• “[T]he old, real, and genuine Astrology
expresses itself in the destinies of men.”
— Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIANISM AND MODERN INITIATION
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), lecture 3, GA 233a.
• "The fixed stars work in the human being,
the moving planets work in the human being...."
— Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION
(Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 84.
• "It's a very common practice for Waldorf teachers to do
an astrological chart on incoming students."
— Middlearthmama, Mothering.com
On several occasions during faculty meetings at the first Waldorf school, Rudolf Steiner discussed astrological subjects. These were not abstract, academic discussions. Steiner was expressing his astrological beliefs. Such beliefs lie behind many practices at Waldorf schools.
Here are the passages recording Steiner’s statements. Boldly, the editors of FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), list these passages under the index heading “astrology”.
In the first passage, Steiner links “temperament” to astrological sign. This is revealing. Waldorf teachers categorize their students according to the antiquated and wholly discredited system of “temperaments” that were once believed to be caused by “bodily humours”. [See “Humoresque”. and "Temperaments".] Here we see that the irrationality of this approach is heightened by the ties Waldorf faculty trace between temperament and the influence of the stars.
In the second passage, Steiner’s wife Marie recommends her husband’s lecture "The Twelve Moods" to Waldorf teachers. Steiner himself then explicitly links the book to astrology. (Indeed, in the book, Steiner claims that there are twelve identifiable human moods, each of which can be identified by one of the twelve astrological signs. He did this with all sorts of phenomena, breaking them into groups of twelve for the signs of the zodiac or into groups of seven for the seven “sacred planets”.) Note that Steiner offers this as something Waldorf teachers “can use” in teaching various subjects.
Next we find Steiner stating one of his more bizarre clairvoyant “insights”: that the continents float and are held in place by the power of the stars. Indeed, Steiner often taught — and Waldorf teachers believe — that the stars, constellations, and planets exert enormous forces upon the Earth, forces that science cannot detect but that clairvoyants such as Steiner recognize.
Steiner also told Waldorf school teachers to discuss the zodiac with their students. This might be harmless, if we were sure that Waldorf teachers do not believe in the astrological powers of the zodiac. But because we know just the opposite — that they do believe in astrological powers — red flags begin to wave. Thus, true-blue Waldorf faculty will teach the students not about ancient superstition that should be repudiated, by about ancient superstition that they embrace as truth.
In particular, Steiner told Waldorf teachers to lay out the astrological signs appropriate for each type of animal. There is no reason for doing this except that Steiner and his followers believe that the stars literally influence and even control various animals.
A few paragraphs later, Steiner returns to his astrological theme. Note that he explicitly states his doctrine that the forces of the zodiac are projected onto the Earth. And he tells the Waldorf teachers that globes showing the connections between the zodiac and the Earth will provide what they need to teach “animal geography” properly.
The Waldorf take of astrology shows up in other Waldorf books besides FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER. In the following passage, for instance, we find Steiner speaking about the “spiritual forces” that stream down from the Sun. This is the central concept of astrology, that celestial objects project spiritual powers onto the Earth. The book in question here is ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997). Yes, the Sun's rays come down to the Earth. But do these rays include astrological, "spiritual" components? How can we know? How could Steiner know? He couldn't. But he insisted that he could. But let that go. Let's say that he could know and did know. The only point we need to consider at this moment is whether you agree with him and want to elect people who agree with him to be your children's teachers. What Steiner is saying here is that the Sun sends magical astrological influences to the Earth and this is important in the growth of plants. Do you agree?
Next, in THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), we overhear Steiner speaking again about the powers flowing down from above. Part of what he says makes sense, or nearly so. The Sun certainly does send down energy that affects life on Earth. But the Moon? And the stars? Note that Steiner speaks of “Moon forces” and he says that the stars “are at work in the plant.” This is nonsense, and doubly so because he is not speaking of physical forces but astrological ones.
Note that whereas, above, Steiner said that science is at least partly right, here he tells us that science is really just about totally wrong. He rejects real science — such as astronomy — and offers his occult teachings in their place. Our liberation, he says — our passport into the "distant spaces of the cosmos" — depends on our acceptance of occultism (such as is provided by a certain R. Steiner) and our repudiation of the foolish rational system called science. Astronomy has "lost sight of our relationship to the universe." But R. Steiner's version of astrology has not.
(P.S. Steiner revered Goethe. Sort of. But even Goethe was wrong about many things, according to Steiner. If you want the real truth about anything, you need to apply to the one unassailable source: R. Steiner. Or so R. Steiner said.)
The following is a passage from DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 1997). The person heading the discussions is, of course, Rudolf Steiner. Here, he indicates that “astronomical conditions” are important in the study of geography. (Remember, the stars hold the continents in place.) By implication, he also indicates that the stars affect human beings and human ethnic groups. (In plain language, this means races.)
