WALDORF / STEINER
NEWS




The world faces more urgent problems than the proliferation of Waldorf schools. But if we are to solve those problems, we need to educate our future leaders rationally and well — we need to equip children to understand reality, not lure them into miasmas of occult falsehoods. Waldorf schools may not be one of our biggest problems, but they constitute one obstacle deflecting us from sensibly addressing our biggest problems. 
— Roger Rawlings, editor









September 18, 2020

CELEBRATING THE MIGHTY

SUN ARCHANGEL: MICHAEL





The Waldorf conception of Michaelmas is revealed in publications such as this,

MICHAELMAS — From the Work of Rudolf Steiner, Compiled by Helmut von Kügelgen

(Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004).






We are approaching the end of September, when Waldorf schools will celebrate the Anthroposophical version of Michaelmas — the mass or festival of the Archangel Michael. [1]


According to Rudolf Steiner, Michael [2] is the champion of the Sun God [3]. Michael fights on behalf of the Sun God against the terrible arch-demon Ahriman [4]. In Michaelmas tales and pageants, Satan or Ahriman is represented as a dreadful dragon. In some versions of the Michaelmas story, Michael slays the dragon; in others, Michael conquers but spares the dragon, holding it at bay. At Waldorf schools, Michaelmas is often observed through pageants that reenact the battle between Michael and the dragon. But sometimes the religious nature of Michaelmas at Waldorf is disguised, and the holiday is then designated a peaceful “fall festival” [5]. 


Among his many statements about Michael and the dragon, Rudolf Steiner said the following:


“[During summer] Ahrimanic forces…establish themselves firmly in this Earth ... [In autumn] from spiritual heights there comes to the aid of the descending human soul the force of Michael, who…contends with the Dragon, Ahriman.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS BREATHING PROCESS OF THE EARTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 11 [6].


Here is an explanation, written by a Waldorf teacher, for the enactment of Michaelmas in Waldorf schools:


“The dragon is not an external reality, but rather lives within all humankind, represented by cold, dead, rationalistic and pragmatic thinking [7]. It is alive within every mortal as a potentially evil force … The backdrop for the drama of history is the struggle between the powers that strive for the forces of Goodness against those that struggle for the purpose of Evil [8] … At Waldorf schools…the children hear stories and legends of Michael. Then, on or around September 29, the teachers in many of our schools lead their students out into the fields, where they see an enactment of Michael’s battle with the dragon.” — David Mitchell, “Why Do Waldorf Schools Celebrate Michaelmas?” [https://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/articles/WJP15_mitchell.pdf]


For more on Michaelmas at Waldorf, see "Michaelmas".





Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 

[1] Michelmas is originally a Christian festival. 


“The veneration of St. Michael — typically regarded as the greatest of the archangels and a mighty defender of the church against Satan — began in the Eastern Church in the 4th century and had spread to Western Christianity by the 5th century … Michaelmas was originally celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but that requirement was gradually abolished.” — “Michaelmas”, ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, downloaded 9/18/20.


[2] In Anthroposophy, Michael is the Archangel of the Sun. [See “Michael”.]


[3] The Sun God, in Anthroposophy, is Christ as reconceived by Rudolf Steiner. [See “Sun God”.]


[4] See "Ahriman".


Note that although Ahriman is given prominence in many Anthroposophical/Waldorf observances, there is another demon who is arguably an even greater foe of the Sun God and the Sun Archangel. This is Sorat, the Sun Demon. 


"This being is known as Sorat, the Sun Demon and the most powerful opponent to Christ Jesus in the universe. Sorat rises every 666 years to deceive humanity ... Sorat will do everything in its power to obliterate humanity’s connection with the spiritual world and tempt humanity to deny Christ." — THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), Introduction by René Querido, p. 8. 


[5] See the account of Waldorf festivals presented in “Magical Arts”.


[6] Steiner taught that the Earth breathes in and out during the annual cycle. The annual festivals at Waldorf schools celebrate this cycle. In summer, when the Earth’s breath has been expelled, Ahriman can send his baleful influence into the Earth, Steiner taught. In autumn, when the Earth breathes in, Michael can expel Ahriman. Here is a longer version of the quotation given above:


“Because the Earth is a mirror of the cosmos in the summer, it is also opaque in its inner nature, impermeable by cosmic influences and therefore, during the summer time, impermeable to the Christ Impulse. At this time the Christ Impulse has to live in the [Earth’s] exhaled breath. The Ahrimanic forces, however, establish themselves firmly in this Earth which has become impervious to the Christ Impulse ... [In autumn] from spiritual heights there comes to the aid of the descending human soul the force of Michael, who, while the Earth’s breath is flowing back into the Earth itself, contends with the Dragon, Ahriman.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS BREATHING PROCESS OF THE EARTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 11.


[7] Waldorf education — like Anthroposophy in general — is wary of rational thought. Steiner warned against intellect and rationality, even though these are “pragmatic” (i.e., they produce practical results). Waldorf education emphasizes imagination instead — which, according to Steiner, leads to (or is a form of) clairvoyance.  


"Whoever wants to acquire imaginative clairvoyance develops this force through meditation and gradually attains it." — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 124. [See “Clairvoyance”.]


[8] Although the Waldorf worldview is often presented as entirely positive, with all things in the cosmos contributing to our welfare, in fact Steiner emphasized that there is much evil in the cosmos. We must overcome this evil in order to evolve properly, he said. [See, e.g., “Evil”.] From the Waldorf perspective, Waldorf schools themselves represent one of the chief forces serving the cause of Good, whereas opposition to Waldorf is demonic or Evil. Steiner taught that Waldorf teachers work in the service of the gods. 


“Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that ...we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.


— R.R.








September 12, 2020

WALDORF TEACHER-TRAINER
EXPLAINS THE CORONAVIRUS


The following is excepted from Oliver Rautenberg's Anthroposophie.blog, a website originating in Germany:


About Atlantis and Contract Killers: 
A Waldorf Instructor Explains




Institute for Waldorf Education Witten / Annen, 
photo by Reclus


In a Telegram group, a Waldorf education instructor spreads corona conspiracy myths...

Once again, conspiracy myths about the corona pandemic come from circles within the esoteric worldview known as "Anthroposophy." This religious community, known for alternative Waldorf education and alternative Anthroposophic "medicine," often spreads "alternative" facts: Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has cast doubts on the state, the press, and science, and it expresses absurd esoteric conspiracy myths about the virus.

Critics of corona protective measures are increasingly using the instant messaging service Telegram. This Russian chat system is popular with right-wing extremists and conspiracy ideologues, as content is barely monitored or blocked there.

Since August 3, 2020, Antje Bek has been on Telegram with her group "Waldorf Educators for Clarification." Bek heads the "Waldorf Education" course at the Institute for Waldorf Education in Witten/Annen and is a lecturer for "Waldorf Class Teacher Training." For this Anthroposophist, an alleged "corona crisis" exists only in quotation marks...

Ms. Bek's "opinions" on the coronavirus are like those that have been heard many times from the esoteric religious community. The virus is largely harmless, and masks do not protect, on the contrary they lead to serious mental illnesses...

She explains the "dangers" of everyday masks esoterically. The connections to the cosmos and the "environment" would be disrupted [if we wore masks]...

Even more, the concept of the Waldorf school, which wants to take into account the karma and the state of reincarnation of children, would be dangerously disrupted [if everyone wore masks]...

A disturbed breathing process [caused by masks] endangers the healthy reincarnation of children...

Bek goes on to assert that the virus does exist, but hardly anyone is infected — it is virtually a phantom...

Then she endorses widespread conspiracy myths about a co-ordinated press and a policy under which only the government's views are presented, never the opposition's. Opposing "opinions" are suppressed, so the public is lied to and manipulated...

[And so on.]

The Waldorf school movement is often perceived as an assembly of esoteric, perhaps crazy, but basically harmless do-gooders. The opposite is the case: Its members deliberately undermine trust in the state, media, and science. It is a faction that is dangerous for our society.

[9/12/2020    https://anthroposophie.blog/2020/09/08/von-atlantis-und-auftragskillern-eine-waldorf-ausbilderin-klart-auf/    Translation by Roger Rawlings, leaning heavily on Google Translate.  Rautenberg posted the item on September 8.]




Rautenberg's blog entry is considerably longer than the excerpts I have translated; it covers far more topics than I have touched on (Atlantis, for instance, and contract killers). If you're interested in delving further, please visit the blog. Rautenberg expresses his own opinions vigorously. If nothing else, you may want to weigh his views against Bek's, and formulate your own conclusions.

— R.R.








September 8, 2020

HBO, NXIVM,
& WALDORF?


Keith Raniere is perhaps the world's most notorious Waldorf alum. The leader of a group that has been variously described as a "cult" or a "sex cult," he went on trial last year charged with numerous crimes stemming from his activities within the group. He was found guilty on several charges
 [1]. 

Prosecutors say Raniere should spend the rest of his life in prison. Here is the beginning of a recent New York Times article:


Nxivm 'Sex Cult' Leader Should 
Get Life in Prison, Prosecutors Say

Keith Raniere was convicted last year in a trial 
that exposed the inner workings of the group, 
in which women were branded and coerced into sex.

By Colin Moynihan




Keith Raniere
[Keith Raniere Conversations, via YouTube]


The self-help group Nxivm gained notoriety as a "sex cult" last year when its leader, Keith Raniere, was convicted of sex trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy after testimony that he had created a harem of sexual "slaves," branded with his initials and kept in line with blackmail.

Now, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have asked that Mr. Raniere be sentenced to life in prison, citing the severity of his crimes and his lack of remorse, reflected in communications with supporters in which he denigrated his victims.

For more than a decade, Mr. Raniere, known to his followers as Vanguard, claimed that Nxivm could help people find enlightenment and inner peace. But Mr. Raniere, who attracted high-profile adherents like the actress Allison Mack and the liquor heiress Clare Bronfman, instead preyed upon Nxivm’s members, presenting himself as an omnipotent savant and forming a secret subgroup called D.O.S., in which women were assigned to have sex with him....

