"Man is the religion of the gods."
— attributed to Rudolf Steiner
This page, which supplements "Say What?",
was originally written for a different website. — R.R.
The following statements come to us from the core of Anthroposophy — the core of the worldview that underlies Waldorf education. I have trimmed several of the statements to make them clearer, but I have not altered the meaning of any statement. Ask yourself whether you want your children to be “educated” by people who embrace bizarre occult beliefs such as the following:
◊ [Supermen Coming Down] "The beings I have spoken about will descend gradually to the earth. Vulcan beings, Vulcan supermen, Venus supermen, Mercury supermen, sun supermen, and so on will unite themselves with earth existence. Yet, if human beings persist in their opposition to them, this earth existence will pass over into chaos in the course of the next few thousand years.” — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204.
◊ [Gnomes, Clairvoyance, and Miners] “A gnome is only visible to someone who can see on the astral plane, but miners frequently possess such an astral vision; they know that gnomes are realities.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 27, GA 93a.
◊ [In The Palm of His Hand] “Palmistry...requires a special, a very special facility which maybe one or two people possess in order to investigate the lines of the hand... [W]e can see a person’s whole karma in his left hand ... In the right hand we see the personal capability which that person has obtained in this life ... There is more to all these things than people think but it is exceptionally dangerous to speak about them in public....” — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING HEALING: Meditative Reflections on Deepening Medicine Through Spiritual Science (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), pp. 88-89.
◊ [Nymphs and Undines] "If you could observe certain spots, as, for instance, springs where underneath there is stone overgrown with moss, thus forming a kind of partition between plant and stone, and then water trickles over it — that too is essential — then you would see that what are called Nymphs and Undines are very real, an actuality." — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 9.
◊ [Homecoming] “Evolution continued, and little by little the human soul/spirits who had fled to other planets began to return to the earth again ... Evolution happened in such a way that what had crystallized out as man during the latter part of Lemuria and during Atlantis was gradually endowed with soul/spirits who had different characteristics according to whether they came down from Mars, Mercury, or Jupiter.” — Rudolf Steiner, GENESIS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 126.
◊ [Knowing Noses] "[P]lants smell the universe and adapt themselves accordingly ... The violet is really all nose, a very, very delicate nose ... [The] violet is really all nose — but a delicate nose, inhaling the cosmic scent of Mercury. It holds the scent, as I have indicated, between its solid parts and exhales it; then the scent is dense enough for us to be able to smell it. So when Mercury comes toward us through the violet, we smell Mercury. If with our coarse noses we were to sniff toward Saturn, we would smell nothing. But when the asafetida, which has a keen nose for Saturn, sniffs toward that planet, it smells what comes from it, adapts its gas content accordingly, and has a most foul odor. Suppose you are walking through an avenue of horse chestnuts — you know the scent of horse chestnut, or of linden blossoms? They both have such perfume because their flowers are sensitive noses for everything that streams into the universe from Venus." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 146-147.
◊ [Benefits of Occultism, I] “There is no other means of bringing about a universal human brotherhood than the spreading of occult knowledge through the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1953), p. 143.
◊ [Benefits of Occultism, II] “When we today — permeated even a little with anthroposophical consciousness — take a walk in the streets, we no longer see human people; rather we see moles that move about in the smallest of circles....” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 92.
◊ [Head Bumps] "[G]enuine phrenology really should be studied by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite inevitably in deformations of the physical organism.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 68.
◊ [You] “You must know that each limb of a human being is a complete human being, but with the head and chest stunted.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 211.
◊ [Old Testament Thinking, Jews] “We are able to think in the Old Testament way because we have been embryos ... [T]he ancient Jewish people...did not wish to learn anything in addition to what the human being brings with him as a capacity because of the fact that he was an embryo up to the time of his birth.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), p. 28.
◊ [Giants & Dwarfs] “Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on knowledge of the truth ... [W]e feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 117.
◊ [Races] “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.
◊ [Northern Exposure]
◊ [One Value of Human Death] “We must be quite clear that not only the lower animal forms, but also the plant and mineral world would have petrified long ago and ceased development were there no human beings on Earth ... [E]arthly development would have long ago reached its final stage were the Earth not continuously fed with the forces of human corpses.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 69-71.
◊ [Natural History] “If we were to journey back through time to the age that links Lemuria with Atlantis, we would meet with a remarkable sight: gigantic flying lizards with a lantern on their heads...” — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), pp. 130-131.
◊ [Caucasian Mission] "According as the eye or the ear or one of the other senses has the upper hand, so will the different peoples be determined in this or that direction for the special national tendency within [their] racial character. Through this they get quite definite tasks. One task, which specially devolves upon the Caucasian race is, that it is to tread the path to the spiritual through the senses...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121.
