In evaluating Waldorf education and Anthroposophy, we should primarily consider statements made by Rudolf Steiner. Steiner created the Waldorf and Anthroposophical movements. His words hold the keys.

But it is important to realize that Steiner's followers — including leading Waldorf educators — say and believe much the same today as Steiner said and evidently believed nearly a century ago. Bizarre, occult beliefs continue to animate Waldorf education and Anthroposophy now, in the 21st century.

Herewith, then, is a sampling of statements made by Waldorf educators, Waldorf proponents, and Anthroposophists aside from Rudolf Steiner himself.

I've included non-occult footnotes. These are not eye-popping; merely, I trust, eye-opening. (Many of the following quotations appeared on the Waldorf Watch News page as Quotes of the Day. The footnotes for these quotations are sometimes extensive, written as they were for the aid of newcomers who might have little or no previous knowledge of Anthroposophical beliefs.)

So as not to stack the deck, I have made only minimal efforts to organize the quotes. I've just let the Waldorf representatives and Anthroposophists have their say. I have, however, added some explanatory notes, primarily for the benefit of readers who are not yet well acquainted with Waldorf beliefs and practices.

Some of the sources from which I drew are now several years or even decades old, but all of them remain widely available and consulted in the Waldorf universe.

"[T]he purpose of education is to help the individual fulfill his karma. [1] The teacher is an intermediary and his task is to guide the incarnating individualities [i.e., children] into the physical world and equip them for earthly existence, bearing in mind what they bring with them from the past [2] 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.

[1] See  "Karma".

[2] This is a reference to reincarnation. In Waldorf belief, we are born and reborn many times, creating and enacting our individual karmas. [See "Reincarnation".]

“Must teachers be clairvoyant [1] in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way?  ... The teacher's faculty [of clairvoyance] must be cultivated and brought to a stage of conscious awareness on the part of the teacher.” — Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000), p. 17. [2]

[1] True-belieiving Anthroposophical teachers who are members of Waldorf faculties seek to develop clairvoyance, and they base many of their decisions and actions on their "clairvoyant" readings of their students. [See, e.g., "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

[2] (“Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? Clairvoyance is needed...." — Eugene Schwartz, THE MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 157.)

"Core Principal 7   Spiritual Orientation

"In order to cultivate the imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions [1] needed for their work, Rudolf Steiner gave [Waldorf] teachers an abundance of guidance for developing an inner, meditative life [2]. This guidance includes individual professional meditations [3] and an imagination [4] of the circle of teachers forming an organ of spiritual perception [5]." — Pedagogical Section Council of North America, THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), p. 12.

[1] Waldorf education stresses the development of imagination, inspiration, and intuition — and the products of these capacities — among Waldorf students and also among Waldorf teachers. In Anthroposophical belief, imagination, inspiration, and intuition are precursors to — or stages of — clairvoyance. [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] Although its spokespeople almost always deny it, Waldorf education is essentially religious. [See "Schools as Churches".] Waldorf teachers are expected to have, or develop, a "spiritual orientation" that includes "an inner, meditative life." Steiner said that Waldorf teachers should function, effectively, as priests. "[A] teacher’s calling becomes a priestly calling, since an educator becomes a steward who accomplishes the will of the gods in a human being." — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XX (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 9. The religion of Waldorf teacher-priests is Anthroposophy. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] See "Power Words", "Breathing Spirit", and "Teacher Training".

[4] As used in Anthroposophical discourse, "an imagination" is a true mental picture created through clairvoyance or through a precursor to clairvoyance. [See "imaginations" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

[5] "Spiritual perception" is clairvoyance. Steiner taught his followers to believe they can develop non-physical "organs of clairvoyance," the use of which will enable them to perceive the spirit realm clearly and accurately. "[J]ust as natural forces build the eyes and ears of the physical body out of living substance, so will the organs of clairvoyance be built out of...feelings and thoughts...." — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS - How Is It Achieved? (Anthroposophic Press, 2004, reprinted 2009), pp. 47-48. Waldorf teachers may develop organs of clairvoyance as individuals and also as a group (as a "circle of teachers"). So Anthroposophy teaches, anyway. [See, e.g., "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

“[Anthroposophist René] Querido [1] warned in his talks that parents should be aware of one basic tenet of Waldorf: although not tied to one particular church, it is essentially spiritual. ‘Education itself is a religious experience in the deepest and broadest sense of the word. There is a connection with the divine creative forces.’ [2]” — Ida Oberman in THE WALDORF MOVEMENT IN EDUCATION (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008), p. 254.

[1] Querido was head of Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College. The religion at the core of Waldorf schooling is Anthroposophy. It is a strange faith, one doctrine of which is that actually Anthroposophy is a science — "spiritual science" — and not a religion. But by any normal standards of judgment, Anthroposophy quite clearly is a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] 

[2] Despite denials, Waldorf schools actually do have close ties to one church: the Christian Community, an overly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy. [See "Waldorf Worship".]

"Waldorf schools deserve a great deal of recognition for the courage they show in pursuing their own paths and swimming against the flow ... They are, after all, the only type of school that seeks to realize Steiner's art of education [1] ... They are on the move; and those who take their own steps are less likely to be compelled in directions dictated by others [2] ... These schools vary greatly from country to country [2], and must adapt to different government requirements [4]...." — Waldorf teacher Christof Wiechert, THE WALDORF SCHOOL - An Introduction (Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2016), pp. 119-120.

[1] The courage of Waldorf schools resides principally in their devotion to Rudolf Steiner's vision, Anthroposophy. These schools differ from all others chiefly because they embrace Steiner's mystical beliefs. The "art of education" inaugurated by Steiner is essentially the effort to runs schools in a way that is consistent with Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Here's the Answer".]

[2] Waldorf schools do largely resist the directives issued by outsiders such as governmental education authorities. The schools are fundamentally insurgent institutions whose ultimate purpose is to spread Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Serving the Gods" and "Mission".]

[3] Actually, Waldorf schools are much the same everywhere. They must be, so long as they remain true to Anthroposophy. Variations within the Waldorf movement tend to be small. [See, e.g., "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs".]

[4] This contradicts the claim that Waldorf schools courageously go their own way. If Waldorf schools "adapt" to "government requirements," they may cease to be real Waldorf schools. But Waldorf teacher-training programs generally strive to ensure that Waldorf faculties remain true to Anthroposophy. [See "Teacher Training".]

"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 [1], but it cannot avoid questions of higher forms of cognition [i.e., clairvoyance], of the reality of the human soul and spirit, of life beyond the bodily, of spiritual beings above and below humanity [2], of a spiritual concept of the evolution of the kingdoms of nature, of destiny [3], and of God.” — Waldorf educator John F. Gardner, EDUCATION IN SEARCH OF THE SPIRIT (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 154-155.

[1] Anthroposophists often refrain from attending church services (except in Christian Community churches). But they are, in fact, members of a sect: Anthroposophy itself. Arguably, the "churches" of this sect are Waldorf schools. [See "Schools as Churches".]

[2] I.e., gods, demons, and nature spirits.

[3] i.e., karma.

“Christ, the Sun God [1], who was known by earlier peoples under such names as Ahura Mazda, Hu, or Balder, has now united himself with the earth. [2]" — Margaret Jonas, in the introduction to RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 4-5. 

[1] According to Anthroposophical belief, Christ is one of a vast panoply of gods. Christ is particularly important to humanity, Steiner taught, because He left the Sun and came to Earth in order to help guide our evolution. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".]

[2] According to Anthroposophical belief, the second coming of Christ has already occurred: Christ can be found now in the etheric sphere surrounding the Earth. [See the entry for "Second Coming of Christ" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

“If approximately between the ages of seven and fourteen the child is not introduced in a living way to the Christ, along the lines of the Waldorf curriculum [1], in later life the youngster is more likely to either deny Christ or to hold onto a traditional faith. [2]” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 36.

[1] The Waldorf curriculum is expressly intended to introduce children to the Sun God. 

[2] Anthroposophists believe that only they have a true, "living" comprehension of Christ; they deny that mainstream Christian churches have such an understanding. Indeed, the "traditional" faiths that Anthroposophy seeks to supplant include mainstream Christianity.

Ahriman - a divine bring [1] whose name originated in the Ancient Persian cultural period, the opponent of Ahura Mazda, the Persian Sun God [2]. According to Rudolf Steiner…Ahriman is the chief cause of all processes that hard and materialize what were initially spiritual realities … These hardening processes are essential to life on earth [3] … [But] Ahriman tries to harden all substances, even in places where these substances should remain supple or fluid [4] … Ahriman…must be kept in his rightful place, for otherwise he causes great harm. The essential balance between Ahriman on the one hand, and Lucifer on the other [5], is held by Christ, as depicted by Rudolf Steiner in his wooden sculpture ‘The Representative of Humanity’ [6]….” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 4.

[1] I.e., a god; specifically, a perverse or oppositional god, an arch-demon. [See “Ahriman”.] 

[2] According to Steiner, Christ is the true Sun God. “[T]he highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, [appears to us as] the Christ.” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100. Steiner said Ahura Mazda is Christ as perceived, imperfectly, in the Zoroastrian religion. [See “Zoroastrianism”.]

[3] As understood in Anthroposophy, Ahriman has played a useful role, enabling the physical universe to materialize.

[4] Ahriman’s actions become evil when they go too far, reducing spiritual realities to hardened, physical or unspiritual (dead) materialization. If he could, Ahriman would kill all spirituality. Steiner said this is perhaps the greatest danger facing humanity now. “The human being is [today] in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls to materialistic impulses." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.

[5] In Anthrposophical belief, Lucifer is another arch-demon; he is Ahriman’s partner and rival. Ahriman would lure us into deep materialism; Lucifer would lure us into false forms of spirituality. Christ, the Sun God, protects us by standing between, and counterbalancing, Ahriman and Lucifer. (Both of the arch-demons want to lure us into their own realms. Steiner spoke of the “Ahrimanic world;” he also spoke of Lucifer’s intended “planet”: “Lucifer wants to take men's souls away and found a planet with them of his own. Ahriman has to help him. While Lucifer sucks the juice out of the lemon, as it were, Ahriman presses it out, thereby hardening what remains … They have continued their efforts [in the present day]…” — Rudolf Steiner, INNER IMPULSES OF EVOLUTION (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), lecture 2, GA 171. Ahriman and Lucifer might destroy the Earth itself. "If everything were to run without a hitch for Lucifer and Ahriman...Earth-evolution would soon reach a point where Lucifer and Ahriman could succeed in destroying our Earth...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 5, GA 254.)

[6] See “Representative”.

“Each of us [1] is centrally involved in the Michaelic battle [2] against the forces of darkness for the sake of the children and youngsters in our care.” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 13.


[1] I.e., Waldorf teachers.

[2] This is the battle between the archangel Michael and the arch-demon Ahriman, according to Rudolf Steiner's teachings. In Anthroposophical belief, Michael is the archangel of the Sun; he is the warrior-champion of the Sun God. [See, e.g., "Michael" and "Ahriman".]

“A Waldorf school is more than just another independent school that provides a developmental education. It is an organization that seeks to allow the spiritual impulses of our time to manifest on earth in order to transform society ... Steiner described the founding of [the first] Waldorf School as a ceremony within the Cosmic Order ... [T]he founding of every subsequent Waldorf school also has cosmic significance ... [W]e may celebrate the founding of a Waldorf school because it strives to bring the soul-spiritual into the realm of human life.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven”, Research Bulletin, Vol. 16 (Waldorf Research Institute, Fall 2011), pp. 21-24.

“A school class is a destiny community [1] ... A class is not a group of children who have been thrown together arbitrarily. The class forms a social context around a teacher [2] to which the children were led by their life's destiny.” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 45.

[1] That is, students and teacher are bound together by karma. [See "Karma".]

[2] In the Waldorf system, the class teacher is the central spiritual guide for the students. The class forms the "context" for the the teacher. [See the entry for "class teachers" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

“[I]t is through the children that the school exists at all and it is they who have really made the decision to be there. [1]”  — Waldorf teachers Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 2003), p. 112.

[1] In Waldorf belief, children choose their parents, teachers, and classmates before incarnation on Earth. They do this in accordance with their karmas.

"In education parent and teacher are encouraged to make themselves sensitive to karmic differences and to karmic needs [1]. Thereby, we open the way for the young child to become fully capable within the limits of her or his karma, and we endeavor to educate human beings who are capable of fulfilling the plan of creator beings [2], capable of answering the expectations of Michael." — Waldorf teacher Margret Meyerkort, "Working with the Karma of the Young Child", WORKING WITH THE ANGELS (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004), p. 35.

[1] I.e., the different karmas of the students as well as the different needs of the students stemming from their karmas.

[2] The "creator beings" are beneficent gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".] This fact alone helps answer the question whether Anthroposophy is truly Christian. Christianity is, of course, one of the great monotheistic faiths.

“[Acquiring] spiritual perception, enhanced consciousness or knowledge of higher worlds [i.e., clairvoyance]...is the same path that should be followed by every teacher who takes his vocation seriously. [1]” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 115.

[1] Becoming a Waldorf teacher is often all but indistinguishable from becoming an Anthroposophist. [See "Teacher Training".] A central objective for Anthroposophists is using clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. [See "Higher Worlds" and "Knowing the Worlds".] 

“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.

"Anthroposophy as a science is the description of the supersensible world [1] as it appears to expanded consciousness [2]." — Otto Fränkl-Lundborg, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY? (St. George Publications, 1979), p. 27.

[1] I.e., the realm beyond the reach of our ordinary senses: i.e., the spirit realm.

[2] I.e., clairvoyance.

“Rudolf Steiner...saw and addressed himself to the latent possibilities in man of advancing beyond the present-day accepted limits of cognition to awaken [clairvoyant] knowledge of the spiritual worlds ... That means that man himself properly belongs to those higher worlds.” — Waldorf educator Francis Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 6-7.

"The History curriculum for fifth and sixth grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance [1] to the loss of spiritual vision and, with it, the awakening of independent ego awareness and materialism. The teacher is guided to a deeper understanding of the spiritual significance of mythologies and great epics [2], and shows how the ancient world points the way to the future." — Publisher's description, TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1, Wilkinson Waldorf Curriculum Series (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).

[1] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, people in the past had natural powers of clairvoyance. Whether such ideas are taught to Waldorf students varies from school to school and from teacher to teacher. Usually, Anthroposophy informs everything at a Waldorf school but remains more or less hidden — it is enacted, but it is usually not spelled out for students and their parents. [See, e.g., "Secrets".]

[2] Anthroposophy attaches great significance to myths and legends, which Steiner said are true reports of events in the spirit realm. Special emphasis is placed on Norse myths, which are believed to be especially true. “Myths...are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night they were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198. 

"[Even] without reaching the initial stage of clairvoyance, which Steiner calls Imagination...young people's imagination may nevertheless be strengthened ... [R]ight education can have the result that someone who is not at all clairvoyant will nevertheless be inspired through sleep. [1]" — Waldorf headmaster John Fentress Gardner, YOUTH LONGS TO KNOW (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 37-38.

[1] Steiner taught, and his followers till believe, that dreams reveal spiritual insights. Imagination (or clairvoyance) and dreams are far superior to rational thought.

Astrological chart — A map of the soul’s revelation as it unfolds consciousness through the element of time. Higher spiritual beings reveal their influence, in ebb and flow, through the movement of the planets with stars and constellations as backdrop. [1]” — Retired Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings Publishing, 2009), p. 12.

[1] Horoscopes or astrological charts are rarely displayed openly in Waldorf schools, but many Waldorf beliefs involve astrological powers. [See "Horoscopes" and "Astrology".]

"In the Platonic year [1] the 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. [2]" — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2001), p. 35.

[1] I.e., a period of approximately 26,000 regular Earth years.

[2] Bible stories are often taught in Waldorf schools, although the meanings attached to them vary greatly from what one finds in mainstream houses of worship. [See, e.g., "Old Testament".]

"The importance of the change of teeth [1] is mentioned in many of Rudolf Steiner's pedagogical lectures ... [T]he child spends the first six or seven years of life building up the physical body ... The change of teeth indicates that [the child's] growth forces are now freed for learning and the development of new capacities [2]. Rudolf Steiner often refers to four 'births': the physical birth, the birth of the etheric body at the change of teeth, the birth of the astral body at age 14, and the birth of the ego [or 'I'] at age 21 [3]." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 235. 

[1] I.e., the replacement of baby teeth by adult teeth, around age seven.

[2] For this reason, Waldorf schools generally postpone instruction in academic subjects such as reading and arithmetic until the students lose their baby teeth.

[3] The "births" are stages of incarnation. In Waldorf belief, the etheric body, a constellation of growth forces, incarnates when baby teeth fall out; the astral body, a constellation of soul forces, incarnates at puberty; and the "I", one's spiritual individuality, incarnates at the end of childhood. Waldorf education is keyed to these "births."

"Life on earth starts with the birth of the physical body [1] ... From this moment all available life forces from the ether body [2] are busy building up the physical body ... When this building-up process has finished, the life-giving forces of the ether body are partly freed [3] ... From this moment on, the ether body maintains, rather than creates, the physical body ... At about age 14...[t]he astral body [4] is born; the child becomes sexually mature. Rudolf Steiner calls this stage 'earth ripe' [5] ... [A]round the age of 20, the fourth birth takes place: the ego is born [6], also called the entelechy, or person, or individuality [7] ... In this way the four births take place. Each of them must take place at the right moment. However...premature births [8] may cause problem situations in the education process [9]". — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 20-23.

[1] This is the first of four births, Rudolf Steiner taught. Three more births are to come — the incarnations of three additional bodies. [See "Incarnation".]

[2] The second body, the ether or etheric body, is not incarnated until around age 7, but before then it is busy molding the physical body.

[3] The ether body incarnates at this time.

[4] This is the third body, consisting of soul forces.

[5] I.e., the astral body incarnates at the beginning of puberty.

[6] The spiritual ego or "I" is the fourth body; it may also be considered a spark or divinity that confers true selfhood. [See "Ego".]

[7] With the incarnation of the ego, the child becomes — in a sense — a complete human being (a person). But other parts of the human constitution will incarnate later. [See "Our Parts".]

[8] I.e., premature arrival of any of the four bodies.

[9] All of this impinges on Waldorf schooling, as conceived by true-believing Anthroposophists in the Waldorf movement. (But if all of this is codswallop, then the Waldorf movement is severely undercut.)

Four pillars of Waldorf pedagogy: 

"I. [E]ach child recapitulates the cultural epochs [1] of all Mankind ... There is, then, a proper time and method for particular subjects to be taught. 

"II. [R]everence, awe and respect for Earth should be fostered [2]. 

"III. The qualitative, as well as quantitative, in all things should be equally developed. 

"IV. Above all, Man is known as a spiritual as well as a physical being." 

— Waldorf teacher Peter Curran, quoted in WHAT IS WALDORF EDUCATION?, a collection of essays by Steiner, edited by Waldorf teacher Stephen Keith Sagarin (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 21.

[1] In Waldorf belief, "cultural epochs" are evolutionary stages humanity has passed through during the current incarnation of the Earth. Steiner taught that each individual human recapitulates the evolutionary development of humanity as a whole, and thus there is a correct time for children to study various subjects. When a group of children has reached the level of ancient Rome, for example, they should be taught to view the world as the ancient Romans did. [For more on these matters, see "The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia".]

[2] Waldorf education aims to teach the children reverence, since the education is essentially religious. Reverence for the Earth — green values — is arguably one of the more attractive elements in Waldorf schooling. However, this reverence is modified by the Waldorf belief that nature is occupied by lowly, mischievous, and even wicked invisible presences, "nature spirits" such as goblins. [See "Neutered Nature".]

"Rudolf Steiner...shows the stages of humanity in the course of the history of civilizations, passing from 'dream-like clairvoyant' visions to a conscious perception of the surrounding world ... Are not children's drawings also impressions, 'footprints' on the path to human maturity?" — Anthroposophist Michaela Strauss, UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS: Tracing the Path of Incarnation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 18. 

“Rudolf Steiner also gave [Waldorf] teachers four further perspectives [1]…with whose help we can come closer to understanding the growing child. They involve the following four polarities:

Large-headed [children] - small-headed [children]

Rich in imagination - poor in imagination

Cosmic - earthly

The I is too strongly [present in the body] - too weakly present in the body [2]

"These four encapsulate the secret of the interrelation between the four bodies: the physical body…the life body (ether body)…the astral body…and finally the domain of the I…. [3]” — Waldorf teacher Christof Wierchert, SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF THE CHILD (Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2018), p. 161. [4]

[1] For Steiner's main directives addressed to Waldorf teachers, see “Oh Humanity”.

[2] Waldorf teachers often sort their students into six "constitutional types," based on the first three of these polarities. [See "constitutional types" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[3] According to Waldorf belief, children are born four times as their four bodies incarnate during the course of the first 21 years of life. The bodies are usually identified as the physical body, etheric body, astral body, and “I”. [See “Incarnation”.]

[4] The Goetheanum is the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters. Publications coming out of the Verlag Am Goetheanum {Publisher at the Goetheanum} originate in the very center of Anthroposophical thought and practice.

“Steiner characterizes…large-headed children as ‘phlegmatic’ or ‘sanguine’ [1], saying they tend to have fleeting or short attention. One should help them, he says, to stimulate the formative forces which will enable them to be more attentive … [H]e suggests a diet rich in salty foods … By contrast, in children whose head is relatively small [2] we can detect a weakness in the metabolic system … One sees, says Steiner, that these children often ‘brood on things’ … Here it would be helpful, he goes on, to introduce a sweet diet.

“In addition one should consider the way a child thinks…

[Wiechert quotes Steiner:] ’Where a child has too little capacity for…constructive thinking and is therefore…a kind of barbarian when it comes to art…then this is a symptom that the system of limbs and metabolism [3] is not in order, and then we need [to give] him more sugar [4] … There is something else as well. Imagine you have a child who is clearly lacking in [the] ability to think analytically: this can also be a sign that the child is diverting his astral body and I [5] too much away from his neuro-sensory system; and then one has to be ensure somehow or other that the child is washed with cool water in the morning….’

“This section is of radical importance [6], and gives us insight into the way soul and body are connected….” — Waldorf teacher Christof Wierchert, SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF THE CHILD (Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2018), pp. 162-164.

[1] These are two of the four “temperaments” recognized in Waldorf belief. [See “Humouresque” and “Temperaments.] 

[2] Their temperaments presumably tend toward the melancholic and choleric, the other two “temperaments” recognized in Waldorf belief.

[3] Steiner taught that limbs and metabolism are parts of the same bodily system. [See "metabolic-limb system" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Modern medicine disagrees with Steiner on this and many other points. 

[4] This is a small-headed child.

[5] According to Waldorf belief, growing children eventually possess four bodies, three of which are invisible. The astral body and the I are the highest of the bodies; the physical body and the etheric body are the lower pair. [See “Incarnation”.]

[6] Perhaps only deeply devoted Anthroposophists would consider Steiner’s prescriptions (such as feeding sugar to a child who has a misfiring metabolic-limb system) important. Others are likely to deem them poppycock.

“The contrast between an I [1] that is too deeply immersed in the body [2] or too loosely connected with it [3] is of great importance in our times … If the I is sucked too deeply into the body this becomes apparent, for instance, in thinking with a marked affinity to material things [4] … Anything clear and logical is preferred [by a child in this condition] … A soul of this kind finds it difficult to express itself artistically, or to dwell in reflective thoughts or a particular mood. Nor is listening to a story easy … Steiner regards this disposition as the basis for criminality. [On the other hand if] the I is too loosely connected with the body…this gives rise to lack of direction and commitment; possibly to idealism … Here we see the sentimental or utopian, full of good intentions that are forgotten as soon as uttered … Steiner describes this one-sidedness as a ‘theosophical’ disposition [5] … [These two conditions reflect] all the extremes of materialism and idealism apparent in our civilization, along with the vital importance of education itself [6] … [Specific recommendations for Waldorf teachers:] The teaching of grammar will in general draw the I more strongly into the body … Physics, where one observes and engages with an experiment, has a loosening effect … Painting loosens … Reading has a loosening effect … Singing after reading draws the I back in … Arithmetic has a consolidating and indrawing effect … [etc.] [7].” — Waldorf teacher Christof Wierchert, SOLVING THE RIDDLE OF THE CHILD (Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2018), pp. 177-182.

[1] According to Waldorf belief, the “I” is the fourth of our bodies; it is a formation of spirit forces that convey one’s true human/spiritual identity. [See the entry for “I” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., the physical body. (Above this are the etheric body, astral body, and “I”. [See “Incarnation”.])

[3] I.e., an I may incarnate too deeply in the physical body, becoming too entangled in physical reality, or it may fail to incarnate deeply enough.

[4] Bear in mind, the author is discussing Waldorf education — this is how a Waldorf teacher should view a child with an excessively incarnated “I”. The child will be materialistic.

[5] Steiner began his spiritual career as a Theosophist, but he later broke away to establish Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement. "Theosophic" becomes, in this usage, a form of mild disparagement.

[6] I.e., in particular, Waldorf education — which should help rectify the two faults, excessive or inadequate incarnation of the “I”.

