What to Make of It:

A Review

Here is a pair of inflammatory statements — inflammatory in more ways than one: 

 Waldorf schools are wrongheaded and, all too often, wicked.  

 The Anthroposophical mindset largely consists of ignorance and superstition. 

These statements are bound to antagonize some readers, and I'm sorry for that. I’ll explain why I make them, but first please let me say that in denouncing Waldorf schools, I do not question the motives or intentions of individual Waldorf teachers. I have often said that I think most Waldorf teachers have good intentions. I have also acknowledged that many Waldorf teachers are not deeply immersed in Anthroposophy. I’ve gone so far as to state that even the Waldorf teachers who are immersed in Anthroposophy are almost surely good, compassionate people. I will now extend this commendation to the generality of Rudolf Steiner's followers everywhere, whether or not they are associated with Waldorf schools: Surely they mean well, surely their intentions are good. [1]

And yet I wind up by making inflammatory remarks. Why? Because, I submit, these remarks are true. Hear me out, please.

 The wrongheadedness and wickedness of Waldorf schools are intertwined — both characteristics stem from the schools' devotion to Anthroposophy. If they follow Steiner’s wishes, Waldorf schools attempt to lure students toward occultism, specifically Steiner’s concocted occultism, Anthroposophy. Because occultism is divorced from both reason and reality, the goal of the schools is damaging to children and hence wicked. Moreover, very often the schools attempt to attain their occult ends without clearly informing the students’ parents and getting their explicit permission. This is extraordinarily wicked.

The true-believing Anthroposophists among Waldorf faculties, the ones who often rule the schools, believe that they are acting for the good, in compliance with the gods’ divine cosmic plan. [2] These teachers and administrators have good intentions. But their messianic motive is no excuse. They strive to lure children — often without the parents’ consent — into an occult faith that is baseless, irrational, ignorant, and superstitious. This undertaking may be well-intended, but it is deeply wrong. Anthroposophy is, at best, a fantasy. At worst, it is a delusion. In either case, it cannot serve as a guide to living — it cannot equip people for life in the real world — precisely because it is so disconnected from the real world. Luring kids away from reality and into a fog of fantasy and/or delusion is profoundly wrong.

But wait. What do I mean by reality? Am I a mere, blinkered “materialistic thinker,” cut off from the sublime reality that Steiner revealed? Well, by “reality” I mean the universe we can apprehend with our rational minds and our rational tools of investigation such as science. This universe is physical, for sure — but it is also psychological, mental, and spiritual. All the spirit that truly exists, exists in the real universe. The spirit of love, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the spirit of truth — these exist in the real universe, or they don’t exist at all. I affirm that they do exist, and that reality encompasses them. But the “supersensible” reality of Anthroposophy — the invisible, supernatural realm described by Steiner — does not exist, or at least we cannot know that it exists.

Steiner’s entire, elaborate cosmology hinges on clairvoyance, and we have no good reason — none, zip — to think that genuine clairvoyance is available to any human being. Researchers, including many who want clairvoyance to exist, have searched for it in vain. “Clairvoyants” turn out to get things right no more than about 50% of the time. Using their “powers,” they come up with correct answers no more often than they would by making random guesses or tossing a coin. Go to a psychic, if you like; or flip a coin. You’ll get equally valid information from these sources.

But, but!! How can I say these things?! Good grief! Poor, benighted materialist, poor blinkered me. Well, I can say these things because I can read and reason. For example, I can read standard psychology texts, which dismiss clairvoyance, ESP, and other forms of psychic powers as — to put this charitably — unproven. [3] And, having read, I can assess what the texts say by using my brain. But, good grief!, cry the Anthroposophists — there is no real knowledge to be found in ordinary, conventional, “materialistic” publications. Moreover, the brain is incapable of true cognition. Aha, I rejoin, this brings me to my next points. Ignorance and superstition. Let's take these one at a time.

 Ignorance. Educated people, those who know something about how the world actually works, have recourse to a store of information that humanity has gradually, patiently acquired over the centuries. The storehouses of this knowledge are found in the hard sciences, and social sciences, and humanities, and in painstakingly assembled compendia such as THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. To reject the actual information that constitutes physics, astronomy, geology, history, economics, sociobiology, and so forth, is to opt for ignorance. And this is precisely what Steiner recommends. Repudiate “scientific trash.” [4] Reject the work of “historians, sociologists, economists” or, in general, “so-called educated people in the universities.” [5] Rely, instead, on Steiner’s own teachings, his “spiritual science.”

But real scientists, such as Nobel-Prize Winner Max von Laue, have testified that Steiner’s teachings amount to little more than “unconscious humor” — Steiner's words are almost entirely devoid of real knowledge or information. [6] Real science and "spiritual science" — Anthroposophy — stand at odds with one another on almost all points. Steiner claimed this would change; he claimed that conventional science would eventually confirm his spiritual scientific findings. But this has not happened. If anything, in the decades since his death, science has moved ever farther away from the concepts found in Steiner’s teachings. It’s odd that a clairvoyant who could foresee the future did not foresee this. [7]

Steiner was highly educated. He was not, in the normal sense, ignorant. But he elected to become functionally ignorant by rejecting actual knowledge and substituting startling misinformation in its stead. He taught that the heart is not a pump, that the planets do not orbit the Sun, that there is no such universal force as gravity. [8] He chose what we might call volitional, operative ignorance, even while he laid claim to great insight. Thus, he didn’t hesitate to “correct” Einstein, or astrophysicists, or medical doctors. [9] But, in virtually all cases, his “corrections” are incorrect — they are ignorant and wrong.

Steiner’s guidance to his followers essentially constitutes a directive to reject real knowledge. I hasten to add that I am not calling Anthroposophists, as individuals, ignoramuses. I’m talking about Steiner’s ideology, not the mental equipment or attainments of Anthroposophists. I’ve known Anthroposophists who were bright, articulate, and well-informed. But if anyone wants to fully heed Steiner, s/he needs to set aside much of what s/he knows and rely instead on the product of what Steiner called “exact clairvoyance”. Which leads us to the matter of superstition.

 Superstition. Anthroposophy insists that the universe is a magical place chockablock with unseen presences; it is the domain of mystery wisdom, occult secrets hidden from all but the initiated. According to Steiner, cognition comes not from the brain but from radical, disciplined subjectivity yielding psychic powers. These powers are situated in incorporeal “organs,” particularly “organs of clairvoyance.” [10] Believing in such organs is an exercise in pure faith, since there is no evidence for their existence. Indeed, the lack of evidence (aside from clairvoyant visions, which are worthless) makes such belief indistinguishable from superstition.

And that's only part of the story. The universe as Steiner described it is a place where black magic is real; alchemy is real; astrological influences are real; special prayers, rewritten and/or recited backwards, confer special powers; magical preparations, produced according to special instructions and applied under certain astrological conditions, make the earth yield most excellent foods; murder can yield dark knowledge and powers; seers (especially a certain Austro-German savant) can peer into the past and future and down to the core of the Earth and up to the heights of the heavens; following certain specifications (provided by you-know-who) prepares humans to transform themselves into super-humans, über-humans, in coming evolutionary cycles; magical medical practices (using certain colored crayons, consuming certain herbs, applying certain salves, speaking certain words) trump real medicine; etc. [11]

According to Anthroposophy, goblins, giants, and other fantastical creatures really exist; Thor and Zeus and other pagan gods really exist; the characters in Shakespeare's play’s really exist, alive, in spiritland; ancestors of today's humans migrated to other planets and then returned; there is a secret, invisible, celestial script (you can read it if you follow Steiner’s instructions); you can converse with the dead (if you follow Steiner’s instructions); fire-breathing dragons once roamed the earth — you will know this if you gain clairvoyance; and in that case, you will also know that Buddha was crucified on Mars; and Christ is the Sun God; and Jehovah resides on the Moon; and Lucifer has his headquarters on Venus; and the Moon is, in effect, a celestial fortress, one of many colonies in outer space; and karma is for real; reincarnation is for real; elephants have graveyards inside caves; continents float in the sea; humans living on the Moon used to breathe air thicker than water; animals evolved from humans, not vice versa; bees have a higher consciousness than humans, and corals are even more advanced; and, and... [12]

Maybe you’ve had enough?

Ye gods and little fishes! All of Steiner's amazing statements would be wonderfully exciting, if there were any basis for believing even a small part of them. But they are all obvious fantasy, a farrago of fairy tales, phantasmagoric flapdoodle. They are superstition that ought to recognized as such by all rational adults. Yet Steiner asks his followers to believe all of this, and much, much more. (If you would like further instances of Steinerian superstitions and nonsense, please consult “Steiner’s Blunders", “Steiner’s Illogic”, and “Steiner Static”. You could also entertain and/or alarm yourself with “Steiner’s ‘Science’”, “Steiner’s Quackery”, and “Atlantis and the Aryans,” among other modest offerings. A fairly painless way to get a handle on Anthroposophical ignorance and superstition is to glance through "Say What?", "Wise Words", "Today", "Today 2", and/or "Today 3".)

I’ll conclude this section by repeating myself, but in reverse order. Anthroposophy contains no real knowledge; it consists of superstitions and/or delusions. This is because Steiner disavowed real knowledge; he opted for a voluntary form of ignorance that he called occult wisdom. Waldorf schools are immoral if and when they attempt to lure students into this miasma of phantasms and ignorance. They are extraordinarily immoral if and when they do this behind the students’ parents’ backs.

There is, of course, more to Anthroposophy than ignorance and superstition. Anthroposophists are romantics and idealists. They are spiritual. They have high aspirations and even, in a manner of speaking, noble ideals. I sympathize with much of what lies under and behind and around Anthroposophy. Most people, I think, can sympathize. Most people want life to be more magical, more wondrous, more superb. But this simply makes the ignorance and superstition in Anthroposophy that much sadder. Anthroposophists may aim high, but they do not rise high. Almost none of their beliefs (or "clairvoyant findings", the fruits of "spiritual science") are true.

This being so, it is all the sadder that Anthroposophists tend to be, often, intellectually vain. They think they know more about nearly everything than nearly everyone else, and they think their approach to knowledge — their "spiritual science," Anthroposophy — trumps all other approaches. They are mistaken. Indeed, they are self-deceiving. [See, e.g., "Why? Oh Why?" and "Fooling (Ourselves)".] But they sincerely hold these views, as anyone who has spent much time with them will recognize. Whether they are right to be so proud of, and dependent on, Anthroposophy is one of the central topics examined at Waldorf Watch. We needn't repeat all of that examination now. But we can summarize: 

Anthroposophy consists, by and large, of ignorance and superstition. Almost no Anthroposophical beliefs are true.


I must admit that I feel the allure of Steiner's vision. Don't you? It's thrilling, comforting, and even fun, imagining a mighty system of wondrous realms, especially when we put ourselves at the glorious center of it all. 

But I also feel the emptiness and sorrow of it. Steiner's vision is almost wholly unsupported by evidence. It is almost wholly unconnected to reality.

Consider how tiny Steiner's universe is. Especially when we think in terms of planetary spheres,* his universe is downright claustrophobic — a few spheres, stretching out a fairly long distance when judged by everyday standards, but shrinking to virtual vanishing point when compared to the revelations of modern astronomy. 

