naturally confused his listeners, so on Sept. 25, 1919, one teacher asked for clarification. “[W]e don't really have a clear understanding about the true movements of the planets and the Sun.”  In response, Steiner essentially repeated his previous remarks, trying to describe the optical illusion that he claimed causes people to mistakenly think that the planets orbit the Sun. “[W]hen the Earth is here and this is the Sun [pointing at a diagram he created], the Earth follows along. But we look at the Sun from here, and so it appears as though the Earth goes around it, whereas it is actually only following. The Earth follows the Sun.”  Please note: The Earth “appears” to go around the Sun, but “actually” it is “only” following. “Only” is definite and unqualified. The Earth doesn't orbit the Sun, it only follows it.
On both Sept. 5 and 25, Steiner drew a vague representation of a corkscrew shape to depict the line of travel of the planets and Sun.  This serpentine line is a spiral or helix seen from the side. The planets and Sun do not simply swing from side to side as they plow ahead, they actual climb along a spiral route. On Sept. 25, Steiner added a long, looping arrow to the diagram, indicating how we sometimes see the Sun to one side of our position. Later, when we have moved further along, we will see the Sun on the other side. Steiner said this causes the illusion that we move from side to side around the Sun, orbiting the Sun. Steiner's argument is clever, perhaps, but it flies in the face of the clear truth, which is that the Earth and all the other planets do indeed orbit the Sun.
Steiner also added a tangential line, representing the orientation of the Earth's axis. The axis points to the celestial pole which, Steiner said, would seem to swing through in a lemniscate, although for complex reasons its does not. He put the lemniscate at the top of his diagram.
My own colored rendition of Steiner's Sept. 25 sketch.
The wavy line consisting of many arrows is
the path followed by the planets and Sun.
The Sun (yellow) is in the middle of the lineup.
The Earth (green) is last.
[FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 31.]
The actual course of the planets and Sun through
the heavens is a "lemniscatory screw-movement."
[DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS, p. 168.]
Thus, you must visualize the planets and Sun
rising above the plane of the diagram during half
of their spiraling climb
and falling below the plane of the diagram
during the other half.
The line sketched by Steiner represents motion through the galaxy or “into cosmic space”  — but Steiner does not describe the solar system's true motion within the galaxy. In reality, our Sun — like all the other stars in the galaxy — orbits the galactic center. Steiner shows the solar system traveling toward the celestial pole, an imaginary point on the imaginary celestial sphere. But note that if we are climbing toward the pole, we are not in a galactic orbit; rather, we are making a serpentine progression that ultimately leads in a single direction. This is not what science has established. The actual movement of the Sun and its planets within the galaxy is orbital. We participate in the rotation of the galaxy, within the galactic plane, orbiting the galactic center.
Steiner's description of planetary/solar motions has the small defect of omitting the actual motions of the planets. Steiner said that the only real motion is the progression along the corkscrew line. “Everything else is only apparent motion.”  “Everything” and “only” are definite and unqualified. But in this, as in so much else, Steiner was wrong. The planets very rarely form a line with the Sun, and they certainly do not adhere to a fixed order along a line of movement. The planets continually shift in their relationship to one another and to the Sun, due to their orbits. Sometimes some planets are on one side of the Sun, sometimes others are. Sometimes some of the planets are more or less in line with one another (a chance alignment that lasts very briefly as the planets continue their circling), but usually they are scattered all around the Sun, at varying distances, at varying points in their orbits. The entire solar system is indeed moving, together, through the galaxy, but otherwise Steiner's description does not hold up.
Steiner offered an alternative, unconventional theory of astronomy. He did the same with any number of subjects. The test of such theories is experimental/observational verification. The conventional model of astronomical phenomena is supported by vast quantities of verifiable information. Steiner's theory is not. Does this mean that the conventional model is definitely correct? No. Does it mean that the conventional model will not evolve further? No. Does it mean that all astronomical deductions are firmly established, never to be revised? No. (Calculating the distance to other galaxies, for instance, is a tricky business, and astronomers keep refining their techniques.) Likewise, does the lack of evidence for Steiner's view prove him wrong? No. But we have a great deal of information leading us to accept the conventional view, and we have virtually no information that supports Steiner's view. This is where the scientific method has brought us, and Steiner claimed to be scientific.
Steiner sometimes contradicted himself. Thus, despite denying that the planets orbit the Sun, he sometimes referred to the planets' orbital motions. [See "Deception".] Such contradictions cannot be reconciled; Steiner simply contradicted himself. And our focus just now is on the definite and unqualified statements he sometimes made, denying that the planets orbit the Sun. Thus, on two distinct occasions (Sept. 5 and 25, 1919), when “educating” Waldorf school educators, he served up a deeply flawed set of ideas containing obvious astronomical errors. Importantly, when his first effort to present his model of the solar system was unsuccessful, he did not correct himself, but instead he repeated the errors, stressing their “truth.” “In reality, it is like this.”  In reality, we have little or no reason to agree with Steiner, whose grip on reality was clearly weak.
To wrap up this issue, I will simply quote Steiner two more times — two more instances when he said the planets do not go around the Sun.
“The Earth progresses, but exactly in a line behind the Sun. When the Earth is here, the observer now sees the Sun in another direction. The Sun advances still further, the Earth following, and once again the observer sees the Sun in the other direction. That is to say, he sees the Sun at one time on the right, and another time on the left, owing to the way in which the Earth follows the Sun. [paragraph break] This has been interpreted as demonstrating that the Sun stands still and the Earth revolves around it. In reality it is not so; the Earth moves along behind the Sun.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), pg. 33.
“[W]e can certainly speak of a daily motion of the Earth around her axis, but by no means of a yearly motion of the Earth around the Sun. For the Earth follows the Sun, describing the same path. [paragraph break] Were the Earth revolving round the Sun, we should expect her axis, which owing to its inertia remains parallel, to point in the direction of different fixed stars during this revolution. But it does not! If the Earth revolved round the Sun, the axis could not indicate the direction of the Pole-star, for the point indicated would itself have to revolve round the Pole-star....” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE, p. 85. But it does not, said Steiner. 
