How They Still Talk

Rudolf Steiner is long gone, but his occult teachings did not die with him. Today Anthroposophists and Waldorf faculties still affirm Steiner's teachings, which continue to haunt and indeed rule the Waldorf system. Here are statements made in recent years by Steiner's followers, along with informative excerpts from Waldorf guides and other texts. Taken together, these illustrate the beliefs that prevail in Waldorf/Anthroposophical circles, while also sketching Waldorf school operations and activities in and beyond the classroom.

As you will see, the statements tend to be repetitive — they affirm, over and over, Anthroposophical belief in such things as clairvoyance, invisible bodies, karma, and the like. The benefit to us is that these repeated affirmations compel us to realize that Rudolf Steiner's occultism is alive in Waldorf schools today.

In an effort to provide clarity for those who do not have a deep knowledge of Anthroposophical doctrines, I have appended comments of my own to many of these quotations. Because the quotations tend to be repetitive, some of my comments are also repetitive.

Most of these quotations and commentaries originally appeared on the Waldorf Watch "news" page, one per day, and they can be found now in the "Quotations Archiveat the Waldorf Watch Annex.


[T]he purpose of education is to help the individual fulfill his karma. The teacher is an intermediary and his task is to guide the incarnating individualities into the physical world and equip them for earthly existence, bearing in mind what they bring with them from the past and what they are likely to take with them into the future.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School Approach (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

“A school class is a destiny community ... A class is not a group of children who have been thrown together arbitrarily.” — Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 45.

Waldorf teachers believe in destiny or karma. A Waldorf class is considered a “destiny community” because Steiner taught that, during the interval between their previous Earthly lives and their current Earthly lives, the members of the class chose to come together. In other words, their self-created karmas caused them to gather together — the karmas of the children and the karmas of the teachers. Think of the enormous authority Waldorf teachers believe this gives them. They believe their authority is cosmically ordained. And what will they do with their authority? Lead children toward the truth, of course. And what do they think is the truth? Anthroposophy.


“Religious experience, like artistic feeling, has a strengthening effect on the Etheric Body ... Therefore, a religious mood should pervade the [Waldorf] teacher’s actions as well as the subjects of the curriculum.” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 153.

Waldorf schools usually deny that they are religious institutions, yet Waldorf teachers attempt to bring religion into every subject studied. "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." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.

The etheric body is the second of three invisible bodies that incarnate before the age of 21, according to Waldorf belief. [See "Incarnation".]

“One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ ... It is not a religious school in the way that we commonly think of religion ... And yet, in a broad and universal way, the Waldorf school is essentially religious.” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 134.

Petrash's UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION is strikingly reticent, concealing more than it reveals. Most of the beliefs dear to the hearts of Waldorf teachers are kept hidden. Thus, for instance, the index has no entries for Anthroposophy, clairvoyance, temperaments, karma, reincarnation... Several of these concepts sneak into the text, but usually in disguised form. Nonetheless, from time to time, the author offers revelations, as in the admission that Waldorf schools are “in a broad and universal way” essentially religious.


“If [a person] learns systematically to apply his will to his own becomes God-thinking, a creative force itself ... Rudolf Steiner’s method of work calls upon man, in the highest degree, to face and outgrow himself.” — Anthroposophist Francis Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 2004), p. 7.

The “thinking” promoted in Steiner schools is not the rational use of the brain. It is intuitive, imaginative; it is infused with feeling and will; it is essentially religious (“God thinking”) in an occult sense. It is, in short, clairvoyance or a precursor to clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] By thinking in such a “creative” way, one theoretically undergoes the religious experience of transcending oneself (“outgrowing” oneself) and entering the invisible spirit realm.

The great flaw in this scheme is that clairvoyance does not exist. If you convince yourself that you are clairvoyant, you a deceiving yourself. You are using your feelings and will to “intuit” or “imagine” or “clairvoyantly perceive” what you want to perceive, nothing more. 

God may certainly exist. Spiritual beings of all sorts may exist. But you cannot come to know them through Waldorf-style “thinking,” which is really nothing but self-willed delusion. Yet Steiner and his followers explicitly affirm clairvoyance, and they explicitly tie it to imagination. If you are attracted to Waldorf education because it celebrates imagination, you should understand what the schools ultimately mean by the word “imagination.” In the Waldorf universe, “Imagination” is virtually synonymous with “clairvoyance,” as Rudolf Steiner himself revealed. “Essentially, people today have no inkling of how people looked out into the universe in ancient times when human beings still possessed an instinctive clairvoyance.... If we want to be fully human, however, we must struggle to regain a view of the cosmos that moves toward Imagination again....” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 256.

"I am a missionary on behalf of [Rudolf] Steiner." — An instructor in a Waldorf teacher-training program. Waldorf teachers receive a training unlike that received by any other teachers anywhere. [See “Teacher Training”.] 

“Human culture needs to be transformed according to a spiritual vision of the human being [i.e., Anthroposophy]. Every domain of human thought and activity — education, medicine, agriculture, social, economic and political life, art, architecture, religious life, care for the elderly, and so on — must be renewed on the basis of a spiritual understanding of the human being.” — Anthroposophist Ronald Koetzsh, “Anthroposophy 101”,

Anthroposophists are revolutionaries. It is important to absorb this fact. Anthroposophists want to overturn all existing human institutions, replacing them with their own occult institutions. And to achieve this revolutionary aim, they are prepared to do almost anything. This certainly includes lying to students'  parents, enticing them to surrender their children to the ministrations of a messianic Waldorf faculty. 

“The choleric teacher or parent who is given to sudden, violent bursts of fury causes his children to live in a perpetual state of subconscious terror ... The phlegmatic teacher has an equally drastic though more subtle effect on his pupils. Their lively spontaneity is suppressed in his presence ... The melancholic teacher who is absorbed in his brooding fails to set up a reciprocal relationship with his pupils ... The excessively sanguine teacher continually overstimulates his pupils. They are exhausted by his restlessness ... The teacher who recognizes temperamental imbalance in himself will continually make a conscious effort to overcome his one-sidedness.” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), pp. 123-124.

Waldorf teachers classify human beings according to a fallacious, ancient idea of human temperament. [See "Humouresque".] This severely limits their comprehension of human capacities and personalities. To the extent that they base their judgments on a false system, they necessarily misjudge everyone.

Waldorf teachers quite admirably try to improve themselves through a continuous program of self-education. Unfortunately, this effort falters to the extent that the educational materials and doctrines the teachers embrace are fundamentally flawed. Primarily, they study Rudolf Steiner's occult pronouncements alongside materials prepared by true-believing Anthroposophists who are themselves victims of the delusions disseminated by Steiner.

Teachers whose self-analysis is guided by faulty concepts will not know themselves well and therefore they will not know what steps they need to take to improve themselves. This is a serious matter. But far more serious is the damage that may be inflicted on Waldorf students. In Waldorf education, teachers stay with their students for many years. Part of the rationale is that the teachers will get to know their students well. But if, in fact, the teachers form their opinions of the kids using an unreliable set of concepts, they will have no reliable knowledge of the children. Instead, they will inflict mistaken and harmful appraisals on the children. [See "Temperaments".] If they peg a kid as "phlegmatic," for instance, this false and injurious categorization may haunt the child for all its life in the Waldorf community — and perhaps long afterward.

"The mythical and religious content of the earliest grades [in a Waldorf school] bring the child to the same wellsprings  from which humanity began its great journey into awareness.” — Clifford Skoog, “Waldorf Education and Science”, in WALDORF EDUCATION -  A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1992), edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers,  p. 79.

Occasionally a Waldorf teacher slips up and acknowledges the religious nature of Waldorf schooling. Here Clifford Skoog — graduate of a Waldorf teacher-training program and part-time Waldorf teacher — summarizes very concisely the first several years of the Waldorf curriculum. Young students are immersed in myths and religious teachings in order to nudge them along the path toward “awareness” — by which Steiner and his followers mean clairvoyance. 

"Sanctus, sanctus, 
Sanctus, sanctus, 
Sanctus, sanctus 
Dominus Deus Sabaoth, 
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.”
(Floris Books, 1993), compiled by Brien Masters, pp. 14-15.

These are the complete lyrics of one of the many hymns published for use in “nondenominational, nonsectarian” Waldorf schools. Translated from the Latin, the song addresses “The Holy One, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, Lord God of Hosts.” The occasional appearance of a religious song or poem in a school does not prove that the school is sectarian. But Waldorf students are fed a continuous diet of prayers and hymns. Despite frequent denials — Anthroposophists, like Theosophists, like to claim that their system is a form of “science,” not a religion — Waldorf schools are religious institutions. [See "Schools as Churches".]

“The essential difference between animal and man is, according to Steiner, the fact that the human being possesses a fourth member [in addition to physical, etheric, and astral bodies] — the ‘ego’ or ‘I.’ The ego represents the factor of individualization, that which guarantees the uniqueness of every man, woman and child. The word ‘I’ is itself unique in that no person can use it to designate another.” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 27. [See "Incarnation" and "Ego".] 

Skoog, writing decades after Steiner's death, repeats one of Steiner's central insights. 

"I am an I only to myself; to every other being I am a you.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), p. 49. 

Waldorf teachers today are, typically, just as devoted to Steiner and his teachers as were Waldorf teachers way back when.

“During this period, spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] experienced a considerable breakthrough. The first Waldorf school, founded in September, 1919, was flourishing, and seeds had been planted for similar schools in Holland and England." — René Querido, Introduction, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. xii. 

Faculty and staff at Waldorf schools often neglect to tell their students' parents that their primary goal is not educating children but spreading Anthroposophy. Note that the "breakthrough" for spiritual science was the founding of the first Waldorf school, along with the prospective founding of other Waldorf schools elsewhere. Anthroposophy seeks to spread Waldorf schools, and, conversely, Waldorf schools seek to spread Anthroposophy. “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156. 

“Aware as they [1] became through his [2] lectures...of how spiritual beings [3], especially Michael [4], stood behind their work [5], they could not help but feel that they must devote all that they had in them to the furtherance of this work.” — Stewart C. Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: Herald of a New Dawn (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), p. 347.

[1] Anthroposophists.

[2] Rudolf Steiner's.

[3] I.e., gods.

[4] The Archangel of the Sun.

[5] Work as “spiritual scientists,” Waldorf teachers, etc.

Like the true believers in other faiths, Anthroposophists consider themselves to be on a holy mission, blessed from above. They think their work includes the necessary development of clairvoyance, and they assert that with clairvoyance they can confirm or even correct the clairvoyant observations made by Steiner. In reality, however, they lack the ability to check Steiner, because clairvoyance is a delusion. So they generally accept Steiner's teachings on faith. And they do this despite the astonishing and obvious absurdities mouthed by Steiner. [See, e.g., “Steiner’s Blunders”; also see "Faith".] 


“Based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner, and enriched by the diversity of our community, our methods of teaching reflect an understanding of the growing child and acknowledge the spiritual origins of humanity.” — From the mission statement of a typical Waldorf school, Oct. 16, 2010. 

I’d like to think that most of the people who pledge allegiance to Steiner do it innocently — they do not understand that Steiner's teachings are occultist, racist, irrational, and pagan. But I’m sure that at least some of them do know (I’m acquainted with some of them) — they see these things as virtues or at least as excusable. In this, they are wrong. 

"The computer is special because of its relation to the spiritual being here called Ahriman." — David Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, ISBN: 0-916786-96-X). 

Ahriman is a terrible evil spirit in Zoroastrianism and Anthroposophy. Anthroposophists fear modern technology because they think it exists under the sway of Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]

"Modern exact clairvoyance, as developed by him [i.e., Rudolf Steiner], reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision as clearly as men's ordinary senses reveal to the intellect the facts of the physical world.” — Floyd McKnight, RUDOLF STEINER AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in America, 1977), p. 4.

For more on the heightened form of clairvoyance Steiner claimed to possess, see "Exactly". It is essentially the same form of clairvoyance Waldorf teachers attempt to cultivate in themselves. [See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

“The feeling life of the child will be further engaged by presenting each animal ... [W]e help the children see the perfected specialization of each animal species, be it a wing, fin, webbed foot, claw, and so on, in contrast to the blessing and gift of the nonspecialization of the human physical body with its infinite possibilities to create and invent.” — Anthroposophist Astrid Schmitt-Stegmann, Introduction to Steiner’s lectures compiled as PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 2000), p. xiv.

In Waldorf schools, the “feeling life” is far more important than the thinking life, because Steiner taught that we find the higher spirit worlds through emotion, not thought. He also taught that human beings are the center of the created universe, and we did not evolve from animals — rather, he said, they evolved from us. Animals manifest specific conditions and forms; we are "nonspecialized" paragons containing all possibilities. [See, e.g., “Center” and “Evolution, Anyone?”] 

“[In college] I chose to study psychology and astrology ... I began to study Anthroposophy ... I went to work as a Waldorf teacher ... After two years, we left to start a Waldorf School in South Dakota ...  Financial hardships forced the teachers [there] to abandon Waldorf education ... I didn’t agree with this ... I went to teach Special Education on the Pine Ridge [Native American] Reservation ... After two years I went to work in the public school system ... [Later] we found a Waldorf school where I could teach and our children attend ... I took my graduating class to Europe ... Upon returning, I went to work as an insurance agent/financial planner ... I found a position [at a Waldorf school] in Kona, Hawaii ... I was forced out due to political differences ... My last teaching attempt was at a Waldorf school in Bellevue, Washington. To my dismay I found that the Waldorf school was not following Rudolf Steiner’s indications* ... I retired and began to devote my time to astrology....” — Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings, 2009), pp. viii-xi.

* Anthroposophists sometimes have heated debates over the proper application of Steiner's teachings. Were Odama's colleagues really failing to follow Steiner's directives? Odama, assuming a stance common among Anthroposophists, asserts that he knows what Steiner really intended and his colleagues were off course.

“Knowledge of the Atlantean stage of human development [i.e., the stage that occurred when we lived on Atlantis] was important to Steiner for precisely this reason, as a part of our understanding of human evolution overall.” — Anthroposophist Andrew J. Welburn, Introduction to ATLANTIS - The fate of a Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001),  p. 3. 