There is no zodiac, despite Steiner's repeated references to it. The constellations are imaginary formations of our own devising. Nor is the zodiac enclosed by a crystal heaven. The real universe stretches on through distances and timespans that wholly dwarf Steiner's little sketch. We now know that our own galaxy, the Milky Way, has about 250 billion stars (or two hundred and fifty thousand million, as the Brits would say). And there are approximately two thousand billion galaxies.** The numbers involved stagger the mind; they are impossible to visualize; they are vastly greater than anything Steiner contemplated. Yet this is reality.

Of course, the sheer immensity of the real universe can be daunting. It can make us feel small and insignificant. This is precisely why warm little fantasies such as Steiner's appeal to us.

But the majesty of the real universe can also be stimulating and ennobling. This is our home. This is the glory with which we are surrounded. And don't forget, we are one with the stars. All of the heavy elements that make up our bodies were born in the hearts of distant stars, elements forged in the furnaces of the stars and then hurled outward by stupendous stellar explosions. The atoms in your body come from the most spectacular bursts of energy, the mightiest fireworks displays, in the distant reaches of the starry heavens. As Carl Sagan used to say, we are made of star stuff.

And we have brains made of star stuff, brains that enable us to think deeply and truly. Brains that enable us to get beyond the childish fantasies of our intellectual infancy. Brains that let us stand proudly erect in this glorious universe and claim our true place in it — that is, the place of smart, thinking beings who face reality without flinching, who prize truth, and who work to spread the light of truth-finding into all the expanses that were previously dark.

This is our heritage, if we will claim it. To do so, however, we must set aside our childish superstitions, including Anthroposophy.

* See "Higher Worlds".

** I am writing this in mid-2017. These are the figures generally accepted by astronomers as of now.

I think it is quite clear that Rudolf Steiner was wrong about almost everything. But that isn't the most important point. What is truly important is that parents who are considering Waldorf schools for their children should know what Steiner taught. And then they should ask themselves whether they feel comfortable entrusting the education of their children to people who think Steiner was right. Bear in mind, Waldorf schools are also called Steiner schools, and for good reason. Some Waldorf/Steiner schools are more faithful to Anthroposophy than others are. But any genuine Waldorf/Steiner school is, to some degree, rooted in Anthroposophy. If you cannot embrace Anthroposophy, you will probably — sooner or later — find serious deficiencies in Waldorf education.

The ultimate purpose of Waldorf schooling is to promote the religion created by Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy. Steiner often denied this purpose, but sometimes — apparently inadvertently — he admitted it.

"When the [Waldorf] school was founded, we placed great value upon creating an institution independent of the Anthroposophical Society. Logically, that corresponds quite well with having the various religious communities and the Anthroposophical Society provide religious instruction, so that the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [13]

“The instruction in religion based on spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] is increasing [in the Waldorf school], and more and more children come to it. Some have even deserted other religious instruction to go to the anthroposophic religious lessons. It is quite understandable, therefore, that people should say that these anthroposophists are rather bad people, since they lead children to abandon their Catholic and Protestant religious lessons for the religious instruction based on spiritual science. We do all we can to discourage them from coming, because it is very difficult for us to find religious teachers in our own area. Nevertheless, despite the fact that we never planned on this instruction except in response to parents’ requests and the unconscious requests of children (to my great distress, I might almost say), the demand for anthroposophic religious instruction constantly increases. And now thanks to this anthroposophic religious instruction the school has a completely Christian character.” [14]

Anthroposophy is certainly a religion, but is it “Christian”? Consider how Anthroposophy stands in contrast to both Catholicism and Protestantism. In Steiner’s time, this contrast clearly meant that Anthroposophy was heretical, denying the only recognized forms of Christianity. As for Steiner’s “distress” in meeting the “unconscious requests” of students, each reader can form an opinion. Steiner was somtimes simultaneously candid and disingenuous. Or, since we are using plain speech here, perhaps we should say that Steiner was not above lying when it suited his purposes.

At today's Waldorf schools, there may not be much if any overt religious instruction. But an Anthroposophical religious perspective, mood, and atmosphere usually pervades the schools. Waldorf schools are, in fact, religious institutions, and the religion they embody is Anthroposophy. [See "Schools as Churches".] If you don't want your children led toward Anthroposophy, don't send them to a Waldorf school. Maybe your kids would successfully resist all inducements toward Anthroposophy. Maybe the Anthroposophical impulse at a particular Waldorf school will prove to be muted and largely ineffective. But is this a gamble you want to take?

[R.R., 2010.]


Rudolf Steiner invalidated his own teachings. The beliefs of Anthroposophists — which are the underlying ideology of Waldorf schools — are null and void.

Steiner said, 

”The moment we rise to the truths of the spiritual world we can no longer speak  of ‘true’ and ‘false,’ for in the spiritual world that would be as nonsensical as saying that to drink such and such a quantity of wine every day is ‘false’ ... Pertaining to the spiritual world, the concepts of ‘true’ and false’ should be discarded altogether.” [15]

This is a remarkable statement coming from someone who made a profession of telling people the truths about the spiritual world. If the statement is true, than nothing Steiner told us about the spiritual realm is true — how could it be, if nothing in that realm is true or false? Steiner's statement invalidates itself; it cannot reflect any spiritual "truth", since there is no such thing, according to Steiner. [16]

I am not playing word games, here; I’m pointing out a fundamental fault in Steiner’s doctrines. Consider. Steiner consistently made detailed and categorical statements about the spiritual world. For example, 

"[I]n November of the year 1879 there occurred on the astral plane something very similar to a birth ... The rulership of [the archangel] Gabriel was replaced by another archangel, under whose leadership we now stand, the archangel Michael.” [17] 

This is clear, categorical, and presumably true (that is, Steiner offered it as a true statement). Yet this statement cannot be true if the concepts of “true” and “false” do not apply to the spiritual world, the realm where beings such as Archangels live, according to Steiner himself.

The entire body of Steiner’s teachings collapses when considered in this way. Steiner often enumerated things, telling us for instance how many ranks of gods stand above us. [18] But this cannot be true, if nothing in the spiritual world is either true or false.

The confusion between truth and untruth runs deep in Anthroposophy. Steiner often fumbled as he made categorical statements. For instance, he repeatedly said that humanity will evolve through seven stages of consciousness, running from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan. [19] However, he occasionally added an eighth stage. [20] And sometimes, forgetting this additional stage, he said that there are actually twelve stages: 

“After the Vulcan stage, man will develop yet further, and will ascend to still higher levels of consciousness. As the external eye looks into misty gray distances, so the inner eye of the seer looks upon five more forms of consciousness, as far off as distant spirits, of which a description, however, is quite impossible. In all, one can speak of twelve stages of consciousness." [21] 

Actually, if the eighth stage he sometimes mentioned is included, there would be thirteen stages.

So which is it, seven, eight, twelve, or thirteen stages? If we take the previous quotation (“After the Vulcan stage...”) as the truth, then Steiner’s answer is twelve. But if we agree with Steiner that “true” and “false” do not apply to high spiritual matters, then Steiner’s answer cannot be true. None of this is true. Steiner invalidates his own “true” statement(s). [22]

Steiner's lectures and books tend to be internally conflicted. Steiner "informs" us, conveying "truths;" but at the same time, he pulls back so that his words tend to mystify rather than inform. To a degree, Steiner uses the language and forms of rational discourse; he claims to be a scientist, objectively investigating the spirit realm. In this, he works to make spiritual matters comprehensible — he seeks the truth about them. Yet, simultaneously, he insists that much of his subject matter is beyond normal human comprehension. His statements become gauzy and self-canceling. Thus, for instance, he tells us that the spirit realm is a place of colors, yet he says these are not colors such as we perceive with our eyes — they are not really "colors" at all. [23] He frequently defines or describes something while simultaneously distancing himself from his own words.

Of course, the spirit realm may indeed be a very strange place, judged by ordinary Earthly standards. Much of it may lie beyond mortal comprehension. But Steiner is disingenuous. If "color" is the wrong word, why not use a better word or sequence of words — why not give us a description that makes sense, no matter how tenuous? Sometimes Steiner strives to use clear language, and sometimes he does not. He is comfortable with contradictions and paradoxes, comfortable with the notion that an important spiritual "truth" is that there is no such thing as a spiritual "truth." [24] Steiner's purpose often seems to be not to enlighten us but to position himself as the guru on whom we must rely. He taught his followers that they need something akin to blind faith. A spiritual seeker 

“would find himself plunged into the stormy sea of astral experiences if he were left to fend for himself. For this reason he needs a guide who can tell him from the start how these things are related and how to find his bearings in the astral world. Hence the need to find a Guru on whom he can strictly rely." [25] 

This utterly belies Steiner's claim that Anthroposophy is a science. Scientists do not need to "strictly rely" on gurus; they need no gurus at all. Steiner encouraged his followers to be spiritual scientists like himself, making their own independent spiritual discoveries — yet he also told them they needed to rely strictly on his guidance. Steiner simultaneously gave and retracted.

Part of the problem might be summarized this way: Steiner insisted that much of the spirit realm is beyond the limits of our brains and the concepts developed by our brains. So the question becomes where the line is drawn: What is within the range of our mental comprehension and what is beyond it? In the case of the stages of human evolution, Steiner generally located the line after the seventh stage, Future Vulcan: He described each of the first seven stages (although he was quite vague about Vulcan), and he said that the remaining five stages cannot be described. There are several difficulties in Steiner's statements about this, however. The possible existence of the eighth sphere is certainly a complication. The emphasis Steiner often placed on the number seven is another (seven stages fit neatly into his overall metaphysical matrix, in which so many phenomena are found in groups of seven). [26] But more fundamentally, ask yourself this: If the line exists after the seventh stage, how could Steiner tell us anything about what exists beyond the seventh stage? He claimed to have at least two important pieces of information about the realm beyond the line: specifically, there are five more stages, and they cannot be described. But he could not know these things if the line actually exists.

The "truths" Steiner offered us consistently flutter away in this manner. We see this over and over, and not just on the question of distinguishing truth from untruth. Steiner said that in the spiritual world, not only is there no real difference between the true and the false, but there is no real difference between the good and the bad. 

“Logic does not apply when we come into a sphere that can no longer be comprehended by physical means. We finally have to realize that our physical logic works neither in the realm of philosophy nor anywhere else where we concern ourselves with other than physical forms of existence. We must not make the mistake of looking at the opposition of Lucifer and Ahriman [i.e., the opposition of these demons to our evolution] as we would at the antagonism between a good and an evil person on earth. This kind of mistake occurs when we continue to carry over the earthly into the super-earthly realm.

“Most people picture Ahriman and Lucifer as evil beings — albeit much more intensely evil than human beings. But this is not true; we must keep in mind that certain earthly feelings we associate with our concepts lose their meaning when we go beyond the earthly realm. Thus we cannot say that there are good gods on the one hand and the evil gods Ahriman and Lucifer on the other. We must not assume that a trial should be held in the universe where a highly qualified cosmic judge would sit on the cosmic judgment seat and sentence Lucifer and Ahriman to be locked up once and for all, so that only the good gods can get to work. True, locking somebody up can at times make sense in earthly life; in the cosmos it would not make any sense because there such ideas and concepts have no meaning. The opposing forces were created by the good gods themselves in an earlier period.” [27] 

But blurring the distinction between good and evil undermines Anthroposophy almost as much as blurring the distinction between true and false does. A spiritual world without such distinctions would be utterly chaotic, even more baffling than Steiner himself indicated. Steiner often insisted that there are both good and evil powers at work in the universe; there a good gods and evil gods who battle each other; there is Christ and there is Sorat, the Antichrist, his enemy; there is a path that leads upward to divinity and a path that leads downward to the abyss. [28] Such teachings are fundamental to Anthroposophy — but they are reduced to hash if the distinctions between good and bad, and true and false, are dissolved.

