WALDORF / STEINER
November , 2011
This site supplements Waldorf Watch.
To go to Waldorf Watch itself, please click here:
The news items below are presented in reverse chronological order — newest first, oldest last.
Please excuse a certain amount of repetition in the contents of this archive.
Items that now appear close together on the screen may have originally been separated by intervals of several days.
Many of the items in this archive generalize about Waldorf schools,
describing them as Rudolf Steiner and leading Waldorf representatives have said they should be
and as evidence shows they often are today.
Not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools conform to this model precisely.
To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes,
its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), and the composition of its faculty.
Waldorf schools' aversion to computers reflects the Anthroposophical
fear of the arch-demon Ahriman, a monster of intellect, knowledge, and technology.
• "With the achievement of the stored program computer, it begins to be possible to talk in terms of a
(macrocosmic) incarnation vehicle capable of sustaining the being of Ahriman.” — David B. Black,
THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981), p. 33.
NBC Nightly News — one of the major news outlets in the USA — ran a feature last evening about the policy, found in most Waldorf schools, of keeping computers out of the classroom, especially in the lower grades.
• “Ahriman finds...favourable conditions [for himself] especially in the world of the computer and digital industry.”
— Anthroposophist Sergei Prokoffief, “The Being of the Internet,”
PACIFICA JOURNAL (Anthroposophical Society in Hawaii), no. 29, 2006.
As of today, December 1, 2011, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN
is still for sale at the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore.
[Image of Ahriman from THE GOETHEANUM CUPOLA MOTIFS OF RUDOLF STEINER
(SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 127; tint added.]
"From the moment you walk into the Waldorf School of the Peninsula there are clear signs that something different is happening ... Despite being in the heart of Silicon Valley, Waldorf students are not caught up in the gadget frenzy that has consumed so many other school children nationwide. Computers are not used in the elementary school and they are used sparingly at the high school level. Teachers say they're not anti-technology, but, as they put it, they're just in favor of healthy education." [11-30-2011 http://dailynightly.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/30/9118340-the-waldorf-way-silicon-valley-school-eschews-technology?chromedomain=usnews]
Like much of the other reportage spawned by the TIMES article, the NBC report was affirmative and superficial. The underlying reason Waldorf schools fear technology went unmentioned. Only a little research would have allowed the reporters to understand their topic, but they didn't bother. Waldorf faculties generally believe that computers are demonic. The following is from the website Open Waldorf: “...Modern-day Waldorf educators are still very concerned about [the demon] Ahriman, children, and technology. Just recently, Helmut von Kugelgen, a leading Waldorf educator, spoke about this concern at the Waldorf International Kindergarten Conference: ‘We must also be active in the consciousness soul when we struggle to balance the forces of evil, Lucifer and Ahriman, who are always present in the picture of the human being ... Ahriman may incarnate macrocosmically in our computers’....” [http://www.openwaldorf.com/media.html]
The TIMES and NBC focused on The Waldorf School of the Peninsula (California, USA). That school has been in the news recently not only because of its aversion to technological gadgets but because of the large number of its students who are unvaccinated. A Reuters blog (11-1-2011) called the school the most dangerous in its area. According to Waldorf belief, vaccines are another technological product that may cause spiritual damage. "[C]ertain inoculations will be used to influence the human body in such a way that it provides no place for the spiritual proclivities of the soul. Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas ... [Evildoers] will try by inoculation to bring it about that even in childhood, human beings lose the urge towards the spiritual life." — R. Steiner, BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 1, GA 178.
For previous coverage of these matters, see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatchannex/october-2011 and https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatchannex/november-2011.
"Measles outbreak spreads, 3 hospitalised
"At least a dozen people have been diagnosed with measles and three have been hospitalised as an outbreak of the infectious disease which began at the Orana Steiner School in Weston [Australia] continues.
"ACT [Austalian Capital Territory] chief health officer Paul Kelly said eight of the people who had fallen ill were Year 9 students from the school and four were 'community cases'.
"Health authorities had asked Orana families to keep all unvaccinated students home from school to help prevent infection...
"There was only one reported case of measles in the ACT last year...
"Measles symptoms can include fever, tiredness, runny nose and a cough, followed by a rash which appears between two and seven days later.
"Up to a third of people with measles develop complications, which could include ear infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia.
"About one in 1000 people with measles develops encephalitis." [11-30-2011 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/health/measles-outbreak-spreads-3-hospitalised/2375468.aspx]
See our previous coverage of the Waldorf attitude toward vaccination at https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatchannex/annex-index. Also see "Steiner's Quackery".
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004]
The spiritual system undergirding Waldorf education entails religious observances and activities,
such as the recitation of prayers. Many of the prayers used were penned by Rudolf Steiner.
This volume contains some of these prayers, including two that are often recited by Waldorf teachers and students,
in unison, at the start of each school day. The one for use in the lower four grades is on p. 45;
the one for use in higher grades is on p. 47.
Disguised as "morning verses," these are clearly prayers, having lines such as
"I reverence, O God,
The strength of humankind,
That thou so graciouslyHast planted in my soul...
From Thee come light and strength,
To Thee rise love and thanks.” [p. 45]
“CONSIDERING THE ALTERNATIVES
“Montessori and Waldorf schools offer an attractive alternative to parents who are tired of traditional educational models.
“...The Montessori and Waldorf methods, developed by Maria Montessori in 1907 and Rudolf Steiner in 1919, are structured to educate students differently depending on where they are developmentally...
“...Waldorf educators teach Rudolf Steiner’s concepts by using both dynamic and pictorial methods. Students are either asked to move their bodies or are presented with art and stories when introduced to new lessons...
“Most Waldorf schools must be private due to their nondenominational ‘emphasis on the divine.’ [Valerie] Perrott [a Waldorf PR coordinator] says every person has a spiritual self, and the Waldorf method explores this self through teaching its students about world religions....” [11-28-2011 http://www.fluxstories.com/2011/11/considering-the-alternatives/]
Waldorf schools are often compared to, or even mistaken for, Montessori schools. In reality, there is a vast difference. Montessori schools are essentially secular while Waldorf schools are essentially religious. Waldorf schools can be considered “nondenominational” only if their spiritual system, Anthroposophy, is termed a philosophy or “science” instead of a religion. And, indeed, Anthroposophy is usually presented in this manner. The truth, however, is that Anthroposophy is indeed a religion, and as a religion it forms the basis of Waldorf schooling. For more on these matters, see , e.g.,“Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”, “Spiritual Agenda”, and “Ex-Teacher 5”.
“Parents’ hopes of a Steiner stream being reinstated at Footscray City Primary School [Australia], after an eleventh-hour review by the State Education Minister, have been dashed.
“Mr Dixon [the minister] had ordered an independent review of the decision, made by the Western Metropolitan Region of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, to axe the Steiner stream, replace the principal without notice and sack parents on the school council.
“However, the Education Minister’s last-minute review did not give many parents the result they were hoping for.
“In a letter to parents, a ‘delegate’ of the Education Minister, deputy secretary Chris Wardlaw, wrote it was ‘appropriate’ to terminate the school council, apart from the principal, and appoint new members.
“’I do not consider the current school council membership (except for the principal) with its concerns about the cessation of Steiner and the school's transition to the mainstream, to be best suited to oversee the major changes and direction that the school will take from 2012,’ his letter said.
“Under the Steiner stream, children are not taught to read and write until they are seven and are discouraged from using computers and watching TV....” [11-29-2011 http://www.starnewsgroup.com.au/star/footscray-yarraville/323/story/145213.html]
“Independent Waldorf Schools and the Global Crisis of Today
“February 17-19, 2012
“in Harlemville, NY [USA]
“The onset of the 21st Century brought, not a great leap forward, but a further intensification of the unresolved dilemmas and outrages of the 20th Century: Endless War, Continued Economic Exploitation of Natural and Human Resources, A Materialistic Culture Increasingly Bound to both the State and the Economy
“New thoughts, new impulses, and new inspirations are not only desperately needed but must flourish if our culture and society are to begin healing.
“Waldorf Education is utterly unique in its potential to contribute to the healing of our society and the renewal of our culture. A greater awareness and understanding of this potential, fundamental to the original impulse for Waldorf Education, is what we will seek.” [11-28-2011 http://www.thinkoutword.org/wp-content/uploads/Waldorf-ed-Global-Crisis-alternate.pdf]
The ideology that shapes Waldorf education is a messianic religion, Anthroposophy. Rudolf Steiner’s followers are out to save the universe, and Waldorf schools are one of the means they have chosen. The goal of salvation is admirable, but Waldorf methods make sense only if we accept the doctrines of the faith. Unless you are a devout Anthroposophist, you may become uncomfortable with an education system run by members of the Steiner cult.
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978]
"Rudolf Steiner - Rosicrucian Esotericism
"The full audio in mp3 format is now available in the Esoteric Online library, simply click the links below to listen, or visit the Rosicrucian section of the library, then Rudolf Steiner." [11-27-2011 http://www.esotericonline.net/profiles/blogs/rudolf-steiner-rosicrucian-esotericism]
Rosicrucianism is a secretive religious order purportedly established by Christian Rosenkreutz, a mythical figure. Steiner taught that Rosenkreutz really existed and he identified Rosicrucianism as the correct spiritual path for modern humans. (What Steiner meant was his own take on Rosicrucianism, i.e., Anthroposophy.) For more on these matters, see "Rosy Cross", "Gnosis", and "The White Lodge". You may learn many things you didn't know previously, such as “Buddha transferred his work to Mars in the year 1604 ... Christian Rosenkreutz had known what the work of Buddha on Mars would signify for the whole Cosmos, what his teachings of Nirvana, of liberation from the Earth would signify on Mars. The teaching of Nirvana was unsuited to a form of culture directed primarily to practical life. Buddha's pupil, Francis of Assisi, was an example of the fact that this teaching produces in its adepts complete remoteness from the world and its affairs ... Christian Rosenkreutz realised that for a certain purification needed on Mars, the teachings of Buddha were pre-eminently suitable ... The souls on Mars were warlike, torn with strife. Thus Buddha performed a deed of sacrifice ... He was as it were the lamb offered up in sacrifice on Mars and to accept this environment of strife was for him a kind of crucifixion. Buddha performed this deed on Mars in the service of Christian Rosenkreutz.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950), VII, “The Mission of Gautama Buddha on Mars”.
From the Anthroposophical Society in Canada:
“'All of Anthroposophy is contained in the Mystery Plays.' This is something I have often heard, and yet to approach these works of Rudolf Steiner is no easy task ... [T]hese plays require much chewing and time to digest. My experience has been, however, that like a little seed of cumin in the mouth, they spread and continue to enhance all the life around.
"Our 'guide' into this realm of relationship, reincarnation, and karma was Barbara Renold, humbly sharing the fruits of her own 'destiny' as a third generation Anthroposophist, thoroughly steeped in and then intensively working in the Mystery Plays for most of her life." [11-27-2011 http://ascadministrator.blogspot.com/]
Mystery plays are pageants, popular in the Middle Ages, presenting religious stories. Steiner revived the form, writing four modern mystery plays that express Anthroposophical doctrines. For most audiences, even Steiner's faithful followers, Steiner's plays are heavy going — heavy on "meaning" but extremely light on dramatic interest. “[A]s theater, Steiner’s Mystery Dramas are, I think, an acquired taste. Without doubt they deal with the deep concerns of spiritual life and, for those committed to Steiner’s ideas, can provide a moving and transformative experience. But for the uninitiated, they can appear stiff, and redolent somewhat of Sunday school. Even for an audience sympathetic to spiritual ideas, the plays, for my taste at least, suffer from being heavy on message and light on movement. There are many long speeches, and what there is of action seems to consist of the characters’ engaging in extended arguments about the need for a new spiritual vision ... The problem with this is that too extended a stay in the higher realms can lead to boredom. The central character, Benedictus, is a spiritual teacher most likely based on Steiner himself ... All [the others] have gathered to hear Benedictus speak of his experiences in the spiritual worlds ... The poet Christian Morgenstern, who became one of Steiner’s followers, managed to highlight the work’s good points, while faintly acknowledging that as theater, there was still more work to be done. ‘It is not a play,’ he wrote to a friend, but ‘it mirrors worlds of the spirit ... [I]t may well be hundreds of years before there are enough human beings who want this pure, spiritual art.’” — Gary Lachman, RUDOLF STEINER (Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2007), pp. 165-166. [See "Plays".]
“School boy encouraged to jump over fire
“A boy has ended up in hospital after his teacher encouraged him to jump over a fire whilst on a school trip. What began as a light-hearted solstice celebration ended with the 15-year-old being severely injured.
“The teacher from Rudolf-Steiner school in Vienna, Austria, reportedly encouraged Jakob to leap over a fire leaving him so badly burnt that he had to have both his feet operated on...