Anthroposophy largely consists of myths, fairy tales, and superstitions, including the myth of Atlantis. Steiner taught that we have evolved in a quite amazing fashion. We started on or during Old Saturn, then proceeded to the Old Sun, then the Old Moon, and now the Present Earth, evolving and changing all along the way. [1] Here on Earth we initially evolved through two extremely hazy periods, the Polarian followed by the Hyperborean. Then we lived for a while on the continent of Lemuria, which sadly sank. So we proceeded to Atlantis, which sadly sank. [2] We now live on various other continents, all of which are liable to sink because they float in the sea and are held in position by the stars.

[1] See the entries for Old Saturn, etc., in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[2] See "Early Earth", "Lemuria", and "Atlantis".

“From the beginning, Steiner saw his task as the rescue of humanity ... [S]omething new must be created. But such a new revelation can no longer be received passively from the Gods, as was the case in previous epochs. It must now be created by, in, and through human beings.” — Christopher Bamford, Introduction, ANTHROPOSOPHY IN EVERYDAY LIFE - Four Lectures by Rudolf Steiner (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. x-xi. 

Anthroposophists, including Waldorf teachers, are on a messianic mission. Like their guru, Rudolf Steiner, they are out to “rescue humanity.” They serve “the Gods” (Anthroposophy is polytheistic). In this service, they and their guru have created something “, in, and through human beings.” This “new” creation is Anthroposophy (the word means “human wisdom”). Sadly, however, Anthroposophy is anything but new or enlightened or true. It is an amalgam of ancient myths, occult doctrines, and superstitions. It cannot “rescue” us. It can only drag us backwards into darkness.

"I'm glad my daughter gets to speak about God every morning: that's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She's learning stories from the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures ... She's learned that God created the world in seven days; she's learning about Abraham, and the terrible existential struggle he had when he was asked by God to sacrifice his son. She's going to learn about the king, the battles, the Israelites. [S]he's learning it as truth ... That's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She can have a religious experience. A religious experience. I'll say it again: I send my daughter to a Waldorf school so that she can have a religious experience." — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, “Waldorf Education — For Our Times Or Against Them?” Transcript of talk by Eugene Schwartz, Sunbridge College: November 13, 1999. Edited by Michael Kopp. [

Waldorf schools often teach Bible stories as truth. But their interpretation of these stories is bizarre. For instance, concerning Noah and the flood: "Many people, and also giants, now lived on the earth but men had become wicked ... The story refers to the sinking of the continent of Atlantis." [See "Old Testament".]

“Ecce sacerdos magnus, 

ecce sacerdos magnus, 

qui in diebus suis, 

qui in diebus suis placuit Deo.”  


(Floris Books, 1993), compiled by Brien Masters, pp. 122-123. 

These lyrics come from one of the religious songs published for use in Waldorf schools. Translated from the Latin, the song says “Behold the high priest, behold the great priest, who in his days, who in his days pleased God.” Is a religious song sung in an ancient language likely to convey any meaning to the students? Certainly. Opaque lyrics will almost certainly be explained to the singers. Moreover, the sense of profundity and reverence may be enhanced by the use of liturgical Latin. And singing of priests and God in a school where the teachers consider themselves to be priests surely has an effect on at least some of the students. "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23. Waldorf “priests” lead their students to pray and worship during their schooldays. Waldorf schools are religious institutions. 

“Not only does [a] purifying and ennobling process continue throughout a single lifetime, but through many, as the ego evolves to higher and higher stages of development through successive lives or re-embodiments ... [T]he twin concepts of reincarnation and karma or destiny are central to [Steiner’s] spiritual-scientific system.” — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 28.  

There is no science in Anthroposophy (i.e., “spiritual science”). And, sadly, there is very little real spirit in it, either.

Anthroposophists disparage reality, calling the physical universe a “materialistic” sphere of entropy and death. They want to inhabit a higher, immaterial universe of living spirits. Probably most human beings can sympathize with this aspiration. We all want meaning and magic in our lives. But unless we open our eyes to factual truth — what we might call reality — aspiration in and of itself will get us nowhere. Consider. We know for certain that some forms of life exist: ourselves, dogs, cats, whales, cattle, horses... And where do they exist? Right here, in the real, physical universe.

And what about spirit? Do we know for certain that some forms of spirit exist? Of course. The spirit of friendship, the spirit of love, the spirit of mercy, the spirit of honesty, the spirit of truthfulness, the spirit of reverence... And where do these forms of spirit exist? Right here, in the real, physical universe; they exist in the hearts and minds that we, as real forms of life, possess.

To anyone who wishes for a universe of living spirit, I would say: Open your eyes. It is right here. It is all around you. In the real, physical universe. You don't need to flee to your fantasies; stand instead, proudly, on fact.

“Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) did not discard the intellectual accomplishments of our scientific age but, by utilizing them, researched another dimension, which is needed to complement the admirable achievements of the natural, physical and psychological sciences of our time. His method, called ‘spiritual science.’ or ‘anthroposophy’ (anthropos = humankind, sophia = wisdom), can be learned by anyone who applies great stamina of will, concentration, and intent.” — Gunther Hauk, in the introduction to Rudolf Steiner’s  BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. viii. 

In this passage, Hauk frames for us the central claim made by Steiner’s followers. The claim suffers from one defect: It is entirely untrue. ◊ Steiner frequently and repeatedly disparaged intellect and modern science, associating them with the terrible demon Ahriman. ◊ There is nothing scientific about “spiritual science,” which hinges on the use of imagination, intuition, inspiration, and — at its “highest” level — clairvoyance. Three of these are subjective states of mind, while the fourth is an illusion. They do not produce verifiable, objective, scientific results. ◊ No one can learn Steiner’s method, because it is delusory. If you think you are clairvoyant, you are deluding yourself. If you have “clairvoyant visions,” you are fantasizing or hallucinating. [See, e.g., “Is Anthroposophy Science?”, “Steiner’s 'Science'”, “Clairvoyance”, and “Steiner’s Specific”.] The most troubling part of all this is that many Waldorf school teachers think they are clairvoyant “spiritual scientists.” This should automatically disqualify them from holding positions as educators. 

A youth whose childhood has been touched by the blight of 'critical thinking' will come to the moment of independent insight badly crippled ... Because skepticism has long since robbed him of part of his heart, he will now feel unable to embrace enthusiastically what he has come to understand." — Waldorf educator John F. Gardner, THE EXPERIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE (Waldorf Press, 1975), pp. 127-128.

Critical thinking is nothing more than using your brain to logically consider the world around you. Waldorf schools discourage this, since the world they believe in is obviously false, if one uses one's brain.

Longtime Waldorf students, having been immersed in a flood of Anthroposophical nonsense for many years, "understand" things as Anthroposophists do. Unfortunately, what they "understand" is wrong, as one can easily see if one uses one's brain.

"The people here calling themselves Waldorf Critics (G_d bless 'em) represent a very small minority of dissatisfied whiners — bloated by the internet." — Anthroposophist Frank Thomas Smith, an Anthroposophical writer and editor, in a discussion at waldorf-critics in 2010. [See "Help!"]

“[S]he [1] does not hesitate to quote Steiner as saying that no-one but the most experienced occultist, who stands at the end of his or her path [2], can really make use of astrology. She also quotes Steiner as writing that the real astrology was an intuitive knowledge and required the development of higher supersensible powers [3] which, he said, can be present in very few persons today. [4]” — Norman Davidson, in the foreword to Vreede’s ANTHROPOSOPHY AND ASTROLOGY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. xiii.

[1] Elizabeth Vreede, who — Steiner said — understood Steiner’s teachings better than anyone else.

[2] Vreede accepted Steiner’s self-description as a most experienced occultist who had virtually reached the end of his path, attaining extensive and profound occult knowledge.

[3] I.e., “exact clairvoyance.” [See "Exactly".]

[4] Steiner unashamedly admitted that he possessed powers and knowledge that virtually no one else alive possessed.

"Unconquered hero of the skies

St. Michael —

Against the foe with us arise,

Thine aid we pray the foe to slay,

St. Michael." 


(Floris Books, 1992), complied by Brien Masters, p. 13. 

In Anthroposophical teachings, Michael is the Archangel of the Sun. He is a warrior god, fighting the forces of evil or darkness, "the foe." Michael serves under the Sun God, Christ. Michael's greatest antagonist is the Sun Demon, Sorat (the Antichrist). However, Michael also fights against the terrible demon Ahriman. [To look into some of these Anthroposophical beliefs, which we find at the core of Waldorf thinking, see, e.g., "Michael", "Sun God", "Evil Ones", and "Ahriman".]

Here, Waldorf students ask Michael's aid in their struggle against the foe. Other songs in THE WALDORF SONG BOOK include "For All the Saints", "Alleluia For All Things," "St. Francis' Hymn", and "The Lord My Pasture Shall Prepare." Keep reminding yourself: Waldorf schools claim that they are not religious institutions. 











(Floris Books, 1992), p. 40.

This is the complete text of one of the hymns included in THE WALDORF SONG BOOK
. [For more hymns and prayer-songs included in the book, see “Prayers”.] 

"Alleluia," a variant of "hallelujah," means "God be praised."

Keep reminding yourself: Waldorf schools claim that they are not religious institutions.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the last few pages [describing Steiner’s planetary scheme of evolution] have taxed some readers’ capacity for giving Steiner the benefit of the doubt and left them wondering who could possibly believe this science fiction story. Yet this cosmic history is the backbone of Steiner’s work. How, we may ask, could he possibly know these things? Although Steiner had been privy to the spiritual worlds since childhood, he tells us that around the time that he became involved in the Theosophical Society, he ‘stood within the spiritual world in full consciousness.’” — Gary Lachman, RUDOLF STEINER (Jeremy P. Tarchman, 2007), pp. 147-148.

Although Lachman is sometimes mistaken for an objective scholar, he is actually a Steiner fan who accepts Steiner's claims of extraordinary spiritual wisdom (“Steiner had been privy to the spiritual worlds since childhood...”). He frames some passages in mildly skeptical terms (“We may take some, perhaps most, of his occult insights with a grain or two of salt...” [Ibid., p. 236]), but overall he embraces Steiner. “His devotion to the human spirit, however, and the good that came of it — this remains undeniable....”  [Ibid., p. 236.]

In assessing Lachman’s work, we might ask ourselves 1) Is there such a thing as an “occult insight?” Lachman thinks there is, and he thinks Steiner had such insights. 2) Should we accept these "insights" with a little salt or reject them outright? 3) Are such things as Anthroposophical medicine and Waldorf schooling "undeniable" benefits or highly questionable concoctions? 

If you’re looking for a balanced report on Steiner and his works, a far better source is Geoffrey Ahern’s THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co, 2009).

“Steiner had exceptional powers, he saw the future, he knew the truth. If you truly need to learn, you need to study and follow Steiner. Steiner is all anyone ever needs to know.” — a Waldorf school teacher, quoted by a former colleague []

“The reason why many Anthroposophical schools exist is because of the Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children ... In Anthroposophical Waldorf schools, absolutely everything centers around the task of implementing Steiner's spiritual scientific theories ... Each individual child's education takes a back seat to the spiritual scientific and cosmic Christian tasks and ideals of the Anthroposophical initiative.” — a former Waldorf teacher []

In brief: At real Waldorf schools, the education of children is not the main goal. The main goal is to enact Anthroposophy’s self-appointed messianic mission. [See, e.g., “Spiritual Agenda” and "Schools as Churches".] 

Rudolf Steiner taught that the heart is not a pump. Astonishingly, such teachings do not inspire his followers to leap up shouting “This is nuts! Let me out of here!”

“As he [1] explains, the heart has a double action, situated as it is midway between the two poles. [2] But his description, differing so markedly from the usual medical supposition that it [3] is a kind of pump, is worth giving in his own words.” — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 300.

[1] Rudolf Steiner.

[2] Two “systems” in the physical body described by Steiner: the “nerve and senses system” and the “metabolic and limb system” (I kid you not).

[3] The heart.

Anthroposophists willfully turn their backs on factual knowledge. That the heart is "a kind of pump" is not a “supposition.” It is a well-established fact, known to everyone except, evidently, Rudolf Steiner and his followers. Do you want such people to “educate” your children? 

As for Steiner’s own words — Steiner said many times that the heart does not pump blood. Here’s my favorite version: 

“[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,  PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 126.
Absurd is the word. Do you want the followers of this man to “educate” your children?


“Over and above the physical body, spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy] recognizes a second essential principle in Man: it is that which Steiner usually refers to as the ‘etheric body,’ though he sometimes refers to it as the ‘life-body’ or ‘formative-forces-body’ ... [T]he etheric body is accessible to investigation only to [i.e., by] those who have developed the necessary higher organs of perception.” — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 26.

The “perception” Childs means is clairvoyance; the “organs” he refers to are invisible, nonphysical “organs of clairvoyance” that Steiner said we can develop. But clairvoyance is a delusion — it does not exist. [See Clairvoyance”.] Ditto for the “organs” that enable us to be clairvoyant. They don’t work because, indeed, they do not exist and cannot be developed. As for the “etheric body,” if the only way we can perceive it is to use a nonexistent form of perception, then we have no reason to think this type of body exists. But that’s is Anthroposophy for you — fantasies piled on fantasies. [For more on the etheric body, see "Incarnation".]

Note, by the way, that the above quotation does not come from a book of spiritual speculation, or investigation into the paranormal, or theology. It comes from a book about Waldorf schools. Some of the most fervent believers in Anthroposophical nonsense teach in Waldorf schools.

Picking up on the previous quotation, in which Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs referred to the etheric body and organs of clairvoyance: 

“A third member of the human being is the so-called ‘astral body’ or ‘sentient body’ ... [C]reatures which possess a nervous system also possess an astral body, and this includes not only Man but the whole of the animal kingdom.” — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p.27. 

Like clairvoyance, organs of clairvoyance, and the etheric body, the astral body is a fantasy. It does not exist. 

I don’t mean to be dogmatic. I cannot prove that these things are all fantasies, but surely the burden of proof lies with those who claim that these things are real. Where is the evidence? What is the proof? None is given. And, in all probability, none can be given. A single, confirmed instance of clairvoyance would shake things up. If a proven clairvoyant told us about immaterial organs of clairvoyance, etheric bodies, and astral bodies, we would have to listen. But scientists have intensively studied clairvoyance and other psychic powers, and they have found no evidence that such capabilities exist. This means that we have no reason to believe in the existence of things that can perceived only through the use of such capabilities. [See “Clairvoyance”.] 