The "spiritual and cultural circumstances of Earth’s inhabitants" is directly related to "astronomical conditions" — or, in a word, astrology.
Steiner repeatedly taught that various human races are under the influence of astrological forces. For instance,
The stars influence human history and the inner condition of human experience, Steiner taught.
The belief in "things coming from the stars that have a spiritual effect upon world history and upon the depths of the human heart" is, in a word, astrology.
The lines of influence run both ways, Steiner said. The stars affect us and we affect them.
Steiner found value and inspiration in the study of astrological influences, and he said that Waldorf students will find similar value and inspiration. He put a positive spin on his astrology, in other words. Yet it remained astrology.
Waldorf astrology is part and parcel of the Waldorf belief that there are deep spiritual ties between humanity and all of the surrounding universe. This is a highly appealing idea. Nonetheless, we should not close our eyes to the fact that, in Steiner's formulation, the idea entails astrology.
The stars work in us. The planets work in us. This is, in a word, astrology.
These are doctrines that Rudolf Steiner propounded and that his followers — many of whom teach in Waldorf schools — embrace. Whether astrology surfaces in a Waldorf class depends on the specific Waldorf teacher and school in question. But astrological beliefs undeniably lurk below the surface (and sometimes just barely below the surface) of Waldorf pedagogy.
For more on these matters,
— Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, GA 317.
Here are passages from other Anthroposophical texts
bearing on Waldorf astrology.
— Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 43-44.
— Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 47.
— Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings Publishing, 2009), p. 12.
* Horoscopes or astrological charts are rarely displayed openly in Waldorf schools, but many Waldorf beliefs involve astrological powers.
— Waldorf teacher-trainer Cynthia Hoven, EURYTHMY (HeartSong Press, 2012), pp. 29-30.
— Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 95.
* According to Waldorf belief, humans travel to the planetary spheres when the physical body is asleep and after the physical body dies. [See, e.g., "Higher Worlds".] Here, a Waldorf teacher explains that children have different "soul types" depending on which planetary spheres they have stayed in longest.
— Anthroposophist David B. Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981), pp. 31-32.*
* Rudolf Steiner College is a Waldorf teacher-training institution.
— Steiner disciple Robert Powell, PROPHECY - PHENOMENA - HOPE (Lindisfarne Books, 2011), p. 13.
*Steiner taught that our soul types are largely determined by the planets, but reincarnation and karma are linked to the stars. Here, an Anthroposophist discusses the use of horoscopes to learn about patterns of reincarnation.
— Anthroposophist Margaret Jonas, introduction to ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), pp. 2-3.
Do Waldorf teachers ever draw up horoscopes of their students?
Considering the beliefs reflected in the passages we have seen,
it seems inevitable in at least some instances.
It is not, however, something Waldorf teachers generally admit in public.
Waldorf teachers are practiced in maintaining their secrets.
So do they or don't they?
It seems inevitable in at least some instances.
Online chats are not the most reliable sources of knowledge.
Still, the following is interesting.
It is from a discussion at Mothering
Q. “I’m just curious. I noticed that the waldorf school application form asks for my child's city of birth. I'm trying to figure out how that's pertinant info for an application form, and the only reason i could think of is that the teachers might want to plot a birth chart. They didnt ask for time of birth, but you can get a fairly accurate chart without it.” — Moss
A1. “I'm sure they are not planning to do an astrological chart for your child. Can't think why the city of birth would be wanted though….” — Deborah
A2. “It's a very common practice for Waldorf teachers to do an astrological chart on incoming students... one was done on our child as part of the admissions process for a Waldorf school here in So Cal... not sure if all do it or if they admit readily to it, but I asked if that's what it was for and the lead teacher said 'it's a bit more complicated than that, but yes...'
"Did they ask for details about your child's birth? I had a very traumatic labor/delivery followed by time in the NICU and I could tell this was a concern for them... course we're not enrolling there anyway, but it's not quite true to say anyone's SURE they're not doing a chart on her child... many [Waldorf] schools do…” — Middlearthmama
Discussing something doesn't necessarily mean affirming it.
But Anthroposophical discussions of astrology generally are affirmative.
Steiner taught that the planets and stars exert astrological influences on Earthly affairs.
Instead of renouncing astrology as nonsense,
Steiner affirmed it, adjusting it only in minor ways,
such as by revising the zodiacal symbols.
Here are four of his revisions:
[R.R. sketches, 2009-2010, based on images in
Rudolf Steiner, CALENDAR 1912-1913,
If you'd like to explore Steiner's views on the celestial spheres, this would be a good place to start. Within the covers of this book, you will find such gems as "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." — Rudolf Steiner, ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 126.
Science (as, for instance, astronomy) is almost always wrong, according to Steiner. But pseudoscience (as, for instance, astrology) met with his approval. And this is what you will find in or behind Waldorf schools, today. Occultism.
(Please note: Steiner made his silly statements long ago. But Steiner's followers still affirm them. This book was published in 2009.)