“After the mother made an official complaint the boy was supposedly asked to leave the school...
“According to a report in Heute, the mother is holding the school liable for pain and suffering and damages in excess of 24,000 Euros. When asked to comment this morning (Fri) the private school had ‘No comment’. The case is still pending.” [11-25-2011 http://austrianindependent.com/news/General_News/2011-11-25/9580/School_boy_encouraged_to_jump_over_fire]
Originally a pagan fertility rite, fire-jumping is sometimes encouraged in Waldorf schools, especially during school festivals. See the story reported here last June [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatchannex/june-2011].
A former Waldorf parent had this response to the recent event: “Sounds to me like a typical Waldorf story. Teacher puts child at risk. School staff fail to take appropriate action when things go wrong. Child is expelled when parent complains about harm done to child while in the teacher's care." [11-27-2011 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/21995]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009]
This is one of the central texts studied by Rudolf Steiner's followers.*
According to Steiner, gaining knowledge of the spirit worlds essentially requires the development of clairvoyance.
In this book, Steiner lays out his system for attaining and perfecting clairvoyance.
If the system does not work — if there is no such thing as clairvoyance —
there is no basis for Steiner's occult teachings or for Waldorf education.
* The same book, in a different translation, is available under the title and subtitle
HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS — A Modern Path of Initiation.
You can download a pdf file of that edition at
"The Waldorf School of Garden City [New York, USA] is currently accepting applications for a Class Teacher to join our vibrant and diverse school community. Requirements include an undergraduate degree and completion of Waldorf teacher training, with advanced degree work a plus. Dedicated to working out of Rudolf Steiner's picture of child development, our faculty reflects a blend of youth and experience, and our school values and encourages both creativity and initiative." [11-25-2011 http://jobs.waldorftoday.com/job/11313/]
Many Waldorf schools are currently seeking new staff and faculty. The website Waldorf Today lists many of these openings.
Key to "Rudolf Steiner's picture of child development" is the proposition that children pass through three seven-year-long stages during which various bodies (physical, etheric, astral, and ego) incarnate and mature. [See "Most Significant" and "Incarnation".] Waldorf teacher training usually includes a heavy dose of Steiner's occult teachings, such as those found in his books OCCULT SCIENCE, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS, and THEOSOPHY. [See "Teacher Training".]
The following items pull together several Waldorf-centric topics that have been in the news recently: aversion to technology, concerns over nonexistent health threats, and disregard for real health threats.
“Parents freak out over nonexistent WiFi threat
“You know life is good in Canada when pampered suburbanites have the time and energy to act on bogus health scares. Case in point: This week, a group of parents in suburban Toronto actually kept their children out of elementary school to protest the nonexistent threat posed by wireless Internet routers. In some cases, the children were brought along as props when the parents went to protest outside the York Region District School Board offices in Aurora, Ont.
“All over the developing world, parents are desperate to give their children the tools necessary for them to thrive in a high-tech global economy. But here in Canada, where we take modern conveniences for granted, parents are fashioning a neo-Luddite movement based on gossip they read on Twitter, or at the health-food store bulletin board...
“Seizing on the Aurora protest, the Halton Waldorf School in Burlington, Ont., put out a press release cheering the demonstrators for ‘open[ing] the door for awareness and discussion around an issue that may have health consequences for our children.’ The Waldorf School (which teaches an odd, touchy-feely, crafts-based pedagogy) banned WiFi a while ago....” [11-25-2011 http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/Freaked+over+WiFi/5765214/story.html]
“Father fears more exposed to measles outbreak
“Adam Noble's 15-year-old daughter Ruby seems to be over the worst of a suspected case of measles...
''’She still has a really nasty cough and her body's still covered in a rash but it's far less aggressive than it was two or three days ago,' Mr Noble said.
“Ruby — who has not been vaccinated against measles — is a Year 9 student at the Orana Steiner School in Weston [Australia], where four of her classmates have been diagnosed with the illness and one has been admitted to hospital.
“More cases are expected to be diagnosed and health authorities have the task of trying to contact everybody who may have been in close contact with sufferers...
“Rumours had begun circulating around the school community last week about possible measles cases and Mr Noble contacted communicable diseases officials when Ruby became ill before taking her to an after-hours doctor on Friday...
“Ruby was prescribed antibiotics for a suspected infection but Mr Noble was forced to take her to the Canberra Hospital emergency department in the early hours of Saturday morning when she suffered severe pain in her back and head...
"ACT [Austalian Capital Territory] Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly said measles was extremely rare in the ACT and most doctors would never have seen a case.
“Dr Kelly said the ACT's high vaccination rate should quickly halt the spread of measles. He urged people who had not been vaccinated against measles to consider doing so.” [11-25-2011 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/father-fears-more-exposed-to-measles-outbreak/2370322.aspx?storypage=0]
“Australia: Steiner School student fails reincarnation, has to repeat former life
“The Education Department [Australia] no longer considered it 'in the best interests of student learning' to run [both] a Steiner and mainstream curriculum at Footscray City Primary...
“The Steiner system is based on the teachings of 20th-century Austrian philosopher [sic] Rudolf Steiner, who believed a curriculum should be responsive to the stages of a child’s development. In most Steiner schools worldwide, children do not start reading until about the age of seven, when their adult teeth emerge, and television and computers are discouraged in the early years...
“There is also a strong spiritual element, with students reciting verses several times a day...
“The immediate past president of the Victorian Council of School Organisations, Jacinta Cashen, believes it should not be part of the state system. She says Steiner schools are neither secular nor free — two cornerstones of public education...
“Information about Steiner provided to Footscray City Primary at the time, according to the report, had said: 'Early intellectual awakening can result in the weakening of a child’s vital forces, manifesting in colds or other illnesses.'
“More controversy erupted when a parent, Ray Pereira, was told by a Steiner teacher his son should repeat prep because his soul was not fully reincarnated....
“The mainstream children were also expected to attend religious plays performed by the Steiner pupils.” [11-24-2011 http://religiousatrocities.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/australia-steiner-school-student-fails-reincarnation-has-to-repeat/]
"Health authorities are battling to contain a measles outbreak at the Orana Steiner School [Australia] after a Year 9 student was admitted to hospital and at least three of his classmates were also diagnosed with the illness.
"There were fears the viral disease could spread quickly because some families at the Weston school have chosen not to have their children vaccinated." [11-24-2011 http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/school-alert-over-measles-outbreak/2369011.aspx]
Help wanted; a posting by the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand:
"This is an exciting new opportunity for inspired educators at this new Whitianga Kindergarten. We are seeking experienced, fully qualified Early Childhood educators who wish to work & live in an idyllic location.
"This new Kindergarten will work alongside the established Kuaotunu Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten & be managed & governed by the Kuaotunu Kindergarten Charitable Trust." [11-24-2011]
When the official bodies representing Waldorf education use words like "inspired," they presumably know precisely what they mean. In Anthroposophical belief, inspiration is a form of clairvoyance, and Waldorf teachers are expected to cultivate it. Rudolf Steiner taught that most human beings today lack clairvoyance, but Waldorf teachers should attain it. No other preparation is sufficient, he said: "[P]hilosophy does not suffice, only pedagogical principles and methods do: exact clairvoyance." 
Precise, focused clairvoyance is the "basis" of Waldorf schooling. “Now, if we are working as teachers — as artists in education — on human beings, we must enter into relation with their supersensible [i.e., supernatural], creative principle...the supersensible [soul] that lives in the human being’s self. The anthroposophical method of research [clairvoyance] makes this possible and so provides the basis for an art of teaching and education." 
Those Waldorf teachers who have not yet become clairvoyant should at least accept the guidance of those among their colleagues who claim to possess clairvoyance now. "Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientiﬁc investigation [i.e., the use of clairvoyance]." 
According to the Waldorf belief system, there are three levels of clairvoyance in our future: imagination, inspiration, and intuition. By following Steiner's instructions, people can attain these levels now (or so Steiner said). The rest of humanity will have to wait until we evolve to higher "planets" after the end of our Earth existence. “Now let us consider the three states of consciousness which are still to come ... The next state known to the initiate is the so-called ‘psychic-consciousness’ or Imagination ... On the planet which will replace our Earth, the whole of humanity will have this psychic-consciousness’ or Imagination, the ‘Jupiter’ consciousness ... Then there is the sixth state of consciousness man will one day possess ... Man will look deep, deep into the nature of beings, when he lives in this consciousness, the consciousness of Inspiration ... This will be the consciousness of man when our planet will have passed into the ‘Venus’ condition ... The seventh state of consciousness is the ‘spiritual consciousness’ or Intuition...which [man] will have in addition to all the other states of consciousness when he will have reached ‘Vulcan’.” 
Believe me, please. I understand how bizarre all this is. But I am not telling you what I think; I am telling you what Rudolf Steiner's followers think. You and I may have difficultly believing that Steiner's followers embrace such doctrines, but they do. Some Waldorf teachers have more faith than others, but the great majority accept the "wisdom" provided by Rudolf Steiner. Bear in mind, Waldorf schools are also called Rudolf Steiner schools. The central authority in the Steiner system is clearly identified — it is Rudolf Steiner — and you have just read some of his authoritative statements.
Did the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand have any of this in mind when specifying that they want "inspired" teachers? Perhaps not. But this is what the word actually means in the Steiner/Waldorf universe. I thought you might like to know.
 Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 1, p. 208.
 Ibid., p. 207.
 Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), Vol. 2, p. 224.
 Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), pp. 30-31. Note that when Steiner speaks of planets in such contexts, he was describing future stages in the evolution of the solar system. Thus, for instance, the Jupiter that lies in our future is not the Jupiter we see in the sky today. Rather, it is a new incarnation of the entire solar system.
"ACT measles cases confirmed
"ACT [Australian Capital Territory] Health has issued an alert after four cases of measles were confirmed in the territory. Three were detected at the Orana Steiner School in Weston, and the fourth case involves a younger child. Two children have been admitted to hospital for treatment. Parents of unvaccinated students at the school have been advised to keep them away from classes until the end of next week." [11-23-2011 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-23/4-act-measles-cases-confirmed/3689944?section=act]
Waldorf or Steiner schools usually do not formally discourage childhood vaccination, but they generally oppose it at least at an informal level, and they often attract families who oppose it. According to Rudolf Steiner, preventing illnesses can be a mistake, since a child's karma may require her to suffer certain illnesses. Steiner also taught that black magicians will create vaccines that destroy human spirituality. Because of such beliefs, Waldorf schools are often focal points for dangerous, preventable childhood diseases.
Steiner on the karmic need for diseases, even fatal ones. “[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.” — R. Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.
Steiner on the conspiracy to create spirit-destroying vaccines: "[C]ertain inoculations will be used to influence the human body in such a way that it provides no place for the spiritual proclivities of the soul. Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas ... [Evildoers] will try by inoculation to bring it about that even in childhood, human beings lose the urge towards the spiritual life." — R. Steiner, BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 1, GA 178.
Largely inspired by a NEW YORK TIMES article reported here some time ago, stories continue to appear dealing with the Waldorf aversion to computers, asking whether this attitude improves or degrades the education the schools provide. The stories often generate strong responses. Here is one response to an article today in THE COLORADO SPRINGS INDEPENDENT. It begins by quoting the TIMES article telling of the college acceptance rate among graduates of one Waldorf school. The TIMES' reporter got the rate from the school's website:
"'But the end results [of the education provided by this Waldorf school] are striking. According to its site, 94 percent of Waldorf graduates attend colleges or universities.'
"Why is it OK to misrepresent this sort of thing in a 'news' article. Getting statistics off their website? Did the reporter look at how many kids actually attend college after Waldorf? Most Waldorf schools stop at the 8th grade. Are they taking credit for their grads going to college?
"At Highland Hall Waldorf school [California, USA], it was reported that 25% of students are withdrawn from the school EACH YEAR. 25% of the parents are dissatisfied enough — EVERY YEAR to abandon their child's education, not to mentions thousands of dollars invested, and simply walk away. Last year they lost closer to 50%. Somebody isn't telling parents everything before they enroll their kids in these schools." [11-23-2011 http://www.csindy.com/colorado/the-device-is-not-ready/Content?oid=2398491]
The following follows up a story reported here previously concerning an Australian public school that has a Steiner "stream." Education authorities have decided to end the stream and replace the school's council.
"Fury rises as Steiner closure goes to review"The controversial proposal to sack the Footscray City Primary school council will be reviewed by an independent Education Department assessor amid mounting anger over the intervention.
"However, acting deputy secretary John Allman said the department's decision to axe the alternative Steiner stream at the school and appoint a new principal was final and would not be reviewed.
"The school council was not consulted over the decision to cease the Steiner stream at the end of the year, with parents first learning of it via a note in their children's bags on October 26.
