Some of What

You Aren’t Supposed 

to Know



"We cannot speak to them in the way we speak among ourselves."

"We must worm our way through."

— Rudolf Steiner

Waldorf schools usually guard their secrets well. Rudolf Steiner often urged Waldorf teachers to mislead the public, students’ parents, and students themselves about many aspects of Waldorf education. Let's look at a few quotations, some of which I've posted prominently elsewhere. Here is Steiner speaking about secrets.

Some people are not human beings:

“I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings ... [W]e do not want to shout that to the world.” [1]

Islands float — but don’t tell the students — but get it across anyway

“[I]slands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside ... Such things are the result of the cosmos, of the stars ... However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to the students...we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” [2] 

(True-believing Anthroposophical Waldorf teachers embrace many esoteric beliefs, and they hope to lead students to embrace those beliefs — but they should do so subtly, secretively. Avoid giving away our secrets; but "achieve" our beliefs when possible.)

Gravity doesn’t really exist, but we’ll have to teach kids about so-called gravity so that we don’t give the school a bad name

“Over there is a bench and on it is, let us say, a ball ... [T]he ball falls to the ground ... Saying that the ball is subject to the force of gravity is really meaningless ... But we cannot avoid speaking of gravity ... Just imagine if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.” [3] 

(Waldorf teachers embrace esoteric beliefs, but often they find it politic to conceal their beliefs. They don't want to stir up a fuss.)

Very importantly: Do not reveal the school’s religious agenda. Don’t confess that we require students to pray aloud each morning — say that the students are reciting a “verse”:

“We also need to speak about a prayer. I ask only one thing of you. You see, in such things everything depends upon the external appearances. Never call a verse a prayer, call it an opening verse before school. Avoid allowing anyone to hear you, as a faculty member, using the word ‘prayer.’” [4]

In general, don’t tell outsiders anything about what happens inside the school. This goes even for the parents’ of our students — treat them as outsiders: 

“[D]o not attempt to bring out into the public things that really concern only our school. I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth ... We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” [5] 

(In other words, don't stir up a fuss. Don't get people talking about us. Tamp down the gossip about us, if you can.)

Information given to the faculty cannot be given to students' parents. Don't let them have inside information. 

“The things I say here [in a faculty meeting], I could not say to parents." [6a] 

(I can tell Waldorf teachers the truth, but I can't tell students' parents the truth. I must mislead them...)

In the same vein, Steiner said this:

"We cannot speak to [students' parents] in the way we speak among ourselves." [6b]

Don't tell anyone that we will not prepare the kids for higher education.

"The question of final examinations is purely a question of opportunity. It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all, that it is a private decision of the student whether to take the final examination or not." [7]

(That is, we won't help students get credentials certifying that they have received a good secondary education.)

Don't tell Westerners what we are all about. 

"[T]he western nations will not be able to understand what will arise out of the whole concrete Central European spiritual culture with regard to the art of education; on the contrary, it will annoy them, and it really ought not to be told them in its original form. It could have an undesirable effect on them." [8]

(Steiner considered Germany the central nation, mediating between eastern nations on one side and western nations on the other. He designed Waldorf education to help German youngsters contribute to Germany's national mission. But don't reveal any of this to Westerners in particular.)

Pull the wool over visitors' eyes:

"Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious." [9] 

(Bring religion into the classroom, but don't be obvious about it. Note that Steined did not worry that a Waldorf class might be religious in nature; he only worried that outsiders would consider it "too  religious.")

Protect the school's neck: Don't reveal the occult, Anthroposophical nature of Waldorf education.

“[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School’s neck.” [10] 

(Don't stir up a fuss. Don't stir up gossip. And don't put our neck on the block. In other words, in general: Hush!)





Secrecy and hidden knowledge are central within Anthroposophy, the belief system upon which Waldorf stands. Steiner considered hidden or occult knowledge superior, in almost all cases, to the ordinary knowledge available to the public. Thus, for instance, Steiner taught that the Apocrypha (secret spiritual teachings that contradict the Bible) "are more correct than what is written in the Gospels." [11] Anthroposophy prefers secret, mystical "truths." Most so-called "authorities" in the outer world are wrong about almost everything; only occult initiates (or, specifically, Anthroposophists) possess the mystical inside scoop. The goal for Anthroposophists — and dyed-in-the-Anthroposophical-wool Waldorf teachers — is to attain and protect secret spiritual wisdom.

Anthroposophical doctrines contravene science, good sense, and orthodox religious teachings. Anthroposophy — and through it, Waldorf education — exists within a miasma of esoteric, gnostic, occult doctrines. Steiner and his followers embrace bizarre beliefs that would astound most outsiders. But hush! Tread carefully. Keep our secrets as we work, quietly, to attain our ends. [See, e.g., "Gnosis", "Rosy Cross", "Occultism", "Everything", "Sneaking It In", and "Inside Scoop".]






Let’s take a closer look at some of these secrets.

Concerning the Waldorf School's neck

Rudolf Steiner established his occult religion, Anthroposophy, as an independent movement in 1913. Six years later, the first Waldorf school opened in Stuttgart, Germany. Steiner was the head of the school. In that capacity, on Feb. 5, 1924, he conducted a long discussion with the school's teachers and administrators. The chief topic was the relationship between the school and the Anthroposophical Society (the formal organization responsible for Anthroposophical activities). Steiner had recently formalized his own connection with the Anthroposophical Society, becoming its official leader. (He had always been the real leader, but for a long time he kept his role secret.) 

The first Waldorf school presented itself to the world much as Waldorf schools present themselves today: It claimed that it was not a religious school, and it claimed that it did not push Anthroposophy onto its students. But Steiner's remarks during the faculty meeting on Feb. 5 show this was largely a pose — while not formally associated with the Anthroposophical Society, the school had always been Anthroposophical to its core. During the meeting, Steiner exposed this secret as well as the other great secret underlying Waldorf schooling: He admitted that Anthroposophy is a religion.

Here's a play-by-play. (The entire discussion lasts for many pages. If you want to read it all — which I recommend — you'll have to get the book, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Vol. 2.)

Toward the beginning of the discussion, Steiner says,

"Formally, the Waldorf School is not an anthroposophical institution; rather, it is an independent creation based upon the foundations of anthroposophical pedagogy. In the way it meets the public, as well as the way it meets legal institutions, it is not an anthroposophical institution, but a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy." [12]

Note the careful phrasing. The school is not "formally" Anthroposophical. "In the way it meets the public," it is not Anthroposophical; in the "way it meets legal institutions" (such as school inspectors), it is not Anthroposophical. Waldorf is "a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy," but it is not "an anthroposophical institution." The distinction is subtle; it obfuscates. But, clearly, the underlying reality about the school (it is deeply Anthroposophical) is quite different from the image projected to the outside world ("the Waldorf School is not an anthroposophical institution").