[7] Specific indications of this kind are often given great weight in Waldorf schools. But what are they based on? Is there actually any such thing as the “I”? Do any of the three invisible bodies actually exist? Is the degree of incarnation actually a problem “of great importance in our times”? Or is Waldorf education based on mere fantasies, mere delusions — and excessive deference to a professed spiritual master who taught, for instance, that the study of grammar helps anchor the “I” in the physical body? It is discouraging to see such stuff in a book that wants to commend itself to serious consideration.

“The authority of the class teacher [1] during the lower school period, from Classes 1 to 8 in all Steiner schools, is fostered in every way ... [T]he living artistry of the teacher provides the basis for authority, and the fundamental needs of the child at this time are met from a single source [i.e., the teacher] … [T]eachers must succeed in giving the impression that there are depths within themselves yet to be plumbed by their pupils, and if all goes well they will maintain their natural authority.” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), pp. 85-87.

[1] Waldorf teachers usually expect to be treated as unquestioned authority figures, especially in the lower and middle grades when — according to Anthroposophical doctrine — the children's souls yearn for authorities whom they can imitate and obey. [See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".]

“When authority breaks down in class, the teacher must realize that many of the orthodox methods of dealing with it are ineffective ... Caning is best banished...but at the same time the teacher must not forget that greater physical and moral harm can be done through wrong teaching. The teacher must take into account the soul-nature of the child, and it is not so much what [the teacher] does that matters (“One slap more or less is not of much consequence”) [1], as much as how he does it.” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 120.

[1] Blunt attributes these views to Rudolf Steiner [see THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1924), p. 88]. Waldorf proponents generally consider Steiner's views not dated but timeless.

Fairies   Evidence for the existence of the little folk comes mainly from photographs. [1]” — George Riland, THE STEINERBOOK DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 82.

[1] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, invisible beings exist both above and below man. The higher beings are gods, the lower beings are nature spirits, also called elemental beings or, sometimes, fairies. [See, e.g., "Neutered Nature".]

"An insightful farmer can learn to transform dead wastes into life by composting ... Fairies are strongly attracted by this practice. They swarm to the farmer's aid ... As suggested by Rudolf Steiner, the biodynamic farmer adds a further attraction. Four kinds of sprays are made ... To strengthen gnome activity in roots a spray of treated cow manure is used (gnomes and cows have a special affinity to each other) ... [etc.]." [1] — Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS (SteinerBooks, 2013), pp. 35-36.

[1] Amazingly, this is not a joke. Anthroposophists believe in the literal existence of fairies or nature spirits. Images and statuettes of nature spirits are often found in Waldorf classrooms. [For more on the gardening practices taught by Rudolf Steiner, and often employed on the grounds of Waldorf schools, see "Biodynamics".]

Elemental beings [1] ... [Beings that underlie] the four elements of earth, water, air, fire [2]. Among these beings are creatures such as dwarves (earth) [3], undines (water), sylphs (air) and salamanders (fire) [4]. Our visible physical world is a modification of these invisible elemental beings [5] ... [A]ll visible substances come into being by materialization of these elemental entities. When these substances are destroyed, the elemental beings are freed again [6]. The elemental beings are invisible to the untrained eye [7].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 36.

[1] Although Steiner often used the term "nature spirits" for these entities, he said a better term is "elemental beings." They are invisible presences existing within the four elements of nature, he taught, and they lack true spirits. (The four main types of elemental beings are gnomes, undines, sylphs, and fire spirits. But there are also other types, according to Steiner. [See "Neutered Nature".])

[2] Anthroposophy affirms the ancient belief that there are really just four elements.

[3] I.e., dwarves exist within the soil — or, more precisely, soil is a manifestation of the dwarves. (In Anthroposophical teachings, the "dwarves" are more often called gnomes. [See "Gnomes".])

[4] "Salamanders" are more correctly called fire spirits; they should be distinguished from the animals knowns as salamanders.

[5] I.e., physical reality is a manifestation of the elemental beings. (These beings, which are invisible, can be "modified" so that they become the visible phenomena of the physical world.)

[6] I.e., physical substances are formed when elemental beings are "materialized." When these substances are destroyed, the elemental beings are released — they are etherealized again.

[7] To "see" elemental beings, Steiner generally said, clairvoyance is required. However, some Anthroposophists claim that by training their ordinary eyesight, they can catch glimpses of elemental beings without recourse to clairvoyance. Steiner indicated that seeing elemental beings in the ordinary sense, with one's eyes, is indeed possible in some circumstances.

“The names of the [nature] spirits are gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders respectively. To be aware of them, the special faculty of spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance] is necessary.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 90.

"Very far back in time all human beings were what we should today call ‘clairvoyant’, that is to say, it was possible for them actually to perceive spiritual beings who are invisible to most of us today. Until quite recently this faculty was common enough, and even now it has not entirely disappeared in some remote areas. It was possible, for example, to see various elemental beings which have been called gnomes, trolls, sylphs, naiads, elves, fairies, and the like. Such beings certainly exist even if the ordinary person can no longer see them." — Anthroposophical leader Stewart C. Easton, THE WAY OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 37.

"The invisible elemental beings could be perceived until recent times by many people, and they have passed into the folklore of every country. They were given names, which we shall also use here. The gnomes or goblins are the beings of the earth who work with the roots of plants and have a special affinity for the metals of the earth. The undines are water beings...they work with the leafy part of the plants. The sylphs live in the airy-warmth element, and it is their task to bring light down to the plants. Lastly, there are the salamanders of fire-beings who bring warmth into the blossoms and make possible the formation of a seed...." — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 286.

"That fairyland and its denizens should be as much a concern of scientists as they have long been of poets and painters and storytellers was one of Steiner’s deep convictions. For he was a close observer of their life and work, and it was clear to him that they were of profound importance to the earth.” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS: A Natural History of Fairyland (Anthroposophical Press, 1980), p. 8.

“When...love of fairy tales is coupled with an understanding on the part of the story teller, doors are opened to the whole realm of life in which fairy tales are true and live forever.” — Waldorf teacher Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.

"Ether — in general, shapeless and invisible life force, also called the fifth essence or 'quintessence' in addition to the four elements of earth, water, air and fire. [1]" — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z  (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37.

[1] While admitting the existence of the substances listed in the periodic table of the elements, Waldorf faculties generally accept Steiner's doctrine that really there are just four fundamental elements, the same four recognized by the ancients. Steiner also taught that the universal ether (a concept from nineteenth century physics, later discarded by scientists) actually exists in some form. Here we find the ether described in an authoritative Anthroposophical text published in the 21st century.

"Etheric aura  — every living being, a plant, an animal or human being, has an ether body [1] which can be seen as a luminous configuration around the physical body by people who have developed the necessary perception [i.e., clairvoyance]." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z  (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 39.

[1] In Waldorf belief, humans have three invisible bodies in addition to their physical bodies. Helping children to incarnate their invisible bodies (the etheric, astral, and ego bodies) is a central purpose of Waldorf education. [See "Incarnation".] The etheric body is supposedly visible to clairvoyants as an aura. [See "Auras".] Clairvoyants can also perceive one another's astral bodies, Steiner taught, but the ego body can only be perceived by its owner.

"The etheric body preserves the physical [body] and prevents it from dissolving during earthly life. The human being is connected to the...plant world [1] through the etheric body." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 249.

[1] In Anthroposophic doctrine, all beings higher than minerals have etheric bodies. This includes plants. Life forms higher than plants also have additional invisible bodies.

“A third member of the human being [in addition to the physical and etheric bodies] 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. [1]” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 27. 

[1] Steiner endorsed the ancient view that there are four "kingdoms" of nature: mineral, vegetable, animal, and human. Minerals have physical bodies and nothing more, he taught. Plants have physical and etheric bodies. Animals have both of these bodies plus astral bodies. Humans have all three of these plus ego bodies or "I"s. [See "The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia".]

“The growth to independence of the astral body [1] starts about the age of seven. [2] At that age the child is touched by astral forces [3] for the first time. In the curriculum of the Waldorf schools — in the second class — we find that fables and stories of saints are told to children of that age to accompany this process. [4]” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 21.

[1] In Waldorf belief, growing children eventually possess four bodies: the physical body, the etheric body (consisting of growth forces), the astral body (consisting of soul forces), and the "I" (a portion of divinity, one's spiritual individuality). [See "Incarnation".]

[2] In Waldorf belief, children develop through a series of seven-year-long periods. [See "Most Significant".] The etheric body incarnates at age seven, at which time the astral body begins developing. The astral body incarnates at age 14.

[3] I.e., soul forces, forces originating in the stars (Latin, from Greek: aster: star).

[4] The Waldorf curriculum, including the fables and stories told to the students, aims to facilitate the process of incarnation. Often, despite denials, the tales told in class are distinctly religious (e.g., "stories of saints").

"Birth to Age 7

...From birth to around the age of 7, young children are working on and out of their physical natures [1] ... The etheric body works in conjunction with the physical body during these first seven years [2], bringing forming forces to the physical body and maintaining its organic life processes ... Approximately seven years later, when the child's physical growth and development has [sic] reached a certain conclusion and fewer etheric forces [3] are needed to form and maintain the physical body, the etheric body is born or emancipated from the physical body. [4]" — Waldorf teacher Holly Koteen-Soulé in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), p. 22.

[1] In Waldorf belief, children spend the first phase of their new lives on Earth developing, and expressing themselves through, their physical bodies. (The children have undergone this process, or its analogues, before. According to Rudolf Steiner, the children have been born multiple times previously, through the process of reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".])

[2] During the first seven years, Steiner taught, the invisible etheric body — a constellation of growth forces — has not yet incarnated fully. But it is present in preliminary form, and as such it enables the physical body to develop properly. 

[3] I.e., forces from the etheric realm, mediated by the etheric body. [See entries for "etheric body", "etheric force(s)", and "etheric realm" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] Steiner said the etheric body incarnates during approximately the seventh year of a child's earthly life. [See "Incarnation".] Steiner also taught that other invisible parts of the human constitution incarnate later, one part every seven years or so. [See "What We're Made Of".] 

The most crucial point for readers to grasp is that Steiner's occult teachings, now a century old, are still affirmed in Waldorf belief and practice today. The Waldorf curriculum is keyed to the purported incarnation of the etheric body and the other invisible parts described by Steiner. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".]

"Between 7 and 14

"With the birth of the etheric body [1], some of the child's formative life forces are now available for psychological rather than physiological activities — for instance, the forming of concepts, [etc.] ... This allows the child to be ready for direct instruction [2] and to receive guidance from the teacher as a beloved source [3] of worldly knowledge and skills." — Waldorf teacher Holly Koteen-Soulé in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), p. 23.

[1] The etheric body is the first of three invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood; the others are the astral body and the "I". [See the entries for these terms in "The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia".] The etheric body incarnates around age seven and it continues developing until around age 14, when the astral body is incarnated.

[2] Waldorf schools do not generally provide sound early-childhood education. They operate on the premise that children are not ready for such instruction until their etheric bodies incarnate, at around age seven. [See "Incarnation".]

[3] Waldorf teachers, especially in the early grades, usually make strong efforts to elicit love from their students. The emotional bond is meant to cause students to emulate and obey their teachers with little or no hesitation. Critics deem this a process of indoctrination. [See "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".]

"Between 14 and 21

"The outer birth [1] of the astral body [2] is heralded physically by the onset of puberty ... [The] 'inner birth' [2] of the astral body [comes earlier] ... The moment when the young child, around the age of 2 or 3 years, begins to say 'I' signals...the 'inner birth' of the astral body [3] ... The interval between the inner and outer birth of the astral body is around ten or eleven years [4] ... During the final period of child development, the intellect and abstract thinking capacities come at last to the foreground [5]." — Waldorf teacher Holly Koteen-Soulé in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), pp. 24-25.

[1] "Outer birth" is what, in Waldorf discourse, is usually termed incarnation — it is the moment when a component of the human constitution emerges and becomes active.

[2] The astral body is the second of three invisible bodies that, according to Waldorf doctrine, incarnates during the first 21 years of earthly life. The astral body purportedly consists of soul forces.

[3] "Inner birth" is the moment when a component of the human constitution becomes present, inwardly, in a human being. The component does not become truly active, however, until the outer birth occurs. (The inner birth of the astral body, signaled by a child's use of the first-person pronoun — "I" — should not be confused with the incarnation of the third invisible body, called the ego or "I". This third body incarnates at around age 21, an event that marks the end of childhood. [See "Ego".]

[4] Thus, the outer birth — or incarnation — of the astral body occurs around age 14.

[5] Just as Waldorf schools delay the start of academic instruction until the students' etheric bodies have incarnated, they delay the start of intellectually challenging instruction until the students' astral bodies have incarnated. The question arises whether Waldorf students ever catch up with students at schools that have not intentionally tried to retard their mental growth. The question is doubly poignant, given that the Waldorf beliefs that lead to such efforts at retardation (invisible bodies, inner birth and outer births, etc.) are baseless.

"One addition, which is not actually part of the birthing process for the four members [1], but is very helpful to know about and recognize, is the first moon node. [2] This comes approximately every 18 years and seven months (repeating around ages 37, 56, and 74 years), when the sun and moon cross paths in the same place in the heavens as when one was first born. [3] This repetition opens a window to a remembrance of the intention that first prompted one's incarnation [4]." — Waldorf doctor Adam Blanning in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), pp. 42-43..

[1] I.e., four bodies.

[2] Anthroposophy and Waldorf education are deeply tied to astrology. This is one instance.

[3] We are born four times, Steiner taught: once per body.

[4] I.e., you can then remember why you elected to leave the spirit realm incarnate on Earth — you remember your intentions and purposes, or in other words your karmic needs.

“Rudolf Steiner indicated at least three levels of knowing above the intellectual [1]: Imaginative, Inspirational, and Intuitive [2] … [H]e ever and again tried to teach others how to become knowers of the invisible [3]. He even told teachers [4]…”in the field of education, we [must] come to an actual experience of the spiritual [5] … I would argue that the entire edifice of Waldorf education rests on the assumption of the teacher as a spiritual practitioner [6]….” — Waldorf teacher Elan Leibner in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017), pp.111-112.

[1] Steiner disparaged intellect and, more generally, the use of the brain. He said the brain does not produce thoughts and does not apprehend truth. [See, e.g., “Steiner’s Specific - Thinking Without Our Brains”.]

[2] These are three levels of clairvoyance, according to Steiner. [See the entries for “imagination”, “inspiration”, and “intuition” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[3] Essentially, this means attaining knowledge of the spiritual realm. [See “Knowing the Worlds”.]

[4] I.e., Waldorf teachers.

[5] Essentially, this means becoming practicing Anthroposophists. [See “Here’s the Answer”.] "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists...." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.

“[E]ven in our earliest physiological beginnings we are both female and male [1], and as one gender develops in the physical or material body, the other gender develops in what [Steiner] calls the life or etheric body [2]. From the perspective of our sexual nature, then, we are — and remain — ‘whole’ human beings [3] to the degree we think of ourselves as being endowed with both physical and etheric bodies. Only when we focus on one body at the expense of the other do we arrive at a one-sided picture of male or female. Indeed, once we get beyond physical and etheric bodies and speak of the human soul (or astral body) and self (or eternal ‘I’), according to Steiner, we are dealing with aspects of the human being that transcend gender altogether, even though they inhabit gender-specific physical and etheric bodies and hence are influenced by them [4].” — Waldorf teacher and teacher-trainer Douglas Gerwin, “Being Fully Human: An Introduction”, RESEARCH BULLETIN, Research Institute for Waldorf Education, Spring 2014, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 61-62. [5]

[1] There is no sexual differentiation in very young embryos — the embryos are neither female nor male. [See, e.g., "sexual differentiation", THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.]

[2] In Waldorf belief, maturing children end up with four bodies, the first two of which are the physical body and the etheric body. [See “incarnation”.] Rudolf Steiner taught that each person having a male physical body has a female etheric body, and vice versa. [See “Gender”.] 

[3] Waldorf schools claim to educate the whole child. But the Anthroposophical conception of wholeness includes many features not recognized by modern science, such as the three invisible bodies discussed here. [See "Holistic Education".]

[4] I.e., the higher pair of bodies — the astral body and the “I” — are not gendered (they are not female nor male). However, gender retains some significance even so. For instance, “[T]he astral body has a stronger influence in girls than in boys. Throughout life the astral body of women plays a more important role than that of men.” —  Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 75.

[5] Steiner’s followers believe the three invisible bodies incarnate during a cycle of seven-year-long phases: The etheric body incarnates at age 7, the astral body at age 14, and the “I” at age 21 (marking the end of childhood). [See the entries for these bodies in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] The Waldorf curriculum is geared to this schedule. [See, e.g., “Most Significant”.] Of course, if the three invisible bodies do not exist, then the rationale for the Waldorf approach collapses.

“[F]or centuries elemental beings [1] have been receiving less and less [attention from humanity] … Human beings neglect them with the consequence that they turn to another world, the realm of death ruled by Ahriman [2] … Human beings [must] once again give them what they need [3]. 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 [doing] this leads one directly into the elemental world. If a carrot is scraped and rubbed, a potato peeled or washed, elemental beings are freed [4].” — Anthroposophist Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, THE SPIRITUAL TASKS OF THE HOMEMAKER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 37-39. [5]

[1] According to the Waldorf belief system, these are “nature spirits” — invisible presences dwelling within the elements of nature. Gnomes live in earth, sylphs in air, undines in water, and fire spirits (“salamanders”) in fire. [See “Neutered Nature”.]

[2] Steiner taught that Ahriman is an arch-demon, a terrible opponent of human spiritual evolution. [See “Ahriman”.]

[3] I.e., we should attend to them and believe in them.

[4] Steiner’s followers think nature spirits can be released from natural objects, just as demons can be released from technological devices. “[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine [they release demons] applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time ... [T]elevision, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings and demons are constantly on the increase.” — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).

[5] The homemaker, as described by Schmidt-Brabant, is female. Some readers will bridle at the apparent sexism in Schmidt-Brabant's book, just as some find disturbing sexism in some elements of Waldorf education. [See "Gender".]

"Through the astral body [1] the human being becomes aware of sensation, instincts, impulses, and passions. The astral body helps us become conscious of our inner life ... Animals also experience the world with the help of the astral body [2]." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 249.

[1] In Waldorf belief, the astral body — a constellation of soul forces — is the second invisible body that incarnates during childhood. The etheric body incarnate around age seven and the astral body incarnates around age 14. [See "Incarnation".] The Waldorf curriculum is keyed to this sequence of incarnations. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".]

[2] Steiner taught that plants, animals, and humans all have etheric bodies, and he said that both animals and humans have astral bodies. But, he said, only humans have the third invisible body, the "I". [See the entry for “I" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

"One of the most important characteristics of the Waldorf method is the degree of consciousness with which it works at helping these higher bodies [1] to integrate. And one of the most important contributions made to modern education by the Waldorf approach is the recognition that every effort must be made to slow down the incorporation of the astral body until the child is strong enough to carry its catabolic capacities without undue physical or emotional damage. [2]" — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000), pp. 39-40.

[1] I.e., the etheric body, the astral body, and the "I". [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] Waldorf schooling intentionally aims to retard the maturation of students in various ways. The effort to "slow down the incorporation of the astral body" is one example, and it is an arguably benign one, in that the astral body is nothing but a fantasy. Retarding the academic and intellectual progress of students is potentially far more damaging. Waldorf schools generally delay academic instruction until the etheric body is believed to incarnate (around age seven), and they delay the start of intellectually stimulating instruction until the astral body is believed to incarnate (around age 14). [See "Incarnation" and "The Waldorf Curriculum".]

“The [Waldorf] teacher’s work has to do with the four members of the child's being, the physical body, the Soul Bodies [1] and the Ego [2]. As these change and develop during the child's life at school, the teacher should ensure that they are properly met by the child's experiences in school [3].” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 109. 

[1] I.e., the etheric and astral bodies — the first and second of the three invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood, according to Waldorf belief. [See “Incarnation”.] 

[2] I.e., the "I" — the third invisible body that incarnates during (or, in this case, at the end of) childhood. [See "Ego".]

[3] I.e., the education of children should be tailored to be consistent with the incarnation of these components of the human constitution. 

"The reason many [Waldorf] schools exist is because of the Anthroposophy, period [1]. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world ... Educating children is secondary in these schools [2]." — Former Waldorf teacher "Baandje". [3]

[1] Anthroposophy is the version of Theosophy — with admixtures from other sources — devised by Rudolf Steiner. [See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see "Basics" and "Everything".]

[2] Educating children, in a normal sense — that is, teaching them things — is a low priority at Waldorf schools generally. Far more important, from a Waldorf perspective, is realizing and promoting Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Soul School".] To the extent that Waldorf education seeks to benefit children, the "benefit" consists of helping the children to incarnate properly, thus ushering them toward a true spirituality: Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Incarnation".]

[3] See "Ex-Teacher 7".

“Even when speaking to a public audience, Steiner did not hesitate to point to the inextricable ties between Waldorf education and Anthroposophy.”  — Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz, introduction to THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 15.

“[A]ll-important preparatory [spiritual] exercises can be found in KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND IT ATTAINMENT and in OCCULT SCIENCE [1]. The six basic exercises lead to the development of the twelve-petaled lotus flower...located in the region of the heart. A little reflection shows how important these attitudes of soul can be for the life of the Waldorf teacher.” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 4. 

[1] These are Steiner's two most important books, outlining the essence of Anthroposophy. "Lotus flowers," in Anthroposophic belief, are "chakras" or incorporeal organs, such as organs of clairvoyance. Here, a Waldorf teacher-trainer makes clear that being a true Waldorf teacher means practicing Anthroposophy. Steiner made this point explicitly: "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.

“[T]he [Waldorf] teacher has a specific task — to teach — and a great responsibility. He, of all people, needs not only the knowledge that spiritual science [1] gives but an inward acceptance of such knowledge as well, which also means practicing the given exercises [2]. Inner activity means esoteric development [3] and esoteric development provides a revitalizing force which permeates the human being and his work." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 120.

[1] I.e., Anthroposophy. [See the entry for “Anthroposophy” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., spiritual exercises prescribed by Rudolf Steiner; they are meant to lead to the development and refinement of clairvoyance. [See “Knowing the Worlds”.]

[3] I.e., progress in spiritual/clairvoyant advancement. [See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.]

"At 7 years of age, the children are recapitulating their Atlantean evolutionary phase; this recap. began when they were only 1, with Ancient Saturn; 2, Ancient Sun; 3, Ancient Moon; 4, Polaria; 5, Hyperborea; 6, Lemuria; 7, Atlantis [1] ... The hard head was the first member of man to incarnate, the subtle blood last. Man the microcosm reflected the Great Flood (geological Ice Age) with a flood of his own.

"...There was Ancient Atlantis spread before me, a vast black land, shrouded in whirling, white mists ... Later I saw Atlantean humanity divide into the 7 Races ... The Moon Messenger, Noah, took animals on his ark ... His was an astral migration...." — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, GAZE BOTH WAYS (Golden Beetle Books, ~1993), pp. 24-26. 

[1] These are evolutionary stages, according to Anthroposophical doctrine. Steiner taught that we began our evolution during a period called Old Saturn. We progressed to Old Sun and then Old Moon before arriving at Present Earth. [See "Matters of Form".] Here, during the Earth phase of evolution, we have lived through the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean epochs before entering our present epoch, generally called the Post-Atlantean Epoch. [See "Early Earth", "Lemuria", and "Atlantis".] In Anthroposophical belief, children recapitulate human evolution as they grow. Human beings are microcosms who embody, in miniature form, the entire universe and its history. [See, e.g., "The Center".]`

"At the Saturn stage [1] there was no solar system [2] but Ancient Saturn occupied space in the universe in which the solar system was to function. A contraction took place to the present Jupiter orbit and the resultant sphere formed Ancient Sun [3]. A further contraction to the present Mars orbit resulted in the formation of the Ancient Moon [4].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 89.

[1] According to Rudolf Steiner's teachings, humanity and the solar system began their evolution in a condition called Ancient Saturn (or Old Saturn).  We existed “on” Saturn, then, but in an extremely vaporous, preliminary form. Our consciousness was comparable to coma, but even so we began gathering the substances that would become our physical bodies. [See "Old Saturn".]

[2] I.e., the solar system had not yet incarnated in anything like its present form.

[3] Ancient (or Old) Sun was the second stage of our evolution. It was more compact than Ancient Saturn had been. Living “on” the Sun, we had a consciousness akin to dreamless sleep, and we began gathering the substances that would become our etheric bodies. [See "Old Sun".]

[4] Ancient (or Old) Moon was the third stage of our evolution. It was still more compact than Ancient Sun. Living “on” the Moon, we had a consciousness akin to dream-filled sleep, and we began gathering the substances that would become our astral bodies. [See "Old Moon, etc.".]

“During the first two of the seven great ages (Polaric and Hyperborean) man was not yet an earthly being. [1] The first age during which he took on physical form was the Lemurian [2], which was followed by the Atlantean age [3], which was in turn followed by the so-called post-Atlantean, our present age ... Two more such ages are to come before the end of earth evolution. [4]“ — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 85.

[1] I.e., during the first two epochs of our recent evolution — the Polarian and Hyperborean ages — we were not yet really earthlings, even though these ages occurred “on” the Earth. We were not yet physical beings. [See “Early Earth”.]