[9/6/2020    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/28/nyregion/nxivm-keith-raniere-sentence.html  This article originally appeared on August 28.]




HBO is currenly airing a documentary series, "The Vow", about Raniere and Nxivm. The network describes the series this way:


From Academy Award-nominated and Emmy-winning directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer...comes The Vow, a documentary series following a number of people deeply involved in the self-improvement group NXIVM ... The series takes a deep, nuanced look at the organization faced with various charges, including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy, against its highest members — most notably founder Keith Raniere ... Amidst claims by NXIVM participants of both profound transformation and devastating abuse, the series...seeks to reveal the issues behind the headlines....





A review of "The Vow", published in The New York Times, includes the following:


"The Vow" doesn’t stint on the jaw-dropping details. But it also makes clear that the story of Nxivm (pronounced "NEX-ee-um") is more complex — and much more chilling — than the reductive "sex cult" label would indicate. As dangerous conspiracy theories rise to shocking prominence in American life, "The Vow" examines why people are so primed to fall for the kind of tempting but perilous psychological traps that skilled manipulators use to lure and catch their idealistic prey...

Raniere, a floppy-haired former businessman who insisted that people call him "Vanguard," told seminar attendees that through "data and facts," he and his instructors could help them push past the fears and limitations holding them back.

Instead, trial testimony and court rulings have revealed, Raniere weaponized people’s secrets and insecurities so that he could exploit them emotionally and financially. According to a lawsuit filed by former followers, Nxivm was also an enormous pyramid scheme that bilked its members out of millions of dollars....

[9/6/2020    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/23/arts/television/review-the-vow-nxivm.html   This review, by Maureen Ryan, originally appeared on August 23.]




Keith Raniere reportedly attended a Waldorf school for a few years "from the late 1960s to the early 1970s" [2]. Whether his story tells us anything about Waldorf education is unclear. Indeed, given his fairly brief exposure to Waldorf education many years ago, it seems unlikely.

Still, anyone interested in investigating the Waldorf movement may want to take note. There are certainly some parallels between Nxivm and the underlying Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy [3]. Both creeds promise to enlarge their followers' minds, showing the path toward enormous self-improvement and spiritual fulfillment.

In addition, both creeds have been labeled "cults" [4], both describe themselves as "scientific" [5], and both center on the figures of self-appointed gurus who claimed to be virtually omniscient: Keith Raniere at Nxivm and Rudolf Steiner at Anthroposophy [6]. Moreover, there have been some indications — far from firmly established — that Raniere incorporated some of Steiner's teachings in the Nxivm curriculum [7].

Raniere's sentencing is currently scheduled for October 27 of this year. Stay tuned. [8]




Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] See, e.g., "Nxivm’s Keith Raniere Convicted in Trial Exposing Sex Cult’s Inner Workings", The New York Times, June 19, 2019.

[2] See "Keith Raniere", Wikipedia [accessed September 6, 2020].

[3] See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).

[4] Is Anthroposophy a cult? See, e.g., "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education".

[5] Anthroposophists often refer to their creed as "spiritual science." [See, e.g., "Steiner's 'Science'".]

[6] Concerning Steiner's stature within Anthroposophy, see "Guru".

[7] "NXIVM teachings drew upon a diverse source of influences, including...Rudolf Steiner...." — "NXIVM", Wikipedia [accessed September 8, 2020].

[8] For previous Waldorf Watch coverage of Nxivm, see "NXIVM" at the Waldorf Watch Annex Index.

Some sources, of varying authority, have hinted at deep connections between Nxivm and Waldorf. See, for instance, "NXIVM Problems at Waldorf School of Saratoga", Artvoice, September 21, 2018; "'Sex Cult' Leader 'Born Evil' Says Childhood Classmaste", Cult News, June 28, 2019; and "Waldorf Schools Are Quirky, Culty and Just the School for Young Keith Raniere", Frank Report, February 12, 2020.

If there are similarities and even links between Nxivm and Anthroposophy, there are also large differences. The most lurid allegation against Nxivm, giving rise to the label "sex cult," is that some women near the center of Nxivm became sex slaves of Keith Raniere, in which capacity they were branded with Ranier's initials. No reports coming out of Anthroposophy tell of behavior rising to this level of depravity. On the other hand, sexual misconduct and abuse are certainly not unknown within Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Extremity".] 

— R.R.








September 3, 2020


WALDORF TEACHERS TEACHING
WALDORF TEACHERS — AND US


A Waldorf teacher-training organization in Germany has a fascinating event planned for next week. A program scheduled for September 10-12 will investigate the occult nature of children, and it will delve into the wondrous healing powers of mistletoe. Waldorf students as well as Waldorf teachers are invited to attend. The presenters will include a Waldorf teacher who is said to be clairvoyant [1] and another who professes deep understanding of astrology [2].

One portion of the program, led by Waldorf teacher Alfredo Agostini, will discuss the etheric and astral bodies of children. According to Rudolf Steiner, these invisible bodies incarnate on a fixed schedule as children develop. The etheric body — an envelope of formative forces — incarnates around age seven, and then the astral body — an envelope of soul forces — incarnates seven years later, around age fourteen [3]. (Seven is a mystically important number, Steiner taught — it is the number of perfection, he said [4].)

A second part of the program, led by Waldorf teacher Raphael Kleimann, will focus on the magical plant known as mistletoe. Rudolf Steiner taught that mistletoe is not of this Earth, and he indicated that mistletoe has the power to cure cancer [5]. Kleimann advocates therapies attuned to zodiacal and planetary forces, and he suggests that mistletoe processed through such power centers as the Goetheanum [6] can improve the relationship between human beings and nature spirits (invisible beings such as gnomes) [7].

For more on all this, see "Claivoyance in the Waldorf Seminar" at Oliver Rautenberg's Anthroposophie.blog [https://anthroposophie.blog/2020/09/03/hellseherei-im-waldorf-seminar/].




Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] Belief in clairvoyance is basic for Rudolf Steiner's followers. Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and he said he could teach his followers to develop similar psychic abilities. The great problem in all this is that clairvoyance is does not exist. [See "Clairvoyance" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[2] Belief in astrology is also fundamental among Stener's followers. [See "Astrology", "Waldorf Astrology", and "Star Power".]

[3] See "Incarnation".

[4] Belief in numerology is less fundamental among Steiner's followers than belief in clairvoyance and astrology. Still, numerology pops up often in Anthroposophical/Waldorf circles. [See "Magic Numbers".]

[5] See "mistletoe" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).

[6] This is the worldwide headquarters of Anthroposophy. It is essentially a cathedral in which Steiner's occult teachings are revered and celebrated. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[7] See "nature spirits" in the BWSE. (Yes, Steiner's followers believe in such beings, including gnomes. [See "Gnomes".])

— R.R.








September 2, 2020


STEINER, WALDORF, AND COVID
(& KARMA, DEMONS, THE SUN...)
[Part 2.3]


Here is the final installment of an article about the Steiner/Waldorf view of Covid-19, published recently by the French news service Heidi.News. This article is the second of three interlinked articles planned by Heidi.News. Overall, the articles present an intriguing account of the way Rudolf Steiner's followers (including many Waldorf teachers) look at the Covid crisis. Much of the commentary in the articles is provided by former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra.

To read my translations of the first two articles in their correct sequence, see "Steiner & Covid".



Take care of your relationships. We know that the modern world makes us anxious; likewise, it also makes us distant from each other. But why do Anthroposophical medical guides advocate "compassion, concern for others" specifically as a defense against Covid?

You should understand this: The rhythmic heart-lung system [1] is connected to the sun; lack of light unbalances this system; and, crucially, in Anthroposophy this system is connected to Christ [2]. Grégoire Perra explains:

"As Christ is the one who connects people to each other, we should follow him in strengthening our relationships with others."

Nothing could be clearer. The medical protocols issuing from the Goetheanum [3] do not explain this doctrinal rationale; instead, they just stress the result: "cultivating relationships," which is listed among other "important and preventive possibilities for strengthening resilience [4]." The other measures include meditation and eurythmy.


Eurythmic dancing. Eurythmy [5] is nothing less than the "sister" of Anthroposophy. This form of dance, which is compulsory in Steiner-Waldorf schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, is intended to help students "harmonize their bodies and vital forces" by making visible the "invisible gestures we imprint in the air when we speak [6]."

In concrete terms, each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a precise position of the arms, and words can thus be "eurythmised [7]." Grégoire Perra:

"Eurythmy is not just 'artistic and bodily expression' or merely a dance. There is a cultural dimension. For funeral vigils, if there is no priest available from the Christian Community [8]...we can bring in a eurythmyist [9] who will perform a eurythmic version of the Alleluia [10] or The Lord's Prayer [11]."

Indeed, the May 2020 newsletter of the Swiss Anthroposophic Society tells of a seminar led by Virginia Sease, honorary member of the Steering Committee at the Goetheanum, where participants "eurythmized the Alleluia" to strengthen "the immune system of animals, plants, the Earth, and the terrestrial environment" against Covid-19.

You see, eurythmy has a therapeutic component. According to a document from the medical section of the Goetheanum about coronavirus: "Eurythmic therapy can holistically strengthen our immune system, not only at the physical level, but also at the level of the soul and mind, and in particular at the level of the life force [12]."

Grégoire Perra confirms this, detailing Steiner's theory on the four bodies (astral, etheric, physical, and ego) [13]:

"Eurythmy is supposed to act on the etheric body, the body of life forces [14], which is connected to the lymphatic system and, through it, the immune system. It also strengthens the 'I' [15], which is supposed to be outside of us [16]. With eurythmy, you're attuned to that higher self [17]."

Without commenting on the effect of dance on the health of the planet, we note that the therapeutic effectiveness of eurythmy is far from proven. Review articles indicate inconclusive results, mainly because the few studies conducted on the subject did not have a control group or were not randomized.