Picking up the same passage where it left off: 

"[We are] a school based upon anthroposophical pedagogy. Suppose the Independent Waldorf School were now to become officially related to the School of Spiritual Science [the education wing of the Anthroposophical Society, based] in Dornach [Switzerland]. Then the Waldorf School would immediately become an anthroposophical school in a formal, external sense. Of course, there are some things that would support making such a decision. On the other hand, consider whether the Waldorf School can fulfill its cultural tasks better as an independent school with an unhindered form than it can as a direct part of what emanates from Dornach." [13]

Steiner prefers the latter course — "in a formal, external sense" (i.e., as perceived by outsiders), the school will remain unconnected to the Anthroposophical Society. But we can see that the "formal, external sense" is deceptive. Informally, internally the school is an arm of Anthroposophy. After all, the only reason to even consider formally attaching the school to the Society is that the school is already committed to Anthroposophy. The school's Anthroposophical nature is what "would support making such a decision."

Steiner contemplates the possibility of formally tying the school to the Anthroposophical Society, but he stresses the benefits of maintaining the legal and public-relations fiction that the school is independent. 

"[I]f the school suddenly became an [openly] anthroposophical school, that would upset both the official authorities and the public." [14] 

The public would be upset, in part, because the school would be exposed as an occultist institution. German educational authorities would be upset, in part, for the  same reason, but also because the school would be revealed as taking orders from a foreign organization, a Society based in Switzerland.

Steiner wants the public and the officials to be misled, but he speaks candidly to the teachers. 

"[W]e have to remember that an institution like the Independent Waldorf School with its anthroposophical character, has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires. At the moment, though, if that connection were made official, people would break the Waldorf School's neck." [15] 

That, basically, says it all. Waldorf is Anthroposophical, but out of a need to mislead outsiders, the school has to pretend otherwise. The survival of the school depends on denying Waldorf's "anthroposophical character," a character that creates goals that "coincide with anthroposophical desires."

Steiner discusses various useful misrepresentations and misconceptions about the Waldorf School. The school claims to be "independent," and it claims that control of the schools rests with the Waldorf School Association (a local body having no links with esoteric of foreign overseers).

"You see, the outside world views the Waldorf School Association as the actual administration of the school." [16] 

But in reality, the school is run by Anthroposophists for Anthroposophical purposes. Specifically, the school is actually guided by Rudolf Steiner himself, who is both a) head of the school, and b) head of the Anthroposophical Society.

The school's only openly acknowledged involvement with the Anthroposophical Society is that the Society provides some of the religious instruction in the school. This arrangement allows the school to deny that it is, itself, religious. Instead, the Anthroposophical Society and other, outside religious institutions provide religious instruction at Waldorf.

"When the school was founded, we placed great value upon creating an institution independent of the Anthroposophical Society. Logically, that corresponds quite well with having the various religious communities and the Anthroposophical Society provide religious instruction, so that the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." [17] 

Pause again. This says it all. Steiner acknowledges that the Anthroposophical Society is a religious group: "the Society provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do  [emphasis added]." The Anthroposophical Society is one of a number of "religious groups" involved in the school. The Society is a religious group. Anthroposophy is a religion — and here we have Steiner saying so.

Picking up the last quotation where it left off:

"[The Anthroposophical Society behaves] just as other religious groups do. The Anthroposophical Society gives instruction in religion and the services. That is something we can justifiably say whenever others claim that the Waldorf School is an anthroposophical school." [18] 

Discussing how to mislead outsiders, Steiner clearly states the very things he wants to deny. The Waldorf School is Anthroposophical; and Anthroposophy is a religion; hence, the Waldorf School is a religious institution. But Steiner remains committed to denying these realities — he stresses how Waldorf "can justifiably" make its denials. The justifications are, however, a matter of legalisms and hairsplitting: legally, formally, the school is not associated with the Anthroposophical Society; and, in appearance, the school is run by the Waldorf School Association, which is not legally, formally Anthroposophical. But the truth is that the school is run by Anthroposophists who are devoted to the religion of Anthroposophy. The Anthroposophical Society gives religious instruction and it conducts religious services, just as other religious groups do.

During the meeting, Steiner both reveals the truth and he stresses denials of the truth. 

"A teacher: `Hasn't a change already occurred since you, the head of the Waldorf School, are now also the head of the Anthroposophical Society?' 

"Dr. Steiner: `That is not the case. The position I have taken [as head of the Society] changes nothing about my being head of the school." [19] 

Perhaps the teacher and Steiner found this answer cogent, but none of the rest of us are likely to. If Steiner, head of the Waldorf School, had recently become head of the Communist Party, there would clearly be reason to think that something important had been revealed concerning the Waldorf School. Steiner’s new post at the Anthroposophical Society has the same sorts of implications.

As the meeting continues, Steiner considers ways to bind the school more closely to the Society without getting the school's neck broken. He wants to satisfy the Waldorf faculty's desire for direct connection with the Anthroposophical Society's School of Spiritual Science (i.e., the esoteric educational institution at the Society's headquarters):

"I think you should decide to become members of the School of Spiritual Science as individual teachers, but with the additional remark that you want to become a member as a teacher of the Independent Waldorf School. I think this will achieve everything you want, and nothing else is necessary for the time being." [20]

Thus, the Waldorf School itself would not be formally connected to the School of Spiritual Science, but the Waldorf teachers would establish connections for themselves as individual representatives of the Waldorf School. The effective result would be to tightly bind the school to the Anthroposophical Society without doing this openly or formally.

"Through such an action, you would accomplish something you actually want, namely, making the Independent Waldorf School part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy." [21]

Independent? The school would remain, in name, independent; but in reality, it has always been deeply immersed in Anthroposophy, and now the immersion will become even deeper: It will be "part of the overall cultural mission of anthroposophy."

To summarize: During a Waldorf faculty meeting, Steiner describes the deceptions the Waldorf School has been involved in; he reveals the real nature both of the school and of Anthroposophy; and he proposes possible future steps that would bring the school into closer connection with the Anthroposophical Society without establishing an official bond (which might cause the school to get its neck broken).

Among Steiner's biggest secrets are these: 1) Anthroposophy is a religion, and 2) Waldorf education promotes Anthroposophy ("the Independent Waldorf School...has goals that, of course, coincide with anthroposophical desires"). Here we have seen him giving away both of these secrets.

The Waldorf school movement is built on lies, especially the lies we have examined just now. The deceptions practiced by many Waldorf schools today began at the very first Waldorf School, in accordance with the wishes of Rudolf Steiner himself.

Concerning those floating islands

Steiner said that islands float in the sea. They are held in place by the powers of the stars. This is such nonsense that even Steiner — who was deeply ignorant about real science — knew it needed to be kept secret. Yet Steiner wanted Waldorf teachers to slip the idea across to the kids. How they could do this while still keeping it secret is a bit of a puzzle.

“With the students, we should at least try to...make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside. In general, the cosmos creates islands and continents, their forms and locations ... However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to the students...we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography.” [22] 

Even the Waldorf teachers found Steiner's meaning elusive, so they asked for a clarification. Did Steiner really mean that fixed land floats? Yes, indeed. Pressed on the matter, Steiner doubled down, asserting explicitly that continents as well as islands float in the sea:

“[T]he continents swim ... All fixed land swims and the stars hold it in position.” [23] 

But hush, don't tell the kids. Except (hush) do tell them — somehow.  Get it across. Somehow. 

"[T]hat is actually what we should achieve in geography.” 