Anthroposophists argue that clairvoyance can be found only when we are reverent and faithful, not when we are coldly rational and analytical, as scientists necessarily are. But what does this mean? To accept Steiner’s teachings, you have to stop using your brain [as Steiner recommended: see “Steiner’s Specific”, "Thinking", and “Guru”]. But the brain is the only organ of cognition that we certainly possess; it offers the only path to truth that we know is reliable. Relying on your feelings, or intuition, or “clairvoyance” obviously opens the possibility of error, deception, and indeed self-deception. [See, e.g.,“Fooling (Ourselves)”, “Reality and Fantasy”, “Steiner’s ‘Science’”, and “Thinking Cap”.]

Anthroposophists believe that Steiner was clairvoyant. They assert that, surely, Steiner was a “proven clairvoyant” whom we should all believe. But what confirming evidence do we have for Steiner's clairvoyance? None. Steiner made an unsupported claim, nothing more. In fact, the evidence we have collected tends to disprove Steiner’s claim. Steiner’s “clairvoyant” observations have proven to be, time after time, demonstrably false. [See, e.g., “Steiner’s Blunders” and “Millennium”.]

“Tuba mirum, 
Spargens sonum, 
Coget omnes ante thronum, 
coget omnes ante thronum, 
ante thronum. 
Per sepulchra regionum ...  
coget omnes ante thronum.” 

(Floris Books, 1993), compiled by Brien Masters, pp. 108-111.

These are the lyrics of one of the many religious songs published for use in “nondenominational, nonsectarian” Waldorf schools. Translated from the Latin, the song says “The trumpet, spreading its awful sound, will collect all before the throne, will summon all before the throne, before the throne. Through the graves of the regions ... [it] will drive mankind before the throne [of God].” The song describes the Last Judgment, when the “last trump” will sound and God will send each soul to its just reward or punishment. The occasional appearance of a religious song or poem in a school does not prove that the school is sectarian. But Waldorf students are are fed a continuous diet of prayers and hymns. Despite deceptive and, perhaps, self-deceiving claims to the contrary, Waldorf schools are religious institutions.

[For a quick survey of hymns included in THE WALDORF SONG BOOK and THE SECOND WALDORF SONG BOOK, see “Prayers”.]

“[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him, who is returning at birth into the physical world ... Teachers too will know that it is their task to help the child to make use of his body, to help his soul-spiritual forces to find expression through it, rather than regarding it as their duty to cram him with information....” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 388-389.

Waldorf schools aim to benefit children in a number of ways, few of which have much to do with education.

 ◊ The overall curriculum is designed to help children incarnate on a fixed schedule (etheric body by age 7, astral body by age 14, “I” by age 21). [1]

 ◊ A basic objective is helping students fulfill their karmas so that they can evolve properly. (As Easton indicates, reincarnation is a basic Waldorf belief.)

 ◊ An effort is also made to maintain children’s supposed innate connections with the spirit realm.

 ◊ Magical forms of thought (imagination, intuition, inspiration) are emphasized — they are meant to lead toward development of clairvoyance.

 ◊ A warm, hazy love of the mystical and fabulous is encouraged, in the hope that students will, as adults, become full Anthroposophists.

 ◊ Arts are emphasized because Steiner said they provide direct avenues to the spirit realm.

 ◊ Science is de-emphasized because Steiner associated it with the dreadful demon Ahriman. [See “Ahriman”.]

 ◊ Children are classified by race and “temperament,” and the schools endeavor to help the kids overcome the “drawbacks” of the races and temperaments to which they belong. [See “Races” and “Humouresque”.]

None of this makes a particle of sense except to committed occultists. And very little of it has any connection to what we normally think of as education. [2] Certainly, Waldorf teachers do not "cram" their students with information. The less a Waldorf student is exposed to real knowledge of the real world, the better Waldorf teachers will be able to pursue their aims.

[1] Anthroposophists believe that in addition to a physical body, a fully developed human being has an etheric body (essentially a constellation of life forces), an astral body (soul forces), and an "I" (spirit forces that realize divine human individuality). According to Waldorf belief, the latter three bodies are invisible; they can be discerned only through clairvoyance. They incarnate gradually, through a series of seven-year-long phases. [See “Most Significant”.]

[2] Indeed, little of it is clearly revealed in standard Waldorf PR mottoes: The schools say they educate “head, heart, and hands,” and they claim to equip students for "freedom." [See "Holistic Education" and "Freedom".] As descriptions of Waldorf methods and objectives, such statements are fundamentally misleading unless they are accompanied by detailed expositions of Anthroposophical doctrines (which they almost never are).

“Our modern, theoretical knowledge does not, in fact, grasp or explain the true being of man. Beneath all that the average human being knows of himself, there live hopes, longings, aspirations, dreams of the might-have-been or the might-yet-be, unused gifts, maybe, that are urging to be realized....”  — Waldorf educator Francis Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 4.

The second sentence in this quotation is quite true. The unconscious and subconscious are important components of the human mind.

The first sentence, however, should set off warning sirens. Waldorf schools do indeed tend to reject modern knowledge, such as modern knowledge of human biology and psychology. Waldorf teachers tend to view such knowledge as “theoretical” because it does not stem from clairvoyance, which is the “faculty” on which they mainly rely. (Mainly, they rely on Rudolf Steiner’s claimed “exact clairvoyance,” and the visions he claimed to have due to this wonderful psychic power.) The “true being of man,” from the Waldorf perspective, is a reincarnating spirit having a karma, several invisible bodies, both a soul and a spirit, a heart that does not pump blood, a brain that does not yield true knowledge, and so on. The Waldorf view, in other words, is malarkey. Rationality leads us to precisely the real knowledge that the Waldorf belief system rejects.

“[I]t was a wild time, and Rudolf Steiner is [i.e., was] often acting under great pressure. Much here if not taken in context can be misunderstood and misrepresented. As publishers, we have debated whether to publish the book and whether to publish it whole. “ — Publisher’s note, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. xxxix.

This defensive/apologetic note appears near the front of a two-volume set of transcripts that most enrollees in Waldorf teacher-training programs study at length. There are several embarrassing passages in FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, but one passage causes Anthroposophists special embarrassment. It is a vitriolic attack made by Rudolf Steiner against the French. He railed that ◊ “The French as a race are reverting” [p. 559] and, bizarrely, ◊ “The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul” [p. 558]. What set Steiner off? He was distressed by racial practices in France. “The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe” [pp. 558-559].

Anthroposophists have difficulty comprehending how a man they consider a great apostle of love and charity could voice such sentiments. As the editor of FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER says on p. xxxv, “During the faculty meeting of February 14, 1923, [Steiner] speaks about the French language and about immigration, of ‘moving black people’ to Europe. Before I can judge the comment, I would need to understand it, and I am not able to do so.” People who are not Steiner’s devout followers may have less difficulty understanding. Not burdened with a determination to excuse the inexcusable, they are better positioned to see what is plain. A poseur can’t maintain his pose 100% of the time. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the man behind the pose.

“[T]he occasion was an opportunity to showcase...his anthroposophical ‘spiritual science,’ of which the practice of Waldorf education was an important, even primary, application.”  — Anthroposophist Christopher Bamford, introduction to THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION, The Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, p. vii. 

The “occasion” was a speech Rudolf Steiner delivered in Britain. But that isn’t important. Here’s what’s important:

Advocates of Waldorf education often deny that Waldorf schools are deeply immersed in the occult belief system called Anthroposophy (aka “spiritual science”). At most, they tend to acknowledge that Waldorf schools take inspiration from the founder of Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner, and/or that the schools base their methods on Steiner’s “insights” as expressed in Anthroposophy. But in truth, the bond between the schools and the occult system are strong and deep. As a primary “application” of the system, the schools essentially embody the system in the crucial sphere of education. Waldorf schools apply Anthroposophy to the lives of children.

In the past, I have called Waldorf schools stalking horses for Anthroposophy, I have called them front organizations for Anthroposophy. But don’t listen to me. And don’t listen to even such a learned individual as Christopher Bamford. Listen instead to Rudolf Steiner. What connection, if any, did Steiner see between the schools he started and the occult system he created?

Addressing Waldorf school teachers, Steiner said, “[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 705.

Steiner’s metaphor is rather violent, but his point is well taken. If people understood that Waldorf schools are deeply committed to the goals and “desires” of Anthroposophy, they would rise up in opposition to the schools. Anthroposophy is occult. Rudolf Steiner was an occultist. And Waldorf schools are mired in occultism. With their “anthroposophical character,” they have “goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires.”

In other words, the purpose of Waldorf education is to spread Anthroposophy. We have Steiner’s word on this, as well. Speaking in the first Waldorf school, Steiner said, “One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.

Anthroposophy would exist without Waldorf schools — albeit in a much reduced form — but the schools could not exist without Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools are applied Anthroposophy.

[To dig into some of these matters, see, e.g., "Everything", "Faculty Meetings", "Secrets", "Here's the Answer", "Occultism", and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

"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." — Anthroposophist Ronald E. Koetzsh, "Anthroposophy 101", RENEWAL: A Journal for Waldorf Education, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2006. 

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.)

“I well remember meeting a charming child of eleven, daughter of a Dutch father and a partly Mexican-Indian mother, almost all of whose female relatives were clairvoyant, and several were mediums. Little Alexandrina used to prattle on about the dead, what they were doing, where they were, when she had seen them before, all in the most natural manner in the world. Part of what she said could be confirmed, and the perfectly correct facts that she gave could not have been learned in any other way. The young Rudolf Steiner was also very well aware of the nature spirits [i.e., “elemental beings” that reside within nature] with whom, indeed, he held converse, again not unlike many other children...." —Anthroposophist Stewart Copinger Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: Herald of a New Epoch (SteinerBooks, 1980), pp. 17-18. 

Stewart C. Easton is highly regarded among Anthroposophists. He earned this regard, however, not by telling truths but by indulging in the sort of gullible illogic that characterizes so much of Anthroposophy.

Here we see Easton affirming Steiner’s claims that a) clairvoyance is a real faculty, and b) young children possess natural clairvoyance. How convincing is Stewart's statement? How does he know, for instance, that numerous "female relatives" (grandmothers? aunts? cousins?) in a certain family were clairvoyant? What evidence does he produce? Zero.

And what about the clairvoyant child? Stewart assures us that her descriptions of the activities and whereabouts of the dead were wonderfully natural and contained many verifiable facts. But what were these facts, and how were they confirmed? Stewart doesn't say. And how does Stewart know that these “facts” (if any) “could not have been learned in any other way?” He doesn’t say. He makes a bold claim, one that Anthroposophists gladly accept, but he does nothing to support it. Instead, he leaps to his preferred idea — the child is clairvoyant! — without considering other possibilities. 

 ◊ Children are imaginative, often inventing imaginary companions. Is this was Alexandrina was doing? 

 ◊ If Alexandrina had met some of the dead individuals before their deaths ("she had seen them before"), she may have known quite a bit about them from ordinary observation and memory. 

 ◊ If Alexandrina ever overheard adults talking about various dead relatives, she may have learned a lot as a result. 

But Stewart considers none of this. Rather, he leaps past logic and evidence to draw a typical Anthroposophical conclusion: Amazing! Aunt Claudia has been dead these many years, yet Alexandrina knows she was tall! The child must be clairvoyant!

As for the youthful clairvoyance of Rudolf Steiner, what evidence does Stewart produce, what argument does he make? Zero. He accepts Rudolf’s word just as he accepts Alexandrina’s. He likes what they say, so he accepts their reports uncritically, gullibly, ingenuously. This, I'm afraid, is a fair sample of Anthroposophical discourse. 

“Rudolf Steiner intended Waldorf education to be a preparation for life ... Education should follow human nature, should orient itself to the universal nature of the developing human being, whilst addressing the specific needs of individuals in their time and space.” — Martyn Rawson, foreword to Anthroposophist Francis Edmunds’ AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 2004), p. xiii.

Waldorf schools have high and noble purposes, and they are generally staffed by conscientious, well-meaning individuals. Good intentions, however, are not necessarily sufficient. Is the Waldorf view of the world and of human nature realistic? Is it rooted in true knowledge?

The “preparation for life” offered by Waldorf schools centers on an idea that Waldorf faculties consider fundamental but that the rest of humanity may deem nonsense. A child is properly prepared for life, according to Waldorf belief, only when his/her invisible bodies are incarnated. The etheric body generally incarnates at about age 7, the astral body at about age 14, and the “I” at about age 21. Much of what happens in Waldorf schools is predicated on this idea. Unless you consider the idea true, Waldorf education may not suit you or your child. [For information on our invisible bodies and the seven-year stages of human development, see "Incarnation" and "Most Significant".]

What is “the universal nature of the developing human being”? In part, it is what we have just seen: the incarnation of invisible bodies to supplement the physical body. But the Waldorf view of human nature is even more involuted and fantastical. [For an overview, see “Holistic Education” and "Our Parts".] Fundamentally, according to Waldorf belief, we are the central spiritual beings in the universe [see “The Center”], worshipped by the gods, evolving from Saturn to Vulcan and beyond [see “Everything”], where/when we will ultimately become God the Father. This is all quite flattering to our egos, but to believe it you must subscribe — as most Waldorf teachers do — to Rudolf Steiner’s occult doctrines.

How about “the specific needs of individuals in their time and space”? How well do Waldorf schools respect and address the students’ individual needs? According to Waldorf belief, each individual has lived many previous lives, and s/he arrives in this life with a karma that needs to be fulfilled. In addition, s/he has a “temperament” (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholic) that must be respected (class assignments, seating, etc., will be based at least in part on “temperament” [see “Temperaments”]). Moreover, each child is a member of a racial group, and this membership crucially reflects her/his level of spiritual evolution. (Steiner taught that blacks are the least evolved, whites are the most — see “Races”].) To an unfortunate degree, Waldorf schools treat students not as individuals but as members of various categories, and quite often the schools' attitudes on these matters are benighted. (The most unfortunate children, according to Waldorf belief, are those who are not really human beings at all but demons in disguise. Such kids are likely to be expelled, since, as Steiner said,  

"We cannot...create a school for demons." —  Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 650).