◊ [You Could Look It Up] "If in their development the Luciferic entities [i.e., minions of Lucifer] had not reached the stage of intelligent creation in the fire mist, at what stage had they stopped [i.e., when did they stop]? To what point in earth's development were they able to work together with the moon gods? The Akasha Chronicle gives information on this." — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 133-134. The "Akasha Chronicle" is a celestial storehouse of all information — accessible only to clairvoyants. [See "Akasha".]
◊ [Tripod] “[T]he Vulcan human being limps. His legs are in retrogression; they cease to have significance. At the end of evolution, in the Vulcan metamorphosis of the Earth [i.e., during the Future Vulcan stage of evolution], man will be the three-membered being that the saga indicates as the ideal.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 3, GA 93a. This is a fine example of Steiner's method. Claiming that all myths are true, he "explains" why, in Roman mythology, the god Vulcan limps: It is because we will evolve to an "ideal" state in which our legs will be useless.
◊ [Death and the Adepts] "[I]t is possible, by means of special training, to prolong life indefinitely by learning to live outside the physical body. Anyone, however, who imagined that no death, in the conventional sense of the word, could strike down an adept [i.e., an initiate having occult powers], would have quite a false view of the matter. So whoever imagined that an adept could not be hit and killed by a falling roof slate would also be wrong. To be sure, that would usually only occur if the adept allowed it.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), pp. 95-96.
◊ [All vs. All] “The Lemurian races [i.e., the peoples who lived on Lemuria] was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean [i.e., the peoples who lived on Atlantis] by water; ours will be destroyed by the War of All Against All ... Humanity will destroy itself in mutual strife ... A tiny handful of men will be saved and pass over into the sixth epoch [i.e., the next stage of human history].” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 115.
◊ [Blackness] “Mammon is not only the god of money. He is much more the leader of all vile black powers. And his hordes attack not only human souls, but also the physical bodies of humans in order to gnaw away at them and ruin them. People speak of bacteria a lot more today not because they know more about them, but because bacteria have taken on a very special form today. And in the future they will get the upper hand in a terrifying way. When that black age approaches, then fraternal war will rage in a gruesome way, and poor human bodies will waste away, terribly afflicted by diseases and plagues. The stigma of sin will be impressed on human bodies visible to everyone." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 232-233.
◊ [Martian Maya] “Mars used to radiate different forces. The Mars culture...went through a great crisis in the earth’s fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ... When these conditions came into force on Mars, the natural consequence would have been for Mars to continue sending down to earth human beings who brought Copernican ideas [like that the planets go around the Sun] with them, which are really only maya [i.e., illusion]. What we are seeing, then, is the decline of the Mars culture. Previously Mars had sent forth good forces. But now Mars sent forth more and more forces that would have led us deeper and deeper into maya. The achievements inspired by Mars at that time [i.e., Copernican ideas] were ingenious and clever, but they were maya all the same.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 289.
◊ [In This Corner...]
◊ [In That Corner...] "There were also beings who had detached Mars from the common cosmic substance and made it their dwelling place under the leadership of their most advanced member. A...type of human beings fell under their influence. These were 'Mars humans,' who also came into existence through interbreeding ... We can also distinguish 'Saturn humans' ... In human beings of this type, both the life body [i.e., etheric body] and the physical body had portions that remained untouched by the Luciferic influence [i.e., the influence of Lucifer]. [But] in the case of the lower types of human beings, the life body was too unprotected to be able to withstand the Luciferic influence." — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (SteinerBooks, 1997), pp. 238-239.
◊ [Earth Science] "[T]he earth is a huge human head, indeed, a huge, dead human head." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002, p. 149.
◊ [Nature] “Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are however resisted in their activities by the air-fire beings ... The air-fire beings sit fast, so to speak, in their airy strongholds and display their power and might in the fiery flashes of the lightning ... If we look out on the world of Nature, we can know that whatever manifests as forces in that world comes from the Mars beings, whatever manifests as natural law [comes] from from the Jupiter beings, and whatever manifests as colour [sic] and sound from the Saturn beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1952).
◊ [Celebrating Ignorance] "[T]he less the seer knows from external history on the subject of his investigations, the easier it is for him to read in the Akashic records. External history is a positive hindrance to occult research." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Percy Lund, Humphries and Co., 1933), lecture 2, GA 112. The Akashic records are an invisible celestial encyclopedia, accessible through clairvoyance (as it were).
◊ [Food for Thought] “That which spreads out through the brain is a highly advanced heap of manure! Grotesque as it may be, objectively speaking this is the truth. It is none other than the dung, which is transmuted — through its peculiar organic process into the noble matter of the brain ... In man, as much as possible of the belly-manure is transformed into brain-manure ... Hence, animal and human manure are altogether different things.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE COURSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 140.