Grave thoughts on gravity

Steiner’s ignorance of science is even clearer when we consider gravity. Here are two more remarks Steiner made on the subject of gravity:

“Gravity is...perceived only by those beings that live on a solid planet ... Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity ... And beings who live on a gaseous planet would regard as normal something that would be the opposite of gravity ... [B]eings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling towards the planet would see them always flying off ... Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet.” [24] 

Steiner was wrong. In fact, gravity exists everywhere in the universe — it is woven into the very substance of the space/time continuum. But Steiner didn’t know this. So he told Waldorf teachers:

“It would be wonderful if you could stop speaking about gravity. You can certainly achieve speaking of it only as a phenomenon. The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” [25] 

Gravity is just a phenomenon, Steiner indicates it is a concept that is really just an empty word. A "phenomenon," in the sense Steiner evidently meant here, is a mere physical happening or datum. It exists, but only on the physical plane — so it has no deep, spiritual meaning. It is trivial. It is no big deal. And, worse, although some physical phenomena are widespread on the physical plane, gravity doesn't even reach this level of significance. Gravity can be found only on certain types of planets. It is a purely localized phenomenon that is absent on most types of planets. I wish we could stop talking about it, Steiner says.

But then Steiner has second thoughts. We need to keep these insights to ourselves, he indicates. We need to teach kids about so-called gravity so that our school doesn't get a bad name. 

"Just imagine if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.”

So pretend that gravity is real. Teach the kids about it. 

But between ourselves, cherishing our secret wisdom, we will know better. Gravity? Bah. It is beneath our notice. (Hush, though. Keep the truth about gravity a secret.)

Waldorf student painting, courtesy of

People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.

Never call it a prayer

Calling the morning prayer a verse is just one of the many ploys Steiner wanted Waldorf teacher to use in order to hide the religious nature of Waldorf education. Actually, Waldorf schools exist to spread Steiner’s religion, Anthroposophy. As Steiner himself said,

“One of the most important facts about the background of the Waldorf School is that we were in a position to make the anthroposophical movement a relatively large one. The anthroposophical movement has become a large one.” [26]

And the morning verses, which Steiner himself wrote, are definitely prayers: They address and praise God. Here’s part of one of them: 

“I reverence, O God,

The strength of humankind,

That Thou so graciously

Hast planted in my soul... 

From Thee come light and strength,

To Thee rise love and thanks.” [27] 

Waldorf students typically say this prayer in unison, standing behind their desks, before the first class of the day.

As we saw previously, Steiner wanted to deny that Anthroposophy is a religion, just as he wanted to deny that Waldorf schools spread Anthroposophy. Denying that the prayers recited by Waldorf students are prayers is consistent with these other, broader denials. But the truth is different.

“The mission of Anthroposophy to-day is to be a synthesis of religions.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Buddha and Christ: The Sphere of the Bodhisattvas”, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain, 1964), GA 130. 

If Christianity is a religion (as it certainly is), and if Zoroastrianism is a religion (as it is), and if Hinduism is a religion (it is), and if Anthroposophy is a synthesis of these and other religions — then Anthroposophy itself is a religion. (A cocktail consisting of two or more alcoholic drinks mixed together is itself an alcoholic drink.) Anthroposophy is a religion. And the "verses" recited by Waldorf students, sending thanks to God, are prayers.

That's the truth. But Steiner wanted Waldorf teachers to keep this truth secret. And Waldorf teachers generally have complied.

[For more on this topic, see “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Soul School”.]

What I say here

About telling faculty members things that students' parents cannot be told: This may be a sensible policy, but it means withholding truth. It means deceiving parents.

Here's the context of the pertinent statement: The first Waldorf school had come under attack after it expelled some pupils. Also, some students' parents complained they were not being adequately informed about their children's progress — some had received assurances that all was well, only to find later that this was untrue. Perhaps written progress reports should be considered; or perhaps there should be a meeting with the parents. Steiner blamed the faculty for allowing a bad situation to get out of hand. His lengthy statement to the faculty includes the following:

"Progress reports? Giving in to someone like Mrs. X (a mother who had written a letter to the faculty) is just nonsense ... Concerning the parent meeting, you could do that, but without me. They might say things I could not counter, if I hear something I cannot defend. The things I say here, I could not say to parents. We need to clear the air, and the teachers must take control of the school again. You do not need to talk about the things not going well." [28]

We see several worrisome but typical Waldorf problems, here. Parents are not fully informed. Secrets are kept from them ("The things I say here, I could not say to parents"). And even when there is a need to "clear the air," all that the Waldorf administration really has in mind is a public relations exercise. The school will try to reassure the parents and tamp down their concerns without actually telling them the truth. Secrets will still be kept ("You do not need to talk about the things not going well"). In general, Steiner's attitude is defensive and dismissive (complying with a parent's request would be "nonsense"). Secrecy and deception will remain standard operating procedure.

All of this is tied to the underlying Waldorf mindset. True-blue Waldorf teachers, as Anthroposophists, believe they possess esoteric knowledge that no one else possesses or is capable of possessing. They deem themselves to be occult initiates, bearers of supernal wisdom. So the rest of us should pipe down. Don't question these great souls. Listen to them reverently, or pass silently below them, having faith in their inscrutable wisdom. [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds" and "The White Lodge".]

Dare we tell?

About not preparing students for final exams: The examination in question was a state-administered test. Steiner here clearly contemplates misleading parents and students about the goal of a Waldorf curriculum — and he hesitates not over whether to conceal the truth but whether to reveal it. "It is a question of whether we dare tell those who come to us that we will not prepare them for the final examination at all." Do we dare tell the truth?

The primary mission of a Waldorf school is to promote Steiner's brand of occultism, Anthroposophy. Giving the students a strong academic education, and preparing them for higher education — these are, at most, secondary goals, not really very important. But of course this must be kept secret. [See, e.g., "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

It will annoy them

About not telling Westerners about the "art of education" arising from Central Europe (i.e., Germany): Steiner was a German nationalist, with a grounding in the sorts of mysticism found in Germany and the Nordic countries. Here we see him saying that people outside Central Europe should not be told the truth about the type of education Waldorf aims for.

"[T]he western nations will not be able to understand ... [I]t will annoy them, and it really ought not to be told them...."

But it is worth noting that all the other deceptions I've listed here apply to Germans as well — they too should be kept in the dark. Basically, Steiner wanted everyone except Anthroposophical insiders to be misled about the nature and purposes of Waldorf schools. 

[Concerning Steiner's nationalism, see, e.g., "Steiner and the Warlord".]

Who got a slap

About “outsiders” and treating students' parents as “outsiders”: Note that, among other things, Steiner wanted to suppress information about which students had been slapped. Steiner permitted Waldorf teachers to slap students. He said that "astral" (spiritual, nonphysical) slaps are better, but...

The slapping must have begun almost as soon as the first Waldorf School opened — the passage I quoted is dated September 25, 1919, during the first weeks of the school’s existence. In extenuation, we should recall that this was in Germany almost a century ago. Standards were different there and then. Still...

Here is another passage in which Steiner mentions slapping. The date is March 15, 1922. Steiner is holding a faculty meeting at the Waldorf School:

"Dr. Steiner: 'If you give them [i.e., students] a slap, you should do it the way Dr. Schubert [one of the Waldorf teachers] does.'

