2012 (a)

This site supplements Waldorf Watch.
To go to Waldorf Watch itself, please click here:

Here, in reverse chronological order (newest first, oldest last),

are "Quotes of the Day" taken from the News page at Waldorf Watch.

“[G]enuine phrenology really should be studied by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite unmistakably in deformations of the physical organism. And whenever we find in a child this evidence of what may be described as karmically conditioned immorality, there is a special call for us to come in with our curative education.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 68.

"Gems and Precious Stones retain within themselves a faithful and accurate record, even to the smallest detail, of physical conditions, and acquired properties, from the primitive time ... Thus the salutary sunlight stored up from past ages, in tropical regions, the electric endowments from volcanic furnaces, the marine boons derived from many waters, and the remedial virtues of many curative herbs, may come to react, healthfully, and beneficially, for the good of the fortunate owner...." — William T. Fernie, THE OCCULT AND CURATIVE POWERS OF PRECIOUS STONES (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 18.

"St. John's ... In Waldorf schools, this festival is sometimes celebrated in the open air with a big bonfire ... At the end, pupils of the higher classes, often the ones about to leave the school, are allowed to jump over the fire ... Christian and pagan elements blend in this age-old festival ... [It] heralds the change of consciousness and growth of inner spirit required in humanity's further evolution." — Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, 2011), p. 104.

“[A]nthroposophists welcome and allow themselves and others to be chewed up, swallowed and processed via conflict, which is why for instance a [Waldorf] teacher who is approaching emotional and psychic breakdown status is still supported by his/her colleagues and allowed to teach. It's all seen and understood as part of the great spiritual sacrifice — and you can't fault or fire someone so deeply spiritual and ultra-committed, can you? 

“And [this is] why parents who remove their children and leave are hardly if ever given the time of day afterwards. Those families are looked upon as uncommitted to the great spiritual task at hand, or as karmically incompatible and so forth.” — A former Waldorf teacher. [See “Ex-Teacher 7

“There is no chance or accidental coincidence [sic] in the recurrent reflection of the heavenly pattern [i.e., the twelve signs of the zodiac] in earthly life. We find it in the twelve sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve disciples of Christ, and the twelve Knights of the Round Table. They are ordered by the twelve facets of the one zodiacal diamond. Spiritual realities have their image in earthly events and in human life, but man has largely lost his perception of these things.” — John Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS ON THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1970), p. 20.

“The heart of the Zodiac, its life and fire, is LEO, the lion, ruled by the Sun, the heart of the solar system.* It was in the dim dawn of man’s evolution that the sublime spiritual beings — the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones — active in Leo, laid the first foundations of the human heart.” — Ibid., p. 99.

* In Anthroposophical belief, the ruler of the Sun is “the Christ, the sublime Sun Spirit.” — Ibid., p. 20.

“Steiner spokesmen claim that by the end of their school career, Steiner students have learned at least as much as students in other schools ... But that’s not what we hear from parents. I remember that when my children were tested in order to change schools, they had gaps in their mastery of subject matter ranging from one year up to three years. Lack of subject mastery is something that comes up every time Steiner schools are discussed.” — Ramon De Jonghe. [See "
Ex-Teacher 12".]

“When we look at what Rudolf Steiner has to say with regard to difficult children...he describes children in terms of six constitutional types: large-headed and small-headed, earthy and cosmic, fantasy-rich and fantasy-poor ... [W]hat can be done from the pedagogical point of view to help large-headed and small-headed children? ... In every lesson there is an opportunity to allow the children to experience the full range of emotions. Antipathy, terror, and crying all obviously increase the strength with which we breathe in, holding ourselves back. When we sob, we drew in the air spasmodically, irregularly, until our limit is reached. On the other hand, laughing is exhalation, opening up, sharing — it is a long breathing out ... Steiner encourages us to bring the children to the point of laughter and then — now serious again and full of compassion — to bring them almost to the point of tears in every lesson, so that through their living experience of the content of the lesson, the children can experience and build up this middle ground between the two extremes.” — Michaela Gloeckler, "Constitutional Types in School-Age Children" (AnthroMed Library, http://www.anthromed.org/Article.aspx?artpk=281).

In Anthroposophy, ancient myths and legends are true (but modern science and scholarship are generally false). Thus, the search for the Holy Grail has been a true quest. “It was the mission of the Grail Stream [i.e., the spiritual impetus of the Grail quest] to prepare the hearts and minds of men and women, so that Michael [the presiding god of our time] could enter them and within the individual once again be regent....” — René Querido, THE MYSTERY OF THE HOLY GRAIL (Rudolf Steiner College Publications, 1991), p. 63. 

[See “The Grail” and “Michael”.]