Waldorf schools have high and noble purposes, but their view of the world and of human nature is deeply unrealistic — and this view informs everything about the schools.

“[W]e are interested in what shaped Rudolf Steiner as an educator. Certainly, his native clairvoyant capacities played a role, as did his scientific training. Nor should mention be omitted of the crucial human and spiritual encounters that marked his early years: Felix Kogutsky, the herb gatherer, with whom Steiner became friends and with whom he could speak about the spiritual world as with someone of experience; [and] the otherwise unnamed Master....”   — Christopher Bamford, introduction to THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), a collection of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings about education, p. viii.

This is a remarkably concise statement concerning the irrationality upon which Waldorf schooling is built. 

 ◊ Some of Steiner’s teachings (most of them, actually) come from his claimed clairvoyant abilities. But he was not clairvoyant. No one is clairvoyant. Therefore all of these teachings are bunk. [See “Clairvoyance”.]
 ◊ Seiner had studied science, but he was no scientist. The only “science” he did was “spiritual science,” which hinged on the use of clairvoyance. This returns us to the first point: Knowledge gained through clairvoyance is no knowledge at all and provides no basis for a sound education. [See “Fooling”, “Will”, and “Is Anthroposophy Science?”]

 ◊ Concerning “human and spiritual encounters”: Steiner claimed to be a two-time occult initiate — i.e., a mystic insider, privy to the deepest occult secrets. Not content to claim that he had been initiated once — which any run-of-the-mill occultist might do — he said he had been initiated on two separate occasions, once by a spiritualistic gardener, Felix Kogutsky, and later by an unnamed “Master” (sometimes referred to as “M” and believed by Anthroposophists to have been Christian Rosenkreutz — although Christian Rosenkreutz is a legendary figure who never existed [see "Rosy Cross"].)

Where does this leave us? If you agree with me that the points listed by Bamford are obvious nonsense (bunk, piffle, delusion, looniness), then you should steer clear of the Waldorf universe. But if you disagree with me — if you think Bamford and Steiner make good, levelheaded sense — then the Waldorf way of thinking may be just what you’re looking for.

“[The] special contribution, the unique substance, mission, and intention of the independent Waldorf School, is the spiritual-scientific view of human nature [i.e., Anthroposophy] ... It certainly is possible that the Waldorf schools will, gradually or suddenly, distance themselves from this substance, because they increasingly fail to understand it, and because they are influenced by the criticism imposed from outside ... [T]he weakening and fading away of the innovative, independent Waldorf schools would be disastrous....” — Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 4.

There are Waldorf schools and Waldorf schools. Some of the schools adhere more closely to Rudolf Steiner’s occult vision than others do. “Waldorf-inspired” schools sometimes try to employ Waldorf methods without embracing Anthroposophical occultism. And Waldorf schools that seek taxpayer support sometimes stray from Anthroposophical true belief (or at least they work extra hard to conceal their occult beliefs from education authorities). 

But leaders in the Anthroposophical/Waldorf movement strive to enforce full acceptance of Steiner’s teachings within Waldorf schools. As one instructor in a Waldorf teacher-training program has said, “I am a missionary for Rudolf Steiner.” [See “Teacher Training”.] When evaluating a Waldorf school, the safest assumption is that the school is a dyed-in-the-wool Anthroposophical religious institution. Proceed on this assumption until you unearth irrefutable evidence to the contrary. In some cases, such evidence may turn up. In many other cases, such evidence cannot be found, for those schools are staunch in their Anthroposophical beliefs.

The "disaster" that would result, if Waldorf schools strayed from their underlying occult purposes [see "Here's the Answer"], would be the defeat of the messianic mission that Rudolf Steiner assigned to Waldorf teachers. Steiner explained that Waldorf teachers should, in all their endeavors, serve the gods' wondrous plan for universal spiritual evolution. “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.

Waldorf faculties take themselves very seriously. They credit themselves with the highest motives. And Anthroposophical insiders press to ensure that Waldorf faculties do not stray from their mission. When evaluating a Waldorf school, assume that it is dyed-in-the-wool Anthroposophical religious institution until you receive irrefutable proof of the contrary.

“A horde of fourth grade berserkers rise from the darkness of the hall to stamp onto the stage ... [The child who plays the Norse god] Thor, though one of the smallest in the class, has an enormous voice to match the famous Thor’s Hammer ... The bit where Thor...knocks the taunting warriors off their benches in well choreographed waves of destruction, is particularly impressive ... [E]ach festival is embedded in a cycle of festivals the inner mood of the spiritual calendar ... [F]estivals are also linked to the intuitive realm of the future. In an age in which traditional forms of ritual and community are fading, the Steiner Waldorf Schools strive to cultivate a new, free consciousness of time, human development and community.” — Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 2003), pp. 12-18.

The festivals at Waldorf schools are meant to be attractive and festive. [See the section on festivals in "Magical Arts".] Often they are used as PR devices, charming parents and attracting new families to the fold. (Violence is sometimes depicted — the myths celebrated in Waldorf schools are often very violent — but only in "choreographed" form.)

The festivals are also religious observances. On p. 41 of their book, Clouder and Rawson include a photo of a Whitsun festival at a Waldorf school (Whitsunday, or Pentecost, celebrates the descent from Heaven of the Holy Spirit). Many Waldorf festivals have an apparently Christian character, but the roots of the festivals run back to pagan beliefs — as is suggested by the enactment of Thor’s adventures.

The “cycle” observed is that of the seasons as understood by the ancients. The “inner mood of the spiritual calendar” embodies the occult or hidden significance of the cycle. The “intuitive realm of the future” is a reference to clairvoyance and to the future states of humanity Rudolf Steiner has described using his claimed clairvoyant powers — a future in which intuition or clairvoyance will be widespread, Anthroposophists believe. 

The “new, free consciousness” that Waldorf schools attempt to cultivate is the imaginative, intuitive, clairvoyant consciousness needed to follow Steiner into the new age. The “human development” mentioned is the spiritual evolution of humanity that is the core aim of Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools are wedded to the aims of Anthroposophy.

As always at Waldorf schools, there is more (and less) going on than meets the eye. Note that the goals of Waldorf schools have little to do with education as it is usually understood — that is, the development of the brain and the acquisition of real knowledge about the real world. Instead, almost everything done at Waldorf schools is guided by Rudolf Steiner’s occult teachings.

"When a foundation of observation and disciplined thinking is established, the [Waldorf] high school science teacher now introduces a new type of thinking ... [T]his 'new' thinking is called phenomenological thinking ... [F]irst a phenomenon is carefully observed; second, the rigors and laws of thinking and science are applied...third, everything up to now is laid to rest, the mind is cleared, and the phenomenon itself is allowed to speak. The student observes what comes forward while keeping the mind from straying ... This activity opens on up to new possibilities ... This type of thinking is freed from the senses and allows the universe to speak through the individual. It is a type of thinking which is truly moral and can be the fertile ground for the 'new' science of the twenty-first century." — Waldorf teacher David S. Mitchell, THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2004), pp. 12-13.

The "new" thinking is a form of meditation ("the mind is cleared...keeping the mind from straying"). It is the sort of thinking Steiner advocated for attaining clairvoyant powers. It is "freed from the senses" because Steiner taught that clairvoyance is seated not in the physical brain but in nonphysical organs of clairvoyance. 

Waldorf students who attempt the "new" kind of thinking may not leap straight to clairvoyance (in reality, they cannot, since clairvoyance is a fantasy). But by using "phenomenological thinking" as described by Mitchell, they will be on their way (or so their Waldorf teachers hope). Phenomena and/or the universe itself will "speak through the individual" as through a clairvoyant or seer.

The thinking Mitchell refers to is hardly new. It is an approach advocated by the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and embraced by Steiner. [See "Goethe".] So-called "Goethean science" is meant to be an alternative and corrective to conventional science. And as Steiner arranged matters, Goethean science leads to "spiritual science," i.e. Steiner's own doctrines, i.e. Anthroposophy. 

"[T]he science [Steiner] spoke of was not conventional science of the abstract mechanical-materialist type. Modern science in this sense was, in fact, a deviation ... The corrective was to create an alternative science based on different assumptions." — Christopher Bamford, introducing Steiner's WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY? (Anthroposophic Press, 2002), p. 19.

But Goethean science is not real science at all; it is a misconstruction of scientific procedures and values. In this sense (pace Bamford), the form of "science" found in Waldorf schools is a deviation from truth and the search for truth. Yet it is close to the heart of the Waldorf enterprise. Waldorf schools try to inculcate a meditative form of thought that leads students toward accepting Anthroposophy. Students taking a class that may seem to be conventional science (e.g., chemistry) wind up being introduced to a form of thinking that leads them into Goethean science ("Waldorf chemistry") and, by indirection, on to "spiritual science" (Anthroposophy). Waldorf schools exist to promote Anthroposophy. This is what Mitchell and Bamford and Steiner have told us, without meaning to be quite so direct about it. (Although sometimes they have come close. 

"Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495. 

And when will the material — seen through the "new" way of thinking — call for it? Just about always.)

[To go into this more deeply, see "Steiner's 'Science'"; scroll down to "Mitchell".]

“What about the speed of the stars? How fast do they appear to move in their courses?” — Waldorf educator Hermann von Baravalle, ASTRONOMY - An Introduction, Waldorf Curriculum Series (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1991, revised 2000 by Norman Davidson), p. 7.

The speed of the stars! Now there’s a fascinating subject, one that good teachers could use to great advantage, stimulating the minds and stretching the imaginations of their students. All the stars in our galaxy orbit the galactic center. How fast are they going? How fast, for instance, is our Sun moving? Do different stars move at different speeds? Why? This is exciting material. And there’s plenty more to the subject. Not all of the lights we see in the night sky are stars; some are planets. How fast are the various planets moving as they circle the Sun? In addition to stars and planets, there are still other lights in the sky, especially galaxies — huge pinwheels and platters and globes of stars, far far away. How fast are these moving toward or away from us? Almost every child would love to explore such questions.

Unfortunately, in his teachers’ guide — intended to show Waldorf teachers how to present astronomy to sixth graders — Hermann von Baravalle avoids these questions. Science classes at Waldorf schools often shortchange students by offering minimal information about the real universe, and this astronomy course follows the Waldorf pattern. The stellar speed von Baravalle refers to is the apparent motion of the stars (“How fast do they appear to move?”), which is an illusion caused by the spinning of the Earth. And the “courses” he mentions are illusory paths, also caused by the Earth's motions. Von Baravalle focuses not on the actual universe but on the subjective view students may obtain by gazing upward without knowing what they are seeing. And von Baravalle does not propose to provide kids with much real information that would enable them to know what they are seeing.

Von Baravalle calls every light in the night sky a “star” (e.g., “The brightest of stars is Venus.” — p. 35). Von Baravalle distinguishes only slightly between stars and planets, accepting the ancient view that planets are "wandering stars."* Nor does he provide much information about the size or composition of the things we see in the night sky, their true motions, their distance from the Earth, and so forth. He does, however, provide a chapter on the signs of the zodiac. A student studying astronomy in this, the Waldorf way, will come out of the class with virtually no real knowledge. Are stars bigger than planets? Are stars closer to us than planets or farther away? What are stars made of? What are planets made of? Are there different kinds of the planets? How many stars are there? How many planets do we know about? You can continue this list yourself. Think of any question that a student might ask concerning the real objects in the sky. In all probability, a Waldorf astronomy course will skimp on the answers.

The occult rationale for the course von Baravalle outlines is that sixth graders recapitulate the mental and spiritual condition of ancient Romans, and therefore sixth graders today should know only as much as the ancient Romans knew. (I kid you not.) All grades at Waldorf schools are meant to help kids pass through particular spiritual-evolutionary stages. But the Waldorf view of evolution (beginning on Old Saturn and moving toward Future Vulcan) is a fantasy, unsupported by any objectively verifiable information. The association of various childhood ages with various stage of human evolution is likewise unfounded. And here we see an example of the harm that can result — twenty-first century children are denied twenty-first century information. Instead, they are restricted to ancient ignorance. 

A sixth grader is certainly capable of comprehending real information about stars and planets. Indeed, a third grader is. But at Waldorf schools, such information is largely withheld in deference to Rudolf Steiner and his fabulous untruths. [For more on this, see “Oh My Stars”. Also relevant are "Curriculum", "Astrology", "Astrosophy", "Star Power", "Planetary Humans", and "Everything".]

* Here is the beginning of chapter 7, "Observing the Planets - Flexibility in the Cosmos:  Five 'stars', different from all the others, appear at times in the night sky. All five shine brightly at night in some months ... These five special stars include the brightest of all stars ... The brightest of stars is Venus." [p. 35.] We might note that there are really eight planets, not five. The brightest real star visible in the sky is Sirius. Moreover, some of the "stars" we see with our naked eyes are really nebulas and galaxies. The closest large galaxy in the sky is Andromeda. Von Baravelle is mum about all this.

“The success of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner [said], can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30.

When thinking about Waldorf schools, you should always remember that the primary goal of these schools is not to give children a good education (“not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications”). The schools exist to support the religion of Anthroposophy, and they seek to steer students and their families toward the “living” spiritual forces and beings described by Rudolf Steiner. The schools often pursue these goals surreptitiously; they often deny what they are doing; but this is indeed what they are doing.

Another point needs to be made. When the schools pursue their occult purposes without the knowledge and explicit consent of the students’ parents, their actions are profoundly immoral. Waldorf faculties rationalize their behavior, believing that they are fulfilling a higher morality, implementing the messianic mission of Anthroposophy. But few parents will be appeased when they learn of such actions and rationalizations.

"You ask me to define ‘anthroposophy.’ But to do so would be to destroy it.” — Waldorf educator John Fentress Gardner, private correspondence.

Waldorf teachers generally acknowledge that their educational methods arise from Anthroposophy, but they very often try to avoid explaining what Anthroposophy is.

This is — at least sometimes — a conscious ploy, an effort to stave off scrutiny. Waldorf education is built on many occult beliefs, and Waldorf teachers often realize that they must not admit this in public. As Rudolf Steiner said, 

“[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.

So mum’s the word.