"Dr. Schubert: 'Did somebody complain?'

"Dr. Steiner: 'No, but you are always slapping them.'

"Dr. Schubert: 'When did I do that?'

"Dr. Steiner: 'Well, I mean astral slaps. There are physical slaps and astral slaps. It doesn’t matter which one you give, but you cannot slap a child sentimentally.'” [29]

Several points about this discussion are noteworthy.

Steiner does not tell Waldorf teachers to stop slapping the kids. He assumes that slapping in some form will occur: “If you give them a slap....” At most, he tries to steer teachers away from physical slapping.

“Astral” slapping might well be worse than the physical variety. If the term has any meaning at all, it refers to psychological and/or spiritual punishment. Is this really preferable? Ask yourself what sort of effects a teacher like Dr. Schubert would have on children if he is “always slapping them.” Assuming this means he is always punishing them psychologically and/or spiritually, students could well be traumatized. So, would you want Dr. Schubert to be your child's teacher?

Dr. Schubert doesn’t deny slapping students. His first response to Steiner is simply to ask if anyone has complained. He then asks Steiner when the slapping occurred, which in context may simply mean that he’s asking Steiner for particulars: What episodes does Steiner know about? This seems to rattle Steiner a bit — he isn’t accustomed to being challenged — so Steiner introduces the surprising notion of invisible ("astral") slaps. But then Steiner recovers with the undeniable observation that slapping children is not, or should not be, a sentimental action.

This discussion occurred two-and-a-half years after Steiner first mentioned the gossip about slapping, etc., in the Waldorf school ("I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth..."). Inferentially, teachers may have been slapping the kids — one way or another — at least occasionally during this two-and-a-half-year period. And, because Steiner does not ban it, some form of slapping probably continued after this second discussion.

[For more on treating parents as outsiders, see, e.g., "Faculty Meetings". For more about punishment and perhaps abuse of students in Waldorf schools, see, e.g., "Slaps".]

Deceiving visitors

Steiner worried that visitors would form negative opinions about the Waldorf School. Hence, he said such things as, "I was...worrying that the visitors would think...." Here's the full quotation. Speaking to a teacher about the way s/he conducts classes, Steiner said:

"[Y]ou are often too anthroposophical, like Mr. X [sic]. Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious. We should not allow the history class to be too religiously oriented. That is why we have a religion class. The visitors seem to have been well-meaning people. Nevertheless, had they noticed that, they could easily have categorized the Waldorf School as being too anthroposophical and bringing that into the classroom." [30]

At first glance, this may seem exculpatory: Steiner is telling a teacher not to bring so much Anthroposophy into the classroom. Note, however, that he does not tell the teacher to bring no  Anthroposophy into class — he merely says to tone it down. Steiner proceeds from the premise that Anthroposophy will indeed be conveyed to students ("Anthroposophy will be in the school" [31]). Steiner's admonition to the teacher hinges on the presence of visitors. Steiner worries that visitors might see through the school's facade and figure out what the school is really doing: promoting Anthroposophy. Steiner says to tone down the Anthroposophy in class not because bringing it into class is wrong, but because the school's central secret must be guarded. The central secret is that the school is an Anthroposophical religious institution. Steiner is extremely concerned about maintaining this secret: "I was sitting on pins and needles worrying...."

Linger over the question of religion. I have written, elsewhere, about the question whether Anthroposophy is a religion. [32] In the passage we are considering now, Steiner himself says that Anthroposophy is a religion or at least that it sure looks like a religion. If there were too much Anthroposophy in the class, the visitors would think the class was "too religious." In other words, infusing a class with Anthroposophy is effectively the same as infusing it with religion. Why? Because Anthroposophy is a religion — or, at a minimum, visitors would find it indistinguishable from religion.

Here's a related passage. Again, Steiner is addressing a teacher during a faculty meeting:

"The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level." [33]

Once again Steiner corrects a teacher's method of conveying Anthroposophy to the students. He does not say that Anthroposophy should be left out of classroom instruction; instead, he refers to a directive about how Anthroposophy should be presented. The errant teacher's mistake is not that s/he tried to bring Anthroposophy to the students, but merely that s/he lectured little children on the subject of Anthroposophy instead of finding a way to make Anthroposophy more understandable to the youngsters.

Linger again. "Little children." I have claimed that Waldorf schools indoctrinate even very young children in Anthroposophy. Here we see Steiner saying as much. And this is the grave danger in Waldorf schooling, especially for the very young. Waldorf teachers will try to find a way to "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." [See "Sneaking It In".] When they succeed at this, they indoctrinate little children in an occult religion — and, very often, they do this without the parents' consent. This is indefensible.

In sum, in these passages we can detect two fundamental Waldorf secrets. Waldorf faculties almost always deny that their schools are religious institutions, and they almost always deny that they teach Anthroposophy to the students. Here we see that both of these denials are false.

[These secrets cause many complaints. Parents are often shocked to realize what faithful, Anthroposophical Waldorf schools are really up to. See, e.g., the section "Two Falsehoods" in "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"; also see "Cautionary Tales", "Moms", and "Pops".]

Something really wrong inside

Let’s look into Steiner’s statement that “there are people who are not human beings.” Steiner was saying, among other things, that some people are demons in human form.

Most of us, if we allowed ourselves to make such an awful statement, would be using the words metaphorically. We would mean that some people are very wicked — they do not behave as we think humans should. We would not mean that some people are literally demons, devils, evil spirits. But Steiner taught that demons really exist, and he taught that some people are real, literal demons. Here is the complete section from which I took the quoted passage:

"Dr. Steiner: 'That little girl L.K. in the first grade must have something really very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the nineties [the 1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but are only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.'

"A teacher: ‘How is that possible?’

"Dr. Steiner: 'Cosmic error is certainly not impossible. The relationships of individuals coming into earthly existence have long been [pre]determined. There are also generations in which individuals have no desire to come into earthly existence and be connected with physicality, or immediately leave at the very beginning. In such cases, other beings that are not quite suited step in. This is something that is now quite common, that human beings go around without an I; they are actually not human beings, but have only a human form. They are also quite different from human beings in regard to everything spiritual. They can, for example, never remember such things as sentences; they have a memory only for words, not for sentences.

"'The riddle of life is not so simple. When such a being dies, it returns to nature from which it came. The corpse decays, but there is no real dissolution of the etheric body, and the natural being returns to nature.

"'It is also possible that something like an automaton could occur. The entire human organism exists, and it might be possible to automate the brain and develop a kind of pseudomorality.

"'I do not like to talk about such things since we have often been attacked even without them. Imagine what people would say if they heard that we say there are people who are not human beings. Nevertheless, these are facts. Our culture would not be in such a decline if people felt more strongly that a number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human, but instead are demons in human form.

"'Nevertheless, we do not want to shout that to the world. Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people. I caused enough shock when I needed to say that a very famous university professor, after a very short period between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist. We do not want to shout such things out into the world.'" [34]

This very remarkable, and horrid, statement deserves close scrutiny. 

Having decided that little L.K. “must have something really very wrong inside,” Steiner does not seek a sensible medical or psychiatric diagnosis. Nor does he look for a cure to aid the child. Instead, he passes what amounts to a spiritually damning judgment: The child is not human.  A little girl in the first grade, for whom he has responsibility, is — according to the great humanitarian Rudolf Steiner — subhuman.