"Mr Allman denied the intervention had been handled badly. ''We believe the action that was taken and the way it was communicated was the best way of doing it in the circumstances,' he said. He would not give specific reasons for the department's action. 'In respecting the community and staff and everybody involved, I'm not going to go into any detail about the wider disharmony.''' [11-23-2011 http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fury-rises-as-steiner-closure-goes-to-review-20111122-1nsx8.html]
"Actress Tilda Swinton jetted back from promoting her Oscar-tipped movie We Need To Talk About Kevin in Spain to clean her children's school. The Beach star is currently on a promo tour for the movie ahead of the upcoming awards season, and was carrying out interviews in Europe when she dashed back to her home in Scotland to attend cleaning duties at the private Moray Steiner School. Her twins Honor and Xavier are educated at the small school, and to keep down annual fees, parents must stick to a chore rota." [11-20-2011 http://www.contactmusic.com/news/swinton-cuts-promo-duties-to-clean-kids-school_1264191]
[Anthroposophic Press, 1995]
Here is a follow-up to a story reported here previously:
"Waldorf Education in Public Schools
"Waldorf education seems to be hitting the news everywhere this year. The Harvard Education Letter has included an article about Waldorf Education in public schools...." [11-12-2011 http://www.ovws.org/2011/11/1155/]
When deciding whether the Waldorf approach should be incorporated in public schools, education officials should acquaint themselves thoroughly with that approach. The Waldorf approach is deeply mystical and, many would argue, disconnected from reality. Waldorf education can truly commend itself only to people who share Rudolf Steiner's mysticism. Here is a brief sample; this is Rudolf Steiner speaking about the connections between Waldorf education and his mystical belief system (which he called a "science"), Anthroposophy: “When one observes human beings in the light of anthroposophical spiritual science — discriminating between the more inward, astral body and the more outward etheric body — one comes to know the nature of the human will in quite a new way. One sees the will as more allied to the astral body while thinking, for instance, is seen to be more closely connected with the etheric body.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 104.
Waldorf teachers not only think that children have invisible etheric and astral bodies, but they think that they can observe these bodies through the use of clairvoyance, and they think that a central goal (perhaps the central goal) of education is to help children incarnate these bodies. The purpose of education, in other words, is to help children unfold the capacities they bring to Earth from their previous lives in the spirit realm. Here's how Steiner put it: “This is precisely the task of school. If it is a true school, it should bring to unfoldment in the human being what he has brought with him from spiritual worlds into this physical life on earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS , Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 5, GA 235.
Note that, according to Steiner, the "task of school" has little to do with actually teaching children regular school subjects.
If you have doubts about etheric bodies, astral bodies, incarnation, karma, and other central Waldorf beliefs, then you should have doubts about Waldorf schooling. And in that case, you probably should oppose including Waldorf education in public school systems.
[For more on some of these matters, see, e.g., "Incarnation", "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", "Karma," and "Most Significant".]
Here's a quick summary — descriptions of Waldorf education by Steiner's followers and by Steiner himself. Faithful readers here have seen these quotations before, but periodic reviews of such central material are rarely out of order. Although the statements vary, they all come down to the same idea: The purpose of Waldorf education is to help students bring to Earth their supernal capacities and bodies, so that they may advance their spiritual destinies in this life in cooperation with the gods.
• "We [Waldorf teachers] want to be aware that physical existence is a continuation of the spiritual, and that what we have to do in education is a continuation of what higher beings [the gods] have done without our assistance. Our form of educating can have the correct attitude only when we are aware that our work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings have done before birth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37.
• “[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him, who is returning at birth into the physical world ... Teachers too will know that it is their task to help the child to make use of his body, to help his soul-spiritual forces to find expression through it, rather than regarding it as their duty to cram him with information....” — Anthroposophist Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 388-389.
• “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [i.e., gods], including the Christ, can find their home....” — Anthroposophist Joan Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.
“• Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — Waldorf teacher Roberto Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 4-5.
• “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.
• "If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is behind it." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 4.
• “This is precisely the task of school. If it is a true school, it should bring to unfoldment in the human being what he has brought with him from spiritual worlds into this physical life on earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS , Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 5, GA 235.
Here is another report of a lantern ceremony at a Waldorf school, this time in the UK:
"A magical lantern parade was held for children and their parents at Ringwood’s Waldorf School. The smaller children had made lanterns to hold and were joined by class 8 children in Roman costume, who acted out the story of St Martin, who is said to have cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar. One of the class 8 students was on horseback, and led the 100-strong throng in the parade. School administrator Nigel Revill said: 'We hold this parade annually to mark Martinmas and other festivals of light such as Advent and Diwali.'" [11-21-2011 http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/9367100.Pupils_go_on_a_magical_parade/]
For background and context, see previous reports here concerning Waldorf lantern walks, spiral walks, and festivals.
An upcoming event at the Linden Waldorf School, Tennessee, USA:
"Gary Banks has a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering and Education. He worked as a research engineer on the NASA Space Station, taught grades one through eight at the Denver Waldorf School, and is now teaching sensible science at the Waldorf Teacher training center." [11-21-2011 http://www.lindenwaldorf.org/news/2011/11/17/gary-banks-lecture.225193]
What is "sensible science"? Waldorf schools generally distrust regular science and its findings. The "science" to which they are devoted is Rudolf Steiner's "spiritual science" — that is, Anthroposophy, which claims to use clairvoyance to objectively study the spirit worlds. In the Waldorf view, regular science is extremely limited if not entirely mistaken. Steiner leveled numerous criticisms at regular science: He spoke of “scientific simpletons” with their “scientific trash” and their “logical, pedantic, narrow-minded proof of things.” He deplored “primitive concepts like those...of contemporary science.” What is wrong with science? "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." Hence, "[W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons...we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity.” [See "Steiner's 'Science'".]
Regular science is "sensible" because it relies on our senses (whereas "spiritual science" relies on psychic powers). But, according to Steiner, any science that relies on the senses can tell us only about the physical plane of existence and, thus, it tells us nothing truly important. As a sort of half-way point between regular science and spiritual science, Steiner and his followers advocate "Goethean science," which stresses observation and imaginative involvement, attempting to discern spirit in physical processes. The subjectivity of this approach largely deprives it of scientific validity. [See "Goethe".]
“The children should not raise their hands so much.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.
"Waldorf Schools:Anyone familiar ?
"What can folks tell me about their experience with this kind of school?
"My son is in 2nd grade and our public school is awesome, but he doesn't quite fit in...
"Last trip: 9/2011: AKL, AS Sports, VWL
"Last Last trip: 3/2011: POR
"Last Last Last trip: 1/2011: CSR
"Last Last Last trip: 8/2010: POFQ/AS Movies
"Last Last Last Last trip: 1/2010 Pop
"Last Last Last Last Last trip: 8/2010 Campground @FW/CBR
"Last Last Last Last Last Last trip: 3/2010 LAKE BUENA VISTA DAYS INN/The Villages
"Last Last Last Last Last Last Last trip: Pop 3/2009" [11-20-2011 http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2835336]
Maybe there are better ways to learn about Waldorf schools than by tossing out questions on social media. See, e.g., PLANS: Educating the public about Waldorf education.
"[P]resent science...educates children's left and right in the same way. Well, human beings are simply not made for this! ... [P]eople today are being educated to become crazy. The human body is so arranged that it is more physical on the left and more etheric on the right ... [O]n the left, the human being is more earthly, on the right, he is more heavenly, cosmic...." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Ruth E. M. Finser, THE PROBLEM OF LEFTHANDEDNESS [sic] (St. George Publications, 1986), p. 34.
[Anthroposophic Press, 1994]
This is one of the key texts studied by Rudolf Steiner's followers.
It purports to explain how to develop clairvoyant powers —
it lays out "a modern path of initiation."
Becoming an initiate (i.e., one who possesses secret spiritual knowledge)
is the goal to which Steiner's followers aspire.
Steiner schools are often staffed, at least in part, by people who think they are initiates
and who work to prepare their students for the possibility of initiation
after they grow up.
"Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy - Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. Wherein Humans, as a whole, have evolved in such a way that unlike their ancestors, the modern day commoner lacks clairvoyance and intuition, and experiences through the augmented intellectuality of the false realities." [11-5-2011, by Cloud Solipse https://plus.google.com/108152068854459173040/posts/AhZsSf4zVDj]
The author of the statement quoted above, "Cloud Solipse," summarizes Anthroposophy pretty well. Imagination, inspiration and intuition are the three forms of clairvoyance emphasized by Rudolf Steiner; the effort to develop them is central to the Steiner approach. As Cloud Solipse indicates, the Steiner approach is averse to intellect. Steiner and his followers hold that only clairvoyance produces truth. According to the Waldorf belief system, everyone had clairvoyance in the ancient past, but we have lost it. We dwell now in a terribly benighted age when people use their brains instead of their psychic abilities. In such books as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE and HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS, Rudolf Steiner explained how to develop new, better forms of clairvoyance.
Denigrating the brain and modern knowledge might seem like a shaky basis for a system of education, but indeed Waldorf schools stand on this basis. Steiner's followers sometimes try to hide the links between Waldorf schools and Steiner's occult teachings, but Steiner himself said (sometimes) that they should not be so coy. “It is obvious that knowledge of the human being must be the basis for a teacher's work; that being so, teachers must acquire this knowledge for themselves, and the natural thing will be that they acquire it through Anthroposophy. If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is behind it." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 4. (On other occasions, he encouraged them to hold their tongues.)
Children in Waldorf schools are given a view of reality projected through the lens of their teachers' Anthroposophical beliefs. In this manner, the children are directed to the Anthroposophical worldview, so they are set on the path toward becoming Anthroposophists. "Happy are those children who — before they must find a personal relation to the world by means of individual judgments, will impulses, and feelings — receive the world through someone in whom the world is rightly reflected! This is a deeply felt premise of the education that is to be based on anthroposophy." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press 1995), p. 175.
“Education history made as first publicly-funded Steiner School opens
“Over 130 guests attended a reception at the Steiner Academy in Much Dewchurch [UK] last Friday evening celebrating the completion of the building programme...
“Following an afternoon tour of the school [Baroness] Estelle Morris shared tea and scones with some students from Class 10 (year 11), before addressing the invited guests in Birch Hall. She spoke about the importance of creativity in the lives of all of us, commenting that Steiner education has a strong commitment to creativity through the entire curriculum, while the ethos encourages parental engagement with school, regarded as a hub of community life...
“The Academy’s Principal, Trevor Mepham, declared that this event confirmed that the Steiner Academy is open for business as a member of the local family of schools....” [11-17-2011 http://www.ross-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=42938&headline=Education%20history%20made%20as%20first%20%20publicly-funded%20Steiner%20School%20opens]
The debate over the inclusion of Steiner schools — with their roots in Anthroposophy — in public school systems will likely continue for some time to come.
It is true that Steiner schools often serve as community hubs. The communities in question usually consist of Anthroposophists and their allies, not the local populace at large. Steiner schools and communities are often enclosed and insular, attempting to shut out what they consider the damaging influences of modern life.
A Waldorf Martinmas Lantern Walk
"Important Dates ...
"November 18 - Waldorf-Inspired Program Lantern Walk 5:30 pm...” [11-18-2011 http://lagunitas.marin.k12.ca.us/LSD%20Newsletter%202011-2012%20November%2015.pdf]
“Waldorf-inspired” programs are offered in some public school systems. Some of these programs may be largely devoid of Anthroposophical spiritual doctrines — but some are not. “Lantern walks” present a possible clue concerning the nature of particular programs. Lantern walks are, at root, religious ceremonies. Here is how such a walk is described by the full-fledged Waldorf school: “Each November we have a Lantern Walk to celebrate Martinmas, a festival of inner light in the outer darkness of the approaching winter. St. Martin...became the patron saint of beggars ... Celebrating Martinmas at EWS [Emerson Waldorf School] serves as a reminder that each of us has a divine spark that we must ferry out into the world and share with others. The children hear the story of St. Martin, sing songs and, as darkness falls, venture out into the night with their lanterns walking along a path lit with glowing luminaries, carefully carrying their lanterns in a mood of quiet reverence.”* Note that the event — which celebrates a religious holiday and honors a saint — is meant to bring a spiritual point home to the students ("each of us has a divine spark...") and it occurs "in a mood of quiet reverence.” This is a religious observance — one that, performed in the dark, among dimly glowing lights, is likely to have a deep emotional impact on children. If you set out to invent a ceremony of indoctrination, you would likely create something similar to a Waldorf lantern walk.
* We have seen a similar statement recently used by another Waldorf school [Nov. 2, White Mountain Waldorf School]. While not officially linked, Waldorf schools tend to work together in at least loose coordination.
“Rudolf Steiner as Social Revolutionary, by Claus Sproll
“Rudolf Steiner 150th Talk at Camphill Special School — Beaver Run [Pennsylvania, USA]...