“Anthroposophy has a very screwed-up psychology, full of beliefs that are not conducive to mental health, such as (one of my favorites), ‘Thoughts are living reality,’ which leads a person to try to repress bad thoughts or bad emotions rather than accept and deal with them. Instead you're encouraged to project anxieties and fears and anger on spirit entities (e.g., gnomes). This stuff is also inflicted on the children, and it is particularly explosive with children, makes them extremely angry and uncooperative. So you have situations building in the classroom every day where lots of people are getting angrier and angrier, both teachers and students, and have no healthy outlets for it, particularly because with children, you can't talk about anything directly.

“I could write a book on this . . . We had a lot of teachers walking around who were anger time bombs, and the occasional explosions were truly memorable.” — Former Waldorf parent Diana Winters. [See “Slaps”.]

"It is no easy feat for people of our time to see the fairies. Yet there are four professions which offer their practitioners unique opportunities to know them. Farmers, fishermen, foresters and miners work not just at the threshold of fairyland but well inside it ... Insightful farmers learn to transform dead wastes into life by composting ... Fairies are strongly attracted by this practice. They swarm to the farmer's aid ... Taught by Rudolf Steiner, the biodynamic farmer adds a further lure: Four kinds of sprays are readied ... To strengthen gnome activity in roots a spray of treated cow manure is used... [etc.]." — Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), pp. 27-28.

[For more on fairies, gnomes, et al, see "Neutered Nature".]

“It is wise, on encountering a fairy, not to be too overeager in one’s scrutiny. Little People — like those other innocents, animals, and children — have an intense dislike of being stared at. They love to stare at us, of course, but will turn away at once and disappear the moment we return the favor. They have grown shy in the face of our disbelief in them.” — Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), p. 28.

Most people would consider such a statement silly or sweet, or both. But according to the Waldorf belief system, fairies really exist. [See “Neutered Nature
”.] It is hard to believe that Rudolf Steiner’s followers believe what they do. But they do.

Waldorf schools often claim the right to teach as they see fit, without any outside interference — interference from the state, from boards of directors, or from students' parents. Former Waldorf student and teacher Dieter Brüll discusses this touchy issue in his book THE WALDORF SCHOOL AND THE THREEFOLD STRUCTURE (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1997). Here are some excerpts: 

• "The relationship between parents and the school is a recurring cause of friction ... [P]arents...often wish to follow the way teachers deal with their children. They may be quickly perceived [by the teachers] as uncomfortable nuisances and treated accordingly. On the other side of the coin, teachers often display demands (urgent requests) toward the home, which potentially infuriate parents." [p. 63] 

• "In dealing with this, we cannot use the procedures of conventional school systems as our approach to this problem. This would only result in a patchwork of misunderstandings, fixed ideas, dogmas, and resentments." [pp. 63-64] 

• "Spiritual freedom is clearly the most developed area of a Waldorf school. If all is well in this area, every teacher is free to proceed with her or his task of education in his/her own way. This means that neither parents nor colleagues, nor least of all a board of trustees, have a right to give directions." [p. 64] 

• "It can hardly be avoided that there are teachers who find that their educational work is being spoiled at home [i.e., the students' homes], and parents who feel that their child is either wrongly treated or misunderstood at school." [p. 64] 

• "[J]ust as an artist does not create from higher rules and prescriptions, but from very personal insights, the teacher, too, must act with undisturbed autonomy." [p. 66] 

• "[No rules apply], not even Rudolf Steiner's, except perhaps the golden rule attributed to him, namely: it is not too bad to make mistakes if one makes them out of conviction." [p. 64] 

• "The parents are on a collision course with this autonomy of the Waldorf teacher." [p. 67] 

• "[T]he democratic model...is quite unsuitable for the spiritual life." [p. 67] Note that at Waldorf schools, education is considered part of the spiritual sphere. The three spheres of the "threefold structure" are the spiritual/educational sphere (culture), the financial sphere (economics), and the rights sphere (politics). 

• "The teacher may very well be autonomous, but this gives him or her no right to put him or herself above the school structure." [p. 68] In other words, the teacher works freely within the Anthroposophical character of the school. 

• "If one enrolls one's child in the school, a...contract is [agreed to]. This contract covers more than the amount of tuition! It is, in the first place, a declaration of will. The school promises to engage itself for the child in the field of education. The parents promise to engage themselves to facilitate the task of the school ... The child and parents become members of an organization by this contract and have to adapt themselves to the organization ... [S]chool regulations include in the first place the demands the school makes on the behavior of the pupil outside the school: smoking, television, drugs, to name a few ... Neither party is allowed to change [the contract] unilaterally, although the schools often depart from this." [pp. 69-70]

“I worked at this [Waldorf] school for seven years ... Despite being chosen Employee of the Month and receiving several national awards and grants, including Teacher of the Year...I was subjected to ongoing harassment and character assassination after I began to question the legality of Anthroposophical religious indoctrination in staff training sessions led by uneducated, unaccredited Anthroposophists brought over from Europe. Both staff and students were subjected to nonacademic, occultist activities through the Waldorf training and pedagogy adopted from the Rudolf Steiner College, a non-accredited Anthroposophical religious institution located in Fair Oaks, California. I quit in frustration over the academic dearth of Waldorf education and grief at watching...students being subjected to occultist religious indoctrination in the place of a sound academic program.” — Former Waldorf teacher Kathleen Sutphen. [See “Ex-Teacher 6".]