BUT! argue some Anthroposophists, Steiner only says she isn’t human “in relation to [her] highest I.” Surely that minimizes the severity of the judgment? No, it does not. Humans have three nonphysical bodies, according to Steiner. We have etheric bodies, but this does not define our humanity — animals and plants also have etheric bodies. We also have astral bodies, but this does not define out humanity, either — animals also have etheric bodies. We are human because we have “I”s or human “egos.” If L.K. lacks a full-fledged, functioning human “I,” she is not human. This is what Steiner asserts. L.K. is subhuman. [35]

Steiner proceeds to widen the circle of subhumanity. “Such cases are increasing,” he says. “Quite a number of people have been born...without an I.” So there are a lot of subhumans walking the earth (“This is something that is now quite common”). You see, these beings have not been reincarnated — they have not participated in human evolution, which occurs over the course of many earthly lives alternating with lives in the spirit realm. Subhumans like L.K. do not reincarnate; they do not participate in human evolution. They are not human. [36]

These subhumans look like human beings, but they “really are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon.” As in the case of L.K., there isn’t much that we real humans can do for the subhumans. “There is not much we can do ... We cannot...create a school for demons.” Later in his comments, Steiner refers again to "demons in human form." He does not, in this passage, explicitly label demons as evil, but the implication is hard to ignore. Humans demons such as L.K. are evil. And there is no place for them in Waldorf schools. “We cannot...create a school for demons.”

Some subhumans may appear on Earth due to “cosmic error.” The universe doesn’t always work as it should; in Steiner’s doctrines, there is no presiding, omniscient God; the cosmos is populated by multitudinous gods, some good, some evil, none of them able to control the universe wholly. So demons may come to earthly life because of failures by the gods. The subhumans, you see, are truly misbegotten.

In the process of reincarnation, some real humans elect not to return to earthly existence on schedule, which creates openings that subhumans can take for themselves (i.e., the real humans give up their places in the queue). The subhumans are profoundly different from real humans: They differ from real “human beings in regard to everything spiritual.” Everything  spiritual. So the judgment Steiner passes on the little girl and the other subhumans is indeed severe.

Subhumans are “natural” rather than reincarnated; they are more fully part of the lowly natural or physical world than the higher spirit realm. They are, in essence, nature spirits — beings that have no real spirituality. When they die, they do not go to the spirit realm, like real humans — they subside into that sink hole called nature: “the natural being returns to nature.” [For more on nature and nature spirits, see "Neutered Nature".]

Another possible reason some subhumans exist is that evil forces (e.g., evil gods, black magicians, demons) have created “automatons” — fleshly robots that have no spirit or morality. [For more on the machinations of black magicians, see “Double Trouble”. For more on automatons, see "automatons (automata)" in The Brief Waldorf/Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

Then, too, subhumans may result from the degeneration of real humans. “[A] number of people are going around who, because they are completely ruthless, have become something that is not human.” This is the process Steiner describes elsewhere as falling out of evolution and sinking to the level of subordinate nature spirits. “Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits.” [37]

Almost inevitably, all this nastiness leads Steiner to explicitly voice his racism. Steiner says he was once compelled (by his utter commitment to Truth) to “say that a very famous university professor, after a very short period between death and rebirth, was reincarnated as a black scientist.” Talk about evil! This nasty univ. prof. failed to stay in the spirit realm the proper length of time between lives, so when he came back to Earth he was both black (i.e., member of a lowly, childish, always-cooking-inside-with-passions race) [38], and he was a scientist (an advocate of scientific trash, materialistic falsehood, unSteinerian lies). [39]

Interestingly, Steiner almost admits that he once made a mistake: Perhaps he should not have revealed the truth about the nasty univ. prof. So, profiting from experience, he urges Waldorf teachers to keep the lid on. “Our opposition is already large enough. Such things are really shocking to people ... We do not want to shout such things out into the world.” Good, well-meaning Waldorf teachers: Don't reveal the truth. Bob and weave. Clam up. (And, if need be, lie.) Keep our secrets.

In sum, the little girl L.K. is not human. She is a demon. She doesn't belong here. We can’t run a school for demons.

Steiner's long declaration about L.K., subhumans, demons, demons in disguise, black university professors, and all the rest — this is very possibility the most unforgivable statement Steiner ever made. Should we, perhaps, shout it to the world?

And about the Apocrypha

Anyone who thinks that Anthroposophy is consistent with the Bible should think again. Steiner taught that the Bible needs to be corrected, for instance through study of the Apocrypha. However, this study needs to be untaken secretly.

“The children are not mature enough to go through the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha contains [sic] many things that are more correct than what is written in the Gospels. I have always extended the Gospels by what we can verify [sic] from the Apocrypha. Sometimes there are strong conflicts. When they take up the Gospels, the children must grasp them. It is difficult to explain the contradictions, so if they took up the Apocrypha nothing would make sense anymore. I would simply study the Gospels [in class].” [40]

Students should not be told about the Apocrypha. What about students' parents? Should they be told that the Bible needs correction? This, from an Anthroposophical perspective, is a tricky question. Anthroposophy contains deep secrets and also less-deep secrets. Some parents may be ready to receive gnostic or occult or secret truths, others are surely not. In general, secrets need to be preserved; that's what makes them secrets. [For more on Steiner's "corrections" of the Bible, see, e.g., "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".]






Anthroposophists guard their secrets. Waldorf teachers guard their secrets. Withholding secrets from students may be justified. Withholding secrets from students' parents and from outsiders in general may be justified, sometimes. But the point is that true-believing Waldorf faculties think they possess many secrets, and they generally work to guard their secrets.

Genuine, Anthroposophy-based Waldorf schools are, to one degree or another, centers of secrecy.

Footnotes for the Foregoing Sections

(Scroll down to find further sections)

[1] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650.

[2] Ibid., pp. 607-608.

[3] Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 2000), pp. 116-117.


[5] Ibid., p. 10.

Steiner was surely right to oppose gossip. But notice how his prohibition goes far beyond gossip to cover virtually anything that happens in the school. Keep quiet about it, Steiner says. Don't spill our beans. Maintain school confidentiality. (But would you agree that, if students are being slapped, this is something that concerns only the school?)


[6b] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 128.


[8] Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Anthroposophist John Fentress Gardner in "The Founding of Adelphi's Waldorf School," ONE MAN'S VISION: In Memoriam, H.A.W. Myrin (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1970), p. 46.


[10] Ibid., p. 705.

[11] Ibid., pp. 615-616.

[12] Ibid., p. 698.

[13] Ibid., pp. 698-699.

[14] Ibid., p. 703.

[15] Ibid., p. 705.

[16] Ibid., p. 707.

[17] Ibid., p. 706.

[18] Ibid., p. 706.

For a look at "the services" provided by Anthroposophy in Waldorf schools, see "Waldorf Worship".

[19] Ibid., pp. 706-707.

[20] Ibid., p. 708.

[21] Ibid., p. 709.

[22] Ibid., pp. 607-608.

