November, 2017

The news items below are presented in reverse chronological order — newest first, oldest last. Please excuse a certain amount of repetitionItems 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. 

If any of the terminology used here ("Anthroposophy," etc.) is unfamiliar to you, consulting The Semi-Steiner Dictionary and The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia should help.

— Roger Rawlings

November 30


From Parent24 [South Africa]: 

Waldorf schools: 

dispelling 5 myths

Dispelling some myths of Waldorf schooling

[by] Elizabeth Mamacos

There are more than a thousand Waldorf schools in the world, and 17 of them are spread across South Africa. The schooling system, which has sometimes been considered a little "out there" or controversial, is steadily growing in popularity, but is still subject to some widespread negative misconceptions.

We interviewed Waldorf teachers, students and parents to get to the bottom of some of the more common myths….

MYTH 1: Waldorf is sometimes thought of as a school for "hippies" and their kids, far from the mainstream schooling style and sometimes directly at odds with it….

MYTH 2: The Waldorf learning programme doesn’t focus on Maths and Science, instead allowing more art and craft…. 

MYTH 3: Waldorf teaches reading at a very late stage, and children are left behind their peers academically….

MYTH 4: Waldorf Schools don’t use textbooks, and students must create their own workbooks….

MYTH 5: Waldorf schools are more appropriate for slow learners and don’t match up to the standard of mainstream education…. 

Waldorf Watch Response:

Like much uncritical media coverage of Waldorf schools, this item allows Waldorf representatives to promote Waldorf education without hindrance or rebuttal. The purpose of the report is, explicitly, to debunk five “myths” about Waldorf education. By yielding the floor to Waldorf proponents, the report becomes, in effect, Waldorf PR.

You should certainly read the Parent24 report in its entirety — it is fairly long and reasonably detailed. But bear in mind that it is unbalanced and, thus, misleading.

Certainly you should recognize that several of the “myths” are actually true. Indeed, the pro-Waldorf folks quoted sometimes admit as much. Concerning “Myth 4,” for instance (“Waldorf Schools don’t use textbooks”), a Waldorf teacher concedes that the "myth" is generally accurate: “Yes, it is true that early readers and textbooks are generally not used in Waldorf education….”

The other “myths” are also, in whole or in part, actually true. • The Waldorf approach certainly runs contrary to much of mainstream schooling. • Science instruction is often the weakest part of the Waldorf curriculum, while great emphasis is put on arts and crafts of various kinds. • Waldorf schools do generally postpone instruction in reading and arithmetic until much later than other schools, and in general academic standards at Waldorf are lax. • While Waldorf is nor aimed at “slow learners” as such, “slow learning” is indeed characteristic of the Waldorf approach.

To explore some of these topics, you might consult “Lesson Books”, "Academic Standards at Waldorf", “The Waldorf Curriculum”, “Methods”, “Spiritual Agenda”, “Steiner’s ‘Science’”, etc. These pages at Waldorf Watch will fill in some of the gaps left by Parent24.

As for the "popularity" of Waldorf schools: Various claims are made about the number of Waldorf schools in the world and the rate at which new the number is climbing. Sometimes the claimed total is as high as 3,000 Waldorf schools and nurseries, but such claims are clearly over the top — they would be true only if informal playgroups and other approximately Waldorfish enterprises were included. Truly reliable numbers are hard to gather; conflicting claims are common within the Waldorf movement itself. [See, e.g., the Waldorf Watch "news" item for March 17, 2013.]

In reality, there seem to be about 1,000 genuine Waldorf schools in the world now (Parent24 is right about this), but there have been about 1,000 for a good many years (Parent24 is wrong to suggest that the number is soaring). New Waldorf schools are opened with some regularity on continents around the world, but some of these schools fail, and many are quite small. 

Overall, we can say with confidence that the Waldorf movement is fairly large and, depending on one's perspective, this is either worrisome or encouraging. But despite the unsubstantiated assertions that are often made, the Waldorf movement is not setting the world on fire. Not yet, anyway. 
— R.R.

November 28


A troubling series of messages has appeared in recent days on the Waldorf Critics discussion list.

Deciding what to make of such messages can be a challenge. Anecdotal accounts need to be seen in larger contexts. Many families love the Waldorf schools they have joined, and among those who become disenchanted, the usual response is to leave quietly, without raising explosive charges.

Still, the following messages fall within recognizable patterns. Other families have had similar, distressing experiences at Waldorf schools. At a minimum, anyone thinking of sending a child to a Waldorf school should think carefully about the issues raised by such messages.

Message #1

[W]e have been involved in 4 Waldorf schools in the United States. At all four Waldorf schools…we have experienced subtle racism and white supremacy viewpoints weaved into the curriculum…. 

…I honestly didn't really fully wake up to this reality until we arrived at [Waldorf School X] so my daughter could join the 6th grade class there this past August. We have always had issues around the discipline styles used by teachers at Waldorf schools and definitely noticed that the curriculum was mostly Euro-centric but 6th grade brought up diversity and historical inaccuracy issues that were disturbing and seemed to be taught without any critical thinking whatsoever. We raised our concerns with the teacher and the faculty chair...but never received a response from either for over 3 weeks.…

…Our concerns with the curriculum included a poem recited by the 7th grade at the Middle School Concert about Christopher Columbus "discovering" America, the issue of slavery being used for humor in the 6th grade play, and the controversy around the hostile depiction of Judaism in the book "The Bronze Bow" which was recently assigned as a reader to the 6th grade class. We were also interested in talking to the school staff about establishing a Diversity Committee since there is no such effort currently on-going at the school. There were other issues we raised as well around the 6th grade teacher talking negatively about our daughter to other students as well as the eurythmy teacher restraining my child's hands when she was fidgeting.… 

My husband and I met with the Interim School Administrator and the Chair of the Board just yesterday (this was our first meeting ever with these two people at the school) and they informed us that our daughter was being dismissed from the school effectively immediately. I'm just wondering if anyone else has ever experienced such treatment from the administration of a Waldorf school for simply raising concerns with the school staff?….

Message #2

Dear Heather,

...Your story parallels mine. We were kicked out of [Waldorf School Y] after expressing our concerns about racism in Steiner books sold at the school, Steiner pseudoscience in the curriculum, and the promotion of quack medicine to the parents. We were not allowed to bring our issues before the governing “college of teachers.” A delegation told us that we didn’t have to believe what they believed, but if we were critical of Anthroposophy to other parents, we would have to go.

We learned that the role of parents in a Waldorf school was to be thankful and supportive, not to try to improve the school.

“Cult-like” is an appropriate term to describe this kind of behavior.

Message #3

Hello Heather,

I read your post with a mix of anger and sadness for what the school has put you through. Unfortunately, it’s a story I’ve heard before in multiple variations.


Although my family’s Waldorf experience is not exactly the same as yours, there are some similarities. ... [M]any years ago our daughter was one of four 15-year-old girls who were victims of unwanted touching by a part-time male teacher who had years before been asked to resign as a full-time teacher because he had a sexual relationship with a high school student ... At least three teachers broke mandated reporting laws and made aggressive attempts to intimidate my daughter into saying that the touching did not happen. What followed were lies and targeting of our daughter that caused her emotional harm. Our attempts to set up a meeting with the board were ignored. Eventually we received a letter from the school saying our daughter was not invited to return the following year. They wrote in a newsletter that the part-time teacher was leaving to spend more time with his family. I think it was only three years later that he was back at the school as a part-time teacher again....


…I know what you and your family are going through right now is distressing, but I believe there will come a time when you might consider your family’s separation from the Waldorf school to have been a blessing in disguise. As my husband and I learned more about the deeply embedded Anthroposophic nature of Waldorf education, we realized that our children were better off elsewhere. Our only regret was that we hadn’t found out sooner….

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools tend to be close-knit, insular societies. When criticized, they often become defensive and antagonistic. Considerable conflict and pain may result. [1]

The most problematic issue that has often arisen concerning Waldorf schools centers on the racism embedded in Anthroposophy. [2] Presmuably, few is any Waldorf teachers today are avowed racists. But the racial teachings of Rudolf Steiner remain an unresolved legacy for the Waldorf movement. [3]

Sexual abuse of students is presumably even more rare in Waldorf schools than overt expressions of racism. But such abuse is by no means unknown in these schools, and some critics charge that the culture within the schools lends itself to the development of improper relationships between teachers and students. [4] 

It is probably safe to say that most people who establish long-term ties with Waldorf schools have few if any serious complaints. They are either satisfied or, at least, they have not felt a need to depart. Still, troubling reports do emerge from the Waldorf universe from time to time, and often they are consistent with recognizable, long-established patterns of complaint about these schools. [5] Anyone thinking of sending a child to a Waldorf school should, at a minimum, look into these matters. [6] 
— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] See "Cautionary Tales".

[2] See "Embedded Racism".

[3] See "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".

[4] See "Extremity".

[5] See, e.g., "Our Experience", "Coming Undone", "Moms", and "Pops".

[6] The three messages touch on a few other issues. Concerning discipline in Waldorf schools, see, e.g., "Slaps". Concerning Anthroposophical medicine, see "Steiner's Quackery". Concerning the Waldorf take on science, see "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Science".

November 26


From Castanet [British Columbia, Canada]:

’Their report cards are a lie’

[by] Nicholas Johansen

After spending tens of thousands of dollars in tuition at a Kelowna private school, David Brough found his Grade 2 son was reading and writing at or below a kindergarten level.

Prior to leaving Kelowna Waldorf School, his report cards said he had been meeting all expectations.

Brough's son is one of several former Waldorf students who have been left behind, Castanet has learned.

The Broughs were one of dozens of families who left the school last year, after political infighting drove many away.

Upon leaving, Brough had his son assessed by an education specialist before transferring to another school. His son didn't know the sounds of most letters in the alphabet.

“This is about students who are dramatically behind, while their report cards say they are at the levels they need to be,” Brough said. “Their report cards are a lie.”

His son's last report card stated that he met grade levels across the board, including spelling “high-usage words,” applying spelling knowledge, and printing and handwriting neatly.

“My kid can't spell at all today,” Brough said. “This is where I get angry.”

The assessor said she has seen similar reading and literacy issues with 10 other former Waldorf students....

…Independent schools in B.C. receive government funding in addition to tuition from their students. For the 2016-17 school year, Kelowna Waldorf School received more than $500,000 from the province.

The Ministry of Education responded to several concerns at the school last year, but says the school complied with all requests for “adjustments to programs and reporting.” The ministry would not say what those changes were.

Other parents of former Waldorf students shared similar stories.

“My Grade 5 boy was at ... pretty much a Grade 1 reading level, and my Grade 3 boy was at a kindergarten reading level,” said Tammi Organ....

…In response to the parents' concerns, Rick Salsa, president of the school's board of trustees, said in an email: “I can say with confidence that our teachers and administrative staff make every effort to help all our students meet their expected grade levels.”

Salsa said he didn't have time for an interview.

[11-26-2017; article published 11-24    https://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-212256-1-.htm]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Parents of Waldorf students are often shocked to discover how little their children have learned at school. [1] The problem is worst for students in the lower grades. Waldorf schools typically do not teach reading and arithmetic until the students reach age 7 — or even later. The reason? The schools are waiting for the kids' invisible "etheric bodies" to incarnate. Amazing but true. [2]

Waldorf spokesfolks usually claim that Waldorf students catch up with, and perhaps even surpass, students at other schools eventually. This claim is not well documented, however. In general, academic standards at Waldorf schools tend to be low. [3] The schools are focused on other things, primarily things of the spirit. 

"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 ... 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 [the gods] have done before birth." — Rudolf Steiner. [4] 

The question here becomes whether the spiritual realm described in Anthroposophy actually exists, or is it a mere fantasy? [5] Another, equally important question is whether the students' parents have been informed about the schools' aims. Have the parents been told that Waldorf teachers often consider themselves to be priests who want to guide their students' spiritual lives? [6] Have the parents been consulted about this; has their permission been sought; or have they been deceived? [7]

As for the "political inflighting" that led to a mass exodus from Kelowna Waldorf School last year: Such turmoil is far from rare in Waldorf schools. Cliques and factions often form among Waldorf faculty members, largely as the result of doctrinal disputes. [8] A disillusioned former member of a Waldorf board of directors has given this report:

"[B]ehind closed doors, [our Waldorf faculty] were all backstabbers. Seemingly insecure people competing for the top position on the Anthroposophical dog pile. It was never pretty. There was a lot of acting out, both blatant and passive (aggressive). I thought it was just this school, these teachers at the time. Now I think it comes out of some very deep flaws that Anthroposophy is incapable of dealing with. At least so far."  — Debra Snell. [9]

Of course, conditions are not so harsh all the time at all Waldorf schools. But, to put the matter mildly, tranquility does not always reign. Sometimes, the upshot is that Waldorf schools fail. While a concerted effort is made to open new Waldorf schools wherever possible, not all of these schools survive and prosper. [10]

Just as parents need to be concerned about what actually happens inside Waldorf schools, so should education authorities. Have they been deceived?

When Waldorf schools promise to meet official educational standards, but then clearly fail to do so, official action may be necessary.

At the first Waldorf school, the faculty made little or no effort to prepare graduating students for the examination they would need to pass in order to receive official recognition of their educational attainment. And the teachers kept their actual intentions hidden.

"It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all, that it is a private decision of the student whether to take the final examination or not.” — Rudolf Steiner. [11]
 — R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] See, e.g., "Our Experience".