Steiner presented himself as a truth-teller, yet he wanted to blur the sorts of distinctions we have been considering. He wanted to deny that our brains — which can use the logic he spoke of, above — are adequate for comprehending the high realities of which he spoke. Instead, he taught that we need to use clairvoyance — ideally, “exact” clairvoyance of the sort he claimed to possess. But this is another fatal weakness in his system. Clairvoyance is an illusion — there is no evidence that human beings are capable of developing or using clairvoyance. [29] Any system that depends on clairvoyance is fundamentally flawed: It leans on a reed that does not exist. Thus, it falls.

Anthroposophy disparages logic, it disparages the brain, it disparages modern science [30], it disparages real knowledge and information [31], it blurs the distinction between truth and falsehood, it blurs the distinction between good and evil. It is a mess. It is false and — for the moment I’ll refrain from using the words “evil” or “bad” — it is (to put this mildly) not good.


For an inquiry into the sort of thinking 
that can lead to such hallucinatory belief systems 
as Anthroposophy, see, e.g., "Fooling (Ourselves)".

Many of Steiner's doctrines contain elements 
that are 
little more than superstition. 
For an overview, see "Superstition".

For a quick review of spiritual beings that 

Steiner said really exist, 

see "Beings"
To focus on the ones that Steiner said 
are evil, 
see "Evil Ones".

For a review of evil and sin, 

including the Ten Commandments,

see "Sin",


and "Commandments". 

(For the Anthroposophical vision of 

punishment for evildoers,

see "Hell".)

To peer into the messianism of Anthroposophy, 
and the tendency to demonize opponents, 

For information on Waldorf schools 

as they are today, 

"Waldorf Now" and "Today", 

 and the pages following them. 

For relatively candid remarks by Rudolf Steiner 

on the spiritualistic agenda of Waldorf schools, 

see "Spiritual Agenda".

For an example of Steiner using the fallacy 
called "argument to ignorance" — see "Ignorance". 
For a more general appraisal of Steiner's thinking, 
For a summary of the consequences of Steiner's illogic 
(and his claimed use of clairvoyance) 

Poking holes in Steiner's teachings is easy, 
but is it relevant to us today? Do Anthroposophists 
and Waldorf faculties today still believe Steiner? 
Sadly, yes. See, e.g., "Teacher Training
and the "News Archive". 

If, before wrapping things up,
you'd like circle back for an overview of 
all things Waldorf,

Here are two items from the Waldorf Watch "news" page:


“In occultism, we learn to grasp life more earnestly, we learn to perceive that the things which are not palpable, which cannot be observed by the senses, are still a reality.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 249.

• ◊ •


Rudolf Steiner freely identified himself and his followers as occultists. [See "Occultism".] He was not confessing to devil worship or the practice of black magic. He meant that Anthroposophists possess secret, hidden spiritual knowledge. This claim is certainly questionable. But beyond that, we should recognize that many of the malign characteristics that people generally associate with occultism do indeed show up in Steiner’s doctrines.

While Anthroposophy is generally upbeat, foreseeing the likelihood of a wonderful future for humanity [see “Tenth Hierarchy”], it also includes doctrines about ghosts and phantoms [see "Neutered Nature"], demons [see “Evil Ones”], secret esoteric brotherhoods [see “Double Trouble”], spiritual degeneration [see "Evolution, Anyone?"], astrology [see “Star Power”], white and black magic [see “Magicians”], infernal regions [see “Sphere 8”], goblins [see “Gnomes”], and the like. To the rational mind, Anthroposophy is an elaborate patchwork of superstition and ignorance, essentially medieval in nature, and marked by many nightmarish concepts.

We would need to accept Anthroposophy's nightmares along with its the optimistic doctrines, if they represented truth. But they do not. Steiner claimed that all of his teachings were based on his personal spiritual investigations. By this, he meant his use of “exact clairvoyance" [see “Exactly”]. But there is no such thing [see “Clairvoyance”]. Nothing based on clairvoyance is real or true. In presenting his purported clairvoyant visions, Steiner was either hallucinating or fibbing. In either case, his teachings have no merit. And the implications of this for Waldorf schooling should be clear, since Waldorf schools — otherwise known, significantly, as Steiner schools — base their practices on Steiner’s teachings.


Arguing that Waldorf schools generally conceal their real agenda,
a participant in the discussion at The Ethereal Kiosk
has proposed the following as an accurate Waldorf self-description, 
the sort of truthful mission statement a Waldorf school should post:

[W]hat would I prefer the schools say about themselves which, as a prospective parent, I would like to have read? I’ll have a go at that. Here’s what my ideal fictional Steiner school would say on its home page:

“The Puddleton Steiner school bases its teaching methods on the indications of Rudolf Steiner, the spiritual leader of the Anthroposophical movement. Every detail of the school, from the colour of the walls to the delivery of lessons, is informed by Steiner’s ideas and traditional Anthroposophical culture.

"We believe that the most effective approach to education engages and develops a child’s mind, body and soul. The Anthroposophical understanding of these three aspects of the human being leads to a model of child development that advocates a delay in reading and more traditional intellectual pursuits until a child is 7 years old. Adolescents develop their critical and logical thinking ability around the age of 14. The curriculum of our school reflects these stages.

"We maintain links with the wider Anthroposophical community. Besides the traditional subjects, Eurythmy is an important and compulsory lesson. A dance form that aims to translate the spoken word into movement, it also has spiritual significance and can be used in a curative, therapeutic way in case of medical or learning difficulties. The school employs an Anthroposophical doctor who can advise on the use of Eurythmy and other complementary therapies in these cases. The school maintains a bio-dynamic garden where students grow their vegetables following Steiner’s agricultural indications. Some members of staff belong to the Anthroposophical Society and we regularly invite speakers to give talks on Anthroposophical subjects to parents.”

That’s just 3 paragraphs. It wouldn’t necessarily have scared me off immediately but would have given me plenty of food of thought and directions to read up on....

To illustrate how Waldorf schools generally avoid 
mentioning Anthroposophy and its doctrines 
— i.e., the thinking that undergirds 
all their activities and purposes —
the writer created a web crawler 
"to index the home pages of all 34 Steiner schools in the UK 
plus the SWSF home page and all the pages you can get 
to one click away from the home pages. 
I generated a word cloud where the size of each word 
represents the total frequency it occurs."
(SWSF is the Steiner-Waldorf Schools Fellowship.)

Here is the result:

The name "Steiner" is prominent, which might seem to indicate at least a minimal level of disclosure — but in the UK, Waldorf schools are called Steiner or Steiner-Waldorf schools, so the schools can't avoid naming their founder. But do the schools honestly explain who Steiner was and what he preached? Clearly not. If they did so — if, in other words, the schools forthrightly explained the real nature of Waldorf education — the cloud would be filled with terms such as "Anthroposophy," "karma," "reincarnation," "etheric body," "astral body", "nature spirits," "planetary conditions," "astrology," "gods," "Sun God," "Lucifer,' "Ahriman," "spiritual evolution," and the like. Steiner's teachings about all of these topics are fundamental to Anthroposophical belief, upon which Waldorf pedagogy is based. Unless these are explained, the purposes of Waldorf education are left unexplained.

For background, see, e.g.,

Here is an excerpt from testimony at a trial 
in which an association of Waldorf schools
sued a former Waldorf teacher for libel. 
The lawyer for the former Waldorf teacher
is questioning "Mrs. X," 
a representative of the association 
of Waldorf schools:

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

Mrs X: "No, it is for the parents to learn."

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

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

For more on this trial, see 


There are many Waldorf schools in the world today, sprinkled across the continents. The schools are not all identical, by a long shot. Still, they all trace their origins to Rudolf Steiner and the first Waldorf school, which he established in 1919. There are enough similarities between the Waldorf schools in operation today to allow us to make many general observations about them.

A few of the schools, especially in Europe, are fairly large, having scores of faculty members and several hundred students. Most Waldorf schools, however, are of more modest size, and some are quite tiny.

Waldorf schools (also called Steiner schools and/or Steiner-Waldorf schools) are usually pleasant places with earnest, committed faculty and staff. There is usually a faint but palpable spiritual or even mystic atmosphere, although usually no particular theology is openly professed. Green values, with reverence for nature, are usually in evidence. There is almost always much art in and around the schools: paintings, drawings, sculpture, instrumental music, choral music, dance...

Academic pressures are usually light, as the schools focus as much attention on emotional and spiritual development as on brainwork. There is usually much playtime, especially in the lower grades, along with craftwork of various kinds, including knitting, crochet, woodworking, and the like. School days often pass pleasantly.

A familial feeling is often achieved. Students get to know one another, and their teachers, well. The same small group of students may remain together for many years — ideally, all the way from kindergarten through high school. Likewise, the same teacher(s) may lead a particular group for many years: from first grade through fifth or eighth grade or (on rare occasions) through twelfth grade.

Subjects are usually studied in a set order, according to the Waldorf belief that there is a correct time for each. The order corresponds to the Waldorf conception of the stages of childhood development. There are three such stages, with the major turning points coming around ages seven and fourteen. Waldorf teachers try to shepherd their charges through these important transitions. The teachers offer themselves as role models, hoping to inspire both the admiration and love of their students. They seek to gradually fortify the students so that, having been well led, the children eventually develop the capacity to think for themselves in the final years of schooling.

All of this is more or less as Rudolf Steiner intended, and most of it derives from his specific directives. Most of it reflects Steiner's mystic conception of human nature. [See "Oh Humanity".] The three stages of childhood development, for example, are actually three phases of incarnation. [See "Incarnation".] In Waldorf belief, human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible. A human is born with a physical body; at age seven, the "etheric body" (an envelope of formative forces) incarnates; at age fourteen, the "astral body" (an envelope of soul forces) incarnates; and at age twenty-one, the "ego body" or "I" (individual spiritual selfhood) incarnates.

Underlying the Waldorf belief in incarnation is a belief in reincarnation. Steiner taught that humans live alternating lives in the spiritual and earthly realms. [See "Reincarnation".] During these lives, we evolve toward spiritual perfection, a process that includes working out one's karma. [See "Karma".] Humanity's great guide along the upward path of evolution is Christ, who in Waldorf belief is actually the Sun God. [See "Sun God" and "Prototype".]

Usually, very little of this is openly explained to parents before they enroll their children in a Waldorf school, and sometimes much of it remains hidden even after enrollment. Rudolf Steiner's teachings are embodied in the mystical system called Anthroposophy, which forms the foundation of Waldorf education. Anthroposophists believe that they are occult initiates who possess divine wisdom that others do not possess and are unprepared to receive. Thus, they are often secretive about their purposes and practices — properly so, in their view. [See "Inside Scoop".] Not all Waldorf teachers are full-fledged Anthroposophists, but many are, and they observe Steiner's admonition to preserve occult knowledge from those who are not ready for it. [See "Secrets".]