Some of Steiner’s blunders are not factual or scientific mistakes of the sort I have been discussing — some occur on a deeper, moral, even spiritual level. Let's start with this: “I consider anti-Semites to be harmless people.”  Bear in mind, Steiner — an Austro-German — made this remark before another Austro-German would prove how completely mistaken it was. Arguably, we shouldn’t blame Steiner for not knowing that Hitler and the Holocaust were coming. But, on the other hand, Steiner repeatedly claimed to be clairvoyant. His capacity for seeing into the spirit realm and into humanity’s future was fundamental to his descriptions of human evolution, by his own account. Indeed, the power he championed is “exact clairvoyance.”  Thus, he had little excuse for making his remarkably obtuse statement about anti-Semitism.
Misunderstanding the nature of anti-Semitism might be defended as an innocent mistake. Steiner's defenders might also argue that Steiner was not himself an anti-Semite or, more generally, a racist. Indeed, they have made such arguments. But, while it is true that Steiner made some statements that appear broad-minded and free of prejudice, he also made numerous statements that are deeply troubling.
Here are a few. I'll start with statements that surely count as anti-Semitic. “The Jews have a great gift for materialism, but little for recognition of the spiritual world.”  And, “[T]he ancient Jewish people...did not wish to learn anything in addition to what the human being brings with him as a capacity because of the fact that he was an embryo....”  Ancient Jews, in other words, were stuck at a developmental stage appropriate only for extreme youth, indeed, for embryos. Partly for this reason, “Judaism as such has long outlived itself and no longer has a legitimate place in the modern life of peoples....” 
Note that "Judaism" — in German, "Judentum" — refers both to the Jewish people as a separate nation and to the Jewish way of life. Steiner called for both the people and their culture to vanish. Unlike Hitler, he did not call for the extermination of the Jews, but he said that the Jewish people should cease to exist nonetheless. "The best thing that the Jews could do would be to disappear into the rest of humankind...so that Jewry as a people would simply cease to exist." 
Christian anti-Semites have long argued that the Jewish religion should go, and perhaps Jews as a people should go, as well. A Christian may well believe that Christianity has made Judaism obsolete, and in a sense this can be defended as a theological proposition: Jews should convert to Christianity and thus cease to be Jews. Still, note what lies behind, or intermixed with, this proposition. Steiner said that Jews are materialistic and spiritually blind, their mentality is infantile, and thus both they and their way of life should cease to exist. Essentially, Jews are responsible for much of what is wrong in the modern world, he said. "Old Testament thinking [led to] the atheistic science of the modern age."  This is anti-Semitism, the tagging of Jews as a backward, malignant, grasping, unspiritual people who lead mankind away from God.
Steiner's views on such matters occur within the context of his more general racial doctrines. He taught that there is a hierarchy of races, with white Europeans standing near the top. Other races are less advanced or less evolved — like the ancient Jews, they have become stuck at backward levels. “Races would not stay behind and become decadent if there were not people who wish to stay behind and are obliged to stay behind ... Older races only persist because there are people who cannot or will not move forward to a higher racial form.”  A person who evolves properly moves upward through racial forms: “By striving forward...he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages.”  A person who fails to evolve properly falls to lower racial stages. Note that being a member of a “lower” race is thus one's own fault.
People who fail to advance “fall out of evolution.”  They may then descend to a subhuman condition, which means they are no longer able to progress from life to life through the process of reincarnation. “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.”  Nature spirits are lowly beings (gnomes, sylphs...) that lack any real spirit. To stress the latter point, Steiner sometimes referred to them as elemental beings. “To call them elemental spirits shows the greatest possible ineptitude, for it is just [i.e., exactly] spirit that they do not possess. It is better to call them elemental beings....”  They are subhuman, like animals — which Steiner said also are remnants of evolution; animals are other creatures who fell behind. "Subordinate" nature spirits are lower than ordinary nature spirits; they are the lowest of the low.
Steiner stated that many people are in fact subhuman. "Quite a number of people have been born since the nineties [i.e., the 1890s] without an I [i.e., a spiritual ego], 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 should note that Steiner made this appalling remark during a Waldorf faculty meeting. His conclusion? "We cannot, however, create a school for demons.”  Many people are not really human; many are subhuman; many are demons. A Waldorf school has no place for them.
We have seen what can happen when a society decides that certain people are subhuman, throwbacks, morally or spiritually or genetically unfit. This returns us, of course, to the issue of anti-Semitism. Even if we leave clairvoyance out of the equation, Steiner’s defense of anti-Semites is indefensible. The profound evil of anti-Semitism — like that of all racism — is clear for any ordinarily intelligent person to apprehend. Steiner should never have exonerated anti-Semites, or if as a young man he made such a mistake, as an older, wiser man he should have apologetically retracted his words. That he did not — that he was capable of making anti-Semitic statements even toward the end of his life — tells us a great deal. Among other things, it helps explain why some Anthroposophists today are fervent Holocaust deniers. To enter Steiner’s orbit is to become entangled in an almost endless cycle of error and falsehood.
[For more on this subject, see "RS on Jews".]
— Roger Rawlings
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.
“The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being ... It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach....”
— Rudolf Steiner, BEES
(Anthroposophic Press, 1998),
“[Y]ou will not be able to find out what happens on the Sun or on Venus if you cannot apply this method of placing your consciousness into the life and activity of a bee community.”
— Rudolf Steiner, BEES,
Photograph by Alicia Hamberg. Reproduced by permission of the artist.
To review some of Steiner's numerous astronomical errors,
including some I have not included here at "Steiner's Blunders",
see "The Planets".