[2] It is true that Anthroposophists believe in invisible etheric bodies. They also believe in invisible "astral bodies" and invisible "ego bodies." [See "Incarnation".] Are these beliefs correct? Are they, in and of themselves, true? Few people outside Anthroposophy think so. But beliefs of this sort have paramount importance in Waldorf thinking.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE - Foundations of Waldorf Education, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37. [See "Spiritual Agenda".] 

[5] See, e.g. "Higher Worlds".

[7] See, e.g., Secrets.

[8] See, e.g., "Ex-Teacher 4" and "His Education".

[9] See "Coming Undone".

[10] See "Failure".

[11] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 725. [See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

November 25


From The Conway Daily Sun [New Hampshire, USA]:

The Waldorf Way — 

Handwork at 

The White Mountain Waldorf School

…Waldorf students have a “can do” attitude. They develop this as they grow, embracing a rich, well-planned curriculum. Students master skills and concepts in mathematics, language arts, history, [etc.] … Students also study woodworking and handwork….

Handwork has the important function of establishing and activating pathways in the brain. Current research shows a connection between fine motor skills and brain development. Using the fine motor muscles in the hand can stimulate cellular development in the brain, strengthening the physical foundation of thinking.…

…One of the most important lessons of handwork is the “can do” attitude students develop….

…Wonder if a Waldorf education is right for your child? Come visit!

Waldorf Watch Response:

Articles about Waldorf schools published in small newspapers are often little more than Waldorf PR. (The author of this “news” article is the handwork teacher at the White Mountain Waldorf School. The article, which praises Waldorf's "rich, well-planned curriculum," ends in a recruitment pitch: "Come visit!")

When you read such glowing accounts, you may want to crank your BS detector to high. The article about “The Waldorf Way” is full of striking claims — such as the one about “current research” on the brain — but it provides no actual evidence or citations. We should always ask for substantiation, resisting the impulse to be bowled over by enthusiastic, uncritical, unsubstantiated puff pieces.

What did Rudolf Steiner actually say about handwork, such as knitting? What is the original rationale for emphasizing handwork, such as knitting, in Waldorf schools? The reason — as is almost always the case at Waldorf — is mystical and bizarre.

“Go into our needlework classes and handicraft classes at the Waldorf School, and you will find the boys knit and crochet as well as the girls ... This is not the result of any fad or whim ... [T]o drive the soul into the fingers means to promote all the forces that go to build up sound teeth.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND MEDICINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1948), lecture 17, GA 312.

Handwork may in fact provide many benefits. Handwork may well be beneficial to the brain. But the thinking on which Waldorf education is founded — Rudolf Steiner's occult vision — is almost completely irrational. It is one thing to say that handwork might stimulate the brain; it is something entirely different to say that handwork produces good teeth.* Taking such thinking seriously requires a deep dive into a murky abyss of hokum. Yet some people believe Steiner. Some try to find rationalizations for his pronouncements. And some of the people who endorse Steiner teach in Waldorf schools.

This is worth thinking over.

By all means, you should visit any Waldorf school that will let you in. But take your BS detector with you.

[To delve into the Waldorf way a bit more, see, e.g., “Holistic Education”.]

* I am not joking, and neither was Steiner. Steiner meant what he said about knitting and teeth. The following is from the record of a faculty meeting at the first Waldorf school:

“Handwork. Knitting develops good teeth.”  — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 112.

That was Steiner's claim; that was his wisdom; that is what he told the teachers at the first Waldorf school. And evidently they believed him. They did not hoot him down. They did not resign in protest. They heard him out on this and many other subjects, accepting his dingbat views without apparent qualms.

This is worth thinking over.

[To delve into the Waldorf way a bit more, see, e.g., “Faculty Meetings” and "Steiner's Blunders".] 

— R.R.

November 24


Biodynamic agriculture is the form of organic agriculture established by Rudolf Steiner and practiced in and around Waldorf schools. Demeter International is the certifying authority for biodynamic agriculture.

The following is from Boulder Weekly [Idaho, USA]:

Organic plus: 

Biodynamic agriculture 

is on the rise

The folks at Aspen Moon [Farms] and Black Cat [Farm Table Bistros] were first introduced to the concept of biodynamics while their kids attended different Waldorf schools in Boulder County. Biodynamic farming and Waldorf education are intricately linked as both were developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century. Steiner was a somewhat controversial public figure and his biodynamic agricultural practices have been criticized for their astrological and homeopathic philosophies by some in the scientific horticultural community.

But Elizabeth Candalario, managing director at Demeter Association, Inc., is adamant about the lack of mysticism in Demeter’s certification standard, and the astrological practices behind Steiner’s work (like planting by the lunar calendar) is not required for certification. 

Waldorf Watch Response:

Followers of Rudolf Steiner often scramble to dissociate themselves from the wackier teachings of their hero. So, although biodynamic practices are deeply infused with astrology and magic [1], biodynamic spokesfolks often deny the importance of these strains of mysticism to their belief system. But the truth is that the “philosopher” Rudolf Steiner was actually an occult mystic, and his mysticism is absolutely basic to all of his teachings and all of the activities that arise, today, from those teachings. [2]

Biodynamics and Waldorf education are two arms of the overall Steiner movement, called Anthroposophy. [3] Steiner taught his followers to conceal many of their mystical Anthroposophic beliefs from the public [4], and he urged them to maintain formal (if illusory) separations between various arms of the Anthroposophical movement. So, for instance, Steiner told teachers at the first Waldorf school that they should not formally connect the school to the Anthroposophical Society: 

“[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection [between the school and the Society] were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck.” [5]

Anthroposophists engage in canny PR efforts [6], so perhaps we should not be overly impressed when Ms. Candalario "is adamant about the lack of mysticism in Demeter’s certification standard." If astrological practices are not formally required for Demeter certification, they are nonetheless central to the way biodynamics is actually carried out.

The Boulder Weekly is certainly correct that “biodynamic farming and Waldorf education are intricately linked.” All parts of the Anthroposophical movement are intricately linked. And the link is Rudolf Steiner’s mysticism, including his affirmation of astrology. This is why we Waldorf teachers and their trainers have often made statements such as the following:

• "From each region of the zodiac and from the planets there stream to Earth certain forces and these forces become manifest in the physical being of man ... According to the position of the Sun and zodiac, modified by the relationship to the planets, a person receives specific forces [i.e., astrological influences] at birth….” [7]

• “Astrological chart [i.e., horoscope] — A map of the soul’s revelation as it [develops] consciousness … Higher spiritual beings [i.e., the gods] reveal their influence…through the movement of the planets with stars and constellations as [the] backdrop.” [8]

• “Twelve particular constellations, known as the zodiac...have a particular formative presence in our universe ... Likewise, each of the planets sings to [i.e., influences] the earth..…” [9]

Waldorf schools are inextricably linked to mystical practices, such as those found in biodynamics, because they are caught up in the mystical falsehoods bequeathed to them by Rudolf Steiner. [10] One pertinent example: Steiner said the following:

"Each of us is assigned a particular horoscope, in which the forces are revealed that have led us into this life." [11]

In at least some Waldorf schools, teachers draw up horoscopes to evaluate applicants for admission. One parent of an applicant reports this:

“It's a very common practice for Waldorf teachers to do an astrological chart on incoming students... [O]ne was done on our child as part of the admissions process for a Waldorf school here in So Cal [i.e., Southern California]". [12]

Whether this practice is "very common" is debatable. You should, of course, expect Waldorf spokesfolks to deny it. 
— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] See “Biodynamics”.

Concerning the homeopathic beliefs in Anthroposophy, see "Steiner's Quackery".

[2] See “Occultism”.

[3] See the entry for “Anthroposophy” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[4] See “Secrets”.

[5] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER  (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 705.

[6] See “PR”.

[7] Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 43-44.

[8] Waldorf teacher Ron Odama, ASTROLOGY AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Bennett & Hastings Publishing, 2009), p. 12.

[9]  Waldorf teacher-trainer Cynthia Hoven, EURYTHMY (HeartSong Press, 2012), pp. 29-30.

[10] For more on the astrological beliefs found in the Waldorf worldview, see “Astrology”, “Waldorf Astrology”, and “Star Power”.

[11] Rudolf Steiner, ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 46.

For more, see "Horoscopes".

[12] See Waldorf Astrology”.

November 22


From The Threefold Educational Center, announcing an upcoming event in Chestnut Ridge, New York:

Seminary building, Christ image

Building Christ Community:

An Open Course

Especially for Affiliates

With Rev. Bastiaan Baan,

Rev. Patrick Kennedy,

& Rev. Oliver Steinrueck

Monday, November 27–Friday, December 1

In this open course, we will investigate how community in affiliates and congregations of The Christian Community can be built up.

Themes to be covered will include: • Body, soul and spirit of a community • Pioneering situations: How to begin? • Organization, finances and practice • “You are the Body of Christ”: A Theology of community building.

Fee: $150, includes breakfast each day.

Location: The Seminary of the Christian Community, 7 Carmen Court, Chestnut Ridge, NY.

For information, and to register: Email info@christiancommunityseminary.org, call 845-356-0972, or visit this page.

Waldorf Watch Response:

The "Chrtistian Community" is an overtly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy itself is a religion, but it refers to itself as a "science." Thus, the Christian Community helps fill the need many Anthroposophists feel for the structured liturgy and formal trappings of organized, Anthroposophic religious practice. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?" and "Christian Community".] 

Services conducted in Christian Community churches follow patterns established by Rudolf Steiner for such worship. Anthroposophy is "Christian" only to the degree that Steiner reworked numerous fundamental Christian teachings, retaining some (with changes) while rejecting others. Anthroposophy centers on Christ, yet it diverges dramatically from mainstream Christian belief. The most dramatic divergence is Steiner's gnostic teaching that Christ is the Sun God — the same god who has been known by such names as Ra, Baldr, and Apollo. [See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"] The image in the altarpiece, above, gives some idea of Christ as conceived in Anthroposophy and the Christian Community.

When formal religious ceremonies are conducted in Waldorf schools, they often follow Christian Community forms. [See "Waldorf Worship".] Such openly religious ceremonies are rare — although by no means unknown — in the schools; usually, the distinction between the schools and the churches is maintained. In a broader sense, however, Waldorf schools serve as Anthroposophical religious institutions, and many of the activities conducted in the schools amount to thinly veiled Anthroposophical religious activities. [See "Schools as Churches".]

In its public pronouncements, the Seminary of the Christian Community in North America cautiously acknowledges its ties to Anthroposophy. Thus, on its homepage, the Seminary gives this description of the first year of the priestly training it provides:

The first year of the study gives students who are interested in becoming priests the opportunity to get to know the Christian Community; it is also open to those who are not considering entering the priesthood. Study-topics include the Old and New Testaments and the Greek language; the nature of the seven sacraments; anthroposophy and its theory of knowledge; and the arts, including eurythmy and speech-formation. To supplement these ongoing classes, guest-teachers give weeklong courses on related subjects.

Two points in this description deserve special comment.

• Anthroposophy's "theory of knowledge" is the use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] Steiner claimed that clairvoyance of the type he employed is by no means theoretical — it yields reliable and exact knowledge, he said. [See "Exactly".] It is in this sense that he designated Anthroposophy a science. [See "Steiner's 'Science'".] At Waldorf schools, the emphasis on imagination, inspiration, and intuition is meant to lead, quietly, toward the development of clairvoyance. The effort to become clairvoyant is more openly affirmed in Anthroposophical initiation practices undertaken by adults, including aspirant Christian Community priests. [See the entries for "imagination", "inspiration", and "intuition" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

• Eurythmy is a form of spiritual dance — in effect, a new form of temple dancing — initiated by Steiner. [See "Eurythmy".] Usually, students at Waldorf schools are required to participate in eurythmic dances. "Eurythmy is obligatory. The children must participate. Those who do not participate in eurythmy will be removed from the school." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.

The Chestnut Ridge area is a prominent base of Anthroposophical action in North America; it is the location of numerous interconnected Anthroposophical facilities. In addition to the Seminary, there are Green Meadow Waldorf School, the Sunbridge Institute (a Waldorf teacher-training institution), the Otto Specht School (a Waldorf school adapted for children with learning difficulties), the Rudolf Steiner Fellowship (a long-term care community), Eurythmy Spring Valley (a school of eurythmy, with a performance troupe), the Pfeiffer Center (a biodynamics farm and teaching center), the Hungry Hollow Co-op Natural Foods Market (where biodynamic and other approved foods are sold), etc. The Threefold Education Center is an umbrella organization for Anthroposophical organizations in the region [http://www.threefold.org/index.aspx]. 

— R.R.

November 21


From HudsonValley 360 [Hudson, New York]:

Lumberyard [arts center] to start 
construction in two weeks

[by] Daniel Zuckerman Columbia-Greene Media

The Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy held a joint event Thursday to give visitors a chance to tour [the site of] the Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts building on Water Street in Catskill [New York]....

...Lumberyard received a $5 million impact investment loan from the Rudolf Steiner Foundation in August.

It’s the largest social impact loans [sic] they’ve given and the first to an arts organization [said Lumberyard Executive and Artistic Director Adrienne Willis].

[downloaded 11-21-2017; article published 11-17    https://www.hudsonvalley360.com/article/lumberyard-start-construction-two-weeks]

Waldorf Watch Response:

The Anthroposophical community deploys significant resources in its effort to transform society in accordance with Rudolf Steiner's mystical vision. Anthroposophy has enormous ambitions, entailing a revolutionary revamping of society as a whole. [See "Threefolding".]