Steiner said the teachers could convey the idea of floating islands as he had done when addressing a group of laborers:

"With the students, we should at least try to achieve what I have striven for with the workers in Dornoch [who were erecting the Goetheanum], pictures that make it clear that an island...." — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 607.

[23] Ibid., p. 617.

[24] Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137.


[26] Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p.156.

[27] Rudolf Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 45.


Steiner and the Waldorf teachers went on to consider a PR offensive they could undertake. They were concerned about reports that young Waldorf students are not taught basic academic skills.

"[W]e need to show why it only seems that students are not so far along at the end of the second grade. The examples of [a former student's] work we sent along show that Z [the former student] did not progress very far, that he could only write 'hors' instead of 'horse.' There are many such examples. 'He could only add by using his fingers.' That is not so bad. It is clear he could not add the number seven to another number ... The situation is quite tempting for someone [i.e., a critic] with a modern pedagogical understanding. That is how we can most easily be attacked. We will have to defend ourselves against that ... We need to ward off this matter with bitter humor ... We need to write back...sarcastically." — Ibid., pp. 409-410.

The underlying reality is that a Waldorf school typically does not view ordinary education (such as reading and arithmetic) as its primary goal. It is out to achieve occult aims, but it must keep these aims secret. Secrecy and deception are thus basic to the school's operations — and when the school is criticized, the criticism may be brushed off, since anyone who criticizes Waldorf is a dolt whose views are nonsense.

[29] Ibid., p. 323.

As is often true with Steiner, establishing the historical record can be complex. On February 6, 1923, Steiner professed not to know whether teachers at the school slapped children, and he said slapping should be avoided because it does not improve discipline and could damage the school's reputation.

“There may be teachers in the Waldorf School who slap the children, and so forth ... I have heard it said that the Waldorf teachers hit children, and we have discussed that often. The fact is, you cannot improve discipline by hitting the children ... Perhaps no one [i.e., the teachers] wants to say anything about this, but my question is whether that is simply a story that has been spread like so many other lies, or have children, in fact, been slapped in the Waldorf School? If that has occurred, it could ruin a great deal. We must hold the ideal of working without doing that [i.e., hitting the students]; discipline will also be better if we can avoid it.” — Ibid., p. 547.

This statement seems disingenuous, in light of what we've seen previously. And, significantly, note that even in this apparently straightforward statement opposing corporal punishment, Steiner does not lay down an outright prohibition. Also, he is on record as permitting corporal punishment:

“Under certain circumstances it may be necessary to spank a child ... I have to admit that there are rowdies....” — Ibid., p. 22.

This statement came in response to a teacher's question: "How far should we go with disciplining the children". — Ibid., p. 22. 

In sum, it would seem that Steiner allowed corporal punishment but wanted it to be minimized because of the harm it could do to the school's standing.

[30] Ibid., p. 655.

[31] Ibid., 495.

“You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth ... Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.”

Since Steiner promoted Anthroposophy as the key to human wisdom, he is here effectively acknowledging that Anthroposophy will pervade every subject in the Waldorf curriculum.

[32] See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"


[34] Ibid., pp. 649-650.

It is stunning to read of these Waldorf teachers sitting quietly, accepting Steiner’s statements. Imagine what L.K.’s parents would have felt, if they had read the transcripts I’ve been relaying to you.

A “daemon,” a genius or spiritual force, may be good, but a “demon” is almost inevitably bad. For instance, Steiner identifies the Antichrist as Sorat, the Sun Demon. [Rudolf Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 19.]

Demons are devils. Two more quick examples:

The “demon of love” represents corrupted love:

“The demon of love lives in all this intellectualized talk about sexuality.” — Rudolf Steiner, WHAT IS ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2002), p. 79.

The "demon of materialism" represents the loss of human spirituality:

“[T]he spirit was squeezed out of human life, and in its place there appeared the demon of materialism.” — Rudolf Steiner, SOCIAL ISSUES (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 100.

[35] Steiner distinguished between the "I", the "higher I", and the "highest I" — see the entries for these terms in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia. Someone who lacks the "highest I" cannot fulfill the ultimate purpose of human existence, which is rising to divinity. People who can't fulfill this purpose are not fully human.

[36] Note that Steiner here does not refer to the "highest I" — he speaks here of the "I."

[37] Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.

People who descend in this way no longer reincarnate, so they no longer evolve from life to life — they enter an undying, subhuman state. Ahriman and his cohorts hope to drag all humans down to such a hellish condition.

“[S]ubhuman entities are subject to the rule of powers I always refer to as ahrimanic. These ahrimanic powers with their diverse sub-spirits — including sprite- and goblin-like beings who dwell in the elements of earth and water — have set themselves a [specific] task ... [These] beings, who have their fortress directly under the earth’s surface, exert influences that rise into our metabolism ... [They] battle to harden us and make us resemble them ... If someone has fallen prey during his lifetime to the ahrimanic powers...these beings can ‘harvest’ this after his death to create a whole population, a subhuman populace of the earth, which does indeed already exist ... And if we ask what such ahrimanic beings intend with this subhuman populace, it is this: to draw this kind of instinctual nature from a human being and make it into a being of earth and water. And beings of earth and water do now actually populate the strata directly below the earth's surface. There they dwell. People who can use spiritual vision to observe mines know such entities very well: they exist there, having been torn from a human being at the moment of his death. And there waits Ahriman, there wait the ahrimanic powers for a person's karma, caused by instincts, drives and passions, to lead him down into an incarnation where he takes special pleasure in such a being, and therefore finds in a particular life on earth that he does not wish to return to the world of spirit. Having left his physical body...he will seek instead to be embodied in a kind of subsensible being of this kind, to remain united with the earth: no longer to die but choosing to remain united with the earth as a subsensible entity ... [A]hrimanic beings...[seek] to entice so many people into their race that eventually the earth will be populated entirely by subhuman ahrimanic entities of this kind.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRIT AS SCULPTOR OF THE HUMAN ORGANISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2014), pp. 108-109.

If Ahriman does not prevail, good highly evolved spirits may be able to reach back and redeem the lost subhumans. But there are no guarantees. Ahriman means to have his way, if he can.

[38] Steiner made numerous racist remarks. Concerning blacks, he said — among other things:

“[A] centre of cosmic influence [is] situated in the interior of Africa. At this centre are active all those terrestrial forces emanating from the soil which can influence man especially during his early childhood ... The black or Negro race is substantially determined by these childhood characteristics.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 75.

“[E]verything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives. The Negro has a powerful instinctual life. And because he actually has the sun, light, and warmth on his body surface, in his skin, his whole metabolism operates as if he were being cooked inside by the sun. That is where his instinctual life comes from. The Negro is constantly cooking inside, and what feeds this fire is his rear-brain.” — Rudolf Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993), p. 55.

For understandable reasons, some of Steiner’s most outrageous statements about race are omitted from English-language editions of Steiner’s work. They have become, in effect, additional secrets.

[39] Steiner dismissed real science often and in many ways. One pithy comment is the following, in which Steiner criticized a rationalist:

“He did not want any fairy tales told to children, or to teach children anything other than scientific trash....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 94.


[R.R., in a semi-Waldorfistic style]









Here is a message I posted during an online discussion early in June, 2009. My message overlaps some of what we have already seen, but it also expands and extends several pertinent points. I have revised my message for inclusion here.