The images above depict conditions for human beings when, according to Steiner, the Earth was inside the Sun (left), and now when the Sun and Earth are separate (right). “[T]he sun's influence keeps human beings small ... Now that the sun is separate, the earth receives far less radiation from it. When the sun was still united with the earth, all its forces reached the earth from within. No wonder that now, as the sun rotates, it can shine upon a human being at every point on the earth, but in ancient times, when it had to send out its rays from the centre of the earth, it was able to project its forces upon only one human being. Once the sun began to work out at the periphery, it made human beings smaller.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 162-163. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the image on p. 162. My color choices indicate that the Sun was inside the Earth, which Steiner sometimes asserted; but Steiner also said the opposite: “If this is the earth, which I am drawing very small, and if that is the sun, with the earth in it....” p. 163.]
Note that Steiner sometimes indicated that today the Earth orbits the Sun. On other occasions, as we have seen, he said it does not. Reconciling such statements calls for tremendous cleverness — or we can admit the obvious, which is that Steiner contradicted himself, occasionally saying something that is true and frequently saying things that are nonsense. The latter statements often seem to represent his real views. Be that as it may, his vast catalogue of blunders calls into question virtually the entire corpus of his work.
“When we think, we die continually."
— Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 56.
[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the one in the book.
True thoughts, "living thoughts,"
come to us from the spirit realm, Steiner said.]
“[T]he brain and nerve system
have nothing to do with actual cognition.”
— Rudolf Steiner,
THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE
(Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.
“The intellect destroys or hinders.”
— Rudolf Steiner,
WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY,
Vol. 1 (Anthroposophical Press, 1995), p. 233.
Why would a man who preached so much balderdash
discourage his followers from using their brains?
Steiner subdivided the ether
and associated it with the "four elements."
The subdivision of ether are life ether,
chemical ether, light ether, and warmth ether.
[Detail from illustration in
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982.]
A map of the illusory canals on Mars.
Steiner accepted the existence of these long,
straight Martian lines,
but he said they are wind patterns, not canals.
This was typical. Steiner often "corrected" others,
but his corrections were often errors in their own right.
[Image from Terence Hines'
PSEUDOSCIENCE AND THE PARANORMAL
(Prometheus Books, 2003.]
Here is an image of the hierarchies of thinking or consciousness as conceived within Waldorf schools; Steiner sketched it in the form of a caduceus, and ancient symbol for healing. We do not need to think for ourselves, Steiner taught: Real thinking has already been done by other, higher beings. All we have to do is receive it as "living" thoughts. “A living thought comes to us: Just as my thought is alive, so too the force that lives in and drives the plant seed must be inwardly alive. Soon this thought becomes for us a raying out of light." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), p. 400. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on b&w image on p. 401.] At the bottom of the caduceus: ordinary day consciousness, associated with the astrological symbol for the Earth; ascending, to the left, the Moon, and to the right, Jupiter; at the first intersection, "picture consciousness"; ascending further, to the left, Venus, and to the right, the Sun; at the second intersection, "sleeping consciousness"; ascending still further, to the left, Saturn, and to the right, Vulcan (no symbol); at the top, "deep trance." Waldorf schools try to help children move "upward," away from ordinary consciousness toward higher forms of consciousness, such as deep trance. And they do this while respecting the occult powers of the stars and planets: Astrology is never far below the surface in many Waldorf schools. How does all this strike you?
[J. C. Cooper,
AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA
OF TRADITIONAL SYMBOLS
(Thames and Hudson, 1978), p. 29.]
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 12. DANGEROUS DISCONNECTIONS ◊◊◊
I will generally confine myself to a single reference for each blunder. More can easily be raked up.
 Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 26. Indeed, Steiner was referring to dragons (i.e., dinosaurs that breathed fire): “Yes, those beasts did breathe fire ... What I am referring to are dinosaurs from the beginning of the Tertiary Period.” Paleontologists and biologists will be surprised to learn that any dinosaurs, in any period, breathed fire.
One of the editors of FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER took the liberty of actually correcting the geological terms Steiner used in this passage, although the editor attributed the errors to a stenographer rather than Steiner himself. The corrections boil down to switching period names, such as substituting “Tertiary Period” for “Quaternary Period,” and so forth. Such alterations do help. Revealingly, however, the editor did not challenge the notion that various ancient beasts breathed fire, nor that human beings once had “jelly-like bodies,” another outlandish statement Steiner made in the same faculty meeting. [Ibid., pp. 26 and 27]. For more on ancient dates and periods, see a following endnote.
The small library at the Waldorf school I attended contained books asserting the probable existence of fabulous beasts such as the “Congo dragon.” Teaching children that dragons ever existed or exist now is bestowing a questionable gift to their young minds. I do not remember whether any books in the library referred to “dragon birds,” but Steiner discussed such creatures with the workmen erecting his headquarters. See Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 103-111.
 Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS. Lectures from 1908-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3: “There are beings that can be seen in the depths of the earth...goblins, gnomes, and so forth.”
From the back cover of the same book, we learn that fairies and/or gnomes genuinely exist: ”These spirits — which are also referred to as elemental beings — became known as fairies and gnomes....” Some categories of elemental beings overlap, but others are distinct. As for undines, sylphs, salamanders (the spiritual sort), phantoms, specters, and demons, see the chapters titled “Gnomes, Undines, Sylphs and Salamanders” and “Phantoms, Spectres and Demons.”
To detect some types of invisible elemental beings, Steiner advocated yielding to optical illusions, although he didn't recognize them as illusions: He said it is “possible for occult vision to have an impression of other beings standing immediately behind the veil of nature ... This is especially the case if we devote ourselves to the peculiar play of a body of water tossing in a waterfall and giving clouds of spray, if we yield ourselves to the forming and dissolving of mist and to watery vapour....” — Ibid., pp. 28-29.