Moreover, most of the studies have been conducted within the framework of AMOS (Anthroposophic Medicine Outcomes Study), a project led by Dr. Harald Hamre. He is a strong supporter of homeopathy and heads the European Scientific Cooperative on Anthroposophic Medicinal Products, a group campaigning for the creation of an approval system for Anthroposophic medicines. Of course, he believes that the requirements of the system that regulates "products of conventional medicine are not suitable" for his proposed approach.


Form drawing [18]. This activity in Steiner-Waldorf schools has nothing to do with mere secular drawing techniques. "It is rather an esoteric meditative practice," explains Grégoire Perra, "which consists of reproducing certain figures, always freehand, with certain pencils, of a certain brand. When performing it, you should never put your hand on the paper, the movements must be uninterrupted, because the movement is linked to the 'Dynamis', superior beings, spirits of movement and carriers of force [19]."



"Pneumonia, Viral & Bacterial
(dark blue)"
Form drawing proposed by a Steiner school 
for "respiratory reinforcement" 
(March 2020, downloaded by Grégoire Perra)


In March, the Steiner school in Haute Alsace circulated a form drawing "indicated for respiratory strengthening" (it has since been removed from their website) [20]. This drawing is supposed to strengthen the etheric body, which is supposedly linked to the respiratory system and blood circulation. The idea, here, is much like the idea about eurythmy.


Finally, if despite using all these therapies, you continue feeling a little weak, there is still the route of Anthroposophical pills and potions. This route is paved with products from Weleda [21], a company that is mostly owned by the Anthroposophical Society [22]. We will travel down this path during the third and last part of our Steinerian odyssey.

[9/2/2020    https://www.heidi.news/sante/anthroposophie-et-covid-partie-1-une-maladie-symbolique    This article originally appeared on August 26. Translation by Roger Rawlings, making use of Google Translate and DeepL Translator.]







A translation of the third article in this series 
will appear at Waldorf Watch News in due course.







Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] Anthroposophical medicine claims that the heart and lungs are part of a single bodily system, one that reflects inner rhythms. Of course, modern medicine (which is to say, real medicine) identifies the heart and lungs as quite separate organs, the centers of two separate systems.

[2] The "Christ" is Anthroposophy is quite different from the Son of God worshipped in Christian churches. Anthroposophy's "Christ" is the Sun God, the solar deity who has been worshipped under such names as Hu and Ahura Mazda. [See "Sun God".]

[3] This is the headquarters of Anthroposophy, a cathedral designed by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] The Goetheanum is located in Dornach, Switzerland, and is named for the German author Goethe.

[4] I.e., it increases our ability to recover from illness.

[5] Eurythmy is a form of spiritual dancing — in effect, temple dancing — devised by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Eurythmy".]

[6] Eurythmy is is sometimes described as "visible speech" — the movements of the dancers purportedly make visible the deep, real meaning of language.

[7] I.e., a word can be expressed through a series of movements corresponding to the letters that spell the word.

[8] This is the overly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy — a church that worships the Sun God, as described by Steiner. [See "Christian Community" in The BWSE.]

[9] I.e., a trained practitioner of eurythmy.

[10] An "Alleluia" is a liturgical chant in which that word (meaning "Praise the Lord") is combined with verses of scripture, usually from the Psalms.

[11] This is a prayer Jesus taught his followers, for instance in his Sermon on the Mount. [See Matthew 6:9-13.]

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

[13] Steiner taught that all fully incarnated human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible. [See "Incarnation".]

[14] The etheric body is the lowest of the three invisible bodies; it incarnates at about age seven. [See "etheric body" in the BWSE.]

[15] The "I", in the sense used here, is the highest of the three invisible bodies; it incarnates at around age 21. [See "I, ego" in the BWSE.]

[16] Steiner taught that the most elevated part of the "I" dwells in the spirit realm even while the less elevated parts dwell on the physical plane. [See "higher I" in the BWSE.]

[17] "In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible [i.e., spiritual] world.” — Rudolf Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247.

[18] See "form drawing" in the BWSE.

[19] Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".] Dynamis are gods of the fifth rank; they are also known by such names as "Spirits of Movement" and "Mights." [See "Dynamis" in the BWSE.]

[20] Instructions for making this drawing were given as follows:

• Use a dark blue pencil.
• Make the drawing with the right hand clockwise.
• First draw the outer circle.
• Lightly mark the center of the circle.
• Make the lemniscate inside, starting from the top, clockwise (in the direction the clock's hands move).
• Finally, make the inner circle.

[21] Weleda is an Anthroposophical enterprise that sells products that purportedly enhance health and beauty. [See "Weleda" in the BWSE.]

[22] The General Anthroposophical Society is the central body of the worldwide Anthroposophical movement. The Society has its chief offices at the Goetheanum, but Anthroposophy has branches in many parts of the world: the Anthroposophical Society in America, the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, and so on. 

— R.R.








September 1, 2020


PROTESTS,  CONSPIRACY THEORIES,
AND RUDOLF STEINER'S FOLLOWERS


Anthroposophists — including some holding positions at Waldorf schools — have taken leading roles in street demonstrations that are roiling Germany and other European nations. The demonstrators generally oppose governmental measures aimed at combatting the coronavirus pandemic. But the protests also reflect a broad, confused mix of conspiracy theories and extremist political beliefs. Demonstrators represent all shades of political allegiance, from far left to far right, but the right wing seems to be predominant.

Here is how the demonstrations were characterized recently by an opinion writer in The New York Times:





A protester with a former German Empire flag during a demonstration 
against coronavirus restrictions on Saturday in Berlin.
Credit...John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


They’re out on the streets again.

On Saturday, around 38,000 people marched in Berlin, calling for an end to pandemic restrictions. It was a bizarre mix of people: families and senior citizens were joined by right-wing extremists, some sporting swastika tattoos...

These demonstrations are something of a mystery. One of the strangest things about them is that there is hardly anything to protest: Most restrictions, never as strict as in some other European countries, have been lifted...

It’s little surprise that the protests have drawn their fair share of far-right adherents. Right-wing extremist groups supported the large Aug. 1 demonstration in Berlin — organizing rides to the city, for example — and even dominated some of the earlier, smaller protests in the capital...

Behind this strange coalition of ordinary citizens, conspiracy theorists and far-right extremists is the belief that they have discovered a hidden truth, which has been either ignored or nefariously concealed — the same impulse that fuels populist movements across the world. Such conviction...can spill into violence....

— Anna Sauerbrey, "Meet Germany's Bizarre Anti-Lockdown Protestors", The New York Times, August 31, 2020.




The demonstrations reached a new, threatening level of intensity when an effort was made to storm the Reichstag, the German parliament. A reporter for The New York Times gave this account:


It was shortly after 7 p.m. when a self-described healer got on stage outside the German Parliament and urged the jeering crowd of protesters to storm the building: “There is no more police!” she shouted. “We have won!”

What followed was a scene many Germans thought had been confined to their history books: Hundreds of far-right activists waving the black, white and red flag of the pre-1918 German Empire that once inspired the Nazis broke through a police barrier and tried to force their way into the building.

It took only a few tense minutes before the police, though vastly outnumbered, managed to push them back. But Saturday’s events marked an alarming escalation of the protests against Germany’s response to the pandemic that have grown steadily bigger and — on the fringes at least — angrier....

— Katrin Bennhold, "Far Right Germans Try to Storm Reichstag as Virus Protests Escalate", The New York Times, August 31, 2020.




The involvement of Anthroposophists in these protests may surprise some readers, but at least some segments of the Anthroposophical community have long been involved with far-right political movements, including Nazism. [See "Sympathizers?"] And certainly Anthroposophy encourages belief in hidden realities, dark conspiracies, and the need for a social revolution. [See "Double Trouble" and "Threefolding".]

A blogger in Germany who keeps close tabs on the Anthroposophical movement has offered the following summary of the current situation. (I have edited the summary lightly and reformatted it for use here.)


The Waldorf movement plays an important role in the demonstrations against corona measures in Germany and also in German-speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland.

Anthroposophists took part in corona demonstrations in Berlin, Chiemgau, Cottbus, Düsseldorf, Ehningen, Görlitz, Halle, Holzgerlingen, Oldenburg, Stuttgart, Tübingen, Überlingen, Weimar, Vienna, and other cities.

Anthroposophical demonstrators include Waldorf teacher-trainers such as the Anthroposophist Christop Hueck — he was present at more than 10 corona demonstrations as a speaker. There he trivialized the virus as harmless and brought up conspiracy theories like one involving Bill Gates.

The Anthroposophical threefold ("Dreigliederung") movement also appears time and again, for example in the city of Halle.

In Überlingen, the demonstration was organized by a former director of the Waldorf School there, Udo Daecke. He held lectures with well-known conspiracy theorists such as Daniele Ganser or Willy Wimmer.

In the city of Weimar, the local Waldorf School Weimar organized the demonstrations.

Anthroposophic Waldorf school physician Dr. Klaus Lesacher was a speaker at corona demonstrations in Tübingen, where he spoke about "mass hysteria" and "media war." Also in Tübingen, the Anthroposophist Andreas Neider of the Anthroposophic Arkanthos Academy has been active at demos.

In the cities of Görlitz and Cottbus, the local Waldorf school [was central], and a Waldorf teacher reported on the media's "pharmaceutical lobby," "Bill Gates," and "fascist propaganda."

In Ulm, a Waldorf teacher has distributed radical leaflets and claimed that corona measures are like Adolf Hitler's "Enabling Laws."

At the Waldorf School in Wahlwies, a student newspaper had coverage of "mass vaccinations, disappearing freedom of expression, and manipulated media."

In Düsseldorf and Cologne, a Waldorf teacher appeared and spoke about the "duty to resist" corona measures.

Finally, on August 29, it was an Anthroposophic healer and Rudolf Steiner admirer who led the storming of the Berlin Reichstag building.

— Oliver Rautenberg, posting at the Waldorf Critics discussion site [https://groups.io/g/waldorf-critics/message/32146, August 31, 2020]. 

Rautenberg's blog is located at https://anthroposophie.blog. His coverage of the demonstrations, and Waldorf/Anthroposophical involvement in them, can be found at https://anthroposophie.blog/2020/06/18/esoteriker-an-der-querfront-gegen-staat-presse-und-wissenschaft/.