At another level, however, the disinclination to pin down the meaning of “Anthroposophy” is genuine and heartfelt. Anthroposophists believe that their system is a living, evolving spiritual force that transcends ordinary human concepts and categories. Possibly they are right about this. (And possibly they are wrong. One definition of “Anthroposophy” that Anthroposophists usually reject but that is often borne out in practice is this: “Anthroposophy is what Rudolf Steiner taught.” Whereas Anthroposophists like to think that they are free to attain their own spiritual insights and thus create their own forms of Anthroposophy, to a very large extent what they really do is to take their beliefs from Steiner’s lectures and books.)

The practical problem in all of this, if you are interested in Waldorf schools, is that you can hardly form a sensible judgment about the schools if the faculties refuse to explain their fundamental worldview. So allow me, please, to offer the following. It is by no means complete, but it is sufficiently accurate that many Anthroposophists themselves would likely accept it.

The word “Anthroposophy” was conceived by Rudolf Steiner, the author of such books as OCCULT SCIENCE and HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS.* The word comes from the Greek and means “human” (anthropo) “wisdom” (sophia). How is this wisdom obtained? Through the use of “spiritual science,” a concept that Steiner adopted from Theosophy and applied to his own teachings. For Anthroposophists today, “Anthroposophy” and “spiritual science” are virtually synonymous. The “science” Steiner described (and that many Waldorf teachers try to practice) is the use of clairvoyance to gain “objective” knowledge of the spirit realm and its residents — including human beings, since we are essentially spirits (we visit the spirit realm every night, and we reside there between our earthly incarnations). 

Perhaps you believe in the spirit realm. Perhaps you believe in clairvoyance. Perhaps you think that by sharpening your own clairvoyance you can attain what Steiner called “exact clairvoyance,” which will allow you to make independent, objective investigations of the spirit realm. If so, fine. Then the Waldorf way of thinking is probably acceptable to you. 

In any event, you should know what Steiner's followers mean when they speak (or whisper) the word “Anthroposophy” inside a Waldorf school. Don’t quietly allow Waldorf teachers to avoid your questions. Most of the activities found in Waldorf schools have their roots in Anthroposophy. Waldorf teachers owe you and your child an honest exposition of this crucial fact.

* In English, at least, the word "anthroposophy" was sometimes — but only rarely — used prior to Steiner's development of the term. The first known use, according to THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, came in 1742; but very few subsequent uses are recorded prior to Steiner.

“That's why I send her to a Waldorf school. She can have a religious experience. A religious experience. I'll say it again: I send my daughter to a Waldorf school so that she can have a religious experience. So that she learns something about reverence. So that she learns something about respecting a higher being. If she didn't learn that, she'd be out the door in a minute. I don't want her to go to a school that calls itself Waldorf, and denies her a religious experience.

“Somebody's gotta change their name! And I sure hope it isn't the Waldorf movement of independent schools. I think we owe it to our parents to let them know that the child is going to go through one religious experience after another. And if any of the teacher trainees in the room feel that I'm not saying that clearly enough to you, well, here it is, guys, if I haven't said it to you a hundred times already: when we deny that Waldorf schools are giving children religious experiences, we are denying the whole basis of Waldorf education.” — [T]ranscript of a talk by Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz.

At the time he spoke these words, Schwartz was head of Waldorf teacher training at Sunbridge College. He lost his position soon after making these remarks. He was, perhaps, a bit too outspoken. He lost his post soon thereafter. []

“One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ The best answer I have heard is ‘Yes and No.’  It is not a religious school in the way that we commonly think of religion. There is no creed, no catechism, and no proselytizing. Neither are Waldorf schools sectarian, and for that reason they can thrive equally in a Buddhist country such as Japan or on a kibbutz in Israel.

“And yet, in a broad and universal way, the Waldorf school is essentially religious. The word religion comes from the Latin root religare, which means essentially to re-link. Young children are not yet un-linked from their spiritual connection ... For their continued spiritual development, children need only a little outward instruction. According to Rudolf Steiner, they simply need to be taught in a balanced three-dimensional way, one that develops head, heart, and hands to preserve their innate religious awareness.   Although the notion that a balanced education fosters spiritual awareness may seem simplistic, it is based on a theory of knowledge that is at the heart of the Waldorf approach.” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), pp. 134-135.

There is much to quarrel with in Petrash’s statement. Anthroposophy is itself a sect; it certainly has a creed; and the chief proselytizing effort made by Anthroposophists is represented by Waldorf schools. [See “Is Anthroposophy a RelIgion?”, “Here’s the Answer”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “Soul School”.] But the main point Petrash makes is certainly true. “[T]he Waldorf school is essentially religious.”

“We are a group of teachers working associatively out of our dedication to the Waldorf Curriculum. Anthroposophy is the heart and foundation of our work.”  — Faculty of the Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School, February 14, 2011 []

Waldorf education does not simply stand upon Anthroposophy. Waldorf education is vitally connected to Anthroposophy. The heart of Waldorf education is an occult, pagan religion: Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., “Soul School”, “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”, "Curriculum", “Occultism”, and “Pagan”.]

We might prefer to hear Waldorf teachers state that they are dedicated to the welfare of children, and this — not Anthroposophy — is the "heart and foundation" of their work. Sometimes they do say such things, of course, and probably they make such statements sincerely. I just wish we could completely believe them. But sometimes their deeper objectives and loyalties are revealed. They do not intend to inflict harm on children (I have known Waldorf teachers who certainly loved their students), but to the degree that they are devoted to Steiner's doctrines, they inevitably — if unintentionally — threaten grave harm. When children are reared in an atmosphere of occult belief, they will almost inevitably be damaged. The Waldorf formula is love plus occultism. The formula we need is love plus sanity. [See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings", "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Secrets".]

“Waldorf education takes a spiritual view of what it means to be a human being, and is grounded in a path of personal development called anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner. We do not see ourselves as a religious school, however, and students are not taught any particular religious or spiritual doctrine.” — Washington Waldorf School []

When Waldorf faculties make such statements, they may be telling the truth — as they understand it. On other occasions, they may be quite consciously trying to mislead the public. But let’s be charitable and assume that all such statements by Waldorf schools are sincere. Where does this leave us?

Statements of this sort arise from a number of factors. For starters, Anthroposophists almost always deny that Anthroposophy is a religion. This denial is untrue, but it provides the essential first line of defense for Waldorf schools. If Anthroposophy is not a religion, then Waldorf schools are not religious institutions even if they teach Anthroposophical doctrines to the students. But Anthroposophy actually is a religion [see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”], so this line of defense fails.

The second level of the Waldorf defense — often invoked sincerely — is that the schools do not teach Anthroposophy to the kids, so therefore the schools are not religious institutions even if Anthroposophy itself is a religion. But this denial, too, is flawed. Many Anthroposophical doctrines do indeed get imparted to Waldorf students [see “Spiritual Agenda” and "Sneaking It In"]. Generally this occurs through an indirect process of suggestion and implication, rather than through direct instruction — but it happens. If you were to observe this class or that, on this day or that, you might detect little Anthroposophical or esoteric content. But gradually, over time, such content makes itself felt among the students. The atmosphere in a Waldorf school is usually redolent with religious feeling [see “Here’s the Answer”], and the school year is punctuated by the celebration of religious festivals [see “Magical Arts”]. The schools may not openly profess their faith, but they enact it, and this certainly has an effect on most students, especially those who attend the schools for many years.

One more point needs to be made. Many students' parents and even junior faculty members are quite unaware of the Anthroposophical nature of Waldorf schooling, at least initially. Thus, they may accept the prayers recited by Waldorf students as pretty “verses,” nothing more [see “Prayers”], and they may consider the celebration of such festivals are Michaelmas merely quaint seasonal festivities. But if so, they are fooling themselves. The inner circle within most Waldorf faculties is aware that virtually everything that happens at a Waldorf school has occult, spiritual significance. [1] When Waldorf representatives deny this, we should not be taken in. [See “Soul School” and "Secrets".] The deception and, indeed, self-deception practiced in Waldorf schools should not cloud our own eyes.

Let’s give the last word to the founder of Waldorf education. 

 ◊ "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." [1] 

 ◊ “As far as our school is concerned, the actual spiritual life can be present only because its staff consists of anthroposophists.” [2]  

 ◊ "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” [4]

[1] Clearly, it is offensive to tell people that they don’t know what they are doing, that they are deceiving themselves. But in many cases, Anthroposophists do indeed deceive themselves. Even members of the innermost Waldorf circle may operate in a state of denial and self-deception. When, for example, Waldorf teachers use “clairvoyance” to determine the “temperaments" of their students, they are practicing a twofold deception on themselves. Clairvoyance is a fantasy, and the ancient four-slot system of categorization (phlegmatic, melancholic, sanguine, choleric) that Waldorf teachers use to sort out their students has no basis in truth. [See “Clairvoyance” and “Humouresque”.]

Rudolf Steiner insisted that Anthroposophy is a science, not a religion, and many of his followers cling to this claim despite all the evidence to the contrary — indeed, they cling to it despite the admissions that Steiner himself sometimes made, apparently inadvertently. For instance, 

"[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706. 

The Anthroposophical society does not do science, it embraces a religion (Anthroposophy) that it works to spread “just as other religious groups do." One of the places they do this is in Waldorf schools.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.

According to Rudolf Steiner, the Bible is obsolete. It is a simplified narrative created for unsophisticated people in prior centuries. Today, we are ready for a more up-to-date revelation, one that he himself provided. He used his “exact clairvoyance" to study the Akashic Record — a celestial storehouse of wisdom. Or so he said. Thanks to this “research,” he was able to produce a “fifth gospel” that corrects the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark,  Luke, and John. Or so he said.

“Dr. Steiner called what he shared ‘additions’ because he said the four synoptic Gospels also draw their imagery from the same starry ‘picture book’ of the Fifth Gospel in the Akasha. Dr. Steiner is clear; his research shows the synoptic Gospels are — in part — imagery drawn from the Akashic Records. He discusses the service the authors of the original four Gospels performed in creating elementary ‘picture books’ of the spiritual path of Christianity, appropriate for people of their day and the next 1,500 years to come.” — Bruce Dickson, RUDOLF STEINER’S FIFTH GOSPEL IN STORY FORM (Dickson, 1991), p. 7.

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, “akasha” is a universal ether, sometimes defined as starlight. The Akasha Chronicle or Record is a sort of universal encyclopedia recording everything that have ever happened (which may include everything that will happen), inscribed on akasha. [See "Akasha".]

[I]t seems to me that we have no option but to take it at least as a working hypothesis that Steiner was speaking the truth when he claimed that he had the ability to read what has always been called, in the East and West alike, the Akashic Record, or better, the Akasha Chronicle [1] ... Everything that has ever happened on earth, Steiner tells us, and even events that have taken place in the spiritual worlds, are indelibly recorded, not by an earthly or even by a heavenly scribe, but imprinted, while they are happening [sic], in what he calls the ‘astral light.’ Though few occultists are able to ‘read’ it, they have always been aware of the existence of this Akasha Chronicle, which we may imagine as a kind of infinitely wide memory.” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, RUDOLF STEINER - Herald of a New Epoch (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), pp. 134-135.

The plausibility of just about everything Steiner ever taught, after his conversion to occultism, depends on his ability to read the Akasha Chronicle. 

It seems to me (pace Easton) that we have no option but to marvel at the gullibility of Steiner’s followers. Steiner used clairvoyance (which doesn’t exist) to read the Akasha Chronicle (which doesn’t exist). [2] Are you impressed? 

Or, more to the point, do you want people who believe Steiner to teach your children? Bear in mind, Waldorf are also called Steiner schools.

[1] In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, “akasha” is a universal ether, sometimes defined as starlight. The Akasha Chronicle or Record is a sort of universal encyclopedia recording everything that have ever happened (which may include everything that will happen), inscribed on akasha.

[2] See, e.g., “Clairvoyance” and “Akasha”.

[T]he whole computer- and Internet industry is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman.” — Leading Anthroposophist Sergei Prokofieff. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

Anthroposophists generally fear modern technology; they associate it with the terrible demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".] The consequence in Waldorf schools is that most products of modern technology are held at arm's length if not banned outright. This aversion of technology is reflected in the "media policies" enforced at typical Waldorf schools.

Under these policies, parents agree to curtail their children's exposure to computers, televisions, cell phones, the Internet, and other electronic media or forms of electronic communication and entertainment. Sensible arguments can be made for limiting the amount of time children spend staring into electronic screens, but the Waldorf view is mystical rather than rational. The fundamental Waldorf objection to technological devices of all sorts is a fear of demons. Rudolf Steiner taught, and his followers believe, that technology provides the means for demons to incarnate on Earth. [1] Usually, however, Waldorf schools describe their media policies in calmer terms. Thus, for instance: 

"Why do we choose to protect our children from exposure to TV, videos, movies, computer games, gameboys, and other media? ... The Waldorf School is designed to nourish the feeling life of children and to strengthen the imagination [2] ... Students accustomed to passively receiving impressions have difficulty making the inner effort necessary to sustain imaginative thought ... Parents are especially asked to refrain, throughout the years at Summerfield (even in HIGH SCHOOL!), from any media exposure on a school night ... We encourage parents to....create a media-free lifestyle." [3]

The actual thinking behind Waldorf media policies is found in such works as THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN. [4] The author indicates that the development of computers has hastened the earthly arrival of Ahriman. 

Steiner warned that the very use of electricity leads to a demonic society. 

"[E]lectric atoms are little demons of Evil ... [W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons, we merely listen to him explaining that Nature really consists of little demons of Evil! And if we acknowledge Nature in this form, we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity ... If we contemplate electricity today, we contemplate the images of a past moral reality that have turned into something evil." [5] Steiner's followers have heeded him on this matter. “The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web. And fallen spirits of darkness [i.e., demons]...are active in this web.” [6] 

To protect children, then, we need to shield them from electronic mechanisms.

Or, on the other hand, we could decide to raise children on some other basis than occult superstition.

See "Computers" and "Media Policies" at Waldorf Straight Talk.

[2] See the entry for "imagination" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

Summerfield Waldorf School, downloaded May 13, 2015.

[4] David B. Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press - undated, but still for sale in 2016.)

[5] Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity" (General Anthroposophical Society, 1940), GA 220.