Noting what sorts of books Rudolf Steiner’s followers publish and read can be instructive. Here’s an example, a novel published by Rudolf Steiner Publications. Draw your own conclusions:

“VRIL, mankind’s occult power of the future, and the kind of life and society created by its use in the interior of the earth [sic], is the vivid picture presented in this book. Written 100 years ago by Lord Bulwer-Lytton ... VRIL, his last book, stands as a stern warning and reliable witness ... VRIL [is] a serious and prophetic testament that man today must pay heed to, if he is to survive, and become MAN.” — VRIL: The Power of the Coming Race (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1972).

“I remember when I was a wide-eyed believer receiving a letter from parents who had been harmed by the [Waldorf] school ... I remember skimming the letter and thinking that they were sadly mistaken malcontents ... I remember feeling superior and floating in a sense of knowing so much more than my non-W friends. I had the key to paradise...the Waldorf Way ...

“I can't begin to describe to you what it has been like to be pushed off of this beautific throne ...

“I was seduced by the beauty [of the school] — by the promise of giving my children a glowing, golden soul. Little did I know that the beauty was gold-plated, propped by deception ... [My children] almost had their spirits robbed by well-meaning, poorly trained, neurotic humans calling themselves teachers and spiritual guides.

“...I feel spiritually connected [and] I believed that this school would protect my children from the soul death of the media and capitalistic culture. I blame myself for...BLINDLY, faithfully, following advice that was justified using Steiner and spiritual science.

“I believe my worst mistake is not believing in myself as an authority on my own children, ignoring my feeling of humiliation in the presence of fellow humans who market themselves as spiritually aware.” — A former Waldorf parent.

“On several occasions [in this book] we have had to point to the tendency to differentiate between two classes of faculty members in a Waldorf school, the higher and the lower level ones ... [T]here have always been two classes in society, the haves and the have-nots ... This tendency toward polarization can be found in Waldorf schools as well. I am not talking about the observation I made every day as a [Waldorf] pupil, that the majority of the teachers go to the teachers room during breaks, and a smaller number gather at the janitor's ... These two groups were simply mad at each other on an ideological basis. We are talking about a consciously created bipartisanship ... [We mean] a division between the teachers who carry responsibility and the colleagues who cannot be trusted with such responsibilities ... I have mentioned the esoteric circle ... [Most Waldorf teachers] already have an esoteric connection [but some do not]. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, not even exclusivity.” — Dieter Brüll, THE WALDORF SCHOOL AND THREEFOLD STRUCTURE (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 1997), pp. 83-85.

According to Rudolf Steiner, Waldorf schools should be staffed almost entirely by Anthroposophists. In practice, however, this is often impractical — as even Steiner knew. Thus, Waldorf faculties are often divided between Anthroposophists and non-Anthroposophists. The former generally have a long-term commitment to the school and they often form the inner core, wielding the power in the school. The latter are often distinctly second-class citizens who may be replaced when Anthroposophists can be found to take their places. In the meantime, considerable tension can build up, often to the detriment of all involved — including the students. (There are also occasional divisions between the Anthroposophists on a faculty — over doctrinal or "ideological" differences — which only make things worse.)

On the lighter side: Here is an attempt to justify competitive sports in Waldorf schools. The book A WALDORF APPROACH TO COACHING TEAM SPORTS* carries this epigraph: “Just as the human body needs a solid bone system to prevent it from sagging, so does the astral body, with its enclosed ego, need ideals at this age if it is to develop in a healthy way. We must take this seriously. Ideals, strong concepts that are permeated with will, these we must impart into the astral body as a firm, solid support.” — Rudolf Steiner.** 

Perhaps that doesn’t convince you. Perhaps you think Steiner expressed his real opinion of sports in statements such as the following: "That we have slowly made something senseless out of gymnastics, have made it into an activity that only exercises the body, is a side effect of the age of materialism. That we want to raise it to the level of a sport, that we want to add nonsense to it, so that it becomes even less than senseless, meaningless movements, reflects a desire to drag people down, not just to the level of materialistic thinking, but also to animalistic feeling. Excessive sport activity is Darwinism in practice. Theoretical Darwinism claims that people developed from animals. Sports are practical Darwinism, and that means setting up the goal of degenerating people back into animals." — Rudolf Steiner.***

Darwinism is a very dirty term for Steiner. Darwin said that humans evolved from animals, which is an abhorrent idea for Steiner. Sports — or at least too much emphasis on sports — is “Darwinism,” Steiner said. Sports make us animalistic. “Sports are practical Darwinism, and that means setting up the goal of degenerating people back into animals."