— R.R.








August 30, 2020


STEINER, WALDORF, AND COVID
(& KARMA, DEMONS, THE SUN...)
[Part 2.2]



Here is a continuation of the second article published recently by the French news service Heidi.News about the Steiner/Waldorf view of Covid-19. Overall, the articles present an intriguing account of the way Rudolf Steiner's followers (including many Waldorf teachers) look at the Covid crisis. Much of the commentary in the articles is provided by former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra.

To read my translations of the articles, see "Steiner & Covid".


Sunbathing. One of the medical directors of the Goetheanum [1], Georg Soldner, said it well: "What our immune system often suffers from is a lack of sunlight." As Grégoire Perra explained to us, the heart-lung system [2] is considered by Steiner to be "under the influence of Christ, the great spirit of the Sun [3]. This is why they [Anthroposophical doctors] recommend sunbathing." Under normal circumstances, Georg Soldner asserts, it is actually the lack of light that causes many illnesses:

"The lack is felt most strongly in the month of March. This is why the highest mortality rate in our latitudes comes at the end of month of March, compared to the rest of the year. It is largely related to the lack of sunshine during the winter months."

In fact, if mortality increases in winter among people over 65 years old (it is actually highest in January-February), all studies link this to seasonal respiratory diseases, not to the lack of light (even if a correlation has been found between light and suicide rates...).


Connecting to the cosmos. But excess mortality in winter, according to Soldner,

"reminds us that it is extremely beneficial to go out every day — in winter if possible at noon — and thus connect with the cosmos in a very elementary way."

Connecting with the cosmos is a favorite theme of biodynamics [4], the agricultural arm of Anthroposophy. "Steiner repudiates the separation of man from nature," notes Grégoire Perra. The founder of biodynamics thus advocated the use of cow horns in various preparations [5] because "the cow has horns that gather formative astral and etheric forces [6] into its body" ... The horn then becomes the ideal instrument for connecting a vineyard to the universe. Similarly [according to Steiner] it is the bee [7] or the dandelion [8] that are seen as "links between the Earth and the cosmos."

Georg Soldner digs the same furrow, explaining that "humanity's relationship to the earth and the cosmos" has changed, that we are "stirring up a fear of acute high temperatures, such as that produced by sunlight." This view explains the resistance of Anthroposophists toward various prophylactic measures, which would sever the "unconscious link with the Earth and the Sun," as Matthias Girke [Co-Director for Medicine at the Goetheanum] explains in his video [9]:

"We need healthy contact with the Sun and light. And many of the measures currently prescribed for us are such that they tend to confine us to our homes, without leading us outside into the light. And we know that sunlight has a positive impact on the immune system."

Cyril Vidal [president of the FakeMed collective] rejoins:

"Exposure to the Sun is necessary for vitamin D synthesis, and if you really lack sufficient exposure to the Sun, you can take vitamin D supplements. But such cases are rare. And bear in mind, too much exposure to the Sun also has consequences, among others cancer."


Escape from stress. For Anthroposophists, "stress and fear, which are characteristic of today's materialistic competitive society, have a weakening effect on the immune system, and are therefore partly to blame [for the pandemic]," Soldner asserts — adding that the lungs are also be weakened by such "social tensions." For Rudolf Steiner, fear tends to cause us to become disembodied: One becomes pale, as blood circulation is affected, which reflects how our "self" [10]...leaves the physical body. Steiner also sees a connection to demons [11]:

"There are beings in the spiritual realms for whom anxiety and fear emanating from human beings offer welcome nourishment. ... If fear and anxiety radiate from individuals who then begin to panic, these creatures feed and become more and more powerful." (THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS, 1917)

In March, the Anthroposophical physician Harald Matthes mocked the "panicky and emotional" reaction of conventional medicine, saying that "even young people, who in most cases do not realize that they are infected, become anxious or even hysterical". Cyril Vidal answers:

"It's a little glib to say it is a question of personal attitude. Stress is not good for anyone, but we will not be better protected from the virus if we just relax!"







 


The seven seals of the Apocalypse, painted by Clara Rettich in 1911 
after sketches by Rudolf Steiner (Wikimedia Commons) [12]






 
◊ To Be Continued ◊






[8/30/2020    https://www.heidi.news/sante/anthroposophie-et-covid-partie-1-une-maladie-symbolique    This article originally appeared on August 26. Translation by Roger Rawlings, making use of Google Translate and DeepL Translator.    I hope I will soon be able to translate more of the article.]






Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] This is the headquarters of Anthroposophy, a cathedral designed by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] The Goetheanum is located in Dornach, Switzerland, and is named for the German author Goethe.

[2] Anthroposophical medicine claims that the heart and lungs are part of a single bodily system, one that reflects inner rhythms. Of course, modern medicine (which is to say, real medicine) identifies the heart and lungs as quite separate organs, the centers of two separate systems.

[3] Anthroposophy places great stress on the figure of Christ. For this reason, Anthroposophy may seem to be a Christian movement or denomination. But the "Christ" is Anthroposophy is quite different from the Son of God worshipped in Christian churches. Anthroposophy's "Christ" is the Sun God, the god identified with the Sun who has been worshipped under such names as Hu and Ahura Mazda. [See "Sun God".]

[4] This is a form of agriculture — farming and gardening — based on Rudolf Steiner's occult teachings. [See "Biodynamics".]

[5] I.e., fertilizers and other treatments for the soil and crops. One Anthroposophical fertilizer is made by packing manure into cow horns.

[6] Anthroposophists believe in various spirit-infused forces that reach us from the stars and from the "ether." [See "astrology" and "ether" in the Brief Waldorf / steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[7] See "Bees".

[8] E.g., "The innocent yellow dandelion! In whatever district it grows, it is the greatest boon ... Truly the dandelion is a kind of messenger of Heaven." — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE COURSE (Bio-dynamics Agriculture Association, 1958), lecture 5, GA 327.

[9] "What Can Strengthen the Immune System," April, 2020.

[10] This is the spiritual ego or "I" — Anthroposophists identify it as the highest of three invisible bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See "Ego" and "Incarnation".]

[11] See "demons" in the BWSE.

[12] This image appears in the article without explanation. For brief descriptions of the seven seals, see "Through His Eyes".

— R.R.








August 28, 2020


STEINER, WALDORF, AND COVID
(& KARMA, DEMONS, THE SUN...)
[Part 2.1]


Here is the beginning of the second article published recently by the French news service Heidi.News about the Steiner/Waldorf view of Covid-19. Overall, the articles present an intriguing account of the way Rudolf Steiner's followers (including many Waldorf teachers) look at the Covid crisis. Much of the commentary in the articles is provided by former Waldorf teacher Grégoire Perra [1].



Protecting Yourself from Covid-19 
According to Anthroposophy: 
Using the Sun, Drawings, and Dance

by Adrien Miqueu





The Goetheanum in Dornach
Wladyslaw / CC BY-SA / Creative Commons


If you were taken aback by our previous article, describing the causes of Covid-19 according to Anthroposophy (demons, lack of sunlight, and human dupilcity), you should brace yourself. For this second part, we plunge even more deeply into the doctrines of Rudolf Steiner, in order to understand the origins of Anthroposophical advice on how to avoid Covid-19.

Although Anthroposophy considers illness to be a trial we endure in order to "grow internally...for purposes of self-development," still Anthroposophical doctors have been busy since the start of the pandemic promoting methods for "strengthening the immune system" [2]. Advice dubbed "natural," relayed from the medical section of the Anthroposophical Society to the network of Steiner-Waldorf schools [3], hides complex esoteric doctrines [4].

Resilience. In contrast to public health policies aimed at community health measures, the emphasis [in Anthroposophical medicine] is directed to the individual [5]. The goal: "Strengthening resilience, promoting salutogenesis [6]." This last concept...is said to be the antithesis of "pathogenesis" in traditional medicine. Understand: Pathogenesis seeks the origin of disease, while salutogenesis is concerned with the origin of good health. By drawing on the patient's "vital and spiritual resources" through "medicinal and artistic treatments, as well as rhythmic massage and curative eurythmy" (more on this later), Anthroposophical medicine is said to address "the patient's self-healing forces."

Cyril Vidal, president of the FakeMed collective, a group of health professionals fighting against pseudo-medicine, has said this:

"As soon as you talk to Anthroposophical doctors, you hit a wall. Anthroposophical medicine seems devoid of content, or you don't understand where it's going. We find the same with Scientology. It seems healthy, eliminating stress and pathologies, but we are told nothing of the underlying ideology, which is kept completely hidden!"

Salutogenesis is defended by Harald Matthes, medical director of the Anthroposophical clinic in Havelhöhe, Germany, who in March said "It is good that younger people are infected first, to build up herd immunity" [7].

Describing salutogenesis as "referring to the psychic level of healing", Matthias Girke, Co-Director for Medicine at the Goetheanum [8]...emphasizes inner healing powers. In an article entitled "The Therapeutic Action of Anthroposophy," published in March 2020, he explains:

"If we seek the healing forces of the astral body [9], we will find them in the security, the search for meaning and direction, which come from the acquisition of knowledge [10]. In this respect, truth has a healing effect, while lies weaken and offend the soul. The powers of devotion to the truth, the life convictions which one can 'believe,' have a healing effect on the astral organization" [11].

This is a repetition of a statement he made in a video titled "What Can Strengthen the Immune System," released in April 2020, in which he stated that "when we discover something that has a content of truth, it has an internal orienting effect on the soul of man."

To elucidate these cryptic sentences, we must return to Steiner...who explained that thoughts are independent of man, that they permeate the universe [12]. Grégoire Perra, a former Anthroposophist and now an active critic of the movement, explains:

"You only capture thoughts, without producing them. And if you receive a 'high' thought, it has a beneficial effect on you [13]."

As Cyril Vidal points out:

"Anthroposophy has nothing curative to offer [14]. So as a preventive measure, it doesn't risk much: If you don't get sick, it's because it worked; if not, it's because you are undergoing a 'karmic crisis' [15]."