◊ [Ain't We Sweet?] "[H]igher beings, the gods, also have a religion: they too look up to something in awe and reverence. What is this religion of the gods? What is it that the gods revere? It is man. Man is the religion of the gods." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Charles Kovacs, THE SPIRITUAL BACKGROUND TO CHRISTIAN FESTIVALS (Floris Books, 2007), pp. 72-73.
◊ [An Amazing Mathematical Proof] “The danger of succumbing to the realm of [the demon] Ahriman was at its greatest around the year 333 BC. This was the moment in time when humanity began to make use of mere intellect, mere logic. Then the mystery of Golgotha [i.e., Christ's Crucifixion] occurred and entered the life of humanity. And from AD 333 onwards the time began in which human beings must consciously strive to re-enter the realm of the higher hierarchies...
"If you add these two numbers together you get 666. That is the 'number of the beast'....” — Rudolf Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 96-97.
◊ [Wilson, Lenin, and Ahriman] “We need to be clear that Ahrimanic forces [i.e., the powers of the demon Ahriman] are increasingly breaking in upon historical events. Two leading personalities, Wilson and Lenin, died from the same illness, both from paralysis, which means both offered an opening for Ahrimanic forces.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 700.
◊ [Gnomes (Cont.)] “Gnomes are...unable to grasp how there can be anything but an ineffectual relationship with [our] world.” — Rudolf Steiner, CHANCE, PROVIDENCE, AND NECESSITY (SteinerBooks, 1988), p. 95. [See "Gnomes".]
◊ [Villains] “[T]hose whose intentions toward humanity are not good, in other words those who are black of grey magicians [are busily at work] to present certain groups of people with the secret of how to dominate great masses....” — Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 90.
◊ [The Womb] "[T]he part of the human organism in which the child develops, the womb, is really like a miniature earth that has remained behind and is still in an ancient comet-like state." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 266.
◊ [Future Womb] “The larynx is the future organ of procreation and birth. At present we give birth to words through it, but in future this seed will develop the capacity to give birth to the whole human being once we have become spiritualized.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 50.
◊ [Gassing] “To say the air consists of oxygen and nitrogen tells you nothing about air, as a cosmic phenomenon. But if you know that from the cosmic point of view air is the shadow of light, it tells you a great deal about air. Thus, when the second [spiritual] hierarchy entered Saturn warmth, light actually made its appearance and also the shadow of light, air. And when these arise there is Sun.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 231.
◊ [Degeneration] "In the first Lemurian human race [i.e., the first race to inhabit Lemuria] those who had received only a small [spiritual] spark were little adapted to forming a civilisation and soon went under. On the other hand those who had received absolutely nothing found full expression for their lower nature. They mingled with the animals. From them proceeded the last Lemurian races. The wild, animal instincts lived in wild animal-like human forms. This brought about a degeneration of the entire human substance." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 23, GA 93a.
◊ [Categorization & Segregation of Children] “The important thing for us to remember is the diversity of children ... Such diversity can be traced to four fundamental types, and the most important task of the educator and teacher [sic] is to know and recognize these four types we call the temperaments...sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic, and choleric ... We can always find that the characteristic constitution of each child belongs to one of these classes of temperatures ... In this way we can divide a class into four groups, and you should gradually rearrange the seating of the children with this goal in mind.” — Rudolf Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (SteinerBooks, 1997), pp. 13-15.
◊ [Rotation] “The revolution of the earth is the result of the ego rhythm. And this is true, however astonishing it sounds.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 59.
◊ [You Say You Want an Evolution?] "There was once a large expanse of land [Atlantis] where today there is the Atlantic Ocean ... In that earlier time there was not yet such a solid bony skeleton [i.e., we did not have bony skeletons]. Human beings could have had only soft cartilage, like sharks. Also they could not have breathed through lungs as we do today. At that time they had to have a kind of swimming bladder and a kind of gills, so that the human being who lived then was in his external form half man and half fish. We cannot escape the fact that man then looked quite different — half man and half fish ... The more imperfect of these fish-men became [i.e., evolved to become] kangaroos, those a little more advanced became deer and cattle, and the most perfect became apes or men. You see from this that man did not descend from apes: man was there, and all the mammals really descended from him, from these human forms in which man remained imperfect. So we must say that the ape descended from man, not that man descended from the ape. That is so, and we must be quite clear about it." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 54-55.
◊ [Secrets] “The plant gathers the secrets of the universe, sinks them into the ground, and the gnomes take these secrets into themselves from what seeps down spiritually to them through the plants ... The gnomes receive through the plants, which to them are the same as rays of light are to us, the ideas of the universe, and within the earth carry them in full consciousness from metal to metal, from rock to rock.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 154.
◊ [The Sun God]
◊ [Occultism] “The aim of the sixth epoch of humanity [i.e., our next historical epoch] will be to popularize occult truth in the widest circles....” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 143.
