who Says?

Aside from Rudolf



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 injected non-occult footnotes. These are not eye-popping; they are 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 — I wrote them 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.

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 today.

— Roger Rawlings




 1.  "[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] 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 [3].” — 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".]

[3] The future, understood Anthroposophically, is not just the coming years in this life, but the many lives to come. Knowing what children will "take with them into the future" requires psychic insight: clairvoyance.


 2.  “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-believing Anthroposophists 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] Here is Schwartz making his point more emphatically:

“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.


 3.  “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 [1] ... Steiner described the founding of [the first] Waldorf School as a ceremony within the Cosmic Order [2] ... [T]he founding of every subsequent Waldorf school also has cosmic significance [3] ... [W]e may celebrate the founding of a Waldorf school because it strives to bring the soul-spiritual into the realm of human life [4].” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven”, Research Bulletin, Vol. 16 (Waldorf Research Institute, Fall 2011), pp. 21-24.

[1] Anthroposophy is a revolutionary movement, intending to "transform society" in accordance with Rudolf Steiner's teachings. Here a leading Waldorf teacher tells us that Waldorf schools serve this same purpose.

[2] I.e., creating a Waldorf school advances the divine cosmic plan of the gods: It serves "the Cosmic Order."

[3] Waldorf teachers think they are doing enormously important work. Founding, and working in, a Waldorf school has "cosmic significance."

[4] A Waldorf school is not intended to educate children, in any normal sense. It is intended to bring the combined essence of soul and spirit down to the earthly "realm of human life." This intention is clearly religious. Waldorf schools are religious institutions, serving the religion of Anthroposophy.


 4.  “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.


 5.  "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 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".]


 6.  “[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".]


 7.  "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 [3], 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 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 committed to Anthroposophy. [See "Teacher Training".]


 8.  "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.


 9.  “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.]


 10.  “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 - The Cosmic Christ Impulse (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.


 11.  “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 [the] 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”.


 12.  “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".]


 13.  “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.]


 14.  “[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 [2] (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.

[2] Note that Waldorf education consists of putting Rudolf Steiner’s ideas into practice. (The link between Waldorf education and Anthroposophy is basic.)


 15.  "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.


 16.  “[Acquiring] spiritual perception [i.e., clairvoyance], enhanced consciousness or knowledge of higher worlds [1]...is the same path that should be followed by every teacher who takes his vocation seriously. [2]” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 115.

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, there are two worlds "above" the physical world: the soul world and the spirit world. These are the worlds Steiner referred to in such works as KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. Anthroposophists as well as Waldorf teachers typically study this book in their efforts to learn about realms above physical reality.

[2] 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".] Here, a Waldorf teacher asserts that Waldorf teachers should pursue the same objective: attaining clairvoyant knowledge of the higher worlds.


 17.  “Modern exact clairvoyance [1], 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 [2].” — Antroposophist Floyd McKnight, RUDOLF STEINER AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in America, 1977), p. 4.

[1] See "Exactly".

[2] The "spiritual science" of Anthroposophy is the use of exact clairvoyance (which does not exist) to study "spiritual facts" (whcih may not exist).


 18.  "Anthroposophy as a science is the description of the supersensible world [1] as it appears to expanded consciousness [2]." — Anthroposophist 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.


 19.  “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.


 20.  "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, Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson's 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. 


 21.  "[Even] without reaching the initial stage of clairvoyance, which Steiner calls Imagination...young people's imagination may nevertheless be strengthened [1] ... [R]ight education can have the result that someone who is not at all clairvoyant will nevertheless be inspired through sleep. [2]" — Waldorf headmaster John Fentress Gardner, YOUTH LONGS TO KNOW (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 37-38.

[1] Belief in clairvoyance is implicit throughout this statement. This belief is fundamental to the Waldorf approach. Yet it is wrong. [See "Clairvoyance".]