Oh, well. Go, Waldorf!

* Dean Stark. A WALDORF APPROACH TO COACHING TEAM SPORTS (Rudolf Steiner College Press,1999, p. iii).

** EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 82. In Waldorf belief, the astral body is the second of three invisible bodies we incarnate, the ego or "I" is the third, and the will is a separate human faculty.

***  THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 201.

Waldorf teachers use myths and other narratives to introduce their students to Anthroposophical beliefs. Here is the meaning of the Norse myth sometimes called "The Treasure of the Gods":

"The story deals with the Luciferic influence (the Fall in the Bible) which brought the human being into physical existence and to consciousness of self as an individual earlier than the creator gods had intended. The result was separation from the divine, separation into races, different languages and dissension.

"...[G]olden hair signifies innocent wisdom, direct communication with the divine. When Sif's golden hair is replaced by that manufactured by the dwarfs, it symbolizes replacement of heavenly wisdom by that of the earth.

"...Thor represents the ego power. The union of Thor and Sif therefore signifies group consciousness, a group ego." — Roy Wilkinson, THE NORSE STORIES AND THEIR SIGNIFICANCE (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1999), p. 43.

Many Anthroposophical tenets are represented here. 

• Lucifer is described by Steiner as one of the two arch-demons who threaten humanity. (The other is Ahriman.) It is partly through the influence of Lucifer ("the Luciferic influence") that we descended to our present, lowly condition in the physical universe. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".] 

• The idea that blond or white people are purer, more highly evolved, and closer to the gods runs through much of Anthroposophical lore. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans".] 

• The multiplicity of gods is a basic Waldorf belief, as is the idea that there are many "creator gods" — that is, many gods helped bring us into existence and have contributed to our subsequent evolution. [See "Polytheism".] 

• Here we see the god Thor identified with the human spiritual ego — i.e., the spiritual part of ourselves that incarnates at about age 21. [See "Incarnation".] 

• Group souls, according to Steiner, are souls that all members of a group (such as a species, a nation, or a race) share. Animals do not have individual egos, but they share group souls. Humans have individual egos, but they also share various group souls. [This idea reached Steiner through Theosophy. See "Basics".]

• The most appalling Anthroposophical tenet reflected here concerns race. As Wilkinson says, evil gods or demons are thought to have interfered in human evolution, thus producing — among other things — "separation into races". Steiner explicitly advanced such ideas.

“Lucifer and Ahriman...fought against this harmonious tendency of development in the evolution of humanity, and they managed to change the whole process so that various developments were shifted and displaced. While there should have been basically only one form of human being...Lucifer and Ahriman preserved [earlier human types] ... Thus, forms that should have disappeared remained. Instead of racial diversities developing consecutively, older racial forms remained unchanged and newer ones began to evolve at the same time. Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time although evolution should really have proceeded [unimpeded].” — Rudolf Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 75. 

Consider what it means for such ideas to seep into Waldorf classrooms, even in the form of entertaining stories from long ago.

"The reason many [Steiner or Waldorf] schools exist is because of the Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world. That's the Michaelic spiritual task [i.e., the spiritual task directed by the archangel Michael]. Educating children is secondary in these schools; or, it's the means by which these many Anthroposophical and cosmic Christian [i.e., gnostic] impulses are incarnated." — A former Waldorf teacher. [See "Ex-Teacher 7".]  

From SteinerBooks: “Is it possible that the famous American moon landings were nothing but an illusion — all a fabrication? Could NASA have fooled the world by broadcasting simulations that had been filmed for training purposes? From the very first manned flight into orbit right up to the present day, there have been serious anomalies in the official narrative of the conquest of space. Bestselling author Gerhard Wisnewski dissects the history in minute detail ... The evidence he presents casts serious doubt on the possibility of humans ever having walked on the moon.” [http://www.steinerbooks.org/detail.html?session=dc77a24852b9a23416687341b3c09d4a&cat=14&id=9781905570126 The book was published in 2008 by Clairview, an imprint of Temple Lodge, an independent Anthroposophical publisher. SteinerBooks is a distributor for the book.]

Steiner's followers are led to deny the human exploration of the moon because what we have found there is so different from what Steiner said exists there. E.g., 

"[O]n...the moon...are beings in a certain respect similar to man, but they are dwarfs in comparison, scarcely reaching the height of a six or seven year old child. Upon the moon, however, a particular opportunity is offered them for their activity. The physical conditions are quite different there, the atmosphere for example is quite different and in consequence when these beings withdraw, so to speak, to their habitat they acquire the faculty of a tremendous roaring, of uttering immensely powerful, frightening sounds.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1982), lecture 1, GA 102. 