 
◊ To Be Continued ◊






[8/28/2020    https://www.heidi.news/sante/anthroposophie-et-covid-partie-1-une-maladie-symbolique    This article originally appeared on August 26. Translation by Roger Rawlings, making use of Google Translate and DeepL Translator.    I hope I will soon be able to translate more of "Protecting Yourself from Covid-19 According to Anthroposophy: Using the Sun, Drawings, and Dance".]






Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] See "Grégoire Perra".

[2] I.e., Anthroposophy teaches that diseases are generally good for us; still, Anthroposophical doctors have issued advice on how to avoid contracting Covid-19.

[3] The labels "Steiner-Waldorf schools," "Steiner schools," and "Waldorf schools" are generally interchangeable. These are tags for institutions that educate children in accordance with the guidance provided by Rudolf Steiner.

[4] See "Steiner's Quackery". 

All of Steiner's teachings are esoteric (likely to be comprehensible to initiates) or occult (secret, hidden). [See "Occultism".]

[5] According to Anthroposophy, a fully developed human being has a unique spiritual ego (an "I") that no one else can know. [See "Ego".] Each human being is, in this sense, incomparable, having needs that are highly specific to the individual. Steiner taught that each unique individual also has a unique karma. Belief in karma is fundamental in Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".] For reasons such as these, Anthroposophical medicine holds that medical treatment must be highly individualized.

[6] See "The Vile Virus & Technology II", March 24, 2020.

[7] The idea is that if enough children contract the disease, the result will be widespread immunity in the overall population (so-called "herd immunity"). For a rejoinder, see "Don't Let Children Contract Covid-19", March 25, 2020.

Note, by the way, that emphasizing shared immunity within a population runs contrary to the claimed Anthroposophical focus on the individual.

[8] This is the headquarters of Anthroposophy, a cathedral designed by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] The Goetheanum is located in Dornach, Switzerland, and is named for the German author Goethe.

[9] One esoteric/occult doctrine of Anthroposophy is that all fully incarnated human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible. [See "Incarnation".] The astral body is the second of the invisible bodies. [See "astral body" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[10] The "knowledge" sought through Anthroposophy is mystical (esoteric, occult): It is theoretically produced through the use of clairvoyance. The word "Anthroposophy" means "human knowledge" or "human wisdom" — although in fact Anthroposophy contains precious little real knowledge or wisdom. [See, e.g., "Clairvoyance" and "Truth".]

[11] According to Anthroposophy, the "astral organization" is the inner structure or constitution of astral forces (forces flowing from the astral plane or soul world) that go to make up the astral body.

[12] I.e., real thoughts are produced by the gods. The human brain does not think — rather, it acts like a radio, receiving the gods' thoughts. [See "brain" and "thinking" in the BWSE.]

Note that Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]

[13] See "living thoughts" in the BWSE.

[14] I.e., the "health-giving" effect of Anthroposophy is attained through reception of living thoughts beamed down by the gods. But, Vidal argues, this is bunk.

[15] Playing fast and loose with both logic and knowledge, Anthroposophical doctors argue that if their patients (or students in Waldorf schools, under the care of Anthroposophists) remain healthy, this is due to the wonderful effects of Anthroposophy. But if such people get sick, this must be because their karma requires them to undergo a particular illness.

— R.R.








August 21, 2020


SEEKING  COVID  SAFETY
IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS


As American Waldorf schools generally prepare to reopen for the autumn term, they are implementing various strategies aimed at protecting students from Covid-19. One strategy deserves special attention. Numerous Waldorf schools are creating outdoor classrooms, hoping there will be less chance of contagion in such spaces.

The efficacy of this approach is open to question. Moving outdoors will not, in and of itself, assure safety. Social distancing will remain important, and children and teachers probably should wear masks in the new, open-air classrooms. If, for instance, an infected child sneezes in an outdoor classroom, the virus may spread among the class even if the breeze ultimately carries most of the microbes away [1]. 

Then, too, there is the question of keeping kids warm in winter. An outdoor classroom that is comfortable in September may be bitterly cold in January. This may have implications for children's health. In addition, if space heaters are installed, the safety of these devices may become an issue.

The strategy of moving instruction outdoors is not unique to Waldorf schools, but it may be more widespread within the Waldorf movement than elsewhere. Indeed, proponents of Waldorf education often argue that children should spend at least part of each day outdoors, in all weather. And some proponents go so far as to argue that virtually all instruction should occur outdoors [2].

Here are excerpts from some recent news accounts touching on these matters:

From Click on Detroit [Michigan, USA]:


Detroit school prepares for in-person learning 
by adding 5,000 square feet in outdoor classrooms

By Kim DiGiulio

While many Michigan schools have decided learning will have to be done remotely this fall, the Detroit Waldorf School is working to create a safe in-person learning environment for students.

Ignacio Moreno Elst has been helping ... He’s a father who’s trying to give his children the chance to learn in-person this fall.

"The Waldorf curriculum is very much in-person," Elst said. "We do a lot of things by hand, and at their age, it’s very essential to be here in school."

Detroit Waldorf School is an independent kindergarten through eighth grade school in Indian Village [3].  School officials came up with a plan to expand learning spaces by 5,000 square feet with outdoor classrooms.

"So they’ll have one solid wall, which we’re calling the teaching wall," Elst said. "There will be cubbies for the children’s things and then the other three sides will have canvas flaps that come down to increase four-season use [4]."

The school has raised more than $43,000 from crowdfunding in a month for the materials. The labor is time donated by the parents...

School starts in less than three weeks, so everyone will be working around the clock to get the outdoor classrooms done in time [5].


Why One School Is Turning To 
Outdoor Classrooms Amid Coronavirus

By Lisa Marie Farver




"Welcome to the Outdoor Classroom!"
The Waldorf School of DuPage is building nine outdoor classroom spaces. (Maya Tubic )


As schools are working to find ways to foster a healthy learning environment amid the coronavirus crisis, The Waldorf School of DuPage [in Warrenville, Illinois] is looking even further than outside the box by building outdoor classrooms.

Faculty Chair and grades teacher [6] Brenna McLachlan told Patch the school is constructing nine outdoor classroom spaces that will be used in addition to regular classrooms to give students a chance to learn in the great outdoors...

"When there's a lot of stress and chaos in the world we find that it's really helpful to be out in nature [7]," McLachlan [said].

The outdoor classrooms will be equipped with desks that will be placed 6 feet apart from one another to allow for social distancing...

The Waldorf School of DuPage students are outside a lot during the day throughout the year for gardening [8], sledding and other learning and recreational activities.

The outdoor spaces will include shelters for snacks and places for story time, McLachlan added. When students aren't in the outdoor classroom, they will be learning inside with their masks on [9]...

In winter, the outdoor spaces will be equipped with heaters to allow for outdoor learning year-round and to allow kids to be outside "as much as possible," McLachlan said.... [10]

[8/21/2020    https://patch.com/illinois/wheaton/why-one-school-turning-outdoor-classrooms-amid-coronavirus    This article originally appeared on July 24.]




From https://www.newschannel5.com/ [Nashville, Tennessee]:


Linden Waldorf School constructs 
outdoor classrooms amid the pandemic

By Alexandra Koehn

A local school is moving all classes outside due to the pandemic.

The Linden Waldorf School is tucked behind Trinity Presbyterian Church in the Green Hills neighborhood [11]. They’re building eight classrooms for pre-K through eighth grade.

"We will be cohorting this year to keep our students and faculty in bubbles [12] as much as we can," said Tricia Drake, head of school.

Drake said it’s an easy transition. Students already spend the bulk of the school day outside learning about things like gardening and woodworking [13]...

The outdoor classrooms will be equipped with hand-washing stations and tree stump chairs. They won’t need electricity either.

"We don’t use technology in the classroom. In upper grades, they of course use it as research, but it’s not an integral part of our classroom instruction," Drake said [14]...

In the chance of severe weather, they will move students inside [15].






Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] For an overview and background, see "Kids and Covid: Time to Reopen?, August 11, 2020, and "Reopening Waldorf: A Case Down Under", May 17, 2020.

[2] See, e.g., "For Love of Nature, Real or Not", May 26, 2018.

Kids usually love to have outdoor classes, but teachers often find that keeping the kids' attention is far harder outdoors, where there are innumerable distractions (both positive and negative: butterflies, mosquitoes). The amount of learning that occurs in such conditions may often suffer.

[3] Indian Village is an affluent area on the east side of Detroit.

Kids usually love to have outdoor classes, but teachers often find that keeping the kids' attention is far harder outdoors, where there are innumerable distractions (both positive and negative: butterflies and mosquitoes, bluebirds and vipers). The amount of learning that occurs in such conditions will often suffer.

[5] "Detroit...has a humid continental climate ... [P]recipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year ... May [is] the rainiest month with relatively high precipitation of 3.9" (99.1mm). Winter in Detroit lasts from December to February and is characterized by freezing weather and high humidity of 75%. Temperatures remain low in the range of 19.4°F (-7°C), and 37.4°F (3°C) and snowfall are experienced for an average of nine days each month ... With wet, snowy, and chilly days, most [winter] activities in Detroit revert to indoors." — Weather Atlas [https://www.weather-us.com/en/michigan-usa/detroit-climate].

[6] In Waldorf schools, a "class teacher" is usually the primary instructor for a group of children for several successive years. Typically, a Waldorf class teacher may remain with the same children from first grade through fifth grade or even longer. [See "class teachers at Waldorf schools" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[7] For the Waldorf view of nature, see "Neutered Nature".

[8] Waldorf schools often have organic gardens on campus; students are often required to work in these gardens. [See "biodynamic gardening and farming" in the BWSE.] "The gardening class is an obligatory part of the education." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.

[9] Wearing masks would also be advisable in the outdoor classrooms and all other situations when students may come into close contact.