While Waldorf schools represent the most prominent Anthroposophical social endeavor, in fact Anthroposophists seek to influence and alter virtually all human institutions. Offering loans to cultural organizations is just one possible avenue for these efforts. 

The Foundation supports distinctly Anthroposophic organizations, such as Waldorf schools, but it also looks further abroad. RSF Social Finance — the trade name for the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and allied organizations — describes its purpose in unobjectionably bland (indeed, vague) terms:

We work with social enterprises leading the way toward change

RSF Social Finance’s current borrowers and grantees are a diverse group of entrepreneurs with one thing in common: a social mission that, at their core, drives what they do and how they do it. We ensure that whether they’re preserving farmland or creating new opportunities for youth, all of our organizations are working toward social, economic, and ecological benefit.

Wikipedia, in an item that requires further work, says this:

RSF Social Finance, located in San Francisco, California, is one of very few orgs [sic] actively seeking to and investing towards, a transformation of how we view and use money. [citation needed] ... RSF is a non-profit financial services organization offering investing, lending, and philanthropic services ... RSF has over one thousand clients and more than $120 million in consolidated assets. RSF Social Finance is the trade name of Rudolf Steiner Foundation, Inc. and its affiliates. It has lent over $100,000,000 and made more than $50,000,000 in grants to non-profit organizations and social enterprises ... Outside of Waldorf school and Anthroposophic enterprises, RSF actively supports a variety of small and medium initiatives, mostly food initiatives.

Among the Waldorf schools to receive funding through the Foundation is the Alabama Waldorf School. [http://rsfsocialfinance.org/person/alabama-waldorf-school/] 

The revolutionary aims of Anthroposophy may never be attained, but they are actively pursued by Rudolf Steiner's devout adherents.

Concerning the effort among Anthroposophists aimed at "a transformation of how we view and use money":

Anthroposophical enterprises, including Waldorf schools, need money. Often they need quite a lot. But Anthroposophists, including Waldorf teachers, are often loath to involve themselves in fund-raising activities. In response, Anthroposophical leaders have published a number of books intended to inform their fellow believers about the noble, spiritual side of money. One of these books is John Bloom’s THE GENIUS OF MONEY (SteinerBooks, 2009). The publisher describes this offering thus:

“Coming to terms with money and finance has become one of the great transformational challenges of our time. THE GENIUS OF MONEY addresses this challenge by presenting an accessible and engaging worldview based on the assumption that money and spirit are deeply connected ... This book is divided into three sections. ‘The poetics of money’ tells something of the cultural story of money ... ‘The topography of transactions’ explores the inner landscape of financial transactions. The third section, ‘A wealth of transformation’ consists of interviews with individuals who have transformed themselves, as they have transformed the world, through social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, philosophical inquiry into money, investing, and spiritual practice.” 
— R.R.

November 21


From the Scottish Daily Record:

Daughter with autism found voice 
after mum wrote novel inspired 
by their experience with condition

As they faced school bullies and those who failed to accept or ­understand autism, 

Catherine Simpson and her daughter Nina gathered the invaluable experience 

they now share with ­audiences around Scotland. 

Catherine Simpson and her daughter Nina have been through the worst of times together — and the best.

…They found the platform from which they raise awareness [about autism] after the publication of Catherine’s first novel, Truestory, in 2015.

It is the tale of a boy with autism, inspired by her own experience of raising a child with the condition.

Nina, now 22, was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 10, and experienced dreadful bullying in her early high school years.

…It eventually led to her family deciding to move her to the independent Rudolf Steiner School in Edinburgh when she was 14.

Catherine, 54, from Edinburgh, said: “She was bullied so badly in high school that she wouldn’t have gone to school after 14 if we couldn’t have afforded to pay for it [i.e., tuition at the Steiner school]….”

…After moving school, Nina made friends and began learning German — the subject in which she has just completed a degree at Edinburgh University.

Waldorf Watch Response:

Steiner schools often provide safe havens — they can be peaceful retreats from the tumultuous world outside their walls. On the other hand, bullying has often been a problem in Steiner and Waldorf schools. Steiner’s followers sometimes believe that some children have the karma to be bullies, and other kids have the karma to be bullied — and karma must be allowed to play out. This may be a corruption of Steiner’s teachings, but Steiner did place great emphasis on karma, and the upshot within Steiner schools has sometimes been distressing to students and their parents. [See “Karma”, “Slaps”, and “Cautionary Tales”.]

Anthroposophists — including Waldorf teachers — often make laudable efforts to assist individuals having special needs, such as children with autism. Anthroposophical residential communities, generally called “Camphill communities,” often devote themselves to such remedial and curative efforts — sometimes with apparent success. Unfortunately, however, the Anthroposophical approach in these matters is based on Rudolf Steiner’s medical teachings, which essentially consist of quack nostrums. The result can often be harm rather than healing. [See “Steiner’s Quackery” and the section “Camphill Summer” in “My Life Among the Anthroposophists”.] 

— R.R.

November 20


Re: [wc] Eco-Alchemy by Dan McKanan

...It's good to see more attention to this aspect of anthroposophy [i.e., environmentalism], even if a more critical perspective might be helpful at times, and I largely agree with the underlying premise; the impact that Steiner's followers have had on environmental efforts across the political spectrum is one of the most important parts of the movement's legacy.

[downloaded 11-20-2017; message posted on 11-18    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31653]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Anthroposophists are sometimes right about some things — although generally it is for the wrong reasons. (Anthroposophists are rarely right for the right reasons; their thinking is too immured in the falsehoods of mystical occultism.)

When Anthroposophists support green values and strive to save the Earth, they deserve commendation. Few things can be more important than preserving the environment on which all forms of earthly life depend.

The Anthroposophical view of nature, however, is shot through with superstition and gnosticism. And this is the view imparted, directly or indirectly, to students in Waldorf schools.

With few exceptions, everything is nature is alive, Rudolf Steiner taught. This includes rocks and minerals; it includes the Earth itself, as a living entity. A multitude of gods are present above and within nature, beaming to Earth the influences of their domains among the planets and stars. Moreover, nature is the province of "nature spirits" or "elemental beings" — invisible presences such as gnomes and sylphs. In more common terms, these are fairies or elves, who infuse natural processes with their energies and influences.

But nature also has an ominous side, according to Anthroposophical belief. The nature spirits are amoral, and other beings — arguably immoral or malevolent — are also present in the physical or material realm of nature. These "evil" spirits are demons. The material plane of existence is, in some sense, the antithesis of the spiritual plane; when we live here "below," we are separated from the "higher" spheres; influenced by demons, we are prone to illusion, maya, error. Steiner indicated that demons may ultimately contribute to the fulfillment of the beneficent gods' designs (and thus, ultimately, evil may not really exist). But he also indicated that humans can be lured astray by demons, which may cause us, eventually, to lose our souls (and thus evil is a real and terrible threat to us).

Waldorf schools generally promote reverence for nature. Classrooms often have "nature tables" as well as (in the lower grades) gnome figurines; nature walks, and outdoor play, are emphasized; mythic accounts of natural history are given respectful hearings (often in preference to hard science); the seasons of the year are marked by elaborate festivals; organic gardens are maintained, and students are often required to work in them; and so forth. The results can be beneficial (when students are led toward environmental sensitivity) or not (when students are effectively indoctrinated in Anthroposophical occultism).

[For more on all this, see, e.g., "Neutered Nature", "Gnomes", "Beings", "Evil", "Evil Ones", "Indoctrination", and "Sneaking It In". Also see such entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia as "Earth", "nature", "minerals", "gods", "demons", "superstition", and "gnosticism".] 
— R.R.

November 19


From the Rudolf Steiner Archive website:

Happy Anniversary to the Rudolf Steiner Archive!

On November 19th 1980, the idea of the Rudolf Steiner Archive came to fruition! After consulting with Werner Glas and Hans Gebert, then at the Rudolf Steiner Institute in Southfield, Michigan, the idea was put forth to transcribe all of Rudolf Steiner's works into a database, and provide research tools for everyone with access to a computer! Both Werner and Hans cautioned me that this was a huge project, and that it would be fraught with problems, but the decision was made, and I was off and running.

For the last 37 years, volunteers galore and myself have added to the collection, written tools for easier researching, and given this resource to the world. We proudly celebrate 37 years of “Spreading the Words!”

[11-19-2017   http://www.rsarchive.org]

Waldorf Watch Response:

The announcement, above, is taken from the home page at the Rudolf Steiner Archive today; it marks the Archive's celebration of its founding. The founder and "e.Librarian" of the Archive is James Stewart. His base of operations is in Fremont, Michigan.

The Archive is a remarkable achievement. It presents thousands of Steiner texts, freely and openly available for anyone to examine. In doing so, it has pushed against the Anthroposophical impulse to withhold occult knowledge from the uninitiated. Thus the Archive — despite typos and an occasional expurgation — has provided a real public service.

The Archive went online in 1992. This, too, was a remarkable milestone. Many Anthroposophists are leery of computers and the Internet — they associate them with the arch-demon Ahriman. But, increasingly, Rudolf Steiner's present-day followers have had to come to terms with present-day modes of communication, and the Archive has, in its way, provided a model.

[To explore some of these issues, see, e.g., "Secrets", "Occultism", "Ahriman", and "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".] 

Each day of the year, the Archive highlights lectures Rudolf Steiner delivered on that date. In acknowledgement of the Archive's achievements, let's sample one of the lectures Steiner gave on November 19. Specifically, Steiner delivered this lecture on Nov. 19, 1922. Here are a few excerpts. By visiting the Archive, you can read the entire lecture.

(If you are unacquainted with Steiner's odd terminology and his tangled syntax, reading the following may prove difficult. To ease your way a bit, I have appended a few footnotes. — R.R.)

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982)
Lecture 6, GA 218


To-day I would like to bring our recent studies to a certain conclusion. To begin with, as I may remind you, you are already aware what awaits the human being immediately after death. His physical body being laid aside, he is in a condition in which he can never be, in the prevailing consciousness of our time, during earthly life. Within and about him he has his I, his astral body and his ether-body. [1] From birth till death, as you know, the ether-body remains united with the physical [body]. Even in sleep it is only with the I and astral body that the human being is outside the physical — and thus outside the etheric body too. [2] Now, however, then for a short while after death (only a matter of days, you will remember), man still inhabits his etheric body — his body of formative forces — and he is thereby enabled to look back on the whole course of his past earthly life, which is in fact always contained in the etheric body. As I have mentioned in the recent public lectures, this can happen in Initiation [3] too...[the initiate] beholds the entire vista of his earthly life. 

Yet it is not for long that we can retain the etheric body after death. Belonging as it does to the entire Cosmos, the ether-body is always wanting to expand...to dissolve into the whole Cosmos. [4]

...At first, when divested of our ether-body, we feel like strangers amid the world of stars. Only the Moon, only the Lunar forces seem as it were familiar to us there ... [W]e now begin to discover what kind of spiritual forces are connected with [the Moon]. We realise how with the Moon the Jahve-power of the Universe is connected [5] ... For the soul who has passed through the Gate of Death, the Moon is transformed, as it were, into a colony of spiritual Beings, and Jahve is their Leader. [6] ... [I]t is through the Moon — through the Jahve Powers — that we learn the significance of death.

...[We then rise past the Moon.] Advancing from the spiritual forces of the Moon to those of Venus, Mercury, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and at last Saturn [7] — living therefore between the spheres of Moon and Saturn, feeling within himself the Planetary Cosmos — throughout this time man is still undergoing the backward recapitulation of his recent Earth-life. [8] ... Saturn...seeks to bear him out into the Universe of Stars. [9] Yet we must understand this truly, for when man goes into the Universe of Stars between death and new birth, he is no longer seeing the physical reflection of the Stars; he is living now with the Beings, to whom the several Stars belong. [10]

...Getting beyond the Saturn sphere, we enter into what was named the Zodiac, in ancient world-conceptions. [11] Though it was meant to typify the fixed-star-heavens as a whole — the Spirit-land, in other words — in the sum-total of the stars which constitute the Zodiac we have a comprehensive picture of the path which Man must undergo, to build from the entire Cosmos, with the help of the Beings of the Hierarchies [12], the Spirit-seed of his physical body for the next incarnation.

◊ • ◊

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] Steiner taught that a fully incarnated human being has four bodies: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego body or "I". [See "Incarnation".]

[2] According to Steiner, when a human being sleeps, the astral and ego bodies ascend to the spirit realm while the physical and etheric bodies remain earthbound. Thus, at night, each person is really two people: astral and ego bodies above, physical and etheric bodies below.  "We are two people in the night." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 102. [See "Through His Eyes".]

[3] I.e., occult initiation — gaining access to hidden spiritual knowledge. [See, e.g., "Inside Scoop".] Steiner says, here, that initiated individuals can read the information stored in the etheric body.

[4] At the moment of death, we lose the physical body. Not long thereafter, we lose the etheric body. So Steiner said.

[5] Jahve is Jehovah, whom Steiner identified as a rather lowly god. Steiner taught that Jahve resides on the Moon, and thus Jews — who worship Jahve — practice the "Moon religion." [See "Genesis".] Christ, on the other hand, is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[6] The Moon we approach after death is not the physical Moon, according to Steiner: It is the spiritual Moon, the "colony of spiritual Beings." (Steiner taught that the Moon is a colony occupied by disincarnate spirits. “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.)