Rudolf Steiner’s followers are generally willing to believe almost any occult fantasy (gnomes, fairies, Atlantis, astrology, curative crystals... see “Occultism” and "Superstition"). They are also prepared to embrace many conspiracy theories (see, e.g., “Double Trouble”). Anthroposophists sometimes deny that humans have been to the Moon. Why? Because they do not want to accept science's description of the solar system; they want to believe Steiner descriptions instead. For instance, “[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.

(Other books by “bestselling” author Wisnewski — all in German, most about conspiracies — bear titles such as MASTERMIND OF POWER, THE TV DICTATORSHIP, CLASSIFIED TERROR, and HIDDEN, COVERED-UP, FORGOTTEN. These are my translations of the titles.)

“My first board meeting [at a Waldorf school] included a faculty grilling re: sexual preference, directed at a young gay teacher ... I kept saying, 'This is a violation of her civil rights. We cannot ask these questions.' ... [But] regular rules do not apply in Waldorf schools. Anthroposophy is more important than individual rights, laws, or common truths.

"...The healthy teachers were eventually run out [of the school] and the ill ones took over hiring ... There was deceit everywhere ... The financial statements were literally made up ... Unpaid payroll taxes, marked as paid, were seized from our bank account ... 


"...[A]t parent gatherings...the teachers would stand on the stage with their arms around each other, singing songs, while the parents beamed ...  [B]ehind closed doors [these teachers] were all backstabbers...insecure people competing for the top position on the Anthroposophical dog pile ... Board meetings were always exhausting because you could cut the tension between the teachers with a knife....

"I took 63 families with me to [create] a new school ... My aim was to make a school like we were told Waldorf was but was not. Sixty-three families were ready to move....” — Former Waldorf parent Debra Snell. [See "Coming Undone".]

“One [Waldorf grad] told me that in her teens she was surprised to learn that the Greek gods were not historical figures, so thoroughly did the [Waldorf] curriculum meld myth and history.” — A former Steiner dorm parent. [See "Ex-Teacher 11".]

Remarks delivered at a conference of Waldorf teachers:

“It has been twenty-one years since I took the Waldorf school teacher training, and in those past twenty-one years, I have not heard much about the double* among teachers in conversation or at conferences ... [A] presentation on this topic is long overdue ... Rudolf Steiner himself in a series of lectures...strongly urged teachers to take into account in their process of educating children the workings of the double ... There must be a new awareness of this second being within us.

“Dr. Steiner makes one aspect of the double very clear. Today in our times the double stands totally in the service of Ahriman** ... [T]he number 666 announces the attempts of the beast to gain a stronger foothold in the affairs of men. In the year 666 an ahrimanic, intellectual culture was introduced into the world through Arabism [i.e., Arab culture] ... [I]n 666 Ahriman won a great victory.***

“...In spite of the negative aspects of the double, he is a necessary part of our incarnation process. Left to himself, man would never give up his heavenly home and exchange it for earthly existence. It is the legitimate role of the double to help us into incarnation by placing in our lower nature an affinity for the earth.

“...I would like to try, very briefly, to state the specific aims of the double and Ahriman with regard to man, especially Western man. The double wants man to forsake his spiritual nature — his ego [i.e., his “I” or divine spiritual self]. The double want to cut man off from the Christ and the Cosmos. The double wants to help develop a soulless society of intellectual automatons, in other words, an Ahrimanic race that will unite itself with the earth on a permanent basis and forsake the cosmos and the cosmic goals of the original creative Gods.

“...We must keep ourselves constantly informed about the workings of the double in us and in our students.” — Richard Schmitt, “The Double — A summary of a lecture given at the Teachers’ Conference of the Sacramento Waldorf School in February 1981” (Rudolf Steiner College Press, undated booklet, pp. 1-19 — still sold by the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore as of March, 2012).

* I.e., the doppelgänger, the evil twin that we carry within us. According to Waldorf belief, the double is not a part of our own psyche, but it is literally a second being who rides within our body to the Earth when we incarnate. [See “Double Trouble.”]

** I.e., Satan. [See “Ahriman”.]

*** The speaker adds that Ahriman won again in 1222 A.D. and could win a third time in 1998.

“[I]n one’s study of the so-called American ‘people’, it appears more justifiable to refer here to the formation of a new race [sic]. In checking off the characteristics of a race of people according to its own particular anatomical and physiological phenomena, taking into account such factors as skin color, hair growth, position of the eyes, the formation of the skull, etc., all in accordance with older racial theories, it becomes obvious that, [among you] in America, out of a large number of European peoples, there is something in formation which exhibits all the characteristics of a race in genesis.” — Anthroposophist F. W. Zeylmans von Emmichoven, AMERICA AND AMERICANISM (St. George Publications, 1984), p. 15. As of March, 2012, this booklet is still for sale at the Rudolf Steiner College bookstore, under the imprint of Rudolf Steiner College Press.