◊ [Protrusian] "Once I knew a man who had quite an unusual forehead ... This man actually had a pronounced bulge, and his forebrain was actually pushed out. I am convinced that this man, whose brain was pushed forward so much, possessed a particularly well-formed abdomen and never suffered from diarrhea or constipation ... [H]is powerful, protruding forehead never permitted disorders of the abdomen. You can see from this that a man's forehead is related in a remarkable way to his abdomen." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 150-151.
◊ [What Nerve] “We therefore have two opposite principles in us — the nervous system that makes us get old all the time, actually handing us over to death all the time, and the blood system which is connected with the nutrition system and lets us grow young all the time.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 195.
◊ [True Fantasies I] “Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power ... All the fairy tales in existence are thus the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.
◊ [True Fantasies II] “Myths...are 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. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were...experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198.
◊ [True Fantasies III] “Folk-lore, which never contains anything haphazard or thought-out [i.e., it is not made up], has preserved the memory of ancient Atlantis in a beautiful way....” —Rudolf Steiner, “The Adept School of the Past”, ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET No. 31/32 (General Anthroposophical Society, 1941) , GA 97.
◊ [Gods] "Zeus, Apollo, Mars, Wotan, Odin, Thor, who are all real beings, became visible. It was characteristic of these spiritual beings not to descend so far as the physical plane, but at the most to manifest temporarily in some kind of physical embodiment, a fact which is cleverly indicated in the myths when mention is made of momentary appearances of Zeus or other gods in human or some other form, when they descended to the world of men in order to carry out some purpose." — Rudolf Steiner , THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Kessinger, facsimile of 1942 edition), pp. 108-109.
◊ [Tardiness] “We lose all control the minute we look away [from student misbehavior] ... [I]t would make us somewhat laughable ... If a child comes late ten minutes, have him or her stand for half an hour ... Let them stand uncomfortably ... [Y]ou can be particularly effective if you allow [sic] them to stand in an uncomfortable place ... We could also buy a number of little sheds [to put them in]....” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 109-110.
◊ [Indispensable Anthroposophists] “If such authentic souls, such honest anthroposophists can be found, who wish...to bear spirituality into earthly life, then an upward movement and dynamic will arise. If such souls do not appear, then decadence will take its inexorable downward course.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE KARMA OF ANTHROPOSOPHY, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 172.
◊ [Races] “If we state that the Negro race was born in cooperation between the normal Spirits of Form [i.e., progressive gods four levels above man] and the abnormal Spirits of Form [i.e., backward gods of that type] centred in Mercury, then from an occult standpoint we are perfectly correct in describing the Negro race as the 'Mercury race' ... We then come to Asia which is the seat of the 'Venus race' or the Malayan race. We then move northward across the wide expanse of Asia and we find the Mongolian race which is formed by the Mars forces. Then we cross over into Europe and find the Europeans who in their original racial character are 'Jupiter men'. If we cross the ocean to America which is the centre where civilizations or races die, we find there dark 'Saturn's race', the original Red Indian race.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 101.
◊ [Star Trek] “The last planet which can still be counted among the series of earthly transformations, and hence follows Venus, is called ‘Vulcan’ by mystery science [i.e., it is Future Vulcan, a culminating stage of evolution] ... Not much can be publicly communicated about life on this planet ... [O]nly mystery students of the higher order, who may leave their physical body [sic] and acquire supersensible knowledge outside it, can learn something about Vulcan.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY, p. 163.
◊ [True Alchemy] "True alchemy...makes itself independent of sensory perception in order to behold the spiritual nature of the world that is external to humanity, but is concealed by sensory perception." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SECRET STREAM (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 162.
◊ [Races, Sub-Races, Aryan Race (in a book about farming!)]
◊ [Our Next Planet, Clairvoyance] “On the planet which will replace our Earth [i.e., the next major stage of our evolution], the whole of humanity will have [the] psychic-consciousness or Imagination, the ‘Jupiter’ consciousness....” — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), pp. 30-31.
◊ [Moonstruck] “This Moon-being — the precursor of present-day man — does not [i.e., did not] perceive an object with spacial extension and coloring form [sic: from] outside itself; instead, the approach to this object causes a certain image — similar to a dream image — to arise within this being ... The clairvoyant also sees in this way today, only he is fully conscious during the seeing, while the Moon inhabitant had only a dreamlike, dim consciousness." — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY, pp. 154-155.
◊ [The Sexes] “[W]e shall...educate the girls correctly by recognizing the fact that they are more inclined to the cosmos and boys more inclined to the earth. Girls incline more to the cosmic, and this means that their ideals are heroes and heroines; we should tell girls about them, about their lives and deeds ... Boys need to hear about character, about complete human beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 83.