[7] After we die, according to Steiner, we proceed to the Moon sphere, and thereafter we rise through various other, higher planetary spheres: Venus, Mercury, the Sun, etc. (Accepting ancient teachings, Steiner identified both the Moon and the Sun as planets. A "sphere," generally, is the region of space enclosed by the orbit of a planet. Spheres of planets near to the Sun are thus enclosed within the spheres of planets farther from the Sun. [See "Higher Worlds".] This matter is complicated by Steiner's frequent claim that the planets do not really orbit the Sun. [See "Deception".])

[8] Following death, Steiner taught, the dead person reviews her/his recent earthly life, recapitulating it in reverse order. This frees the dead person from that life and helps prepare the next life, the person's next earthly incarnation. (Reincarnation is a central Anthroposophical tenet. [See "Reincarnation".])

[9] I.e., Saturn wants to send the dead human out beyond the planets into the realm of the stars.

Steiner identified Saturn as the outermost planet in the solar system. (He denied that Uranus and Neptune are real planets.) 

[10] The "Beings" are gods, who dwell on or near various celestial orbs. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]

[11] The region of the stars, to which Saturn sends us, is the Zodiac. It is not a physical region but a spiritual location ("Spirit-land"); it provides the spiritual map of the path we must take, gathering the influences of the entire cosmos to help create the physical body we will use during out next incarnation.

[12] The "Hierarchies" are the gods. (Specifically, Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. These are subdivided into three groupings he called "hierarchies." [Again, see "Polytheism".])

November 17


Due out in a few days from Rudolf Steiner Press:

Through Spiritual-Scientific Knowledge: 
Social Threefolding, Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman
(Rudolf Steiner Press, November, 2017)

In the uncertainty following World War I, Rudolf Steiner perceived a unique opportunity to establish a healthy social and political constitution. He began lecturing throughout post-war Germany ... [In these lectures] Steiner seeks to deepen the themes of social threefolding [1], showing specifically how new social thinking is integral to anthroposophy.

...[T]he healing of social relationships can come about only through a different mode of thought; the life of spirit must be separated not only from politics but also from economics. True social understanding allows for comprehension of karma — the appreciation of each person’s individual destiny [2] ....

In an important corollary, Steiner studies the incarnations of three significant spiritual beings in human evolution: Lucifer [3], Christ [4], and Ahriman [5]. Lucifer incarnated in the third pre-Christian millennium, Christ incarnated at the dawn of a new age, whilst an incarnation of Ahriman in the West is immanent [sic]. Ahriman is preparing this incarnation by insidiously promoting various ideas, for example that economic security is sufficient for healthy public life. New wisdom [6] must be achieved out of free human will [7], says Steiner, or else we will succumb to Ahriman.

◊ • ◊

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] "Threefolding" is Steiner's prescription that society be reorganized into three distinct spheres of activity: economics, politics, and culture. Education and religion would fall in the cultural sphere. [See "Threefolding".]

[2] Karma is a fundamental Anthroposophical doctrine, incorporated from Eastern religions. [See "Karma".]

[3] Steiner taught that Lucifer is one of the arch-demons who threaten to derail human evolution, although their temptations can be made beneficial through the intervention of Christ. [See "Lucifer".]

[4] In Anthroposophy, Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[5] Ahriman is another arch-demon, generally depicted in Anthroposophy as more terrible than Lucifer. [See "Ahriman".]

[6] The "new wisdom" offered by Steiner consists of his own teachings: Anthroposophy. (The Greek roots of this word mean "human wisdom".)

[7] Although Anthroposophy values human freedom, in practice it eliminates the possibility of true liberty. [See "Freedom".] 

According to Steiner, the will is a distinct human faculty that must be educated and disciplined. [See "Will".]

November 16


Coming up day after tomorrow, the eleventh in a series of twelve monthly workshops presented at Rudolf Steiner College [California, USA]:

Biodynamic Essential Oils: 
Alchemical Growing and Processing 
Herbs for Health

Presented By: Dennis Klocek
Nov. 18, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, $95

We will begin with dynamics and soil amendments to enhance medicinal herbs against the background of the monthly alchemical signatures of the zodiac. The unifying theme is the harmonic relationships between soil, plants, and the changing forces available to plants throughout the growing year ... Processes and formulas for making stress-reducing salves, sleep-promoting hydrosol combinations, digestive essences, and cosmetic creams will be part of our hands-on work....

Waldorf Watch Response:

If you become interested in Waldorf education, you should delve at least a little into the belief system upon which it stands. This system, Anthroposophy, involves multiple forms of falsehood and pseudoscience, several of which peek out from the announcement excerpted above. Among these are astrology, alchemy, biodynamic agriculture, and Anthroposophic medicine.

To begin the delving process, you might visit any or all of the following pages at Waldorf Watch:

Becoming involved with a Waldorf school means entering at least the outer precincts of an occult, mystical, backward community of true believers who generally have the best of intentions, but whose beliefs are almost uniformly untrue. [One more page you might visit: "If Only". It is extremely short.] 
— R.R.

November 15


Rudolf Steiner, 
(The eLib. Inc, 2017)

The folks at the Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib [sic] have released their first book: THE SOCIAL QUESTION, consisting of six lectures by Rudolf Steiner, translated by Hanna von Maltitz.

From the announcement posted by the publisher:

We are proudly announcing the publication of this very relevant series of lectures that Rudolf Steiner gave in Zurich back in February of 1919 ... This is our first venture into this field, with a first edition book! ... The Internet is about choice, and choice means the freedom to choose ... This publication absolutely falls in that category: the freedom to choose whether to just use the information we present on-line, or use that information and purchase one of our other offerings, like a hardcopy of the book, or a softcopy version, like a CD or something for your Kindle ... The e.Librarian heartily recommends this book!

From the description posted at Amazon:

Here Steiner proffers ideas to solve the social problems and necessities required by life, by studying the life sciences and social life, and the living conditions of the present-day humans. He expresses how the social will should be the basis of a new scientific order, and what the role of the modern worker should be.

[downloaded 11-15-2017]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Rudolf Steiner was an occult visionary who advocated revising all human institutions so that they would conform to his new religion, Anthroposophy (which he called a "science"). His notions for the reformation of social institutions are summarized in his concept of "threefolding": He argued that society should be organized so that the three key spheres of action — economics, politics, and culture — are separated from one another. The three spheres would reflect the threefold nature of man. [1]

Under Steiner's scheme, each of the three spheres would be established on an independent basis, and no authority in one sphere would be allowed to interfere in the workings of the other spheres. One benefit of Steiner's plan would be that no one outside the field of education (which Steiner assigned to the sphere of culture) would be able to interfere in education. Hence, Waldorf schools would be largely free to go their own way. 

"[T]he threefold social order strives for the complete disassociation of the educational system from government and industry. The place and function of educators within society should depend solely upon the authority of those engaged in this activity. The administration of the educational institutions, the organization of courses of instruction and their goals should be entirely in the hands of persons who themselves are simultaneously either teaching or otherwise productively engaged in cultural life. In each case, such persons would divide their time between actual teaching (or some other form of cultural productivity) and the administrative control of the educational system. It will be evident to anyone who can bring himself to an unbiased examination of cultural life that the peculiar vitality and energy of soul required for organizing and directing educational institutions will be called forth only in someone actively engaged in teaching or in some sort of cultural creativity." — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF THE SOCIAL ORGANISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), article 4, GA 24. [See "Threefolding".]

Anthroposophists hope, ultimately, to realize Steiner's vision, in all spheres. Today, Waldorf schools and Camphill communities [2] often attempt to enact the threefold paradigm when undertaking their institutional activities. 

It is worth noting that, according to Steiner's directives, neither the cultural/educational sphere not the economic sphere should be run democratically. Democracy, which Steiner viewed askance, would be confined to the political sphere. [3] Although Steiner and his followers have long affirmed a theoretical form of human spiritual freedom, the Anthroposophic movement actually tends to abolish freedom — liberty, the right to make choices for oneself. Steiner taught that there are fundamentally just two paths through life, the right path and the wrong path, the "white path" and the "black path." [4] But no sane person would choose the black path. Making that choice could cost you your soul — it could, indeed, amount to spiritual suicide. [5] 

Joining any institution, including a Waldorf school, associated with Anthroposophy means contributing, if only indirectly, to the revolutionary goals of Anthroposophy. 

— R.R.

◊ • ◊

[1] Steiner taught that a human being consists of a physical body, a soul (one's spiritual identiity during a single incarnation), and a spirit (one's higher spiritual identity, carried through all incarnations). [See the entry for "threefold nature of man" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[2] These are Anthroposophical residential communities. [For an overview of Camphhill communities, see "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".]

[3] For Steiner's views on democracy, see "Democracy".

[4] These are Steiner's terms. [See, e.g., "White-Black".]

[5] Anthroposophy does not affirm the possibility of freely selecting from among a wide array of potentially beneficial options. Your "freedom" boils down to choosing either the white path or the black path. You may "freely" choose the black path — which means rejecting Steiner's teachings — but this will damage you, and it may lead (over the course of many reincarnations) to your ultimate spiritual demise. [See "Freedom".]

November 14


From Meridian Press [Idaho, USA]:

Proposed Waldorf school earns 
state charter with conditions

The group is seeking a state charter to potentially open two public K-8 charter schools in Boise and Eagle

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission has approved the proposed Peace Valley Charter School with conditions. School leadership will go back before the commission on Dec. 14 to review the conditions. 

Peace Valley would be a free, public charter school based on the Waldorf model. The school plans to open for grades K-6 in August in either Boise or Eagle, and then eventually expand to K-8, said Laura Henning, board president of Peace Valley Charter School, Inc.

Peace Valley would be the first Waldorf school in the Treasure Valley, she said. The philosophy, which originated a century ago in Germany and Austria, focuses on the individual development of students and incorporates art and nature into learning, she said. The use of computers and digital devices is limited....

Waldorf Watch Response:

"Charter schools," in the USA, are essentially private schools that are incorporated into the public school system. Operating under "charters" that lay out their educational programs, they receive public financing for the purpose of offering alternative educational approaches. Similar alternative schools in the UK are called "free school" there. Numerous Waldorf charter schools and free schools are now planned or are already up and running.

In order to gain approval from educational authorities, the groups proposing Waldorf charter schools often describe their intentions in the most anodyne terms, not unlike those reported in the item above. Usually, the real nature of Waldorf education is concealed, to one degree or another. The reality is that Waldorf schools are fronts for Anthroposophy, a new-age religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?" and "Schools as Churches."] 

Of course, a Waldorf-style school may be proposed by people who are not committed Anthroposophists; the school they have in mind may not be meant to conform to the occult, mystical nature of real Waldorf schooling. [See. e.g., "Non-Waldorf Waldorf".] The challenge for educational authorities is to penetrate to the actual intentions of the applicants, which may mean drilling down to the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy, a daunting task. Understandably, authorities may often approve a Waldorf application without having delved that deeply. The consequences for kids who wind up attending Waldorf charter schools may be profound — in some cases, profoundly damaging, if eventually the schools engage in Anthroposophical indoctrination. [See "Indoctrination".]

The article about Peace Valley Charter School does not clarify the real nature of the proposed school, nor does it specify the "conditions" included in the commission's approval. These are matters of potentially great importance to the people in the communities of "Boise or Eagle," but they need not detain us. (A bit more detail — but still anodyne and potentially misleading  — is presented at the proposed schools website: http://www.peacevalleycharter.org.) The larger issue is recognizing the challenges that are raised when Waldorf charter schools are proposed.

Groups proposing Waldorf charter schools are able to draw on arguments and claims that Waldorf proponents have been sharpening for many years. Thus, for instance, the following statement is made on the Peace Valley website:

A large body of evidence from the last 20 years of neuroscientific inquiry supports the fundamental principles of Waldorf education. The timing and organization of brain development are prime considerations in establishing the optimal sequence for learning, as is the knowledge that the brain operates optimally when all parts are equally developed, valued, and engaged. The Waldorf methods’ holistic approach is designed to stimulate optimal brain functioning and follow a developmentally appropriate sequence to educate the child’s whole being integrating thinking, feeling, and doing. The foundation of Waldorf inspired education lies in providing the right experience at the right time.

To assess this, education authorities would need to receive extensive "neuroscientific" documentation, and then they would need to evaluate it carefully. Is the Waldorf view of the brain scientifically valid? What is Waldorf's "holistic" approach? What is the "right time" to provide specific "experiences" for growing children? These are deep, complex, and controversial issues. School boards and charter commissions may have a hard time coping with them. Indeed, rational decision-making may be overwhelmed in a blizzard of pseudoscientific jargon: "neuroscientific inquiry supports the fundamental principles...", "establishing the optimal sequence for learning...", "the brain operates optimally when all parts..", "stimulate optimal brain functioning...", "follow a developmentally appropriate sequence...", etc.

To look into Waldorf beliefs on some of these matters, see, e.g., "Holistic Education" and "Thinking". Concerning the "right time" for children to study certain subjects in certain ways, see, e.g., "Methods". Concerning the Waldorf understanding of the brain, see, e.g., "Steiner's Specific - Thinking Without Our Brains." Also see entries in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia for "brain", "intellect", "knowledge", "childhood", "seven-year stages of growth", "Waldorf curriculum", etc.

Anyone considering Waldorf education should certainly look into the pronouncements made by the founder of Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner. One quick example:

“You will injure children if you educate them rationally....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education Vol. I (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 61.

[See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".] 
— R.R.

November 13


Waldorf education sometimes pops up in major newspapers, such as THE NEW YORK TIMES, tangentially. 

The references to Waldorf may be tangential, but because the newspapers are major, we should take note.

Here are excerpts from a story, available on the Web today, about a school that takes at least some of its inspiration from Waldorf.