[10] Warrenville, Illinois, is in the Chicago metropolitan area. "Chicago, the Windy City, stretches on the continental divide ... Winters are cold with the average low temperature of 17°F (-8.3°C) in January, and even daily highs are sometimes below freezing of 32°F (0°C) ... Humidity averages 70% over the year, which makes the weather muggy ... Annual precipitation of 36" (914.4mm) occurs within 124 rainy days ... Snowfall is in the range of 36" (914.4mm), with an average of 28 snowy days during the year. — Weather Atlas [https://www.weather-us.com/en/illinois-usa/chicago-climate].

[11] Green Hills is an affluent "suburban enclave" in southwest Nashville.

[12] This unusual usage ("cohorting...in bubbles") presumably means individuals will be divided into small groups that are kept apart. ("Cohort" is a noun, not a verb. "Bubbles" is a metaphor, in this instance.)

[13] Waldorf education generally endorses green values, affirming nature as opposed to things that are artificial or man-made. [See "environmentalism" in the BWSE.]

[14] The Waldorf approach generally opposes most uses of modern technology, seeing such technology (and its foundation: modern science) as the antithesis of nature and spirituality. Televisions, computers, and so forth, are thus generally banned from Waldorf schools, and an effort is often made to restrict their use in the homes of Waldorf students. Today, however, as computers and the Internet have become ubiquitous in most people's lives, some use of technology (such as conducting research online) is accepted in higher grades at many Waldorf schools. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[15] "Winters [in Nashville] are mild, with January average low temperatures a few degrees below freezing. Cold waves typically plummet the temperatures below 10°F (-12.2°C), and it is usual to record 0°F (-17.8°C) during such periods ... The region receives rain for an average of 118 days during the year; it is customary to receive up to 10" (254mm) in the wettest month during a particularly rainy year ... The region is humid, with an average humidity of 70% over the year ... Severe thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes strike Nashville during spring and autumn." — Weather Atlas [https://www.weather-us.com/en/tennessee-usa/nashville-climate].

— R.R.








August 17, 2020


STEINER, WALDORF, AND COVID
(& KARMA, DEMONS, THE SUN...)
[Part 1]


The French news service Heidi.News has published the first of three connected articles about the Steiner/Waldorf view of Covid-19. Former Waldorf student and teacher Grégoire Perra [1] is quoted extensively in the articles — he serves as a guide through the intricacies Steinerish thought.

Here is my translation of excerpts from the first article. The translation is fairly loose: In places I paraphrase more than translate, and I condense as much as I can, which means leaving out some material. The article is quite long and detailed. If you are able to read French, or if you're inclined to send the article through a translation program, I urge you to read the article in its entirety. There's a hurdle, though — the article stands behind a paywall. 

I hope to present the second of the articles — translated and condensed — when it is published.


What Anthroposophy Says about Covid-19: 
a Primarily Symbolic Disease

by Adrien Miqueu



The Goetheanum in Dornach | Wladyslaw / CC BY-SA / Creative Commons


This article is the first part of our investigation into what anthroposophy says about Covid-19...

In mid-March, you may have seen a video by a certain Dr. Cowan, former vice president of the Physicians Association for Anthroposophic Medicine, explaining that the coronavirus was caused by 5G technology [2] ... The video was quickly withdrawn (but can still be found online), and Anthroposophic societies quickly dissociated themselves from Dr. Cowan ... Nonetheless, the arguments made by Cowan are a pure product of Anthroposophy, that spiritual and esoteric movement founded at the turn of the century by Rudolf Steiner [3] ... [A]nthroposophical doctrine is a bookish mixture of occultism, New Age spirituality, and pseudoscience [4] ... This esoteric content surprises those who thought Anthroposophic medicine [5] was only an innocent "alternative" therapeutic approach, like homeopathy. Because from the outside, Anthroposophy presents itself in the guise of a true science and a humanist philosophy. Grégoire Perra, former Anthroposophist and now active critic of the movement, explains:

"There is always this doubletalk in Anthroposophy: 'We respect science and medicine, we are not at odds with traditional medicine.' Whereas in fact Steiner's writings are in complete contradiction to real science!"...

In his profuse writings, Rudolf Steiner gives numerous explanations about epidemics, which he considered good. Epidemics cause us to suffer in ways that make us more perfect ... Being sick enables us to "accomplish one's karma" [6], to atone for acts committed in a previous life ... But vaccines prevent us from undergoing needed diseases, meaning we cannot fulfill our karma until a later incarnation [7]. This view of disease explains the reluctance of Anthroposophists towards using vaccines [8]. The consequence: Steiner/Waldorf schools are regularly identified as hotbeds of measles infection (for example in Biel last year [9] or in the United States [10])...

At the end of 2019, a documentary from Complément d’Enquête (TV Channel 2) showed a school doctor from a Steiner school saying that after catching measles, children slept better and no longer stammered. An official from the Federation of Steiner Schools in Switzerland also confirmed the existence of "social events for artificial infection" [11] that were held at least as recently as the 1990s: If a pupil had measles, all the other children were brought together to that they pass it on to each other.

So according to Anthroposophy, we should not avoid disease. This vision is relayed by the medical directors of the Goetheanum [12], who explain that Covid-19 can help people grow inwardly in the direction of self-improvement...

But this is not the only cause of Covid-19, according to Anthroposophy. In the April article in the Swiss Anthroposophical Society newsletter, the author quotes another passage from Steiner attributing illnesses to the action of the demon Ahriman [13]...

Grégoire Perra confirms this Anthroposophical vision of epidemics:

"Illness is never seen as a bad thing. It is sent by the beneficent gods [14], through the demonic powers [15], to show that our civilization is on the way to perdition [16]."

The corruption of humanity is another cause of epidemics, according to the medical directors of the Goetheanum:

"Rudolf Steiner pointed out that the 'lies of humanity' can have epidemiological significance. Liars separate themselves from the spiritual realm of truth and hinder the healing forces that flow from truth."

And add:

"The fact that the coronavirus pandemic only affects human beings [17] shows that it is linked to the essence of the human spiritual ego [18], and thus both prevention and healing should include this spiritual dimension."

Most people quickly become lost when trying to make sense of Anthroposophical statements that interweave medical and esoteric concepts, especially because the broader doctrinal basis of these statements is rarely stated explicitly. Grégoire Perra explains:

"What Anthroposophists say publicly is always half-hearted, without divulging the underlying rationale, so the language is never clear. You have to read Steiner's books AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE [19] and MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA [20], but who's going to read texts like that, which refer to things like Atlantis [21], Lemuria [22], and the reincarnation of the solar system [23]? But we cannot understand the Anthroposophical position on Covid-19 without knowing these foundations."

Anthroposophy assumes that people have four "bodies": the physical body, astral body, etheric body, and the "I" [24]. Each human being gradually incarnates more and more deeply into his/her physical body up to the age of 35, then s/he withdraws just as gradually until death ... This model explains, for Georg Soldner [25], why older people are more affected by the coronavirus:

"The more a person is already in a situation of disincarnating, the more they are vulnerable to this viral disease, called Covid-19"...

[B]esides old age, it is the lack of light that would make us vulnerable to Covid-19:

"What is it that weakens the lung? Two things in particular: a deficient link with the earth and the sun, as well as social tensions"... 

Hence, Grégoire Perra says, Anthroposophists recommend sunbathing as a treatment for Covid 19....

[8/17/2020    
https://www.heidi.news/sante/anthroposophie-et-covid-partie-1-une-maladie-symbolique    This article originally appeared on August 12. Translation, paraphrasings, and condensation by Roger Rawlings, making use of Google Translate and DeepL Translator.]





Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] See "Grégoire Perra".

[2] See "The Vile Virus & Technology, I", March 23, 2020.

[3] See the entries for "Anthroposophy" and "Steiner, Rudolf" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).

[4] See, e.g., "Steiner's 'Science'".


[6] Belief in karma is central to Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".]

[7] Reincarnation is another central Anthroposophical doctrine derived from Eastern religions. [See "Reincarnation".]

[8] Waldorf schools and other Anthroposophical institutions are often centers of anti-vaccination sentiment. [See the entry for "vaccination" in the BWSE.]

[9] See, e.g., "Measles, Vaccines, and Waldorf", February 20, 2019.

[10] See, e.g., "Waldorf, Measles, The Times — and Demons", June 13, 2019.

[11] These are so-called "measles parties," gatherings designed to spread measles infection among groups of children. Reportedly, there have also sometimes been "chickenpox parties" and even "Civid parties" in Waldorf/Steiner circles. [See, e.g., "Covid, Nature, and the Young", April 9, 2020.]

[12] This is the Anthroposophical headquarters, named for the German writer Goethe. [See "Goetheanum" in the BWSE.]

[13] Ahriman is one of the chief demonic powers described in Anthroposophy. [See "Ahriman".]

[14] See "gods" in the BWSE. [Anthroposophy is polytheistic. See "Polytheism".]

[15] See "demons" in the BWSE.

Anthroposophists sometimes argue that there is really no such thing as evil. According to this line of belief, demons and other apparently evil beings actually work in service to the good powers of the cosmos. However, Steiner often indicated that evil is a very real phenomenon, and demons have evil intentions. [See "good and evil" in the BWSE; also see "Evil" and "Evil Ones".]

[16] See "Hell".

[17] Actually, there have been reports of animals such as dogs contracting Covid-19. [See, e.g., "First Dog to Test Positive for Covi-19 in North Carolina Dies", https://abcnews.go.com/US/dog-test-positive-covid-19-north-carolina-dies/story?id=72322728.]

[18] See "I, ego" in the BWSE.

[19] AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (also known as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE) is Steiner's most important book. It lays out his chief Anthroposophical doctrines. [See "Everything".] 

[20] MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA is typical of peripheral Steiner texts, centering on specific Anthroposophical beliefs. [See https://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA120/English/RSP1984/ManKar_index.html.]

[21] See "Atlantis".

[22] See "Lemuria".

[23] See "planetary conditions" in the BWSE.

[24] See "Incarnation".

[25] Soldner is Deputy Head of the medical section of the Gortheanum [https://medsektion-goetheanum.org/en/medical-section/co-workers/].

— R.R.