◊ [Germans] "[S]peaking [in Britain] of the character and task of the German people, [Steiner] went on to say: 'The Germans are not really nationalistic'. This was met with evident surprise; the war [World War I] had not been long over. Dr. Steiner repeated his statement and proceeded to illustrate it with a story of the opening week of the Waldorf School ...[T]he children [who were German], running up and down the corridors and in the playground, would keep singing, not any German Lied or folksong [sic], but 'My Heart's in the Highlands'." — George Adams, “Rudolf Steiner in England”, A MAN BEFORE OTHERS: Rudolf Steiner Remembered: (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 19.
◊ [Reincarnation] “[W]hat children experience after birth is the idea, the consequence, of their experiences before birth, before conception. We only understand what develops into will [i.e., will power] during life between birth and death if we are aware that people go through the Portal of Death into a spiritual life [between death and the next earthly life], and there [they] further develop the will.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRIT OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 21-22.
◊ [Auras of Brutes] “Those who are at a very low level of development and have never worked on themselves (the most uncivilized brutes) have the aura that was provided by nature. Those within out civilization and culture, however, generally have auras that they themselves have helped to develop.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC DEVELOPMENT (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 104.
◊ [A Weighty Matter] “The ego slips into [i.e., incarnates in] the physical body ... Through the ego’s gliding into it, the physical body loses its weight ... For there is no such thing, dear friends, as what the physicists call matter.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 54-55.
◊ [The Sexes (Cont.)] “During the time when people are physically female, they are spiritually male, and during the time they are physically male, they are spiritually female.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRIT OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 92.
◊ [Group Souls, and Who’s Tops] “The group soul [i.e., the soul shared by the group] of a beehive is a very high level being, higher than that of ants. It is of such a high development that you might almost say it is cosmically precocious. It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach in the Venus cycle, which follows the completion of the present Earth cycle ... The group soul of corals, however, is on a still higher plane ... ” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176.
It is useful to read longer excerpts from Steiner, to get a feel for his laborious prose, his bizarre beliefs, his self-congratulation, and his contempt for others. But far too often, long passages of his are tedious and, for many readers, nearly impenetrable. Here are a few long excerpts that are easier than most, while still being characteristic. In an effort to be fair, I have selected passages in which Steiner distinguishes his teachings from less sophisticated beliefs, for instance on the subject of horoscopes — he says horoscopes can be useful, but he claims that his own teachings are not as simplistic as common astrology.
◊ [Horoscopes and Brains] “People who are knowledgeable about these things can ‘read’ the forces that determine a person's path in his or her physical life; on this basis horoscopes are cast. Each of us is assigned a particular horoscope, in which the forces are revealed that have led us into this life. For example, if in a particular horoscope Mars is above Aries, this means that certain Aries forces cannot pass through Mars but are weakened instead.
“Thus, human beings on their way into physical existence can get their bearings through their horoscope. Before ending this discussion — which, after all, seems a daring one in our time — we should note that most of what is presented today in this area is the purest dilettantism and pure superstition. As far as the world at large is concerned, the true science of these things has largely been lost. Therefore, the principles presented here should not be judged according to the claims of modern astrology, which is highly questionable.
“The active forces of the starry world push us into physical incarnation. Clairvoyant perception allows us to see in a person's organization that he or she is indeed the result of the working together of such cosmic forces. I want to illustrate this in a hypothetical form that nevertheless corresponds fully to clairvoyant perceptions.
“If we examined the structure of a person's brain clairvoyantly and could see that certain functions are located in certain places and give rise to certain processes, we would find that each person's brain is different. No two people have the same brain. If we could take a picture of the entire brain with all of its details visible, we would get a different picture for each person. If we photographed a person's brain at the moment of birth and took a picture of the sky directly above his or her birthplace, the two pictures would be alike. The stars in the photograph of the sky would be arranged in the same way as certain parts of the brain in the other picture. Thus, our brain is really a picture of the heavens, and we each have a different picture depending on where and when we were born. This indicates that we are born out of the entire universe.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND HUMANITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1992), lecture 3, GA 105. For more on the subject of horoscopes, see "Horoscopes".
◊ [Group Souls, Oracles, Secret Temples] “One common spirit lived and weaved through the single personalities of the tribe or folk. But whatever could come to men's consciousness from this collective egohood had to be under the guidance of the Mysteries in the secret temples, where the priests directed the common spiritual affairs of a city or a tribe. And it is not a mere figure of speech, but in a certain sense and actual reality, to say that such a temple-sanctuary served as a dwelling-place for the city-ego, for the group-soul. There this group-soul had its habitation, and the priests of the temple were its servants. It was they who received the instructions of this group-soul through inspiration — through what was known as an Oracle — and bore them out into the world in order that one thing or another might come to pass. For we must think of the Oracles exactly in the sense I have indicated.
“Now the direction of these temple-sanctuaries was bound up with certain secrets and many conflicts in ancient times arose because the temple-priests of one city were carried off by the neighbouring city, so that in this way, together with the priests, the most important secrets of a city came into the hands of the neighbouring one.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1957), pp. 39-40.