The School Prepping for Apocalypse


…[T]he element that truly distinguishes Green School is its very premise … [I]t was intended to do nothing less than create a future generation of “green leaders” [1]… Its popularity offers the provocative suggestion that the next generation of leaders requires not necessarily math or literature or history — though Green School teaches those too — but a wider set of tools, ranging from adaptability to teamwork to the sort of problem-solving that flourishes under conditions of constraint, which will prove useful in a world whose resources will only continue to diminish….

It is not hard to see in [Green School founders] John and Cynthia Hardy something of the spirit of Rudolf Steiner — the polymathic, charismatic Austrian whose principles informed the school he created in 1919 for the children of the workers in a German cigarette factory called Waldorf-Astoria. (The name lives on in more than 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide.) While the Hardys abandoned an early idea to actually start a Steiner school — too much dogma, John told me [2] — the influence remains. Not simply in the Green School’s emphasis on “holistic” (i.e., not strictly academic) development [3] and “experiential” learning, but in highlighting the aesthetics of the classroom. [4] (Steiner once called the schoolroom a “veritably barbaric environment.”)….

That the school’s model is still in flux may be in the very nature of progressive education [5], which, going back to Steiner and other pioneers, has defined itself against not only reigning pedagogy, but, to a certain extent, against current society. (For example, Steiner wanted his schools to be free from rigid class boundaries. [6]) But it is not always clear what that means; as Druhan [7] told me, she prefers the word “progressive” to “alternative,” because “you can go in all kinds of directions.” With technology, for example, Medema [8] said, “a lot of parents will come here thinking, I don’t want my kid near any wires — I thought Green School was zero tech.” [9] Another group, she continued, wants facilities that are top-notch, “but in the jungle”….

Green School parents [include] “digital nomads,” early retirees, midcareer rebooters and Steiner evangelists [10], [who] spoke of being on a shared mission….

◊ • ◊

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] Waldorf schools generally embrace green values, although the underlying reasons are occult rather than ecological. [See, e.g., "Neutered Nature".]

[2] The extensive dogma woven through Waldorf education consists of the doctrines of Anthroposophy, an occult religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] Waldorf education aims to be "holistic" — educating "head, heart, and hands" — although the underlying concepts are occult rather than pedagogical. [See "Holistic Education".]

[4] Waldorf schools often place great emphasis on the arts; they strive for beauty. Rudolf Steiner taught that the ultimate purpose of art and beauty is to transport us, literally, into the spirit realm. [See "Magical Arts" and "Mystical Colors".]

[5] Waldorf schools certainly offer alternative education, but they are not truly progressive. [See, e.g., "Waldorf Now".]

[6] Despite this, Waldorf schools usually have distinct, traditional grades; and classes typically meet in separated, more-or-less conventional classrooms. [See "Waldorf Curriculum" and "Methods".]

[7] I.e., Kate Druhan, chairperson of Green School's board of management. 

[8] I.e., Green School head Leslie Medema.

[9] Waldorf schools usually are wary of, if not absolutely opposed to, modern technology. [See, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[10] Evangelism (striving to convert the unsaved) is a fundamental feature of Anthroposophy. The evangelical impulse is embodied in various Anthroposophical enterprises, including Waldorf schools. [See "Here's the Answer" and "Schools as Churches."]

November 12


From The Eagle’s Eye [Nevada, USA]:

Our Food Choices 

and Why They Matter

[by] Kyly Clark, Managing Editor

…My interest in food is closely tied to my childhood. Being raised in the Waldorf education community, I was immersed in nature. At a young age I tended to my own garden bed and learned how to compost … The roots of the global modern organic movement come from Rudolph [sic] Steiner, an Austrian philosopher [sic] and founder of the Waldorf School, who developed the first idea of biodynamic agriculture in the 1920s. A practice similar to organic, biodynamic farming means cultivating soil and crops without poisons, but with esoteric concepts like planting and harvesting based on the moon phases and planetary cycles, the spiritual processes of plant growth, and an understanding of the intimacy involved in caretaking for the land.…

Waldorf Watch Response:

Students at Waldorf schools are, indeed, encouraged to become  "immersed in nature." The Waldorf worldview tends to deplore modernity with its newfangled contrivances, the products of modern technology. Instead, Waldorf schools tend to embrace green values. The children are sent outdoors a lot to play, to explore, and to work. The schools often have organic gardens where the students help produce the food served in the school cafeterias. Often, such work is a requirement; all the students are obliged to participate:

"[G]arden work should be an obligatory addition to the lessons." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Rudolf Krause in GARDENING CLASSES AT THE WALDORF SCHOOLS (Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 1992), p. 2.

The charming picture of children playing outdoors and raising their own food is complicated, somewhat, by Steiner's equivocal teachings about the natural, physical world. It is a place of maya or illusion, he said, and it is the domain of mischievous "nature spirits" such as gnomes. Gnomes — also known as goblins — have no moral scruples, and they are not quite friendly to mankind:

“There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man.... ” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 62. [See "Neutered Nature".]

Another complication is suggested, perhaps unintentionally, by Clark in her article. The Waldorf approach to nature is, unfortunately, married to various forms of superstition, including astrology ("moon phases and planetary cycles"). If phrases like "the spiritual processes of plant growth" have any real meaning, the Waldorf approach warps this meaning by dabbling in pseudoscience and esoteric mythology. [See "Biodynamics".]

Surely we should all cherish and protect nature. We should all be nature's caretakers. Indeed, IMO, we should strive to undo the damage we have inflicted on nature — and on the entire Earth — in recent decades. But we won't succeed if we view nature through a fog of falsehood and fallacy.

A couple of additional points are worth making.

1. An important point.

Steiner's followers often mischaracterize him. They burnish his image by calling him a "philosopher" or a "scientist." He was neither. He was — by his own admission — an occultist, and he openly associated himself with other occultists. Consider statements such as these:

"In occultism...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. 79.

"[T]he Buddha appeared to Jesus of Nazareth ... It is one of my occult obligations to tell you this...” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 56.

"[T]he occultist knows that [various] spirits are distributed over the whole earth, and are actually the bearers of the forces which rotate the earth on its axis.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 2.

"In occultism, we."  "One of my occult obligations."  "The occultist knows."

Steiner was an occultist. And the products of his thinking — including Waldorf education — spring from his occultism. [See "Occultism".]

2. A personal point.

I am all for organic agriculture. My wife and I raise and consume organic foods. But we do this without resorting to astrology, magic, or mojo. I commend this saner approach for your consideration.  
— R.R.

November 10


Today and tomorrow at the Rudolf Steiner Center, Toronto, Canada:

Parents and Teachers Working Together 

in the Age of the Consciousness Soul

Waldorf Development Conference

Keynote Speaker: Carol Triggiano

Friday and Saturday, November 10-11, 2017


We live in a time when communication has become increasingly important, but also challenging. Pressure, tension and fear can erode our working together.

This modern age of the Consciousness Soul we live in requires us to lift into the full light of consciousness what was previously felt and judged instinctively…

…Against the backdrop of anthroposophy we will see how self-development can create a foundation for parent/teacher [sic] that supports the developing child.

For the past 25 years Carol Triggiano…has been a teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School, both in early childhood and in the grades [sic].

Waldorf Watch Response:

Rudolf Steiner said that all Waldorf teachers should be “true Anthroposophists.” [1] But this goal is not always attained; Waldorf schools sometimes hire, at least temporarily, teachers who are not devoted to Anthroposophy. 

Moreover, true-believing Anthroposophists on Waldorf faculties often conceal their beliefs from outsiders, such as students’ parents. [2] So the Anthroposophical nature of Waldorf education is sometimes difficult to detect.

But, then again, the Anthroposophical beliefs of Waldorf teachers like Carol Triggiano sometimes emerge into plain view. If you become interested in Waldorf education, you really should make an effort to plumb these beliefs. The process can be mind-numbing, but it can also be clarifying. This is what true-belieiving Waldorf teachers truly believe; this is what a Waldorf teacher like Carol Triggiano sees as a good basis for "parents and teachers working together."

So here’s a brief primer on the consciousness soul and the age of the consciousness soul. 

Rudolf Steiner sometimes said that human beings have nine major constituent parts. On other occasions, he said we have seven parts. (And on still other occasions he spoke of four major parts or three major parts.) [3]

According to Steiner’s ninefold description of human nature, the consciousness soul — also called the spiritual soul — is the third of three soul members or soul types; it connects one's inner consciousness with the outer world. [4] When Steiner gave a sevenfold description of human nature, he identified the consciousness soul as the fifth of our major constituent parts. Seen either way, the consciousness soul incarnates at about age 42, Steiner said. This soul is under the particular influence of the Spirits of Wisdom (gods six levels higher than humanity). which means it has ties to the sphere of Jupiter. [5]

As the highest of our soul members, the consciousness soul allows greater objective comprehension than the lower soul members permit. The consciousness soul has developed as the predominant soul form only in our present cultural epoch, dating from about 1413 CE. To many, our age seems soulless; Anthroposophists believe this is because we have reached a point of deep, objective existence in the material realm, preparing us to rise in renewed, strengthened form into the spirit realm. We have separated ourselves from the world around us so that we may reintegrate ourselves later. 

"Man in the age of the consciousness soul...thinks and philosophizes, but he does so in a different manner [than previously] ... [T]he consciousness soul is characterized especially by objectivity, which results from the ability of the self to withdraw completely from the subject he is studying ... In this modern age our self-consciousness has increased immeasurably as well as our consciousness of the external world, [which is why we] use of the term 'consciousness soul' to describe our present epoch." — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 57-59.

Unfortunately, like other soul members, the consciousness soul can be perverted. 

”[I]n the age now approaching [6], those spiritual Beings known as the Asuras [7] will creep into the consciousness soul ... The Asuras will generate evil with a far mightier force than was wielded by the Satanic powers [8] in the Atlantean epoch [9] or by the Luciferic Spirits [10] in the Lemurian epoch. [11]” — Rudolf Steiner, THE DEED OF CHRIST AND THE OPPOSING SPIRITUAL POWERS (Steiner Book Centre, 1954), lecture 1, GA 107.

It is on the basis of such beliefs that Waldorf teachers like Carol Triggiano want parents and teachers to work together. Are you willing to comply? 
— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] See, e.g., “Here’s the Answer”.

[2] See "Secrets".

[3]  See "What We're Made Of", "Our Parts".

[4] Below the consciousness soul is the intellectual soul, and below that is the sentient soul. [See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

[5] See Polytheism”.

[6] This will be a new age beginning around the year 3573 CE. [See the entry for "Russian Age" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[7] These are demons. [See "Evil Ones".]

[8] I.e., powers or minions of the arch-demon Ahriman. Ahriman is the rival/partner of the arch-demon Lucifer. [See "Ahriman".]

[9] ] I.e., the epoch when we lived on the continent of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]

[10] I.e., minions of Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

[11] I.e., the epoch when we lived on the continent of Lemuria. We lived there before moving to Atlantis. [See "Lemuria".]

November 9


Currently featured by SteinerBooks, a book to be released next month:

Massimo Scaligero,
The Myth of Science and the Path of Thinking
(Lindisfarne Books, 2017)

From the publisher:

The Logic against Humanity is considered by many to be Massimo Scaligero’s most important work. It examines the difficulties faced by modern-day philosophers and scientists who employ “discursive” thinking to explain the mystery of human existence. “Discursive” thinking, which accounts for the inherent limitations of rationalism and scientific presumptions, is viewed by Scaligero as a form of mental disorder, widely prevalent in today’s culture. Indeed, he shows how members of the scientific community and academia — unaware of the effect of thinking’s adherence to bodily forces — are often themselves inadvertent diffusers of the mental disorder that they seek to analyze in their research. 

In the first half of the book, “The Myth of Science,” Scaligero discusses numerous topics, including ways that the works of Freud and Jung led to the elimination of the “sacred” through the “sacralization” of the unconscious.

In the second half of the book, “The Path of Thinking,” the author contends that, to remedy problems of modern thinking, we must cultivate the perception of the “being” of thinking — a perception that has eluded many thinkers, from Hegel to Krishnamurti, who were unable to liberate their thinking effectively from “discursiveness.” 

Waldorf Watch Response:

Rudolf Steiner claimed to be a scientist, of sorts — he presented himself as an objective, clairvoyant investigator studying the spirit realm. And Steiner’s followers today refer to Anthroposophy as “spiritual science.” But, in fact, Steiner was often harshly critical of real science — natural or physical science. The gap between Steiner’s teachings and the findings of science was wide, and it has only grown wider in the years since Steiner’s death.

Steiner opposed “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’” and “Science”.]

The alternative to coldly logical scientific thinking, Anthroposophists believe, is disciplined, warm-hearted clairvoyance. Unfortunately for them, however, there is no evidence that clairvoyance actually exists. It is a phantasm, a dream. [See “Clairvoyance”.]

The weakest part of the Waldorf curriculum, often, can be found in its science courses. The sort of “thinking” promoted in Waldorf science classes in indicated by Waldorf teacher David S. Mitchell in his book THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY:

"When a foundation of observation and disciplined thinking is established, the high school science teacher now introduces a new type of thinking ... [T]his 'new' thinking is called phenomenological thinking ... [F]irst a phenomenon is carefully observed; second, the rigors and laws of thinking and science are applied ... third, everything up to now is laid to rest, the mind is cleared, and the phenomenon itself is allowed to speak. The student observes what comes forward while keeping the mind from straying ... This activity opens on up to new possibilities ... This type of thinking is freed from the senses and allows the universe to speak through the individual. It is a type of thinking which is truly moral and can be the fertile ground for the 'new' science of the twenty-first century." — David S. Mitchell, THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2004), pp. 12-13.