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


 22.  Astrological chart — A map of the soul’s revelation as it unfolds consciousness through the element of time. Higher spiritual beings [1] 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] I.e., gods.

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


 23.  "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 [2] ... 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. [3]" — 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] Steiner taught that our current evolutionary period (our "great epoch") consists of seven shorter periods ("cultural epochs"). [See "Epochs".]

[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".] Here a story in the Old Testament is interpreted to be consistent with Anthroposophical/astrological beliefs.


 24.  "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 distinct spiritual individuality, incarnates at the end of childhood. Waldorf education is keyed to these "births."


 25.  "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 seven, but before then it — in nascent form — 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 ego body containing 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 still more 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.)


 26.  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 great epoch of the Earth, the Post-Atlantean Age (the period since the sinking of Atlantis). 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 — reflected in 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".]


 27.  "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. 


 28.  “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.


 29.  “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, 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. (Note that all of this discussion centers on the extremely dubious proposition that children should be typed according to the size of their heads. Are kids who wear size 9 hats significantly different from those who wear size 5?)

[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) valuable. Others are likely to deem them poppycock.


 30.  “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, 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.


 31.  “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 [2] provides the basis for authority, and the fundamental needs of the child at this time are met from a single source [3] … [T]eachers must succeed in giving the impression that there are depths within themselves yet to be plumbed by their pupils [4], 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".]

[2] Steiner instructed that all classes in Waldorf schools should be taught artistically. (Rational or scientific education, on the other hand, is anathema from the Waldorf perspective.)

[3] I.e., the teacher. Throughout much of Waldorf education, the only viewpoint the chidlren encounter is the Waldorf viewpoint, generally expressed by the small number of teachers who work with any given group of Waldorf students.

[4] Waldorf teachers typically hold themselves out as models for their students to emulate. (Marked, off-putting self-approbation is common among Anthroposophists.)


 32.  “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 [1]...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”) [2], as much as how  he does it.” — Richard Blunt, WALDORF EDUCATION: Theory and Practice (Novalis Press, 1995), p. 120.

[1] Steiner said that corporal punishment is generally (but not always) unhelpful. [See "Slaps".]

[2] 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.


 33.  Fairies   Evidence for the existence of the little folk comes mainly from photographs. [1]” — George Riland, THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 82. [2]

[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".]

[2] Steinerbooks is one of several Anthroposophical publishing concerns that have released books by Steiner and his followers.


 34.  "An insightful farmer can learn to transform dead wastes into life by composting ... Fairies [1] are strongly attracted by this practice. They swarm to the farmer's aid ... As suggested by Rudolf Steiner, the biodynamic farmer [2] 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. 

[2] Biodynamic agriculture is a form of organic farming that follows directions provided by Steiner. Waldorf schools often have biodynamic gardens in which at least some students work. [See "Biodynamics".]


 35.  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. They lack true spirits, yet they play important roles in cosmic evolution. (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.


 36.  “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 [1].” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 90 [2].

[1] Usually. But as we just saw, not always.

[2] Note the title of this book. Steiner education, also called Waldorf education, is based on the spiritual teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Teachings of the sort we are reviewing here.


 37.  "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.


 38.  "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  or 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, 2023), p. 205.


 39.  "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, 2013), p. 8.


 40.  “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 [1].” — Waldorf teacher Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53 [2].

[1] Fairy tales are stressed in Waldorf education for this reason: Fairies (or elemental beings) really exist, and thus fairy tales are fundamentally true. Ancient peoples who were clairvoyant saw the reality of the events related in fairy tales. [See "fairy tales" in the BWSE.]

[2] The same goes for myths. [See "myths" in the BWSE.]


 41.  "Ether — in general, shapeless and invisible life force [1], also called the fifth essence or 'quintessence' in addition to the four elements of earth, water, air and fire [2]." — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z  (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37.

[1] See "life force" in the BWSE.

[2] 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.


 42.  "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 [2] 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".] 