Steiner said that children should be told fairy tales because the tales are more valuable than science. In criticizing a rationalist, Steiner said: “He [the rationalist] 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. "Scientific trash." Steiner said that fairy tales are beneficial because they develop fantasy and imagination, which are steps on the road to clairvoyance. But more than that, fairy tales are true. “Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power. What was seen in a dream was told as a story — for instance, 'Puss in Boots' ... All the fairy tales in existence are thus the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93. Fairy tales reveal, in story form, truths perceived by clairvoyants. Puss in Boots, for example. I kid you not.
If Steiner spoke more moderately, we might find more reason to agree with him, sometimes. Some fairy tales probably contain symbolic truths of various types — if Steiner had said this much, we could have agreed. But this is not what Steiner said. He said that ALL fairy tales derive from clairvoyance, which for him is the faculty that reveals ultimate spiritual truth. "All the fairy tales in existence" do this, he said. They are spiritual revelations. The situation is comparable to what Steiner said about myths: “Myths and sagas are not just 'folk-tales'; they are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night they were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures [i.e., Norse gods] in Nordic mythology were not inventions; they were experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.
According to Steiner, myths and fairy tales they tell us about the activities of beings that really exist. Let's again consult NATURE SPIRITS, as described by the Anthroposophical publisher thereof. “In ancient times, when people had a natural spiritual vision, human beings communed with nature spirits. These spirits — which are also known as 'elemental beings' — became known as fairies and gnomes ... It is Rudolf Steiner's contention, based on knowledge attained through his own highly-trained [sic] clairvoyance, that this aspect of traditional 'folk wisdom' is based on spiritual reality ... Without developing [a] new relationship to these beings [i.e., fairies and gnomes], humanity will not be able to bridge the gulf that separates it from the spiritual world.” — NATURE SPIRITS, back cover. Fairies are real, and they are extremely important. Study fairy tales to open a door to their important, real realm. Or so say Steiner and his followers.
“That fairyland and its denizens should be as much a concern of scientists as they have long been of poets and painters and storytellers was one of Steiner’s deep convictions. For he was a close observer of their life and work, and it was clear to him that they were of profound importance to the earth.” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS: A Natural History of Fairyland (Anthroposophical Press, 1980), p. 8. The book’s dedication: “In memory of RUDOLF STEINER who understood so well the living forces behind Nature.”
 Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH: An Esoteric Study of the Subterranean Spheres (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007) p. 31: “The Fire Earth [a subterranean layer]...is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped upon”.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 607. “[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.” Note that Steiner made this and many other utterly absurd statements to Waldorf school teachers.
I examine this blunder at some length in the Afterword.
 Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE: Exploring Our Suprasensory Nature (Steiner Books, 2000), p. 84: “[T]he coursing of our blood is brought about by our spirituality and vitality.” Steiner's meaning becomes even clearer in the next note:
 Rudolf Steiner, NUTRITION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 163: “The heart is not a pump, however, but only reflects what goes on in the body: the heart beats faster when the blood circulates faster.”
Steiner repeated his description of the heart many times. Nothing is more absurd than thinking that the heart is a pump, he said. Science “sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this, for the heart has nothing to do with pumping the blood.” — Rudolf Steiner, FREUD, JUNG, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (SteinerBooks, 2001), pp. 124-125.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60: “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing to do with actual cognition....”
For Steiner, true cognition is clairvoyance, which he located outside the physical organ known to science as the brain. Neurobiology has shown that cognition certainly occurs in the brain; indeed, it has found the locations central to various mental processes. No location has been found for clairvoyance, not because — as Steiner would have it — clairvoyance is “supersensory” (above and beyond our ordinary senses), but because its existence is unproven and highly suspect. We are generally justified in stating that, in all probability, there is no such thing as clairvoyance. (Indeed, we are probably justified in removing the reference to probability is that sentence. There is no such thing as clairvoyance.) [See "Clairvoyance"].
A semi-facetious aside: A magician, the Amazing Randi, has duplicated various “psychic” powers, purely as tricks — in fact, purely to debunk claims made by “psychics” or “clairvoyants” like Steiner. Randi is not a nincompoop. Under his real name, James Randi, he has written several sensible books, including AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CLAIMS, FRAUDS, AND HOAXES OF THE OCCULT AND SUPERNATURAL (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997), introduction by Arthur C. Clarke. According to Clarke, “How I wish that Randi’s Encyclopedia could be in every high school and college library, as an antidote to the acres of mind-rotting rubbish that now litter the bookstands!” [p. xii] Years ago, Randi offered a large cash prize to anyone who could convincing demonstrate real psychic powers of any sort. Randi still hasn’t had to pay out a penny. Also see http://skepdic.com/randi.html and Michio Kaku, PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE (Doubleday, 2008), pp. 90-91.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 115: “We have people...who think materially ... [M]aterialism causes the human being to become a thinking automaton....”.
 See, e.g., “Treating Cancer with Misteltoe [sic]”, openwaldorf.com.
Many of Steiner's other medical opinions are equally remarkable. Here's a sampling. • Pneumonia is caused by astral influences. [Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997, p. 60.] • Eating fattening foods causes the head to separate from the “spirit-soul” and to become empty. [Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 196.] • When considering the internal structure of organs, always bear in mind that the human being is antimony. [Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 265.] • Jews are especially prone to diabetes. — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 284.] • Flu epidemics are caused by the stars. — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1976), p. 89. • Extreme flatulence is caused by a mismatch between the physical body and the “astral body” (one of three nonphysical bodies — we'll get to them). [Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 131.]
 E.g., THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 145: “The twelve senses separate things into their basic elements....”
 See, e.g., FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 91: “In cholerics [Libra], you will generally find ... In sanguines (Virgo) ... in melancholics (Leo) ... in phlegmatics (Cancer)....” Note the connection to astrology. Also see Hermann von Baravalle, “The Four Temperaments,” WALDORF EDUCATION FOR AMERICA (Parker Courtney Press, 1998). Von Baravalle, an acquaintance and follower of Steiner, was a teacher at the first Waldorf school.