The "new" thinking is a form of meditation ("the mind is cleared...keeping the mind from straying"). It is the sort of thinking Steiner advocated for producing clairvoyant powers. And as such, it is, ultimately, empty and unproductive. [See “Test Case: Waldorf Chemistry” in Steiner’s ‘Science’]

Waldorf education is, at its roots, anti-scientific and anti-intellectual. Ultimately, such schooling can be affirmed only by individuals who believe in clairvoyance, astrology, numerology, and other occult fallacies promoted by Steiner. [See, e.g., Clairvoyance, “Exactly”, “Astrology”, and “Magic Numbers”.]

The decision by SteinerBooks to promote, in 2017, a book by Massimo Scaligero raises another issue. Scaligero was both an Anthroposophist and a fascist. As some historians have pointed out, there have been troubling intersections between Anthroposophy and the Fascist/Nazi movement. [See “Sympathizers?”]

“Massimo Scaligero [was] the foremost Italian anthroposophist of the last century … Scaligero was [also] one of the leading figures in the extreme wing of the Italian neo-fascist movement, much more radical than the main neo-fascist currents of the post-war years.” — Historian Peter Staudenmaier, message at the Waldorf Critics discussion site [https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/waldorf-critics/conversations/messages/31280].

Scaligero’s fascistic views do not disqualify him from thoughtful consideration today; perhaps, despite his political opinions, he wrote wisely and well on various topics of interest to Anthroposophists. But anyone who becomes interested in Anthroposophy should grapple with the knowledge that some Anthroposophical teachings — especially about race — are congruous with fascist beliefs. Unfortunately, it seems that Anthroposophists themselves have yet to confront these matters squarely. They rarely acknowledge that some of their leaders, ranging from Scaligero to Steiner himself, have been racists. Hence, they have rarely identified — and, as the next step, explicitly repudiated — the racist teachings of these leaders. [See, e.g., the section “Racism and the Relationship of Anthroposophy to Nazi Philosophy” at the website of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools: http://www.waldorfcritics.org/articles.html#Racism. Also see "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".] 

— R.R.

November 8


From Pasadena Now [California, USA]:

Enjoy a Magical Family Day 

at the 32nd Annual Elves’ Faire 

on November 18


What started as a small crafting fair...32 years ago has now grown into the Elves’ Faire.…

Parents, teachers, students, and staff at Pasadena Waldorf School have been preparing for months to host this popular community event … The Faire features music, feasting, crafting, holiday shopping, medieval-style contests and games for children of all ages.

The Elves’ Faire will take place this year on Saturday, November 18, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on the wooded setting of the Pasadena Waldorf School campus … Admission is free....

In addition to magical family activities, the Elves’ Faire is widely known for unique holiday shopping. The Doll Room is an enchanted showcase of one-of-a-kind handmade dolls lovingly created by members of the Pasadena Waldorf community. The Angel Room is a magical experience for children only, where “Angels,” played by PWS students, accompany the children as they select beautiful handmade gifts for their family members and friends. The Wishing Well offers durable and sustainable natural toys, books, and health & beauty items.…

Waldorf Watch Response:

It is easy to find too much meaning in Waldorf festivals, just as it is possible to find too little. In fact, these events — even at their most innocent — are important in the Waldorf scheme of things.

Our commentary about the Harvest Faire at Maple Village Waldorf School (see the item dated November 7, below) applies to the Elves' Faire at the Pasadena Waldorf School. These events are typical of festivals hosted at Waldorf schools worldwide. As autumnal celebrations, they are — in the northern hemisphere — harvest celebrations tied to, or growing out of, Michaelmas. [1] More specifically, Waldorf festivals in November may be muted St. Martin's observances: celebrations of Martinmas, with Michaelmas hovering somewhere nearby. [2] Autumn festivals may also serve as lead-ins for Advent and Christmas. Often, a Medieval theme prevails, reflecting the Anthroposophical aversion to modernity, especially modern technology. [3]

The festival at the Pasadena Waldorf School is associated with "elves" (along with angels, and pixies, and King Arthur, and so on). In Waldorf parlance, "elves" is another term for fairies, or nature spirits, or elemental beings — the invisible creatures that Anthroposophists believe are quite real. We met these entities, briefly, when considering the festival at the Maple Village Waldorf School. Here is Steiner affirming the existence of such beings:

"[O]ur brain connects us with certain elemental beings ... [An aura] hovers in the immediate vicinity of our head. [4] The I [the spiritual ego] lives in it, and alongside the I are found the elemental beings [5] ... They are called elves, fairies, and so on. " — Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 5, GA 170. [6]

To understand a bit more fully what festivals mean in Waldorf schools, we might consider the following statements:

• "A rich festival culture is one of the central features of Waldorf school life ... [A]nnual festivals [at the schools] are often oriented to traditional Christian festivals ... Rudolf Steiner presents the annual festivals in a seasonally and globally encompassing context. He describes processes, which are taking place in nature during the four seasons...and during their corresponding Christian annual festivals[:] Easter, St. John's, Michaelmas and Christmas." — Vera Hoffman, "Creation of new Waldorf festivals based on local conditions" (Waldorf Resources, Nov. 2016).

• "[E]ach festival is embedded in a cycle of festivals which...express the inner mood of the spiritual calendar ... [F]estivals are also linked to the intuitive realm of the future. [7] In an age in which traditional forms of ritual and community are fading, the Steiner Waldorf Schools strive to cultivate a new, free consciousness of time, human development and community.” [8] — Christopher Clouder and Martyn Rawson, WALDORF EDUCATION - Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas in Practice (Floris Books, 1998), pp. 10-16.

• "Michael [is] the archangel who from 1879 acts as the spirit of the age, until the year 2300 ... St. Michael and anthroposophy are connected in a special way ... Michael inspires all human beings who wish to connect the human spirit with the spirit in the cosmos. Anthroposophy is also called the School of Michael. Rudolf Steiner sought to establish a new festival of Michaelmas...to celebrate human qualities of courage and fortitude. Michael, with his 'sword of iron'...stands sentinel over the human potential for freedom." [9] — Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 78.

• "The first important [festival] of the year was Michaelmas, followed by the 'Lantern Festival' (St. Martin's Day), then the 'school fair' was usually held at the beginning of the 'Spiral of Advent' festival, then there were the four weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas, followed by Easter, St. John's festival, and so forth. When the 'Advent season' began, we spent about three-quarters of an hour each morning (during 'main lesson,' the two-hour-long period from 9 to 11) singing hymns about Mary and the coming to Earth of the Jesus child. I still know these hymns by heart. It was the same with songs about the Archangel Michael before the 'feast of St. Michael' ... In addition, at the beginning of each of the four weeks of Advent, on Monday morning, the whole school would gather in a common area to attend the lighting of four candles placed on a large crown of pine branches that adorned the lobby of the main building. A mantra by Rudolf Steiner was then read." — Former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra, remembering his years as a Waldorf student, "My Life Among the Anthroposophists" [https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/my-life-among-them].

As these statements suggest, preparing for — and then staging — festivals consumes a large part of the school year in typical Waldorf schools. This point is underlined, for instance, by Waldorf teacher Kevin Avison's HANDBOOK FOR WALDORF CLASS TEACHERS, in which Avison indicates that reviewing plans for festivals should be a part of the "standard agenda" for Waldorf faculty meetings. [10]

By the way, one purpose of Waldorf festivals that we did not mention previously is apparent in the Pasadena Now report. It is fund raising. Sales such as those attached to the Pasadena Elves' Faire can be quite profitable for the sponsoring Waldorf schools. 

— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] Some points we made concerning the festival at Maple Village Waldorf School bear repeating here. 

How closely a Waldorf autumnal festival is associated with Michael varies. Sometimes a Waldorf school will mark Michaelmas on September 29 and then host a festival, open to the public, on a different day. Sometimes a school will associate a public, autumnal festival with a different religious holiday (Christian or otherwise), or the school may seek to make the public event seem wholly secular. Sometimes Steiner's teachings about the seasons of the year (the breathing process of the living Earth) will be emphasized more than any overtly spiritual teachings. Still, almost always, the sword-wielding figure of Michael can be discerned — quite clearly or only vaguely — in the pageantry of most Waldorf festivals held during the autumn. In Anthroposophy, Michael is a god whose significance for humanity today is second only to that of Christ, the Sun God. These two gods dominate the yearly cycle as it is understood at any Waldorf school that retains its ties to Anthroposophy — that is, at any real Waldorf school.

Sometimes Waldorf school acknowledge, more or less openly, that their primary autumn festivals are versions of Michaelmas observances. E.g., "Monadnock Waldorf School [in New Hampshire, USA] observes the cycle of the year through both traditional and lesser known [sic] festivals, most importantly Michaelmas in the autumn and Advent in the winter." [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] Martinmas is November 11. Martin is a relatively minor spiritual figure, usually overshadowed in Waldorf schools by Michael. Indeed, from an Anthroposophical perspective, Martin may be seen as serving Michael. Both, in turn, serve the Sun God. [See the entry for "St. Martin's" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia; also see "Sun God".] Some Waldorf schools hold separate celebrations of Michaelmas and then Martinmas; some combine these holidays in more or less overtly religious celebrations; some bury them in seemingly secular autumn or harvest celebrations. 

[3] See, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".

[4] See "Auras".

[5] The "I" or "ego" is the third of three invisible bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of life, Anthroposophists believe. [See "Incarnation" and "Ego".]

[6] See “Beings”.

These entities are different from the "angels" mentioned. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. In Anthroposophical belief, there are nine ranks of gods, the lowest rank consisting of "Angels" or "Sons of Twilight" or "Lunar Pitris", among other designations. [See "Polytheism".]

To consider the importance Anthroposophists attach to King Arthur, see "Pagan".

As for those pixies...

[7] Steiner claimed to have clairvoyant knowledge of the future. His followers believe that in the future, all true humans will develop clairvoyant powers similar to Steiner's. True "intuition" is one form of clairvoyance, they believe. [See entries for "clairvoyance", "imagination", "inspiration", and "intuition" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. ]

[8] These developments are promoted through the staging of festivals, among other endeavors.

Just as Anthroposophists seek to remake education through the Waldorf movement, they ultimately aim to remake all human institutions to conform to their belief system. [See, e.g., "Threefolding".]

[9] See, e.g., "Michael" and "Freedom".

[10] See p. 46 of the HANDBOOK, published by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, 2011.

November 7


• Interactive Maple Kingdom Village
• Pixie Games  • Knight Challenge Games
• Tea with the Queen  • Raffle  • Fairy & Gnome Village
• Bake Shoppe  • Delicious Harvest Food  • Crafts  
• Face Painting  • Hair Braiding  • Music & Entertainment"

Waldorf schools host numerous festivals and fairs during the year. Here is a typical annoucement of such an event. 

From The Grunion [Long Beach, California]: 

Maple Village School To Host Harvest Faire 

The Maple Village Waldorf School will have a Maple Village Harvest Faire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Girl Scouts Ranchito Campsite, 4040 N. Bellflower Blvd. 

Admission is free. Activities include an interactive Maple Kingdom Village, Fairy Village, crafts, games, wall climbing, tea, bakery items, food, pies, face painting, hair braiding, raffle, music and more. 

Waldorf Watch Response:

Such events — colorful and entertaining — serve many purposes for the sponsoring Waldorf schools. Students have fun, their parents are pleased, and new families may be attracted into the Waldorf fold. (Note that the Harvest Faire at Maple Village Waldorf School is open to the public, and admission is free.)

But as is true for most events at Waldorf schools, festivals and fairs also serve deeper purposes. Generally, these Waldorf events are in fact disguised religious celebrations. The festivals scheduled for the fall months are often disguised Michaelmas observances; those in winter are often Advent and/or Christmas celebrations; and those in the spring are generally toned-down Easter rituals. [1]

Here is how the autumn Waldorf festival is described in a guide to Waldorf education:

"[T]he autumn festival [is] traditionally known as Michaelmas [2] ... This festival is named for the Archangel Michael, conqueror of the powers of darkness, the harvester of the deeds of human souls. It is at this time that the image of Michael with the dragon appears before us as a mighty imagination [3], challenging us to develop strong, brave, free wills, to overcome love of ease, anxiety and fear. This demands inner activity, a renewal of the soul which is brought to consciousness in the Michaelmas festival, the festival of the will. [4]” — Karen Rivers, “Michaelmas”, in WALDORF EDUCATION: A Family Guide (Michaelmas Press, 1995), p. 145.

Of course, sometimes the organizers of a Waldorf festival are unacquainted with the deeper meaning of that event; not all Waldorf teachers are devout Anthroposophists. But, usually, the spiritual traditions associated with the various Waldorf festivals can be discerned on at least some levels.

When the religious impetus of Waldorf festivals is clear, Christian families may be pleased (the festivals certainly seem to be Christian), while other families may be put off, at least slightly. But the issue actually is more complex than this. The religion behind the Waldorf movement is not really Christianity — it is a polytheistic, pagan faith: It is Anthroposophy. [5] 

Deciding what to make of all this can be a challenge. One danger is the temptation to think that nothing particularly meaningful is going on at a Waldorf festival. Maybe it is all fun and games; maybe it is no more occult or esoteric than a Disney fantasy.