Rudolf Steiner claimed that he attained occult wisdom through the use of clairvoyance. In particular, he claimed to employ "exact clairvoyance," which enabled him to gain virtually unchallengeable knowledge of spiritual matters. [See "Exactly".] He stipulated that Waldorf teachers should be true Anthroposophists, and he said they should either develop their own powers of exact clairvoyance or accept the guidance of their colleagues who have developed it. He called this form of exact clairvoyance the "Waldorf teacher's consciousness." [See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

Stated in the broadest terms, the chief objective of Waldorf education is to spread Anthroposophy. However, in accordance with the need to preserve occult secrets, this objective is usually pursued subtly, indirectly. [See "Sneaking It In".] Rarely are Waldorf students taught the doctrines of Anthroposophy in so many words. Instead, guided day after day, month after month, year after year by the same small set of teachers, they gradually come to see the world much as their teachers see it, which is generally as Rudolf Steiner saw it. Thus, Waldorf schools usually do not explicitly teach Anthroposophy to the students, but the schools lead students down the path toward Anthroposophy. [See "Spiritual Agenda".] Few Waldorf students graduate from school as Anthroposophists — most may have only the foggiest idea what Anthroposophy is — but most will graduate having internalized attitudes and beliefs that may cause them, later in life, to devote themselves to Rudolf Steiner and his teachings. [See "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".]

Restated at the personal level, the objective of Waldorf education is to shepherd students through the process of incarnation and spiritual development so that they may, sooner or later, find spiritual truth — i.e., the doctrines of Anthroposophy. [See "Soul School".] The hope is that the children will do this "freely" — Waldorf schools claim to promote human freedom. [See "Freedom".] Thus, in theory, Waldorf students are led to think for themselves and make their own free life choices. However, in Anthroposophical belief, any choice other than Anthroposophy is wrong and may lead to the loss of one's soul. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Moreover, critics allege that Waldorf students are effectively — albeit subtly — indoctrinated through the long years spent in an Anthroposophical milieu, and this negates the possibility of actual freedom. [See "He Went to Waldorf".] Indoctrinated students generally travel down the paths established for them by their internalized belief system, implanted in them through a subtle years-long process.

Virtually all classes and activities in Waldorf schools are keyed to the schools' spiritual purposes. A few quotations from Rudolf Steiner make this plain: 

• "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." 

• "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” 

• "Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.”  

With their primary attention devoted to occult spiritual matters, Waldorf teachers may or may not provide a sound education for their students. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".] Usually, Waldorf faculties harbor a fundamental mistrust of modern science and scholarship, which are so much at odds with Steiner's mysticism. Still, depending on individual circumstances, some students may graduate having attained a reasonable level of literacy and real-world knowledge. And, again depending on individual circumstances, some may come away more or less unscathed by their teachers' occult beliefs. [See "Who Gets Hurt".] Parents should realize, however, that if they select Waldorf schools for their children, they may be subjecting them to risks unlike those found in ordinary, secular forms of education. [See "Advice for Parents".] child who succumbs to Anthroposophical indoctrination may be woefully unprepared for real life in the real world; deep mental and emotional problems may result.

To see how the Waldorf curriculum is geared to Anthroposophy, see "The Waldorf Curriculum" and the essays that follow it ("Oh My Word", "Magical Arts", "Mystic Math", etc.). To look into methods used by Waldorf teachers, see "Methods". To see how Waldorf teachers are trained, see "Teacher Training". To see how Anthroposophical attitudes and inclinations are surreptitiously conveyed to Waldorf students, see "Sneaking It In." For indications of the problems, sometimes quite unusual, that can disrupt the pleasant tenor of Waldorf school life, see "Cautionary Tales", "Mistreating Kids Lovingly", and "Indoctrination".

[R.R., 2009.]


My father fought, and nearly died, in World War II, in Europe, bombing Germany. If he had died in the war, I would not exist. So, the war has always been of interest to me. I've read a great deal about the war and the events leading up to it, largely in order to try to understand the appeal of Adolf Hitler. How could a sophisticated nation such a Germany deliver itself into the hands of a racist lunatic like Hitler? How, at an even deeper level, could Germany have acceded to Nazi insanity and evil so profoundly as to allow what is probably the greatest crime in all of human history, the Holocaust?

I think I understand the answers to these questions. I think I can imagine what it was like to live in Germany after that nation's crushing loss in World War I: a proud nation defeated, ravaged, impoverished, humiliated, riven, desperate. So I think I can imagine why at least some Germans saw possible salvation in a Leader who loudly proclaimed the divine superiority of the Germanic master race, and who offered that race the possibility of revenge and triumph. I think I understand.

And yet, at some level, Hitler and the Holocaust must always remain a mystery. We may understand why the Holocaust happened, but the reality of the Holocaust must always remain, at a deep level, unthinkable. The actions of the Nazis were completely beyond the bounds of what we want to think of as human nature. The death camps were hellish; the things done there ought never to have been possible for any human beings to do. Our minds and hearts and souls recoil utterly, as they should. And so we must always be dumbfounded by what we understand and know to be true: Yes, we human beings did these things; yes, we are capable even of such atrocities. But no, no! Surely not! But yes, tragically, yes — it happened.

(Aside: The sheer unthinkability of the Nazi crimes is one reason so many people — including some Anthroposophists — deny that the Holocaust occurred. There are also other, less innocent reasons for Holocaust denial, but at the simple emotional level, we can all understand the urge to deny this hideous historical truth. O, God, if only it we could wash this indelible stain from our hands...)

Compared to Hitler and Nazism, Steiner and Anthroposophy are far, far less terrible, and far, far less important.

But here is one similarity, at least in my view. Although I have read almost everything I could find about Steiner and his doctrines and Waldorf schooling — and although I personally lived through deep exposure to these things, and for a long time felt in my heart a profound yearning for the benefits they claim to offer — there is a way in which belief in Steiner's teachings must always be mysterious, unthinkable, incomprehensible.

Some very smart, capable people have bought into Anthroposophy; some have devoted their lives to it. I understand. I've been there. I've been — in a youthful, unsmart way — one of them. Yet what these people believe (and what I once believed) is such utter poppycock as to stagger the mind. Ye gods and little fishes! Are we all insane? How can we, with our marvelous big brains, accept such fantasies as Steiner peddled? Fairies, goblins, dragons, Old Saturn, Old Sun, Vulcan, floating islands and continents, planets that trail the Sun instead of orbiting it, Lemuria, Atlantis, magic, alchemy, astrology...

Are we all insane? Perhaps, in a way, we are. Most human beings, of course, have never heard of Rudolf Steiner and in no way accept his teachings. But most of us believe similar stuff — most humans believe in invisible presences, and they have superstitions, and they generally believe many things that they cannot prove or even explain.

We have deep mystical yearnings. At one level, it is easy to understand this. We don't want to die. We don't want to believe that our loved ones can die — or, if they did die, we don't want to believe that they are truly gone, forever, extinguished, eliminated. A friend of mine died not long ago. I'm still going through the experience I've had before under similar circumstances: The utter absence of my friend feels so wrong, so unbelievable, that at an irrational level I still think of him as alive, somewhere, somehow. When we feel such things, the possibility of discarnated souls feels right to us, so we can imagine a realm of the discarnated, a spiritual realm, and we can easily begin spinning out ideas about this realm — and, presto, we have a mystical belief system.

This is easy to understand. And, of course, our own impending deaths are even more unbelievable to us than the deaths of our loved ones. No! I cannot die! I refuse to believe that I will die. So I will use various prayers and practices to ensure my eternal survival...

This is easy to understand. And yet, this is — to the rational mind — more than a little absurd. Our belief in the invisible, in things none of us has ever seen or experienced, is preposterous. But there it is; that's how most of us think most of the time.

I don't mean to challenge all religions and faiths, although my argument clearly runs in the direction. The issue, here, is Steiner's body of doctrines. Fairies, goblins, dragons, Old Saturn, Old Sun, Vulcan... Preposterous, mysterious, absurd. And yet Anthroposophy is accepted by some smart, articulate people.

One particular attraction of Steiner's teachings is that so much is included. Steiner stitched together many, many disparate beliefs, apparently developing a coherent framework that incorporates and explains them all. This is what Anthroposophists sometimes refer to as the inner logic of Anthroposophy: Steiner took a huge number of jigsaw pieces and fitted them all neatly together. This helps to make the allure of Anthroposophy comprehensible. Fairies, goblins, dragons and the rest may make sense if we can accept a super-theory of spiritual reality that accounts for all of them. This is what Anthroposophy purports to be, the Theory of Everything, the Science of the Spirit, the Explanation of All.

And yet, pause. Steiner said that all fairy tales, all myths and legends, all spiritualistic symbols are true: They represent clairvoyantly ascertained realities. The mind begins to boggle. All of these are true? And this is ascertained how? By the use of a faculty that does not exist?

Let's look at the bigger picture. Steiner tried to unify the world's religions. Thus, in Anthroposophy, we find elements of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and so on. Great. We can appreciate the appeal of such a proffered synthesis. But does Steiner's synthesis make sense? For his system to work, Steiner had to bend everything so badly that no orthodox Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Zoroastrian would recognize her/his faith in Steiner's doctrines. Christ is the Sun God (Hu, or Apollo, or Ahura Mazda) who has come again (the Second Coming), but only in the etheric world (the what?), and he will assist us in our evolution, not take us directly to Heaven. We will live many lives, which are informed by karma, in a universe of many gods, including Archangels such as Michael, and other great spirits such as Buddha (who was to Mars what Christ is to Earth), under the triune Godhead (Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu), in a solar system currently centered (for us, for now) on Christ, which was preceded by other solar systems in which other gods began their evolutions, and will be succeeded by newer solar systems foreseeable by exact clairvoyance (what?), or as indicated in the Akashic Record (what?), or a foretold in the Book or Revelation, or in Norse myths, or in fairy tales... The apparent coherence of Steiner's synthesis breaks down when we examine it in any detail. Steiner tried to affirm almost every spiritual belief from every significant belief system. But in the process of these affirmations, Steiner had to change most of these beliefs so completely that very few of them retained their character or meaning.

Consider the sources Steiner drew from. Accepting the tales and beliefs of the ancients (people who knew little by modern standards), he repeatedly rejected the findings of modern scholars and scientists (people who know a great deal about the real world). Nothing rational or true could come from such an enterprise. If Steiner believed the things he professed, he was deceiving himself. Indeed, Anthroposophy is an enormous project in human self-deception.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I understand the appeal of Anthroposophy, yet my mind also boggles. What? Anthroposophists believe what?

Ok. I understand. 

Any yet...

A modest suggestion: If we could all stop believing (deeply, passionately) things that defy rationality, we might be better off. The Nazis believed in the superiority of Aryans and the subhuman vileness of Jews and Gypsies and Slavs — they believed this trash so passionately that they could commit the horrific atrocities of the Holocaust.

Anthroposophists say they don't believe anything, they know. But this is what most mystics say. And Anthroposophists certainly do base their "knowledge" in belief — belief in their own powers of clairvoyance, if nothing else. But clairvoyance doesn't exist, which means that every spiritual "reality" ascertained by clairvoyance is a fantasy, unproven but accepted by an act of belief or self-deception.

I'd suggest we all give self-deception a rest.

(Concerning the etheric realm, see "Higher Worlds". Concerning exact clairvoyance, see "Exactly". Concerning the Akashic Record, see "Akasha".

For more about Christ the Sun God, see "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?" To investigate Steiner's views on the Godhead, the nine ranks of gods, and the three divine hierarchies, see "God", "Trinity", and "Polytheism".