 References to nonphysical human bodies occur throughout Steiner’s teachings. Here's a disturbing example: “Everyone possesses a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an ego, but there is a difference between a cultivated man and a savage ... The higher a man stands on a moral and intellectual plane, the more has his ego worked on his astral body.” — Rudolf Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Kessinger, 1996 — reproduction of 1920 edition), p. 51. The “ego” or “I” is the highest nonphysical body, essentially a spark of divinity. The astral body is lower, and the etheric lower still. Animals and plants have astral and etheric bodies, but plants lack astral bodies, and both plants and animals lack “egos.” Unlike a savage, a civilized man uses his “ego” to imbue his astral body with higher influences. People who are lower than “savages” are not really human at all and lack the spiritual qualities of humanity, or so Steiner taught.
 Steiner urged Waldorf teachers not to reveal this particular doctrine: “Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 650. In my opinion, Steiner’s assertion that some people are subhuman is the most horrid of his doctrines (although some of his racist remarks come close), and it is more than ample reason to keep children out of Waldorf schools.
 Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28: “[O]rgans of clairvoyance will build themselves....”
 See Rudolf Steiner, ATLANTIS: The Fate of a Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007).
 See Rudolf Steiner, ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA (Health Research Books, 2000).
Speaking to Waldorf School teachers, Steiner asserted, “The Atlantean period [i.e., the period when we lived on Atlantis] was no more than about nine thousand years ago.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 51. The Lemurian period, of course, came earlier. Both periods were quite recent, judged by geological time spans. Clouding the picture, however, is Steiner's association of Lemuria with the Mesozoic age and Atlantis with the Cenozoic: “[Y]ou have the Mesozoic, which generally corresponds to Lemuria...[and] the Cenozoic, that is, the Atlantean age.” — Ibid., p. 50. As any good dictionary or encyclopedia will attest, the Mesozoic ran from 265 million to 65 million years ago, while the Cenozoic began 65 million years back and is still chugging along. Reconciling Steiner's teachings with facts such as these is generally impossible. “Generally corresponds” is nicely vague, but “that is” seems definite. Despite Steiner's claims that he was teaching spiritual "science,” his statements have no bearing on reality as we know it.
 E.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE SUBMERGED CONTINENTS OF ATLANTIS AND LEMURIA (Kessinger Publishing, 2005), p. 51. See also Peter Staudenmaier, “Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy,” 2004, and my essay, "Atlantis and Aryans".
 Because the charge of racism is so damning, I should present at least a few substantiating quotations.
◊ “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type ... The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.”— Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.
◊ “On one side we find the black race, which is earthly at most. If it moves to the West, it becomes extinct. We also have the yellow race, which is in the middle between earth and the cosmos. If it moves to the East, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos, and becomes extinct. The white race is the future, the race that is creating spirit.” — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 62.
◊ “If you look at pictures of the old American Indians the process of ossification is evident in the decline of this race. In a race such as this everything pertaining to the forces of the Saturn evolution has become realized in a special manner; then Saturn withdrew into itself, abandoned man to his bony system and thus hastened his decline.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 108. Some of that is, I know, hard to follow. Suffice to say, Steiner taught that we have evolved through periods known by the names of various celestial orbs. Old Saturn was the first phase of our evolution.
◊ “The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe ... It has an enormous effect on the blood and the race [of the French] and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 558-559.
 Steiner’s faith in astrology shows up in odd and troubling ways. For instance, in EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS, he uses astrology to analyze the condition of children: “Now let us turn to the horoscope of the younger child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together ... [W]hen we examine more nearly [i.e., more closely] the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation of opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 196. Using astrology to guide the treatment of children with special needs is clearly a recipe for ineffective treatment — and perhaps for disaster.
 Steiner taught that the Earth was the first orb in the solar system. He called one of its early developmental stages the fire-air Earth. “Out of the fire-air Earth an independent heavenly body splits off, which will in its further course become the present Sun.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 165-166. Despite speaking in the present and future tenses, a trick of his, Steiner was referring to the distant past.] In fact, the Sun and solar system condensed from a cloud of stellar debris and dust — the Sun did not split off from the Earth, nor vice versa. [See, e.g., “solar system.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 12 Dec. 2008.] Never daunted by his errors, Steiner proceeded to say that the Moon, Venus, Mercury, etc., also split off from the Earth. [Ibid., pp. 171, 195, etc.]
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER pp. 30-31: “[I]t is not that the planets move around the Sun, but these three...follow the Sun, and these three...precede it.”
I deal with this subject at some length in the Afterword.
 Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36: “[T]he majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets.....”
Am I going too far in listing ancient migrations to other planets among Steiner’s blunders? Strictly speaking, no claim is automatically implausible, no matter how odd it may seem. Scientists such as Galileo, Newton, and Einstein proposed concepts that, at first, appeared absurd. But eventually they and their work stood up to scrutiny. They successfully bore the obligation of proof. Is Steiner in their league? Do we find ourselves compelled, even if reluctantly, to accept assertions of his such as that humans migrated to Mars, etc., in the distant past? I suggest that all of Steiner’s assertions deserve consideration. But like all other assertions from all other sources, they require validation. Lacking that, they deserve to be considered blunders, fabrications, or — at best — utterly unsupported hypotheses. But Steiner asserted them as facts.
 E.g., Hugh J. Courtney, “Recommendations for Working with Crops, Sequential Spraying, and Ashing (for U.S.A.), January through June, 2007, (EST until April 1 at 2:00 am, then EDT),” http://www.biodynamics.com/.
Farmers need all the help they can get — nature can be cruel and fickle. There’s a long tradition in agriculture of consulting the phases of the moon. But sunlight, water, and nutrients are (to say the least) more necessary for plant life. For more on lunar effects in general, see Robert Todd Carroll, THE SKEPTIC’S DICTIONARY (John Wiley & Sons, 2003), pp. 202-206. [http://skepdic.com/]
 E.g., “Biodynamic Frequently Asked Questions,” http://www.biodynamic.org.uk.