[2] Coming after the Hyperborean epoch, the Lemurian epoch — when we lived on the continent of Lemuria — was the first period during which we had physical bodies. [See “Lemuria”.]

[3] This was the epoch when we lived on Atlantis. [See “Atlantis”.]

[4] We are evolving through a series of minor epochs and major epochs. Eventually, our evolution on Earth will end and we will proceed to life "on" Future Jupiter. [See "Future Stages".]

“[P]lanetary life phases [1] ... Moon phase, from birth to age seven:...gradual transformation of the physical body ... Mercury phase, ages seven to fourteen: golden years of childhood ...  Venus phase, ages fourteen to twenty-one: emerging sense of self, tremendous physical changes ... Sun phase, ages twenty-one to forty-two: independence of self, individuality begins to shine ... Mars phase, ages forty-two to forty nine: strong individualization, further definition or redefinition of career ... Jupiter phase: ages forty-nine to fifty-six: growing wisdom and breath of overview ... Saturn phase, ages fifty-six to sixty-three: more bound by hard realities...yet at the same time willing to serve selflessly....” — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, INITIATIVE - A Rosicrucian Path of Leadership (SteinerBooks, 2011), pp. 102-103.

[1] Astrology lurks within much of the Waldorf belief system. Rudolf Steiner taught that life unfolds in seven-year-long stages bearing the imprint and influence of planetary/astrological forces. Note that the Sun phase, suffused with the influence of the Sun God, is triply long (twenty-one years, from age 21 to age 42).

"In the beginning of the 4th planetary 'globe', Earth, the latest incarnation of our telluric home, there was only fire — Polaria, as it was known in occult circles. Fire condensed to gas in Ancient Hyperborea; then to liquid in Lemuria. Here, in the early stages at least, the world was all ocean; but with the advent of Atlantis, mighty Shiva, a compendium of the Spirits of Form, danced on the surface of the earth, dividing the waters from the land." — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, GAZE BOTH WAYS (Golden Beetle Books, undated), p. 3.

"[T]he shark eats it own weight in fish every day. In its stomach...we [may find] tin cans, screws, turtles, sea serpents [1] ...  [T]he shark can distend its digestive system out both forwards and behind ... Rudolf Steiner has pointed out that in Lemurian times [2] man had a physical organism which, by virtue of the distension and contraction of his inside...indicated the beginnings of a kind of metabolism [3]. As the shark can be counted as one of the developments of the Lemurian age [4], it should be recognized as a frozen and demonically hardened picture of the conditions of evolution in those times. [5]” — Anthroposophist Rudolf Hauschka, AT THE DAWN OF A NEW AGE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 44.

[1] Rudolf Steiner’s followers believe in many fabulous creatures, but here Hauscka presumably means eels and sea snakes, not sea serpents per se. Sea serpents per se exist only in legends.

[2] I.e., the epochs when, Steiner taught, humanity lived on the continent of Lemuria. [See “Lemuria”.]

[3] I.e., in our evolution, we had proto-metabolisms analogous to that of the shark.

[4] I.e., sharks came into existence during the Lemurian epoch.

[5] Sharks are “frozen” and “hardened” hold-overs from Lemurian times. They are, in a sense, the product of demons. According to Steiner, one of the chief activities of demons is dragging entities down into material or physical existence, where the entities become hardened — meaning they lose contact with the spiritual realm. [See the entry for “demons” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Also, Steiner said, animals are generally cast-off remnants of human evolution. Once members of the human evolutionary family, they stalled, failed to evolve further, and were cast off. [See “Evolution, Anyone?”]

"Experiencing the movements of the stars [1] as expressions of the etheric Christ [2] is a potent method for coming into closer relationship with Christ at this time. Keeping in mind that the birth and death horoscope [3] of individuals expresses their karma (i.e., their destiny) [4], the development of this relationship also potentially heightens our understanding of Christ at this time in history as the Lord of Karma [5]." — Joel Park, COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom, Vol. 1 (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2018), p. 16.

[1] Astrology or astrosophy is woven through the Anthroposophical belief system that underlies Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Astrosophy".]

[2] In Anthroposophical belief, Christ is the Sun God — the divinity worshipped by ancient peoples under such names as Hu and Baldr. [See "Sun God".] Steiner taught that the Second Coming of Christ has already occurred — the Sun God returned to the etheric region surrounding the Earth. The returned Sun God is the "etheric Christ." [See the entry for "Etheric Christ" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).] 

[3] Birth horoscope shows the positions of celestial objects at the time of an individual's birth; a death horoscope shows these positions at the time of an individual's death.

[4] Karma is a key Anthroposophical doctrine. [See "Karma".]

[5] See the entry for "Lord of Karma" in the BW/SE.

“Every young person who is guided toward the path of spiritual development [1] will surely receive great gifts ... Much is attempted in this sense by Waldorf schools working with the educational insights and methods suggested by Steiner [2].” — Waldorf teacher John Fentress Gardner, YOUTH LONGS TO KNOW (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 37.

[1] Waldorf schools rarely teach Anthroposophical doctrines — openly, explicitly — to their students. But they make concerted efforts to lead student toward Anthroposophy. The result is much the same: It amounts to indoctrination. [See “Indoctrination”.]

[2] I.e., Rudolf Steiner. Although defenders of Waldorf education often claim that Steiner’s spiritual teachings are no longer central to the Waldorf movement, in fact those teachings have remained the core doctrines guiding all genuine Waldorf schools. Thus, Waldorf schools work on the “spiritual development” of their students, in accordance with “insights and methods suggested by Steiner.” [See “Oh Humanity”.]

"[T]he human being alone has an independent ego — that inner kernel of self to which we refer when we say 'I' [1]. This ego is a 'drop of the divine' — that part of us that finds an earthly home in the other bodies [2]." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 249. 

[1] The spiritual "ego" posited in Anthroposophical doctrine should not be confused with the mental ego discussed by psychologists. For Steiner and his followers, the ego is the fourth of our bodies, incarnating at about age 21. Standing higher than the other bodies, it is an individual's unique spiritual selfhood. It is often called the "I" or, on occasion, the "ego body." [See "Ego".] Animals have etheric bodies and astral bodies, Steiner taught, but among earthly beings only humans have “egos.”

[2] The other three bodies are the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body. [See Incarnation”.]

“The ‘four temperaments’ [1]...may be understood as the solution to the challenge of integrating the etheric body with its physical counterpart [2] ... Rudolf Steiner [indicated] 'Where the bearer of the I [3] predominates, a choleric temperament results [3]. Where the astral body predominates, we find a sanguine temperament. Where the etheric or life body predominates, we speak of a phlegmatic temperament. And where the physical body predominates, we have to deal with the melancholic temperament’ [4] ... One of the most important characteristics of the Waldorf method is the degree of consciousness with which it works at helping these higher bodies integrate [5].” — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, MILLENNIAL CHILD — Transforming Education in the Twenty-first Century (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), pp. 185-186.

[1] These are the four fundamental character types, according to Rudolf Steiner. A child may be predominantly choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, or sanguine. Waldorf education often segregates children, and treats them differently, on this basis. [See "Temperaments".]

[2] An important goal for Waldorf teachers, based on Anthroposophical doctrine, is to integrate a child's various "bodies" with one another. Steiner taught that four bodies (physical, etheric, astral, and "I") incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See “Incarnation”.]

[3] I.e., the spiritual ego. It can be considered both a "body" and a touch of divinity. [See "Ego".] When a distinction is made, the "I" is carried by the "ego body" (the "bearer of the I".)

[4] I.e., if the influence of the fourth body, the "I", is strongest, a person is choleric; if the astral body is strongest, a person is sanguine; if the etheric body predominates, a person is phlegmatic; if the physical body is paramount, a person is melancholic.

[5] I.e., the Waldorf teacher should be highly conscious of the four bodies and their connections with the four temperaments.

“Temperament — the four temperaments are: choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic [1]. Each of the four temperaments is determined more by one of the four human members, the physical body, ether body, astral body or ‘I’ [2] … Knowledge of the temperaments can be very helpful in education ... Each temperament...responds best to particular approaches and forms of teaching [3].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 119.

[1] This account of human dispositions originated in ancient Greece. Modern medical and psychological knowledge finds little or no truth in it, but it — along with many other ancient misconceptions — is affirmed in Waldorf schools. [See “The Ancients”.]

[2] These are the four bodies that, according to Waldorf belief, incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See “Incarnation”.]

[3] Waldorf teachers often stereotype and segregate their students based on a fallacious belief in the four temperaments. Everything from class seating to study assignments may be based on "temperament." [See “Temperaments”.]

"On the first day of the preparatory course for the teachers of the first Waldorf school...[Rudolf Steiner] spoke about a way that a useful relationship can be built up with the children; he called it 'the most important task of the educator and teacher' to really know about the four temperaments [1] ... [H]e presented ways of individualizing while teaching, by taking the child's temperament into consideration [2] ... [P]aying attention to the temperaments, right down to the seating order in a class, still plays an important role in the Waldorf school day! ... [I]t is especially important to call attention again and again to this fundamental tenet of Waldorf education [3]." — Waldorf teacher Walter Riethmüller in the preface to Helmut Eller's THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS (Waldorf Publications, 2018), pp. 7-8.

[1] I.e., Waldorf teachers should accept, and understand, the ancient belief that people can be sorted into four categories of "temperament": melancholic, phlegmatic, sanguine, and choleric. Discarded almost everywhere else, belief in the four temperaments is still embraced in Waldorf schools. Indeed, it is central to much of the work that Waldorf teachers undertake. [See “Temperaments”.]

[2] Giving individualized instruction to students is a worthy ideal. But attempting to do so on the basis of fallacious classifications amounts to stereotyping, not individualizing. In an effort to truly know their students, Waldorf teachers often mix and match temperaments, deciding for instance that a child is mostly choleric with a bit of melancholia mixed in. But, still, they are working with a false system of classification. [See "Humouresque".]

[3] I.e., "individualizing...by  taking the child's temperament into consideration."

"Group Soul  — plants and animals have a group soul that does not manifest in the physical world. [1] The initiate with specially trained perception [2] can observe these group souls." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 52. 

[1] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, creatures lower than humans do not have individual souls; they share "group souls" that reside in the spirit realm. A dog, for instance, has no soul of its own, but it possesses a tiny sliver of a shared canine group soul. Steiner taught that humans also have group souls — such as national souls or racial souls — but each individual human also possesses an individual soul. [See the entry for "group souls" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., a human who has been initiated into occult mysteries can “see” group souls by using disciplined clairvoyant powers. Many Waldorf teachers consider themselves to be initiates who have clairvoyant powers. [See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.]

"[C]hildhood illnesses should be treated in the proper way, by supporting the illness...not fighting the illness ... [W]e should consider them [i.e., childhood illnesses] as the greatest blessings, because through them man is able to strengthen his personal form by conquering a predisposition, enabling him to incarnate better." — Waldorf teacher and physician L. F. C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 192.

“Goethe’s pupil Carl Gustav Carus believed that the earth was not a sphere of solid mass but a hollow sphere ... This view of the earth-shell is confirmed by spiritual [i.e., clairvoyant] research ... Physical observations tell us only about the very outermost, relatively thin and also delicate shell of the earth.” [1] — Anthroposophist Sigismund von Gleich, THE TRANSFORMATION OF EVIL - and the Subterranean Spheres of the Earth (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 32-33.

[1] Anthroposophists generally accept the descriptions of reality given by Rudolf Steiner, but they may also wander far afield, embracing all manner of occult beliefs. Sometimes these belief are compatible with Steiner's, sometimes not. Thus, Anthroposophical publishers print and distribute works on a wide range of topics that, to most people, would seem to be mere superstition or fantasy. To Anthroposophists, such things — such as the claim that "spiritual research" has proven the Earth to be hollow — are topics meriting serious consideration and, perhaps, acceptance. Thus, Anthroposophy — and the education arising from it — may stray far from reality.

"The computer is special because of its relation to the spiritual being here called Ahriman." [1] — David Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981), p. 2.

[1] Ahriman is one of the major demons described by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Ahriman".] Waldorf schools are generally averse to modern science and technology, including such technological products as televisions and computers. There are rational reasons for limiting the amount of time children spend starring at TV or computer screens, and Waldorf schools often cite these reasons. But the fundamental Waldorf attitude is rooted in occult beliefs, including the fear of Ahriman. [See, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

“[T]he whole computer- and Internet industry [1] is today the most effective way to prepare for the imminent incarnation of Ahriman [2].” — Anthroposophist Sergei Prokofieff, "The Being of the Internet", reprinted in PACIFICA JOURNAL, Anthroposophical Society of Hawai'i, No. 29, 2006.

[1] Anthroposophists generally are averse to modern technology; Steiner taught that technology enables the incarnation of demons on Earth. [See, e.g., “Spiders, Dragons and Foxes”.] Nonetheless, various Anthroposophical organizations — including Waldorf schools — today use the Internet to advertise themselves and to seek new adherents.

[2] According to Steiner, Ahriman is an arch-demon, one of humanity’s most fearsome antagonists. Ahriman offers us temptations that may be turned to good account, but these may also destroy us if we do not approach them through Anthroposophy. [See “Ahriman”.]

"My experience is that the computer is definitely off limits for angels." — From a discussion at the Rudolf Steiner Archive, 2009.

“The exploitation of electric forces — for example in information and computing technologies — spreads evil over the Earth in an immense spider's web [1]. And fallen spirits of darkness belonging to the hierarchy of Angels [2] are active in this web.” — Anthroposophist Richard Seddon, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1996), p. 24.

[1] Anthroposophists find evil in high-tech electrical devices, but their fears extend to all uses of electricity. “[E]vil will invade the earth by coming in an immediate way out of the forces of electricity.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Overcoming of Evil”, ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET No. 7/8 (General Anthroposophic Society, 1948), GA 273. Even pre-electric technology is deemed demonic. “When we build steam-engines, we provide the opportunity for the incarnation of demons.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Relation of Man to the Hierarchies” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. V, Nos. 14-15, 1928).

[2] I.e., fallen angels: demons. [See the entry for “demons” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

"One of the latest ideas in the educational field is programmed learning ... The idea is new, and lends itself to mechanical contraptions [i.e., mechanized teaching aids] ... A machine can instil a string of dates quickly into a child's mind. It can, no doubt, do the same with facts and figures ... As a means of instilling facts, the programme may be efficient. As an educator, it is a monster. Similar arguments apply to the use of radio and television." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, COMMONSENSE SCHOOLING (Henry Goulden, 1975), pp. 5-6.

“In constructing steam engines an opportunity is...provided for the incarnation of demons [1] ... In steam engines, Ahrimanic demons are brought right down to the point of physical incorporation.” — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).

[1] The Waldorf aversion to technology reaches far down the technological ladder to relatively simple mechanisms. The basis for the schools' rejection of technological products of all kinds is often disguised, but fundamentally it can be found in the fear that these machines are demonic or monstrous.

In this passage, Unger is essentially parroting Steiner (a common practice among Anthroposophists): “When we build steam-engines, we provide the opportunity for the incarnation of demons ... In the steam-engine, Ahrimanic demons are actually brought to the point of physical embodiment.” — Rudolf Steiner,  “The Relation of Man to the Hierarchies” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. V, Nos. 14-15, 1928).

"[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time ... [T]elevision, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings and demons are constantly on the increase."  — Georg Unger, ibid.

“Educational aids of various kinds [1]...detract from the personality of the teacher and from his or her natural authority.” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), pp 140-141.

[1] Waldorf schools generally frown upon anything that comes from outside the Waldorf environment. At the core of Waldorf education stand the teachers — as various commentators have noted, Waldorf schools tend to center not on the students but on the teachers. The personality, authority, and beliefs of the teachers are paramount.

“If it is to fulfill its purpose in accordance with the spiritual reality out of which it teaches [1], then a Waldorf school must be structured and make its administrative and financial decisions in accordance with the same spiritual reality [2] … To teach the children on the basis of the reality of the supersensible world [3] and then work with the money [4] as though no such supersensible world existed is to introduce a dishonesty, a lie, into the life of the school.” — Anthroposophist Michael Spence, FREEING THE HUMAN SPIRIT - The Threefold Social Order, Money, and The Waldorf School (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1999), p. 5.

[1] I.e., Waldorf schools base essentially all their teaching on the “spiritual reality” described in Anthroposophy. [See the entry for “Anthroposophy” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., the very structure of a Waldorf school, at every level (including administration and financial affairs), must be consistent with the “spiritual reality” described in Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools are inextricably linked to Anthroposophy.

[3] “Supersensible” realities lie beyond the reach of our ordinary senses. For a Waldorf school, the “supersensible world” is the spirit realm as described in Anthroposophy.

[4] Like all other parts of its operations, the financial management of a Waldorf school must be guided by the spiritual Anthroposophical perspective. A Waldorf school is, in every sense, an Anthroposophical institution.

“[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him ... [I]t is [the faculty's] 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.

“It is wise, on encountering a fairy [1], not to be too overeager in one’s scrutiny. Little People — like those other innocents, animals, and children — have an intense dislike of being stared at. They love to stare at us, of course, but will turn away at once and disappear the moment we return the favor. They have grown shy in the face of our disbelief in them. [2]” — Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS (SteinerBooks, 2013), pp. 36-37.

[1] Amazingly, this is not a joke. Anthroposophists believe in the literal existence of fairies, aka nature spirits or elemental beings. [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] For this reason, Waldorf schools encourage their young students to believe in nature spirits. The teachers tell the students many fairy tales, generally in a manner suggesting the truth of these stories. [See “Fairy Tales”.] Representations of various types of nature spirits — especially gnomes — are often found in Waldorf classrooms. [See "Gnomes".]

Atlantis  — a submerged continent, located where we now find the Atlantis Ocean ... Rudolf Steiner describes the Atlantean culture in many texts and lectures [1] … Rudolf Steiner's information about Atlantis puts the various developmental stages of humanity into an entirely new perspective [2].” —  Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z  (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 11. 

[1] Steiner taught that humanity lived on Atlantis before destroying that continent and moving elsewhere. The “Atlantean culture” expressed humanity’s values and practices at the level of development attained during life on Atlantis. [See, e.g., “Atlantis”.]

[2] According to Anthroposophical teachings, humanity is gradually evolving toward becoming gods. This evolution began on Old Saturn, and it has continued through various stages of life on Earth, including a stage occurring on Atlantis. [See, e.g., the entries for “evolution" and “evolution of consciousness” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

“People are always concerned about the effect of death on children. Yet many small children can dreamily remember the spiritual world from which they came [1] ... Their fears of death...are largely instilled over time by the adults around them [2].” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Nancy Jewel Poel in WORKING WITH THE ANGELS (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004), p. 86.

[1] Waldorf schools postpone academic instruction for students because they want to keep children young. Steiner taught that young children retain ties to the spirit realm where they lived before earthly incarnation. [See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".]

[2] Waldorf schools often teach children to “serve the dead” by, for instance, celebrating “death days” (the days on which various people died) much as they celebrate people’s birthdays. See Waldorf teacher Helmut von Kügelgen’s WORKING WITH THE DEAD (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2003).

"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.” [1] — Clifford Skoog, “Waldorf Education and Science”, in WALDORF EDUCATION -  A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1995), edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers,  p. 79.

[1] Believing that children have natural ties to the spirit realm, Waldorf teachers usually attempt to reinforce what they image is the children's innate religious predisposition. The early grades are thus usually suffused with "mythical and religious content."

Planetary types  — also called: 'soul types'. Between two incarnations, the 'I' [1] lives in the spiritual world where it travels through the following sequence of planetary spheres: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn [2]. When the 'I' is again born on earth, it arrives there with all the knowledge is has been able to absorb during its sojourn in the spiritual world. This newly acquired knowledge manifests in the soul of the new human being. However, the planetary sphere where the 'I' stayed longest, and where it was really able to absorb new spiritual knowledge, will leave a predominant imprint on the soul. [3]“ —  Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 95. 

[1] I.e., the human spiritual ego. [See “Ego”.]

[2] Waldorf thinking is often infused with astrology. [See “Astrology”.] Planetary spheres are purportedly regions of the solar system under the dominance of various planets and their spirits. According to Waldorf belief, humans travel to the planetary spheres when the physical body is asleep and again after the physical body dies. [See, e.g., "Higher Worlds".] After death, a human lives awhile in the spirit realm, then s/he reincarnates on Earth, Rudolf Steiner taught.

[3] I.e., children have different "soul types" depending on which planetary spheres they have stayed in longest. Beliefs of this sort can influence the assessments Waldorf teachers make of their students, for instance if they draw up the kids' horoscopes — a rare but not unknown occurrence. [See “Horoscopes”.]

“[F]rom the heliocentric horoscope [1] comparison, it is possible to see if recurring astrological rhythms that signal an indication of reincarnation patterns are evident [2].” — Steiner disciple Robert Powell, PROPHECY - PHENOMENA - HOPE (Lindisfarne Books, Anthroposophic Press, 2011), p. 13.

[1] I.e., a horoscope that considers the solar system from the perspective of the Sun, located at the center of the solar system. Heliocentric horoscopes can be compared to geocentric horoscopes, which consider the solar system from the perspective of the Earth. 

Astrology is important in the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy. [See, "Astrology" and "Star Power".Rudolf Steiner occasionally drew horoscopes to “understand” children, and some Waldorf teachers follow his example.   ◊ "Each of us is assigned a particular horoscope, in which the forces are revealed that have led us into this life." — Rudolf Steiner, ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 46. [See "Horoscopes".]   ◊ "By looking at what the horoscope shows we can see what is really the matter [with a child]." — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, GA 317. [See "Waldorf Astrology".]

Steiner taught that the Sun is the original abode of Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[2] I.e., we can detect recurrences that indicate patterns in someone’s history of reincarnations. [For more on Anthroposophical belief in reincarnation, see “Reincarnation”.]

“It is in our will that our karmic intentions are stored, intentions which have been prepared during the long period between lifetimes in the company of the spiritual beings of planetary spheres and beyond [1]. But can these intentions be read in a horoscope? Whilst criticizing the superficial nature of much astrology, Steiner shows that we do indeed attempt to choose the appropriate birth time to match the destiny that we are to live out [2] ... On occasion he himself made use of horoscopes as we can see in the case of the ‘special needs’ children [3].” — Anthroposophist Margaret Jonas, introduction to ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), pp. 2-3.

[1] I.e., between incarnations on Earth, we live in the spirit realm among the gods. There, our self-created karma is stored in our wills.

[2] I.e., we elect to be incarnated under auspicious star formations. (These formations and their effects can later be read and analyzed through the use of horoscopes.)

[3] I.e., Steiner drew up horoscopes for some children who had special needs. [See “Horoscopes”.]

“At the founding ceremony of The Waldorf School [1], Rudolf Steiner spoke about how teachers need to establish a connection with spiritual beings [2] … [H]e described how communities can attract and engage spiritual beings through a process called ‘reverse ritual’ [3]. This process is key to College work [4] … [T]he most powerful and meaningful rituals are earthly reflections [5] of realities that we experience in the spiritual world before birth.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, THY WILL BE DONE (Waldorf Publications, 2017), pp. 55-56.

[1] I.e., the first Waldorf school, established in 1919.

[2] I.e., gods. The Waldorf belief system is polytheistic. [See “Polytheism”.] Waldorf teachers think they work in service to, and in alliance with, the gods. [See "Serving the Gods".]

[3] I.e., a ceremony conducted in reverse order, or a spiritual action moving in a reverse direction — such as upward from Earth rather than downward from the spirit realm.

[4] The College of Teachers is the leading faculty committee within a Waldorf school.

[5] I.e., mirror images: reversed images.

“[B]ehind each [Waldorf] teacher stands their angel [1], lending support and strength; then above the circle of teachers [2] weave the archangels [3], creating a chalice of courage [4] … Michael [5] bestows a drop of inspiration, true spiritual insight, to the group of colleagues … The angels, archangels, and archai [6] can strengthen and inspire us [i.e., Waldorf teachers] if we consciously turn to them for guidance and help.” — Waldorf educator Christopher Schaefer in the introduction to REVERSE RITUAL (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. xviii.

[1] I.e., a guardian angel. According to Waldorf belief, angels are gods one step higher than humans (who are not yet gods). Waldorf teachers commonly think they work in service to, and in alliance with, the gods. Their work, they believe, is sacred. [See, e.g., "Schools as Churches".]

[2] E.g., a Waldorf school’s “college of teachers” — the central faculty committee.

[3] I.e., gods two steps higher than humans.

[4] I.e., a spiritual vessel containing courage.

[5] In Waldorf belief, Michael is the Archangel of the Sun, a warrior god. [See “Michael”.]

[6] I.e., gods three steps higher than humans.

"Memory — in ancient times, when human beings were clairvoyant [1] and the four members [2] were not as closely interconnected as nowadays, memory as such was not needed. There was no need to store sense impressions because they were always at hand through clairvoyant perception ... In due course, as the four members became more closely intertwined, clairvoyance...faded and eventually disappeared altogether [3]. Personal memory therefore became necessary." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A - Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 76.

[1] According to Rudolf Steiner, humans in the past had natural clairvoyant powers. [See the entries for "natural clairvoyance" and "atavistic clairvoyance" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] In Waldorf belief, human have four bodies, three of which are invisible. [See "Incarnation".]