But making such assumptions would be a mistake. Consider fairies, for instance. There will be a "Fairy Village" at the Harvest Faire. [6] The village will probably be cute, and visiting it will probably be fun. So where's the harm? Maybe there is none. But you should know that, amazing as this may seem, Anthroposophists believe that fairies really exist. According to Anthroposophical teachings, fairies are "nature spirits" or "elemental beings" — invisible entities such as gnomes, sylphs, and undines. [7]

Being attracted into the Waldorf fold means being attracted into a culture dominated — gently, quietly — by a pagan, polytheistic faith: Anthroposophy. You may want to think this over carefully before yielding to the attraction. You may especially decide that your young children should be protected from the esoteric, occult beliefs that are often subtly conveyed to Waldorf students by true-believing Anthroposophists serving as Waldorf teachers. [8] 
— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] See, e.g., the entries for "fall festival", "festivals", and "spring festival" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see the discussion of festivals in "Magical Arts".

The schedule outlined is for Waldorf schools in the northern hemisphere; the seasons are different in the southern hemisphere (December, for instance, falls in the middle of summer).

[2] Michaelmas — the feast of St. Michael — is September 29. In Waldorf schools, the festival may be enacted at any time from September through November.

In Anthroposophy, Michael is the Archangel of the Sun, a warrior god serving Christ, the Sun God. [See "Michael" and "Sun God".] Waldorf autumn festivals often include combative events, such as playful sword fights, in honor of Michael's militancy. (Note the picture of swordplay on the Maple Village Waldorf poster.)

How closely a Waldorf autumnal festival is associated with Michael varies. Sometimes a Waldorf school will mark Michaelmas on September 29 and then host a festival, open to the public, on a different day. Sometimes a school will associate a public, autumnal festival with a different religious holiday (Christian or otherwise), or the school may seek to make the public event seem wholly secular. Sometimes Steiner's teachings about the seasons of the year (the breathing process of the living Earth) will be emphasized more than any overtly spiritual teachings. Still, almost always, the sword-wielding figure of Michael can be discerned — quite clearly or only vaguely — in the pageantry of most Waldorf festivals held during the autumn. In Anthroposophy, Michael is a god whose significance for humanity today is second only to that of Christ, the Sun God. These two gods dominate the yearly cycle as it is understood at any Waldorf school that retains its ties to Anthroposophy — that is, at any real Waldorf school. 

The Maple Village Waldorf School will hold its festival on November 11, which is Martinmas. Martin is a far less monumental figure, in Anthroposophical teachings, than Michael. Some Waldorf schools hold distinct Martinmas celebrations, others tuck such celebrations into generalized autumn celebrations. When attention is specifically focused on Martin, a nighttime lantern walk rather than a daytime festival is usually enacted. [See, e.g., "Soul School".] Martin may be seen as secondary to Michael, and Martinmas may likewise be secondary to Michaelmas. Sometimes the two masses are celebrated together, in muted form, within a seemingly nonreligious autumn celebration.

[3] I.e., a true mental picture. Usually, in Anthroposophical belief, such pictures result from accurate use of clairvoyance.

In legend, St. Michael killed a dragon. Anthroposophists associate this dragon with the arch-demon Ahriman, whom Michael has fought and defeated but not killed. [See "Ahriman".]

[4] Steiner placed great emphasis on will or will power. [See "Will".] The will power exemplified by Michael is the determination to fight against demonic powers and thus to promote the beneficent gods' vision for humanity. [See the entry for "divine cosmic plan" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

Anthroposophists consider Waldorf schools to be a foremost instrument for aiding Michael in his tasks.

[5] See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?" and "Was He Christian?"

As the Waldorf movement works to spread beyond Europe and North American to other parts of the world, efforts are increasingly made to modify the annual festivals so that, at least superficially, they seem consistent with local, non-Christian cultures. The heterodox nature of Anthroposophy assists this effort. Anthroposophy, like the Theosophy from which it grew, is essentially an amalgam of many spiritual traditions. But the overarching significance ascribed to the Sun God (Christ) and the Sun Archangel (Michael) remain. Anthroposophists believe these are the most important gods for all mankind during the current great epoch.

[6] The news item tells of a "Fairy Village"; the poster produced by the school refers to a "Fairy & Gnome Village". As for the "Pixie Games" mentioned on the poster...

[7] See the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[8] See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Sneaking It In".

November 7


A little negative publicity can sometimes work wonders. (See the story for November 3, below.)

From DevonLive [UK]:

Devon school has gone from worst 

to best food hygiene rating

Independent South Devon Steiner School has impressed 

environmental health inspectors by receiving its top rating

A Devon school rated as having the worst food hygiene rating has turned things around by scoring the top rating possible during a reassessment today.

Council food hygiene inspectors visit all premises which serve food and inspect hygiene, standard of the building, record-keeping and training. Each business is given a rating from zero to five.

Out of all schools, colleges and universities in Devon the South Devon Steiner School (SDSS) in Dartington, Totnes, was the only one to be given a one which means major improvement is necessary.

A report of the findings at the independent school has not been shared with DevonLive.

However, the school has today confirmed it has now received a rating of five.

A spokeswoman for SDSS said: “SDSS is delighted to confirm that following the last inspection of the school kitchen, the school has worked closely with the environmental health office, supported by the school PTA, to address all required improvements.

“Most notable is the implementation of the safer food, better business management system and general redecoration of the kitchen.

“As a result, the kitchen has been reassessed today (November 7) as a food hygiene rating five kitchen, taking the school from a food hygiene rating one - requiring major improvement - to food hygiene rating five - very good.”

November 6


Currently featured at the Waldorf Publications website:

Roberto Trostli, THY WILL BE DONE
The Task of the College of Teachers  
in Waldorf Schools
(Waldorf Publications, 2017)

From the publisher:

In Waldorf schools around the world, teachers gather to build an imagination of their school that opens hearts and minds to higher realities on behalf of the children entrusted to the care of the teachers and the school. This colleagueship forms a vessel for the receiving of strength, courage, light, and love for the children in each Waldorf school. The “College of Teachers” is the name given to these circles of teachers who work actively, collaboratively, and meditatively on finding the best approach for each child through the Waldorf curriculum. Roberto Trostli describes the practices and the task of the College of Teachers with clarity and insight in these pages. The book sheds light on this unique aspect of Waldorf education and offers perceptive suggestions for success. 

Waldorf Watch Response:

Several points are worth noting. (The following comments overlap one another, causing a certain amount of repetition. But hang in there. The repetitions should become eye-opening, illuminating key realities about Waldorf schools.)

• The author of THY WILL BE DONE, Roberto Trostli, is well qualified to discuss the inner workings of Waldorf schools. He has had a long career in Waldorf education. [1]

• Waldorf representatives usually deny that Waldorf schools are religious institutions. Yet Trostli's book has a distinctly religious title, and the image on the cover is at least suggestively spiritualistic. In fact, Waldorf schools are aligned with a distinct — and unique — religious faith: Anthroposophy. [2] Anthroposophy is the new-age religion instituted by Rudolf Steiner. [3] Anthroposophy bears some resemblance to Christianity, but it is a polytheistic creed. [4]

• The phrase "to build an imagination" may need explanation. Rudolf Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and he encouraged his followers — including Waldorf teachers — to develop their own clairvoyant powers. [5] Through clairvoyance, Steiner taught, a seer develops true mental pictures or images, which Steiner called "imaginations." When Waldorf teachers "build an imagination of their school," they jointly create a mental picture of the school as it should be, thereby causing the school to become what they imagine. A true mental picture, Steiner taught, becomes a living spirit — in effect, a god — that acts to create a desired reality in the physical world. [6] Indeed, according to Anthroposophical belief, a true mental picture is not created in the human brain; it is received clairvoyantly from the spirit realm. A meeting in which Waldorf teachers "gather to build an imagination" is essentially a spiritual or religious assembly, seeking spiritual blessings for the benefit of all the participants and for the benefit of the souls the participants wish to guide.

• The college of teachers becomes "a vessel for the receiving of strength, courage, light, and love." These blessings — which the teachers intend to pass along to their students — are believed to flow down from the spirit realm above. Specifically, they come from the gods who are believed to preside over the school. In this sense, Waldorf teachers see their role as petitioning for, and receiving, divine blessings that they will then send out into the world. This is why Steiner made statements such as this:

“Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” [7] 

• The "college of teachers" is, in ordinary parlance, a central committee. It is the seat of power within a Waldorf school, where the important decisions for the school are made. It is called a "college" for several reasons. One reason is that the members — generally the school's senior faculty members — are deemed to be colleagues of equal status who make their decisions in a collegial manner. (Thus, Trostli speaks of the college as a "colleagueship" in which the members work "collaboratively.") Another reason is that the meetings of the college usually include periods of study during which the teachers work to educate themselves. Chiefly, the texts they study in their "college" are the works of Rudolf Steiner. A Waldorf "college of teachers," then, is in effect a college of Anthroposophical studies. [8]

• The college works "meditatively." This word drives home the religious, spiritual nature of the college and, indeed, of Waldorf education generally. Rudolf Steiner wrote numerous prayers and meditations for his followers to use. Most days at a Waldorf school begin with teachers and students reciting, aloud and in unison, prayers written by Steiner. [9] Likewise, faculty meetings at a Waldorf school often begin with such prayers, and during these meetings meditations written by Steiner may be quoted and reflected upon. Any form of true Waldorf meditation has a distinctly religious purpose. As Steiner said,

"Let's make it clear to ourselves what's really brought about by meditation. Streams of spiritual life are always flowing through the world ... [O]ur meditation words [10] are like portals that are to lead us into the spiritual world. They have the strength to open up our soul so that the thoughts of our great leaders, the masters of wisdom and of the harmony of feelings [11] can stream into us." [12]

In sum, meetings of a Waldorf college of teachers are meant to be gatherings of religious adherents who are on a spiritual mission. The participants in the meetings focus on "higher realities." This is why Steiner made such statements as these:

• “We [Waldorf teachers] can accomplish our work only if we [see it] as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to [reflect] upon how we connect with the spiritual powers [i.e., gods] in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” [13]

• "I would always...like to see our feelings permeated, as it were, with a healthy sensing of our great task, so that we may in all humility feel ourselves as missionaries....” [14]

• "[A] teacher’s calling becomes a priestly calling, since an educator becomes a steward who accomplishes the will of the gods...." [15]
 — R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] From the author's bio: "Roberto was a class teacher for 10 years at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, which he attended as a child ... Since 2009, Roberto has been a class teacher at Richmond Waldorf School in Virginia."

[4] See "Polytheism".

[6] See the entries for "imagination", "imaginations", and "living thoughts" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[7] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER - Foundations of Waldorf Education VIII (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

[8] See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".

[9] See "Prayers".

[10] I.e., the words of our meditations.

[11] i.e., thoughts of the great spiritual masters and, indeed, the thoughts of the gods.

[12] Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.

[13] Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE - Foundations of Waldorf Education I (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33.

[14] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS - Foundations of Waldorf Education X (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 135-136.

[15] Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XX (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 9.

November 5


The Rudolf Steiner Archive provides a useful service. For each day of the year, it directs visitors to lectures delivered by Rudolf Steiner on that date. Thus, for instance, today — November 5, 2017 — the Archive provides links to eight lectures Steiner delivered on November 5 during years ranging from 1905 to 1922. Reading the lectures associated with the days of the year enables us to walk through the year side-by-side with Steiner.

All parents considering Waldorf schools for their children should at least glance at these lectures. Waldorf education is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. If you don't believe the sorts of things Steiner taught, then you probably should send your kids to other sorts of schools. Steiner's esoteric doctrines may not often be taught openly in Waldorf classrooms — but, sometimes, they are. [See, e.g., "Out in the Open".]  When these doctrines are kept hidden, they nonetheless often find their way, covertly, into Waldorf classes. [See, e.g., "Sneaking It In".] And at a deeper level, these doctrines inform the thinking that shapes the Waldorf approach. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda".]

Here is the beginning of one of the Nov. 5 lectures:

Our Fifth Root-Race, the present Post-Atlantean humanity, was preceded by that of Atlantis, on the now submerged continent between Europe and America. The Atlanteans can in no way be compared with the human beings who today inhabit our Earth Globe. For even the remnants of that old race have learnt a variety of things from the later inhabitants of the Fifth Continent and we are therefore unable to reconstruct from them the conditions of that civilisation. At the beginning of the Atlantean civilisation there were no tools. By means of clairvoyant forces it was possible for the Atlantean to make the earth serve his needs. The preparation of metals for such uses only appeared towards the end of the Atlantean Epoch.

A small group was separated off from the population of Atlantis ... It was their task to carry over a new civilisation into the Fifth Root-Race. You would find the place where those who were chosen lived, a small colony, in present England and Ireland. At that time this was where the original Semites lived. They were the first people who were in a position to think with their intellect. All the ideas of the Atlanteans were still of the nature of pictures. The rounded shape of the front of the brow, the formation of the part of the brain on which thought depends, first appears with the population of the original Semites, who were in no way similar to the present Semitic race. This original Semitic people who, one can say, discovered thinking, journeyed through Europe into Asia and there founded a civilisation. They formed the Fifth Sub-Race of the Atlanteans. The seven Sub-races of the Atlantean Root Race were as follows: Firstly the Rmoahals, secondly the Tlavatlis, thirdly the original Toltecs, fourthly the original Turanians, fifthly the original Semites, sixthly the original Accadians, seventhly the original Mongolians.

— Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), Lecture 31, GA 93a [http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/Dates/19051105p01.html].