“[The school at] Beaver Run has scheduled a series of talks through February on various topics about the work arising out of anthroposophy in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of Rudolf Steiner’s birth. All talks take place on a Sunday evening, beginning at 8:30 PM at Rainbow Hall in Beaver Run.” [11-18-2011 http://www.anthroposophy.org/calendar/event-details/article/rudolf-steiner-as-social-revolutionary-by-claus-sproll-791.html]
Waldorf schools form the largest. most visible component of a revolutionary movement that aims to replace all existing institutions with new ones based on the occult teachings of Rudolf Steiner. There are few signs that the revolution will succeed in any foreseeable millennium, but Steiner’s followers pursue their goals devotedly. If you send a child to a Waldorf school, you are — wittingly or not — bolstering the Anthroposophical movement.
(Camphill is a name used by many Anthroposophical communities. See “Waldorf Now”.)
"These 6,5 inch/16cm little Waldorf-inspired Cuddle Dolls are safe for all ages. These dolls are individual handmade from natural materials only: with soft cotton velvet, pure new organic wool and 100% cotton tricot. The faces are carefully hand embroidered. I have formed the heads in the traditional Waldorf style of carded new wool. The pure cotton clothings and hats can not be put off. " [11-16-2011 http://www.etsy.com/listing/86044741/waldorf-inspired-cuddle-doll]
"Waldorf dolls" are faceless or nearly faceless cloth playthings generally made of all-natural materials. A lively cottage trade has sprung up producing, selling, and swapping such dolls, which may represent humans, elves, gnomes, or any other large-headed biped. The species, race, sex, and personal identity (marked by facial features) are usually left undetermined, so that children can project their own imaginations onto the toys.
Like most things associated with Waldorf schools, the emphasis on this type of doll can be traced back to guidance provided by Rudolf Steiner: “May I say something very heretical? People are very fond of giving dolls to children, especially pretty dolls. They fail to see that children really don’t want this. They wave it away, but it is forced on them — pretty dolls, all painted. It is far better to give children a handkerchief, or, if you can’t spare that, a piece of cloth. You tie it together, make the head here, paint the nose, two eyes, and so on. [Steiner demonstrates with his own handkerchief.] Healthy children much prefer to play with these than with the pretty dolls, because something is left to the imagination. The most magnificent doll with red cheeks and such leaves nothing for the imagination to do. The fine doll brings an inner emptiness to a child. “ — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 98.
Promoting an inward-looking approach is important in Waldorf schooling. Spiritual truths are believed to dwell within. They are accessed through imagination and then projected onto the outer world, populating the physical plane with spirit. Playing with "Waldorf dolls" is meant to foster an imaginative approach that, later in life, will lead to clairvoyance. For Steiner, the words "clairvoyance" and "imagination" were nearly synonymous. True thinking, Steiner taught, occurs not in the brain but in invisible extra bodies that human beings incarnate. The physical brain produces only intellectual thinking, which Steiner said is dead. Imagination is the precursor or first form of clairvoyance, to be followed by other, higher forms. "[Spiritual] things can, of course, be truly observed only when we press forward to the mode of cognition I described previously as the first stage of exact clairvoyance, imaginative knowledge. The abstract, intellectual knowledge of the human being that is common today does not lead to this other knowledge. Thought must come to life from within, and become imaginative ... At the first stage of exact clairvoyance (as I described it), one can perceive how, besides the forces of the physical body, a suprasensory [i.e., invisible] body is working in us." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 60.
New from SteinerBooks:
"Journal for Star Wisdom 2012
"Editor and contributor Robert Powell
"The Journal for Star Wisdom 2012 is a special edition that addresses directly the challenges facing humanity in our time. It includes articles of interest on star wisdom (Astrosophy), as well as a guide to the correspondences between stellar configurations during the life of Christ and those of today. This guide comprises a complete sidereal ephemeris of geocentric and heliocentric planetary positions and an aspectarian for each day through the year. Published yearly, new editions are available beginning in October or November for the coming year." [11-16-2011 http://steinerbooks.org/detail.html?session=670e6e221b0b162e503f8195512485ce&id=9780880106528]
The uproar continues over the decision to close a Steiner “stream” in an Australian school:
“Steiner's departure threatens Footscray school
“Parents have been left to pick up the pieces after the Department of Education axed Footscray City Primary School’s Steiner program.
“And the sudden closure and likely withdrawal of many Steiner students has parents of non-Steiner students concerned about the viability of the small school.
“School councillor Anna Ritman said many children were showing symptoms of stress and anxiety and even having nightmares, but were not receiving the support needed by the department since the decision...
“Ms Ritman said with many students set to leave the school, its resources would be 'depleted' leaving a question mark over how many teachers the school could employ and what programs would be available...”
[from a reply] “There's been a lot of anger and noise, understandably, but the reality is that only a few children will be leaving the school. The future is bright for FCPS [Footscray City Primary School] in terms of numbers. Demographic trends and enrollment trends at nearby schools indicate that the school's enrollments are likely to steadily increase over the next five years, especially now that FCPS has lost the Steiner albatross around the neck that has led to such dramatic reductions in enrollments over the past ten years. I hope the doom sayers are not engaging in a scorched earth policy.” [11-15-2011 http://brimbank-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/steiner-alternative-rocked-fbready/]
Among the “enrichment courses” being planned by the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training:
"UNDERSTANDING AND WORKING WITH TEMPERAMENTS, A PARENT CONVERSATION GROUP ... This course will introduce you to the four temperaments, and explore practical applications of this unique insight into the human being...
"ALUMNI STUDY GROUP ... This study group for individuals who have completed the teacher training program will take up Rudolf Steiner’s lecture 'The Etherisation of the Blood.'” [11-15-2011 http://www.bacwtt.org/curriculum-classes/community-enrichment/2011-2012-community-enrichment-program]
The idea that human beings collectively have four temperaments associated with four bodily fluids was developed by a Greek physician in the second century AD. The idea was shelved in favor of more advanced ideas long ago — but Steiner revived it and it prevails today in Waldorf schools. [See "Temperaments".]
One of the four crucial bodily fluids is blood (associated with the "sanguine" temperament). Blood is "etherised" when it is transmuted to a finer, ethereal state. “When a man stands in front of us today in his waking state and we observe him with the clairvoyant eye, certain rays of light are seen streaming continually from the heart toward the head ... These rays of light stream from the heart to the head and flow around the pineal gland. These streamings arise because human blood, which is a physical substance, is continually dissolving itself into etheric substance ... This process, the etherisation of the blood, can be perceived in the human being throughout his waking life. It is different now, however, in the sleeping human being. When a human being sleeps, the occult observer is able to see a continual streaming from outside into the brain and also in the reverse direction, from the brain to the heart.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130.
Steiner had much to say about blood, including reasons to avoid race mixing. He taught that humans lost their wonderful power of clairvoyance, which gave them direct contact with the gods, due to race mixing. Indeed, the entire lowly, materialistic thinking of modern times can be traced to the same cause. "Just as [the] mingling of the blood of different species of animals brings about actual death when the types are too remote, so, too, the ancient clairvoyance of undeveloped man was killed when his blood was mixed with the blood of others who did not belong to the same stock. The entire intellectual life of today is the outcome of the mingling of blood...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1922), a lecture, GA 55. [See "Blood".]
Q. "What do you think of anthroposophy?"
A1. “Sounds good to me. The closer the mind gets to the spirit, the better.”
A2. “I like the anthros bit but I am wholly against posophy. Posophy is a sin, I say - a SIN!”
A3. “i find anthroposophy confusing.”
A4 "Well I'm involved in it full time, editing a quarterly called 'being human' and studying it for the last thirty years almost....” [11-15-2011 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111113023640AAAUUBG]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005]
Descriptions of Waldorf teacher-training courses offered by Antioch University of New England, downloaded 11-12-2011:
“Evolving Consciousness II - [W]orld evolution and occult history will be considered from the standpoint of the evolving consciousness of humanity as characterized by Rudolf Steiner.” [http://www.antiochne.edu/registrar/courses/course_detail.cfm?CourseNum=EDT%20586&Section=A&Semester=Summer&CourseYear=2011]
“A Research for Personal and Social Change -This course will work with research methods based upon the essential view of the human being and the basic exercises outlined in ESOTERIC SCIENCE by Rudolf Steiner ... Discussions will include aspects of evolving consciousness and how personal change can influence social change ... Required reading before the first session: chapters 1, 2, 3 & 5 of ESOTERIC SCIENCE....” [http://www.antiochne.edu/registrar/courses/course_detail.cfm?CourseNum=EDP%20604A&Section=A&Semester=Summer&CourseYear=2011]
“Waldorf School Administration - This course will provide an overview of Waldorf school administration ... Class sessions will balance practical aspects with philosophical considerations including karma ... Required texts:...first two chapters of KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS by Rudolf Steiner....” [http://www.antiochne.edu/registrar/courses/course_detail.cfm?Synonym=74365&CourseNum=EDNC%20016&Section=A&print=1]
• Occult history, as studied by aspiring Waldorf teachers, is the hidden spiritual history of human evolution "as characterized by Rudolf Steiner.” Steiner characterized this history in such books as OCCULT HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982).
• World evolution, in Anthroposophical lore, is a spiritual process that began when the world (or solar system or universe) first emerged in a condition called Saturn or, more properly, Old Saturn. That phase gave way to Old Sun followed by Old Moon and, bringing the story up to date, Present Earth. Steiner described this history in such works as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (latest edition: Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005).
• According to Steiner's teachings, humanity is gradually developing higher and higher forms of consciousness, leading to our eventual apotheosis. On Future Jupiter (our next evolutionary stage after Earth), we will all possess perfected imagination; on Future Venus (the stage after Future Jupiter), we will all have inspiration; on Future Vulcan (after Future Venus), intuition.
• ESOTERIC SCIENCE is an edition of OCCULT SCIENCE that substitutes a somewhat less alarming term for "occult": "esoteric." The translation is, throughout, toned down. But essentially it is the same book as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, which is the key Steiner text studied by essentially all of Steiner's devoted followers, including many if not all Waldorf teachers. [See "Everything".]
• The exercises outlined in ESOTERIC SCIENCE are meant to enable us to attain high forms of clairvoyance (imagination, inspiration, intuition) now, without waiting to go to Jupiter, etc. Steiner described these exercises in even more detail in his book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (e.g., CreateSpace, 2011).
• Karma is one of many mystical doctrines embedded in Waldorf education. Steiner's followers believe that every person has a karma, as does every institution, movement, stream of thought, etc. Steiner's doctrines on karma can be found in such works as THE KARMA OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009). Waldorf teachers are taught that karma brings them together with their students: their karma and their students' karma. Thus, they have enormous authority: The divine forces of the universe want them to shepherd these particular groups of children. Waldorf staff in other parts of the schools, such as in the business offices, also think they are fulfilling the will of the gods and enacting their karma by promoting the welfare of the schools.
For several days recently, the "Quote of the Day" here on the news page has consisted of descriptions of courses in the Waldorf teacher-training program at Rudolf Steiner College (Rudolf Steiner College 2011-2012 Catalogue). Here the description of another such course, with an extended response:
"The Philosophy of Freedom (1.5 credits). The student will develop understanding for the epistemology underlying Anthroposophy. Answering the question, ‘Can I gain certainty in knowing the world?’ affirmatively leads to ‘Can I become truly free?’"
The Waldorf/Steiner belief system, Anthroposophy (meaning “human wisdom”), is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of knowledge and truth. Rudolf Steiner’s followers think they can "gain certainty" by developing powers of clairvoyance. They work to develop heightened powers of imagination, inspiration, and intuition — which Steiner identified as three stages of clairvoyance. When they think they have attained these, they believe that the views they form through these types of consciousness are true. They imagine something, or get an inspiration, of have an intuition... Such “human wisdom” becomes, in their view, essentially unarguable.* They are then freed from any need to dispute their views with outsiders; they feel no need to consider the opinions of outside scholars and scientists.** All external knowledge (i.e., knowledge developed through use of the senses, the brain, and the rules of logic) becomes suspect, in their view; to know the Truth, they look inward, not outward. They are “free” of external rules, limitations, and doubts; they are “free” to think what they want.