[3] However, Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and he said he could teach his followers to become clairvoyant. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

“[T]he girls should know about spinning and weaving, and the methods used in the production of clothing ... [T]he boys should be taught woodworking and perhaps metalwork ... The boys should be taught the elements of surveying and planning ... [T]he girls should learn the elements of hygiene, simple bandaging, and suchlike.” [1]  — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 162.

[1] Some commentators have argued that the Waldorf curriculum is sexist. Passages like the one we see here give support to this contention.

“[A]n herb gatherer named Felix Koguzski...gave Steiner his first opportunity to share with another human being the reality of the spiritual world [1]  … Steiner's spiritual master, or initiator [2], reportedly [then] gave him several tasks, including the seemingly impossible task of reversing the plunge of Western thought and culture into atheistic materialism [3], as well as the more specific task of restoring to the West an understanding of the dual concept of karma and rebirth [4].” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Robert McDermott, THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, Anthroposophic Press, 2009), p. 6.

[1] Steiner claimed he received two initiations into occult spiritual wisdom:. First he was initiated by Felix Koguzski, then he received a further initiation by an unnamed Master, whom Anthroposophists usually refer to as “M.” [See "Rosy Cross" and the entry for "M" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., Koguzski.

[3] I.e., Koguzski gave Steiner the task of rescuing the Western world from atheism.

[4] Karma and reincarnation are basic doctrines in Steiner’s Anthroposophy. [See “Karma” and “Reincarnation”.]

"Rudolf Steiner's advice for changing a left-handed to a right-handed child [1] ... The changeover is advisable for karmic reasons ... One can only change over until the ninth or tenth year ... Only the capacities that have to do with the intellect are brought over to the right hand (writing and...holding a spoon) ... [S]imultaneously one must do artistic, pedagogical, and therapeutic eurythmy exercises." [2] — Waldorf teacher Rudolf Braumiller, remarks at an Anthroposophical medical conference, 1977.

[1] "[I]t is a fact that children will become idiotic through lefthandedness." — Rudolf Steiner, 1922 (GA 300/2).

[2] Eurythmy is a form of spiritual dance, often required of all students in a Waldorf school. It is thought to have spiritual, therapeutic effects. "Eurythmy is obligatory. The children must participate.  Those who do not participate in eurythmy will be removed from the school." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65. [See "Eurythmy".]

"Steiner describes unseen beings who tempt and waylay us in two very different directions. On one side, there are the servants of Lucifer...who would abandon the goals of the highest hierarchies [i.e., the highest gods] and create a blissful kingdom of spiritual light and delight for themselves. On the other side, there are immensely powerful beings who strive to blind us to the spirit ... These spirits of materialism belong to the dark power that ancient wisdom called Ahriman ... Both Ahriman and Lucifer have played, and continue to play, necessary roles in human and world evolution [1]." — Waldorf teacher Henry Barnes, A LIFE FOR THE SPIRIT (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 131.

[1] Sometimes Steiner indicated that Lucifer and Ahriman are profoundly evil; sometimes he indicated that, actually, Lucifer and Ahriman serve the purposes of the benevolent gods. In either case, Steiner's followers believe that these beings are crucially important to human evolution, offering us temptations that — when we overcome them — enable us to rise to higher spiritual levels. 

“Steiner characterized the task of the modern age in terms of two principles...which he named Lucifer and Ahriman ... Man contained the potentialities of both principles within his soul, and he had to learn to develop them in harmony with one another ... This could be achieved through Art [1].” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 12.

[1] Waldorf schools are fully of lovely art, and the curriculum emphasizes art. The reasons have little to do with aesthetics, however. In Waldorf belief, art serves mystical purposes. [See "Magical Arts".]

“There are two psychological demons at work [1]. The one goads man on with extravagant visions of ever vaster accomplishments until he begins to see himself as a kind of god — that is the tempter called, of old, Lucifer [2]. The other entangles man more and more in matter, convincing him that, in fact, he is no more than the dust he is made of — that is the ancient deceiver, the father of lies, Mephistopheles, or Ahriman [3].” — Waldorf educator Francis Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 2004), p. 5.

[1] According to Anthroposophy, there are many very real demons in the universe. [See the entry for “demons” in The Brief Waldorf/ Steiner Encyclopedia.] “Psychological demons” are those that attack our psyches.

[2] Steiner taught that Lucifer is one of the arch-demons tempting humanity. Lucifer tries to lure us into false forms of spirituality. [See “Lucifer”.]

[3] In Anthroposophical belief, Ahriman is perhaps the most threatening arch-demon of our time — he tries to lure us into excessive materialism, including belief that only the material or physical level of existence is real. [See “Ahriman”.] 

According to Steiner's devout followers, the defense against demonic attack is Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education.

“Early in the Lemurian age [1], Lucifer and Ahriman [2] continued their onslaught on the human being, and caused a disruption of the human senses. This attack on the senses brought the human being under the influence of earth forces that threatened to pull the human being down and keep the human in the horizontal position of the animals … This was not, however, the end of this primordial Luciferic and Ahrimanic onslaught, and in the middle of the Atlantean age [3] these adversaries strove to disrupt the proper functioning of the human vital organs. Their effort was to render the human vital organs incapable of relating correctly with the outside world, to make these organs, in [Rudolf] Steiner’s vivid phrase, ‘selfish.’” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Douglas Sloan in AND WHO SHALL TEACH THE TEACHERS? (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2007, reprint 2012), pp. 24-25.

[1] I.e., when we lived on the lost continent of Lemuria (before moving to Atlantis). [See “Lemuria”.]

[2] According to Anthroposophy, these are two major demons who threaten humanity. [See “Lucifer” and “Ahriman”.]

[3] i.e., while we lived on Atlantis. [See “Atlantis”.]

“To be told...when the sky is filled with sunlight and rain that the fairies are baking [1]...creates an indelible mood of magic [2]. To be told that the rainbow is caused by light refracting through raindrops is neither plausible to a child nor particularly inspiring [3].”  — Waldorf teachers Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 2003), p. 93.

[1] Rudolf Steiner’s follower believe in the literal existence of fairies or nature spirits. [See “Neutered Nature” and “Beings”.] Here, two Waldorf teachers argue that children should be told about the actions of fairies not because such accounts are literally true, necessarily, but because they are inspiring. Leading kids to believe in the literal existence of fairies is a secondary objective, here. But, overall, Waldorf schools want students to see the world as Rudolf Steiner prescribed — which includes belief in fairies or nature spirits.

[2] Steiner’s followers also believe in the literal reality of magic. [See “Magic”.]

[3] Waldorf schools tend to downplay realistic, rational, and scientific descriptions of phenomena. The inherent problem with such schooling is that it leads students away from a clear-eyed understanding of reality. (If your child asked a teacher to explain rainbows, and the teacher replied "The fairies are baking," would you be satisfied?)

“[F]our sorts of elementary creatures [1] are dominant [in various regions of the Earth]. These beings...are [primarily] known to us through fairy tales [2], but they are still visible to someone with clairvoyant powers [3] ... In America gnomes are dominant [4] ... Nymphs are dominant in the region of the Atlantic Ocean and on the west of Europe and Africa ... To the east of this area...elves (sylphs) are dominant ... East of the Himalayas, in the Pacific Ocean...fiery spirits or salamanders are dominant.” — Steiner disciple Kees Zoeteman, GAIASOPHY (Lindisfarne Books, Anthroposophic Press, 1991), pp. 209-211.

[1] According to Anthroposophical belief, these are “elemental beings” or “nature spirits” — invisible beings that dwell within the “four elements” of nature: earth, air, fire, and water. [See, e.g., “Neutered Nature”.] Gnomes dwell in the earth, sylphs in the air, fire spirits or "salamanders" in fire, and undines in water. [See the entries for these names — gnomes, etc. — in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Here Zoeteman adds some variant names.

[2] Waldorf students are told many fairy tales because, in Anthroposophical belief, these stories are true accounts of spiritual realities. [See “Fairy Tales”.]

[3] Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and many Waldorf teachers think that they, too, are clairvoyant. [See, e.g., “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.]

[4] For other Anthroposophical teachings about America, see “America”.

“[T]he etheric body [1] stands one stage above the physical body and is responsible for its life and its form ... Using everyday clairvoyance [2], it is [also] possible to become aware of the third member of the young person, the astral body [3].” — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, MILLENNIAL CHILD - Tranforming Education in the Twenty-first century (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 115 & p. 179.

[1] According to Waldorf belief, this is an invisible body that incarnates around age seven. It is said to be an envelope of formative life forces. [See the entry for “etheric body” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] In Waldorf belief, there are several types of clairvoyance. Here, a Waldorf teacher postulates the existence of “everyday” (natural, unschooled, basic) clairvoyance. Rudolf Steiner claimed to be highly clairvoyant, and many Waldorf teachers think that they are clairvoyant to one degree or another. [See, e.g., “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.]

[3] According to Waldorf belief, this is an invisible body that incarnates around age 14. It is said to be an envelope of soul forces. [See the entry for “astral body” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Waldorf education is keyed to the incarnation of three invisible bodies. [See “Incarnation”.]

“[I]t is highly important that [Waldorf teachers] work at developing their own speech — musicality, rhythm, clarity, enunciation, plastic force, and so on ... [I]n working with the musicality of language, with its structure and sounds, we are at work in a wonderfully heavenly interval: a divine pause, a spiritual hiatus [1] between our future and the student’s past. We entice the student from his or her givens [sic] from the past...into this divine hiatus.” — Waldorf teacher Magda Lissau, THE TEMPERAMENTS AND THE ARTS (The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2003), pp. 135-136.

[1] Naturally, it is important for teachers to speak well and clearly. But, as usual, the Waldorf perspective is mystical. Steiner taught that speech creates spiritual realities; the gods create by speaking their intentions, and humans can do the same. When Waldorf teachers employ rhythmical, musical tones of voice, they are attempting to guide students into a spiritual condition ("a divine pause, a spiritual hiatus") distinct from ordinary experience, where karma and reincarnation may be improved.

“Rudolf Steiner emphasized how important it is to seat children in class according to their temperaments [1]. But which temperaments are appropriate to seat together so they will have a positive influence on each other? We might think spontaneously of contrasting temperaments, for example seating a choleric child next to a phlegmatic one [2] … But when [a child] sits next to someone with the same temperament, something special happens, and this holds true for all four temperaments. It happens that she sees herself in the temperament of the other; she is confronted with herself, unconsciously recognizes herself and dislikes her own characteristics that she sees in the other [3] … Now we can understand Rudolf Steiner’s suggestions to seat children with the same temperaments next to each other in class." — Waldorf teacher Helmut Eller, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS (Waldorf Publications, 2018), pp. 86-90.

[1] In Waldorf belief, there are four primary human character types: melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic, and sanguine. Every child is said to primarily reflect one of these four types. [See “Humouresque”.] Waldorf schools often segregate students according to this fallacious system of classification, for instance by assigning kids to sit in different parts of the classroom.

[2] In this situation, the contrasting temperaments would presumably balance and perhaps correct each other. But, Eller argues, this is the wrong approach.

[3] The benefit, Eller indicates, is that the student leans to dislike her own character traits. But many child psychologists would argue for precisely the opposite approach: encouraging kids to have positive feelings about themselves, not dislike or aversion.

"Even today...the Jews dominate the global scientific and artistic fraternities.... [1]" — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, THE PEOPLE POOL (Golden Beetle Books, 1993), p. 89. 

[1] Rudolf Steiner was a racist. Arguably, he harbored no racial hatred, but he taught that some races are lower and less evolved than others. [See "Steiner's Racism".] His followers today are usually far more circumspect, and few may be outright racists. But racist remarks — including statements reflecting anti-Semitic stereotypes — still find their way into Anthroposophic discourse with troubling regularity.

“The ‘exploration into God’ for Waldorf teachers is to familiarize ourselves more and more with ‘unborn-ness,’ a supersensible [1] phase through which souls travel before incarnation.” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 17. 

[1] Exploring the supersensible realm, a central endeavor for Anthroposophists, is also an objective for Waldorf teachers. In this instance, they are encouraged to examine the condition of their students' souls prior to incarnation on Earth.

“[T]he living sustain the dead [1] by providing a form of nourishment during sleep from thoughts on spiritual matters formed when awake [2].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 115. 

[1] According to Anthroposophic belief, the living can assist the dead in multiple ways, such as by beaming affirmative thoughts to them. Anthroposophy is the creed upon which Waldorf education was erected and stands today. [See "Oh Humanity".]

[2] I.e., we think about spiritual matters while we are awake, then we project the results to the dead while we sleep. Anthroposophists believe that some portions of ourselves (our “astral bodies” and our “I”s) ascend into the spirit realm at night while lower parts of ourselves (our physical bodies and our “etheric bodies”) remain on Earth, fast asleep. The parts of ourselves that rise into the spirit realm may easily convey fortifying messages to the dead. [For more on our four bodies, see "Incarnation" and "What We're Made Of".]

“[W]e may begin to understand several tendencies of contemporary music [1]. An increasing polarization of the luciferic and ahrimanic [2] took place towards the end of the [nineteenth] century. We note that the Romantic composers — Romanticism exhibits a tendency towards the luciferic [3] — were on the increase. On the other hand, we find the tendency to mechanize music [4], to fragment it through the use of technology, an ahrimanic inspiration [5]. Musical compositions that imitate nature have also such an impulse [6]. Computer music is a further atomization [7] of the being of music [8].” — Waldorf teacher Magda Lissau, THE TEMPERAMENTS AND THE ARTS (The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2003), p 110. 

[1] Waldorf schools place great emphasis on the arts. However, the underlying Waldorf belief system — Anthroposophy — finds deep faults in much of modern art, such as contemporary music. 

[2] Lucifer and Ahriman are two arch-demons described in Anthroposophy. [See “Lucifer” and “Ahriman”.] Anything that is infused with the spirit of Lucifer is “luciferic”; anything infused with the spirit of Ahriman is “ahrimanic”. 

[3] Lucifer tempts mankind toward false spirituality. Romantic music is "luciferic" when it is excessively emotional or falsely ethereal.

[4] Music is “mechanized” if it is performed on electrical instruments, or augmented by electrical amplifiers, or broadcast over the radio, or composed with the aid of electrical devices, etc. 

[5] Ahriman tempts us toward excessive involvement in the physical level of existence, separating us from the spiritual. According to Rudolf Steiner, all things associated with the physical sciences or modern technology tend to be "ahrimanic".

[6] In Anthroposophical belief, any imitation of nature is inferior to nature itself. Thus, imitation is false and potentially demonic (ahrimanic). 

[7] Music composed with the aid of computers is especially ahrimanic. Such music is "atomized" by being broken down into small mechanistic parts ("atoms"). [For the Anthroposophical take on atoms, see "Atoms".]

[8] The "being of music" is the spirit of music — in effect, a god that inspires true music. In Anthroposophy, everything true is the embodiment of a spirit or god. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]

“Just as Lucifer [1] thrives on eccentricity, on whims, on rebelliousness, and all else that arises from the individuality asserting itself too strongly, so Ahriman [2] encourages conventionality, rigidity, and above all, uniformity of opinion. Lucifer would like to rule our classrooms, but Ahriman is most interested in controlling the Board room [3]." — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, THE WALDORF TEACHER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2000), p. 61.

[1] According to Anthroposophy, Lucifer is one of the arch-demons threatening humanity. [See “Lucifer”.] Waldorf teachers often believe that such demons are especially eager to damage holy Anthroposophical institutions, in particular Waldorf schools. [Concerning the self-appointed holy mission of Waldorf schools, see, e.g., "Schools as Churches".]

[2] Anthroposophists generally consider Ahriman to be the most distinctly malevolent arch-demon threatening humanity during the current phase of human spiritual evolution. [See “Ahriman”.]

[3] Thus both Lucifer and Ahriman work to damage Waldorf schools. (The “Board room” is where a school’s board of directors meets.) The leaders of Waldorf schools strive to fend off demonic attacks, seeking to align the schools with divine will. [See, e.g., "Serving the Gods".]

"Zodiac — has its center in the individual self [1]. The constellations are the circumference of spiritual beings [2]. Planets are the focalizers of spiritual forces of the zodiac [3].” — Retired Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings Publishing, 2009), p. 12.

[1] That is to say, the stars of the zodiac focus their powers on the lives of human beings. (That is to say, astrology is for real: Our lives are intimately linked to the spiritual powers of the stars. The Waldorf belief system is deeply infused with astrology. [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".])

[2] I.e., spiritual beings — gods — manifest as the starry constellations.

[3] I.e., planets are the focal points for the gods’ influences, beaming down from the stars. (Odama is arguing for the truth of astrology when understood in conjunction with Anthroposophy. [See "Ex-Teacher 4".])

“[M]uch depends on the inner attitude of the teacher ... [It] can grow out of a regular meditative practice...five minutes in the morning and perhaps ten minutes in the evening. Rudolf Steiner gave three words...to characterize the attitude of the teacher: Devotion, Protective Feeling, and Enthusiasm. Each of these is accompanied by a eurythmic [1] gesture. Devotion — arms folded over the chest in reverence; Protective Feeling — half a ‘B’ gesture with the right arm; Enthusiasm — the right arm stretched upwards — the ‘E’ gesture.” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 102 

[1] Eurythmic positions represent letters of the alphabet. Here Waldorf teachers adopt three positions for meditative purposes. Performing eurythmy is one way that Waldorf teachers undertake Anthroposophical meditative practices.

“Watching a eurythmy performance is mesmerizing. It’s as if a delicate golden thread were winding its bright way through the performers as they inscribe a beautiful, harmonious movement in the ‘soul space’ of the stage. The thread is alive and on fire, and the eurythmists move in reverence to it, always aware of the subtle creative force beyond their individual selves. The weaving hands, borealic veils, and solemn gestures...carry me into a contemplative space. I imagine this must be how we ‘spoke’ before incarnation, when with bodies of light we expressed ourselves with our whole being in movement. [1]” — Richard Leviton, quoted in WALDORF EDUCATION -  A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1995), edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers,  p. 70.

[1] Eurythmy is, in effect, Anthroposophy in action, a type of worship. As Steiner said, "In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world." — ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 246-247. Or, as a former Waldorf teachers has written, "Anthroposophists believe the movements [of eurythmy] are a sign language with spiritual significance that help the child communicate with the spirit world." [See "Whats Your Views".]

"[T]here are certain quite general exercises taken from the realm of curative eurythmy that can be done win the morning assembly with all the children." — Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock, TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), p. 40.

“Twelve particular constellations, known as the zodiac...have a particular formative presence in our universe [1]. Their relative movements can be experienced as an ever-changing dance or conversation ...  In long distant ages we could experience fellowship with the beings of the starry world, and addressed them as gods and goddesses [2] … Out of his spiritual research, Rudolf Steiner also recognized the living quality of the zodiac circle. He experienced it speaking or singing to us, and perceived that a specific consonant...sounds out of each sign of the zodiac ... Likewise, each of the planets sings to the earth with a different vowel quality [3].” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Cynthia Hoven, EURYTHMY (HeartSong Press, 2012), pp. 29-30.

[1] I.e., they project astrological powers that shape our worlds and our lives. [See, e.g., “Star Power”.]

[2] In the ancient past, Steiner taught, people were naturally clairvoyant. [See “natural clairvoyance” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] This enabled them to perceive and interact with the gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See “Polytheism”.]

[3] Eurythmy, a form of temple dancing developed by Steiner, is meant to give physical expression to the language of the gods as reflected in human language. At most Waldorf schools, all students are required to do eurythmy. [See “Eurythmy”.]

“At the age of 11 children begin to develop a sense for what is historical [1], and this is then the right time to present pictures of the civilizations...which stretch from Atlantis [2] to the present.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School Approach (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 63.

[1] According to the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, children of this age have received their etheric bodies, which incarnate at age 7, and they will soon receive their astral bodies, which incarnate at age 14. [See “Incarnation”.] These students are thus beginning to have the capacity to look beyond their own historical or cultural epoch. [See “Epochs”.]

[2] Steiner taught that humanity once lived on the continent of Lemuria, which we destroyed in cataclysms of fire. After that, we lived on the continent of Atlantis, which we destroyed in cataclysms of water. Here, a Waldorf teacher indicates that Waldorf students should be taught at least some of these beliefs in their history classes. [See “Lemuria” and “Atlantis”.]

“In contrast to the usual concept of the heart, anthroposophy tells us that [the heart] beats because blood flows through the body. The heart is thus not an organ that pumps the blood [1] … [I]nstead it responds to the living circulation of the blood [2].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 55.

[1] Much as he denied that the brain is a thinking organ, Steiner denied that the heart is a pump. “[Science] sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this....” — Rudolf Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 126.

[2] Steiner taught that the heart is actually a sense organ. “The heart is not a pump ... Basically the heart is a sense organ within the circulatory system, yet exactly the opposite is taught nowadays.” — Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND (Steiner Books, 1987), p. 56. The living blood flows of its own accord, Steiner taught.
To become a follower of Rudolf Steiner (as many Waldorf teachers do), you need to reject established truths and embrace esoteric falsehoods instead. (The reality that the heart is a pump is “taught nowadays” in mainstream schools that accept a rational view of reality. Waldorf schools are founded upon a very different, mystical view.)

"When a foundation of observation and disciplined thinking is established, the [Waldorf] high school science teacher now introduces a new type of thinking ... [T]he mind is cleared, and the phenomenon [being studied] is allowed to speak [1]. 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 [2]." — Waldorf teacher David S. Mitchell, THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2004), pp. 12-13.

[1] According to Anthroposophy, physical phenomena are manifestations of spiritual beings. By attaining occult cognitive powers — essentially, clairvoyance — we can penetrate directly to apprehends these spirits. The spirits "speak" or "come forward" to us. [See the entry for "clairvoyance" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] Waldorf schools almost always deny that they teach the students Anthroposophy. But here we find a Waldorf teacher advocating the meditative practices ("the mind is cleared," "keeping the mind from straying," "thinking is freed of the senses") that are at the center of Anthroposophy. Their purpose is to enable us to become clairvoyant, so that we may apprehend the supersensible or spiritual worlds that lie beyond the reach of our ordinary senses. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] Teaching students such practices is teaching them Anthroposophy. (Note that Mitchell does not teach chemistry; he teaches "Waldorf chemistry".)


"By recognizing the connections of these four grains [1] to the elements [2], we also have the keys to the corresponding temperament [3] ... Rice has a harmonizing effect on the phlegmatic person ... [M]illet is the grain for the sanguine personality ... The grain for the melancholic is corn ... The choleric grain is oats ... What should parents cook if they have several children with different temperaments? ... We may only sporadically have the opportunity to influence a temperament by cooking the appropriate grain.... [4]" — Waldorf teacher Helmut Eller, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS (Waldorf Publications, 2018), pp. 177-179.

[1] I.e., rice, millet, corn, and oats. Steiner's followers believe that there is a "best" grain for each human temperament, and people should eat the right foods for their temperaments.

[2] Steiner's followers embrace the ancient belief that there are actually just four elements in nature: earth, air, fire, and water. [See "Neutered Nature".] These elements are the abodes of four "elemental beings": gnomes (in the earth), sylphs (air), fire spirits (fire), and undines (water). [See "Beings".]

[3] Steiner's followers embrace the ancient belief that there are four human temperaments: melancholic (manifesting earth forces), sanguine (air), choleric (fire), and phlegmatic (water). [See "Temperaments".]

[4] Eller understands that parents may not always be able to follow his instructions, but he nonetheless offers Anthroposophical "wisdom" for families to use, whenever they can, in their homes. Thus would Waldorf fallacies (piled on fallacies piled on fallacies) extend outward from school life to home life. [See, e.g., "Discussions".]

“[W]e should ask [a patient], ‘How do you know you feel fine?’ The answer should be, ‘Because I don’t feel anything.’ This expresses that wonderful feeling of transparency that lives in us when we are healthy [1] … [M]easles [takes] away the deformation of the life body [2], allowing it again to be come [sic] transparent [3].” — Waldorf teacher and physician L. F. C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 128-129.

[1] I.e., health is a state of unhindered receptiveness to beneficent forces flowing down to us from the stars, the gods, or the spirit realm generally. We are “transparent” when these forces can flow into us unimpeded.

[2] The “life body” is the “etheric body,” the first of three invisible bodies that Rudolf Steiner taught incarnates during the first 21 years of life. [See “Incarnation”.] Here Mees indicates that illness arises when one of our bodies becomes misshapen (deformed).

[3] Measles is good for us (it is a blessing) because it heats and straightens the “deformation,” thus making the patient “transparent” again. Mees’ major thesis is expressed in the title of his book: Illness is a blessing. We should not fight or prevent illness — we should welcome it. [For more on Anthroposophical medicine, see “Steiner’s Quackery”.]

Brain — The brain acts as a mirroring ground [1] … [I]t mediates between the spiritual and the physical world just as a radio mediates between the broadcaster and the listener [2]. Most radio stations are broadcasting their programmes 24 hours a day; but the only station we can hear is the one we tune in to. In the same way, the ‘I’ [3] chooses…the thoughts that are relevant to a particular moment [4]. The brain does not produce thoughts [5].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 16.