◊ [Interviewing the Dead] “The powers of spiritual sight that I then possessed enabled me to enter into a close relationship with these two souls after their earthly deaths. Their disposition after death was different from that of other souls. Normally, life after death is at first closely related to earthly life; only slowly and gradually does it become like the life we experience in the purely spiritual sphere where our existence continues until our next earthly life.
"Both of these ‘known yet unknown’ souls [i.e., he knew them only slightly] were thoroughly at home in the materialistic ideas of their age. Both had conceptually assimilated and elaborated the natural-scientific way of thinking. The second, with whom I became connected in Weimar, had even studied Billroth and similar scientific thinkers. [Albert Christian Billroth was a noted physician and author.] On the other hand, both had remained distant from any spiritual view of the world during earthly life. No doubt, both would have rejected any views of a spiritual kind they might have met because, according to the habits of thought of the time, the facts seemed to demand the prevailing natural-scientific way of thinking...
"Great sensitivity of spiritual sight was needed to behold the two individualities within the spiritual world where their inner natures — and through these — much else was revealed to me.” — Rudolf Steiner, STAYING CONNECTED: How to Continue Your Relationships with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic press, 1999), pp. 223-226: excerpt from Steiner’s autobiography.
◊ [Reincarnation, Universities] “These are concrete facts about the human being. It does not get people anywhere to know about repeated earth lives and so on. Those after all are dogmas and it makes no difference if you have the dogmas of the Catholic or Protestant church or the dogma of repeated earth lives. Real thinking only starts when you enter into concrete events, when you come to realize that looking at the human head you are looking at the transformed body of your previous earth life, and that the head you had then was the transformed body of the preceding life— you must imagine it without the head, of course. The head you see now is the transformed organism of the last life lived on earth. The rest of the organism as you see it now will be the head in the next life lived on earth. Then the arms will have metamorphosed and become ears, and the legs will have become eyes. We must look at the physical world and understand it in its transformed non-physical form, our intellect must illumine the material world in this way. Then at last we shall have what humankind is much in need of today. Once the human mind has been organized so that it no longer produces the kind of folly that has been put forward as a potential social theory, particularly in the second half of the 19th century, human beings will indeed be ready to develop social ideas that can be put into effect in this world. It is necessary to gain a thorough understanding of this today. It is a serious matter when people say today: Something else will have to take the place of the science which has evolved and is so highly respected, of all the things that are generally disseminated. There can be no other way.
"It is nonsense, and I also said so recently in a public lecture, to talk about setting up adult education thinking that the same kind of work can be done there as at ordinary universities. It is the work done at the universities that has brought us to these disastrous situations, because it has become the materialistic view of a few leading personalities. This is now to be presented to the masses; that is, millions are to head for the disasters that so far have come about because the wrong lead was given by a few. Something that proved useless for a few is now to be spread among the many.” — Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), pp. 59-60.
◊ [Hospitals, Universities, Spiders] "Our young people are sent into the hospitals and scientific faculties of the universities; there the human being is explained to them ... [T]his is no way to comprehend the human being; in this way, one only gets to know the mineral aspect of man. What we learn about the human being through such a science is something that simply and solely has significance from the moon’s separation until its return, something that out of the spider thoughts of today will then turn into spider beings ... [P]eople do not have the remotest idea of the appalling earthly destiny they are approaching by uniting with what an ancient spiritual knowledge called the sixteen paths of human perdition ... [T]here are variations of the shadowy intellect itself, various ways of uniting ourselves through this intellectual activity with the elements of spidery incrustation that will be spun over the whole earth in the future. In that time, the intellect will hold sway objectively in the manifold limbs these spider creatures will possess." — Rudolf Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 266-269.
◊ [Blood and Stuff] "During the Saturn period there was only a warmth globe on which the spirits of darkness attained their human stage. The blood we had then was dark. There was a hidden fire or warmth on the planet, but no light. When Saturn disappeared, the Sun rose from the darkness, the second, air element with its oxygen made Saturn's glimmer burst into flames, and then there was light, as is symbolized by the alchemist's sulfur. Blood turned from black to yellow.
"During the Moon period the whole atmosphere was watery, but not like the water we know. It was divided into spherical drops that moved past each other with tremendous speed. One finds this condition of Moon substance in quicksilver, that also divides into very small spheres and is more mobile than all other substances. During the Moon period blood was as white as this substance, and it was given forms by the world tone. These forms are female. The whole Moon represents the female principle.
"The fourth, earth element appeared during the Earth period in connection with the third alchemistic substance — salt, the symbol of crystallization and dissolution. This is where the male element appears. Our present men with their red blood are shaped on the earth. Everything that dissolves is salt.