[2] The etheric body is supposedly visible to clairvoyants as an aura. [See "Auras".] Clairvoyants can also perceive other people's astral bodies, Steiner taught, but the ego body can only be perceived by its owner.


 43.  "The etheric body preserves the physical [body] and prevents it from dissolving during earthly life [1]. The human being is connected to the...plant world [2] through the etheric body." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 249.

[1] Steiner taught that people live many, many earthly lives, through the process of reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".] Between earthly lives, people live for extended periods in the spirit realm, Steiner said.

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


 44.  “A third member of the human being [1] 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 [2].” — Waldorf teacher Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 27. 

[1] The first two members are the physical and etheric bodies.

[2] 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".]


 45.  "Through the astral body 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." — Waldorf teacher Torin M. Finser, EDUCATION AS A JOURNEY (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 249.


 46.  “The growth to independence of the astral body starts about the age of seven [1]. At that age the child is touched by astral forces [2] 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. [3]” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 21.

[1] 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 then incarnates at age 14.

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

[3] 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"). Here Waldorf teacher van Oort says these tales contribute to the reception of astral forces.


 47.  "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.)

[2] During the first seven years, Steiner taught, the invisible etheric body — a constellation of life 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 BWSE.]

[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".]


 48.  "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.] [2] ... This allows the child to be ready for direct instruction [3] and to receive guidance from the teacher as a beloved source [4] of worldly knowledge and skills." — Waldorf teacher Holly Koteen-Soulé in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 23.

[1] The "birth" of the etheric body is the incarnation of this body. In Waldorf belief, children are born four timesas their four bodies (physical, etherical, astral, and ego) incarnate.

[2] I.e., after the etheric body has done it work helping to mold the physical body, its forces are freed to work at other levels of human developmeny, specifically the psychological level.

[3] 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".] Thus, instruction in reading, for example, is postponed until kids are at least seven years old.

[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".]


 49.  "Between 14 and 21

"The outer birth [1] of the astral body 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 ... The interval between the inner and outer birth of the astral body is around ten or eleven years [3] ... During the final period of child development, the intellect and abstract thinking capacities come at last to the foreground [4]." — Waldorf teacher Holly Koteen-Soulé in THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION, 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] "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".]

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

[4] 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.


 50.  "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 to incarnate on Earth — you remember your intentions and purposes, or in other words your karmic needs.


 51.  “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 real thoughts and does not apprehend truth. [See, e.g., “Steiner’s Specific - Thinking Without Our Brains”.] The intellect has some value in our current, physical stage of evolution, Steiner said, but its value is largely limited to this level of existence.

[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.

[6] I.e., a practicing Anthroposophist.


 52.  “[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 neither 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 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.


 53.  “[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. [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 sovariousme elements of Waldorf education. [See "Gender".]


 54.  "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 ego body containing the "I".

[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".]


 55.  “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.


 56.  "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".


 57.  “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.


 58.  “[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 [2]. A little reflection shows how important these attitudes of soul can be for the life of the Waldorf teacher [3].” — 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. [See "Knowing the Worlds" and "Everything".]

[2] "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.

[3] I.e., a true Waldorf teacher maintains an Anthroposophical perspective.


 59.  “[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 [4]." — 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”.]

[4] Although Wilkinson begins by saying Waldorf teachers must actually teach children, he immediately departs from this topic and stresses the Anthroposophical practices and attitudes the teachers must emphasize. Teaching is secondary to Anthroposophical practice.


 60.  "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....[2]" — 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".]

[2] Before the current evolutionary period began, Steiner taught, humanity lived on Atlantis. We divided into seven different races then. When Atlantis was destroyed, Noah (otherwise known as Manu, the "Moon Messenger") led a band of survivors to safety. This migration was more spiritual (astral) than physical. [See "Atlantis" and "Old Testament".]


 61.  "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.".]


 62.  “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, 2023), p. 61.

[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” and "Polaria and Hyperborea".]