This freedom is not absolute, however. Steiner often spoke of the need for gurus or spiritual guides, such as (guess who?) himself. He also spoke of the crucial difference between the white path of truth (his own) and the black path of falsehood. He said that he apprehended the truths of the white path through his use of “exact clairvoyance” — his occult “discoveries” are virtually unquestionable because they are exactly true. Thus, his followers have the choice between the path of truth and the path of fallacy. Their “freedom” is little more than the power to make a single decision. They can freely decide to believe in Steiner and his system, or they can freely choose to suffer the dreadful consequences of failing to believe in Steiner and his system.***
On this page, we have looked at numerous courses included in Waldorf teacher training programs. Here's a recap. Aspiring Waldorf teachers are taught about planetary stages of evolution/cosmic evolution, the evolution of consciousness, karma, reincarnation, macrocosm/microcosm, astrology, astrosophy, seven-year-long phases of incarnation, the twelve human senses, the four temperaments, the Anthroposophical take on the kingdoms of nature, the Anthroposophical take on human nature, planetary soul types/soul types in children, spirituality in art, mystery or occult centers, occult wisdom, Atlantis, cultural epochs (i.e., historical periods of spiritual evolution), meditative work to be done by teachers, spiritual streams, initiation, Sun initiates, and Isis. Among other things. All of this is taught, of course, "from the standpoint of Anthroposophy."
There is no separation between the mysticism of Anthroposophy and the Waldorf worldview. Waldorf trainees study these subjects in order to become Waldorf teachers. Gentle reader, please bear this in mind. The people being taught to separate themselves from reality in this manner, the people receiving this instruction in the practice of self-deception, are aspiring Waldorf teachers. Soon after completing their training, they will offer themselves as educators for your children. If they have taken to heart the lessons given at Rudolf Steiner College and other Waldorf teacher-training schools, they may well rank among the very last people you should consider for such important work.
* Some Anthroposophists are more sophisticated than others in sorting through their "clairvoyant" findings; some are more scrupulous in "controlling" their clairvoyant powers. But all of them harbor the same fundamental delusion, accepting the most unreliable states of consciousness as the most reliable.
** Anthroposophical books sometimes include this prefatory note: “No person is held qualified to form a judgment on the contents of this work, who has not acquired — through the School of Spiritual Science itself or in an equivalent manner recognized by the School of Spiritual Science — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded....” The School of Spiritual Science is a central Anthroposophical institution preserving and extending the results Steiner's claimed clairvoyance. In essence, the prefatory note rejects all views except those stemming from Steiner and his clairvoyant system.
*** Anthroposophists do have a bit of wiggle room. They can disagree with one another about the meaning of Steiner’s various teachings — doctrinal disagreements are as common in Anthroposophy as in any other faith system. Thus, each Anthroposophist can be “certain” that his or her “clairvoyant knowledge” is true, even if others have different “clairvoyant knowledge” and even if Steiner, by some accounts, taught something different from what an individual Anthroposophist has “certainly” learned through inward vision.
From the Steiner Academy (Frome, UK):
"The overarching priority of the Steiner ethos is to help every child to fulfill his or her unique destiny... The Steiner curriculum...is based on a particular understanding of the stages of child development ... This determines not only when each subject within the broad curriculum is introduced, but also the method for delivery ... The school’s ethos will draw on [Rudolf] Steiner’s work on child development; but it will neither promote or teach his wider philosophy which is known as 'anthroposophy'." [11-13-2011 http://www.steineracademyfrome.co.uk/?page_id=39]
"Destiny," in Anthroposophical belief, is karma.
The "stages of child development," in Anthroposophical belief, are three seven-year-long phases during which various invisible bodies incarnate.
The curriculum at most Waldorf schools is set in stone; so are the methods used. Virtually everything at Waldorf schools derives from Anthroposophy, which Steiner also called spiritual science or occult science. It is a mystical belief system that, like others religions, is deemed sacrosanct by its followers. At Waldorf schools, the chief followers of Anthroposophy are the teachers. Due to these factors, students at Waldorf schools almost certainly learn about Anthroposophy, if only indirectly; and precisely because everything at the schools is infused with Anthroposophy, the schools wind up promoting Anthroposophy, indirectly and otherwise.
Here are descriptions of Waldorf teacher-training courses offered by the Center for Anthroposophy (Wilton, New Hampshire), downloaded 11-12-2011. These are courses that people take in order to become or progress as Waldorf teachers:
“Esoteric Science - This course examines the esoteric history of the human being ... Students should leave the course with a basic understanding of the spiritual scientific approach to the evolution of human consciousness. In addition, we will examine tools to spiritual self-development as outlined by Rudolf Steiner ... The evolution of the earth and solar system in relationship to spiritual beings (Old Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth; stages of Earth evolution through Atlantis)....” [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/high-school-teacher-education/courses/second-year/foundation-courses/esoteric-science-hs-216/]
“Arts/Art History - ... Art becomes the mediator between the physical, etheric, astral bodies, and incoming ego ... Art classes have the subtle task of touching the high school student’s sacred dreams. They can help set in motion impulses that stir the unfolding of individual destiny....” [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/high-school-teacher-education/courses/third-year/subject-seminars/artsart-history-hs-328/]
“Music in the Light of Anthroposophy - ...This course addresses all those who want to deepen their understanding of music as an empowering soul-spiritual source ... [W]e will explore the different elements of music, discovering how melody, harmony, and rhythm are musical expressions of our threefold nature ... We will explore the intervals — in nature, in movement, and through artistic activity — and learn how they are connected to our own evolutionary path: specifically, how this process of incarnation corresponds to the developmental stages of the child....” [http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/programs/renewal-courses/week-one-june-26-july-1/music-in-the-light-of-anthroposophy/]
The Waldorf belief system is built on the "esoteric" or "occult" wisdom produced through clairvoyance, chiefly by Rudolf Steiner.
• The "esoteric history of the human being" is central to this wisdom — the universe centers on us and exists for us, according to Steiner's teachings.
• "Spiritual science" is Anthroposophy; Steiner also called it occult science. Today his followers often try to avoid the word "occult," using "esoteric" instead.
• The "evolution of human consciousness" is the central narrative of Anthroposophy. We are evolving from a very dim spiritual awareness to an ultimate, divine awareness.
• "Spiritual self-development" is the application of Anthroposophy to develop clairvoyance and rise to a higher level of evolution.
• The "spiritual beings" referred to here are gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic.
• "Old Saturn," etc., are planetary stages of our evolution. We began on Old Saturn and will evolve to Future Vulcan — and beyond.
• In Waldorf belief, we lived on Atlantis before our present stage of Earthly existence.
• The etheric, astral, and ego bodies are invisible bodies that incarnate during childhood (the ego body marking the transition to adulthood).
• In Waldorf belief, each child has an individual destiny or karma. In addition to helping children incarnate their invisible bodies, Waldorf teachers try to help them with their karmas.
• Art classes (like everything else at Waldorf schools) have spiritual purposes, such as touching on children's "sacred dreams."
• The "spirit-soul" is the human spiritual identity consisting of who separate but united essences, the spirit and the soul. (We take one with us through all our incarnations while the other exists only in one incarnation.)
• Our "threefold nature" is body, soul, and spirit. (Steiner also described us as fourfold beings, sevenfold beings, and ninefold beings.)
• The "developmental stages of the child" are three stages at the end of which our invisible bodies incarnate.
Daily Quotes".) That institution is, by the standards of the Waldorf universe, unusually forthright about its purposes and practices. We certainly should commend it for this. Other institutions that offer Waldorf teacher training tend to be less candid and/or their devotion to Rudolf Steiner's occult doctrines may be less formal and complete. Nonetheless, the courses these other institutions offer can still be quite revealing. Here are two examples. (Perhaps we will look at others in the future.)
These are courses people take in order to become Waldorf teachers.
"Karma Studies - We consider such topics as individual, historical and world karma; reincarnation and karma; free will and destiny; laws of karma. Rudolf Steiner lectures used: Manifestations of Karma and A Western Approach to Reincarnation and Karma. The course requires an independent biography project." — Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training [11-12-2011 http://www.bacwtt.org/curriculum-classes/teacher-training/second-year]
"Knowledge of Higher Worlds - In this course we will examine the path developed by Rudolf Steiner in his book How to Know Higher Worlds. In this work Steiner gives exercises and meditation techniques that are designed to deepen, strengthen and ultimately open the human soul to an objective reality beyond the physical senses...." — Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program [11-12-2011 http://www.arcturus.info/foundation.htm]
"'The Stones Cry Out' at Waldorf event Nov. 17
“Imagine that stones could talk! Where do they come from? How were they made? Join the sixth grade students of the White Mountain Waldorf School [New Hampshire, USA] — a ‘star-studded cast’ — for a musical rendition of this age-old question [sic] ... Explore the woes of being a common sedimentary rock when metamorphic and igneous rocks (the local bullies) laugh at your expense ... Witness Obsidian, the great illusionist, wow the crowds ... All this and more is happening on Thursday evening, Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at The Salyards in Conway Village. This short performance arises out of the student's study of mineralogy. Donations, to cover the cost of the venue, will be accepted at the door.” [11-11-0211 http://www.conwaydailysun.com/node/477377/18672]
This sounds cute. You might bear in mind, however, that in Waldorf belief stones really are alive and have emotions. Indeed, the various strata of the Earth are all alive, much evil radiates from them, and they are quite sensitive pain (their own, not yours). Anthroposophical beliefs such as these are usually not taught to Waldorf students directly, but Anthroposophy is often conveyed to the students through indirect methods. "The Stones Cry Out" seems to give us a clear example of Waldorf students beings taught Anthroposophy at least indirectly.
Here is a glimpse at Rudolf Steiner's wisdom about rocks. He said that one stratum of the earth is the Fire Earth. “The Fire Earth is made essentially of feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped on. It consists entirely of passions." [Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006), p. 31.] Deeper down, Steiner said, is the Splintering Earth. “The essential thing is that this layer shatters moral qualities ... Through the power it radiates up to the earth’s surface, it is responsible for the fact that strife and disharmony exist....” [Ibid., p. 31.]
"Waldorf School's Elves' Faire opens the holiday magic Nov. 19
"For the 26th year, the Pasadena Waldorf School (which is in Altadena [California, USA]) will hold the Elves’ Faire ... The Doll Room is an enchanted showcase of one-of-a-kind handmade dolls ... The Angel Room is a magical experience for children. (No adults are allowed in the Angel Room.) ... King Arthur’s Market is a medieval outpost with handmade swords, shields, capes and other beautifully crafted fantasy toys ... This year, Elves’ Faire entertainment will feature multiple performances of the school’s wildly popular puppet shows ... All this is in addition to strolling minstrels, roving medieval characters and several live bands ... The Elves’ Faire proceeds allow us to offer [our] outstanding education to children from diverse backgrounds through our tuition assistance program.” [11-11-2011 http://www.altadenablog.com/2011/11/waldorf-schools-elves-faire-opens-the-holiday-magic-nov-19.html]
Sounds like fun.
Don't let the following spoil things for you, but you might mull it over. As followers of Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf teachers generally believe that elves really exist. Steiner taught that gnomes, goblins, fairies, and — yes — elves pervade the world around us. They are invisible nature spirits, also known as elemental beings (because they are found in the elements of nature). "[O]ur brain connects us with certain elemental beings...the elemental beings of the myths and sagas. There they are called elves, fairies, and so on.” [Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture, GA 170.]
(P.S. Elves Faires are quite common in Waldorf schools. E.g., "Linden Waldorf School [Tennessee, USA] will host its 15th annual Elves' Faire 10 am to 4 pm Nov. 5th." [11-12-2011 http://www.wpln.org/happenings/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=4516]. Such faires are great recruitment tools as well as fundraisers. And they have the benefit of conforming, in a note-too-obvious way, to occult Waldorf belief.)
“Is Waldorf Education good?
• 12 hours ago - 4 days left to answer.
“Answers (0)” [11-11-2011 http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111110191252AA3r0vA]
Questions like this show up on the Web from time to time. Sometimes they even attract answers. But tossing out such questions and accepting answers from whoever happens to drop by may not be the best way to learn about a complex and important subject.
There are various resources available on the Web providing detailed, informed views on Waldorf education, both pro and con. Digging into them can take time, but surely this is a better approach than relying on informal — and quite possibly uninformed — chats.
Here are some sites you might care to explore:
An excellent site critical of Waldorf and Steiner is
PLANS, People for Legal And Nonsectarian Schools
A thoughtful site in the UK is
You may want to visit EASE,
Examining Anthroposophy and Steiner Education
And there is Waldorf Awareness
For advocacy and defense of Waldorfs and Steiner,
you can explore
Rudolf Steiner Web
Why Waldorf Works
A site associated with Waldorf Watch,
Waldorf Straight Talk, gives concise answer to questions about Waldorf
The archive of a defunct Website,
Challenging Anthroposophy & Steiner Education,
is worth visiting
A heartfelt site created by a former Waldorf parent is
Waldorf Education — One Family's Story
A biting blog by a former Waldorf student
(partly in English and partly not) is
A somewhat idiosyncratic site by a former Waldorf teacher is
The Missing Teacher
A series of essays on Steiner education is available at
DC's Improbable Science
The Waldorf worldview is entrancing. It is also backward and false.
Rudolf Steiner's followers believe, for example, in the literal existence
of gnomes, sylphs, and other invisible "nature spirits."