Rather than repudiating Rudolf Steiner’s racial teachings, his followers have tended to speak of nations and races is the same terms he used. [For Steiner’s racial views, see, e.g., “Steiner’s Racism”, “Races”, and “Differences”. We should note, in passing, that Emmichoven finds merit in "older theories"; in particular, he laments modern psychological and sociological work, preferring the old ways of looking at things, ways he finds in Steiner.]

“[A] former Waldorf instructor [has said]: ‘I heard in a faculty meeting that there were many important souls waiting to reincarnate in this century and that they would only be able to do so if there were enough Waldorf schools. By the end of the year I taught there I was completely convinced that Waldorf constituted a cultlike religious movement which concealed its true nature from prospective parents.’" — Meagan Francis,”What’s Waldorf?” (SALON, 5-26-2004).

“That fairyland and its denizens should be as much a concern of scientists as they have long been of poets and painters and storytellers was one of Steiner’s deep convictions. For he was a close observer of their [i.e., the fairies’] life and work, and it was clear to him that they were of profound importance to the earth.” — Waldorf educator Marjorie Spock, FAIRY WORLDS AND WORKERS: A Natural History of Fairyland (Anthroposophical Press, 1980), p. 8. (The book’s dedication: “In memory of RUDOLF STEINER who understood so well the living forces behind Nature.”)

Recounting the things that she found attractive when visiting a Waldorf school, one writer speaks of a “dreamlike photograph of Rudolf Steiner which hung in a prominent position in the pale pink assembly hall. As far as I remember, there was something about him that was a little secretive and of which one did not speak.” — Agnes Nobel, EDUCATING THROUGH ART - The Steiner School Approach (Floris Books, 1991), p. 30.

The walls in Waldorf schools are often painted ethereal hues. And throughout the school, there is often a muted vibe in the air; hints of things left unsaid, hints of deep revelations unspoken. Photos of Steiner are rarely prominent, but sometimes they can be spotted, and often enough they seem somehow spiritual. Certainly there is often a suggestion of reverence directed to him, the founder and leader. 

For some visitors, such indicators are attractions; for others, they are warning signs. In retrospect, you may find that visiting a Waldorf school has told you more about yourself than about the school itself (which typically knows how to guard its secrets). [See, e.g., “Clues”, “Secrets”, and “Advice for Parents

“I enrolled my son in the San Francisco Waldorf School halfway through the sixth grade. I was very impressed with the school. I liked very much the way art is integrated into the curriculum in Waldorf ... One day while visiting the school, I browsed through some books by Rudolf Steiner that they had for sale. I saw some very strange things about 'astral bodies' and 'root races.' I asked my son's teacher whether these subjects were taught in the classroom. She assured me that though the teachers studied Steiner, only Steiner's teaching methods were used in the classroom, and Steiner's philosophy wasn't taught to the children. I learned later that this is a standard disclaimer, and it is far from the truth. I should have known better, but I was so in love with the facade of the school that I looked the other way.

"Over the year and a half my son was in the school, I became increasingly disturbed about three things: 1. Weird science ... [W]hen I obtained Waldorf curriculum guides, I discovered that the inadequate and erroneous science [I had observed in the school] was part of the Waldorf system. 2. Racism. I was shocked to pick up a Steiner book [containing racist passages] for sale at the school ... 3. Quack medicine. An 'Anthroposophical physician' gave a lecture to the parents ... It was classic quackery....

"...I requested a meeting with the College of Teachers, the committee of senior teachers that ran the school. They were 'too busy.' Instead, a committee of three teachers was delegated to give me an ultimatum: 'You don't have to believe what we believe, but if you are going to talk about your disagreements with the other parents, you will have to leave.' We left.” — Former Waldorf parent Dan Dugan. [See “Why Waldorf Programs Are Unsuitable for Public Funding”.]

From Lindisfarne Press, an imprint of SteinerBooks: “With great personal courage, [the author] makes public much esoteric knowledge that had remained hidden within the occult orders. Self-initiated and unaffiliated, he speaks authoritatively on: the secret history of Spiritualism and Theosophy; the nature of initiates, esoteric societies, and secret brotherhoods; occult science; the true nature of God, matter, evil, and the evolution of consciousness; the angelic hierarchies: the Archangel Michael, Beelzebub, and the War in Heaven; the coming sixth epoch, and more. Previously known only to esotericists, this important work is now made available to the general public....” — THE TRANSCENDENTAL UNIVERSE by C. G. Harrison (Lindisfarne Press, 1997).