"Thus we have four kinds of fire in the four kinds of blood: black on old Saturn, yellow on old Sun, white on old Moon and red on earth. The warmth that now lives in our blood is the warmth of the planet Saturn. All these bloods or fires are still in us and are instruments for spirits who work in and on us, until we'll be individualized enough to do what these spirits do. The air we inhale is the instrument, bearer or body of a certain kind of spirit. The light rays that pass into our eyes have a light spirit in them who works upon our eyes. Saturn spirits find a point of attack in the warmth of the blood and ego. Some of them are very bad and dangerous." — Rudolf Steiner, "From the Contents of Esoteric Classes", March 14, 1908, GA 266.
◊ [Spiders, Stones, and Stuff] "Certain kinds of animals also have a consciousness on the astral plane, which is likewise the plane of idiot consciousness. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky [Steiner’s mentor] mentions especially certain Indian night insects, nocturnal moths. Spiders also have an astral consciousness; the delicate spider webs are actually spun out of the astral plane. The spiders are merely the instruments of astral activity. The ants too, like the spiders have a consciousness on the astral plane. There the ant heaps have their soul. This is why the behaviour of the ants is so precisely regulated.
"The minerals also have consciousness. This lies on the higher mental plane, in higher regions than that of the plant. Blavatsky calls it Kama-prana consciousness. Man too can later achieve this consciousness while retaining his present state of consciousness undisturbed. He then no longer needs to enter into a physical body, no longer needs to be incarnated. The stones are below on the physical plane and their consciousness is in the higher regions of the mental plane." — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 3, GA 93a.
For further samples of statements
by Steiner and his followers, see, e.g.,
To consider how Steiner used superstition,
astrology, magic, and old wives' tales
in his prescriptions for healthful food production,
To hone in on Steiner's superstitions,
Bear in mind that Steiner's followers,
including many Waldorf teachers,
accept his word on virtually all matters.
This was so in the past,
and it generally remains so today.
See, e.g., "Today", etc., as per above.
Visiting the Waldorf Watch "news" archive
can also be eye-opening.
Wet-on-wet watercolor painting
by a Waldorf student.
[Courtesy of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.]
Anthroposophists often don't realize how Steiner's words, and Anthroposophical beliefs, and Anthroposophical artifacts strike people outside the confines of their cult. Many of the "wise words" we've seen, above, are this way: Anthroposophists embrace them, but to outsiders they seem nutty and wicked. Here is a minor visual example of the same phenomenon: This shrieking face is the main entrance to the art workshop on the Goetheanum campus. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but much of the sculpture, painting, and architecture arising from Steiner's sense of aesthetics seems grotesque or unintentionally funny to ordinary, uninitiated folks. [R.R. sketch, 2010.]
Martin Luther's nativity chart or horoscope.
Steiner pretended he could see beyond the sky,
but in the process he missed something: reality.
[R. R., 1996.]
What were Steiner’s last words? Perhaps it doesn't matter. And perhaps we cannot know for sure, in any case. "My Christoph Lindenberg biography of Steiner (1000 pages in German — usually considered the most comprehensive) states that Steiner, on his deathbed (that is, on the night he died) said nothing in the way of 'last words' only a few 'nice things' to Ita Wegman [one of his devout followers] before closing his eyes, folding his hands and passing...." — Daniel Hindes, "Steiner's Last Words?"
More interesting, I submit, are words Steiner spoke before his final illness weakened him — the final lectures he delivered, when he was presumably at the height of his spiritual wisdom. Intriguingly, these lectures dealt with Waldorf education. Delivered in April of 1924 — about a year before his death — Steiner's final lectures have been compiled in ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION. (I will quote from the edition released by Kessinger Publishing in 2003 — it is a reproduction of the text first published in 1926 and revised in 1948 by the Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London.)
Steiner gave these lectures at a conference organized by the General Anthroposophical Society in conjunction with the first Waldorf School. Knowing that he was speaking to his friends and adherents, Steiner said the following about the role that religion plays in Waldorf education:
This passage confirms, in essence, that Anthroposophy, as a religion, will be present in any real Waldorf school. Consider: "[W]e allow the religious attitude to develop in the child in a natural way." The "we" Steiner is talking about are Waldorf teachers, and he says it is their business to "establish the religious element" for the students. He stresses that "we do not force religious feeling into the child, but awaken it, already evoke the self in the human being." These phrases are couched in Steiner's characteristic tangled syntax, but his point is nonetheless clear: The teachers awaken the religious feeling that children naturally have within themselves, and in so doing the teachers lead the students toward genuine human selfhood. Remember that Steiner taught that some people are not really human beings. He said that many people are mere automatons, and some are demons in human form. But Waldorf schools are intended to help real humans to reach real religion — which for Steiner's followers means approaching the spirit realm through the teachings that live in Anthroposophy.*
What sorts of religious feelings do Anthroposophists believe come naturally to children? For Anthroposophists, the real approach to the spirit realm is Anthroposophy. So the children's natural religious feelings are, from an Anthroposophical perspective, feelings that proceed from, and lead to, the spiritual essence found in Anthroposophy. And how, according to Steiner, does one become a fully incarnated, real human being, able to truly approach matters of the spirit? By following Steiner’s directions, which ultimately means becoming an Anthroposophist. Thus, in sum, "A religious atmosphere permeates" the classrooms in which the Waldorf teachers are "active." Contrary to the denials generally put forth by Waldorf schools, Steiner tells us that religion in general — and Anthroposophy in particular — will be promoted in Waldorf schools. Indeed, this is the essential purpose of the schools: to promote Anthroposophy. Children are not given complex Anthroposophical doctrines to memorize, but Anthroposophically correct religious feelings are fostered in them, and their feet at thus set on the path that, their teachers hope, will lead eventually to full commitment to Anthroposophy.