[1] That is, according to Anthroposophical beliefs, the brain receives and reflects thoughts sent down from on high. It is a mirror, not a creative font of ideas. It does not think. [See “Thinking”.]

[2] A different metaphor: The brain is a radio, receiving thoughts from on high.

[3] The “I” is one’s spiritual ego, one’s unique spiritual identity. [See “Ego”.]

[4] The cosmos is full of “living thoughts,” emanating from many, many spirits. [See the entry for “living thoughts” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] The “I” decides which stream of thoughts to receive at any given moment. 

[5] ◊ “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition; they are only the expression of cognition in the physical system.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. 

◊ "Within the brain there is absolutely no thought; there is no more of thought in the brain than there is of you in the mirror in which you see yourself." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD, ORDEALS OF THE SOUL, REVELATIONS OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 119.    To the extent that we do any thinking of our own, we do it in our bones and bodies, not in our heads. 

◊ “The head only looks on at all that occurs. The head is really only an apparatus for reflecting what the body does. The body thinks, the body counts. The head is only a spectator.” — Rudolf Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (SteinerBooks, 1998), p. 159. 

◊ “As soon as we begin to think with our fingers — and one can think with one's fingers and toes much more brightly, once one makes the effort, than with the nerves of the head — as soon as we begin to think with that part of us which has not entirely become matter, when we think with the lower part of our being, then our thoughts are the thoughts of our karma." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 126.   We might ask ourselves whether a sensible form of education can be based on such concepts. Waldorf education is based on such concepts. [See "Oh Humanity".]

"From the beginning of his work with teachers and physicians [1], Rudolf Steiner always stressed that educating is simultaneously healing, a subtle healing ... [T]hrough anthroposophical knowledge of the human being [2]...a concept that looks for the origin of health is introduced ... In the buildup of the human organism [3], physical body, etheric body, astral body, and ego-organization [4] work closely throughout life ... Soul activity [5] becomes possible because the ego-organization and astral body are only loosely connected with the physical and etheric bodies ... The astral body submerges rhythmically — through inhalation and heart contraction (systole) — into the physical and etheric organism and is released once again through exhalation and heart-expansion (diastole) [6] ... In spiritual activity, the ego-organization, astral body, and etheric body are free of the physical body while active in thinking [7] ... During the day...the ether body is available for body-free thought activity [8]. At night, the etheric body enters once more into the physical body ... At night, the ego-organization and astral body are released completely from [the physical body] and commune with beings in the spiritual world [9]." — Waldorf doctor (and former Waldorf student) Michaela Glöckler, EDUCATION AS PREVENTIVE MEDICINE (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2002), pp. 15-18. [10]

[1] Particularly at the first Waldorf school, opened in Germany in 1919.

[2] See "What We're Made Of"  and  "Our Parts".

[3] In Anthroposophical belief, this process is inextricable from the process of incarnation. [See "Incarnation".] The "human organism" may be understood to include all components of the human constitution, or it may be considered as consisting primarily of the physical parts of a human being. Here, Glöckler says that the three invisible bodies work throughout life to build and perfect the physical organism.

[4] Steiner taught that fully incarnated humans have four bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies. The "ego-organization" is the psychological/spiritual structure of the spiritual ego, including its lowest and highest components.

[5] Steiner taught that humans have both souls and spirits. The former (involved with the astral body) is one's temporary spiritual identity during a single lifetime; the latter (involved with the ego body) is one's permanent spiritual identity through all lifetimes. (Reincarnation is a central Anthroposophical belief.) Here, Glöckler says the soul can be active because the ego and astral body are not tightly bound to, and thus not limited by, the physical body.

[6] I.e., the astral body alternates between close connection with the physical and etheric bodies, and disconnection from them. The spiritual ego is even less connected to the physical and etheric bodies.

[7] Steiner taught that thinking does not actually occur in the brain. Rather, we receive thoughts from the gods, using the brain more or less as a radio receiver. "[T]he brain...mediates between the spiritual and physical world[s] just as a radio mediates between broadcaster and listener." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 16.

[8] I.e., it assists in the "thinking" process that is independent of the bodily organ called the brain.

[9] I.e., while the physical and etheric bodies sleep on Earth, the astral body and ego rise into the spirit realm and converse with the gods. "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. [See, e.g., "Holistic Education".]

[10] In sum, Steiner and his followers think that Anthroposophical education — or Waldorf education — confers health because of its salubrious spiritual essence. Readers will have to decide whether they think education based on concepts such as we see here — etheric body, astral body, etc. — contains truth or any possible of therapeutic effect.

“The issue is, Will thinking fall prey to the mechanism of the brain? Will ‘the brain thinks’ become reality? ... When the cerebral apparatus dominates thinking, it makes no difference what we think ... Anthroposophy, for its part, presupposes that thinking does not remain bound to the brain ... It recognizes that when thinking is determined by the brain its loses its autonomy and can no longer act freely....” — Georg Kühlewind, WORKING WITH ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1992), p. 11.

“[T]he task of the educator is to make oneself a kind of prophet [1] of the child’s future.” — Christopher Clouder, head of the Steiner Waldorf schools Fellowship, “Spiritual Dimension and Autonomy” (1998) http://www.ecswe.org/wren/documents/spiritual_journal.pdf.

[1] Waldorf teachers see themselves as prophets and priests. They can foresee the future, they think, by developing their powers of clairvoyance. They serve their students by serving the gods. "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 24. [See "Waldorf Priests".]

“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 [1].” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 153.

[1] Waldorf faculties generally accept Steiner's directive that religious feeling, if not religious doctrines, should pervade schooling. "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.

“Mathematics [1] is closer to the nature of the human body [2] than writing or reading [3] … [W]hat is most important here is not the shape of the numerals, but what lies behind them [4] … This living reality has much more meaning for the spiritual world [5] than what lives in reading and writing.” — Waldorf teacher Lois Cusick, WALDORF PARENTING HANDBOOK (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2005), pp. 54-55. [6]

[1] Waldorf teachers who follow Steiner believe that mathematics embodies occult spiritual truths. [See, e.g., "Magic Numbers".]

[2] The human form, Steiner taught, is a microcosm of the entire cosmos, the macrocosm. Math helps us to divine the structure, shape, and essence of the microcosm — and through that, the macrocosm. [See “The Center”.]

[3] Waldorf schools usually downplay the importance of reading and writing, especially for the youngest students. Math may also be downplayed in the elementary grades, but the spiritual "meanings" of math, as posited by Steiner, are accorded deep reverence. [See "Mystic Math".]

[4] Steiner taught that numerals and their shapes may manifest spiritual reality. (The written shapes of numerals may have spiritual meaning, but "what lies behind" the numerals is of course more important.)

[5] I.e., math provides an avenue to apprehending the living truths of the spirit realm. Reading and writing are less potent in this regard.

[6] Of all types of math, Steiner said, geometry has the highest spiritual power. “Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92.

“The first mathematicians were priests. Mathematics was not a mere physical science, but a revelation of divinity ... [Math has] an ethical quality ... It manifests order in the world ... One could go even further and say that this is a divine wisdom manifesting itself, and in this sense, mathematics becomes a religious study. In thinking mathematically one is tracing the divine pattern.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, TEACHING MATHEMATICS (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1994), pp. 2-3.

"The first 666 period saw the birth of Islam, bitter rival of Christianity ... Add 666 to 666 and we arrive at the year 1332 [1]. Around this period, Christian Europe was in the grip of an Inquisitorial Dark Age — its very own Ahriman inspiriation! [sic] ... 1332 plus 666 is...1998!! [sic] ... [I]t's not as if we weren't warned. Steiner must have been turning in his [grave] at the environmental folly that has brought the world to its knees in this century; one which achieved the critical mass of wholesale destruction in 1998 ... [W]ill there be an earth worth inhabiting in the 3rd Millennium? Steiner says there will, and he's been right so far." — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, ARCHIOS (Golden Beetle Books, 1993), pp. 1-2.

[1] For more on this sort of numerological thinking in Waldorf belief, see "Mystic Math".

“[Waldorf teacher addressing young students:] The stories I am going to tell are very special. They are wonderful stories of strange beings called ‘gods’ and of giants and dwarfs ... These stories were not just made up; they came about in a different way ... As long as Adam and Eve were still in paradise they could see God [1] … Then came the children of Adam and Eve, and their children’s children; they could still see God, but not very often ... The more people became used to living on earth...the less they could see God ... [B]ut very many of them, not just a few, could see the angels ... There were many peoples in the world who worshipped the angel-gods [2], and they had wonderful stories about them. The most wonderful stories were told among people who are called Norsemen ... When these brave, fierce Norsemen had fought a battle, they came home to celebrate their victory with a great feast ... The most important part of the feast was when a man called a ‘bard’ took a harp and sang or recited a poem ... These bards could see the angel-gods better than the others [3]. This is how the stories I am going to tell you came about. They are stories that these wise bards among the Norsemen heard from the angels, from the angel-gods [4].” — Waldorf teacher Charles Kovacs, NORSE MYTHOLOGY, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2009), pp. 7-9.

[1] The Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, is polytheistic; it affirms the existence of many, many gods. In Anthroposophy, references to “God” (the one and only deity of monotheistic faiths) generally denote the highest of the gods, or the “Godhead”. [See “God”.]

[2] In Anthroposophy, angels are gods one level higher than humanity. In all, Anthroposophy recognizes nine ranks of gods under the Godhead. [See “Polytheism”.]

[3] I.e., they had reliable clairvoyant abilities. [See the entries for "natural clairvoyance" and "atavistic clairvoyance" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] The mythology of the Norsemen, Norse myths, is given great importance in Waldorf education. Steiner taught that Norse myths are truer and more insightful than any others. “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of evolution than Northern mythology.” — THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 17, lecture synopsis. Anthroposophy teaches that we are evolving, under the gods' influence, toward higher and higher forms of spirituality. Significantly, here a Waldorf teacher conveys Anthroposophical doctrines to Waldorf students.

From a Waldorf teachers' guide, written by a Waldorf teacher for Waldorf teachers: 

"[T]here is in the Norse stories a great depth of knowledge [1] and, fragmentary as they are, they are probably relics of old Mystery wisdom [2]. They present a picture of evolution [3], of the creation and development of the human being and his connection with higher beings [4]; they show the human being's struggle with adverse powers [5], the fading of the old world conception [6] and the birth of the ego [7], which leads to new powers of perception [8]; they show the loss of spiritual vision [9] and the consequent catastrophe (Götterdämmerung) [10]; but out of the catastrophe comes new hope and new life emerges [11]." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE NORSE STORIES AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1999), p. 5.

[1] That is, these myths are not mere fabulous entertainments; they are deep and wise accounts, conveying important spiritual truths. Remember, "[These]
 are stories that these wise bards among the Norsemen heard from the angels, from the angel-gods.” — Waldorf teacher Charles Kovacs, NORSE MYTHOLOGY, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2009), pp. 7-9. Angel-gods do not lie.

[2] I.e., the myths arise from ancient wisdom about spiritual mysteries, originally key to understanding the cosmos and its gods. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).]

[3] The central narrative of Anthroposophy concerns mankind's evolution to higher and higher stages of spiritual consciousness. Evolution is a central Anthroposophical concept, and remember: “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of evolution than Northern mythology." — Lecture synopsis, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, p. 17.

[4] I.e., the good and beneficent gods. [See "gods" in the BW/SE.]

[5] I.e., evil gods and/or demons. [See "Evil Ones".]

[6] I.e., the loss of mankind's primal clairvoyant powers and the understanding they provided. In Waldorf belief, this loss is a historical fact. "The History curriculum...provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision...."— Description of Roy Wilkinson's TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2000), posted at the site for the Rudolf Steiner College Book Store (last confirmed 4/6/2019).

[7] I.e., the spiritual ego, the "I". [See "Ego".]

[8] I.e, intellectual, rational perception — useful for life on the physical plane, Steiner taught, but also essentially limited to that plane and thus limiting to the human spirit. [See "intellect" in the BW/SE.]

[9] I.e., again, the loss of old clairvoyant powers.

[10] I.e., the horrific consequences of losing clairvoyant connection to the spirit realm. Götterdämmerung, in Norse mythology, is the apocalyptic final battle between gods and their foes, resulting in the total destruction of all. [See "Götterdämmerung" in the BW/SE.]

[11] Götterdämmerung gave rise to the possibility of a new beginning, arising from the ashes of destruction. In the Waldorf belief system (Anthroposophy), the new beginning and new hope available today are embodied in Anthroposophy itself — including Waldorf education.

“The human spirit, making its way into the alien element of earth, cannot at once lay hold upon the body provided by heredity. For years it must labor to remodel the inherited form into a shape more suited to its individual needs and character. With the cutting of the second teeth at six or seven this task is brought to completion [1] ... With the coming of the second teeth significant changes may be noted in the child’s whole being ... If, before the change of teeth, the child has developed wholesomely among adults whose character has provided him with impressions of moral strength; if, between the second dentition and puberty, his teacher has been an artist able to satisfy his need of beauty, the child enters adolescence with a thought capacity powered by a healthy will, armed and enriched by feeling ... A true art of education...founds its practices upon an insight into the changing interplay of body, soul and spirit in the different periods of the child’s development. It sees in the child from birth to the change of teeth a being of wholly different needs than those of the second period, which terminates in puberty....” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), pp. 9-13.

[1] The Waldorf belief system attaches surprising importance to teeth. The child's etheric body is thought to incarnate when baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth. Moreover, Steiner taught that humans think more with their teeth than with their brains. "[T]he child develops teeth for the purpose of thinking." — EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), lecture 4, GA 307.

“The phrase ‘change of teeth’ is consistently used by Steiner to refer to the time when the primary teeth are lost  and the permanent teeth emerge. This stage of development lasts for approximately the first seven years ... The Etheric and Astral Bodies are not yet born and are held in Etheric and Astral ‘envelopes’ which surround the physical body [1].” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 67.

[1] Anthroposophists believe that human beings have four bodies that incarnate at different periods. Before a body incarnates, it remains within an invisible sheath. "For his etheric body man is enveloped by an ethereal sheath...until about the change of teeth, the sixth or seventh year ... This event represents the 'birth' of the etheric body. After it man is still enveloped by an astral sheath, which falls away at the age of puberty — between the 12th and 16th year. The astral body in its turn is 'born.' Then at an even later point of time the I is born." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 7, GA 13.

"Rudolf Steiner describes how, in our development after physical birth, we human beings go through further 'births': 'Just as we are enclosed within the physical sheath of our mother up to the time of birth, we are enclosed in an etheric sheath up till the change of teeth, that is, till about the seventh year.' [1]" — Anthroposophist Michaela Strauss, UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS: Tracing the Path of Incarnation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 51.

[1] According to Waldorf belief, the invisible, "higher" bodies are wrapped in incorporeal "sheaths" until they incarnate or are born.

“Steiner presented the challenging observation that we as human beings are born not once, but four times on our way to adulthood. Three of the four members of the bodily organism, however, are supersensible in nature and not directly accessible to sense perception. Each member of the total human organism requires a period of about seven years to mature and to fully penetrate the physical body.”  — Waldorf educator Henry Barnes, A LIFE FOR THE SPIRIT - Rudolf Steiner in the Crosscurrents of Our Time (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 150.

"As a spiritual entity, like the Sphinx, advances through time, it sheds its detritus in the form of hideous astral phantoms; malevolent beings [1] which hang around the fringes of human consciousness waiting to be unwittingly invited in." — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, WORLD WITHIN, CHILD WITHOUT (Golden Beetle Books, 1993), p. 15.

[1] While Anthroposophy is largely an optimistic faith, and Waldorf education is often enacted in a gauzy atmosphere of upbeat spirituality, the doctrines propounded by Rudolf Steiner also speak of many evil, demonic beings and forces.

“[A] non-physical record of Christ's life exists in purely spiritual form. Dr. Steiner called this...the Fifth Gospel [1]. He said this 'spiritual document' resided in a larger body of information called the Akashic Record [2] ... Dr. Steiner is quite clear that his research [3] shows the synoptic Gospels are — in part — imagery drawn from the Akashic Records [4]." — Waldorf teacher Bruce Dickson, RUDOLF STEINER'S FIFTH GOSPEL (Xlibris, 2000), pp. 11-13. 

[1] According to Steiner, this additional Gospel “corrects” the four Gospels found in the Bible. Other mystics have made similar claims and produced their own versions of a fifth Gospel. The Rudolf Steiner Press has published Steiner’s version: THE FIFTH GOSPEL - From the Akashic Record (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995, reprinted 2001). [See “Steiner’s Fifth Gospel”.]

[2] This is purportedly a storehouse of all historical knowledge (including much that is otherwise unknown), recorded on “akasha” — a spiritualized ether or stellar light. To read the Record, you must be clairvoyant. [See “Akasha”.]

[3] I.e., his clairvoyant examinations of the Akashic Record.

[4] I.e., Steiner claimed that the Gospels in the Bible are partly based on the Akashic Record, and he said the “Fifth Gospel” is based firmly on it. (The Synoptic Gospels are the first three books of the New Testament — the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The fourth Gospel, that of John, presents a slightly different vision. Steiner’s Fifth Gospel provides a radically different vision. [See, e.g., “Was He Christian?” and "Sun God".])

"Steiner's original contribution to human knowledge was based on his ability to conduct 'spiritual research', the investigation of metaphysical dimensions of existence [1]… A natural seer from childhood [2], he cultivated his spiritual vision [3] to a high degree, enabling him to speak with authority on previously veiled mysteries of life [4].” — Publisher's note, back cover, EDUCATION - An Introductory Reader (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), a compilation of Rudolf Steiner texts.

[1] Steiner claimed to make an objective study of the spirit realm through his use of “exact clairvoyance”. [See “Exactly”.] Such “research” is fallacious, however, if clairvoyance — “exact” or otherwise — is a delusion. And clairvoyance certainly seems to be a delusion. There is no convincing evidence for the existence of clairvoyance. [See “Clairvoyance”.]

[2] Steiner claimed that, as a young boy, he saw a ghost or disembodied spirit. More generally, he indicated that he possessed clairvoyant capabilities (he was a “seer”) from a young age. [See “What a Guy”.]

[3] I.e., clairvoyance.

[4] Steiner’s teachings, which form the basis for Waldorf education, are “occult” — they supposedly reveal previously hidden spiritual truths. [See “Occultism”.]

Akasha Chronicle — a chronicle or record that is imperceptible to the ordinary sense, into which are inscribed all events that occur in the cosmos [1]  … [I]t is a ‘cosmic memory’ of all that happens … The initiate [2] can ‘read’ this chronicle … Not only events that took place in the physical world can be unveiled, but also underlying spiritual connections [3]. Rudolf Steiner developed the ability to read this supersensible chronicle [4].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 5.

[1] Many occultists, especially Theosophists, have claimed to be able to read the Akasha Chronicle, a sort of celestial encyclopedia written on “akasha” — cosmic ether or astral light. They have ascribed their amazing accounts of cosmic history to the wisdom they obtained from the Chronicle. (The Chronicle is invisible to ordinary sight, they say, but it can be read through the use of clairvoyance.)

[2] For an overview of occult initiation, see "Inside Scoop".

[3] Thus, the Chronicle leads to understanding of the eternal and spiritual as well as the merely temporal and physical. In this sense, it ushers initiates to understanding of the deepest truths.

[4] Steiner claimed to study the Chronicle through his use of highly reliable, “exact” clairvoyance. [See “Exactly”.] He asserted that most of his spiritual teachings resulted from his personal clairvoyant investigations, including his readings of the Chronicle. (The Chronicle is “supersensible” in that it lies beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.)

“[W]e should consider what we do in education as a continuation of the work of the Hierarchies [i.e., the gods]. [1]” — Waldorf teacher-trainer René M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 85.

[1] Rudolf Steiner gave this charge to Waldorf teachers, and they continue trying to abide by it. They think that they know the gods' intentions, and that they can help fulfill those intentions after children have incarnated on Earth. "[W]hat we have to do in education is a continuation of what higher beings [the gods] have done without our assistance. Our form of educating can have the correct attitude only when we are aware that our work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings have done before birth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37.

“[T]he Phantom is related, on the one hand, to present-day Saturn, the outermost planet of our solar system [1] and, on the other, to the whole starry cosmos.” — Anthroposophist Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS A PATH OF INITIATION (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1995), p. 264.

[1] Phantoms, specters, and other unseen beings — high and low, good and evil — abound in Anthroposophy. Almost as telling, Anthroposophists believe that the solar system ends with Saturn. They think that Uranus and Neptune are not true members of the solar system.

“[A]dversarial powers [1] and this ‘prince of darkness’ (Ahriman) [2] do not just hold sway in the darkness of the Abyss [3], but also in the wider atmosphere ... [C]ertain Rosicrucian masters [4]...describe these supersensible facts [5]…referring to the ghost spheres of the atmosphere [6].”  — Anthroposophist Sigismund von Gleich, THE TRANSFORMATION OF EVIL - and the Subterranean Spheres of the Earth [7] (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 30. 

[1] I.e., demons and other opponents of the divine cosmic plan, as outlined by Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner. [See the entry for “divine cosmic plan” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] Ahriman is the devil as posited in the religion of Zoroastrianism; he is the opponent of God, known in Zoroastrianism as Ahura Mazda. Rudolf Steiner affirmed the real existence of Ahriman, and he explained that Ahura Mazda is actually Christ, the Sun God. [See “Ahriman”, “Sun God”, and “Zoroastrianism”.]

[3] I.e., hell or, in Anthroposophy, the gulf separating physical reality from spiritual reality. [See the entry for “abyss” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] Rosicrucianism is or was a secretive mystical sect claiming to possess occult spiritual wisdom. Steiner taught that Rosicrucianism (as redefined by himself) is the correct spiritual path for modern humans. [See “Rosy Cross”.]

[5] “Supersensible” information is knowledge that is inaccessible to our ordinary senses. Steiner taught that clairvoyance is needed to attain such knowledge, and he claimed to be extraordinarily clairvoyant. [See “Exactly”.] Many Waldorf teachers believe they are clairvoyant. [See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.] There is, however, no reliable evidence for the existence of clairvoyance. [See “Clairvoyance”.]

[6] I.e., ghost-filled segments of the Earth's atmosphere. Steiner taught that we create ghosts or specters through our evil actions and thoughts. [See the entry for “ghosts” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Here, von Gleich indicates that various layers of the Earth's atmosphere are haunted by "adversarial powers."

[7] Steiner taught that there are nine layers or spheres within the Earth, such as the layer called the “Fire Earth”: “The Fire Earth is made essentially of feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped on. It consists entirely of passions.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 31.

“The earth breathes, [it] takes one breath every twenty-four hours, breathing in during the afternoon, and breathing out in the morning ... The earth obeys also another annual rhythm, breathing out in the spring and breathing in again in the autumn ... [T]hese supersensible facts are of the greatest importance in anthroposophical (biodynamic) agriculture inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner.” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 287.

“[G]ames devised for the purpose of teaching have no place in schools. [The idea] that learning is play, declared Steiner, is the very best educational principle for ensuring that nothing at all is learnt ... Similarly so-called ‘visual aids’ [such as movies and videos]...should be avoided.”  — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE  (Floris Books, 1991), p. 102.

“Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy [1] … The first Waldorf school had formidable growing pains and internal dissensions [2] … Very few human institutions run smoothly…and even angels [3] have their disagreements. Learning about all the good things that may be expected to happen in a Waldorf school is a relatively easy matter [4]. Coping with the way things actually turn out is more difficult [5].” — Former headmaster at Rudolf Steiner School (New York City) Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii.

[1] That is, Waldorf education implements Anthroposophy, applying it to children. (Whether Waldorf schools teach Anthroposophy to the kids is a point of contention. Generally the schools do not do so, openly or explicitly. But they usually do convey Anthroposophy in subtle, indirect ways. [See, e.g., “Sneaking It In”.])

[2] Rudolf Steiner was in charge of the first Waldorf school, and most of the faculty members were devoted to him. Nonetheless, rivalries, jealousies, cliques, factions, etc., developed — as they do in most human enterprises.

[3] In Anthroposophical belief, angels are gods one spiritual stage higher than human beings. Angels attend to, and protect, human beings (such as Waldorf teachers and students) — while archangels attend to, and protect, groups of humans (such as Waldorf schools). Angels and archangels are divine, but they are not perfect. Some may even go bad. These become “fallen angels”.

[4] Francis acknowledges problems and shortcoming in Waldorf education, but he is nonetheless an Anthroposophist deeply devoted to Waldorf.

[5] Waldorf schools may often fall short of their own best intentions. [See, e.g., “Complaints”.] In extreme cases, the schools fail altogether. [See, e.g. “Failure”.]

“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” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, TEACHING AS A LIVELY ART (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), pp. 123-124.

"I am a missionary on behalf of [Rudolf] Steiner." — An instructor in a Waldorf teacher-training program. [See “Teacher Training”.]

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

[1] As we have seen, Waldorf teachers consider their work to be practical Anthroposophy; their objective is to enact and spread Anthroposophy in the world. As in most other things, they take their guidance on such points from Steiner. “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.