[6] Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24. 

"All education that is capable of enlisting teachers’ best energies and of giving their pupils the bread of life they long for and without which other bread does not nourish, must be regarded as religious. It need not be dogmatic or ritualistic, or in any way affiliated with a church or sect, but it cannot avoid questions of higher forms of cognition, of the reality of the human soul and spirit, of life beyond the bodily, of spiritual beings above and below humanity, of a spiritual concept of the evolution of the kingdoms of nature, of destiny, and of God.” — Waldorf educator John Fentress Gardner, EDUCATION IN SEARCH OF THE SPIRIT (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 154-155.

John Gardner was headmaster of one of the first Waldorf schools in America, and his writings continue to be circulated among Anthroposophists today. Here we find him effectively acknowledging that Waldorf schooling is religious, and he denotes specific Anthroposophical religious doctrines including clairvoyance (“higher forms of cognition”), the distinction between spirit and soul, spiritual evolution, and karma (“destiny”).

Disclosure: I knew John Gardner; I attended the Waldorf school that he ran. That school was nearly destroyed by a scandal he caused [see “Scandal”], but it survived and many years later the faculty there selected Gardner for a lifetime achievement award.

“Rudolf Steiner performed his own sacrifice on Earth in order to plant these tender seeds, and was crucified on the cross of the soul body of the Anthroposophical society. Rudolf Steiner, a Rosicrucian initiate whose spiritual gaze was able to reach up to the Buddhi sphere and above to the Nirvana plane, paved the way for the future incarnation of the Maitreya Buddha." — Adriana Koulias, “Rosicrucianism and the Maitreya Buddha - Preparing mankind for the future understanding of Christ”.

Steiner's followers revere him; they treat him as a great spiritual master, virtually a demigod. [See, e.g., "Guru".] As for the ties that some of Steiner's followers say they see between Anthroposophy and Buddhism, see "Buddhism".

“[T]he third set of lectures [in this book] concerns the astral-etheric beings known as elemental spirits, whose existence is rarely acknowledged today beyond the sphere of folklore. We discover how indebted we are to these beings, both benevolent and malevolent, for our continued existence. Steiner gives an account of their different levels of consciousness and, in doing so, throws light on some of the characters from traditional nursery tales. Many of us will be familiar with the wise but gruff dwarf, the water sprite or mermaid who tries to lure the human being into its own fluid consciousness-world, and the unearthly beauty of the fairy queen which would entrap men and render them powerless, as if they slept. The fact that the elemental spirits, like irresponsible children, might choose to sport with the unprotected human consciousness should not undermine the fact that these spirits ‘wish man to make a move onwards with his consciousness, so that he may participate in their world.’”  — Ann Druitt, introduction to HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, pp. xvii-xviii.

The gullibility of Steiner’s followers can be astonishing. The clearest example, perhaps, is their belief in fairy tales and the beings described in fairy tales. Steiner taught that fairy tales are true clairvoyant accounts of the activities of beings — gnomes, fairies, giants, dwarfs — who really exist. This is staggering. Yet when Druitt says that Steiner shines light on “the characters from traditional nursery tales,” she does not mean that Steiner offers a form of literary criticism, examining the import of fantastical, invented stories. No, she and other Anthroposophists accept Steiner’s assurances that “Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance  [i.e., the psychic power that ancient peoples possessed] ... All the fairy tales in existence are...the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” [1] And the strange beings who populate these tales are real, Steiner said. Thus, for instance, Steiner tells us 

“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.” [2] 


"[O]ur brain connects us with certain elemental beings, namely those elemental beings that belong to the sphere of wisdom ... To etheric observation, this [aura] hovers in the immediate vicinity of our head. The I [our spark of individual divinity] lives in it, and alongside the I are found the elemental beings of the myths and sagas. There they are called elves, fairies, and so on." [3] 

Steiner said that fairy tales need to be interpreted, the facts they relate are hard to convey in ordinary language; and he said that we participate in the creation of such beings as goblins and fairies. But he also firmly stated that goblins, fairies, and other elemental spirits do actually exist. [4] He claimed to be able to see them, thanks to his "exact clairvoyance" [5], and he said you could see them too if you would just follow his instructions. [6]

At one level, this is all quite silly; but at another level, it is quite important, revealing something fundamental about Anthroposophy. There is a real world and there are fantasy worlds, and Steiner’s followers get them confused — they take the fantasies for reality. This is a serious matter, especially when people who are deluded in this way offer to educate children. Do you want to entrust the education of your child to people who believe that fairy tales are clairvoyantly true and that goblins really exist?

[1] Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.

[2] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 5.

[4] See, e.g., "Beings" and "Gnomes".

[5] See "Exactly".

[6] See "Knowing the Worlds".

“When I returned to Los Angeles I was determined to go back to school [for graduate work] in a more humanistic and spiritualized course of study. I chose to study psychology and astrology. I found my perfect partner and was married in 1973 at my Saturn return [1] ... I went to work on a construction job ... I was there for one hour when a steel door slammed shut in an ‘accident,’ and I lost the tips of three fingers ... I recognized that I had a karmic relationship with the owner of the company ... In a previous life he had lived as a woman, and I had carelessly cut her fingers with my sword.

“...I began to study Anthroposophy ... I then found the Waldorf School teacher training program at Highland Hall [a Waldorf school] in Los Angeles ... After completing my course of study I went to work as a Waldorf teacher at the Denver Waldorf School.” — Ron Odama, in ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings, 2009). [2]

Not all Waldorf teachers think and act as Odama does, but many do. I'd suggest letting this sink in.

[1] In astrology, a planetary return occurs when a planet occupies again the same point in the zodiac it occupied at the time of a person’s birth. Astrology is important in Anthroposophy. Note the title of Ron Odama's book: ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY. Odama is an interesting example of the sort of person you may find at the head of a Waldorf classroom.

[2] See “Ex-Teacher 4”.

Rudolf Steiner was forced to ask why it was that no one seemed to be able to hear what could be done to form a truly new society, a truly human society. He concluded that no one could hear him because the education people had been given left them unable to consider, and therefore unable to work with, anything not based in familiar routine.” — Robert F. Lathe and Nancy Parsons Whittaker in the introduction to THE SPIRIT OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. xii.

By this account, the purpose of Waldorf education is to produce people who are able to “hear” Rudolf Steiner. In other words, the purpose is to break children free from the familiar world and accustom them to an alternate world, the world of mysticism and the occult. This is the world of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines. The purpose of Waldorf education, then, is to produce people who are prepared to hear — or indeed embrace — Rudolf Steiner’s mystical and occult doctrines. This is the reason for the enormous emphasis that Waldorf schools place on myths, legends, fairy tales, and the like, along with their use of prayers and hymns, their advocacy of non-rational modes of thought such as imagination, and their general opposition to modern science and technology. 

The degree to which Waldorf schools convey Steiner's doctrines to students varies, but in general the schools aim to shape individuals in such a way that, as adults, those individuals will be predisposed to "hear" — and embrace — Rudolf Steiner. 

The Waldorf view of childhood is greatly complicated by Steiner's occult doctrines. Thus, for instance, Steiner was devoted to the number 3, which he considered magical.* Thus, he divided childhood into three sets of three elements, and he said children pass through three stages (each seven years long). To make this system coherent, he hammered together things that are actually quite different, as when he spoke of the "limb-metabolic system." (Consult any legitimate medical text. We have arms and legs, and we have a metabolism, but these are separate; there is no limb-metabolic system.) Nonetheless, Steiner is believed by typical Waldorf teachers. Here is how childhood is described by a leading advocate of Waldorf schooling: 

"On the level of soul, [Steiner] describes the human being as a threefold being, one who thinks, feels, and wills. On the level of consciousness, these three forces manifest as wakefulness (thinking), dreaming (feeling), and deep sleep (willing). On the level of physiology, they utilize the three 'systems' of nerve-senses (thinking), rhythmic-circulatory (feeling), and limb-metabolic (willing). On the level of human development, these forces unfold in discrete seven-year periods: willing dominates the first seven years of life, feelings become accessible to the child in the second seven-year period, and independent thinking blossoms after age fourteen.” — Eugene Schwartz in the Foreword to a collection of Steiner’s lectures and remarks, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 12.

A system is which everything seems to fit is appealing. But Steiner's system is unsupported by actual medical, psychological, or educational knowledge. It even violates mainstream theology. It is appealing mystical mumbo-jumbo. (And its appeal fades when we think about it, rationally, for more than a few moments.)

"Three is the number of the Divinity revealing itself ... Seven is the number of perfection." — Rudolf Steiner. [See "Magic Numbers".]  

Waldorf education, especially in the lower grades, includes extensive exposure to the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy. Much of this exposure comes in the form of stories that, to the uninitiated, may seem innocuous. Here, for instance, is a Waldorf account of the first day of Creation. It bears only a slight resemblance to any part of the Bible; it is fundamentally Anthroposophical.

“As God Father sat upon his throne, he called out seven words through heaven. The seven colors of the rainbow appeared and shone in seven circles around his throne ... Behind the rainbow, majestic fire angels lifted a great cloud curtain, revealing a hall of heaven that had never been seen before. In the hallway were thousands upon thousands of sleeping souls, countless as the stars in heaven ... The fire-angels lowered the curtail and opened the gate of heaven ... Light began to shine, to blaze and sparkle brightly. The darkness withdrew to the depths. Fire-angels stripped flames from their garments, and the new world grew warm. It bubbled and flamed and flashed. Thunder rumbled and rolled so loudly that the evil spirits in the deep huddled in fear. Above them the angels’ eyes, like a thousand suns, sparkled from the bright light of the first day of creation.” — AND THERE WAS LIGHT (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2006), p. 13. The author, Jakob Streit, describes the purpose of his book: "This collection of stories and descriptions is the result of the author's work over a period of years introducing children in the lower grades to the world of the Old Testament ... If one succeeds in letting the reality of nature grow out of the divine, colorful background of a world creation, then awe, reverence, and love of nature can blossom ... It is hoped that [these stories] with touch the children's hearts and feelings...." [p. 109.]

Waldorf schools usually claim to be nonsectarian and nondenominational. Yet Waldorf students are told religious story after religious story. These stories create and reinforce the spiritual atmosphere in Waldorf classrooms — an atmosphere that is distinctly Anthroposophical. Despite superficial resemblances, the religion in Waldorf schools should not be mistaken for Christianity. It is Anthroposophy, not Christianity. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

 ◊ "God Father" may appear to be God as depicted in the Old Testament  Jehovah — but in Anthroposophy, Jehovah is a rather minor god, not the One and Only Lord of Creation. [See “Genesis".] The name "God Father" echoes the term "God the Father” — but in Anthroposophy, God the Father is the god of Saturn, not a member of the One and Only Christian God. [See "The Father”.] "God Father" also echoes "All Father," the designation of Odin, the highest Norse god. [See "The Gods".] Steiner indicated the Odin certainly exists.

 ◊ Seven words, seven colors, seven circles… In Anthroposophy, seven is a magic number; Steiner called it the number of perfection. [See "Magic Numbers".] Here, Waldorf students are introduced to the importance of the number seven as well as the spiritually potent effect of language — "he called out seven words." 

 ◊ In Anthroposophical doctrine, fire angels or "Fire Spirits" are gods two levels above man, and they played a major role in the Creation. [See the entry for "Fire Spirits" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia; cf. the entry for "fire spirits".] 

 ◊ To minds steeped in Norse mythology, the term "hall of heaven” will likely evoke thoughts of Valhalla, the hall in Asgard, land of the gods. [See "The Gods".] Both halls are populated by souls — overseen by a pantheon of gods — awaiting their summons onto the field of action. 

 ◊ The hall contains human souls waiting to be incarnated. In this story, we see the gods check on the sleeping souls, then setting about the task of creating a world for them to inhabit. Consistent with Anthroposophical doctrines, the Creation is described as a cooperative act of numerous gods. [See the entry for "creation of heaven and earth" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Anthroposophy is polytheistic [see "Polytheism"] , and incarnation (as part of the process of reincarnation) is a basic tenet. ["Incarnation" and "Reincarnation"].

 ◊ Streit’s account starts with an apparently monotheistic perspective, but it quickly shifts to a more polytheistic view. Note that the more active spirits, here, are the Fire Angels, not God Father. In Anthroposophy, the highest form of divinity is the Godhead, which is amorphous and inherent, not active in and of itself. [See "God".]

 ◊ According to Waldorf belief, evil beings are consigned to the Abyss — the deep chasm separating Earth from the higher worlds. There is no Hell, as such, in Anthroposophy, but the Abyss and other places of perdition are identified. [See "Hell" and "Higher Worlds”.] 

 ◊ Waldorf education certainly aims to instill reverence, but whether nature is to be revered is less certain. Steiner described nature as the abode of invisible "nature spirits" such as gnomes or goblins. These are amoral beings who often display at least mild hostility to humankind. [See "Neutered Nature".]

This story, like many of the others told to young Waldorf students, presents Anthroposophical concepts in a seemingly acceptable form. Young children may absorb these concepts and be heavily influenced by them for the rest of their lives. Indeed, this is the purpose of such stories told in Waldorf schools.

Young students in Waldorf schools are exposed to many Anthroposophical beliefs. Much of this exposure comes in the form of stories that, to the uninitiated, may seem innocuous. The following is a Waldorf account of the seventh day of Creation: 

“When everything had been created, God Father looked upon His work and saw that it was good. He gave the angels dominion over the new creation. The Elohim ruled over the sun and the sunlight, the moon and stars. The Cherubim held power over lightning and thunder. The rocks, the water, the air and the fire — all were given their rulers.” — AND THERE WAS LIGHT (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2006), p. 29.

This narrative nudges young children toward accepting various Anthroposophical concepts, at least in a generalized form. 

 ◊ In Anthroposophy, angels are gods. There are many gods and many ranks of gods. The Elohim are gods four levels above man, while the Cherubim are gods eight levels above man. [See “Polytheism”.] (In Judeo-Christian mystical tradition, "Elohim" is a name for God; in Anthroposophy, the Elohim are many separate gods. Also in Judeo-Christian mystical tradition, "Cherubim" are high-ranking angels; in Anthroposophy, they are gods.)