One day, during a faculty meeting, Steiner and the teachers at the first Waldorf School discussed what had gone well and what had not gone so well in various classes at the school. Steiner said:

"In the humanities, there is a danger of teaching unprepared. That is, you [i.e., the teachers] are in danger of leaving the material as you know it now, as you learned it yourself. You need to rework it. That is one problem.

"The other problem is that you are often too anthroposophical, like Mr. X [sic]. Yesterday, I was sitting on pins and needles worrying that the visitors would think the history class was too religious. We should not allow the history class to be too religiously oriented. That is why we have a religion class. The visitors seem to have been well-meaning people. Nevertheless, had they noticed that, they could easily have categorized the Waldorf School as being too anthroposophical and bringing that into the classroom." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 655.

Steiner wanted Waldorf teachers to present Anthroposophy to the students, but in disguised form. The teachers should "rework" what they knew about academic subjects. The reworking might mean adding the results of new scholarly studies, but — given that Steiner was addressing true-believing Anthroposophical Waldorf teachers — it surely would also mean reshaping class materials in accordance with the teachers' Anthroposophical beliefs. Steiner had told the teachers that "Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is...called for by the material...” — FACULTY MEETINGS, p. 495. So, in light of all this, we can conclude that classes at the Waldorf School were meant to be Anthroposophical, but not "too Anthroposophical."

To what extent should Waldorf classes be Anthroposophical? As we will see in a moment, they should be subtly but deeply  Anthroposophical. Waldorf schools exist in order to quietly, subtly lead the students toward Anthroposophy. [See "Indoctrination".] But visitors, parents, perhaps even the students themselves should not recognize too readily what is going on. 

The balancing act for Waldorf teachers is difficult. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers need to be deeply committed Anthroposophists. [See "Here's the Answer".] And because Anthroposophy, in their opinion, is the truth, they want to lead their students toward that truth. But they need to be careful about it.




Let's look at a longer version of a quotation I included above. Concerning the presence of Anthroposophy in the Waldorf School, Steiner said the following to teachers at the school:

“...It is important that the youth of our Waldorf School talk less about world perspective. The situation is that we need to create a mood, namely, that the teacher has something to say that the children should neither judge nor discuss. That is necessary, otherwise it becomes trivial. An actual discussion lowers the content. Things should remain with simply asked questions....

"We also need a second thing. The older students often mentioned that we emphasize that the Waldorf School is not to be an anthroposophical school. That is one of the questions we need to handle very seriously. You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 494-495.

This is quite revealing. Waldorf teachers are to be treated as august authority figures — students have very little if anything to offer in a discussion. Students should "neither judge nor discuss" what the teachers say — they should just absorb it. Simple questions may be asked, but that's it. The students should essentially adopt an attitude of unthinking acceptance.

Also, "world perspective" is unimportant, Steiner says. What counts is the Anthroposophical perspective. And even though Steiner said, over and over (mostly in public), that Waldorf does not teach the kids Anthroposophy, he here contradicts himself (in private, speaking with Waldorf teachers). Anthroposophy will in fact be present throughout the curriculum — i.e., "when it is objectively justified" — because Anthroposophy is the truth and surely a teacher's job is to convey the truth. And a student's job is to accept Anthroposophical "truth" without judging or discussing it. 

When will Anthroposophists teaching in a Waldorf school think that bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom is justified? Since Anthroposophy is the truth, its presence will always  be justified. Anthroposophy will be in the school, at some level, always. "We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school...."



A Waldorf teacher once asked Steiner if his (the teacher's) "teaching has become worse." Steiner replied:

"The problem you have is that you have not always followed the directive to bring what you know anthroposophically into a form you can present to little children. You have lectured the children about anthroposophy when you told them about your subject. You did not transform anthroposophy into a child's level. That worked in the beginning because you taught with such enormous energy. It must have been closer to your heart two years ago than what you are now teaching, so that you awoke the children through your enthusiasm and fire, whereas now you are no longer really there. You have become lazy and weak, and, thus, you tire the children...." — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 402-403.

Steiner continues correcting the teacher for several more sentences. His main point — what we need to understand clearly — is that the Waldorf teacher did not err by bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom. It was not a mistake for the teacher to teach the kids Anthroposophy. The mistake was failing to "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." In other words, the teacher should have found a way to present Anthroposophy in a form the kids could easily grasp or internalize.

So, should Waldorf teachers bring Anthroposophy to their students? Is this their purpose? Yes. "Anthroposophy will be in the school." It will be present; and, when at all possible, it will be present at "a child's level."

Aside from the essential point that Steiner was telling teachers to present Anthroposophy to little children in a way they can respond to, Steiner was also stressing his requirement that Waldorf teachers be wholly, deeply committed to their Anthroposophical work. Waldorf teachers should be zealots — they should work with "enthusiasm and fire."

In brief, unless a Waldorf teacher is "lazy and weak," s/he will bring Anthroposophy into class, and s/he will do so in a manner that the children can accept. She will "transform anthroposophy into a child's level." S/he will transfer the fire in her heart to the children's hearts.

— Roger Rawlings

For a concise summary of some of the 

issues mentioned above, see 

"Steiner School Secrecy".











"My lawyer:  'In the name "Steiner-Waldorf" education, we find the name of Rudolf Steiner. One may imagine that there is a link between Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf education, since they are derived from the same person. Is this not so? But do you inform parents that Anthroposophy is behind this education? Do you tell them, for example, during visiting days?' 

"Mrs X [Steiner-Waldorf representative]:  'No, it is for the parents to learn.'

"My lawyer:  'But where can they learn this? On the website of the [Steiner-Waldorf] Federation? I went there and I saw no mention of Anthroposophy or Rudolf Steiner!'

"Mrs X:  'Well, they are adults, they just need to look harder!'"

— Grégoire Perra

[See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", Part 3.]









In 1920, the German government passed a law that would have prevented the original Waldorf school from operating as Steiner wanted. Steiner's response? In a faculty meeting at the school, he told the teachers to worm their way out of the situation. Lie to the officials; deceive them; make fools of them. Practicing deceit would be all right as long as the teachers knew, in their hearts, that their actions were justified. (Be realistic, he said. This is how the world works. Be deceitful — not in the underhanded way Jesuits are, but in the upright way Anthroposophists can be.) Do whatever is necessary, he said:

"We must worm our way through. We have to be conscious of the fact that this is done in life — not through an inner provocation, then it would be the way the Jesuits work — but done with a certain mental reservation in response to external requirements. We have to be conscious that in order to do what we want to do, at least, it is necessary to talk with the people, not because we want to but because we have to, and inwardly make fools of them." — Rudolf Steiner, CONFERENCES WITH THE TEACHERS OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL IN STUTTGART, Vol. 1 (Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications, 1986), p. 125.







The secrecy in and around Waldorf schools is not absolute. Anthroposophists generally withhold their most prized spiritual "knowledge" from the uninitiated. Likewise, Waldorf schools generally disguise their occult purposes and beliefs from outsiders. Nevertheless, starting with Steiner, Anthroposophists have engaged in efforts to disseminate some of their occult beliefs through public lectures, the circulation of books and pamphlets, etc. This outreach work is often less than candid, however. Texts are often framed and edited in ways that suppress and mislead. Only rarely can outsiders arrive at clear formulations unless they undertake considerable detective work — and some secrets may well lie beyond such detection.