"[S]cience, social studies, and history theoretically were all explored and integrated into the curriculum, but always on a 'Waldorf' timeline and scale, and never in-depth. Additionally, the information imparted was often not accurate. For example, the children were taught that there were 4 elements — Earth, wind, fire and air, and that the continents were islands floating on the ocean." — A teacher who tried Waldorf before turning to Montessori. [See "Ex-Teacher 5".]

“If [a person] learns systematically to apply his will to his own thinking...it 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 feeling life [1] of the child will be further engaged by [studying] each animal [2] … [W]e help the children see the perfected specialization [3] 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 [4] ….” — Anthroposophist Astrid Schmitt-Stegmann, Introduction to PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 2000), p. xiv.

[1] Waldorf schools generally emphasize feelings and the feeling life rather than thinking and the thinking life. Rudolf Steiner taught that feelings bring us closer to spiritual truths than thinking can ever do. Thinking is useful on the physical plane of reality; feelings lead us to the spirit realm. 

◊ "I...want you to understand what is really religious in the anthroposophical sense. In the sense of anthroposophy, what is religious is connected with feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press. 1998), p. 45. 

◊ “[T]hinking is oriented to the physical plane. Feeling really has a connection with all the spiritual beings [i.e., gods] who must be considered real ... In the sphere of feelings, human beings cannot liberate [i.e., separate] themselves from the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 70. [See, e.g., "Waldorf's Spiritual Agenda"; cf. "Thinking".]

[2] According to the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, man did not evolve from animals. Instead, animals evolved from man — they branched off from the human evolutionary line. [See “Evolution, Anyone?”]

[3] Animals separated from the human line when they attained “perfected specialization” — that is, when they developed physical bodies perfectly suited for a type of physical life (on the ground, in the air, or in the water). They adapted fully to life on Earth, and this prevented them from evolving further. Animals thus represent prior stages of human development. “[A]nimals [are] the by-products of human development ... [T]he animal forms represent physically incarnated soul forces which the human being had to dispense with in order to mature sufficiently to receive the [human] ego ... We see then that man is not the result of animal evolution but that he is at the beginning of it … The animal world represents soul qualities which the human being has discarded.…” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, MAN AND ANIMAL (The Robinswood Press, 1990).  

[4] Human beings have embryo-like bodies that are capable of infinite development. Likewise, Steiner taught, humans have spiritual capacities that can enable us to rise to almost infinitely high spiritual attainments. Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods above us [see “Polytheism”], and we will eventually rise through — and beyond — these ranks [see “apotheosis” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia]. The universe was created for our benefit, Steiner taught, and we will ascend to the highest reaches. [See "The Center" and "Tenth Hierarchy".]

What can we learn from the following? Perhaps little. Or perhaps quite a lot. [1] 

“[In college] I chose to study psychology and astrology [2] … [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 [3] … Financial hardships forced the teachers [there] to abandon Waldorf education [4] … 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 [5] … I found a position [at a Waldorf school] in Kona, Hawaii ... I was forced out due to political differences [6] … 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 [7] … I retired and began to devote my time to astrology....” — Retired Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings, 2009), pp. viii-xi.

[1] No one teacher embodies all that is right and wrong with Waldorf education. Odama’s life has been in many ways unique. But some common Waldorf threads run through his account.

[2] Psychology is a respectable academic subject. Astrology is a pseudoscience; it is nonsense. Yet Anthroposophy rejects most of the findings of psychology (and other modern sciences) while affirming much of astrology. [See “Astrology”.] Certainly, someone who is interested in astrology might find attractions in Anthroposophy, and vice versa.

[3] The Waldorf movement is messianic; creating new Waldorf schools, and spreading the Waldorf faith, are central impulses in the movement. [See “Mission”.]

[4] Waldorf schools can drift from Anthroposophy, or fail altogether, for many reasons. [See "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs" and "Failure".] The continuous need to raise funds can be a cause of stress and, ultimately, compromises that undermine a Waldorf school’s original vision.

[5] Many Waldorf teachers (but by no means all) are peripatetic, moving from school to school, and even moving in and out of the Waldorf system. Odama’s wanderings seem to be an extreme case. Some of his career moves seem high-minded, while others seem almost antithetical to his professed beliefs.

[6] “Politics” inside a Waldorf school are almost always matters of internal debate and dissension, centering on how the school should be run. Disputes often boil down to differing interpretations of Rudolf Steiner’s tenets.

[7] This school may have drifted away from Anthroposophy, or it may have been guided by an interpretation of Steiner’s tenets that Odama could not accept.

“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 [1].” — Anthroposophist Christopher Bamford, Introduction, ANTHROPOSOPHY IN EVERYDAY LIFE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. x-xi.

[1] Waldorf education is one of the central efforts through which Anthroposophists attempt to fulfill the will of the gods.

"Before the moment of earthly conception, the yet-to-be-born soul approaches the Gate of Birth [1], and there views a tableau of the life to come. In previous times, souls would immediately descend after witnessing this picture of their karmically-determined future [2]. In our time, in which the world has grown so materialistic and life has become so difficult, more and more souls hesitate for a moment, reluctant to face their destiny. When they do choose to incarnate, they are a little late, and cannot 'mesh' their higher members with their lower bodies [3]. So a moment of hesitation, a little lateness, leads to an incomplete intertwining of body and soul [4], and this in turn can be a prime factor in those learning difficulties and emotional problems that will appear in childhood [5].” — Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz, THE WALDORF TEACHER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2000), p. 23.

[1] The Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, embraces the concept of reincarnation. [See “Reincarnation”.] According to Anthroposophic belief, we pass through a long series of incarnations as we evolve spiritually. After each death on Earth, we pass through a “gate to death” to begin a new life in the spirit realm. Later, passing through a “gate of birth”, we descend to begin a new life on Earth.

[2] Pared to belief in reincarnation is belief in karma — our self-created destiny. [See “Karma”.]

[3] “Higher” members are spiritual parts of the human constitution (spirit and soul); “lower” members are physical parts. Steiner taught that humans have four bodies. Ranked high to low, these are the “I”, the astral body, the etheric body, and the physical body. [See “Incarnation”.]

[4] This formulation (“body and soul “) is only approximate, given that Steiner said we have several bodies, and in we have both spirits and souls. [See “What We’re Made Of”.]

[5] The Waldorf approach to helping children who have various problems and needs is based on the sorts of beliefs Schwartz has outlined. If the Waldorf premises are faulty, then Waldorf therapy will reflect these faults.

“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.” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 28. 

"In the early grades when the children were living so strongly in their life forces, I knew I had a real chance to help them work at balancing and harmonizing themselves in preparation for their lives on the earth [1]."  — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 32.

[1] A note by Finser adds: "These deeper, latent issues are connected with karma." — Ibid., p. 236.

“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.” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: Herald of a New Dawn (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), p. 347.

[1] I.e., Anthroposophists.

[2] I.e., Rudolf Steiner's.

[3] I.e., gods.

[4] The Archangel of the Sun. [See "Michael".]

[5] I.e., work as “spiritual scientists,” Waldorf teachers, etc.

Classses 1 to 4 (Ages 7 to 10)  This first stage should be devoted to aspects of nature-religion, whereby the child should be brought to feel that wisdom is expressed through the workings of the divine in nature.”  — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 176.

“A youth whose childhood has been touched by the blight of 'critical thinking' [1] 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.

[1] Waldorf schools generally deplore critical thinking. They want children to develop the ability to think imaginatively and unconventionally — but rational, critical thinking is largely discouraged, especially in the lower grades. The Waldorf approach attempts to lead children toward heartfelt, semi-clairvoyant true belief, so that they "come to understand" the sorts of things that Anthroposophists "understand."


"Unconquered hero of the skies

St. Michael —

Against the foe with us arise,

Thine aid we pray the foe to slay,

St. Michael."

— THE WALDORF SONG BOOK (Floris Books, 1992), 

complied by Brien Masters.

“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 [http://www.montessorianswers.com/my-experiences-with-waldorf.html]

“Rudolf Steiner's comments [on vaccination]...leave no doubt about the ‘hidden agenda’ behind the plan to vaccinate all the world's children with as many vaccines as possible, thus devastating their spiritual development [1] ... In the future, when more enlightened minds [2] will look back to today and will judge our misguided vaccination zeal, I hope they will be able to say that anthroposophists were among those with the discernment and the courage [to oppose vaccination].” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Philip Incao, “Report on Vaccination”, GATEWAYS (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America), #34, Spring 1998.

[1] Among other things, Steiner said "The soul will be abolished by means of a medicament...a vaccine which will be injected into the human organism in earliest infancy, if possible immediately after birth, to ensure that this human body never has the idea that a soul and a spirit exist ... Materialistic doctors will be entrusted with the task of driving souls out of human beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Crumbling of the Earth and the Souls and Bodies of Man”, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY (Mercury Press), Vol. 19, No. 1, 1974.

[2] The word "enlightenment" has many conflicting meanings. For Anthroposophists, it chiefly means embracing Anthroposophic beliefs. Anthroposophy is a proselytizing movement intent on refashioning all human institutions in conformity with Rudolf Steiner's visions. [See, e.g., "Threefolding".]

"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 ... She's learned that God created the world in seven days ... [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?” [www.waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/schwartz.html]

“It is often said by Waldorf teachers that there should be no textbooks in a Waldorf school [1]. In various instances in the faculty meetings Steiner recommends a particular textbook, states that most textbooks are inferior, questions whether the teachers couldn’t write their own, and suggests that the class needs a textbook to unite all the students. 'I have nothing against using a textbook, but all of them are bad ... Look for a textbook, and show it to me when I come back' (September 11, 1921).”  — Betty Staley, introduction to FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. xxxii.

[1] Instead of using textbooks, Waldorf schools often have the students create "class books," which they write and illustrate under the guidance of their teachers. This greatly limits students' exposure to non-Waldorf ideas and greatly increases the authority of the teachers — the class books essentially reproduce the teachers' lectures, statements, and drawings.

“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 [1] tasks and ideals of the Anthroposophical initiative.” — a former Waldorf teacher [http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/baandje.html]

[1] The term "spiritual science," as used by Steiner's followers, primarily means Anthroposophy. Alternative tags include "occult science" and "esoteric science." [See, e.g., "Everything".] The "cosmic Christianity" of Anthroposophy consist essentially of teachings Steiner drew from Theosophy and gnostic Christianity. [See "Basics" and "Gnosis".] The Christ recognized in Anthroposophy is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

“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 [i.e., "organs" of clairvoyance].” — Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 26.

“A third member of the human being [above the physical and etheric bodies] 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.

“Tuba mirum, 

Spargens sonum, 

Coget omnes ante thronum, 

coget omnes ante thronum, 

ante thronum. 

Per sepulchra regionum ...  

coget omnes ante thronum.”  

—THE SECOND WALDORF SONG BOOK  (Floris Books, 1993), 

compiled by Brien Masters.

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.” 

“Our modern, theoretical knowledge does not, in fact, grasp or explain the true being of man [1]. 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.

[1] The word "Anthroposophy" means, at its roots, knowledge of man. This is what Steiner professed to offer: a true, hidden, occult knowledge of human nature. And this is the basis of Waldorf education.

"Apollonian ... [T]he formative forces emanating from the power of thought ... The opposite of Apollonian is Dionysian, in this context referring to the forces arising in the digestive organs and the will [1]. In Waldorf education, teachers try to organize their lessons in such a way that Apollonian and Dionysian activities alternate to create a balanced and living dynamic." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 8.

[1] Steiner's description of human nature and physiology is mystical and divorced from reality. But it is the basis on which Waldorf education is built. See "Oh Humanity".

“These two gods — Apollo and Dionysus — embody polar complementary forces that work in opposite ways to develop the child and young adult ... Left to themselves, these forces can work one-sidedly on the growing child, with devastating consequences. Allow the sculptural, formative, centripetal, linear forces of Apollo to exert too strong a grip, and we can see children grow prematurely stiff in carriage and sometimes burdened of soul, like grumpy little gnomes trapped in the confines of precociously sclerotic bodies. Allow the musical, centrifugal, curvilinear forces of Dionysus to rise up too strongly, and we can see children who stay youthful and carefree too long, like flighty Peter Pans or fluid slender sylphs. ... Children overly prone to becoming trapped in the [physical] body need to draw, write, and revel in the details of a subject in order to loosen their ‘I’ a little from the confines of the physical organism. By contrast, children who have difficulty taking hold of the physical organism need to observe, as from a bird’s eye view, what they have drawn or written, or be encouraged to attend to the overall meaning or context of a subject, rather than its details. [paragraph break] Underlying these suggestions is the general maxim: Move, and you excarnate; be still, and you incarnate.” — Waldorf teacher and institute director Douglas Gerwin, introduction to BALANCE IN TEACHING (Anthroposophic Press, 2007), pp. x-xi.

“It may be the case that an [incarnating child] is not successful in choosing its biological parents [1]. But as always, karma...may be relied on [2] … Adoptive or foster parents may be chosen by the incarnating ego for particular reasons [3].…” — Waldorf teachers Gilbert and Sylvia Childs, YOUR REINCARNATING CHILD (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 11.

[1] According to the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, children alternate between lives on Earth and lives in the spirit realm. [See "Reincarnation".] Before descending to a new life on Earth, a child selects the people s/he wants to have for parents, teachers, friends, classmates, and so forth. Usually these choices are successfully enacted, but sometimes an impediment may arise so that, for instance, the child is not born to the biological parents s/he wanted.

[2] I.e., if one of a child’s choices is blocked for some reason, karma will find a solution. (Karma, like reincarnation, is a basic Waldorf belief. [See  "Karma".]) 

[3] I.e., if a child is unable to have the biological parents s/he wants, s/he may arrange to be placed with substitutes of her own choice. Waldorf teachers often consider themselves to be, in effect, foster parents for their students, chosen by the students themselves in order to fulfill their karma. Thus, a Waldorf class is a "destiny community ... A class is not a group of children who have been thrown together arbitrarily. The class forms a social context around a teacher to which the children were led by their life's destiny [i.e., karma].” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 45. Being chosen by destiny to guide a particular group of children is a sacred trust borne by Waldorf teachers. The task can be difficult. As Rudolf Steiner said to teachers at the first Waldorf school, "You will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents." — Rudolf Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16. Steiner said Waldorf teachers should “take over children” as early as possible in the kids’ lives. Ideally, they might supplant students' biological parents almost from the moment the children arrive on Earth. "Given the difficult, disorderly, and chaotic conditions of our time, it might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into one’s care soon after birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69. For Waldorf teachers to supplant their students' biological parents is perfectly correct, Steiner indicated, because the students' have chosen their teachers for this role — this is the karma of the students and the teachers and the parents.

“[The] special contribution, the unique substance, mission, and intention of the independent Waldorf School [1], is the spiritual-scientific view of human nature [2] ... It certainly is possible that the Waldorf schools will, gradually or suddenly, distance themselves from this substance [3], 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 [4]....” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 4.

[1] This is a reference to the first Waldorf school, founded in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919.

[2] I.e., the spiritual vision developed by Rudolf Steiner, called Anthroposophy. (Steiner claimed that Anthroposophy is a “science” that objectively studies the spirit realm. In fact, however, Anthroposophy is a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?".])

[3] All genuine Waldorf schools have been devoted to Anthroposophy, Selg indicates. But now there is a danger that at least some of these schools may drift away. (This could happen, for instance, in the UK, if Steiner schools there succumb to pressures from school inspectors. [See "Steiner School Crisis".])

[4] Devout Anthroposophists see Waldorf schools as crucial for spreading and “proving” Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools, they believe, work in league with — and on behalf of — the gods. Rudolf Steiner said as much: "The Waldorf school must succeed; much depends on its success. Its success will bring a kind of proof of many things in the spiritual evolution of humankind that we must represent … Let us especially keep before us the thought, which will truly fill our hearts and minds, that connected with the present-day spiritual movement [i.e., Anthroposophy] are also the spiritual powers [i.e., gods] that guide the cosmos. When we believe in these good spiritual powers they will inspire our lives and we will truly be able to teach.” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2000), p. 189.

“Human culture needs to be transformed according to a spiritual vision of the human being [i.e., Anthroposophy]. Every domain [1] of human thought and activity — education, [etc.] — must be renewed on the basis of [the Anthroposophical] understanding of the human being.” — Anthroposophist Ronald Koetzsh, “Anthroposophy 101”, http://waldorfcritics.org/active/articles/anthroposophy101.html.

[1] Waldorf schools are just one branch of the Anthroposophical movement, which seeks to remake all human institutions in accordance with the doctrines promulgated by Rudolf Steiner. [See, e.g., "Threefolding".]

“A true knowledge of the child will enable the teacher to understand how the correct education of Soul and Spirit brings health to the physical body, and how incorrect education sooner or later finds expression...in the form or discomfort or disease ... [O]verstimulation of the memory can cause the child to grow lank ... This is bound up with the interaction of the Etheric and Astral Bodies....” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 110.

“Rudolf Steiner rose … Clearly enthused by the opportunity to address so large and formidable a gathering [1], he was delighted to be able to bring conferees the good news of what was being done in Waldorf education. More generally, he also understood that the occasion was an opportunity to showcase for the British his anthroposophical ‘spiritual science [2],’ of which the practice of Waldorf education was an important, even primary, application [3].” — Anthroposophist Christopher Bamford, introduction to THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION, The Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. vii-viii. [4]

[1] This was a conference Steiner attended in 1922 at Mansfield College, Oxford, England.

[2] Steiner claimed that his esoteric system, Anthroposophy, is a science — it enables practitioners to objectively study the spirit realm. In reality, however, Anthroposophy is a religion, relying on faith far more than ascertainable knowledge. The “science” Steiner advocated was the "exact" use of clairvoyance, a faculty that does not exist. [See “Clairvoyance”, "Exactly", “Faith”, and “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”]

[3] Although Waldorf proponents often say there is little link between Waldorf education and Anthroposophy, in fact Waldorf is a "primary application" of Anthroposophy. If you cannot embrace Anthroposophy, you are unlikely — in the end — to find Waldorf education satisfactory.

[4] Waldorf education is often promoted as nondenominational and nonsectarian — or, in other words, non-religious. But it is rooted in spirituality (Steiner’s “spiritual science” provides the “spiritual ground” of Waldorf education). And the specific form of spirituality on which Waldorf stands is Anthroposophy, the religion devised by Rudolf Steiner. [See “Schools as Churches”.]

“[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 [1]. Nor should mention be omitted of the crucial human and spiritual encounters [with individuals who gave him occult initiation]: Felix Kogutsky...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.

[1] Steiner's followers often describe him as a scientist, but he was not. He never undertook any scientific work. He affirmed the "Goethean science," which is fundamentally unscientific; and then he established his own "occult science," Anthroposophy — which again is unscientific. [See, e.g., "Is Anthroposophy Science?"]

“Clairvoyance, present in all human beings [in ancient times], started gradually to diminish [1] … This decrease of clairvoyance was due to a change in the four members of the people; the ether body, the astral body and the young ego were pulled gradually into the physical body [2]. They experienced more and more the influence of earthly gravity [3].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), p. 62. [4]

[1] Rudolf Steiner taught that ancient peoples had natural clairvoyant powers, which modern people have largely lost. [See the entries for "natural clairvoyance" and "atavistic clairvoyance" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Steiner claimed, however, that he himself possessed a new, much more precise form of clairvoyance: He called it “exact” clairvoyance. [See “Exactly”.] Steiner also claimed that he could teach his followers to develop clairvoyant powers like his own. [See “Knowing the Worlds”.]

[2] According to the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible. [See “Incarnation”.] 

[3] I.e., natural clairvoyance was lost when the invisible bodies (the etheric body, the astral body, and the spiritual ego) were drawn down into the physical body, effectively smothering their psychic consciousness. (They became subject to gravity — they were tied down in physicality.)

[4] Waldorf education grows out of Anthroposophy, which hinges on clairvoyance. If there is no such thing as clairvoyance, then Anthroposophy collapses, which destroys the rationale for Waldorf education. And the reality is that there is no such thing as clairvoyance. [See “Clairvoyance”.] Yet many Waldorf teachers, faithful to Steiner’s mystical tenets, believe they are clairvoyant. [See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.]

“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 [1] … The bit where Thor...knocks the taunting warriors off their benches in well choreographed waves of destruction, is particularly impressive ... [E]ach festival [celebrated at Waldorf schools] is embedded in a cycle of festivals which...express the inner mood of the spiritual calendar [2] ... [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 [3].”  — Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 2003), pp. 12-18.

[1] This is a description of a pageant staged in a Waldorf school, in this case depicting the activities of ancient Norse gods. Rudolf Steiner taught that various pagan gods really exist; his belief system, Anthroposophy, is polytheistic. [See “Polytheism”.] Steiner placed particular emphasis on Norse mythology — the myths of Northern Europe, especially Germany. “No other mythology gives a clearer picture of [spiritual] evolution than Northern mythology. Germanic mythology in its pictures is close to the anthroposophical conception of future evolution.” — Lecture synopsis, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, p. 17. For this reason, Norse myths are often emphasized in Waldorf schools. [See “The Gods”.] Thor was the Norse god of thunder. A warrior, he wielded a terrible hammer with which he smashed his foes' skulls. As Clouder and Rawson indicate, young Waldorf students are often encouraged to have "fun" by enacting the feats of the Norse gods.

[2] The Waldorf school year is punctuated by various festivals celebrated by the whole school. [See the section in festivals in "Magical Arts".] While these events are often given innocuous titles such as "Fall Festival" or "Spring Festival," many are essentially religious observances — they “express the inner mood of the spiritual calendar.” [For more on this subject, see “festivals at Waldorf schools” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).]

[3] All Anthroposophical institutions, including Waldorf schools, are engaged in the messianic mission inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner. They seek to reform virtually all human enterprises in accordance with Anthroposophical doctrine; they work to “cultivate a new, free consciousness of time, human development and community.” [For more on these matters, see “Threefolding”, “Mission”, and, in the BW/SE, the entry for “messianism”.] The objective involves, among other things, saving humanity from the arch-demon Ahriman. "[T]oday...the spirit-soul is asleep. The human being is thus in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls to materialistic impulses. This is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115. [See “Ahriman”.]

“The equinox is for us a turning point, a change in the relation of light and darkness in the world around us. On September 29th the autumn festival traditionally known as Michaelmas is celebrated [in Waldorf schools]. This festival is named for the Archangel Michael, conqueror of  the powers of darkness, the harvester of the deeds of human souls. It is at this time that the image of Michael with the dragon appears before us as a mighty imagination, challenging us to develop strong, brave, free wills, to overcome love of ease, anxiety and fear.  This demands inner activity, a renewal of the soul which is brought to consciousness in the Michaelmas festival, the festival of the will.” — Karen Rivers, “Michaelmas”, in WALDORF EDUCATION: A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1995), p. 145. 

"The Science of the Spirit [i.e., Anthroposophy] teaches us the art of forgetting ... All memorized matter should disappear from the mind to make room for an actively receptive spirit." — Rudolf Steiner quoted by Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz in MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), pp. 150-151.

“When I was a child, I received The Weekly Reader [1] in school regularly [2] … I remember [an article] about ‘The Miracle Fiber of the Future’…about the benefits of asbestos [3]. Forty years ago, Americans were so enthusiastic about asbestos that we put it in our floor tiles, our ceiling tiles, and our house shingles … Today we are spending millions of dollars for its removal. This is the obvious flaw in fact-based education [4]. Whether we were taught about the solar system, the Soviet Union, or computers, much of what we had to learn in school is now outdated [5].” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Gryphon House, 2002, reprinted 2009), pp. 25-26.

[1] This was a news magazine intended for school children. It was often distributed in American public schools at no cost to the students.

[2] Widely used elsewhere, The Weekly Reader was generally banned from Waldorf schools.

[3] A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was used — among other purposes — as a fire-retardant. Eventually, however, asbestos was found to be a carcinogen.

[4] Waldorf education is not “fact-based.” This should give us all pause, since facts constitute what we usually call information or knowledge. Deemphasizing the importance of facts means deemphasizing the importance of knowledge. [See, e.g., "Waldorf Wisdom".]

[5] Knowledge evolves. Old knowledge is replaced by new, better knowledge. This does not mean that we should downplay the importance of knowledge (facts, information). Just the opposite. It means we should educate children to know the difference between knowledge and ignorance, and we should equip students with the mental tools to keep abreast of newly evolving knowledge. This is not, however, the Waldorf approach, which essentially devalues modern knowledge. [See, e.g., "Summing Up".]

“[E]ducation must, among other things, concern itself less with actual learning than with developing a flexibility and adaptability of mind [1].” — Waldorf educator Roy Wilkinson, COMMONSENSE SCHOOLING (Henry Goulden, 1975), p. 3.

[1] The chief flexibility aimed at is the ability to accept the bizarre doctrines of Anthroposophy — which Waldorf teachers consider "commonsense." For most people, however, the downplaying of "actual learning" must be considered a severe fault in Waldorf schools.

“When a school is based on a spiritual conception of the human being [as Waldorf schools are], a more diverse set of values become important [1] … Sometimes the important spiritual lessons at a school are not actually spoken; they simply are lived [2] ... And yet, there are times when spiritual matters need to be addressed more specifically [3].” — Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), pp. 138-142.