Anthroposophical publishers may have many reasons for publishing non-Anthroposophical books. They may want to extend their reach; they may want to lure new readers who will then find Steiner; they may want to make a little money for a change. But generally they draw a line, blurry as it may be: They will not violate their core interests or beliefs. And indeed members of their primary audience — Rudolf Steiner’s devoted followers — want access to occult texts from beyond the bounds of Anthroposophy (as long as these do 
not violate their core interests or beliefs). The entire sweep of occultism ("secret history," “secret brotherhoods," “occult science," things known "only to esotericists") holds interest for them, as it did for Steiner himself. So scanning the catalogues of Anthroposophical publishers gives us a pretty good handle on the delusions accepted as real or at least probable by Anthroposophists — many of whom teach in Waldorf schools.

Waldorf schools need money. Often they need quite a lot.* But Waldorf faculties 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.”

* One way to get cash is to become a charter or free school. Hence the eager applications being made to education authorities by Waldorf school proponents. 

“After attending three different public schools through eighth grade, I attended high school at the Waldorf School of Garden City from 1977 to 1980. I had good teachers at all the schools I attended, and some not-so-good ones, too. But the Waldorf School felt, as I’ve said many times, ‘like coming home’ ... Although my teachers at the Waldorf School varied widely in talent (at least from my callow point of view), and although I felt great affinity for some and far less for others, they all shared a unity of purpose that, although they didn’t speak about it to their students, was evident in how they treated us* ... [T]hey shared a belief that the world was meaningful and that, through teaching, they could help us to find meaning in it as well. What could be better for adolescents?” — Stephen Keith Sagarin, THE STORY OF WALDORF EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES (SteinerBooks, 2011), pp. 1-2.

Critics of Waldorf education should candidly acknowledge Waldorf's undeniable allure. Often (not always, but often) Waldorf schools are warm, comforting environments. For many students, they provide emotional and spiritual succor. This does not necessarily mean that the schools are good or bad as educational institutions; it means, rather, that the schools can often be refuges from harsh, frenetic, and apparently meaningless modern life. A single vision prevails in the schools, a worldview (Anthroposophy) that often goes unspoken but that informs all activities and classes. This can create a structure and sense of purpose that can be deeply comforting. The price paid for Waldorf comfort, however, is withdrawal from reality. The Waldorf universe — with its gnomes and fairies and guardian angels and pantheon of gods — is imaginary. The degree to which students pay the Waldorf price depends on how vigorously their teachers proselytize. When Waldorf faculties refrain from pressing their beliefs too forcefully, the ambience of the schools can, for many students, feel like the home they have dreamed of having. (And when the faculties press their beliefs, a smaller group of students — those with a developed appetite for the mystical — may feel that they have received a joyous revelation. Others, of course, will be shocked and alienated. [See "The Waldorf Scandal".])

* This purpose is what, in a recent quotation, we have seen described as a “holy mission.” It is the mission of spreading Anthroposophy and its imagined benefits. [See “Ex-Teacher 9” and “Spiritual Agenda”.]

“Waldorf faculties often have very high opinions of themselves, believing that they are engaged on a holy mission. Before I left England I had realized that there was something close to consensus among the teachers at Wynstones [a British Waldorf school] that their school was the one place in the world where things were being done correctly according to Rudolf Steiner’s wishes ... I also learnt that the staff at Michael Hall [another British Waldorf school] in Sussex thought the same thing about their school, although the exactly correct things being done there were often in contradiction to the exactly correct things being done at Wynstones. It did not occur to me that the same kind of scholastic chauvinism might operate in [Waldorf schools in] the USA until I had my nose practically rubbed in it ... The teachers at Wynstones and Michael Hall knew that they carried the sacred flame of Waldorf education. Some people at Garden City [a Waldorf school in suburban New York] had the same idea about themselves.” — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis. [See "Ex-Teacher 9”.]

Waldorf schools are benefiting from the effort to address social ills by creating "charter" or "free" schools. Yet the rationale behind that movement (punishing "bad" teachers on the basis of student test schools, and privatizing publicly financed schools) is fundamentally flawed. "No nation in the world has eliminated poverty by firing teachers or by handing its public schools over to private managers; nor does research support either strategy. But these inconvenient facts do not reduce the reformers’ zeal. The new breed of school reformers consists mainly of Wall Street hedge fund managers, foundation officials, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers, but few experienced educators. The reformers’ detachment from the realities of schooling and their indifference to research allow them to ignore the important influence of families and poverty. The schools can achieve miracles, the reformers assert, by relying on competition, deregulation, and management by data — strategies similar to the ones that helped produce the economic crash of 2008. In view of the reformers’ penchant for these strategies, educators tend to call them 'corporate reformers,' to distinguish them from those who understand the complexities of school improvement." — Diane Ravitch, "Schools We Can Envy", THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, March 8, 2012, p. 19.