Using great amounts of dung to create large amounts of organic fertilizer would work. But Steiner was talking about tiny amounts. The magic was the important part; the amount of dung was trivial by comparison.
 A fine summary of such matters is Peter Staudenmaier's afterword to my essay “Evolution, Anyone?”
Here's Steiner's summary: “The higher animals did not yet exist ... Man was there, but in quite a different form ... Afterward, man evolved higher, and left behind him the fish-form which had been contained within him ... Again man evolved higher, and separated the birds from himself. Next the reptiles and amphibians came out of man ... Later still, man put the mammals out from himself....” — Rudolf Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Kessinger, 1996), p. 137. Note this book’s unintentionally hilarious title, which it also bore in its earlier edition published by Putnam & Sons.
Some Christians and other people of faith reject Darwinian evolution, but for most of them it would be a grave error to think that Steiner was their ally. Steiner was not a creationist, as that term is usually understood. Rather than teaching that God created all creatures, he argued for evolution — a different form from Darwin’s, but evolution nonetheless. And Steiner rejected the most basic tenet of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that there is but one God. Anthroposophy is polytheistic: “Monotheism...can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS, p. 115.
 Steiner sometimes denied that by the universal ether he meant the universal ether. [See, e.g., OCCULT SCIENCE, p. 41.] It is at least true that he gave the concept a spiritualistic backspin. Nonetheless, he taught that “ether” is universally present in the physical universe: • “[W]hat we subjectively describe as the quality of colour [sic] is the effect on us...of an objective process that is taking place in the universal ether....” — Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE: An Introductory Reader (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 80. • “We develop inner powers but an imprint also forms and is left upon the ether that is alive and present everywhere in the world outside us.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE DESTINY OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), p. 171. • "As the residue of the Moon-evolution we have our present moon which circles around the Earth. Similarly there will be a residue of the Earth which will circle around Jupiter. Then these residues will gradually dissolve into the universal ether." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. • “[I]if you visualize the earth, and these are [grass] stalks, they are pulled in all directions into cosmic space, for there everything is filled with a more subtle form of matter which is called the 'ether' and which lives in the plant. But this life does not come from the earth; it comes from cosmic space." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 3.
 Theosophy teaches that “there is a planet, generally invisible to human scrutiny, closer to the sun than Mercury.” The planet, Vulcan, is said to be masked by, or exoterically entwined with, the Sun. — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999). Steiner distanced himself from this belief, but only part way. He used planetary names to designate worlds and also evolutionary states of consciousness. He forecast “the whole future evolution of our solar system through Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 81. In such statements, Steiner was speaking of evolutionary stages, not planets as we know them today. But Steiner also sometimes indicated that Vulcan exists as a planet in the more ordinary sense. [See "Vulcan".] Vulcan does not exist, of course, but it figures importantly in Steiner's doctrines. “Whereas in the ancient Atlantean times these human beings descended to earth from Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and the other planets...now a time is beginning when beings who are not human are coming down to earth from cosmic regions beyond ... Just as the Vulcan men were the last to come down to earth [from the planet Vulcan, during Atlantean times], so Vulcan beings are now actually entering this earth existence ... And it is thanks to the fact that these beings from beyond the earth are bringing messages down into this earthly existence that it is possible at all to have a comprehensive spiritual science today.” — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 261. Here Steiner treats Vulcan as a real planet or realm.
 The belief in Martian canals, which were thought to have been built by Martian engineers, arose from a mistranslation of an Italian astronomer's report, and it grew due to the assertions of Percival Lowell, an American astronomer who devoted much of his career to studying the supposed canals and the belts of vegetation that he thought grew along their banks. Steiner, as usual, felt compelled to correct everyone: The straight lines on Mars do exist, he said, but they are not really canals. But his correction was incorrect: “Mars consists primarily of a more or less fluid mass ... [As for the canals:] There is nothing to be seen except straight lines ... [They are] something rather similar to our trade winds.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 147-148. For factual information, see, e.g. ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, “Percival Lowell” and “Mars.” Also see NASA's reports on the findings of the Mars rovers and other probes. No Mars probe has found any long straight surface features, and all probes have reported that Mars is desiccated.
 Newton and Einstein have provided complementary accounts of gravity, one applying to the world as we normally experience it, the other applying most clearly at cosmic scales. According to both accounts, gravity is a universal phenomenon that causes physical objects to fall "down" or "inward." Steiner dismissed both Newton and Einstein, and his followers have tended to follow his lead (as they almost invariably do). Thus, for instance, we find such statements as "We should learn to recognise that the fluid organism upon earth bears within itself moon character, and not that it is attracted by the moon according to Newton's theory of gravity. If we think that the same force which makes the apple fall from the tree holds together the whole universe, then nothing is left of a spiritual force." — E. and L. Kolisko, SILVER AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE HUMAN ORGANISM (Kolisko Archive Publications, 1978). Steiner himself taught that "the theory of gravity [should] be overcome." — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 15, GA 201. We will consider some of Steiner's others statements about gravity presently.
 See, e.g., the BRITANNICA’s article on Albert-Einstein.
Steiner knew at least a little of Einstein's work, which he dismissed as largely irrelevant: “Einstein's theory of relativity is clever and does hold true for some things in the world, but you cannot do anything with it when you look into reality. For the theory of relativity will never tell you why someone gets extremely tired going to [the city of] Basle, seeing [i.e., because] he is unable to say if he is going to Basle or if Basle is coming to meet him.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 180. Steiner's comprehension of Einstein's theory is comically flawed. To do Steiner justice, we should acknowledge that here he was attempting to use humor, something he rarely did. But in this case it blew up in his face: Trying to make Einstein's theory seem absurd, he only exposed his own absurdity.