[1] Waldorf schools downplay brainwork and ordinary knowledge. [See, e.g., Waldorf’s Spiritual Agenda and “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.] Instead, emphasis is placed on developing the whole child as conceived in Anthroposophy. This is done, for instance, by assisting in the incarnation of each student’s three invisible bodies, and by helping kids to fulfill their karmas. [See “Holistic Education”, “Incarnation”, and “Karma”.] 

[2] Waldorf teachers try to be spiritual models and guides for their students (they think their job entails conveying "important spiritual lessons"). They rarely teach the kids Anthroposophical doctrines in so many words, but they convey these doctrines indirectly — by living them and by nudging kids to live them. [See “Sneaking It In” and “Indoctrination”.]

[3] In Waldorf schools, spiritual matters are addressed chiefly through the teachers' Anthroposophical convictions. As Steiner once said, “As far as our school is concerned, the actual spiritual life can be present only because its staff consists of anthroposophists.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60. Steiner generally instructed Waldorf teachers to keep Anthroposophy hidden in the background. But, he added, sometimes Anthroposophy must be brought explicitly into the classroom. “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth ... 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. 

"You are not an initiate, and therefore you cannot understand the kind of energies we're dealing with here." — A Waldorf teacher, explaining why a student's parent cannot understand Waldorf practices. [See "Moms"]

"This is an essential 'technique' of Waldorf education; at every seven-year developmental phase [1] the teacher works intensively with one of the child's higher bodies [2], slowly weaving its activities together with the member worked on in a previous stage of growth [3]. What is distinctive about the Waldorf method is that it perceives the validity of each approach in the course of time, as a particular 'higher member' is dominant in effecting growth and maturation [4].” — Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000), p. 35.

[1] Steiner taught that humans develop in seven-year-long stages. Waldorf education adheres to this conception. [See “Most Significant”.]

[2] In Waldorf belief, children wind up with four bodies, three of which are invisible. The physical body emerges, of course, at the moment of physical birth (age 0). Thereafter, according to Waldorf lore, the “etheric body” incarnates at age 7, the “astral body” incarnates at age 14, and the “I” incarnates at age 21 (the end of childhood). [See “Incarnation”.]

[3] I.e., as each new body incarnates, Waldorf teachers “weave” its actions into the actions of the previously incarnated bodies.

[4] I.e., Waldorf schools apply different educational approaches during each of the seven-year-long stages. This is what distinguishes the Waldorf method. But if belief in the three “higher bodies" is fallacious, then the Waldorf method is fundamentally misguided.

From a Waldorf teachers’ guide, giving a Waldorf interpretation of stories found in the Old Testament:

“Many people, and also giants, now lived on the earth but humanity had become wicked ... The story [1] refers to the sinking of the continent of Atlantis ... Noah, or Manu, as he is known elsewhere [2], was the leader of the sun-oracle of Atlantis [3] ... He was the most advanced leader and he was obviously still in touch with the creators of the Earth, the Elohim or Spirits of Form [4] ... Noah gathered together people sufficiently mature [5] and, knowing that the catastrophe was coming, emigrated to the center of Asia ... Here he set up a cultural or mystery center from which the early Post-Atlantis civilizations were inspired [6].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT STORIES (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2001), pp. 24-25.

[1] I.e., the story of Noah and the Flood. According to Rudolf Steiner, the Flood mentioned in the Bible was actually the deluge that sank Atlantis.

[2] I.e., in other religions and/or mythologies. In Hindu mythology, the Manu was the archetypal first human, the father of the human race. In Theosophy, a Manu is the father or director of a race, especially a root race. In Anthroposophy, Manu is Noah, the occult initiate who led humanity out of Atlantis.

[3] I.e., a center of occult knowledge on Atlantis. Steiner taught that Atlantis really existed.

[4] In the Hebrew Bible (which Christians call the Old Testament), “Elohim” is a name for God. The word is plural in form, but is understood to be singular (there is one God). In Anthroposophy, “Elohim” is understood to be plural, referring to many gods (Anthroposophy is polytheistic). Here, the gods in question are “Spirits of Form” — gods who played an important role in the creation of the Earth (they helped give it form).

[5] I.e., sufficiently evolved.

[6] In Waldorf belief, we currently live in the fifth cultural epoch since the destruction of Atlantis: the fifth period of the Post-Atlantean great epoch.

"Steiner tells us that human life on Atlantis existed from 50,000 years BC until approximately 10,000 years BC, when it was engulfed by an enormous tsunami and disappeared into the present Atlantic Ocean. Many people managed to flee from the disaster, led by Manu and his seven Holy Rishis. They migrated along the present Mediterranean to the east….” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 49-50.

“He [Rudolf Steiner] attacked the theory that fairy tales derived only from popular imagination, and described times, before the awakening of the intellect, in which man regularly found himself in a special [clairvoyant] condition between waking and sleeping. In this special state, visions arose in many forms [1] ... [People said] ‘everything around us is bewitched spiritual truth.’” — Anthroposophist Werner Glas, SPEECH EDUCATION IN THE PRIMARY GRADES OF WALDORF SCHOOLS (Sunbridge College Press, 1974), pp. 47-48. 

[1] Steiner taught that all fairy tales are true, at the level of clairvoyant insight. This is why fairy tales are given such prominence in Waldorf schooling. “Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power ... All the fairy tales in existence are thus the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.

“Much of what we today regard as faith content [i.e., matters of faith] was knowledge in earlier times. Some people sought this knowledge by developing ‘hidden powers of the soul,’ as Steiner calls them, and today we are not aware how much of what we today regard as knowledge has been discovered through older paths of knowledge [predominantly, clairvoyance].” — Agnes Nobel, EDUCATING THROUGH ART - The Steiner School Approach (Floris Books, 1991), p. 164.

“Young children are not yet un-linked from their spiritual connection [1] ... [I]nnate spiritual awareness shines in little children [2] … For their continued spiritual development, children need only a little outward instruction [3]. According to Rudolf Steiner, they simply need to be taught in a balanced three-dimensional way, one that develops the head, heart, and hands [4] to preserve their innate religious awareness.” — Waldord teacher Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), pp. 134-135.

[1] I.e., they are still in touch with the spirit realm where they lived before their recent incarnation on Earth. [See, e.g., “Thinking Cap”.]

[2] According to Waldorf belief, children are born with an “intensely real awareness of spiritual worlds. This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young [to preserve their ties to the spirit realm].” — Waldorf teacher A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16.

[3] Waldorf schools scrimp on ordinary instruction, real education, especially in the lower grades — they think kids don’t need it. Things may improve a little in higher grades; more “outward instruction” occurs. But often the improvement is slight. Waldorf schools have historically had low academic standards. [See, e.g., “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]

[4] Waldorf schools minister to the whole child. But the Waldorf concept of human wholeness is occult: A whole child has several bodies (most of which are invisible), s/he comes to Earth with a karma, s/he has a significant astrological identity, and so forth. [See “Holistic Education”.] The more attention Waldorf teachers devote to these fantasies, the less they attend to genuine education.

Occult Anthroposophical doctrines are often woven into the lessons taught at Waldorf schools. The following is from a Waldorf teachers' guide: 

“In early civilizations the mass of people lived in a child-like state and were guided and directed by personalities who in some respects were more mature, i.e., the priests and kings [1]. These in turn were guided by spiritual beings — gods [2] — and were what is known as ‘initiates,’ by which is meant that they had direct experience of a supersensible world [3].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1. (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2000), p. 4.

[1] “Maturity,” in the Anthroposophical sense, is primarily a matter of spiritual evolution. Steiner taught that some individuals, nations, and even races are more highly evolved than others, and the evolved ones have a natural claim to leadership. [See the entry for “evolution” in The Brief Waldorf/Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] Just as the unevolved or childlike masses are led by more-evolved priests and kings, the priests and kings are in turn led by spiritual beings who have evolved to still higher states: gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic, and Steiner taught that gods — like humans — are evolving. [For an overview of the nine ranks of gods described by Steiner, see “Polytheism”.]

[3] “Supersensible” phenomena lie beyond the reach of our ordinary senses — they are supernatural or spiritual. To perceive such phenomena, Steiner taught, a higher form of awareness is needed: clairvoyance is required. “Initiates” are highly evolved individuals who have developed clairvoyance and thus have “direct experience” of the supernatural. Here, these conceptions (multiple gods, occult initiation, "direct experience of a supersensible world") are stated not as ancient beliefs but as factual realities. How these matters are presented in class is left for individual Waldorf teachers to decide, but this is the sort of guidance they receive. [For more on Anthroposophical initiation, see “Inside Scoop”.]

“A step on the path to super-sensible perception [1] is a heightened knowledge of, and sensitivity to, colour. In good esoteric schools [2], colour instruction has always been a high priority, due to informed clairvoyant (clear-viewing) perception being based on fine colour discrimination [3].” — Waldorf teacher and teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, CHOIRS OF COLOURS - Primary Painting, Sculpture, Drawing; A Rudolf Steiner Approach (Golden Beetle Books, 2004), p. 48. [4]

[1] I.e., clairvoyance. Attaining clairvoyance is an important goal for Steiner's followers. Many Waldorf teachers believe they are clairvoyant, and many others accept the pronouncements of their colleagues who claim to be clairvoyant. "Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientific investigation [i.e., the disciplined use of clairvoyance] … And each Waldorf teacher applies this knowledge with heart and soul….” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 224.

[2] I.e., schools that convey, or base their work on, esoteric spiritual teachings.

[3] "[C]olours...are windows through which we can ascend spiritually into the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2010), p. 111. Spirits are perceptible in colors, Steiner taught. “[S]piritual beings, called gods or devas, now reveal themselves through the colours. The astral world...is a world of beings who speak to us through colour.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 14. As we become more attuned to subtle variations of color, Steiner said, we become more clairvoyantly sensitive. [See “Mystical Colors”.] The links between clairvoyance and color discrimination are found, for instance, in the examination of auras. “[S]piritually perceptible colors, which surround an active human being like an egg-shaped cloud, constitute that person’s aura … Within the aura, streams of different colors present a true and ever-changing picture of our inner life….” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 161. [See "Auras".]

[4] Whitehead is one of the minority of Waldorf teachers who openly and explicitly convey esoteric Anthroposophical teachings to their students in class. [See “Out in the Open”.] Most Waldorf teachers prefer a more subtle approach. [See “Sneaking It In”.]

Senses — there are twelve senses [1]. The lower four are: touch, life, movement, balance [2] … The middle senses are: warmth, sight, taste, smell [3]  … The upper-senses [sic] are: 'I'-sense, thought, language, hearing [4].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 107. [5]

[1] Most Anthroposophical descriptions of the human constitution arise from mysticism, not science. Steiner posited twelve senses because he deemed twelve a spiritually significant number — he often divided phenomena into twelve parts and then claimed to discern influences flowing into each part from one of the constellations of the zodiac. (There are twelve constellations in the zodiac, as usually conceived.) Astrology is crucial in Steiner's teachings. [See, e.g., “Astrology”.]

[2] These, according to Steiner, are the “physical” senses. They are “lower” than the other senses because they are tied to the lowly physical body. Touch sense is associated with Libra, life sense with Scorpio, movement sense with Sagittarius, and balance sense with Capricorn.

[3] These are the “soul” senses. The soul is higher than the physical body, Steiner taught, so these senses are higher than the physical senses. Warmth sense is linked to Leo, sight to Virgo, taste to Pisces, and smell to Acquarius.

[4] These are the “spirit” senses. The spirit is higher than the soul, so these senses are the highest of all. “I” sense (or ego sense) falls under Aries, thought sense under Taurus, language sense under Gemini, and hearing under Cancer.

[5] Steinber’s occult doctrines about human nature are fundamental to Waldorf education. [See “Oh Humanity”.] For thumbnail descriptions of the twelve senses posited by Steiner, see The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

“It should be understood by any school or institution seeking affiliation with AWSNA [the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America] that Waldorf Education is based on Anthroposophy, the philosophy initiated by Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf is a trademark name in the United States and is reserved for independent schools which meet the membership standards established by AWSNA ... Only schools which have been accepted as Sponsored or Full Members of AWSNA may represent themselves as Waldorf schools or use the words ‘Waldorf’ or ‘Rudolf Steiner’ in their names or subtitles.” — Why Waldorf Works, as of 11-22-2011 [http://www.whywaldorfworks.org/02_W_Education/faq_starting.asp]

Rudolf Steiner often lectured on Ahriman, the entity who on the one hand plays an essential role in the development of the earth, but who on the other poses a serious threat to mankind. All hardening processes, ossification, callosity, etc. are considered to be the work of Ahriman.” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), p. 67.

"[P]rimal memory is experienced and then slowly lost [1]. It enlivens many an early game or even transfigures it [2] ... [Later] the incarnation of the soul into the physical body [3] is the subject of countless games ... The children are playing at becoming incarnated. [4]” — Waldorf proponent Heidi Britz-Crecelius, CHILDREN AT PLAY - Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development (Park Street Press, 1996), p. 105. 

[1] According to Waldorf belief, children arrive on Earth with memories of their previous lives in the spirit realm. Waldorf teachers try to delay the maturation of young children so these memories may be preserved. "[I]n Steiner’s view...childhood is a time of contracting consciousness.... [The child] loses his...dream-like yet intensely real awareness of spiritual worlds. This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — Waldorf teacher A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16. [See "Thinking Cap".]

[2] Waldorf schooling includes lots of time for children to simply play. One justification is the belief that when children exercise their imaginations in play, they are enacting spiritual conditions. Steiner taught that imagination is a precursor to, or an early form of, clairvoyance. [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".]

[3] I.e., the earliest games harken back to life in the spirit realm. Somewhat later games reenact the process of incarnation on Earth.

[4] Steiner taught that children are "born" several times, as their various bodies incarnate. The physical body incarnates at age 0 (the moment of physical birth), the etheric body incarnates at age 7, the astral body incarnates at age 14, and the "I" incarnates at age 21 (the end of childhood). Waldorf education is keyed to these "births." [See "Incarnation", "Most Significant",  and the entries for "birth" and "childhood" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

“Childhood is commonly regarded as a time of steadily expanding consciousness.... Yet in Steiner’s view, the very opposite is the case: childhood is a time of contracting consciousness ... In mastering the world of physical perception the child encounters difficulties in that he first has to overcome a dream-like yet intensely real awareness of spiritual worlds. This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — Waldorf educator A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16.

There is more (or less) to the thinking behind Waldorf schools — Anthroposophy — than is commonly recognized. Anthroposophical discourse may seem, to outsiders, nearly impenetrable. 

“Rudolf Steiner’s gift of anthroposophy, the result of his own spiritual synthesis [1], recovered a host of lost truths of destiny [2] buried beneath the sediments of scientific determinism [3]. His spiritual perception [4] uncovered a wealth of soul-strengthening nutriments [5] available to all who delve beneath the surface of biography [6]. Those who examine biographical time will begin to detect the presence of lawfulness. [7]” — Waldorf educator William A. Bryant, JOURNEY THOUGH TIME (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2006), p. 2.

[1] Anthroposophy is, at root, an amalgam of prior religions, especially Theosophy (itself an amalgam) and gnostic Christianity. [See, e.g., "Basics" and "Gnosis".]

[2] I.e., karma. [See "Karma".] Steiner taught that peoples of the past generally understood spiritual truths, such as the reality of karma ("lost truths of destiny"), better than modern humans do.

[3] Anthroposophy fundamentally opposes modern science and the determinism of natural scientific laws. [See, e.g., "Science".]

[4] I.e., clairvoyance. (But if "spiritual perception" or clairvoyance is a delusion, then Steiner's teachings become empty. [See "Clairvoyance".] The implications for Waldorf education would be profound. It would lose its reason for being. [See, e.g., "Summing Up".])

[5] I.e., Anthroposophy is meant to nourish the soul.

[6] The "surface" shows only apparent facts accessible to the physical brain and the physical senses. To know ourselves, we need to delve deeper. Ordinary biography is superficial; Anthroposophists think Steiner's spiritual synthesis goes far below the surface. [See "Oh Humanity".]

[7] I.e. peering below the surface to find the true patterns expressed in the events of life (played out in "biographical time"), we find that life is actually ruled by spiritual laws, such as the law of karma.

Ahriman [1]: An adversarial being...an opponent of the Sun God [2] ... Also called Satan, Ahriman represents one aspect of the Dragon [3]. Ahriman's influence leads to materialistic thinking [4] devoid of feeling, empathy, and moral conscience. Ahriman helps inspire science and technology [5] ... [Ahriman] limits human cognition to what is derived from sense perception [6], hardens thinking (materialistic thoughts), attacks the etheric body [7] by way of modern technology, and hardens hearts...." — COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom, Vol. 1, edited by Joel Park (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2018), p. 244.

[1] Rudolf Steiner's followers identify Ahriman as a demon or oppositional god. [See "Ahriman".]

[2] Rudolf Steiner's followers identify Christ as the Sun God — the god worshipped by ancient peoples as the divinity residing on the Sun. [See "Sun God".]

[3] Drawing from Steiner's interpretation of the Book of Revelation, Anthroposophists employ the image of the Dragon as a supreme embodiment of evil. The Dragon fights against the Sun God, Christ, and it engages in battle with the Sun God's champion, the Sun Archangel, Michael. [See "Michael".] Sometimes the Dragon is identified as Ahriman, but sometimes it is thought to incorporate other evil forces as well. (Whether evil truly exists is debated among Anthroposophists. Often, Steiner's followers deny the reality of evil. This is consistent with some of Steiner's teachings. But on numerous occasions, Steiner spoke of evil as a grave and imminent reality. [See "evil" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).])

[4] According to Anthroposophy, "materialistic thinking" is not simply thinking that centers on the possession of material objects. It is thinking that derives from the physical organ, the brain; it is thinking that finds truth only in the physical realm of existence; it is thinking that is devoid of spirit. [See "Materialism U."]

[5] Steiner and his followers generally deprecate — and fear — modern science and technology. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[6] Steiner advocated "supersensible" perception (clairvoyance), which does not depend on sense perception. [See "clairvoyance" in the BW/SE.]

[7] This is one of three invisible bodies that, in Waldorf belief, incarnate before a child reaches adulthood. Waldorf teachers try to assist in the successful incarnation of these bodies. [See "Incarnation".] 

"In a book about the history of human consciousness Rudolf Steiner must certainly be mentioned [1]. This clairvoyant initiate, philosopher and man of science [2] knew a thing or two about this ongoing process [3] ... After having studied Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy for many years, I get the impression that the spiritual world once again is trying to make itself manifest in the physical world through Rudolf Steiner's contribution ... A century has passed since Steiner's life on earth [4]. Honesty compels us to say that only fragments of his inspiration have materialized [5] after this relatively long span. Yet his many attempts to pave the way to the spiritual world and his enormous energy are still felt by many people who have opened up to spiritual matters. Everything Steiner has said about the seven main chakras [6] is of immense value today." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, THE INNER RAINBOW - An Illustrated History of Human Consciousness from Ancient India to the Present Day (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2014), pp. 89-90.

[1] Some Anthroposophical books, written for Antroposophical insiders, treat Steiner as one of the greatest spiritual masters of all time. [See "Guru".] Other Anthroposophical books, written for general audiences, discuss Steiner more moderately, in order to seem reasonable rather than zealous. This book is of the latter sort.

[2] Steiner had little claim to being considered a philosopher or man of science. He was, on the other hand, a self-proclaimed clairvoyant and occult initiate. [See, e.g., "Occultism".] Note that in using the term "clairvoyant initiate," van Oort slips a bit and reveals his zealous devotion to his master.

[3] I.e., the ongoing evolution of human consciousness — principally as described by Rudolf Steiner. [See "evolution of consciousness" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).] 

[4] Born in 1861, Steiner died in 1925. [See "Steiner, Rudolf" in the BW/SE.]

[5] I.e., only some of his initiatives have taken hold — principally in Waldorf education and biodynamic agriculture. [See the entries for these terms in the BW/SE.]

[6] According to Steiner, these are incorporeal organs that enable humans to heighten their consciousness and attain clairvoyance. "[E]sotericists call these formations chakras (wheels) or 'lotus flowers' ... One of the first things to occur when an esoteric student begins practicing [spiritual] exercises is that the light of the lotus flowers intensifies; later the flowers will also begin to rotate. When this happens, it means that a person is beginning to have the ability to see clairvoyantly ... The organ in the vicinity of the larynx has sixteen 'petals' or 'spokes'; the one near the heart, twelve; and the one near the solar plexus, ten." — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), pp. 110-111.

Sophia: Part of the Divine Feminine Trinity [1] comprising the Mother (counterpart of the Father), the Daughter (counterpart of the Son), and the Holy Soul (counterpart of the Holy Spirit) [2] ... To the Egyptians, Sophia was known as Isis [3] ... In the Book of Proverbs, attributed to King Solomon, Sophia's temple has seven pillars (Proverbs 9:1) [4]. The seven pillars...represent the seven great stages of Earth evolution (from Ancient Saturn to Future Vulcan) [5]". — COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom, Vol. 1, edited by Joel Park (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2018), p. 249.

[1] Essentially, the Divine Feminine Trinity is the often-overlooked feminine aspect of the Godhead. (COSMOLOGY REBORN is a controversial text. Not all Anthroposophists subscribe to all of the teachings put forward by the authors of this book.)

[2] These "counterparts" are the inextricable female aspects of three apparently male divinities. [See "God" and "Trinity".] Sophia is the counterpart of the Holy Spirit; she is the Holy Soul. 

[3] Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility. [See the discussions of Isis in "Goddess".]

[4] "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." — Proverbs 9:1, King James Version. (There are no further references to the pillars in the following verses.)

[5] This is a questionable interpretation, alien to Hebrew teachings. The "seven great stages of Earth evolution" are progressive incarnations of the solar system, as described by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Matters of Form".] Sophia is described in Anthroposophy as unspoiled spiritual enlightenment; she is the capacity for, and the enactment of, clairvoyance. She is, then, central to the Anthroposophical vision: Anthropo-sophia. [See "Anthroposophia" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] In this sense, Sophia is the god(dess) who presides over Anthroposophical gatherings and enterprises, such as Waldorf schools. When Waldorf teachers pray to the divinity who, they believe, guides and protects them, they are effectively praying to Sophia (or Anthroposophia).

“Sleep is by no means merely the annulment of the day. In earlier epochs people knew this very well ... [F]or them it was the portal of entry to those higher spheres from which they felt they derived their being [1] ... The hygiene of sleep needs to become a direct concern of education [2] … What is absorbed through observation and thought by day sinks into deeper strata at night ... Rudolf Steiner attached particular importance to this. Thus the [properly designed school] lesson, in its organic structure...includes the fact of sleep bringing order into the life of soul [3].” — Waldorf educator Francis Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 94. 

[1] I.e., they believed that during sleep they entered the spirit realm. Anthroposophists today believe something similar. Steiner taught that, at night, the astral and ego bodies leave the physical and etheric bodies and travel into the spirit realm — literally, not merely in dreams. “[W]e go to sleep at night, setting forth with our Ego and astral body, leaving behind the body of our waking life....” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS A PICTURE OF THE LIVING SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), GA 228. [See entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia for “sleep”, “etheric body”, “astral body”, and “I”.]

[2] I.e., Steiner’s teachings about sleep (“the hygiene of sleep”) are important for Waldorf teachers. According to Anthroposophical belief, one’s sleep experiences are almost more real and significant than one's waking experiences. “When first we fall asleep, we recapitulate briefly the pictures of our earlier incarnations; this happens, Rudolf Steiner affirms, even when we take a nap ... It is through these pictures that our individuality, our eternal ego, works across time into space.” — Waldorf teacher Audrey E. McAllen, SLEEP - An Unobserved Element in Education (Hawthorn Press, 1986), p. 41.

[3] Waldorf education is essentially religious [see “Schools as Churches”], concerning itself with such matters as “the life of the soul.” Waldorf teachers would like to help steer their students’ sleep experiences, just as they seek to gain spiritual wisdom through their own dreams. Steiner taught that Anthroposophists can gain control of their dreams, so that the results are accurate images of the spirit realm. “[T]he eternal is experienced in the dream ... [This is] the essence of the dream in the light of spiritual science [i.e., Anthroposophy].” — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 86. [See "Dreams".] One corollary is that, in seeking to understand their students, Waldorf teachers often rely, at least in part, on the dreams they have about the kids.

“When first we fall asleep, we recapitulate briefly the pictures of our earlier incarnations [1]; this happens, Rudolf Steiner affirms, even when we take a nap ... It is through these pictures that our individuality, our eternal ego [2], works across time into space. Our karma of the present life [3] is imbedded in our muscles, which are, spiritually speaking, ‘condensed organs of the musical forces of Inspiration.’ [4]” — Waldorf teacher Audrey E. McAllen, SLEEP - An Unobserved Element in Education (Hawthorn Press, 1986), p. 41.

[1] I.e., previous lives. Reincarnation is a crucial concept in Anthroposophy. [See "Reincarnation".]

[2] I.e., our spiritual ego, our "I". [See "Ego".]

[3] Karma is another crucial concept in Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".]