Concerning karma, reincarnation, and evolution, see "Karma", "Reincarnation", and "Evolution, Anyone?" Concerning Norse myths, see "The Gods".

To explore Anthroposophical beliefs about Michael, Buddha, and Mars, see "Michael", "Buddhism", "The White Lodge", and "Mars". 

For Steiner's presentation of his overall vision, see "Everything". For Steiner discussing his views as clearly as he could, see "Oh Man".

To explore other subjects and issues, delve into The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.)


The title of this essay, "Summing Up", may be misleading, particularly for readers who leap to this page without having done a fair amount of preliminary research. I have not attempted to write a single, all-conclusive, all-encompassing summary of everything that appears elsewhere at Waldorf Watch. Nor have I attempted to frame a categorical, undeniable argument that will end all discussion. Rather, on this page I have tried to tidy up a bit, round things out a bit, and put things in some perspective. I have added some further evidence and analysis, but I do not offer these as — in and off themselves — the last word. (You might note, for instance, that "Summing Up" is not the final essay at this website. There's more to be said, just as there was a lot of ground to cover before arriving here.)

Readers who, prior to reading "Summing Up," already knew a lot about Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, may find this essay useful. Others may be less well served. I have necessarily focused, here, on a few key quotations and pieces of information. Taken in context, these may prove enlightening. But no one should take "Summing Up" as a complete or, by itself, adequate discussion of Anthroposophy and Waldorf. I have not intended this essay to be a digest that tells the whole story or that even makes the most crucial arguments about the subjects discussed, so I urge you not to mistake it for that. If you decide you have not yet studied these subjects sufficiently to draw your own conclusions about them, I urge you to spend more time at other parts of Waldorf Watch, and I strongly urge you to visit other websites, those that criticize Rudolf Steiner's teachings and Waldorf education, and those that defend them. I list a number of these sites on the "Links" page. 

Certainly I encourage you to read books by Rudolf Steiner and his followers. Hear what they have to say, carefully considering the plausibility and persuasiveness of their work.

Probably I should add that I have not attempted to develop arguments that will compel agreement or surrender from Anthroposophists. Adults who choose to follow Rudolf Steiner are perfectly free to do so, in my opinion, and I have not attempted to change their minds. Instead, my aim has been to address people standing outside the circle of Anthroposophy, particularly those who are considering Waldorf schools for their children. And my message to them is really quite simple. To summarize, it is this: Please wait a bit. Have you thought this through completely? Are you sure you know what Waldorf schools really are? Please pause, do some research, and reflect carefully before taking a step that may, just possibly, prove deeply damaging to your children.

—  Roger Rawlings

[R.R., 2010.]


Parents should know that the main purpose of Waldorf schooling is not educational, as this term is normally understood, but occult. [See, e.g., "Incarnation".] Waldorf faculties are supposed to help the gods fulfill what Steiner called the divine cosmic plan. Waldorf schools are on a messianic mission to save humanity. This is all well and good, perhaps — if Waldorf schools are really in a position to provide such a lofty service. But are they? Or are they engaged in a delusion? And what effect may this have on your kids if you send them to a Waldorf school?

Rational education may easily fall by the wayside as Waldorf teachers work to "bring the spirit" to their students. Here is one statement Steiner made bearing on these matters.

“What a child develops in his head, in his heart and soul, by having to learn a... b... c, is — spiritually speaking — a parasite in human nature ... [W]hen the letters of the alphabet, which are the product of advanced civilization, are imposed on the human being, this does engender a parasitic element ... [T]he spiritual can be brought to man without becoming poison. First you have the diagnosis, which finds that our age is infested with carcinomas, and then you have the therapy — yes, it is Waldorf School education ... [O]ne must regard education as medicine transposed into the realm of mind and spirit. This strikes us with particular clarity when we wish to find a therapy for civilization, for we can only conceive this therapy as being Waldorf School education.” — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), pp. 216-217. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on sketch on p. 216.]

The main purpose of Waldorf education is to spread Steiner's religion, Anthroposophy. Only in this way, Anthroposophists believe, can humanity be saved. "[W]e can only conceive this therapy as being Waldorf School education.” Civilization is infested with spiritual cancers. Waldorf schools aim to provide a cure. Steiner made his statement in November, 1914, with the world at war. But from an Anthroposophical perspective, spiritual cancers are just as widespread — perhaps, indeed, more widespread — today.

If you think that the purpose of schooling is to save humanity from spiritual cancers, then perhaps Waldorf education will suit you and your child. But if you think the point of schooling is to convey knowledge (such as knowledge of the alphabet) to children, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.


"If these ideas are not true, they should be true.
What we believe shapes the reality. 
If we become conscious of these ideas
and hold them, they will become true."
                                      — from "Anthroposophy 101"

These plaintive words were written by Dr. Ronald E. Koetzsch, an Anthroposophist connected with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. The essay "Anthroposophy 101" is Koetzsch's summary of Steiner's basic teachings. Koetzsch focuses on Steiner's more pleasing, upbeat doctrines, and he asserts that if Steiner's wonderful ideas are not true, we can make them true by believing in them fervently enough. 

I think everyone can all feel the deep yearning in Koetzsch's words, and everyone can sympathize — we all wish for the wonderful, the transcendent, the glorious. I feel such desires, intensely. I understand where Anthroposophists are coming from.

But wishing doesn't make anything true. Our wishes can be our guides, our motivators — but, in and of themselves, wishes create nothing. Thinking or hoping that something is true doesn't cause that thing to become true. Some thoughts are false, and no amount of fervent belief can redeem their falsity. You may tell yourself that the Moon is made of green cheese. You may dwell on this thought day after day, month after month. You may meditate upon it, visualize it, preach it from the rooftops. But it is false, and your efforts cannot make it true. The moon is not made of green cheese and it never will be. Your idea is false.* 

Truth is truth, in other words, and reality is reality. We have no reason to think that the universe is as Steiner described it, and we have no reason to think that we can make the universe become as Steiner described it. A fairy tale is a fairy tale. A false idea is false.

Anthroposophical thinking is mere wishfulness, which is tantamount to self-deception. During the play "Peter Pan", when the fairy Tinkerbell is dying, Peter tells the children in the audience to wish for Tinkerbell's recovery. And it works! The kids wish and wish, and Tinkerbell revives. It is a nice fairy tale. But that's all it is, a fairy tale.

Truth and reality have a great advantage — they are true and real. And they aren't so bad. We're alive, in a universe of beauty, grandeur, pain, suffering, and achievement and joy and victory. This is the universe that really exists, the universe of physics and astronomy and the soaring human intellect. Steiner would return us to a dark, medieval past. We need not go there. Indeed, we must not go there. For the sake of our planet, and our children, and ourselves, we must face reality squarely and then work to realize its best potentialities.

Truth and reality have a great advantage — they are true and real. Anthroposophy is divorced from truth and reality. And to the degree that it embodies Anthroposophy, Waldorf education is divorced from truth and reality. Waldorf schooling stands on the foundation of Anthroposophy [see, e.g., "Here's the Answer" and "Spiritual Agenda"] — which means that it stands on a foundation of shifting, vaporous falsehood.

* The moon is a physical object, and Koetzsh is mainly talking about spiritual reality. Fervently believing false ideas about physical reality will not change physical reality. But can our fervent beliefs about spiritual reality change that reality? Possibly. It is extremely doubtful, however. Truth is truth, reality is reality. (Note the illogic of Koetzsh’s proposition. He seems to entertain the possibility that Steiner is wrong, but in fact his argument hinges on the assumption that Steiner's description of the universe is true. Our thoughts would be able to change the spirit realm only if the spirit realm already is as Steiner described it, flexible and mutable, made and remade by our thoughts. So while seeming to concede that Steiner might be wrong, Koetzsh actually relies on the premise that Steiner is right. Koezsch is caught in a tautological vortex.)

[R.R., 2010.]

The Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum,
is a cathedral.

Here are impressions of four windows in the Goetheanum,
windows consisting of designs etched in colored glass.
The designer: Rudolf Steiner.

The central section of the violet triptych on the north wall.

The central section of the green triptych on the north wall.

The left-hand section of the rose triptych on the south wall.

The right-hand section of the blue triptych on the north wall.

[R.R. copies, 2014.]

This is the Earth prior to the separation of the Moon (as it were) — 
although actually it could be almost anything discussed or admired by Anthroposophists. 
Most things are, ultimately, sort of mandala-like, or talisman-ish, or spiral-esque — 
most spiritual things as related by Steiner, anyway. 
Of course, giving shapes to things that have no shapes is always a bit misleading — 
and even things that have physical shapes may not be bounded by those shapes. 
Still, circular and spiral imagery abounds in Anthroposophical domains, 
including Waldorf schools. This may reflect profound truths, 
or it may not. The point all parents should bear in mind is that 
mysticism, as reflected in such symbols, is fundamental to Waldorf schools. 

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 20 of SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES 
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002) — a collection of Steiner's lectures. 
The colors I've chosen are more decorative than instructive.]

Taking Steiner seriously requires considerable mental charity. When his statements were not deplorable on moral grounds, they were often deplorable as grab bags of misinformation. Here is a striking example: 

“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. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the one in the book. Again, I've chosen decorative colors. Take the fuzziness as an editorial comment.] 

It is difficult to catalogue all the blunders contained in this one Steiner passage. Here are a few corrections: Meteorites are not, generally, bits of broken comets. The vast majority of meteorites are fragments of asteroids which, like meteorites, are dense and rocky. Comets are made chiefly of ice and dust; essentially, they are huge snowballs, they contain little or no 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 once part of the Earth. [For all this and more, see THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA; e.g.,] 

Have I missed any blunders in this sample passage? Perhaps. But you get the idea. Steiner was a fountainhead of misinformation. Claiming to be clairvoyant, Steiner claimed to know a great deal about almost everything. In reality, however, he clearly knew very little about most things. Basing an educational system on the ill-informed pronouncements of such a man is anything but wise.

We have four bodies, according to Steiner.

The physical body exists within 

a nimbus of other bodies.

Unfortunately for rational consideration, 

our extra bodies 

— like almost everything Steiner described  —

are invisible. 

Indeed, there is no evidence at all

for their existence. 

But that's Anthroposophy for you — 

i.e., that's the faith underlying 

Waldorf education.

Faith may be a very good thing — 

but we need to carefully choose 

where to bestow our faith.

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 60 of 


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999) 

— a collection of Steiner's lectures.]

The dream: Breaking through, 

seeing beyond the physical, 

beyond maya... 

This is an image loved by 

esotericists and spiritual seekers. 

I remember several of my Waldorf teachers 

had copies on the walls of their homes.

[Universum - C. Flammarion, Holzschnitt, 

Paris 1988, KilobitHeikenwaelder Hugo, Wien 


Steiner taught that Christ is the most important god for humanity on Earth now. But he also taught that many other gods have been important and that they still exist as real deities.

"The sublime deity who guided and led everything experienced by man in this first post-Atlantean civilization was called by a name which survived as a tradition into later times: Brahma, the All-One. This deity had been actually present among men; in the earliest epoch of the evolution of our earth man was a companion of Brahma." — Rudolf Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH, AND MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), p. 34. [Image of Brahma from]

“Myths and sagas are not just ‘folk-tales’; they are the memories of the visions which people perceived in olden times ... Human beings were aware of the spiritual both by day and by night. At night they were really surrounded by that world of Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures 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. [Image of Thor: Mårten Eskil Winge.]