[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".]


 63.  “[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 [2] ... 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....[3]” — 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. 

[2] 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).

[3] Waldorf education is concerned with the students' developmental phases up to age 21, but Anthroposophy describes phases that extend throughout adulthood.


 64.  "In the beginning of the 4th planetary 'globe', Earth [1], the latest incarnation of our telluric home, there was only fire — Polaria, as it was known in occult circles [2]. Fire condensed to gas in Ancient Hyperborea [3]; then to liquid in Lemuria [4]. Here, in the early stages at least, the world was all ocean; but with the advent of Atlantis, mighty Shiva [5], a compendium of the Spirits of Form, danced on the surface of the earth, dividing the waters from the land [6]." — Waldorf teacher-trainer Alan Whitehead, GAZE BOTH WAYS (Golden Beetle Books, undated), p. 3.

[1] According to Anthroposophical teachings, this is the fourth incarnation of the solar system, coming after Old Moon. This incarnation is the fourth major stage of our evolution, usually called Present Earth.

[2] I.e., during the first major epoch of Present Earth, Polaria or Polaris, only one of the four elements existed: warmth or fire. Everything on or during Polaria was form of fire [3].

[3] During the second major epoch of present Earth, Hyperborea, everything was gaseous.

[4] During the third major epoch, Lemuria, everything was (in a manner of speaking) liquid.

[5] Anthroposophists believe in many, many gods. Shiva is one. [See "Shiva" in the BWSE.]

[6] During the fourth major epoch, Atlantis, earthy physical substance — land — first appeared.


 65.  "[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 epoch 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” holdovers 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 they 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?”]


 66.  "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]." — Anthroposophist 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 (BWSE).] 

[3] A 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 BWSE.


 67.  “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”.]


 68.  "[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 spiritual ego is contained within the fourth of our bodies, incarnating at about age 21. Standing higher than the other bodies, the ego body and its essence is an individual's unique spiritual selfhood, the "I". [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”.]


 69.  “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 (drawing on ancient Greek tradition). 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 ego body or "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.


 70.  “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”.] Here we find another Waldorf teacher affirming this account.

[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”.]


 71.  "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 antique categories of "temperament." 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. Refining this system doe not make it true; it only softs and sorts fallacies. [See "Humouresque".]

[3] I.e., "individualizing...by  taking the child's temperament into consideration." This is not true individualization. It is stereotyping.


 72.  "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 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”.]


 73.  "[C]hildhood illnesses should be treated in the proper way, by supporting the illness...not fighting the illness [1]... [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 [2]." — Waldorf teacher and physician L. F. C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 192.

[1] Steiner's followers often rely on "Anthroposophical medicine" — treatments based on Steiner's false medicine preachments. [See "Steiner's Quackery".] Students in Waldorf schools may be referred to Anthroposophical doctors for treatments. This can be dangerous, for example in the Anthroposophical belief that illnesses (generally produced by karma) should be supported, not fought.

[2] Illnesses are "blessings" if they help us fulfill our karmas and incarnate more successfully. So Antroposophists tend to believed, anyway.


 74.  “[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”.]


 75.  "Childhood diseases...result from a necessary developmental process in which the human being tries to overcome influences from the inherited physical body [1]. The child must bring inherited substances into line with his own 'I' ... The intensity of this process depends on the degree of conformity between the physical body and the 'I'. The bigger the difference, the more intense the harmonization process expressed in these types of disease will have to be. [2] This basic concept of the origin of childhood diseases has been complicated by new forms of medication that suppress symptoms (vaccination) [3] ... [T]he harmonization process is partly blocked by their use." — Henk Van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 20. (The parenthetical reference to vaccination occurs in the text; I did not add it.)

[1] I.e., children may be born with inherited conditions that need to be resolved. Principally, a child must correct any inherited condition so that it is suitable to the child's high spiritual nature, the child's "I" (which does not incarnate until the end of childhood).