Revealingly, Steiner may have lacked comprehension of the fundamental distinction involved in the theory of relativity: the difference between absolute and relative motion. When a Waldorf school teacher said to him, “[W]e cannot determine any movement in space absolutely” Steiner replied, “What does that mean?” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 32. When the teacher repeated his statement, Steiner launched into a meandering monologue that, irrelevantly, emphasized subjective observation: “The moment the observer is within...that is, as soon as the observation includes inner changes, then all of that stops.” — Ibid., p. 33. Steiner added, “Einstein's principle of relativity arose out of unreal thinking.” — Ibid., p. 3.
 For a description clairvoyance in action, see Rudolf Steiner and John Fletcher, ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 95. To consider the possible existence of clairvoyance, see "Clairvoyance". The possibility is virtually zip.
 e.g., Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 6. Not an astronomer, Steiner nonetheless claimed he knew best about planetary motions. Not an MD, he claimed he knew best about the heart. Not a biologist, he claimed he knew best about evolution. He claimed to know about these and most other matters because “actual cognition,” in his system, is clairvoyance, which he was fortunate enough to possess. He sometimes referred to clairvoyance as spiritual perception — see a following endnote.
 See my essay "Everything" and the essays that follow it .
 In effect, Einstein argued that God is rational and His handiwork makes sense. But Einstein did not deny that nature is difficult to fathom — it took him over ten years to reason his way from the special theory of relativity to the general theory.
Light is certainly difficult to fathom. Physicists today find value in sometimes thinking of light as a stream of particles and sometimes as a series of waves. In neither case, however, do they any longer posit the existence of a universal “ether” for light to travel through.
Planetary motions are also complex. Mercury's odd orbit results from the bending of space in the vicinity of the massive Sun. Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun and thus it is the one most affected by the curvature of space around the Sun.
There are many fine expositions of Einstein's work written for the layman. Einstein himself tried to make his two largest theories comprehensible to the mathematically challenged in RELATIVITY: The Special and the General Theory (Three Rivers Press, 1961), originally published in 1916 and revised in 1952. A more sophisticated exposition is Einstein's THE MEANING OF RELATIVITY: Including the Relativistic Theory of the Non-Symmetric Field (Princeton University Press, 1974), originally published in 1922.
 E.g., “The content of spiritual perception can only be conveyed in images (imaginations) through which inspirations speak, while these inspirations in turn stem from a spiritual entity perceived intuitively.” — AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE, p. 2. I did not add the parenthetical clarification: It occurs in the text.
 Since I wrote the first version of this essay, I have come upon many additional Steiner blunders. I have appended some of these at the end of the essay.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 617.
Steiner apparently knew how bizarre his teachings about swimming islands and continents were. He cautioned Waldorf teachers not to mention these concepts, explicitly, to the students; yet he also said the teachers should somehow be faithful to the concepts. “[W]e need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them [the concepts] to the students because they would then need to tell them to their professors in the examinations, and we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” — Ibid., p. 608. Steiner's concern was not for the “truth” of his doctrines but for the black eye the school might get.
 Ibid., pp. 616-617.
 “Earth.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 21 Dec. 2008.
Technically, a fluid is any substance that yields readily to pressure. Thus, gases can be considered fluids, and so can solid materials that yield rather than breaking when put under pressure. A “very fluid” substance would be highly yielding. The substances that most readily fit this definition are liquids. The only “very fluid” substance constituting a “sea” that a large physical object could “swim” in would be liquid.
 “Earth.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 22 Dec. 2008. Also see BRITANNICA CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2006), p. 587.
The plastic region of the mantle extends from about 60 miles below the surface to 430 miles down. “Plastic” is not at all the same as “liquid.” A plastic substance can be shaped or molded; a liquid cannot, it flows away.
 BRITANNICA CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA, p. 587.
Of course, scientists don't know absolutely for sure what lies thousands of miles beneath our feet — some of what I've relayed is deduction drawn by scientists based on the best information they have been able to gather.
If nothing "floats" on the liquid core, geologists do sometimes speak of parts of the crust "floating" on the mantle. But here again we need to remember what is meant by "floating" in this case — it is not a process of buoyant objects riding on the surface of a liquid, which is clearly what Steiner meant.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 617.
The core is spherical, so if we called it a sea, it might fit Steiner's bill. But calling the core a sea would be arbitrary and erroneous. The core is not a sea and nothing floats on it.
Whether the Earth's real seas tend to be spherical is a minor point hardly worth haggling over. Planets and other celestial orbs tend to be spherical — the force of gravity pulls together the atoms forming these bodies, and the resulting shape is almost always a sphere. The seas on the Earth follow the contours of the Earth and thus have semi-spherical shapes, adhering more or less to the surface of the spherical Earth.
 Ibid., p. 618.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006), pp. 30-31.
Steiner gives varying descriptions and even varying names to the layers at various points in the book. His initial stab at laying out his version of geological layers begins on p. 8. There, he refers to the topmost layer as the both the Mineral Earth and the Solid Earth; later he uses other terms. He uses varying names for other layers as well. I'll report some of these, below.
How did Steiner know what lies thousands of miles beneath our feet? Good question. Steiner attributed almost all of his “knowledge” to clairvoyance, which unfortunately is almost certainly a chimera.
 Ibid., p. 30.
Sometimes Steiner refers to this layer as the Soft Earth [p. 20]. It is not soft in one sense, since it extinguishes all life [p. 25], but on the other hand it contains inner life [p. 51], Steiner said.