“[O]ur solid Earth-structure actually arose from the experiences of the gnomes ...
Now let us pass over from the gnomes to the undines, the water-beings ... They only feel their life to be truly theirs when they die ...
And now let us proceed to the sylphs ... [A]n intermediary is needed [between worlds]. And these intermediaries are the sylphs ...
[P]ass over to the fire-beings [i.e., "salamanders"] ... [I]nto this glittering and shimmering [of death] the fire-beings pour themselves....”
— Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 9.
Think carefully before sending your child backward into an "education" system
that embraces ancient fantasies and falsehoods.
"Waldorf Education | Invite your Child to Travel Back in Time
"When you think of the busy technology based, pressured and commercially driven lives many children live today, do you ever imagine what their lives would be like if they could travel back to a simpler place and time?
"... Believe it or not this place exists today! ... This method of education is called 'Waldorf Education' ... I invite you to allow your child to travel back in time in whatever ways you can.” [11-11-2011 http://tracylynnconway.hubpages.com/hub/Waldorf-Education-Invite-your-Child-to-Travel-Back-in-Time]
This piece touches on one of the great appeals of Waldorf education. The question is whether the appeal is illusory. Can we really “go back in time”? We all want to. We all have nostalgic memories — or dreams — of a simple, happy, golden time in the past. But did that time ever really exist, or is it simply our re-imagined version of our lost youth? Psychologists tell us this is precisely what it is.
Of course, giving kids the chance to live quietly, experiencing simple joys, freed of commercial and other pressures — there's much to be said for these ideas. But they need to be implemented in a realistic way, within a realistic vision of life in the early 21st century. The problem with the Waldorf approach is that it is fundamentally unrealistic, being rooted in esoteric fantasy. Waldorf wants to turn its back on the modern world in favor of a world that never really existed. One central Waldorf belief is that ancient peoples had natural clairvoyance, which we have lost. By following Rudolf Steiner’s directions, Waldorf true-believers say, we can develop a better, higher form of clairvoyance. Unfortunately, this belief is has no foundation in reality — yet it is central to the Waldorf vision. Here is Steiner describing what we are missing today: “Imagine what the people of ancient times perceived, entrancing them, pouring through their heads, till they exclaimed, 'Ah, the nymphs! Ah, the gnomes! How the nymphs whirl in my head, how the gnomes hammer....' That no longer exists for us. Today the hammering, surging, and whirling are eclipsed and overwhelmed by what comes from actual seeing or hearing.” — Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 230.
Yes. Poor us. We now use actual seeing and hearing. But wait. Why is this bad? Isn’t it actually a sign of progress? Today we are less inclined to accept fairy tales as truth; today we are more inclined to look for actual truth. Isn't this good? Surely we should not send our children backward into darkness. Instead of trying to turn the clock back, we should learn from the past, retaining the best of the past while embracing the advantages made possible by progress. The "simpler time and place" of Waldorf belief — a place of magic and fairies and clairvoyance — never existed, and no good ever came from mistaking fantasy for reality.
From the Center for Anthroposophy - Waldorf Teacher Education and Renewal:
“Preparations for our 13th year of Renewal Courses in Wilton, New Hampshire [USA] are well underway. Here is a sneak preview of the line-up for June and July 2012. More courses will be announced...
"• Hans-Broder von Laue, MD - 'Cancer: The Living Forces and the Soul Experiences near the Threshold'
"• Christof Wiechert - The Art of Child Study
"• Christopher Bamford - The Sacred Heart of Abraham
"• Eleanor Winship - Experiencing Music as a Path to the Spirit through Singing and Eurythmy
"• Dennis Klocek - Body, Soul, and Spirit: Dialogues with the Divine
"• Gunther Hauk - Honeybees in Crisis: Our Evolving Relationship with the Animal Kingdom
"• Laurie Clark and Rena Osmer - Healing Gestures: Renewing Forces for the Early Childhood Teacher, Health-Giving Opportunities for the Young Child
...” [11-10-2011 http://www.centerforanthroposophy.org/news/news-article/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=25&cHash=f1a8b2c13e14a8927e5937b89b6ca318]
As we have seen in reviewing course offerings at Rudolf Steiner College, training for Waldorf teachers includes a large spiritualistic/religious component. This is the case wherever authentic Waldorf training is offered, and whether it is intended for new Waldorf teachers or veterans seeking renewal.
I have added links to pages here at Waldorf Watch that offer some background on various Anthroposophical beliefs implicit in these course titles.
"Waldorf School wins landscaping award
"A statewide landscape architect group has given the Waldorf School of Bend [Oregon, USA] an award of more than $7,000 to pay for sod for a new playground, according to a school news release. The award is the Oregon Landscape Architects Association’s Charitable Project of the Year. The award also includes a landscaping plan using plants and shrubs native to Central Oregon. In recent weeks, the school has installed a sprinkler system at its location on Rocking Horse Road." [11-10-2011 http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20111109/NEWS0107/111090382/]
"I have been looking into the cambridge stiener [sic] school, i went to the mother and baby group and found it....well, odd. Quite a serious, nature worshipy, cultish atmosphere, strange monotone singing and general cringy pagan hippy stuff, i was a bit concerned. Any experiences of the steiner school would be really appreciated!" [11-6-2011 http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/local_cambridge/a1336892-cambridge-steiner-school]
Mumsnet does not focus on Steiner education, but interesting and even informative discussions of the Steiner movement occur there from time to time. This discussion concerns a Steiner school in the UK, but the issues pertinent to Steiner education tend to be much the same everywhere.
"From personal spiritual insight [i.e., clairvoyance], Rudolf Steiner renews and broadens the ancient teaching of the four temperaments.
He explains how each person's mixture of temperaments is shaped, usually with one dominating.
Steiner provides lively descriptions of the passive, comfort-seeking phlegmatic;
the fickle, flitting sanguine; the pained, gloomy melancholic; and the fiery, assertive choleric.
He also offers practical suggestions for teachers and parents in addressing the differing manifestations
of the temperaments in children, as well as advice intended for adults' personal development."
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008.]
“In Waldorf schools, such as the one my kids go to, the child’s birth order (together with their individual temperament) has long been one of the factors that the teachers consider when studying the student’s behavior.” [11-8-2011 http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=745626&publicationSubCategoryId=80]
Waldorf teachers do take birth order into account, although they usually consider temperament more important and karma more important still. They think all children begin life in a period of dreamy connection with the spirit realm; during this phase, the physical body is developed and then the etheric body is incarnated. The “temperaments” are psychological/spiritual personality types: phlegmatic, sanguine, melancholic, and choleric. Belief in these “classical temperaments” was quite up-to-date a few centuries ago. Today, beliefs of this sort survive in only a few backward-looking arenas, such as Waldorf schools.
Anyone who thinks Waldorf schools are progressive might want to contemplate such bedrock Waldorf concepts.
The controversy over an Australian government decision to close a Steiner "stream" at a public school continues:
"City Primary School parents have called for State Education Minister Martin Dixon to see how the dual stream of schooling works with his own eyes.
"The school community banded together in front of the Ministry of Education on Sunday, with more than 100 Steiner and non-Steiner families protesting the Government’s decision to axe the Steiner stream of learning at the school.
"Footscray City Primary School parents and students have been steadily mounting a campaign since the State Government announced its intention to axe the Steiner stream of learning at the school nearly two weeks ago...
"Many parents, like Jane Hutchins, believe the change is a conspiracy to make the school unviable so that the land can be used for something else.
"Footscray City Primary School has around 280 students, with around half enrolled under the Steiner stream.
"Under the Steiner stream, children are not taught to read and write until they are seven and are discouraged from using computers and watching TV." [11-8-2011 http://www.starnewsgroup.com.au/star/footscray-yarraville/320/story/143850.html]
"Silicon Valley rejects computer aids for schools
"Top geeks send kids to low tech schools
"While Silicon Valley's biggest names hawk their products to education authorities around the world, they secretly do not believe that computers are necessary in the classroom.
"The chief technology officer of eBay, Mark Carges, sends his kids to a low tech nine-classroom school in Los Altos. So do employees of Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard." [11-8-2011 http://news.techeye.net/hardware/silicon-valley-rejects-computer-aids-for-schools]
The recent NEW YORK TIMES article about Waldorf schools and computers continues to resonate. But much of the commentary seems to miss an obvious point. High-tech honchos know that their kids will get plenty of computer exposure at home. Is it surprising that they may want the kids to be exposed to other things outside the home? If your children are already fluent in French, would you send them to a Francophone school to study the language they already know, or might you look for a different sort of school that will offer different sorts of studies?
“Anthroposophy [Rudolf Steiner’s 'spiritual science'] forms the basis of the teaching methods used in Waldorf Schools. It is not taught to the students, although in the final weeks of high school seniors have a scheduled period of time when they review their years in the school and have an opportunity to ask questions about the philosophical foundations of the school.” [http://www.honoluluwaldorf.org/Customized/uploads/web%20HWS%20ALL%20SCHOOL%20Handbook%202011-2012%20%2010-31-2011.pdf]
This is a standard Waldorf disclaimer, and it presents a standard method used by Waldorf schools to lift the lid of secrecy toward the end of the students’ school years. In essence, what happens during a Waldorf education is that the teachers base their work on Anthroposophy, they immerse the students in an Anthroposophical atmosphere, they allow their Anthroposophical beliefs to color everything in the school — but they keep their beliefs secret until or beyond the very end.
This secrecy is not absolute, however. Most Waldorf schools teach Anthroposophical beliefs to the students, to one degree or another, even while generally withholding the word “Anthroposophy.” The teaching of Anthroposophical beliefs began in the very first Waldorf school. Here is Rudolf Steiner telling Waldorf teachers to convey specific Anthroposophical doctrines (there are many gods; angels are gods one level above man; archangels are gods two levels above man; Protestantism is wrong because it is monotheistic and mistakes a mere angel for God; etc.):
“[E]xplain that there are higher gods, the archangels [i.e., higher than angels] ... These archangels exist to guide whole groups of human beings ... You must teach this clearly so that the children can learn to differentiate between the god spoken of by Protestantism, for instance, who is actually only an angel, and an archangel, who is higher than anything that ever arises in the Protestant religious teachings. “ — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 46.
This came as part of a lengthy statement Steiner made about “anthroposophical religious instruction” to be offered in the school. [Ibid., pp. 41-47.] Note that such instruction was "free" — students could elect to receive it or they could opt out. But similar instruction is woven through much of the Waldorf curriculum, and all students receive it to one degree or another. Waldorf teachers believe that Anthroposophy is the truth, and they certainly do not want to teach their students falsehoods.
To quote Steiner again (this is a quotation everyone interested in Waldorf schooling should memorize): “You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495. Note that in this instance Steiner was discussing Waldorf education as a whole, not the "free" religious instruction offered within that education
If a Waldorf school operates as the Honolulu handbooks describes, it spends years preparing students (we might say conditioning students) to accept Anthroposophy, and then, at the end, it presents Anthroposophy to them.
According to Rudolf Steiner, this is the occult symbol of Christ, the Sun God.
Christ's connections to the astrological spheres are indicated.
[See Rudolf Steiner, READING THE SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993),
pp. 19-21. R.R. sketch, 2010, based on the one in the book.]
“This enchanting evening is for White Mountain Waldorf School Early Childhood & students [sic] in grades 1-3 only ... Every November 10th (Martinmas Eve) we have a Lantern Walk to celebrate Martinmas, a festival of inner light shining into the outer darkness of the approaching winter ... Celebrating Martinmas at WMWS [White Mountain Waldorf School] serves as a reminder that each of us has a divine inner spark that we must shine out into the world and share with others.” [11-2-2011 http://whitemountainwaldorf.org/2011/11/lantern-walk/ White Mountain is located in New Hampshire, USA.]
Waldorf schools are religious institutions that celebrate such religious festivals as Martinmas, the mass of St. Martin. The schools almost always deny their religious orientation, but then they often give unmistakable signs that reveal the truth. You may like the religious character of Waldorf schooling or not, but you should at least be informed about it.
The religion observed at Waldorf schools may appear to be Christian, but in fact it is Anthroposophy, a polytheistic faith. Whereas Christianity worships Christ as one person of the triune God, Anthroposophy recognizes vast numbers of gods. The three persons of the Christian God are, in Anthroposophy, three separate gods whose realms are on different orbs. “The highest Ruler of Saturn, the Ego Spirit, appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth appears to us as the Holy Spirit....” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100.