[2] The "harmonization process" may be the experience of having a so-called disease. This process (with fevers or other symptoms) should be supported, not fought.

[3] Steiner's follower oppose vaccination in part because preventing a disease from running its course means fighting rather than supporting a needed disease.


 76.  “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 research [1] ... Physical observations [2] tell us only about the very outermost, relatively thin and also delicate shell of the earth [3].” — Anthroposophist Sigismund von Gleich, THE TRANSFORMATION OF EVIL - and the Subterranean Spheres of the Earth (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 32-33.

[1] I.e., the disciplined use of clairvoyance shows us that indeed the Earth is a hollow sphere.

[2] I.e., ordinary science (as opposed to claivoyant "spiritual science").

[3] Unless we use spiritial science, we will only know about the surface of the Earth (and the surface of all other objects of study).


Most Anthroposophists probably do not think the Earth is hollow. But a great many probably think some very strange things are going on deep within the Earth. [1]

 77.  "[The] three innermost layers [of the Earth] are the earth mirror, which transforms all qualities into their opposite; further, the splinterer, through which everything appears fragmented and multiplied to infinity; and finally, the earth core, which...Dante described in his "Divine Comedy" as an ice hell. The very strongest anti-moral forces are concentrated in these three layers [2] ... At present...these forces are pushing more and more to the surface. Strict moral self-education must therefore in future increasingly ensure that these forces do not penetrate to the outside and thereby become a terrible source of evil, even black magic [3]." — From a presentation posted at AnthroWiki [https://en.anthro.wiki/Polar_epoch], copied on 1/27/2023.

[1] Steiner himself said so. Thus, for instance, Steiner said this about one of the subterranean levels of the 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. 

[2] Perhaps surprisingly, the innermost layers of the earth are evil or at least anti-moral.

[3] The innermost layers of the earth are presently pushing upward toward the surface of the planet Earth, bringing with them their anti-moral tendencies. "Strict moral self-education" will be needed to prevent the anti-moral tendencies from producing "a terrible source of evil, even black magic."


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

[1] Waldorf schools are generally averse to modern science and technology, including such technological products as televisions and computers. Rudolf Steiner warned against technological devices, including mechanisms that seem old and quaint today, such as stream engines.

[2] Ahriman is one of the major demons described by Steiner. [See "Ahriman".] 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".]


 79.  “[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] 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”.]


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


 81.  “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' 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. 

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


 82.  "One of the latest ideas in the educational field is programmed learning ... The idea is new, and lends itself to mechanical contraptions [1] ... 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 [2]. Similar arguments apply to the use of radio and television." — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, COMMONSENSE SCHOOLING (Henry Goulden, 1975), pp. 5-6.

[1] i.e., mechanized teaching aids.

[2] As an Anthroposophist, Wilkinson may have meant this literally.


 83.  “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 [2].” — Anthroposophist Georg Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).

[1] From the founder of Waldorf education:

“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).

[2] 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.


 84.  "[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.


 85.  “Educational aids of various kinds...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.


 86.  “[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being [1], with a varying number of incarnations behind him [2] ... [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 [3], rather than regarding it as their duty to cram him with information and knowledge [4]....” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2023), pp. 277-278.

[1] The Waldorf perspective is essentially spiritualistic or religious.

[2] Reincarnation is a basic Waldorf premise.

[3] Waldorf seeks to help children incarnate their souls and spirits in their physical bodies.

[4] Waldorf does not primarily aim to educate children; it does not, for instance, ask children to master much factual information. 


 87.  “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 BWSE.]

[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".]


 88.  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.]


 89.  “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).]


 90.  "The mythical and religious content of the earliest grades [1] bring the child to the same wellsprings from which humanity began its great journey into awareness [2].” — Waldorf teacher 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] I.e., in a Waldorf school.

[2] 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."


 91.  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”.]


 92.  “[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”.]


 93.  “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”.]