 ◊ Astrology plays a large role in the Waldorf belief system, with gods dwelling on planets and stars (Jehovah, for instance, is a Moon god, Christ is the Sun God, Lucifer hails from Venus, and so forth). Here we see gods, the Elohim, being given dominion over stars and planets. [See “Planetary Spirits”.] 

 ◊ According to Waldorf belief, various gods extend their powers through natural phenomena on Earth. Here we find the four classical elements ("rocks, the water, the air and the fire") identified and "given their rulers." In addition, according to Anthroposophy, “nature spirits” or "elemental beings" are present in nature. These are invisible presences lower than gods: Gnomes reside in the ground ("rocks"), undines in the water, sylphs in the air, and salamanders in fire. [See “Neutered Nature”.] According to Waldorf belief, such beings really exist, and Waldorf students are told many tales about them. (Gnomes are especially present in Waldorf schools; gnome dolls and figurines can be found in many Waldorf classrooms.) 

Comparing the Anthroposophical version of Creation with the Biblical version shows significant differences. Children who are told the sorts of stories found in AND THERE WAS LIGHT are not being given orthodox Bible stories. Here are the ending verses in Genesis 1 and the beginning verses in Genesis 2, telling of the sixth and seventh days of Creation. Note that the gods mentioned in the Anthroposophical version (Elohim, Cherubim) are not mentioned here; also, according to the Bible, dominion is given not to the gods and/or nature spirits, but to man. And, certainly, according to the Bible, there is one God, one Creator; the Bible is not polytheistic.

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." 

29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 

30 "And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food." And it was so. 

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.  

— THE HOLY BIBLE, New International Version.

A web of mythic tales is woven around young Waldorf students. Some of these stories are ostensibly Biblical, but actually they inculcate Anthroposophical doctrines, which often run counter to the Bible. A Waldorf educator gives this explanation of the Waldorf version of Creation:

"The Biblical story of the creation is couched in magnificent language which everyone can appreciate. To understand what is implied is not so easy. Fortunately, Rudolf Steiner has given an account of evolution from the spiritual scientific aspect and this, though complicated, clarifies the matter considerably. He describes three so-called planetary conditions of the earth. The first is a huge globe of heat, a manifestation of spiritual beings, in which our whole solar system was included as an undifferentiated mass. There was a development from the heat element into a sort of gaseous substance and light. At a third stage there was a condensation to liquid ...

'In the beginning'

"This refers to the beginning of Earth interweaving of the elemental substances of heat, gas and liquid which are really the embodiment or means of expression of spiritual beings.


"The word in the original Hebrew is Elohim. It is a plural and Elohim are high ranking [sic] spiritual beings, called in Greek the Exusiai, or by other [i.e., Anthroposophical] designation, Spirits of Form. God as a collective term is justified in so far [sic] as the Elohim work as a group, combining their individual talents with the aim of creating man." — Roy Wilkinson, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2001), pp. 10-11.

The Waldorf meaning of the Creation story is radically unlike anything you will hear in a synagogue, church, or mosque.


 ◊ "Spiritual science," in Waldorf belief, is Anthroposophy, the occult system created by Rudolf Steiner. It is also sometimes called occult science or esoteric science. 

 ◊ A key concept in Anthroposophy — one generally not near the hearts of anyone who takes the Bible literally — is evolution. 

 ◊ Evolution as described by Steiner has no connection to the biological process traced by modern science. Steiner taught that we have evolved through "planetary conditions" or "planetary stages" — we began on Old Saturn ("a huge globe of heat"), progressed to the Old Sun (gas and light), and then to the Old Moon (liquid), before coming to Present Earth, the fourth of our planetary stages. Each of the planetary stages encompasses the entire solar system, including the Earth as it exists during that period. 

 ◊ Our evolution is overseen by numerous "spiritual beings" or gods, who have a divine plan for our development to higher and higher forms. 

 ◊ "In the beginning..." Wilkinson explains that this phrase in the Bible refers not to the real beginning of the universe but to the beginning of our current, fourth planetary stage — life on Earth in its present incarnation. 

 ◊ The most shocking part of the Waldorf version of creation entails God. In Waldorf belief, God is not Jehovah, God Almighty, the Creator, or Allah. “God” is a committee of high-ranking spiritual beings. Anthroposophists see the Old Testament as a set of stories about the activities of numerous gods of varying ranks. Here, Wilkinson says that the gods called Spirits of Form (aka Elohim or Exusiai) were instrumental in creating us. 

 ◊ Wilkinson's discussion of the word "Elohim" is, at best, debatable. Here is a truer account: "Though Elohim is plural in form, it is understood in the singular sense. Thus, in Genesis the words, 'In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth,' Elohim is monotheistic in connotation, though its grammatical structure seems polytheistic. The Israelites probably borrowed the Canaanite plural noun Elohim and made it singular in meaning in their cultic practices and theological reflections." [ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.] Thus, while Wilkinson argues that "Elohim" connotes a polytheistic universe, in fact the Bible is monotheistic.

 ◊ The Spirits of Form are equivalent to the angelic order called Powers. See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, EXCURSUS ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1937), lecture 4, GA 124.

COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES is intended for the guidance of Waldorf teachers. Wilkinson explains the "real" meaning of the Creation story for his fellow Waldorf teachers. Those teachers, in turn, will seek to convey this meaning — to one degree or another, explicitly or implicitly — to their students.

The stories Waldorf teachers tell their students are often designed to instill Anthroposophical beliefs. Here is the meaning of the Waldorf account of Lucifer’s fall and, subsequently, mankind’s fall. Waldorf teachers would use different words when addressing young children, but these are the sorts of words they use when discussing such things among themselves.

"There had been certain beings in the spiritual world who had failed in their normal progress and they had become self-willed. They are known as the Luciferic beings [i.e., Lucifer and his minions]. Ever since man has been endowed with astrality, i.e., the possibility of having feelings, passions, desires [sic: interpolation by Wilkinson], he was open to Luciferic influence. For their own purposes these beings made man aware of himself earlier than planned by the creators [sic: multiple gods]. They awakened his senses (opened his eyes) [sic: interpolation by Wilkinson] and he began to lose consciousness of the divine in favor of the terrestrial. By becoming conscious of himself in the world of the senses [i.e., in the physical world], he acquired the ability to choose freely between good and evil." — Roy Wilkinson, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2001), pp. 17-18.

Here are some of the Anthroposophical doctrines Waldorf students are exposed to it this narrative. Some can be reconciled with the Bible; others cannot. 

 ◊ Sin, in the Waldorf view, involves the failure to evolve properly. [See “Sin”.] Thus, those spirits who allied themselves with Lucifer “failed in their normal progress.” [See “Abnormal”.] 

 ◊ Evolving in the wrong direction means asserting your own will rather than following the divine plan of the gods. This is what Lucifer and his minions have done — they became “self-willed.” 

 ◊ In Anthroposophical belief, Lucifer is one of the main demons who threaten humanity's own proper evolution. The other is Ahriman. [See “Lucifer” and “Ahriman”.] 

 ◊ As humans have evolved to higher, more spiritually capable levels (we became “endowed with astrality”), we have developed our own capacities for inner existence (“having feelings, passions, desires...”), which has opened us to being influenced by Lucifer. 

 ◊ Lucifer and his minions pushed us to evolve too quickly in one way, derailing the plan of the gods by making us too self-aware (they “made man aware of himself earlier than planned by the creators”). 

 ◊ We became earthly, physical, “terrestrial,” which distanced us from the spirit realm. 

 ◊ This was good, in a sense — we developed the possibility of free choice (we could “choose freely between good and evil"), so in this sense Lucifer helped us. But the potential cost of Lucifer's influence is extremely threatening: We are increasingly cut off from the intentions of the good gods who created us (we are not doing what was “planned by the creators”). 

We should note that Wilkinson’s explanations of Anthroposophical doctrine are sometimes questionable; nonetheless, they represent a view from inside the ranks of Waldorf teachers.

Here is what happened to Adam and Eve when they were expelled from paradise, according to Anthroposophy: 

"Michael [an archangel] accompanied Adam and Eve to the earth. In the evening, it grew cold. Shaking with cold, Adam and Eve built a small hut out of bushes and made garments of leaves ... Adam and Eve could no longer hear the heavenly music or the angels' voices ... Michael came to Adam and Eve to comfort them. 'You have not lost heaven completely. Pray to God. Then the thread of light, which binds your souls to heaven, will not tear. At night this thread draws you toward the heavenly light." — Jakob Streit, AND THERE WAS LIGHT (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2006), p. 34.

 ◊ In the Bible, the fall of mankind meant we were cast out of the Garden of Eden. But according to Waldorf belief, mankind's fall meant leaving the spiritual worlds and descending to Earth. (Steiner taught that before life on Earth we passed through evolutionary stages "on" Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon. Along the way, although evolving, we became progressively less spiritual and more physical. Likewise, individual humans are born on Earth after descending from the spirit worlds where they lived before birth.) 

 ◊ In Waldorf belief, Christ is the Sun God and Michael is the Archangel of the Sun. Michael has special responsibility for helping to oversee human evolution, so he accompanied us to Earth.
 ◊ Descending to Earth means being cut off from the spirit worlds ("Adam and Eve could no longer hear the heavenly music or the angels' voices") — but our exile is not absolute. According to Steiner, when we sleep at night, we ascend again into the higher worlds (our astral bodies and our "I"s make this trip, while our physical and etheric bodies stay below). This is what Michael tells Adam and Eve to comfort them: At night, the thread leading back into the heavens “draws you toward the heavenly light." Or, in Steiner’s own words, 

"[T]he astral outside the human being at night ... [Also] the I. This is how we are at night. We are two people in the night." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 102. 

Waldorf students are usually not taught Steiner's words, but they are introduced — usually indirectly — to Steiner's doctrines.

“The spiritual world is always around us, and we can work more consciously if we note the transition as we move from the earthly world to the spiritual world and vice versa. Thus at night we can say as we enter sleep, ‘Now I am entering the spiritual world,’ and in the morning as we awaken, we can say, ‘Now I am entering the earthly world.’” — Helmut von Kügelgen, essay #1 in WORKING WITH THE ANGELS (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America 2004), p. 3. 

Here we glimpse the central error of Anthroposophical thought. Anthroposophists think that when they go to sleep, they are entering the spiritual world, and they tell themselves that the experiences they have then are more significant than the experiences they have when they are awake. The truth is somewhat different. When people fall asleep, they are asleep, and the experiences they have then — dreams — have no real meaning at all. 

Anthroposophists make the same mistake about their waking experiences, mistaking their fantasies and delusions for clairvoyant wisdom. In general, Anthroposophists think that they often enter or at least perceive the spiritual world. They are mistaken, but this error forms the core of their ideology.

At Waldorf schools, there is a “fundamental polarity between teacher and parents. ... [T]he role of the teachers [is] to take primary responsibility for the incarnation of the child* ... [T]he teacher is the king or queen of their classroom.” The role of the parents is to ask themselves “What can I do for [the school].”  Parents help “incarnate the school” by becoming “the financial pillar.” 

When teachers take their role to extremes, “it becomes ‘Luciferic,’ tending toward dogmatism, pride, and exclusivity.” When parents overstep their bounds, their activity “becomes ‘Ahrimanic,’ and can be characterized by attempts to control, power-plays, and manipulation.” — Robert Schiappacasse, essay #1 in ADMINISTRATIVE EXPLORATIONS: Essays on Business Practices within Waldorf Schools (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2000), pp. 6-8.

* According to Waldorf belief, children incarnate three invisible bodies;  Waldorf teachers work to supervise this process. [See “Incarnation”.]

Parents are often pleased that the Waldorf curriculum includes so many Bible stories. They usually do not realize that these stories are twisted out of shape and used to inculcate occult Anthroposophical doctrines. Here is an example: 

“The Old Testament story of Cain and Abel reveals the transition from Lemuria to Atlantis ... Cain and Abel do not represent individuals of that time, but rather, they represent humanity at the beginning of Atlantis. Cain, the first born son of Adam and Eve, is the last born of the Lemurian age and the first born of the Atlantean age ... As Cain’s heritage is from before the Fall, he is not aware of the difference between good and evil, but as the world begins to absorb the contrast of good and evil, Cain become capable of doing evil, and ‘Cain attacked his brother Abel and murdered him’ (Gen. 4:8).” — EveLynn B. Debusschere, THE REVELATION OF EVOLUTIONARY EVENTS (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1997), pp. 22-24. 

 ◊ Anthroposophists believe that before the current epoch, humans lived on two lost continents, first Lemuria and then Atlantis.
 ◊ In Waldorf belief, many of the individuals in the Bible are actually composite portraits of humanity at various stages of spiritual evolution. 

 ◊ Quoting the Bible, the author tries to make her extremely unbiblical narrative seem consistent with orthodox teachings. 

 ◊ Steiner taught that the general trend of evolution is toward spiritual betterment, but he also said that the universe teems with evil beings and even evil gods.

“[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. II (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 251. 

The freedom that Anthroposophy claims to foster actually boils down to just one choice: choosing between good and evil.

Atlantis, Lemuria, evolution, multiple gods — this is not the Bible that Jews and Christians revere and that Muslims acknowledge.

Here is a "Bible story" of the kind used in Waldorf schools to inculcate Anthroposophical doctrines.

"[A]n angel of God led Adam into a cave. The angel showed Adam a book in which the seventy-two Signs of Light were written. All the wisdom of the world was written in the book. The angel taught Adam to read the signs in the book and said, 'Before you die, you must give this book to a man whose soul is filled with the light of God, so that the wisdom of the angels may continue to shine on earth' ... The Book of Life was not written on parchment; it was Light written in Light." — Jakob Streit, AND THERE WAS LIGHT (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2006), p. 45.

 ◊ In the Book of Revelation, the "Book of Life" is the record kept by God, listing the names of the saved. Some references to such a book may also be inferred from passages in the Old Testament. But the book in this story is different. This Book contains "all the wisdom of the world," and it is "Light written in Light." (In Waldorf belief, there is a transcendent encyclopedia of all knowledge written on a akasha, a universal light or ether. This Book is the Akashic Record, and it can be read by great clairvoyants such as Rudolf Steiner. See "Akasha".) 