Books featured now by SteinerBooks include:
Rudolf Steiner, OUR DEAD: "This book collects Rudolf Steiner’s memorial, funeral, and cremation addresses, as well as a sampling of prayers and meditations for the dead. The context, intimate and sober with grief, means that his intent is quite other than if he had been speaking in a lecture hall. His primary concerns — while based on spiritual-scientific research and, in some cases, the actual living expression of it in real time — are ethical and existential and, at the same time, ceremonial and communal. He stands as speaker before and for the living — relations, friends, and community members — and for the one who has died, even, in a way, for the greater 'cloud' of all the dead." [http://steinerbooks.org/detail.html?session=9b51ba7bbc8be5a8c9e3bdd964b1ecb8&id=9780880106504]
David Tresemer, THE VENUS ECLIPSE OF THE SUN 2012: "The hyperbole and inflated attention given to the supposed 'end of the world' on December 21, 2012, has obscured an actual rare celestial event happening in June of 2012 — the passage of Venus before the face of the Sun as seen from the Earth, which happens every 125 years ... Tresemer calls this an eclipse because of the ways he expects it to affect world events. What impact will it have? ... [A] dramatic story about the heart of technology, its uses for good or for ill ... Find out about the nature of 'erotic phantasms' and how to work constructively with them and who will support us through these times." [http://steinerbooks.org/detail.html?session=9b51ba7bbc8be5a8c9e3bdd964b1ecb8&id=9781584200741]
Meanwhile. Rudolf Steiner Press continues to offer free MP3 sample downloads such as THE DEAD ARE WITH US, THE WORK OF THE ANGEL IN THE ASTRAL BODY, THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS, and ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM. [http://www.rudolfsteinerpress.com/]
Some subjects arise over and over in press coverage of Waldorf schools: the policy not to teach reading until age 7; the low vaccination rates; the aversion to technology. Here is another response to recent stories about Waldorf vaccination rates:
"Get your 'false equivalence' disclaimers ready, uber-progressive metropolitan San Francisco is once again leading America in anti-science beliefs. Unlike something silly and annoying, like acceptance of evolution, progressive anti-science kills people.
"The Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos, California, at a cool $24,000 per year for high school students, is delightfully kooky in its mission statement and its desire to frame education through social justice issues. Hey, I don't care about that, people with money can send their kids to anything they want, be it religious or morally relativistic postmodernism like this, but even religious people accept that vaccines are good for kids.
"Not so for the anti-science hippies sending their kids to this place ... [The vaccination rate at this Waldorf school is] a shocking level below herd immunity, even below the anti-science hippies in Seattle. 73% 'personal belief' exemption, which is codespeak for 'we do not accept science'. Does conservative Alabama have this dangerous anti-science belief? No they do not." [11-5-2011 http://www.science20.com/science_20/blog/rich_antiscience_hippies_and_vaccines_again-84331]
The tone of this piece is unfortunate, as is calling Waldorf parents "hippies." Waldorf schools do appeal to a certain countercultural impulse found in some segments of society, but disparaging parents who choose Waldorf education is hardly helpful. Still, concern for the health of children is commendable, and we can sympathize with the writer's distress over Waldorf's general rejection of modern scientific knowledge. Parents who send their children to Waldorf schools in the belief that they are choosing a progressive form of education may, instead, be consigning their children to centers of backwardness.
(The mission statement at the school in question speaks of reforming the world by empowering teachers to work in accord with Rudolf Steiner's spiritual teachings. The teachers practice Anthroposophy, doing their own "inner work guided by the insights of Rudolf Steiner." This "inner work" essentially means trying to become clairvoyant. The backwardness of the thinking in Waldorf schools stems from devotion to a wholly delusional vision. See, e.g., "Serving the Gods - Doing Anthroposophy" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".)
More on the debate kicked up by reports of the Waldorf antipathy to computers:
“Last week, [Canadian] Education Minister George Abbott announced a new teaching plan for the province to modernize our schools.
“Gutenberg was out: Google was in. School desks will one day be digitized with laptops. Tablets and smartphones will supplant un-interactive textbooks as primary sources of research. Our children will type, Skype and hyperlink.
“This embrace of high-tech technology isn't new to our education system: only the scale of it is. Public schools made that pedagogical leap to digital instruction years ago...
“One school system, however, has addressed the question by ignoring it. The independent Waldorf system, with over 2,500 affiliated schools and kindergartens worldwide, believes computers, cellphones, televisions and high-tech gadgets inhibit creativity, and bans them from elementary classrooms...
“The response to the story typified the types of reaction to the Waldorf system — passionate.
“Some raved about the Waldorf way, others accused it of being cultlike and founded on what they say is the weird, mysticism-laden philosophy of its 19th-century founder, Rudolph Steiner.” [11-5-2011 http://www.vancouversun.com/news/High+tech+tech+views+school/5663179/story.html]
We have touched on most of these issues previously. It might be well to add, however, that whereas some proponents of Waldorf schools claim that there are 2,500 such schools and kindergartens, a more common tally puts the number at about 1,000, and some Anthroposophical sources lower this to 700. The highest claims are almost certainly extreme exaggerations that result from counting play groups and other tiny groupings — and perhaps then adding a degree of wishfulness.
THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN:
The Embodiment of Evil on Earth
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006]
The recent NEW YORK TIMES article about Waldorf schools and computers is spawning similar articles in other publications.
“At Linden Waldorf School [Tennessee, USA] , kindergartners bake fresh bread. Second-graders use colorful chalk and a blackboard to work math equations. Fourth-graders study geography from a felt, 95-county map of the state spread across the floor.
“But what none of them do is use a computer.
“Nobody has an iPad packed with educational apps. Parents are warned to keep their smartphones in their pockets. And teachers strongly suggest limiting screen time at home.
“... [In contrast] Local public school districts see technology as vital to students’ ability to adapt in today’s world. They cite no plans to shed computers from area classrooms.
“Williamson County educators recently launched the Bring Your Own Technology, or BYOT, program at four high schools, allowing students to bring a smartphone, iPad or laptop to school.
“All Metro [i.e., city] middle and high schools have some form of portable technology, and district officials say they are conscious about the use of computers in the classroom.
“’We want our kids to develop a digital citizenship so they know when it’s appropriate to use technology and when it’s not,’ said Kecia Ray, Metro’s executive director of Instructional Technology.” [11-5-2011 http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111105/NEWS/310290099/Nashville-school-takes-students-off-digital-grid]
Understanding the Waldorf approach to technology is a stretch for most people. It is difficult to believe that an attractive, growing school movement that fosters so many positive values — ecological awareness, love of art, spiritual growth — is rooted in superstition and occultism. Yet it is. Waldorf schools want to protect children from TVs, computers, and other high-tech devices because they believe these gizmos are demonic. There are particular concerns about the terrible arch-demon, Ahriman.
The following is from Open Waldorf, a Web site that generally affirms Waldorf thinking and practices:
“There are spiritual reasons for eliminating television. Some members of the Waldorf community believe that a being called Ahriman is especially present in electronic media such as computers and the Internet...
“'[T]he Ahrimanic influence has been at work since the middle of the fifteenth century and will increase in strength until an actual incarnation of Ahriman takes place among Western humanity.' — Rudolf Steiner.
“...Modern-day Waldorf educators are still very concerned about Ahriman, children, and technology. Just recently, Helmut von Kugelgen, a leading Waldorf educator, spoke about this concern at the Waldorf International Kindergarten Conference: ‘We must also be active in the consciousness soul when we struggle to balance the forces of evil, Lucifer and Ahriman, who are always present in the picture of the human being’...
“Waldorf's media restriction extends to computers and video games ... ‘Ahriman may incarnate macrocosmically in our computers’....” [http://www.openwaldorf.com/media.html]
When parents choose and defend Steiner schooling, do they understand what they have gotten involved in? In many instances, probably not.
They may love the schools and the teachers, but often they do not know the doctrines underlying the Steiner approach.
Teachers at Steiner schools believe that children gradually incarnate three invisible bodies; the Steiner curriculum is geared to these incarnations.
The first of the invisible bodies is the "etheric body," which comes at about age 7 when children lose their baby teeth. Later the "astral body" and the "ego body" or "I" are incarnated.
At night, the astral and ego bodies fly up to the spirit realm, while the physical and etheric bodies stay earthbound.
“Here (left) we have the physical body and the ether body (yellow). It fills the whole of the physical body.
And here (right) we have the astral body, which is outside the human being at night (red). At the top it is very small and hugely bulging down below.
Then we have the I (violet). This is how we are at night. We are two people in the night." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 102.
[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image in the book.] All four bodies reunite in the morning, as Steiner indicated by the arrows.
But, what does this have to do with Steiner schooling? "The answer can be found in Waldorf's alternative theory of child development,
which is based on Rudolf Steiner's clairvoyant insight on the human being. The timing of this proscription against reading corresponds with
the 'cutting of the teeth,' which Steiner indicated as a developmental milestone, with the incarnation of the etheric body in children.
Steiner says early reading will hinder the later spiritual development of children." — Open Waldorf, a Web site that essentially defends Steiner schooling.
The Steiner approach raises several questions that parents need to mull over.
Here are a few, bearing on the article excerpted below:
Do you think reading is harmful for children?
Do you believe in clairvoyance? Do you believe in the etheric body?
Or, to boil all this down:
Do you want your children to be taught reading in a timely manner, or do you want to wait for the children's etheric bodies to incarnate first?
“Her kids are set to fail at school every year until they're about 11 years old – but mum Monica Brice couldn't care less.
“Along with 151 other Wellington [New Zealand] families, Mrs Brice is imploring Education Minister Anne Tolley not to judge her children against national standards which she says will be impossible for them to meet.
“The parents of children at Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School in Lower Hutt are upset their school has to implement national standards, when the holistic philosophy of Steiner education means children do not start learning to read until they are seven...
“However, the state-integrated schools have their operational costs met by the taxpayer, which means they must comply. Nationwide 55 schools are still breaking the law by not including national standards targets in their charters.
“The controversial policy benchmarks children academically against standards in years 1 to 8.
“Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School principal Karen Brice-Geard, who is on the Federation of Rudolf Steiner Schools in New Zealand, confirmed she was negotiating with the Education Ministry. ‘We are trying to find a way that we can be compliant and retain our special character.’
“Mrs Tolley said the schools chose to receive government funding rather than be private.
“National standards were not optional, and the school could explain to parents not to expect children to meet the standards straight away.” [11-5-2011 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5913406/Steiner-pupils-set-to-fail-standards/]
Steiner or Waldorf schools do not teach reading until the students’ “etheric bodies” incarnate at age 7, an event marked by the loss of baby teeth. [See “Incarnation”.]
If this sound nutty to you — welcome to Steiner education.
Steiner schools claim that their students catch up sooner or later, but there is little firm evidence to support this claim. According to Steiner belief, the “astral body” incarnates at about age 14, after which children are better able to think for themselves. Proving these strange concepts is difficult, since the etheric and astral bodies are invisible (or, to put this more sensibly: They do not exist).
When Steiner schools accept public funding, they may cause headaches for themselves, as we see in this case. Just as parents sometimes don't realize what is really going on in the Steiner schools that they find so pleasant and attractive, Steiner faculties sometimes don't realize what they are letting themselves in for when they reach into the public till.
If we accept that the educational policies put in place by education officials in various countries are based on solid research, then we must hope that the officials uphold these policies and apply them to all schools, including Steiner schools.
[Rudolf Steiner Press]
Steiner taught that curing or preventing diseases can be wrong.
People need to undergo some diseases to fulfill their karmas.
“[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this
the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.”
— Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.
The following continues the debate inspired by a recent report about low vaccination rates among Waldorf school students:
"Here's some vindication for the germaphobes out there. A Bay Area Waldorf school [California, USA] recently made waves when it was discovered that only 23 percent of its kindergarten was getting vaccinations. SLATE's KJ Dell'Antonia says it's time to confront the crazies. In the past, she has been too busy 'respecting other parenting choices' to argue with parents who don’t vaccinate their kids, but vaccination rates that low are bound to send us back to the disease-ridden days of polio and whooping cough. 'Even if it means some awkward conversations around the vegan, locally sourced stewpot,' writes Dell’Antonia, 'I’m feeling like it’s worth some discomfort to speak up.'” [11-3-2011 http://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2011/11/03/arguing-with-anti-vaccers.html]
“I am currently undertaking a research project for my Doctorate on the philosophy and practice of leadership in Steiner schools and I am looking for any willing participants. You would be asked to take part in a semi-structured interview, looking at how the philosophy influences practice and the way in which responsibilities are distributed in school. You do not need to be a teacher to take part, but just play an active role in any Steiner Waldorf school. [downloaded 11-5-2011 http://community.tes.co.uk/forums/p/528886/7076586.aspx]
Some efforts are afoot to study Waldorf education objectively. To date, such research has been rare. “There is little independent research on Waldorf outcomes.” — Laura Pappano, “Waldorf Education in Public Schools,” HARVARD EDUCATION LETTER, Nov/Dec 2011. All serious, scholarly research should be welcomed. But unless conducted carefully, study of Waldorf schools may miss the central issue. What if Waldorf schools provided a fine academic education, they fostered the emotional well-being in the students, their leadership practices were superb, lovely art was produced, students went on to good colleges... What if all this happened, but the children were also subjected to occult indoctrination? This is the key issue concerning Waldorf education. Would all of the former virtues (if they were true, which is unproven) outweigh the latter liability (which is often charged and often denied)? How should we assess Waldorf education then? [See, e.g., "Beat - Turning Kids in Disciples", "Waldorf Now", and "Soul School".]