August 15, 2020


IN THE CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE —
ALLEGATIONS OF WALDORF RACISM


Waldorf schools have long operated in the shadow of Rudolf Steiner's racism [1]. But Steiner died almost a century ago, and proponents of Waldorf education have defended themselves with two central arguments: Steiner's teachings are not really racist, if they are properly understood; and, no matter what may have happened in the past, there is no racism in Waldorf education today.

Recently the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA) took a slightly different tack. Without explicitly acknowledging that Steiner was racially bigoted, the Association disassociated itself from any racist statements Steiner may have made [2].

Despite the defenses Waldorf schools and their partisans have offered, some non-white families with experience in Waldorf schools have claimed that racism is indeed present in these schools [3]. Now a venerable American newspaper — The Philadelphia Tribune [4] — has printed an article blasting a Waldorf school in a major American city, citing alleged racism. Here are excerpts:


Concerned parents speak up about racism, 
discrimination at Waldorf School of Philadelphia

[By] Samaria Bailey



The Waldorf School of Philadelphia is located on the grounds of a former Episcopal church in Germantown.
— Tribune Photo/Abdul R. Sulayman


Black parents and other parents of color say they and their families experience rampant racism and discrimination at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia.

"This is not an issue of falling short, getting it wrong, or occasionally perpetuating racism," a group called Concerned Parents of Color wrote in a letter to the private school’s administrators earlier this summer. "It is a consistent pattern that represents a form of sabotage of our previous efforts of accountability. Since our individual complaints have not been heard, we come to you as a group in hopes that you will find our pain more believable. We demand action by those with authority, influence, and conscience."

The letter lists dozens of incidents students or their families have personally experienced over the last several years, including a white child spitting on a Black child, school staff reserving front row seats at school concerts for white families, accountability processes that protect white staff and families, and white staff members rejecting or disbelieving complaints from families of color.

It also cites a variety of microaggressions [5] in everyday interactions, such as white faculty and staff "refusing to acknowledge people of color when talking; assuming or questioning whether a student or family of color is a member of the school; [and] white [parents] staring down parents and children of color."

The Concerned Parents of Color have asked the school to take 10 corrective actions immediately, including developing an accountability plan for addressing discrimination, adding race and diversity issues to teacher and faculty evaluations, and changing the structure of the board of trustees so it provides oversight and accountability to the faculty chairman.

School administrators said they were "grateful" for the parents’ letter and "deeply saddened to learn of the harms suffered by members of our community"...

Waldorf School Board of Trustees Vice President Brendon Jobs said the board voted unanimously to take the actions recommended by the Concerned Parents of Color, and [school executive director Anthony] deGuzman said most of them will be met by the time school starts in September.

deGuzman said the school also plans to seek an independent consultant to help identify the school’s needs and help hire someone to oversee diversity and inclusion efforts...

Rolando Brown, a Waldorf parent for five years, called for a more earnest effort.

"The effort to have the teachers at Waldorf school evolve the pedagogy so that the environment is safe for Black children and Black parents is not a new discussion. It has been happening for years. The need to evolve the Waldorf pedagogy so that it is safe for Black children and Black parents has existed for a long time," said Brown...

Brown questioned the sincerity of Waldorf’s response to the parents' concerns, wondering why the teachers have not been a part of the conversation...

Janelle Avant, a Waldorf parent for the past four years, got dozens of parents together earlier this year to discuss how they or their children had been victims of microaggressions or more overtly racist behaviors and discrimination...

The first year Avant’s son was enrolled at Waldorf, in 2017, a white boy spit in Avant’s son’s face twice, she said. She requested a meeting with the teacher, the faculty chairwoman and the other child’s parents...

"What happened next was it was pretty much going to be a write-up in his file," Avant said. "The student was not suspended, but he did apologize to my son. But what was said next by the faculty chair took me by surprise. She said, 'I don’t believe [he] could’ve done this because I know him'"...

A year later, the Concerned Parents group wrote in their letter, school administrators and staff treated a Black first-grade girl who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder differently from her classmates.

School administrators assured the young girl’s parents that they could accommodate the child’s special needs, but still asked the parents to remove her from the school...

School administrators and staff also treated parents of color different from white parents.

At a December 2019 holiday concert, parent Shelli Branscomb said she and a guest arrived early and found two unmarked, empty seats close to the stage...

[A] teacher told Branscomb the seats were reserved for families with sibling students who’d signed up for them, so Branscomb moved...

"You have this situation where you have teachers who made this policy of reserving seats that only white families benefitted from..." said Branscomb, who is Black.

Branscomb followed up on this incident with an email to the school, comparing the teacher’s tone to a pit bull...

The school administration set up a meeting to resolve the conflict, and the teacher assumed the role of the victim, Branscomb said.

The teacher even "screamed" at Branscomb during the meeting, Branscomb said, and the executive director and the diversity chairperson did not intervene.

"You would’ve thought that I had threatened her life," she said. "...I moved for a white family that never even showed up, but they were more worried about the fact that I [referenced] a pit bull."

That incident made Branscomb think of a 2017 Black History Month concert [6] in which the event program listed songs by white artists with the artists’ names and songs by Black artists as "Negro Spirituals" with no credit to the specific musician.

"There was one 'Negro Spiritual' that said remastered by a white man. I said, 'Come on, these songs have Black authors.' One was by Paul Robeson [7]..."

[According to education consultant Caryn Rivers] "There seems to be an unspoken notion [at this school] of who is the right type of kid and who is not [8]"...

"Waldorf School is not different from other schools people are calling out for egregious, cultural insensitivity," Rivers said. "A lot of institutions are being outed right now for not doing what they say they do. People are finally speaking out about mistreatment in these schools. And it’s Waldorf School’s time of reckoning as well."

The ongoing discrimination issues have made many parents question whether they want to continue to pay thousands of dollars annually to keep their kids enrolled at the Waldorf School....







Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] For an overview of Steiner's racist views, see "Steiner's Racism". For some of Steiner's specific statements about various races, see "Races".

[2] See "Stepping Away from Steiner?", July 26, 2020.

[4] Founded in 1884, The Philadelphia Tribune is the oldest continuously published African-American newspaper in the USA. 

[5] Microaggressions are subtly offensive statements or actions that may or may not be intentional. In at least some instances, the perpetrator may not understand the offense, but the victim (often a person of a different race or nationality) may feel it intensely.

[6] The article leaves the point vague, but this event presumably occurred at the Waldorf school.

[7] Paul Robeson (1898-1976) graduated first in his class at Rutgers University (New Jersey) and later earned a law degree at Columbia University (New York). He became a leading black activist working for racial justice, and he had a celebrated career as a singer and actor, appearing in several major plays and movies. [See "Paul Robeson", Encyclopaedia Britannica.] 
So-called "Negro spirituals" were generally created by slaves whose names are lost to history. [See "Spiritual (music)", Wikipedia.] Paul Robeson recorded nearly 300 songs, including spirituals. He is not, however, generally identified as a songwriter. An event program written with racial sensitivity would accord equal dignity to all songs from all ethnicities.

[8] Rudolf Steiner originally created Waldorf education for the benefit of white German children. [See "The Good Wars".] Steiner was a German nationalist. [See "Steiner and the Warlord".] He taught that the white race stands higher than other races, with the black race the lowest. [See 
"Forbidden".] The question confronting Waldorf schools today is whether they have fully expunged Steiner's ethnic preferences from their practices.
— R.R.








August 13, 2020


BAD  FOR  HEALTH:
WALDORF SCHOOLS


Edzard Ernst is one of the world's leading experts on alternative medicine. A harsh critic of unfounded forms of treatment, he has published more than 700 academic papers. Beginning in 1993, he established and ran the department of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, in the UK [1]. He is the author of such books as ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: A Critical Assessment of 150 Modalities (Springer, 2019) and SCAM: So-Called Alternative Medicine (Societas, 2018) [2].

Over the years, he has written several articles and book sections focused on Anthroposophical medicine and its use at Waldorf schools. Here are excerpts from his latest brief article on these matters, posted this month on his website:


Waldorf schools are a danger to public health



Steiner with his wife (right) and Ita Wegman, his lover (left).


Anthroposophic medicine [3] was founded by [Rudolf] Steiner [4] and Ita Wegman [5] in the early 20th century. Currently, it is being promoted as an extension of conventional medicine ... Its value has repeatedly been questioned, and clinical research in this area is often less than rigorous.

Anthroposophic education was developed in the Waldorf school that was founded by Steiner in 1919 to serve the children of employees of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany [6]...

Waldorf schools implicitly infuse spiritual and mystic concepts into their curriculum [7] ... In a 2011 paper, I summarised the evidence which showed that in the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, Waldorf schools have been at the centre of measles outbreaks due to their stance regarding immunisations [8].

More recently, a study evaluated trends in rates of personal belief exemptions (PBEs) to immunization requirements for private kindergartens in California that practice alternative educational methods...

Alternative schools had an average PBE rate of 8.7%, compared with 2.1% among public schools. Waldorf schools had the highest average PBE rate of 45.1%, which was 19 times higher than in public schools... 

The authors concluded that Waldorf schools had exceptionally high average PBE rates, and Montessori and holistic schools [9] had higher annual increases in PBE rates. Children in these schools [10] may be at higher risk for spreading vaccine-preventable diseases if trends are not reversed.

As the world is hoping for the arrival of an effective vaccine against the corona virus, these figures should concern us.

[8/13/20    https://edzardernst.com/2020/08/waldorf-schools-are-a-danger-to-public-health/    This article was originally posted on August 8.]





In an item Ernst published in April, 2020, he included the following statistics:


Waldorf schools are the leading Nonmedical Exemption schools [11] in various states, such as:

Waldorf School of Mendocino County (California) – 79.1%
Tucson Waldorf Schools (Arizona) – 69.6%
Cedar Springs Waldorf School (California) – 64.7%
Waldorf School of San Diego (California) – 63.6%
Orchard Valley Waldorf School (Vermont) – 59.4%
Whidbey Island Waldorf School (Washington) – 54.9%
Lake Champlain Waldorf School (Vermont) – 49.6%
Austin Waldorf School (Texas) – 48%








Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] See, e.g., "Edzard Ernst", Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edzard_Ernst.