* Waldorf schools are intended for real humans, who have real human souls. "We cannot...create a school for demons." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 649.
Another note. Steiner is hard to read. His statements are often stilted, rambling, and either repetitious or contradictory (or both). But hacking our way through his statements is essential. My strategy is to let him impeach himself, by laying out his precise language — at least as we find it in Anthroposophically approved English translations from the original German. I often add my own commentary to the quotations, but to the greatest extent possible I want Steiner’s word to stand (or fall) on their own.
The matter is somewhat more complex, however. Every passage I quote of Steiner’s is, in a sense, taken out of context. But this is true for virtually all quotations everywhere. The only way to put a sentence in its context is to quote the entire paragraph in which it appears. But even that would provide only a partial context: You would receive just one paragraph, without the context of the paragraphs surrounding it, which might alter the meaning. So perhaps I should always quote several paragraphs, or an entire lecture, or an entire series of lectures, or... But that is clearly impossible, and it undercuts the purpose of offering quotations. The only relevant question is whether I have mangled Steiner’s meaning by “quoting out of context.” In fact, no, I haven’t. Please check up on me. I’ve documented each quotation. Consult the book(s) in question and draw your own conclusions.
The matter is more complex than even that, however. Not only have I, in a sense, “quoted out of context,” but I have cut words out of many quotations. Surely this distorts Steiner’s meaning, no? No. It could, of course, if I were inattentive, or malicious. But in fact I have taken care to remain faithful to the meaning of each quotation. Why shouldn’t I? Steiner’s words and the meaning of those words are my best tools for laying bare the intellectual and even spiritual emptiness of Steiner's teachings — the teachings that undergird Waldorf education. So I have taken care, and I have marked all of my excisions with ellipses (...). So, again, please check up on me. Get the books, read the quotations I have trimmed, and see for yourself. You’ll see that, if anything, I’ve assisted Steiner by making his tortuous and sometimes contradictory statements clearer than he himself did. (If this is a disservice — if Steiner’s meaning should always remain muddy and irrational — then there’s no hope for Steiner’s statements. They would then be self-evident bunk. But let’s not follow that line of argument. Let’s assume that Steiner was sane, that he meant something by his words, and that attentive reading can discover his meaning.)
But this brings us to a final complexity: Did Steiner literally mean what he said and wrote, or should we take his statements to be parables or, in a sense, metaphors — not literally comprehensible statements? My response: It’s all the same to me. Take his words any way you want. Here’s what he said. Does it make sense to you? Does it correspond, even vaguely, to reality? If a passage is a parable, what is its parabolic meaning? If a passage is a metaphor, what is it a metaphor for? Steiner himself often tried to distance himself from the literal meaning of his words. He loved qualifiers like “in a sense.” He asserted that the “truths” he was revealing are virtually impossible for materialists, rationalists, or scientists to grasp. Of course, he was thereby distancing himself from rational discourse and true knowledge. Indeed, he went further, arguing that only initiates can understand him. That’s an interesting and, at first blush, powerful defense. But what about at second blush? Let me try out the same sort of argument now. No one can understand the writings of Roger Rawlings except for the deeply devoted followers of Roger Rawlings.* What does this amount to? The only people who “get” me are the people who “get” me. Sort of circular, wouldn’t you say? In a sense? If the only reason anyone can have for believing Steiner is that s/he began by believing Steiner without yet having read Steiner, then s/he is beyond the reach of rational discussion, and all the rest of us are left outside the charmed circle, gaping.
* There are, of course, no such followers, nor do I want any. But Steiner had such followers, and he wanted them. This, in itself, is worth pondering.
Sketch of a window at the Goetheanum
For the experience of reading a complete lecture
delivered by Rudolf Steiner, see "Lecture".
We'll walk through it together.
Here is just one of many books full of Steiner's "wisdom."
You really should read a few. The experience is incomparable.
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985.]
(Don't be deceived.
Despite what this cover seems to say,
Steiner's last name was Steiner,
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch,
use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 7. IN THEIR OWN WORDS ◊◊◊
Nonsense in the air
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.