[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005]
This is Rudolf Steiner's most important book,
in which he outlines his occult teachings.
By "occult science," he meant the same thing he referred to as "spiritual science" —
this is Anthroposophy, the religion he founded,
the religion that forms the basis of Waldorf education.
"The Rudolf Steiner School [New York, USA] embraces Waldorf education, a pedagogy derived from the insights of Austrian-born scientist, philosopher, artist, and educator Rudolf Steiner." [11-4-2011 http://www.steiner.edu/page.aspx?pid=415]
Whenever a Waldorf or Steiner school makes such a statement, be wary. Such statements contain some truth but they also, typically, hide far more than they reveal. Steiner was not a scientist; he dabbled in philosophy and art; he did indeed work as an educational reformer; but his real profession was that of a mystic or occultist. When Steiner's followers conceal this fact, they are concealing both the essence of Steiner's work and the chief reason for their devotion to that work.
Steiner unashamedly identified himself and his followers as an occultists. We should take him at his word. A few examples:
“Recently in my occult research the following question arose. What is the relationship between the visionary worlds that one can find through initiation...and the realm in which one dwells between death and a new birth?” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), pp. 5-6.
“[T]he Christ Impulse works on below the surface — works, at first, as occult, i.e., hidden, reality. My dear friends, allow me at this point to confess to you that when in my occult researches I tried to follow this stream, I often lost trace of it; I had to search for places where it reappeared.” — Rudolf Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008) p. 97.
“[I]n occultism we call the Moon the ‘Cosmos of Wisdom’ and the Earth the ‘Cosmos of Love.’ As we today, standing on the Earth, wonder at the wisdom embedded in it, so one day the beings of Jupiter will stand before beings from which love will stream forth to them in fragrance.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 6, GA 102.
"In occultism, therefore, we speak of the Mars half of Earth evolution and of the Mercury half.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 80.
“Following an exchange of ideas with the Essenes, the Buddha appeared to Jesus of Nazareth, and we may say that a spiritual conversation took place between them. It is one of my occult obligations to tell you this, for today we can, and indeed must, touch on these important secrets in human evolution.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 56.
"[O]ccult science teaches us that when we sleep, everything is reversed. Then the will is awake and is very active, and thought is inactive. This cannot be known by the human being in a normal state of consciousness, for the simple reason that he knows things only by means of his thoughts and these are asleep.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1984), lecture 2, GA 130.
It is not insignificant that the title of Steiner's most important book is OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE. By "occult science," Steiner meant his spiritual system, Anthroposophy, which makes use of clairvoyance to study the higher worlds. It is only in this sense that Steiner was a scientist — which means that he was not a scientist at all, since his "science" is a sham based on a nonexistent psychic power. [For more on Steiner's occultism, see "Occultism". For a look at OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, see "Everything". To consider Steiner's "science", see "Steiner's 'Science'".]
Here is another response to the widely reported story about the low immunization rate in a Waldorf school:
“I really want to rail against the parents of the Waldorf school in the Bay Area [California, USA] with the shocking 23 percent vaccination rate for its kindergarten class. In the abstract, I’m appalled. Everything in me longs to shake those parents and point out that they’re free-riding on those of us who do vaccinate. That they would not like to live in pre-vaccination days, when, as Megan McArdle of the AtlanticWire put it, diseases like polio, diphtheria, tetanus and even whooping cough crippled and killed thousands of children every year...
“But — there’s always a but — I know those parents.
“Not the parents of this particular Waldorf school ... But Waldorf parents in general ... From a distance, I enjoy their Waldorfianity ... They are not idiots. I would be hugely grieved if they were punished for their short-sightedness in the matter of vaccines by the loss of one of their children to a preventable disease.
“But of course (there’s that ‘but’ again) they’re not likely to lose one of their own children. It’s more likely that one of their healthy kids, if infected, would pass, say, measles on to a child being treated for cancer, or with a blood disorder, or an infant. My friends’ children would probably be fine. The other infected child, whose parents might never even know what unlucky choice of seat on a bus or passing exposure led to her illness, might not....” [11-1-2011 http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2011/11/01/who_dares_confront_the_parents_of_the_bay_area_waldorf_school_wi.html]
It is worth noting that the Waldorf school in question is the same school recently praised for minimizing computer use by its students. Here we see the other side of aversion to modern technology: students put at risk of contracting and/or spreading fatal diseases.
"Higher knowledge," in the Waldorf belief system, is clairvoyance.
Imagination, inspiration, and intuition are three stages of clairvoyance.
According to Waldorf belief, we can develop these forms of consciousness now,
and Waldorf education strives to facilitate this.
But most of us will not wholly realize these forms of consciousness
until we reach future planetary stages of evolution.
“Positive Outcomes for Pupils of Britain’s Most Radical Schools
“...I wondered how outcomes for children of Steiner schools and mainstream schools might compare. Speaking to Sue Hughes-Parry, support worker and the mother of two children educated at a Steiner school, I was fascinated to hear a story illustrating what the school taught. The Steiner system is based on the needs of the ‘whole’ child at different phases of development. Education through artistic activity and the development of the imagination are seen as key to learning. Sue told me that Steiner schools also teach a reverence for life.” [11-2-2011 http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/life/positive-outcomes-for-pupils-of-britains-most-radical-schools-63506.html]
Speaking with advocates of Steiner education can be informative, although the information conveyed and received may vary. Let’s do a quick examination of the admirable concepts broached by Ms. Hughes-Perry. Whether or not she knows it, she was touching on various esoteric Steiner doctrines.
• “The whole child,” as conceived at Steiner schools, is a reincarnating being who has a karma, three invisible bodies (not yet wholly incarnated), a classical “temperament” (phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, or melancholic), an astrological sign, both a spirit and a soul, twelve senses, a heart that doesn’t pump blood, a brain that doesn’t produce cognition, a past in the Old Saturn stage of evolution, a series of coming incarnations in the Future Jupiter stage of evolution, and so forth. [See “Holistic Education”.]
• The “phases of development,” in Steiner belief, are the periods during which the aforementioned invisible bodies (the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego body) incarnate. By some accounts, the entire purpose of Steiner education is to oversee the incarnation of these bodies. [See “Incarnation” and “Most Significant”.]
• “Artistic activity” is stressed in Steiner schools not for reasons of aesthetics or culture, but for reasons of spiritual evolution. Rudolf Steiner taught that there are several spiritual worlds and spheres above the earthly level of reality. The point of artistic activity, in the Steiner belief system, is to bring spiritual beings from the higher realms to the Earth and to transport us from the Earth to those higher realms. [See “Magical Arts”.]
• “Imagination,” as the word is used in Steiner schools, tends to be code for clairvoyance. The main way we can learn about the higher realms, Steiner said, is to develop clairvoyance. The three main levels of clairvoyance are (in ascending order) imagination, inspiration, and intuition. These forms of consciousness are stressed at Steiner schools for their spiritual powers, but humans will not fully perfect them until we evolve to Future Saturn (imagination), then Future Venus (inspiration), and then Future Vulcan (intuition). (Yes, Vulcan.) [See "Clairvoyance", “Steiner’s ‘Science’”, “Thinking Cap”, “Vulcan”, etc. More spheres are involved than the three I have mentioned. "Conscious Intuition, therefore, the highest development of strict clairvoyance, actually consists in arresting the actions which a sleep-walker is instinctively compelled by the Moon-forces to perform. Anyone who brings about this metamorphosis does not give himself up to the physical forces of the Moon but holds them in check within himself. Thus he is enabled to devote himself intuitively to the relevant spirituality; that is, he attains to Intuition." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS, lecture 7, GA 227.]
• “Reverence” is stressed at Steiner schools because a) they are essentially religious institutions, and b) Steiner taught that reverence is necessary for spiritual development. Steiner usually denied that his spiritual system, Anthroposophy, is a religion, but sometimes he admitted it. His followers similarly deny but sometimes admit this truth. And Anthroposophy is both the foundation and the objective of Steiner education. [See "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School".]
Parents: Surely you want the best for your children. Maybe you will decide that Steiner schools are the best. But make sure that you reach this conclusion (or a different conclusion) based on real knowledge of the Steiner system.
(The great difficulty in assessing the Steiner system is the temptation to think that Steiner and his followers can't possibly mean what they mean. But give them the courtesy they deserve. They mean precisely what they mean — although they will often will try to hide it from you. [See, e.g., "Secrets".] "[A]ll teachers must be in possession of truths that they cannot directly pass on to the world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 84.)
Here is a follow-up to the recent report that the Steiner "stream" or curriculum will be discontinued at an Australian public school. Passions are running high:
"Nothing in what follows requires you to know anything about Steiner education. My little story doesn't advocate Steiner education or defend its place at Footscray [i.e., the school]. It is about breach of trust and authoritarianism mistaking itself for an exercise of responsible, benevolent authority ... How could [the education department] conclude that the Steiner stream disadvantaged children in the mainstream so badly as to justify such drastic action, while many parents from both streams who are at the school every day saw no evidence of such disadvantage ...The bureaucrats in the department would probably sincerely claim that they acted in good faith. But, do Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott believe that they fought an election campaign that expressed unprecedented contempt for the political intelligence of the electorate? When politicians brazen out plausible accusations that they acted dishonourably, going so far as to say that they will not resign because they must see a job through, do they fully understand how shameless they are? I doubt it." [11-2-2011 http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/hard-lesson-in-loss-of-trust-and-authority-20111101-1mtrn.html]
"Oregon biodynamic winegrowers use mystical cow crap to make great wine.
"The founder of biodynamic agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, believed in fire spirits, ghosts and gnomes. Oregon [USA] winemakers following Steiner’s biodynamic practices often overlook the gnomes — they’re quite short, after all.
"The organizations at the front lines of American biodynamic agriculture — ground quartz buried in cow horns, stinging nettles mixed into compost — are based in Oregon. Katherine Cole’s new book, Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Astonishing Biodynamic Winegrowers, published by Oregon State University Press, explores their beliefs and the quaffable product thereof." [11-2-2011 http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-18150-bullshit_beliefs.html]
The seven planetary stages of human evolution, extending from Old Saturn (upper left) to Future Vulcan (upper right).
We descend form incorporeality to physical incarnation and then ascend again — unless we fall farther.
The eighth sphere, suspended below planetary stage #4 (Present Earth), is a place of perdition — in essence, Hell.
[R.R. sketch, 2010, based on image in Rudolf Steiner's
THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 5, GA 254.]
"Waldorf education, which often requires families to limit TV watching and electronics at home, considers a child's growth to take place in three seven-year stages from birth to age 21. Each stage is characterized by developmental phases — imitation, imagination, and the search for truth — that inform [the] curriculum. The goal is to match learning with natural development, spurring a kind of organic compounding of children's innate drive to make sense of their worlds." [11-2-2011 http://www.hepg.org/hel/article/515]
Serious scholars sometimes have great difficulty when studying Waldorf education. Parents can run into the same hurdle. It is extremely hard to believe that Waldorf education is based on occult wackiness. And yet it is.
TV and electronics are discouraged by Waldorf faculty because these devices are associated with the terrible demon Ahriman. [See “Ahriman” and “Spiders, Dragons and Foxes”.]
In Waldorf belief, the three stages of childhood are periods during which three invisible human bodies incarnate — at ages 7, 14, and 21. [See “Incarnation” and "Incarnation - What Is the Relevance at Waldorf?".]
Imagination, in Waldorf belief, is the first stage of clairvoyance. It is the consciousness we will perfect when we move along to Future Jupiter. (I know, I know. This is all crazy. But it is what Rudolf Steiner’s followers believe. Really.) "On the planet which will replace our Earth, the whole of humanity will have this psychic-consciousness or Imagination, the 'Jupiter' consciousness." — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 30.
Steiner taught that we are evolving through seven “planetary conditions”: "That the human being can pass through seven such planetary conditions is the meaning of evolution.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 8, GA 99. The seven planetary conditions or stages of evolution are, in order, Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [See “The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia”, "Here's the Answer" (see the section titled "The Creed"), "Matters of Form", and "Vulcan".]
As for the “worlds” children must eventually try to comprehend — Steiner described various levels, spheres, and worlds above our own. To simplify: He said that above the physical world we may find the soul world and the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".] Steiner's followers strive to gain knowledge of these worlds, and they want the young people in their charge to achieve the same knowledge (i.e., they want them to embrace the beliefs of Anthroposophy) — if not immediately, then eventually.