[2] See, e.g., the listing for Ernst's books at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Edzard-Ernst/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AEdzard+Ernst.

[3] For an overview, see "Steiner's Quackery".

[4] See "Steiner, Rudolf" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).

[5] Ita Wegman (1876-1943) was one of Rudolf Steiner's colleagues. A medical doctor, she is credited with co-founding Anthroposophical medicine alongside Steiner. She is sometimes described as having been Steiner's lover.

[6] See "Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory", "Waldorf School, the first", and "Waldorf Schools" in the BWSE.


[8] See "Anthroposophy: A Risk Factor for Noncompliance with Measles Immunization", National Institutes of Health [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21102363/].

For additional background, see, e.g., the items listed under "measles" in The Waldorf Annex Index. Concerning the Waldorf stance on vaccination, see "vaccination" in the BWSE

[9] Montessori schools base their approach on the work of Italian physician Maria Montessori. [See, e.g., "Montessori Answers".] Holistic schools (which are diverse; they are not part of a single movement) seek to address all parts of the growing child: mind, body, and spirit. Waldorf schools themselves generally claim to be holistic. [See "Holistic Education".]

[10] I.e., Ernst may mean Waldorf schools (the focus of his article), or he may mean all three types of schools he has mentioned: Waldorf schools, Montessori schools, and "holistic schools."

[11] I.e., Waldorf schools have very high percentages of students claiming vaccination exemptions that are not based on valid doctors' orders.
— R.R.









August 5, 2020

◊ EDITORIAL◊

IMAGINING WALDORF 
FREED  OF  STEINER 


The Association of Waldorf Schools in North America (AWSNA) seems to have taken a small step toward distancing themselves from Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner. At least, they have issued a statement disassociating themselves from any racist statements Steiner may have made [1].

Devout disciples of Steiner — a cohort that includes many leaders of Waldorf schools — generally look on him as a nearly infallible sage [2]. For them, it is nearly unthinkable that Steiner could have been wrong about any important subject. Even entertaining such a possibility would, for them, open terrible prospects. If Steiner was wrong about one subject, perhaps he was wrong about other subjects, too. And in that case, the entire edifice of Anthroposophy — the spiritual system at the heart of the Waldorf movement — might come apart. For Steiner's followers, this would be a catastrophe. Their entire worldview, the teachings that give their lives meaning, could crumble to dust.

Outsiders are often surprised to learn what Steiner's followers believe. Here are a few examples. Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant [3], and he said he could teach his followers to develop their own clairvoyant capacities [4]. Steiner claimed that, due to his extremely high clairvoyant powers, he was able to probe the "higher worlds" above earthly existence [5]. He likewise claimed that he could divine much of the occult lore of the nine ranks of gods who control the operations of the cosmos [6]. Then, too, he said he could peer behind the veil of nature to understand the "nature spirits" — such as gnomes and undines — who dwell there [7]. He could explain the workings of karma [8] and reincarnation [9]. He could trace human evolution from its beginning in Old Saturn [10] to its future magnificence in Future Vulcan [11]. And so on [12].

If Steiner was wrong about the human races, could he possibly have been wrong about some of these other matters? Or could he even (oh no!) have been wrong about all of them? What, in short, if Anthroposophy is poppycock? Whither Waldorf then?

Of course, not all Waldorf schools in existence today are run by dyed-in-the-wool, true-believing Anthroposophists. Not all Waldorf teachers embrace Steiner's occult beliefs. Some Waldorf schools already function without relying absolutely on the guidance provided by Rudolf Steiner [13]. So it is possible (just barely) to image that the Waldorf movement could remain viable even if Waldorf leaders were someday to utterly renounce Steiner and all his works. (Don't hold your breath. Such a renunciation is not in the cards yet, and it may never be. But we can contemplate it, at least as a thought experiment.)

Would Waldorf education, wholly cleansed of Steiner's mysticism, be successful? Would Steiner-free Waldorf schools provide a good education?

The single greatest problem with Waldorf schools is that they tend to indoctrinate students in a soft form of Anthroposophy [14]. Indeed, luring kids toward Anthroposophy is the underlying raison d'être of the Waldorf movement [15]. Clearly, if Anthroposophy were wholly removed from Waldorf schools, then this problem would be resolved.

Mostly.

But an aftereffect of this problem would likely remain. Much of the Waldorf approach relies on hazy, feel-good methods [16]. These methods are attractive, even alluring. They may be intuitively appealing to many parents, especially those with spirit-tinged countercultural leanings. But these methods are based more on wishfulness than actual knowledge of psychology, child development, or educational principles. In the ethereal Waldorf view, children are pure, innocent spirits newly arrived from the beyond. Childhood is thought to be a sort of golden interlude between a spiritual prenatal existence and pragmatic, earthly adulthood. Kids should be given plenty of free time for unstructured play. They should be raised in a warm, hazy atmosphere of art and imagination and myth. They should be shielded from the hurly-burly modern world with its whiz-bang technologies and whirring, flashing gadgetry. Children should be relieved of the need to master academic subjects or to begin absorbing the findings of modern science and scholarship. Even the study of reading, writing, and basic arithmetic should be postponed. Children should be cosseted, swaddled in soothing fantasies, and infantilized [17].

The Waldorf vision of childhood may feel right to many people, but whether it is right is a different matter. Waldorf teachers rarely consult the latest research about childhood education; they are rarely even aware of it [18]. Instead, they follow a pattern of schooling set down by a mystic (who was not a professional educator) a century ago. This pattern arguably served children badly from its inception, and it almost certainly serves them worse now, in the twenty-first century. Are children raised in the Waldorf way likely to be prepared for real life in the real world? Are they likely to be ready to begin real schooling, if for any reason this became expected of them? Or are they instead starting down a path leading, at least potentially, toward woolly mysticism and otherworldly impracticality? Even those of us who share some Waldorf values (respect for nature, for instance, and love of art, and a deep concern for child welfare) might well worry for today's Waldorf students [19].

The problems with Waldorf schooling would certainly be alleviated if Steiner and Anthroposophy were wholly eliminated from Waldorf culture. Perhaps some Waldorf schools would then migrate toward the mainstream until they became essentially indistinguishable from other mildly "alternative" forms of education — arts-intensive charter schools, say. But what this means, really, is that Waldorf schools might become more or less okay if they ceased to be Waldorf schools.


And we should bring this discussion back into the realm of probability. Steiner and his doctrines are so fundamental to Waldorf schooling that in all probability they will remain present, to some degree, as long as Waldorf education exists as an identifiable movement. And this means that the otherworldly miasma within Waldorf walls will retain its Anthroposophical hues. Waldorf will remain a process that eases kids (and perhaps their parents) toward the occult faith promulgated by Rudolf Steiner.

The single greatest problem with Waldorf schools will probably remain the single greatest problem with Waldorf schools.





Waldorf Watch Footnotes
 
[1] See "Stepping Away from Steiner?", July 26, 2020.

[2] See "Guru".

[3] See "Exactly".


[5] See "Higher Worlds".

[6] See "Polytheism".

[7] See "Neutered Nature".

[8] See "Karma".

[9] See "Reincarnation".

[10] See "Old Saturn".

[11] See "Future Stages".

[12] For an overview of Anthroposophical doctrines, see "Everything". Also see "Waldorf Wisdom".

Waldorf students are rarely taught these doctrines in so many words, but they are nudged toward receptivity to such ideas, for instance in the myths they study [see "The Gods"] and the prayers they are required to recite [see "Prayers"].


[14] See "Indoctrination".

[15] See "Here's the Answer".

[16] See "Methods".

The techniques used in Waldorf schooling are based on Anthroposophical beliefs, such as belief in the incarnation of the so-called etheric body at age seven. [See "etheric body" in the The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] If Anthroposophy were removed, the ideological justification for these techniques would melt away. Whether the techniques could be justified on other grounds is, at best, moot.

[17] See, e.g., "childhood" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Also see such pages as "Thinking Cap", "Incarnation", "Glory", "The Waldorf Curriculum", "Academic Standards at Waldorf", and "Play - Isn't Slow Learning Best?"

Children certainly should be protected and treated gently. But we may inflict great harm even while we try to be kind. The purpose of education is to help children learn to apprehend, and function in, reality. Children love make-believe and fantasy, and satisfying their desire for these is fine — up to a point. But we should not lead children into labyrinths of fantasy from which they may not be able to escape. The fantasies promoted in Waldorf schools tend to be reiterated and elaborated year by year until they become a full worldview: the dreamscape of Anthroposophy. Hypothetical Steiner-free Waldorf schools would no longer lead children toward Anthroposophy per se, but they might well continue to lead children into mystical and metaphysical confusions that could hamper them throughout life.

Rudolf Steiner downplayed the importance of the brain and brainwork. [See "Steiner's Specific".] The educational system he created is anti-intellectual, anti-scientific, and anti-rational. [See, e.g., "Reality and Fantasy".] If future "cleansed" Waldorf schools were to continue embodying these biases, they might continue to hurt students in the same ways Waldorf schools arguably hurt them now. [See, e.g., "Who Gets Hurt?" and "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".]

[18] See "Teacher Training".

[19] For a defense of Waldorf schools — and a rebuttal — see "Into the World".

— R.R.

























For previous Waldorf-related news items,

see the News Archive

at the 

Waldorf Watch Annex.















The news items on this page are culled from media around the world, especially those in English-speaking countries. The commentary appended to most items is my own. (I sign my contributions, not because I like seeing my name or my initials, but to keep authorship — and responsibility — clear.)


I often generalize about Waldorf schools. There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; describe the schools based on available evidence concerning their structure and operationsBut not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. 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.

Momentous events, with potentially enormous consequences, are afoot in the wide world. Seen in this real-world context, events in and around Waldorf schools may seem insignificant. But as long as we care about the well-being of children who have been sent to Waldorf schools, or who may be sent there, we should carry on with our work here.















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Artwork, such as it is, by R.R.