 ◊ The story tells of the Book being passed on to a successor of Adam, a man who has divine wisdom. This savant would be an Initiate, a wise leader who possesses spiritual knowledge hidden from others. Anthroposophy is built on the belief in initiation. Rudolf Steiner is viewed as one of the greatest initiates. [See "Guru".] 

 ◊ In Anthroposophy (a word meaning human wisdom), wisdom is all-important. As a gnostic faith, Anthroposophy teaches that salvation comes not through faith or good works (even though these are important), but through the possession of secret divine wisdom. Here, children are told of "the wisdom of the angels" which must be preserved and spread among men. [See "Gnosis".]
 ◊ The wondrous book contains "signs." Waldorf belief contains many references to mystic signs and runes. One Steiner text is called OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS. Here, Waldorf students are introduced to such ideas. [See "Signs".]
 ◊ Seventy-two is a magical number, in Waldorf belief. Steiner taught that there are 72 planetary gods,* and the average human life is 72 years, and we breathe about 72 times a minute, and so forth — so everything makes sense, in an occult way.  And these are the sort of lessons Waldorf schools instill through unbiblical "Bible" stories.

* Steiner attributed this tenet to Iamblichus. See the lecture "Spiritual Wisdom in the Early Christian Centuries", GA 213.

According to the Steiner belief system, elemental beings or nature spirits — creatures such a gnomes and fairies — really exist. These invisible sprites receive nourishment from the kindly thoughts of the human beings who believe in them. 

“But for centuries elemental beings have been receiving less and less ... Human beings [today] neglect them with the consequence that they turn to another world, the realm of death ruled by [the demon] Ahriman ... Human beings [must] once again give them what they need. Then they will be able to help human beings again. This fact is of such importance that Rudolf Steiner spoke of it ... [Homemaking is] especially well suited to what the elemental beings seek ... Cleaning vegetables is not exactly a popular activity. Yet just this leads one directly into the elemental world. If a carrot is scraped and rubbed, a potato peeled or washed, elemental beings are freed.” — Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, THE SPIRITUAL TASKS OF THE HOMEMAKER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 37-39.

“An awareness of reincarnation and karma is essential if Christianity is to be alive in the present and future. Even everyday practical life and our social contacts become at one and the same time decidedly more ‘Christian’ and more ‘human’ if we have not only a theoretical knowledge of reincarnation and karma but our heart forces live with it.” — Pietro Archiati, REINCARNATION IN MODERN LIFE (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1997), p. vii.

Reincarnation and karma are essential components of Rudolf Steiner's revised form of gnostic Christianity. But these concepts violate the central orthodox Christian doctrine that we live one life on Earth after which we go to our reward or punishment. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is our Savior; in Anthroposophy, Christ is our Prototype who showed us the sort of human being we should evolve to become. Eventually, we can become Christ’s equal, Steiner taught. From a mainstream Christian perspective, this is heresy. The Biblical Christ is one of the three Persons of God Almighty — He stands infinitely above us. Anthroposophists believe that we can rise to Christ’s level — and even higher. Looking far into the future, Steiner pronounced the ultimate heresy:

“[W]e shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.’” — Rudolf Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17.

SteinerBooks is the most authoritative American publisher of works by Rudolf Steiner and his followers. If you want to sample the sort of thinking that lies behind Waldorf education, the SteinerBooks catalog is a useful tool. The following is excerpted from the description of one SteinerBooks offering published in 2005:

“THE SEER'S HANDBOOK, A Guide to Higher Perception, [by] Dennis Klocek ... A seer ‘sees’ more than meets the eye, using the eyes of the soul [1] ... In this practical and accessible guidebook, Dennis Klocek, building on the alchemical tradition and the Western path of initiation developed by Rudolf Steiner, shows how the soul’s latent ability can be awakened ... Dennis Klocek is a ‘Renaissance man’ — artist, scientist, teacher, researcher, gardener, and alchemist ... [H]is love for the work of Rudolf Steiner took him to Rudolf Steiner College [2] in Sacramento, California, where he has been the director of their Consciousness Studies Program ... He is the author of BIO-DYNAMIC BOOK OF MOONS ....”  — SteinerBooks,

[1] I.e., clairvoyance.

[2] A Waldorf teacher-training institution.

Waldorf schools emphasize myths, legends, and fairy tales. This can seem sweet — or at least quaint. But you may be surprised to learn what Waldorf teachers have in mind. They think the stories they tell their young charges are true, at a spiritual level; they think Anthroposophical truths lie within. Here, for instance, is a Waldorf teacher discussing "Hansel and Gretel.” He finds multiple Steinerish concepts in the story. He does not aim to teach young kids these concepts, overtly. But he would like to plant seeds in the children’s souls. He would nudge them to feel and dream as he and his Waldorf colleagues do — he would start the kids down the path toward Rudolf Steiner’s embrace. 

“The story portrays spirit and soul descending into a physical body and ascending again, enriched, to the spiritual world ... The story could also be looked upon as an initiation process. Soul and spirit are engaged in developing higher organs ... Yet another interpretation would be to consider the story as one of human evolution. With the expulsion from Paradise the human being enters the material world. Through his experiences he regains the faculty of spiritual perception in a new way and regains his spiritual home enriched.” — Roy Wilkinson, THE INTERPRETATION OF FAIRY TALES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1984). 

 ◊ Anthroposophists believe that we have both spirits and souls. 

 ◊ As possessors of both spirits and souls, we descended to life on Earth from spiritual worlds, and we will ascend again. 

 ◊ Initiation — the process of gaining access to hidden spiritual knowledge — is near the heart of Anthroposophy. [See “Inside Scoop”.] 

 ◊ “Higher organs” are nonphysical, invisible organs, predominantly organs of clairvoyance. (“[O]rgans of clairvoyance build themselves...” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.) 

 ◊ Evolution is another central concept in Anthroposophy — we have evolved from Old Saturn and are on our way to Future Vulcan. We lost “paradise” by coming to Earth (a sadly material place), but we will move on. [See “Matters of Form”.] 

 ◊ The “faculty of spiritual perception” is clairvoyance. Ancient people had it; we tend not to have it now — but we can regain it, in an improved form, by following Anthroposophy.

Such are some of Waldorf beliefs hidden below the charming surface of “Hansel and Gretel” — according to Waldorf belief.

Historically, Waldorf faculties have hesitated to engage in public relations, seeing PR as a descent into the corruption that infests the world beyond Waldorf's walls. A book issued by a Waldorf teacher-training institution helped change this, slightly. HANDLING PUBLIC RELATIONS argues reassuringly that PR efforts do not necessarily damage the soul. And besides, the book says, we need money, and PR will help us get it.

"[T]he process of relating to the public has a spiritual side to it ... While many [Waldorf] schools are experiencing unparalleled growth, others suffer increasing overhead costs with the same number of students or even a decrease in enrollment. Tuition income is never sufficient to cover full operating and scholarship expenses  ... Fundraising activity has become a strenuous way of life for many Waldorf schools ... [I]t may happen that a school slowly begins to isolate itself from the local community. It may see itself, and rightly so, as a cultural haven in a disturbingly hostile world ... [S]ome institutions may not be able to maintain this posture for long unless there is a well-established, built-in community support system ... The connections between the 'inner' and 'outer' work [of a school] are like the ever-changing surfaces of a lemniscate*: a mutually supportive modulation between inner and outer with each surface complementing the other." — Werner Glas and Cornelius Pietzner, HANDLING PUBLIC RELATIONS - A Guide for Waldorf Schools and Other Organizations (Sunbridge College Press, 1984), pp. 3-6.

Today the Waldorf movement is served by aggressive PR and money-raising efforts involving print, audio, video, online, and live presentations that are often quite alluring, especially to audiences unacquainted with the real agenda of the schools.

* Lemniscates (figure eights) appear often in Anthroposophical literature, representing the interchange of forces between the high and the low, the celestial and the mundane, the living and the dead.

Here's another example of a Waldorf teacher twisting a Bible story — Abraham and the ram — to find Anthroposophical tenets in it: 

"[T]he earth comes under the influence of a particular sign of the Zodiac every 2160 years. This period marks the duration of a cultural epoch ... The new age of Aries, the ram, began in 747 B.C. ... Abraham saw the ram, i.e. he looked forward to the new age; but the ram's horns were caught in a thicket. Horns are symbols for two centers in the head connected with clairvoyance. When the ram is sacrificed, it means that in the new era men will no longer have the faculty of clairvoyance." — Roy Wilkinson, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2001), p. 35.

 ◊ Once again, in Anthroposophical discourse, astrology is imposed on the Bible: the zodiac, the age of Aries, implicitly the sign of the ram... 

 ◊ Steiner claimed that ancient people had natural clairvoyance: This is what allowed them to create "true" myths, fairy tales, and Old Testament stories. But later people evolved to a condition in which most clairvoyant powers have been lost. Fortunately, however, Steiner himself employed "exact clairvoyance" to learn deep spiritual truths, such as the real meaning of the stories in the Bible. 

 ◊ In Waldorf belief, a "cultural epoch" is a period lasting about two millennia — the length of time when a particular sign of the zodiac has its greatest influence. There are also "great epochs" that are much longer. [See "Epochs".] As Wilkinson indicates, the stages of our evolution are closely connected to the astrological powers of the stars. Or so Anthroposophists believe.

The sort of "logic" found in Anthroposophy is reflected here. The Bible includes a story about a ram. There's an astrological sign called the ram. Therefore, the Bible story must be about our evolution through astrologically influenced stages. 

No rational or mainstream theologian thinks in these terms. (For more about the sort of "thinking" encouraged in Waldorf schools, see "Thinking Cap". For the use of clairvoyance by Waldorf faculty, see "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".)

“The teacher of the physical sciences in the Rudolf Steiner school is faced with a formidable task. He cannot morally be present in the school and teach unless he has absorbed, understood, and is in agreement with Rudolf Steiner’s basic conception of the world ... Material science and explanations cannot explain nature.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, TEACHING PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1997), p. 1.

The physics and chemistry teachers at Waldorf schools face “a formidable task” because they must be true to Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, but these teachings are at odds with the findings of modern science. Steiner himself disparaged scientists and modern science, including physics and chemistry. [See "Science".] Thus, science teachers at Waldorf schools confront a daily dilemma. If they teach their sciences straight, they violate Steiner’s doctrines. But if they are faithful to Steiner, they must violate the established truths of their sciences.

How they resolve this dilemma varies from school to school and teacher to teacher. The main points for us to grasp here are that the dilemma exists, and usually science loses out. Waldorf teachers must bend modern scientific knowledge to one degree or another, since they cannot “morally be present in the school” unless they are devoted followers of Rudolf Steiner — they must be “in agreement with Rudolf Steiner’s basic conception of the world” (or, as Steiner put it, they must be “true Anthroposophists”).* Therefore, “morally,” they must misrepresent the truth about physical reality; they must be false to science in order to be true to Steiner. Inevitably, the education of their students must suffer as a result. To the degree that scientific truths are shaded to conform to Anthroposophical doctrines, students are taught Anthroposophy, not science. [See "Steiner's 'Science'".]

As teachers in the Waldorf School, you will need to find your way more deeply into the insight of the spirit and to find a way of putting all compromises aside ... As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495. 

The formidable task of Waldorf science teachers is doubly illuminated by this directive. Waldorf teachers must not compromise, yet if a science teacher provides students with any real scientific information that contradicts Steiner's teachings, s/he has made a profound, soul-wrenching compromise. Steiner did not deny that science contains much accurate information about the physical universe, but he said that such information is, at best, only half-true, since it leaves out everything that is important: spiritual truth. Moreover, he often denied that scientific descriptions of the reality are true even at the merely physical level. He indicated, for instance, that physicists have never yet spoken sensibly. 

"If physicists were for once to talk sense, they would not produce speculations about atoms and molecules.” — Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935), part 2, lecture 1, GA 291.

Stalking Horses, Front Organizations, the Vanguard

To conclude this page, let's hear from Rudolf Steiner himself
and briefly consider some of the present-day implications of the following statement:

"Nothing that is contained in our social problems will ever be solved until science becomes spiritual again. This can happen only when science is prepared to look for the spiritual element in every single thing — whether it be a potato or a comet." —  Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 220.

This is Steiner's basic proposition: Modern, "materialistic" science is faulty. Only "spiritual science" — i.e., his own teachings, based on his claimed use of clairvoyance — can yield the higher truth, which is that everything physical is a manifestation of supernatural beings: gods, nature spirits, and demons. This is the fundamental lesson that Waldorf faculties try to convey to their students — usually subtly, often indirectly, but almost always with a mystical sensibility. And the goal is, in part, political: to solve "our social problems." Anthroposophists want to remake all human institutions in accordance with "spiritual science." Waldorf schools serve as the vanguard for this revolutionary effort.

Governments that lend state support to the Waldorf movement — as in the UK today — may be severely distressed if the efforts of the Waldorf movement take wider effect. Bear in mind, in addition to creating a new form of education, Steiner prescribed "reforms" of science, religion, the arts, agriculture, medicine, government — in effect, all spheres of human activity.  The likelihood that the Waldorf movement will reach all of its aims is extremely remote. Nonetheless, we should understand those aims and think carefully before taking actions that promote them.

For yet more contemporary statements 
by the followers of Rudolf Steiner,
see "Today 3".

For a list of published works and statements 
by Anthroposophists other than Steiner himself,
with an emphasis of beliefs embraced 
by Anthroposophists today,
see "Others".

I often generalize about Waldorf schools. 
There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; 
I describe the schools based on the evidence concerning 
their structure and operations 
in the past and — more importantly — in the present. 
But not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, 
and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. 
To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes, 
its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), 
and the composition of its faculty. 

— R. R.

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


Bringing the inquiry up to date: What goes on inside Waldorf schools today?

Waldorf schools in the 21st Century



What they're reading

What they're saying (cont.)

Readings (2018...)

More, and more, and...
A brief look at the purposes of Waldorf schooling

A brief summary of Rudolf Steiner’s doctrines and teachings

A guide for students and parents

Steiner's theory of everything

Some of the things you aren’t supposed to know

To survive or not, to teach or not


Debating and evaluating Waldorf education

News about Waldorf schools

The Watch in Waldorf Watch (Cont.)

NEWS 3    
Watching (Cont., Cont.)

[R.R., 2014]