You may be surprised to learn that a part of the Earth consists of substances not found on the Earth. But if we're going to attend closely to Steiner's words, we should give him a pass on this point: If by substances upon the Earth he meant substances on the surface, then he may be correct. Subterranean substances may be unlike surface substances. This brings us to a cautionary note, however. We are parsing Steiner's words as translated into English. Only by analyzing Steiner's original statements in German would we be able to settle the finest points of interpretation. I generally accept the translations that have been affirmed by Anthroposophical publishers, but we should bear in mind that in discussing passages from these translations, we are not reading Steiner's original language. Thus, there are limits to the minimum size of the nits we should pick. I suggest that good sense is our best guide. The ideas lurking behind such statements as “[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars” collapse when viewed in the light of good sense, and it is the ideas that are most important. Anyone wishing to pick smaller nits will have to consult the German texts.
 Ibid., p. 30.
Steiner sometimes refers to the Water Earth as the Form Earth [p. 21] and Soul Earth [p. 25]. Here's how this layer of the planet works: “Let us imagine a cube. Now picture it reversed inasmuch as its substance is concerned. Where once there was substance, now there is nothing. The space occupied by the cube is now empty, while its substance, or substantial form, is spread around it — hence the term Form Earth.” [p. 30.] OK? The cube's substance is now spread around the cube, which isn't there.
 Ibid., p. 93, Afterword by Adolf Arenson.
And what about the Air Earth? If gases are technically considered fluids, perhaps the Air Earth is the “very fluid” layer. A few problems prevent us from taking this possibility seriously. For one, there is no geological layer consisting of air. But then again, by air, Steiner doesn't exactly mean air. “The Air Earth is a substance which destroys sensation.”[p. 30.] Air is not known for this property. Steiner says the Air Earth, aka the Vapour Earth, is vaporous, something like water vapor [p. 8], but not literally. To clarify, Arenson adds: “The third stratum, the Vapour Earth, turns a sensation into its opposite.” [p. 93.] So the Air/Vapour Earth is neither air nor vapour, exactly, which means it isn't fluid, either.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 617.
 See, e.g., “plate tectonics.” ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 21 Dec. 2008. Technically, continents are embedded in the plates that constitute the outer layer — the lithosphere — of the earth. The plates move, pushing apart and pushing together. In the latter case, they "bump" into each other (to use Steiner's terminology).
 DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS, p. 168.
 Ibid., p. 168.
In Theosophy, there are seven “sacred” planets, 1) Mercury, 2) Venus, 3) Mars, 4) Jupiter, 5) Saturn, and (6,7) two secret planets masked by the Moon and Sun. [ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999.] Steiner's seven-sphere system derives from this. The doctrines Steiner promoted are woven through with such numerological patterns. The seven planets correspond to the seven stages of human consciousness and evolution, just as the twelve signs of the zodiac correspond to the twelve human senses. Steiner also found mystic significance in the numbers four and nine, among others. He arbitrarily divided phenomena so that they would apparently reflect these special mystic numbers. For more, see "Magic Numbers".
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 30.
 Ibid., p. 30
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 31, and DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS, p. 168.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 30.
 Ibid., p. 30.
 Ibid., p. 30.
 Indeed, we have not exhausted Steiner orbital blunders. On occasion, he actually indicated that the Sun orbits the Earth. Thus, for instance: "[T]he sun completes its orbit in the course of the year bringing about an increase and decrease in light....” — R. Steiner, SIGNS AND SYMBOLS OF THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL (Anthroposophic Press, 1967), lecture 3, GA 96. This is a staggeringly false account of the the Sun's relationship to the Earth and the changing of the seasons.
 Rudolf Steiner, “Die Sehnsucht der Juden nach Palästina,” Magazin für Literatur, vol. 66 no. 38, 1897. Thanks to Peter Staudenmaier for unearthing this statement.
 “The philosophical standpoint from which I speak definitely starts from a healthy psyche and attempts on this basis to develop powers dormant in the soul, cognitive powers, which then become clairvoyant powers...exact clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TENSION BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), p. 40.
 Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 59.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), p. 28.
 Rudolf Steiner, DIE GESCHICHTE DER MENSCHHEIT UND DIE WELTANSCHAUUNGEN DER KULTURVÖLKER (Dornach, 1968); English translation from Council of the Anthroposophical Society in The Netherlands, Zeist/Driebergen, April 1, 2000.
 Rudolf Steiner, "Vom Wesen des Judentums," DIE GESCHICHTE DER MENSCHHEIT UND DIE WELTANSCHAUUNGEN DER KULTURVÖLKER, p. 189.
The German word Steiner is "Judentum." It can be translated as "Judaism" or "Jewry." The Jewish people and their culture have been detrimental. Thus, "Jewry today...has frequently intervened in the development of our current state of affairs in a way that is anything but favorable to European ideas of culture. But Jewry as such has long since outlived its time ... We do not mean the form of the Jewish religion alone, but above all the spirit of Jewry, the Jewish way of thinking." — Rudolf Steiner, GESAMMELTE AUFSATZE ZUR LITERATUR (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1971), GA 32, p. 152.
I am indebted to Peter Staudenmaier for these translations.
 THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES, p. 33.
 NATURE SPIRITS, p. 69.
 Ibid., p. 69.
 Ibid., p. 69.
 Ibid., p. 70.
 Ibid., p. 62.
 FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 649.
Waldorf student paintings
[courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools].
A note on sources: I have accessed Anthroposophical texts in various ways. 1) Chiefly, I have acquired books in the old-fashioned way, as physical objects. When I refer to a book I possess, I give the title, publisher, date of publication, and page number for each reference. 2) I have dipped into some books through Google Books [http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search]. I provide the same information for these volumes. 3) I have read various texts at the Rudolf Steiner Archive [http://www.rsarchive.org/Search.php]. Because the Archive does not provide page numbers, for these references I provide titles, names of publishers, dates of publication, and (where applicable) GA numbers. Be advised that Google Books sometimes gives inaccurate page numbers, and the Steiner Archive is full of typos. I have corrected these problems as well as I could, but I may have missed some instances.
You may have difficulty finding a few of the sources I cite. Anthroposophists tend to conceal various sources, and sometimes — following criticism — they remove or alter sources that they had previously displayed online.
— R. R.