To investigate some of the esoteric beliefs found in this lecture, you might consult The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. See such entries as "Atlantis", "root-races", "sub-races", "clairvoyance", "Post-Atlantean Epoch", "Primal Semites", "intellect", etc. Note that Steiner delivered this lecture while still nominally a Theosophist. In 1913, he broke from Theosophy to establish Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement. However, his teachings remained essentially unchanged. [See, e.g., "Basics".]  
— R.R.

November 3


The issues of child welfare and safety at Waldorf schools have become prominent in recent weeks. (See the coverage of recent events at Kings Langley Rudolf Steiner School, Wynstones Steiner Waldorf School, Perth Waldorf School, etc.) The story, below, reinforces these concerns.

From DevonLive [UK]:

Devon school with second worst food hygiene rating 
is "very close" to action being taken

The school with the worst food hygiene rating in Devon is 
Rudolf Steiner School in Dartington, Totnes, 
followed by Newton Poppleford Primary School

A primary school in Devon has defended being named as being the second worst in Devon for its food hygiene rating.

Newton Poppleford Primary School says its poor food hygiene rating of two, which means requiring improvement, is due to the very old building its kitchen is housed in...

The worst school in Devon was Rudolf Steiner School in Dartington, Totnes, which was the only school to be given a one which means major improvement is necessary.

The independent school has not shared why it received the rating or if it has implemented changes when approached by DevonLive...

No one was available for comment from Rudolf Steiner School.

November 2-3


Here is a new report on the continuing problem of contagions spreading through Waldorf schools. A measles outbreak at a Waldorf school in the UK has grown from a handful of cases to nearly two dozen — nearly a tenth of the school's student population. Within the district as a whole, the total number of cases is approaching three dozen. The school is implementing various emergency measures aimed at forestalling a still larger epidemic.

The following is from GlouchestershireLive:

Christmas events cancelled 
in bid to control measles at school

There are now over 30 cases in Gloucestershire - with over 20 in one school

Christmas events have been cancelled at a school hit by a measles outbreak, in a bid to control the spread of the disease which has seen up to 32 cases in the county.

The outbreak which began in September has seen 22 children contract measles at Wynstones Steiner Waldorf School in Brookethorpe.

Children of all ages have been affected at the school which takes children from age three to 18, although half of the cases of measles have been among the children in the kindergarten aged three to six.

...[T]he school’s popular Advent Market and Fair on Friday 24 November and Saturday 25 November has been cancelled.

Wynstone’s Carol Concert on Friday 1 December has also been cancelled.

...Nurses have visited the school to hold vaccination sessions, and another session is planned for November 9.

...Wynstones School is a fee-paying school which follows a Steiner Waldorf curriculum, an alternative to mainstream education, with fees ranging from £2,700 to £9,155 for the oldest years.

The school has around 268 children, aged from three to 18....

Waldorf Watch Response:

As is often true at Waldorf schools, Wynstones has sponsored vaccination sessions only after a serious disease outbreak occurred among its students.

Waldorf schools are often centers of contagion, just as they are often centers of anti-vaccination sentiment. The causal link is not hard to discern. If we do not give kids proper medical care, they are likely to get sick. 

The medical practices typically employed in and around Waldorf schools — so-called "Anthroposophical medicine" — often amount to medical malpractice. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

Rudolf Steiner did not forbid vaccination, but he strongly warned his followers to fear vaccination. So, for instance, he made statements such as the following:

• "[T]he spirits of darkness [i.e., demons] are going to inspire [humans] to find a vaccine that will drive all inclination towards spirituality out of people's souls when they are still very young ... Today, bodies are vaccinated against one thing and another; in future, children will be vaccinated with a substance [that will block] inclinations connected with spiritual life ... [A] way will finally be found to vaccinate bodies so that these bodies will not allow the inclination towards spiritual ideas to develop and all their lives people will believe only in the physical world ... [P]eople are now vaccinated against consumption, and in the same way they will be vaccinated against any inclination towards spirituality." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), Lecture 13, GA 177.

• "The soul will be made non-existent with the aid of a drug ... [P]eople will invent a vaccine to influence the organism as early as possible, preferably as soon as it is born, so that this human body never even gets the idea that there is a soul and a spirit ... [T]he heirs of modern materialism [i.e., modern scientists] will look for the vaccine to make the body ‘healthy’, that is, make its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a 'sound' view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry ... Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity." — Ibid., Lecture 5.

How could a parent possibly allow a doctor to inject a substance into a beloved child if the syringe might contain a demonic fluid that will destroy the child's very soul?

Waldorf teachers may be nearly as wary as parents. Steiner's followers have continued to embrace the wisdom they believe he dispensed:

“Rudolf Steiner's comments [on vaccination]...leave no doubt about the ‘hidden agenda’ behind the plan to vaccinate all the world's children with as many vaccines as possible, thus devastating their spiritual development ... In the future, when more enlightened minds will look back to today and will judge our misguided vaccination zeal, I hope they will be able to say that anthroposophists were among those with the discernment and the courage [to oppose vaccination].” — Philip Incao, “Report on Vaccination”, GATEWAYS (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America), #34, Spring 1998; downloaded from the Online Waldorf Library, November 2, 2017.

For previous coverage of this and related stories,
see "October, '17",
"September, '17",
and "Aug.-Sept., '17".

For more extensive searches 
(topics such as "measles",
"Anthroposophical medicine",
"vaccination", and the like), 
see the "Annex Index".


In Waldorf belief, it is often best to leave childhood illnesses untreated. Children get the illnesses they need and deserve.

Above, we heard from Anthroposophical doctor Philip Incao. Let's hear more. The following is from "The Physician's Path", by Dr. Incao:

"When did mankind first become ill? ... [M]ankind became ill when Adam and Eve ate the apple of the tree of knowledgde of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Rudolf Steiner tells us that the serpent was Lucifer [1] and the time was the epoch of Ancient Lemuria. [2] ... The event [3] was the birth of egotism for mankind. Now for the first time it was possible for the human being to be selfish ... [I]t was Lucifer who planted the seeds of both egotism and materialism in mankind in Lemuria ... [W]hat we usually call illness — cancer, arthritis, pneumonia — are not the real illnesses. The real illnesses, the original illnesses of mankind, are egotism and materialism ... Illnesses such as arthritis and cancer are the remedies [sic] for the original soul sicknesses of egotism and materialism. [4] And Rudolf Steiner tells us that the scales are held in perfect balance. There is exactly as much pain and suffering in the world as there is interest in only the material and the physical. [5] Our egotism and materialism would obstruct our evolution [6] if we were not able to become sick when we need to. [7]" — Philip Incao, "The Physician's Path" [downloaded 11-3-2017   http://philipincao.crestonecolorado.com/index_htm_files/Physicians%20path.pdf].
 — R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, Lucifer is one of two great demons who tempt mankind; the other great demon who tempts us is Ahriman. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".]

[2] Lemuria was the continent where, Anthroposophists believe, humanity dwelled before moving to Atlantis. [See "Lemuria".] (Note that the Bible does not locate the Garden of Eden in Lemuria. Indeed, there are no references to Lemuria in the Bible.)

[3] I.e., succumbing to Lucifer's temptation.

[4] I.e., ordinary illnesses (which are essentially illusory) cleanse us of our deeper problems, the "soul sicknesses" or egotism and materialism. Thus, contracting ordinary illnesses is often a blessing.

[5] I.e., we suffer and become ill because we direct our attention to the physical or material plane of existence instead of the spirit realm.

[6] In Anthroposophical belief, the chief aim of human life is to evolve to higher and higher states of spiritual consciousness. [See the entries for "evolution" and "evolution of consciousness" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[7] I.e., we need to become ill at various times and in various ways in order to clear our systems of problems that impede our spiritual evolution. Preventing illness is, then, often an error.

November 2


An upcoming workshop for Waldorf teachers and others:


November 4, 2017 - Northridge, CA

Workshop led by Helle Heckmann, creator of the widely known and admired Waldorf-based early childhood center in Copenhagen, Denmark called Nøkken.

Waldorf Watch Response:

Unfortunately, the Waldorf Institute of Southern California provides only a vague description of the workshop. [See http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07eepwaveb58bcea54&llr=zagbvycab&showPage=true].

Much is left undisclosed. What, for instance, is "the teacher's etheric"? And what is the "importance of sleep" for teachers in particular? The Institute is mum.

But perhaps we can piece together a few indications provided by basic Anthroposophical tenets.

According to Anthroposophical belief, a person's "etheric body" is the first of three invisible bodies that incarnate early in life. The etheric body consists of life forces that animate the physical body. [See "Incarnation".] In a more general sense, a person's "etheric" is one's etheric self — the portion of one's being that exists in the etheric realm, a level of existence one step higher than the physical realm. In a sense, one's etheric is one's soul, which has its true home in the soul world. [See the entries for various related terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia: "etheric realm", "etheric man", "soul", "soul world", etc.]

During sleep, Anthroposophists believe, the etheric body remains here on Earth with the physical body, while higher portions of oneself — the astral body and the ego body — ascend to the spiritual realm. [Again, see "Incarnation".] The etheric body is not left benighted, however. The physical and etheric selves have dreams, and these can convey deep spiritual truths. Indeed, Rudolf Steiner taught that his followers — including Waldorf teachers — need to learn how to discipline their dreams so that they can receive spiritual wisdom while asleep. [See "Dreams".]

It would be fascinating to attend the upcoming workshop — just two days from now — and learn which if any Anthroposophical tenets, touching on these matters, are laid out.

To review some of Helle Heckmann's more prosaic beliefs about sleep, especially the sleep of children, see "Sleep": http://www.bacwtt.org/wp-content/uploads/helleheckmann_sleep.pdf. 
— R.R.

November 1


The bonds between Waldorf schools and Anthroposophy are deep and strong. As one Waldorf teacher has written, "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second." [1]

Learning to be a proper Waldorf teacher is essentially indistinguishable from learning to be a practicing Anthroposophist. 

Here are excerpts from an article available today, Nov. 1, 2017, at the website of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education. The article, published in the Institute's Research Bulletin [2], is addressed to Waldorf teachers:

Soul Breathing Exercises [3]
[by] Denis Klocek

Editor’s Comment [4]: In this brief article, Dennis Klocek offers a short, practical contribution to the inner, meditative practice of teachers. His is the first of what is hoped will be a series of regular contributions from him and from others in support of this all-important aspect of Waldorf education.

Soul breathing exercises are useful tools for transforming belief structures in your soul that may be preventing growth [5] ... The goal of these exercises is to see how your spirit biography [6] and your present biography [7] are linked. This gives insight into karma. [8]

...Bring to mind the image of a loved one who has departed [i.e., died]. Set yourself to wondering about what this person is doing now in the dimension where he or she now exists.... [9]

...Next, imagine a situation in which you were involved in a strong trial. Recall the feelings around the trial and focus on one of them ... [S]ee if you can recall a similar trial in the life of a departed loved one ... Take these images into sleep for seven days in succession....

...Ask the departed to show you how to turn your soul towards forgiveness ... Your feeling of harmony for the departed and the way in which they are membered into the world soul [10] allows them to participate in your soul life in a creative and productive way [11] .... 


Dennis Klocek lectures internationally ... He has written seven books ... He is the Director of the Consciousness Studies program at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA.... [12]

Waldorf Watch Response:

Do the soul-breathing exercises described by Klocek actually work? You can try them for yourself, if you like.

The point to note here, however, is simply this: Waldorf education is inextricably linked to Anthroposophy. The Anthroposophical exercises laid out here represent an "all-important aspect of Waldorf education."

Learning to be a proper Waldorf teacher is essentially indistinguishable from learning to be a practicing Anthroposophist.  
— R.R.

Waldorf Watch Footnotes

[1] Gilbert Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 166.

[2] The article appeared in the Fall//Winter, 2011, issue of the Research Bulletin. It remains available online today.

[3] Anthroposophists believe that humans have both souls and spirits. The soul is one's spiritual identity in a single incarnation; the spirit is one's immortal spiritual self, carried through all incarnations. (Incarnation and reincarnation are other key Anthroposophical beliefs.) The soul is believed to "breathe." The exercises described here have to do primarily with the soul primarily and secondarily with the spirit. [For definitions of various terms used here, see, e.g., The Semi-Steiner Dictionary.]

[4] I.e., the comments are by the editor of the Research Bulletin, not by Yrs. Trly.

[5] Steiner taught that Anthroposophy is a science, not a religion. Thus, Anthroposophy does not consist of "beliefs" — it consists of knowledge. Mere beliefs can trap a soul, while knowledge can free it. 

However, in reality, Anthroposophy is a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] The very soul exercises we are reviewing here contain several Anthroposophical beliefs.

[6] I.e., the history of your immortal spirit.

[7] I.e., the history of your current incarnation. 

[8] Karma is yet another key Anthroposophical belief.

[9] Anthroposophists believe that departed individuals are indeed still alive — they exist in the spirit realm, where they are preparing for their next incarnations.

[10] Anthroposophists believe that the world or Earth is alive, and it has its own soul. If the meaning of "world" is expanded to embrace the entire cosmos in which humanity exists, then the "world soul" is the transcendent soul of the cosmos. In either case, Anthroposphists believe, enlightened humans — in particular Anthroposophists themselves — participate affirmatively in the soul of the world; indeed they are, in a sense, the central expression and focus of this soul.

[11] Anthroposophists believe that they can interact with the dead. Their actions can affect the dead, and the dead can in turn affect the living.

[12] Rudolf Steiner College has long been a leading Waldorf teacher-training institution in the USA.