"[T]he great spiritual Beings, the Avatars, descend and incarnate in human bodies from time to time when men are in need of help ... They descend in order to help mankind. Thus when help was needed, the great God Vishnu descended into earthly existence." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 219. [Image of Vishnu from Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh, India.]

In some cases, Steiner said, multiple gods turn out to be a single god, understood differently at different stages of evolution. Or a "god" may be a constellation of spiritual forces, apprehended in differing ways as humanity evolved. But in other cases, Steiner said, various gods have genuine, separate identities. They are as real as the fellow human beings we meet each day.

“Zeus, Apollo, Mars, Wotan, Odin, Thor, who are all real beings....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Kessinger, facsimile of 1942 edition), pp. 108-109. (Also published by Temple Lodge, 1993.)

“Actual facts concerning the higher Spiritual Worlds lie at the foundation of all myths....” — Rudolf Steiner, UNIVERSE EARTH AND MAN IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MODERN CIVILIZATION (Kessinger Publishing, 2003), p. 94.

Actually, myths are myths. Hard as it may be for us to accept this, we really should. Myths are myths. Nothing more.

"[T]he physical structure of the human being is, according to spiritual science, actually a mirror of the universe. Each region of the zodiac can be looked upon as the home of particular spiritual beings and a centre of forces. There are 12 signs of the zodiac and 12 corresponding parts of the human organism ... While the forces of the zodiac correspond to the human physical structure, the planets and their forces are mirrored in the internal organs ... Thus for example: Sun: Heart : Aurum (gold); Moon: Genitals: argenum (silver); Mercury: Lungs: Cinnabar (mercury).”


— Roy Wilkinson, 


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), 

pp. 46-47.


Fairy tales are true, 

myths are true,

science is wrong, 

don't think with your brain,


the planets don't orbit the Sun, 

continents float in the sea...


(It is rude to point this out. 

But such teachings are simply ignorant.)

"[A]round the South Pole in particular there are many volcanic mountains ... [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.

Above we see one panel of the tetrahedron: It extends from a volcano in Mexico to volcanos in Antarctica to the volcanic mountains in the Caucasus. There are a few problems, however. For one, the Earth is not a pyramid, rounded or otherwise. For two, Steiner clearly chose three arbitrary points and drew meaningless lines between them. There are volcanos in Mexico and Antarctica and the Caucasus — but there are also volcanos just about everywhere else, including Africa, South America, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, California, Alaska, Siberia... Steiner's lines-between-arbitrary-points-on-the-planet prove what? In a word, nothing. The Earth is in fact a globe, not a pyramid of any sort.

Steiner chose to know almost nothing true. He opted for ignorance. And he required similar, elective ignorance from his followers.

I apologize.

I know I am being rude.

But, truly, wide swaths

of Rudolf Steiner's teachings

represent nothing but

(pardon my French)


Anthroposophists are perfectly 

free to believe 

whatever they like.

But no one who uncritically accepts 

Rudolf Steiner's teachings

is truly qualified to be an educator.

The most fundamental requirement 

for any educator,

surely, is allegiance to 

truth and knowledge.

There is precious little of either 

in Anthroposophy.

And yet,

"As Waldorf teachers, 

we must be true anthroposophists 

in the deepest sense of the word

 in our innermost feeling.” 

— Rudolf Steiner.

The twelve signs of the zodiac.
To take Steiner seriously,
you have to take astrology seriously.

[Carol Belanger Grafton, 
(Dover Publications, 1988), p. 78.]

See, e.g., 

The philosophy underlying Waldorf education, Anthroposophy (the word means human wisdom), glorifies humanity. We are wondrous, upward-evolving spiritual beings, central to all of creation, beloved of the gods. This is a grand and attractive vision. We can all feel its tug on our hearts and souls. But can humanity actually fulfill its potential by following Steiner's lead? He concocted a blend of occultism, myth, gnostic religion, and fantasy. The path to wisdom cannot run through such a welter of fallacies. If we are to realize our better nature, fulfilling our best potential, surely we must face reality squarely and build on truth, not illusion. 

[R.R. sketch, 2014, based on image on p. 26 of Albert Steffen's GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]


Here are reasons to be concerned about 
the spread of Anthroposophy,
as expressed by the operators 
of the website CHASE
(Challenging Anthroposophy 
and Steiner Education)
These excerpts refer to UK 
(the United Kingdom)
but they are applicable to all parts 
of the English-speaking world
and, with modifications, beyond.

Parents, statutory agencies, civil servants and civic administrators, politicians, the media and the public generally are largely unaware of Steiner and Anthroposophy or hazy about the details if they are aware.

An informational gap exists because Steiner wrote in German and we rely for information on translations into English provided by Anthroposophists. In the words of the only UK academic to research in depth the Anthroposophical belief system (Dr Geoffrey Ahern) these translations of Steiner’s original texts can give an effect “not short of conceptual Jabberwocky”. This is in part due to difficulties in finding English equivalents for the actuality or vision of the spiritual domain Steiner reported on, his reports being complex and containing nuances that can become lost in translation.

However, it cannot help that English translations of his original works have been divested of Steiner’s more overtly racist remarks ... Clearly there is a problem of racism with Steiner but it is unclear as to how or even if the Anthroposophy community in this country either acknowledges it or deals with it. Sanitisation of texts suggests an awareness of a problem with the texts but how can sanitisation of texts in our country cope with the fact that many Anthroposophical practitioners arrive here in the UK having been trained in countries where the intact versions of Steiner are published?

...Problems with Steiner extend beyond that of racism. Steiner held and presented his highly unorthodox and controversial views on such emotive and personally sensitive matters as religion, karma, reincarnation, evolution, the economy, science, medicine and health, human relationships the arts – he even went so far as to champion a belief in the existence of gnomes and Atlantis. Given that an informational gap exists, the British public is poorly served in having to cope with conceptual Jabberwocky and sanitised texts before engaging with the issues surrounding Steiner and his beliefs or before studying the man and his beliefs for the first time.

People engaging with Anthroposophy, e.g. by placing kids or loved ones with a Steiner school, medical facility or other institution, expect and deserve to be fully informed of the beliefs of its practitioners when, as with Anthroposophic/Steiner beliefs, those beliefs are so different from the mainstream as to be considered alternative, radical, progressive, codswallop, New Age, avant-garde, brilliant or whatever else way they might be described. As a result of the informational gap people can end up giving support to organisations they would not ethically, intellectually or morally support. The possibility of unintended support happening exists because Anthroposophy consists of a community of mutually supportive projects and organisations.

[Waldorf student painting.]


The following is excerpted from 
"Spotlight on Anthroposophy"
by Sharon Lombard

Rudolf Steiner was a white magician and one of the most knowledgeable occultists of his time (Merkur, 1993, p. 61). He saw the universe as a vast, living being, inhabited by a multitude of spiritual beings at various stages of development, whose forces create the physical world. He was a macro-microcosmic thinker ... [T]he universe a vast human being, the individual a small universe. 

...Steiner is reputed to have said that Elizabeth Vreede understood his work more deeply than anyone else (Vreede, 2001, back cover). Once appointed the head of the Mathematical-Astronomical Section of the School of Spiritual Science by Steiner himself, Vreede reiterated Steiner’s belief that stars are the discarded physical bodies and external forms of divine, spiritual beings; members of a spiritual colony ... In her book ANTHROPOSOPHY AND ASTROLOGY, Vreede...writes:

“The plant world receives its forms from the starry heavens, and the animal world its form from the zodiac. Human beings receive their form from the whole sphere of the heavens, not from the single constellations, just as we also bear in our head an image of the entire stellar universe. Again we find the human being as the synthesis, the perfect embodiment of the entire cosmos.” (Vreede, 2001, p. 287)

In other words, a tulip is created by a certain group of spiritual beings forces, while the lily is created by another group of beings, whereas, animals get their form from the gods of the Zodiac. All beings in the cosmos make up man. Man is the world and the world is man.

Steiner taught that the physical human being is comprised of an etheric body, astral body, and an I body. This belief gives Anthroposophic believers the ability to leave their physical bodies during their day-to-day earthly existence in order to commune with spiritual beings in the cosmos. In Waldorf education, Steiner’s True Nature of Man more commonly known by the uninformed as his child development model is based on his concept of man as physical, etheric, astral, and I.

...Beings in the cosmos cause the physical body to grow as well as hold it together. Beings that live in the chest move the blood as the heart is not a pump ... The etheric body in the male is female, and visa versa ... The loosening of baby teeth and growth of secondary teeth is a sign that the etheric body is incarnating.

...It loosens if a person gets a fright or sneezes. If a body part falls asleep and tingles it is because the etheric body temporarily has left that part of the physical body.

...A whole people share a common astral body that lives within a kind of astral cloud and is the body of the Folk-Spirit (Steiner, 1981b, p. 47). It is released into the physical body between fourteen to twenty-one years of age. Steiner taught that all human astral bodies leave the physical body during sleep. They wind their way, in spiral form, out of the physical body into the cosmic community of spiritual beings, returning to the physical body upon waking (Steiner, 1959, p. 104).

...Spiritually advanced man has an individual I body. This separates him from animals and lower humanity, making him divine. The I leaves the physical body and accompanies the astral body during sleep. The I is the body that can be trained to remember past lives in Greece and Atlantis, etc.

...During the Renaissance, influential magicians such as Agrippa of Nettesheim (1486-1533) and others, like Giordano Bruno, Robert Fludd and John Dee, disseminated macro-microcosmic ideas. 

...In a lecture entitled The Relationship of Man to the Sun, Steiner recapitulated his own doctrine by telling his audience that Agrippa knew quite well that in the several planets of our system are spiritual Beings of specific character and kind (Steiner, 1965, p. 49). He went on to say that Agrippa assigned to each planet what he called the Intelligence of the planet. ... The Intelligence of the Earth Star was man himself. Man had been given the task to regulate and rule the Earth by the World-Spirit. Through what he is, through the forces and powers he bears within his being, Man gives to Earth the impulse for her movement round the Sun, for her movement altogether in cosmic space. Man is Lord of the Earth (Steiner, 1965, pp. 50-51).

...Appearing throughout Steiner’s doctrine are references to his trinity of Ahriman, Lucifer, and what he calls the Christ Spirit. Two thousand years ago, the Christ who existed in the Sun, came to Earth and inhabited Jesus body for a period of three years: this Christ spirit had also inhabited other great spiritual leaders of human kind such as Zarathustra. Lucifer had a human incarnation about 5000 years ago in China, and Ahriman incarnated in the West in 1998.

...It is the deeper task of the anthroposophical movement to enable a number of human beings to enter their next incarnation with an I each remembers as his or her own, individual I. These people will then form the nucleus of the next period of civilization.

...[T]he earth and all it can yield will belong to those who now cultivate their individualities. Those, however, who do not develop their individual I will be dependent on joining a group that will instruct them in what they should think, feel, will and do.

...Steiner’s lectures are peppered with racism and anti-Semitism. His racist doctrine is similar to other occult variants like ariosophy, sometimes attracting interest from far-right publishers and distributors.

...In a 1915 sermon in Stuttgart, Steiner said that advanced spirituality is tied to external skin color and that white skin is a sign of spiritual progress:

“[W]e are not justified in thinking that human beings were originally like the savages of today. The savages have developed into what they now are with their superstitions, their magical practices and their unclean appearance from states originally more perfect. The only superiority we have over them is that, while starting from the same conditions, we did not degenerate as they did. I might therefore say: The evolution of man has taken two paths. It is not true that the savages of today represent the original condition of mankind. Mankind, though to begin with looked more animal-like, was highly civilized. ... Just as the present savages have fallen from the level of the human beings of primeval times, so the apes are beings who have fallen still lower.” (Steiner, 1987, p. 126)

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.