For some additional glimpses of Waldorf links to astrology,
see "Ex-Teacher 4".
The author is a former Waldorf teacher.
“[In college] I chose to study psychology and astrology ... [Later] 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 [left] to teach Special Education on the Pine Ridge [Amerindian] 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 ... [Then] 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.
Why do horoscopes work?
Because at the moment of a child's birth,
the stars leave an imprint on the child's brain —
an imprint reflecting the stars' unique positions
at that moment.
"[I]n the same moment the cosmos leaves a permanent image of itself imprinted on the brain ... Rudolf Steiner speaks of this ... 'The human being has within himself an image of the heavens and each has a different one, depending on the time and place of birth.'" — Elizabeth Vreede, ANTHROPOSOPHY AND ASTROLOGY (SteinerBooks, 2001), pp. 189-190.
"[T]he karma of the preceding life expresses itself in the horoscope, in that it becomes forces that induce a human being to be born. And equally true is what Rudolf Steiner stated ... 'In that human beings let themselves be born, they find themselves at home on Earth according to their individual constellation of the stars.'" — Ibid., p. 198.
"[A]strology is a highly sophisticated occult science
predictive in many areas."
— THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL
(Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 17.
The zodiac as displayed at one Waldorf school:
From “First Grade Overview for Homeschoolers”,
Waldorf Curriculum, 2006
“When the child is coming down from heaven, she passes first through the zodiac and receives her gifts, one of them being the consonants ... This is the anthroposophical belief.” [p. 25]
Leo - T or D
Cancer - F
Gemini - H
Taurus - R
Aries - V
Pisces - N
Aquarious - M
Capricorn - L
Sagitarius - G
Scorpio - S
Libra - K
Virgo - B or P”
MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE CHILD TODAY
Lectures from the
2008 International Waldorf
Early Childhood Conference
Wilton, New Hampshire
Published by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America,
on behalf of the
International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education
In 2008 — during the 21st century, mind — a Waldorf teachers' conference was held to discuss the needs of young children and how Waldorf education can "meet" those needs. A significant portion of the conference consisted of lectures detailing the astrological powers that affect children and their adult caregivers.
Particular emphasis was placed on the four Zodiacal signs that Anthroposophists believe have special meaning for the guidance of young children. The point was to help Waldorf teachers understand the significance of astrological powers for their work in early childhood education.
Children incarnate on Earth through a gradual process, Anthroposophists believe. [See "Incarnation".] Helping children to incarnate properly is often conceived to be a central task for Waldorf teachers. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer".] At the conference, wisdom such as this was dispensed:
The astrological lore presented in MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE CHILD TODAY is fascinating, particularly because teachers working in the 21st century are asked to accept it. Very few teachers anywhere except in Waldorf schools would accept any of it, but Waldorf teachers are expected to accept all of it. Here is a brief sample, the beginning of the section on Aries:
Other astrological signs, including signs that do not bear specifically on incarnation, are given similar treatment. A summary of sorts is offered in these words:
This is astrology as conceived for the use of Waldorf teachers. It is Waldorf astrology. In the 21st century, mind.
“Not only is a birth horoscope significant
but here Rudolf Steiner introduces the
conventionally unfamiliar idea that we can equally study
the horoscope for the moment of a person’s death.....”
— Margaret Jonas, commentary in ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 185.
It seems almost incredible that
a Waldorf teacher might use
a horoscope or offer to
create one for a student,
and yet here is a report from a mother
who sent her child to a Waldorf school
[see "Coming Undone"]:
"Many alarm bells rang during our time there. I remember the intense gaze of the teachers that would continue far longer than was comfortable. There was little laughter, everything was carried out in a very slow and purposeful way with a sing-song voice, the lighting of candles, the wearing of strange hats, their infatuation with wool — I recall a felting session where the teacher spoke of the special energy of the wool, declaring it had come from a biodynamic sheep. I recall the time the teacher took both my hands in hers and explaining my son had 'chosen me as his mother,' on a further occasion she stated he had 'chosen the school' and that children 'get what they need' – ostensibly an innocent cliché until one understands it's particular meaning within Anthroposophy. I also recall politely refusing a teacher's offer, made during a parent and toddler group session, to lend me a copy of [a popular mystical book] and compile an astrological chart based on my son's birth date."
— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings
To visit other pages in the sections of Waldorf Watch
that include "Waldorf Astrology", use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 14. PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER ◊◊◊
Signs of the zodiac as redesigned by Rudolf Steiner
and drawn by Imma von Eckhardstein:
Starting at the upper left, we find
Pisces, Aries, Taurus,
Gemini, Cancer, Leo,
Virgo, Libra, Scorpio,
Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius.
[Rudolf Steiner, CALENDAR 1912-1913
These images were created to accompany
meditative verses written by Rudolf Steiner.
Anthroposophists today still use these meditations,
known collectively as the Calendar of the Soul.