“To be able to take sex out of the instinctive/compulsive [sphere] into the truly human [sphere] is at once both the problem and the task of the spiritually awakened man [sic].”  — Alan Howard, SEX IN THE LIGHT OF REINCARNATION AND FREEDOM (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1990), p. 17.

“One could say that Waldorf education has a hidden agenda. Its curriculum is described in terms common to public schools in general; arithmetic, writing, reading, geography, botany, handicrafts, history, and so on. But in Steiner schools the dimensions of these subjects are threefold: they are artistic, cognitive, and religious ... There is a continual interconnecting, a relinking, a re-ligioning, of one activity with another." — M. C. Richards, TOWARD WHOLENESS: RUDOLF STEINER EDUCATION IN AMERICA (Wesleyn University Press, 1980), p. 164. [Also see “Ex-Teacher 8

Waldorf teachers tell their young students many intriguing stories: fairy tales, myths, legends... This may seem sweet, and at one level it is sweet. But Waldorf faculties have a particular, covert purpose in mind: They use such stories to sneak Anthroposophical concepts into their students’ consciousness. “Hansel and Gretel”, for instance, can be used to convey a number of Anthroposophical beliefs. Here are the hidden meanings of “Hansel and Gretel” according to a Waldorf educator:

“The story portrays spirit and soul descending into a physical body and ascending again, enriched, to the spiritual world ... The story could also be looked upon as an initiation process. Soul and spirit are engaged in developing higher organs ... Yet another interpretation would be to consider the story as one of human evolution. With the expulsion from Paradise the human being enters the material world. Through his experiences he regains the faculty of spiritual perception in a new way and regains his spiritual home enriched.”  — Roy Wilkinson, THE INTERPRETATION OF FAIRY TALES (Henry Goulden, 1984), pp. 13-14.

A quick explication:

• "Soul and spirit": Anthroposophists distinguish between soul and spirit, and they believe that true human beings have both. [See "The Brief Steiner / Waldorf Encyclopedia".] 

• "Descending .. ascending": We descended to life on Earth from spiritual worlds, and we will ascend again. This occurs as part of the overall pattern of human reincarnation, according to Waldorf belief. 

• "Initiation" — the process of gaining access to hidden spiritual knowledge — is a goal near the heart of Anthroposophy. [See “Inside Scoop”.] 

• “Higher organs” are nonphysical, invisible organs, predominantly organs of clairvoyance. (“[O]rgans of clairvoyance build themselves...” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 28.) 

• "Evolution" is another central concept in Anthroposophy — we have evolved from Old Saturn and are on our way to Future Vulcan. We lost “Paradise” by coming to Earth (a sadly material place), but we will move on. [See “Matters of Form”.] 

• The “faculty of spiritual perception” is clairvoyance. Ancient people had it; we tend not to have it now — but we can regain it, in an improved form, by following Anthroposophy.

Such are some of Waldorf beliefs hidden below the happy surface of “Hansel and Gretel” — according to Waldorf belief. Implanting these beliefs in young minds is anything but sweet.

"Several years ago, I picked up and moved from another state specifically to enroll my daughter in a Waldorf School. I was excited that art would permeate the curriculum. That there would be lots of drama and music. That there would be an emphasis on environmental issues. That fairy tales and myths would be taught. I was happy that organic food would be the norm and that my child would have other vegetarians in her class...

"When we arrived in rural [Wisconsin, USA] we enrolled our child in the Waldorf School, and began to have some peculiar experiences ... I began to suspect that I'd joined a spiritual movement, but because I was told 'NO NO, not true,' and because I didn't know what Anthroposophy was (I'd heard the word enough at this point so I could say it and spell it), I just kept on going along with the program but couldn't quite figure out what was going on!

"...[Eventually] I realized that the fairy tales were often sexist, patriarchal and very religious. Creationism was taught ... My child was made to recolor Eve's hair blond after choosing black. She was taught about angels, and demons, and page after page of her exercise books reflected a very religious perspective ... I became really depressed and had nothing to do with the school. I just answered their pleas and sent them money, lots of it.

“...I had made a very poor choice of school for my daughter ... I went on to read a lot of Steiner ... I now understand that music is from the spirit world and that film is Ahrimanic [i.e., demonic]. You should have just told me that in the first place instead of the mind games!!! Angels are responsible for even the tiniest movement of the smallest finger and fairies are real! Jolly good show! I couldn't care less what you believe, but don't impose your beliefs surreptitiously on the uninformed ... My family has been deeply impacted and our lives completely altered by our wrong choice of school ... BE HONEST!” — Sharon Lombard. [See “Thanks PLANS!” at http://waldorfcritics.org/articles/LombardThanksPLANS.html]


The rest of the quotations originally posted here — 57 in all —
became the basis of the page "Oh Man" at Waldorf Watch.
Use this link to visit that page:

[R.R., 2013.]