Mystical thinking, realistic thinking























Reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools

More reports and advice from parents whose children attended Waldorf schools

Talking it over

Had enough?

Crossing many lines

Describing the near-collapse of the Waldorf school I attended

Deprogramming myself after Waldorf


Who the heck am I?


Doom and deliverance


Short and sweet


Can you trust me?

Above you see the stages of evolution 

as Steiner usually diagrammed them:

Old Saturn is the first sphere on the left; 

Present Earth is the lowest sphere,

in the middle; 

and Future Vulcan is the seventh sphere, 

on the far right.

A nice, neat pattern of seven stages.

However, Steiner sometimes indicated 

that there will be five

additional stages after Future Vulcan, 

dislocating the symmetry.

Above you see the twelve stages of evolution,
seven plus five.
Steiner also sometimes indicated that 
there is yet another stage,
a place of perdition, which no one likes 
to talk about much.
That stage, not shown here, 
dangles below Present Earth.

We might wonder whether Steiner could 
actually see the future, as he claimed.
We might wonder, as well, whether the past 
was anything like what Steiner described —
there is, after all, absolutely no evidence 
supporting Steiner's account.
Most importantly, we might wonder 
whether an educational system
rooted in Rudolf Steiner's bizarre delusions 
is suitable and safe for children.

[R.R., 2010.]

The formatting at Waldorf Watch aims for visual variety, 
seeking to ease the process of reading lengthy texts on a computer screen. 
(The Waldorf movement is large, and the occult teachings on which it is based 
are embodied in a sprawling array of books, pamphlets, 
lecture transcripts, and related documents. 
An adequate critique must be, itself, fairly sprawling.)

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 []. I provide the same information for these volumes. 3) I have read various texts at the Rudolf Steiner Archive []. 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.


Even if you are not in the habit of reading endnotes,
you may want to peruse the Steiner statements 
included below:

[1] Compassion and good will certainly infuse Waldorf schools and the ideology behind them. Steiner's worldview is ultimately optimistic: just about everyone and everything may evolve to a high state of redemption. On occasion, Steiner taught that there is no ultimate evil in the universe.For many of Steiner's followers, it is important to believe that everything ultimately contributes to the good.

On other occasions, however, Steiner affirmed the reality of evil. 

“The evil race, with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103. 

Whether evildoers who go to the abyss may ultimately be saved is less than wholly clear in Steiner's teachings.

As for my view of Anthroposophists, here is how I put the matter in one item at the Waldorf Watch "news" page: Some people tell me they get confused when I say nice things about Anthroposophists. Which side am I on, after all? Sidestepping the question of how many “sides” there may be, I will offer the following concise position statement: I reject Anthroposophy, a body of teachings that seem to me to be obvious nonsense. Hence, I oppose Waldorf education, which is based on Anthroposophy. I do not, however, have anything against Anthroposophists; I do not question their motives. Rather, I sympathize with them. Anthroposophists have high aspirations, but in pursuit of these aspirations they have been hoodwinked by their leader, Rudolf Steiner. They rank among Steiner's victims, in other words, and while there may always be exceptions, the overwhelming majority of them are not, I believe, intentional wrongdoers. I wish them well. [May, 2011.]

[2] This is Steiner’s messianism, which he urged on Waldorf faculty members.

“Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55. 

[3] On the nonexistence of clairvoyance, see, e.g., Kendrick Frazier, editor, SCIENCE CONFRONTS THE PARANORMAL (Prometheus, 1986); Kendrick Frazier, editor, THE HUNDREDTH MONKEY AND OTHER PARADIGMS OF THE PARANORMAL (Prometheus, 1991); Martin Gardner, HOW NOT TO TEST A PSYCHIC (Prometheus, 1989); and Carl Sagan, THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD (Random House, 1995). THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA devotes all of 79 words to the topic of clairvoyance, ending with this: 

“Research in parapsychology — such as testing a subject’s ability to predict the order of cards in a shuffled deck — has yet to provide conclusive support for the existence of clairvoyance.” — "clairvoyance." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 16 May 2009.

In other words, there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of clairvoyance. 

The following is from an authoritative, widely used psychology text, discussing psychic phenomena such as clairvoyance:

“According to the U.S. National Research Council, ‘the best evidence does not support the contention that these phenomena exist.’” — David G. Myers, PSYCHOLOGY (Worth Publishers, 2004), p. 260. 

“After thousands of experiments, a reproducible ESP phenomenon has never been discovered, nor has any individual convincingly demonstrated a psychic ability [sic; emphasis by Myers].” — Ibid., p. 260.

[4] Criticizing a rationalist, Steiner once said: 

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

Steiner’s preference for fairy tales is, in itself, revealing. Steiner said that most of conventional science is wrong, but all fairy tales are spiritualistically true: 

“Fairy tales are...the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power [i.e., clairvoyance]. 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. 

Einstein is wrong, but ‘Puss in Boots’...

[5] SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 92 and 97.

[6] Max von Laue, “Steiner and Natural Science” (Transition no. 61-62, Collingwood, Vic, Australia, 2000) {translated from “Steiner und die Naturwissenschaft,” Deutsche Revue, 47 (1922), available at's_science.pdf.

[7] Of course, I can’t know what the future may bring. Possibly Steiner will be borne out eventually. We have no reason to think so, however. For a fine analysis of Steiner’s relationship with science, see “Is Anthroposophy Science?” by Sven Ove Hansson, at

Many of the semi-scientific concepts Steiner incorporated in Anthroposophy have become, today, examples of discarded science — notions that may have seemed plausible in Steiner’s time but that we now know are wrong. Consider the “universal ether” of 19th century science, for instance. Modern science has tossed this concept aside, but Steiner fell for it, at least sometimes: 

“[W]hat we subjectively describe as the quality of colour 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. 

(On other occasions, Steiner distanced himself from this belief; but this is typical of Steiner: frequent self-contradiction.) Likewise, Steiner accepted the existence of the planet Vulcan, which was once thought to orbit the Sun inside the orbit of Mercury. Steiner did not embrace the existence of Vulcan as fully as most Theosophists did, but he accepted it in some form. Thus, for instance, he told of beings descending to Earth from Vulcan: 

"The beings I have spoken about will descend gradually to the earth. Vulcan beings, Vulcan supermen, Venus supermen....” — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204. 

Concerning the planets in general, Steiner blundered even in small ways, as in accepting the idea that there are long, straight lines on the surface of Mars, lines that some of Steiner’s contemporaries thought were canals. Steiner said the lines weren’t canals, but he mistakenly agreed that the lines exist: 

“Mars is primarily of a more or less fluid mass ... [As for the canals:] There is nothing to be seen except straight lines.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 147-148. 

In fact, Mars is quite dry, at least at the surface — and close observations reveals no long, straight lines on or above the surface. If Steiner actually possessed the clairvoyant powers he claimed — if he had the power to penetrate to the truth, as he said he did — he should have avoided such errors.

[8] Here are quotations in which Steiner pulled the boners I’ve listed:

◊ 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. Note: Nothing could be more absurd.

◊ Answering a question about planetary movements, Steiner drew a “helical line.” He positioned the Sun at about the midpoint of the line. He strung out Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn on the left half of the line, and he put Mercury, Venus, and Earth on the right half. Steiner’s words: “Now you simply need to imagine how that [i.e., the line] continues in a helix. Everything else is only apparent movement. The helical line continues into cosmic space. Therefore, it is not that the planets move around the Sun, but these three, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, follow the Sun, and these three, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, precede it.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 30-31. Steiner sometimes said that the planets orbit the Sun, but on other occasions he said that they don't. see "Deception".]

◊ Steiner said that gravity is a purely local phenomenon, experienced only on one type of planet. He denied that there is a universal force of gravity. “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. In reality, gravity exists everywhere, including on gaseous/fluid planets such as the gas giant Jupiter — where gravity is far greater than on small, solid planets such as the Earth. Steiner's ignorance or his determined antiscientific bias tripped him up. “The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 29. “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 ....” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 2000), pp. 116-117.

[9] More:

◊ “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. This is amazingly ignorant. Einstein’s “theory of relativity” (actually, Einstein published two theories of relativity) does not say what Steiner claims. More to the point, Einstein’s work has stood the test of time, receiving repeated scientific confirmations. The same is not true of Steiner’s work.

◊ Dismissing their work as merely “ingenious” (i.e., clever but wrong), Steiner said “I have already spoken to you of the ingenious description of the sun given by astrophysicists.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE: An Introductory Reader (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 35. But it is Steiner’s statements about the stars and planets that are merely ingenious, lacking any factual content.

◊ Steiner promulgated an entire corpus of medical misinformation. See “Steiner’s Quackery”.


"[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. 

“You see, the organs of clairvoyance must be developed from within....” — Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 198. 

“[J]ust as natural forces build out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will organs of clairvoyance build themselves....” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.

[11] More:

◊ “[T]hose whose intentions toward humanity are not good, in other words those who are black of grey magicians" are busily at work... — Rudolf Steiner SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 90. Possibly people who think they are magicians are at work — but contrary to what Steiner taught, there are no real magicians aside from performers (pretenders) on stage.

◊ “And what about true alchemy? That does not come from doing research in the manner of chemists today but from being able to perceive the nature spirits [immaterial beings that lack true spirit] within the processes of nature and coming to an understanding with them....” — Rudolf Steiner, ALCHEMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 17. “[T]his ability of the medieval alchemists to reach the nature spirits was really fraught with difficulty. On the one hand they approached the spirits of nature, the spirits of air and water; the approached gnomes, sylphs and undines in their living reality. On the other hand there were some among these beings who told them of things that overwhelmed them with despair....” — Ibid., p. 37. 

◊ “[T]he Sun-influence goes as far as the heart and stops short just before the heart. For the head and the blood-forming process, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are at work. Then, from the heart backward, the Moon influence is supported by the Mercury and Venus forces.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE COURSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 41. “With the students, we should at least try to...make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 607.

◊ Steiner reversed the Lord’s Prayer and converted it to address multiple gods. His version begins thus: “Aum./Amen./Evils reign/Bearing witness to I-being....” — Rudolf Steiner, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), pp. 220-221. 

◊ Steiner instructed farmers and gardeners to spray a special potion on the soil. “Horn Manure is cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn ... Before being applied very small amounts...are dissolved in water and stirred rigorously for one whole hour. This is done by stirring (preferably by hand) in one direction in such a way that a deep crater is formed in the stirring vessel (bucket, barrel). Then the direction is changed, the water seethes and slowly a new crater is formed. Each time a well-formed crater is achieved the direction is changed until the full hour is completed. In this way the dynamic effects concentrated in the prepared manure...are released into the rhythmically moved water and become effective for soil and plant.” — “Biodynamic Frequently Asked Questions,” “Everything that lives in the silicious [sic] nature contains forces which comes [sic] not from the Earth but from the so-called distant planets, the planets beyond the Sun — Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. That which proceeds from these distant planets influences the life of plants via [silicon and related substances]. On the other hand, from all that is represented in the planets near the Earth — Moon, Mercury and Venus — forces work through limestone and kindred substances.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE COURSE, p. 24.