[4] Inspiration, which Steiner said is a form of clairvoyance, is "imbedded in our muscles", not in our brains. When the rational brain is turned off during sleep, clairvoyant powers are awakened. [See the entry for "inspiration" in in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

“The paths trodden by children night after night, the depth of the spiritual world into which they immerse themselves [1] is of immense importance to the success of our education [2]… 

"Only so far as a child is able to carry his or her earthly experiences during waking life into the nightly world of sleep, is the child approachable through Waldorf education [3]… 

"The Waldorf curriculum replaces the effects of form-creating spiritual beings [4]. That is how the high value placed upon the significance of sleep should be understood which Rudolf Steiner indicated… 

"[Waldorf teachers] stimulate children’s’ feeling nature before they are dismissed from the lesson [5]. The conclusions that were formed can now further work on the limbs during sleep in that part of a person into which the astral body and the 'I' withdraw [6]. What is experienced by the waking day-consciousness is processed in the metabolic regions and altered through the mediation of the planetary energies of Mercury and Venus [7]. Through this a transformation now begins to take hold. Namely, during the night the etheric body unfolds its activity in the head … The astral body, with its faster and more unsteady rhythm, has gradually withdrawn from this region. The events perceived during the day now appear as images in the conceptual activity of the head which children find before them the next morning [8].” — Waldorf teacher Nina Kuettel, “Sleep as a Task of Waldorf Education”, May 6, 2015, The Online Waldorf Library.

[1] In Waldorf belief, human beings enter the spirit realm during sleep. Specifically, Rudolf Steiner taught that the astral body and the “I” enter the spirit realm while the physical body and the etheric body remain on Earth. [See entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia for “sleep”, “etheric body”, “astral body”, and “I”.]

[2] I.e., Waldorf education. Waldorf teachers attempt to steer their students toward healthful sleep experiences, so the children will be susceptible to Waldorf influences the next day.

[3] I.e., Waldorf education works only when kids are adequately prepared by their sleep experiences. Waldorf education is irrational; it approaches children through the irrational parts of consciousness, such as those active in sleep. Rationality is harmful for children. “You [Waldorf teachers] will injure children if you educate them rationally....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 61.

[4] I.e., the work of Waldorf teachers is an extension of the work performed by the gods previously. "We [Waldorf teachers] want to be aware that physical existence is a continuation of the spiritual, and that what we have to do in education is a continuation of what higher beings [the gods] have done ... [O]ur work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings have done before birth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37.

[5] I.e., Waldorf lessons are designed to stimulate the emotional, intuitive parts of students' consciousness. (This stimulation may often come as the climax of a lesson, at our near the end of the lesson.)  

[6] The astral body and “I” are the two higher “bodies” possessed by human beings. The effects of Waldorf education are imbedded not in the brain but in the “limbs” (i.e., the metabolic-limb system posited by Steiner — see the entry for “metabolic-limb system” The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia).

[7] The Waldorf belief system includes belief in astrology. [See, e.g., “Astrology”.] Here, the effects of Mercury and Venus (i.e., the gods residing there) are affirmed.

[8] The child is prepared for the next day’s classes through the activity of the etheric body in the head. The higher astral body has its activities elsewhere. Rudolf Steiner frequently downplayed the importance of the head and its chief organ, the brain. 

◊ “[T]he brain [has] nothing at all to do with actual cognition [i.e., clairvoyance]....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 60. 

◊ "Within the brain there is absolutely no thought [i.e., the brain doesn't think]...." — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 7, GA 129. 

Waldorf education similarly devalues brainwork. Largely for this reason, Waldorf schools have long been known for low academic standards. [See “Academic Standards at Waldorf”.]

"Children's first drawings follow a cosmic movement [1] that knows neither outside nor inside [2] … Soul processes find their expression in the realm of colour [3] … The drawings illustrate transitions and overlapping of the most varied realms of perception [4].” — Anthroposophist Michaela Strauss, UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS: Tracing the Path of Incarnation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 71. [5]

[1] Waldorf teachers often study the pictures produced by their students, seeking clues to the kids’ spiritual condition. Seiner taught that children arrive on earth retaining ties to the spirit realm where they lived before earthly incarnation. The youngest children have the freshest awareness of the “cosmic movement” of the gods and evolution — the kids’ “first drawings” tend to have the deepest meaning.

[2] I.e., spirituality flows through all things, inner and outer. Early drawings by very young children presumably flow in the same way, mixing perspectives, shapes, insides and outsides, etc.

[3] See, e.g, “Mystical Colors”.

[4] In the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, there are multiple forms of perception beyond what our senses and brains can attain. True perception, Steiner taught, is clairvoyance — which must be cultivated and disciplined. Precursors to clairvoyance, or stages of it, are imagination, inspiration, and intuition — which are emphasized in Waldorf education. [See the entries for these various concepts and terms — Anthroposophy, clairvoyance, imagination, etc. — in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[5] The nature of kids' drawings changes as the children proceed along the “path of incarnation”. [See “Incarnation”.]

"Asuras: Fallen Archai [1]...from the time of Old Saturn [2], whose opposition to human evolution [3] comes to expression through promoting debauched sexuality and senseless violence among human beings. So low is the regard that Asuras have for the sacredness of human life...they do not hold back from the destruction of the physical body of human beings. In particular, the activity of the Asuras retards the development of the consciousness soul [4]." — COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom, Vol. 1, edited by Joel Park (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2018), p. 244.

[1] Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. Archai are gods three steps higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".] As fallen Archai, the Asuras are demons or oppositional gods. [See "Evil Ones".]

[2] This was the first incarnation of the solar system, when human life began (in a distinctly prehuman form). [See "Old Saturn".]

[3] In Anthroposophical belief, the purpose of life is to evolve to higher and higher stages of consciousness. [See "evolution of consciousness" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).]

[4] Anthroposophists believe this is the third and highest component of our souls or soul natures. It connects us objectively to the outer world. [See "consciousness soul" in the BW/SE.]

“My wife and I worked as dorm parents in a Steiner School for special needs children in Scotland … At the Scottish school, many of our fellow volunteers were Germans who had been educated in the [Steiner] system. One of them told me that in her teens she was surprised to learn that the Greek gods were not historical figures, so thoroughly did the curriculum meld myth and history [1].” — Andrew Sprung, “The Times Leaves Out the 'Waldorf' in Waldorf School Portrayal”, October 23, 2011. [2]

[1] Accepting Rudolf Steiner's preachments, many Waldorf teachers treat myths as true clairvoyant reports, and they may convey this belief to their students. 

◊ “Factual realities in higher spiritual worlds underlie all myths. The aim [in my lecture] today was to show you how such a reality is the basis of the Osiris myth.” — Rudolf Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN in their Relationship to Egyptian Myths and Modern Civilization (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), p. 62. (Osiris was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility. Osiris was later reflected in Greek mythology, Steiner taught.)

◊ "Myths...are the memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night they were really surrounded by the world of the [ancient] gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were...experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198. (Odin was the highest Norse god; Freya was his wife.)

◊ [A Waldorf teacher addressing students:] “The stories I am going to tell are very special ... These stories were not just made up [i.e., they are not fiction] … They are stories that [the] wise bards among the Norsemen heard from the angels, from the angel-gods.” — Waldorf teacher Charles Kovacs, NORSE MYTHOLOGY, Waldorf Education Resources (Floris Books, 2009), pp. 7-9.

[See the entry for "myths" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see "Oh My Word" and "The Gods".]

[2] See Xpostfactoid and “Dorm Dad”.

"Rudolf Steiner places the development of mankind in the overall development of the universe from Old Saturn to the future Vulcan [1]. Mankind is the supporting axis [2] throughout this amazing sequence ... Man is not a final product [3], but was involved from the start in the creative processes of the hierarchies [4]." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 20-23.

[1] These are incarnations of the solar system (or incarnations of the "universe" as sometimes described in Anthroposophy). Old Saturn was the first stage of cosmic evolution for our solar system; Future Vulcan, usually described as the final stage, lies far in the future. [See entries for "conditions of consciousness" and "planetary conditions" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE). Also see "Vulcan".]

[2] I.e., the entire "universe" centers on man — it exists so that mankind may exist. [See "The Center".]

[3] I.e., we have evolved from cosmic stage to cosmic stage. We were present in germinal form at the beginning of the process, and we are still evolving. [See the entry "evolution of consciousness" in BW/SE.]

[4] The "hierarchies" are the nine ranks of gods described by Steiner. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]


"Steiner describes the origin of our solar system ... The first [incarnation of the solar system] is called Old Saturn ... [T]he process of creation is started with a spherical shape, having the density of 'warmth'...and the size of the present orbit of Saturn. The spiritual basis of the human physical body is created [during this period] ... Old Saturn develops into a second phase, which Steiner called Old Sun. The spiritual basis for the ether body [1] is added ... In the third stage, called Old Moon, the spiritual basis of the astral body [2] is added ... The fourth stage is called Earth ... [A] fourth element is added [during Earth]: the human ego [3] ... The stage called Earth... is not yet our earth ... Initially it is a coagulation of all the present planets, including the sun. From this mass the present planets free themselves, one after another, until our earth is free and starts its own development. The various stages of the Earth stage are indicated by: Polarian era [4], Hyperborean era [5], Lemuria [6] and Atlantis [7] ... [T]he development of our solar system will continue ... The present solar system is said to be developing into the new Jupiter [8]. After this stage two more stages are to follow: the new Venus [9] and finally Vulcan [10]." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 48-50.

[1] This is the first of three invisible bodies that, among human beings today, are "born" after the physical body is born. So Steiner said, anyway. [See "Incarnation".] Waldorf education is keyed to this sequence of "births." The ether body or etheric body is an envelope of life forces. It incarnates at around age 7.

[2] This second invisible body is an envelope of soul forces. So Steiner said, anyway. It incarnates at around age 14.

[3] This third invisible body (not to be confused with the "ego" discussed in the worldly discipline of psychology) is a spark of divinity that confers true selfhood.  So Steiner said. It incarnates at around age 21.

[4] This was the first period of evolution during the Earth stage, according to Steiner. [See "Polaria" and "Polarian Epoch" in The Brief Waldorf/ Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).]

[5] See "Hyperborea" and "Hyperborean Epoch" in the BW/SE.

[6] See "Lemuria" and "Lemurian Epoch" in the BW/SE.

[7] See "Atlantean Epoch" and "Atlantis" in the BW/SE.

[8] More properly, in Anthroposophy, this future stage is called Future Jupiter. [See "Future Stages".]

[9] More properly, this future stage is called Future Venus. [See "Future Stages".]

[10] More properly, this stage is called Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages" and "Vulcan".]

“The story [Hansel and Gretel] 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 [i.e., organs of clairvoyance].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE INTERPRETATION OF FAIRY TALES (Harry Goulden, 1984), pp. 13-14.

“When establishing the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart [Germany], Steiner replaced the function of the head teacher with the collective work of the teachers [1] on deepening an understanding of the nature of the human being [2]  … This daunting task requires the school to have an organizational structure that enables such research [3] to be practiced and supported. Hence the formation of what is known as the College of Teachers ... The role of the College of Teachers is to carry responsibility for the education in the school. This includes appointing and deploying staff, research and developing the curriculum [4]….” — Waldorf teachers Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 2003), pp. 112-114.

[1] Some Waldorf schools have no formal administrative structure — they are run collegially by the teachers. But other Waldorf schools have more-or-less traditional administrations, including administrative officers.

[2] In Waldorf belief, the “nature of the human being” is a mystical concoction, bound up with invisible bodies (the etheric, astral, and ego bodies), stages of incarnation, the effects of karma and astrology, and so on. For a primer given by Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner, see "Oh Humanity".

[3] The “research” performed by Anthroposophists is the use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. Some Waldorf teachers believe they are clairvoyant, and thus they undertake Steineresque clairvoyant “research.” But more generally — and prosaically — the research done by Waldorf teachers sitting in their gatherings largely consists of reading and discussing Rudolf Steiner’s books and lectures.

[4] In Waldorf schools that are run collegially — without a formal administrative apparatus — the “college of teachers” is effectively the governing organ. This group generally consists of senior faculty members, although in some schools many junior faculty members may also be involved. The group is a "college" in that (a) it is collegial, and (b) the members gather to study the occult teachings of Rudolf Steiner, as if in an Anthroposophical college.

“Rudolf Steiner gave us the methods in the field of spiritual science, or anthroposophy, and some of their results [1]. He inaugurated heart-warming, practical adventures in many areas of culture — for example, education, agriculture, medicine, science, art, social theory, and religion. He has shed real light on the reality and accessibility of Christ [2].” — Waldorf educator John F. Gardner, YOUTH LONGS TO KNOW (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 210.

[1]Anthroposophical "research" — like its application in Waldorf schools — is the use of clairvoyance to explore the spirit realm. It is, in other words, a fantasy, a delusion. [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance".]

[2] The Christ of Anthroposophy is Ra, the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

“To secure consistent quality of content, Rudolf Steiner College became organized around the worldview underlying Waldorf education [1] ... [T]he chief objective of the college program was training [Waldorf] teachers ...  [A]ny such training had to begin with a year spent on the world-view underpinnings of the method: ‘It mattered enormously whether [the students] could connect with Anthroposophy.’ [2]” — Ida Oberman, THE WALDORF MOVEMENT IN EDUCATION (Edwin Mellen Press, 2008), p. 252.

[1] The "worldview" — mainly consisting of Rudolf Steiner's occult preachments — is Anthroposophy. [See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] Waldorf teacher training varies from one training program to another, but usually it is deeply rooted in — and devoted to — Rudolf Steiner’s occult teachings. [See "Teacher Training".] Rudolf Steiner College has been a leading Waldorf training school, although in 2017 it suspended its matriculated training program. “RSC [i.e., Rudolf Steiner College] is re-evaluating our offerings and designing more flexible educational opportunities.” [See the Waldorf Watch News for September 26, 2017.]

[2] Rudolf Steiner said that Waldorf teachers must be committed Anthroposophists. “As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118. Waldorf teachers in the modern era have often — if not always — taken this message to heart. "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second." — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 166.

Flying Saucers  Technically described as U.F.O’s, or unidentified flying objects. There is general agreement about the saucer shape with three spherical support beneath. Sound evidence can be found for the existence of these unheralded objects.” — George Riland, THE STEINERBOOK DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 85.

“In anthroposophy, alcohol is looked upon as having been an aid for the human ‘I’ [1] to further find its way into the physical body [2]. The ‘I’ as the fourth sheath [3] of man had to develop a stronger grip upon the other three sheaths: the astral body, the ether body, and the physical body [4]. Thus the ‘I’ continued its descent from the world of spirit down to the earth. When alcohol is used the four sheaths initially loosen up, getting less united. After alcohol is used, however, the four sheaths telescope together in a more firm way than ever before … As to the use of alcohol in our own age, Rudolf Steiner tells us that whoever tries to get in touch with the spiritual world through spiritual science [5] had better not use alcohol for it shuts down the way to this world…. [6]” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, THE INNER RAINBOW - An Illustrated History of Human Consciousness from Ancient India to the Present Day (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2014), p. 43.

[1] In Anthroposophy, the “I” is the spiritual ego. [See “Ego”.] It may also be considered the fourth of the bodies that fully incarnated humans possess. [See “Incarnation”.]

[2] Steiner taught that alcohol was useful at a previous stage of human evolution — it helped the “I", coming down from the spirit realm, to “find its way into the physical body.”

[3] The term “sheath” is used, here, as a synonym for “body.” (Some Anthroposophists would dispute this usage. [See the entry for “sheath” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).])

[4] The four bodies (three of which are invisible) are the physical body, the etheric body (a constellation of formative forces), the astral body (a constellation of soul forces), and the “I” (the spiritual ego). [See the entries for these terms in the BW/SE.]

[5] The term “spiritual science”, as used by Steiner and his followers, applies primarily to Anthroposophy.

[6] Although Steiner indicated that alcohol is generally not beneficial at our current stage of evolution, we have reason to believe that he partook at least occasionally. Steiner himself as a child brought with him into the world a vestigial relic of the old clairvoyance [the natural clairvoyance Steiner said ancient peoples possessed]. Biographies and his own autobiography bear witness to it. And it is credibly reported of him that he took deliberate steps to eliminate it, not even rejecting the help of alcohol, in order to clear the decks for the new clairvoyance it was his destiny both to predict and to develop.” — Owen Barfield, “Introducing Rudolf Steiner” (TOWARDS, Fall-Winter, 1983). Some critics would argue that alcohol could account for at least some of Steiner’s strangest visions, which he indeed attributed to his “new” clairvoyance. [See “Exactly”.] Using alcohol to suppress "old clairvoyance" in order to exercise "new clairvoyance" would seem, in any case, a dubious proposition. [Concerning old and new clairvoyance, see "natural clairvoyance", "atavistic clairvoyance", and "exact clairvoyance" in the BW/SE.]

"The important educational factors in the first years of life are learning to eat...and learning to sleep [1] ... Until the change of teeth [2], the child lives in an organism [3] in which there lives a replica of the spiritual world. [4] The archetype of the physical body as the Word of the Zodiac [5], the impress of the planets on the life organs — lungs, liver, heart, etc. [6] — and the movements they made during the embryonic period [7], this is the content of the body of formative forces [8], which is imbued with life from the cosmic ether [9], which the soul-spirits of children draw to themselves in the moon-sphere [10] before their birth.” — Waldorf teacher Audrey E. McAllen, SLEEP - An Unobserved Element in Education (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2004), p. 33.

Plain-English paraphrase: Two things very young children need to learn are how to eat and how to sleep. Until the child's baby teeth fall out, the child's organism contains within it a replica of the spiritual world. The physical body is molded by the spiritual authority (The Word) dwelling in the stars. The organs of the physical body are molded by the planets. The embryo was molded by the motions of the planets during the embryo's life within the womb. The etheric body consists of these formative forces, which receive their life from the ether that fills the cosmos. The soul-spirits of children draw in these forces as they descend through the moon-sphere on their way to birth on the Earth.

Anthroposophical writing is often quite bad — obscure, convoluted, even ungrammatical. This is a tradition begun by Rudolf Steiner himself (drawing from the earlier mystics whom he mimicked). The evident assumption is that obscure statements may seem deep. But they don't. They only seem confused.

[1] Eating and sleeping are usually considered natural processes that occur almost automatically. But in these matters, as in so much else, Rudolf Steiner's followers — Anthroposophists, including many Waldorf teachers — take a different, esoteric view.

[2] I.e., the loss of baby teeth, replaced by adult teeth. In Anthroposophical belief, this event signifies the incarnation of the etheric body, the first of our three invisible bodies. [See "baby teeth", "teeth", and "etheric body" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BW/SE).]

[3] According to Steiner, the human constitution consists of many parts not recognized in conventional science of medicine. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".] In children, the most important parts are the four bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of life: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego body. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] Rudolf Steiner taught that children come to Earth bearing the imprint of the spirit realm. Humans beings, he said, are microcosmic replicas of the universe, the macrocosm. [See "The Center".] Young children retain ties to the spirit realm, he said, and their bodies bear the imprint of that realm at least until age seven or so (when baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth, and the etheric body incarnates). Steiner taught that above the physical world there is the soul world and, above that, the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[5] Astrology is a key element in much Anthroposophical lore. [See "Astrology".] The "Word of the Zodiac" is the expressed formative effect of the stars and their gods. The foremost of these gods for us is the Sun God, the embodied Word of God. [See "Sun God".]

[6] I.e., the astrological effect of the planets and their gods upon the developing organs (lungs, liver, etc.).

[7] I.e., the movements of the planets during the period when a developing child was still an embryo. In Anthroposophy, astrological influences are believed to have especially great effect upon embryos.

[8] The "body of formative forces" is the etheric body, which consists of forces that help shape the physical body.

[9] This, according to Anthroposophical teachings, is the universal etheric medium. Drawing from nineteenth century science, Steiner taught that the cosmos is filled by an "ether." [See "ether" and, e.g., "etheric realm" in the BW/SE.]

[10] The "moon-sphere," according to Steiner, is the region of space bounded by the orbit of the moon. Here, a Waldorf teacher tells how children gather astrological forces from the moon-sphere as they descend from the spirit realm to be born upon the Earth.

"The melancholic, being the person most given up to the contracting polarity, as it works into the mineral realm, will tend to occupy the least extension in space. He will shrink into a point.” — Waldorf teacher Magda Lissau, THE TEMPERAMENTS AND THE ARTS (The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2003), p. 165.

When I get started compiling a list like this, it's hard to know where to stop. Perhaps I'll knock off here.

What you've seen, above, are not necessarily the most revelatory statements ever made about Waldorf education and Anthroposophical beliefs. These are just the quotations I was able to gather fairly readily. If you poke around, you could doubtless come up with others, perhaps including some that are even more head-spinning.

Advocates of Waldorf education usually pick their words with great care; they usually rationalize and dissemble, trying to make their practices and beliefs seem as reasonable as possible. But, once you know what to look for, you should easily locate statements that reveal the real (occult, mystical, incredible, false)  thinking on which Waldorf education is built.

I urge you to look. The truth about Waldorf is almost inconceivable (clairvoyance, fairies, Atlantis, ancient gods, invisible bodies, astrology, karma...) but it is the truth about Waldorf. That is to say, it is the set of falsehoods that Rudolf Steiner preached and that his followers believe.

(Believe it or not.)

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

For additional statements made by 
Steiner's followers in 
recent years and decades,

see, e.g., 


You may also want to consult 
at the Waldorf Watch Annex.

For a statement about the identity of individuals 
quoted and paraphrased at Waldorf Watch, 
see "Trolls?"

[R.R., 2013.]

This is the spectrum of visible colors displayed as a radiating, enclosed continuum. To the rational mind, such images have no special, spiritual meaning. But in Waldorf belief, they are dense with mystical significance. According to Rudolf Steiner (leaning on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), colors represent moral/spiritual qualities. And these qualities, Steiner taught, find expression in the four classical temperaments. Thus, the hues extending from purple to orange represent the choleric temperament, which manifests in three personality types: the tyrant, the hero, and the adventurer. Moving clockwise around the circle, hues reaching from orange to green represent the sanguine temperament, which manifests as the bon vivant, the lover, and the poet. The hues ranging from green to violet-blue evince the phlegmatic temperament and its three manifestations, the preacher, the historian, and the teacher. Finally, the hues from violet-blue to purple embody the melancholic temperament, brought to life by the philosopher, the pedant, and the ruler. 

This, truly, is how children are classified in Waldorf schools, according to their "temperaments" and the probable adult fulfillments of these temperaments. The colors shown — or their spiritual intensifications and variants — are clairvoyantly visible in auras (or so some believe). Moreover, the four temperaments are spiritually related to the type of “body” that predominates in various quadrants: for choleric individuals, the ego-body predominates; for sanguines, the astral body; for phlegmatics, the etheric body; for melancholics, the physical body (or so Steiner taught). Likewise, each of the four temperaments is associated with one of the four “elements”: for cholerics, fire; for sanguines, air; for phlegmatics, water; for melancholics, earth. This means that children of varying temperaments have particular connections with particular nature spirits: cholerics, fire spirits; sanguines, sylphs; phlegmatics, undines; melancholics, gnomes. Finally, the twelve personality types (tyrant, hero, etc.) are associated with the twelve humans senses — which in turn are associated with the signs of the zodiac. 

So: The wheel is pretty, perhaps. But, as used in Waldorf schools, it is disconnected from reality. For more on these matters, see the chapter on temperament's in Lois Cusick's book, WALDORF PARENTING HANDBOOK (Rudolf Steiner College Press); Roy Wilkinson's booklet, THE TEMPERAMENTS IN EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press); Magda Lissau's THE TEMPERAMENTS IN THE ARTS (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America); and Rudolf Steiner’s multiple indications in such volumes as NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press) and FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER. (Anthroposophic Press) To quote from the latter, for instance: “In cholerics, you will generally find an abnormally developed sense of balance (Libra) ... In sanguines (Virgo), in connection with the sense of balance and sense of movement, the sense of movement predominates. In the same way, in melancholics (Leo) the sense of life predominates and in phlegmatics (Cancer) the sense of touch predominates physiologically because the touch bodies are embedded in small fat pads.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 91. Hard as it is to believe, this is in fact how Waldorf teachers tend to classify and think about their students.

(Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2005), p. 31.]

Choleric kids, by the way, tend to be stocky, with pronounced shoulders (or so Steiner taught). Sanguines are well-proportioned. Phlegmatics tend toward obesity. Melancholics are generally skinny. These are handy rules-of-thumbs, enabling Waldorf teachers to pigeonhole students even when the teachers lack highly developed clairvoyant capacities. If you don't think that body type reflects soul qualities, you may have doubts about the Waldorf approach. To the rational mind, making moral and spiritual judgments about people based — in whole or in part — on body type is little better than prejudice and stereotyping. [For more on the temperaments as conceived in Waldorf schools, see "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".]

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".

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


Selected, revealing Steiner quotations; includes "Anthroposophy at Waldorf"

More from Steiner 


Who Says continued

Nonsense in the air


Perhaps the worst statements Steiner made

Additional revealing quotations; includes "Last Words" and "Reading Steiner"


Some of Steiner’s silliest statements (on topics such as gnomes)


To consider statements made by Anthroposophists
in recent years, see the following pages posted in
the third section of Waldorf Watch:

Waldorf schools in the 21st Century

What they're saying


TODAY 4What they're reading

TODAY 5What they're saying (cont.)

Readings (2018...)

More, and more, and...

[R. R., 2015.]