◊ Murder is often quite different from what we usually think. “Right up into the nineteenth century there existed in the East a remarkable order, the Thugs ... The members of this order were obliged to murder certain individuals indicated to them by [their] superiors....” — Rudolf Steiner SECRET BROTHERHOODS and the Mystery of the Human Double (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 88. The motive behind such murders was to gain access to occult secrets. You see, “souls who have been violently propelled through the gate of death know something in the spiritual world after death which the other souls do not [i.e., should not] want to learn about from them at the wrong time.” — Ibid., p. 84. The secret knowledge possessed by victims of violence could unhinge human evolution if regular dead souls learned it too soon. Murdered people “know certain things sooner than is actually beneficial in the overall process of human evolution.” — Ibid., p. 85. But this knowledge is useful to members of the evil “secret brotherhoods” — which is why those S.O.B.s engineer murders.

◊ For our past and future, see Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979) and Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002). For the interior of the Earth, see Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH: An Esoteric Study of the Subterranean Spheres (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007). For astronomy, see, e.g., “Star Wisdom, Moon and Sun Religions”, “Creating an Astronomy Based on the Science of the Spirit”, “Comets and the Solar System, the Zodiac and the Rest of the Fixed Stars,” Rudolf Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999).

◊ For future human evolution, in addition to books mentioned immediately above, see Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981). I go into some of Steiner’s predictions in the essay "Everything" and the essays that immediately follow it. 

◊ Concerning Anthroposophical medicine, see, e.g., “Growing Up Being Made Sick by Anthroposophy” ( and “Our Brush with Rudolf Steiner” ( I look into this subject in “Steiner’s Quackery”.

[12] More:

◊ “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth....” —Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS. Lectures from 1908-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3. 

◊ “Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on a knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic [i.e., Norse] myths, 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.

◊ “Myths and sagas are not just ‘folk-tales’; they are the memories of the visions which people perceived in olden times ... Human beings were aware of the spiritual both by day and by night. At night they were really surrounded by that world of Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures 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.

◊ “When you make Shakespearean characters living [i.e., “bring them to life” on stage] can raise them into the supersensible world 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, p. 336.

◊ “[D]uring the Lemurian epoch of earth-evolution [i.e., long ago] only very few human beings had outlasted, on the earth itself, the happenings of this evolution...the majority of souls withdrew from the earth to other planets, continuing their life on Mars, Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, and so forth.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), p. 36.

◊ The Initiate passes through a series of trials that lead to successive spiritual advancements. After the first trial, for instance, s/he can begin to read "a particular system of writing ... This occult script is inscribed forever in the occult world. Once the soul has attained spiritual perception, the script is revealed to it." — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 72.

◊ For instructions on how to converse with the dead, see Rudolf Steiner, STAYING CONNECTED: How to Continue Your Relations with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999).

◊ In re dragons, Steiner said they were fire-breathing dinosaurs: “Yes, those beasts did breathe fire ... What I am referring to are dinosaurs from the beginning of the Tertiary Period.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 26. Golly!

◊ “Buddha...became for Mars what Christ has become for the earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 72. “The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars ... [T]he Buddha accomplished a Buddha crucifixion there.” — Ibid., p. 207. 

  “Had Christ not appeared on the earth, had He remained the Sun-God only, humanity on the earth would have fallen into decay.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 271.

◊ “You know that the Old Testament peoples honored Yahweh [i.e., Jehovah]. This devotion was aimed at a real being. And this being has a connection with what reveals itself in the physical world as the Moon. Of course it is only an imagistic way of talking, but it does have a reality too, if we say that Yahweh resides on the Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 43.

◊ “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 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.

◊ “[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 together with the spiritual guides of humanity ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many ... As far as what concerns ourselves, as humanity on earth, the other pole, the opposite extreme to the moon is the population of Saturn.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.

◊ “Following the question of destiny, you will need to discuss the differences between what we inherit from our parents and what we bring into out lives from previous earthly lives. In this second stage of religious instruction, we need to bring in previous earthly lives ... [P]eople live repeated earthly lives.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 46.

◊ “Souls whose development has been delayed will have accumulated so much error, ugliness, and evil in their karma that they temporarily form a distinct union of evil and aberrant human beings who vehemently oppose the community of good human beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 393. Also see Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).

◊ “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. I promise you, I’m not making this stuff up.

◊ “[T]he continents swim ... All fixed land swims and the stars hold it in position.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 617.

◊ “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.

◊ We sloughed off the animals, dropping them out of our natures. “[T]he scientist would, in principle, always say that minerals, plants and animals would develop without the existence of people. [paragraph break] This is incorrect. If the evolution of the Earth did not include human beings, then most animals would not exist ... At a particular stage in their earthly development, human beings, to develop further, needed to rid their nature, which then was much different than it is now, of the higher animals...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 69-70. Note how, once again, “the scientist” is wrong.

◊ “The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being, higher than that of ants. It is of such a high development that you might almost say it is cosmically precocious. It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach in the Venus cycle, which follows the completion of the present Earth cycle ... The group soul of corals, however, is on a still higher plane....” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176.

[13] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER - Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706.

[14] Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 115.

[15] Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), p. 29.

[16] Steiner said that things in the spiritual world are not true or false but healthy or unhealthy. This is interesting, but it is also an evasion. A real cure for an illness (spiritual or otherwise) is a true cure; a quack nostrum is a false cure.

[17] Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), p. 232.

[18] He said there are nine between us and the Godhead. See "Rankings" and "Polytheism".

[19] See, e.g., "Everything".

[20] See "Sphere 8". 

[21] Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 166.

[22] Our evolution is surely a high spiritual matter. Steiner taught that we are the center of the created universe, and that indeed we are the religion of the gods. 

"[H]igher beings, the gods, also have a religion: they too look up to something in awe and reverence. What is this religion of the gods? What is it that the gods revere? It is man. Man is the religion of the gods." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Charles Kovacs, THE SPIRITUAL BACKGROUND TO CHRISTIAN FESTIVALS (Floris Books, 2007), pp. 72-73.


"[O]rgans of clairvoyance are formed ... The organs thus formed are spiritual eyes. The student gradually learns, by their means, to see something like soul and spirit colors. The spiritual world with its lines and figures remains dark as long as he has only attained what has been described as preparation; through enlightenment this world becomes light. Here it must also be noted that the words 'dark' and 'light,' as well as the other expressions used, only approximately describe what is meant. This cannot be otherwise if ordinary language is used, for this language was created to suit physical conditions. Spiritual science describes that which, for clairvoyant organs, flows from the stone, as blue, or blue-red; and that which is felt as coming from the animal as red or red-yellow. In reality, colors of a spiritual kind are seen." — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT, pp. 35-36.

[24] In truth (if I may use such a phrase), we cannot know how comfortable Steiner was with these things. It seems likely that he often did not realize how illogical he was being or how frequently his statements contradicted one another. Consider the following pertinent statements about logic:

“Logic does not apply when we come into a sphere that can no longer be comprehended by physical means. We finally have to realize that our physical logic works neither in the realm of philosophy nor anywhere else where we concern ourselves with other than physical forms of existence. We must not make the mistake of looking at the opposition of Lucifer and Ahriman as we would at the antagonism between a good and an evil person on earth. This kind of mistake occurs when we continue to carry over the earthly into the super-earthly realm." — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 84.


"[O]ne activity — logical thinking — goes through all worlds. Logic is the same on all three planes [i.e., the physical plane, the soul plane, and the spirit plane]. Thus on the physical plane you can learn something which is valid also for the higher planes; and this is the method followed by Rosicrucian training." — Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 12, GA 95.

When Steiner contradicts himself this way, we are left with a puzzle: Which quotation represents his real view? To find the answer, we need to survey Steiner's work in general, looking for support of one position or the other. We poll his other statements, as it were. In this case, the first quotation ("Logic does not apply...") is clearly Steiner's true (oops) opinion. He made the second statement ("Logic is the same on all three planes") when discussing Rosicrucianism, and for that specific discussion he found affirming logic useful. But more generally Steiner decried logic and indeed all forms of thought that are centered in the brain. Real knowledge comes through clairvoyance, he taught, and clairvoyance is centered in invisible organs of clairvoyance. I'll repeat two quotations I used above:

“[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.

“[J]ust as natural forces build out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will organs of clairvoyance build themselves....” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.


We might excuse seeming contradictions in Steiner's statements if he simply changed his mind as he gained new knowledge and wisdom. But he largely ruled out such a defense. He claimed that he had been right all along — his later spiritual "discoveries" confirmed and fleshed out his earlier "discoveries": 

“I have unceasingly developed the researches of conscious seership into the being of individual Man, the history of Mankind, the nature and evolution of the Cosmos. The outline as presented fifteen years ago has in no way been shaken. Inserted in its proper place and context, everything that I have since been able to adduce becomes a further elaboration of the original picture.” — Rudolf Steiner, preface to the 1925 edition of OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), p. 12.

[25] Rudolf Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE, lecture 12.

[26] Seven is the number of perfection, Steiner taught, and he often contrived to create groupings of seven for all manner of things. He also found spiritual significance in other numbers, and he divided various phenomena into groupings that correspond to these numbers, especially three, four, and twelve. See "Mystic Math" and "Magic Numbers".

[27] Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 84. There is even some confusion within this quotation. Steiner refers to the actions of the “good gods.” Unless by this he means all gods, he is drawing a distinction between good and evil gods at the very time he is denying this distinction. But if by "good gods" he means "gods" — that is, all the gods — why add the modifier "good"?


“[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251.

"The sincere anthroposophist should cultivate an awareness that today we need to have clear vision of the battle between Ahriman and [the archangel] Michael, and to participate in it.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 118.

"Sorat has meant 'Demon of the Sun' since ancient times. Every star has its good spirit — its intelligence — and its evil spirit — its demon. The adversary of the good powers of the sun is called Sorat. Christ was always the representative of the sun, namely, the intelligence of the Sun. Sorat is, then, the adversary of Christ Jesus." — Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993), p. 19.

“Consider that through evil separating from good, the good will be immeasurably strengthened....” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 194.

"The evil race, with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING: Selected Writings of Rudolf Steiner, selected and edited by Richard Seddon (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103.

“From Venus [i.e., during the Venus phase of evolution], at a certain stage, a separate celestial body becomes [i.e., will become] detached. This — as it were, an ‘irreclaimable Moon’ — includes all the beings who have persisted in withstanding the true course of evolution. It enters now [i.e., will enter then] upon a line of development such as no words can portray, so utterly unlike is it to anything within the range of man’s experience on Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 309-310. As we have seen, Steiner said that the final five stages of evolution are indescribable. Here he backtracks and says that the seventh stage is also indescribable. However, on other occasions, he described some bits of the Vulcan stage, such as the form humanity will assume then: "[T]he Vulcan human being limps. His legs are in retrogression; they cease to have significance. At the end of evolution, in the Vulcan metamorphosis of the Earth, man will be the three-membered being that the saga indicates as the ideal.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 3, GA 93a. Another point worth noting: This quotation indicates that the Vulcan stage (stage #7) will be "the end of evolution." This contradicts the statement that there will be five more stages.

[29] See "Clairvoyance".

[30] See "Steiner's 'Science'".

[31] Steiner associated intellect with Ahriman. He and his followers have long been in opposition to ordinary knowledge of the sort found in universities and libraries. See, e.g., "Materialism U."

[R.R., 2017.]