Most of my own knowledge of Anthroposophy has come from reading publicly available texts. This means that, in all probability, I am not privy to the most esoteric, hidden Anthroposophical lore. Steiner drew a sharp distinction between knowledge available to the “initiated” — that is, insiders who are permitted access to occult mysteries — and knowledge that can be shared with the general public. Initiates should convey wisdom to those who are worthy, but they must withhold it from everyone else. 

“[I]t is a strict law with all Initiates to withhold from no man the knowledge that is due him. But there is an equally strict law which insists that no one shall receive any occult knowledge until he is worthy and well prepared.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE WAY OF INITIATION (Macoy Publishing and Mason Supply Co., 1910), p. 52.

Everyone is capable of initiation, Steiner said. For this and other reasons, knowledge should be spread as widely as possible — but only within the limits of the second law, stated above. By his own account, Steiner wrote OCCULT SCIENCE — his most important book — to make much occult wisdom known far and wide. 

“The hidden knowledge which is gradually taking hold of mankind, and will increasingly be doing so, may in the language of a well-known symbol be called the Knowledge of the Grail. We read of the Holy Grail in old-time narratives and legends, and as we learn to understand its deeper meaning we discover that it most significantly pictures the heart and essence of the new Initiation-knowledge, centering in the Mystery of Christ. The Initiates of the new age may therefore be described as the 'Initiates of the Grail.' ... We are now living at a time when the higher knowledge needs to be far more widely received into the general consciousness of mankind than hitherto; it is with this view in mind that the present work has been written." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), p. 305.

But in that same book, Steiner withholds various information. One example: Concerning a future stage of human evolution, the “Vulcan” stage, Steiner is extremely close-mouthed: 

“The evolved humanity...goes forward to the Vulcan evolution, any description of which would be beyond the compass of this book.” — Ibid., p. 310. 

OCCULT SCIENCE is an “outline” only. Its compass is limited by the ability of ordinary language to frame spiritual mysteries, and by the requirement that people who are unworthy and/or unprepared — that is, the uninitiated — must not be told certain things.

Three key concepts run like threads through Steiner's theology: the "occult", "mysteries", and "initiation." They all reflect the need for secrecy. The most innocent definition of the term "occult" is "hidden." Mystery knowledge is necessarily hidden or hard to attain — it is secret. Initiation is the process of attaining hidden or secret knowledge. 

Steiner's devoted followers undergo initiation, after which they face the difficult task of deciding how much of their "knowledge" to divulge to the uninitiated — that is, to you and me. Various Anthroposophists and Waldorf schools make various decisions about where to draw the line; some are more candid than others; but all presumably recognize the need to withhold at least some of their doctrines from outsiders, including many if not all parents of Waldorf students. This does not, however, prevent Waldorf schools from acting on Anthroposophical doctrines and thus leading children toward occultism. They just need to be circumspect about it, which means not explaining their actions. As Steiner said, 

"The ancient teachers of the mysteries used to preserve such secrets as esoteric knowledge because they could not be imparted directly. In a certain sense, all teachers must be in possession of truths that they cannot directly pass on to the world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 84.

For more on the subject of initiation, see "Inside Scoop" and "Knowing the Worlds". Also see chapter five of OCCULT SCIENCE, which is titled "Knowledge of the Higher Worlds (Concerning Initiation)". In a more recent edition, the chapter's title is given as "Knowledge of Higher Worlds: Initiation." — AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 281. Changing "occult" to "esoteric" in the title of this text is just small one instance of the Anthroposophical effort to downplay alarming Anthroposophical beliefs in public. If you read much of Steiner's work, you will find that older editions are generally blunter and more informative than newer, more guarded editions. Also, if you compare Steiner's words in the original German with their translations in English-language texts, you will find that some troubling passages and lectures have been omitted from the English texts.

THE WAY OF INITIATION, which I quoted above, is old and difficult to find. Newer editions include KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944) and HOW TO KNOW THE HIGHER WORLDS - A Modern Path of Initiation (Anthroposophical Press, 1994). Read the older editions of Steiner's works whenever you can. But stay alert, and be prepared for surprises. The newer editions often use plainer, less convoluted language, which means that despite efforts to withhold various secrets, they sometimes let revealing tidbits slip through.


Steiner coached his followers to preserve their secrets.

But at least occasionally he favored greater openness. 

Sometimes, indeed, he chided his followers 

for concealing too much:

“It is obvious that knowledge of the human being must be the basis for a teacher's work; that being so, teachers must acquire this knowledge for themselves, and the natural thing will be that they acquire it through Anthroposophy. If, therefore, we are asked what the basis of a new method of education should be, our answer is: Anthroposophy must be that basis. But how many people there are, even in our own circles, who try to disclaim Anthroposophy as much as possible, and to propagate an education without letting it be known that Anthroposophy is behind it." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 4.


To examine a pair of lectures that 

Steiner's English-speaking followers

have tried to keep secret, 

see "Forbidden" and "Also Forbidden".

For more on Anthroposophical indoctrination

in Waldorf schools, see "Indoctrination".

For background on clairvoyance 

and other "psychic phenomena"

use this link: "Clairvoyance".

For information on alchemy: "Alchemy".

For more on magic in general: "Magic".

For information on signs and symbols

you may spot at a Waldorf school

(including pentagrams, hexagrams, bees, 

snakes, fish, Alpha, Omega, Tarok, and Tao)

see: "Signs".

For information about the Antichrist

and other evil powers, see "Evil Ones".


[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 135 of Rudolf Steiner, 

ARCHITECTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003).]

Waldorf teachers — like Anthroposophists in general — generally don't like to say this, but Anthroposophy has a cathedral. And, as it so happens, it was designed by Rudolf Steiner. Located in Dornach, Switzerland, it is called the Goetheanum. In fact, there have been two versions of the cathedral. Steiner originally designed the building you see here. A wooden structure, it burned to the ground. So Steiner designed a second version, to be built of concrete. You'll find pictures of that version elsewhere here at Waldorf Watch. [See, e.g., "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Both versions of the Goetheanum were designed as places of worship (although this is usually denied). Consistent with this purpose, both were designed to have multiple occult murals and other mystic paintings, a large statue of Christ, an organ, a pulpit, colored glass windows, and so forth. They were designed as cathedrals (although this is usually denied). The religion for which these cathedral were erected is the central religion of Waldorf schools: Anthroposophy. 





On March 9, 2012, the following ran 

in the Waldorf Watch News.

I quoted from an online posting, 

then I offered a response.

From the Southern Cross Review: 

Correspondence about publishing the Esoteric School First Class Lessons

The decision to publish the Class lessons was not taken lightly; in fact, I discussed it last year with a group of German and Swiss anthroposophical friends whose judgment I respect. I do not deny, however, that I had already made the decision to do so ... As far as the General Anthroposophical Society is concerned, they considered — and still do — that the only people who should have these lectures are the "Class Readers". The Rudolf Steiner Estate, founded by Marie Steiner, did not and does not agree with that position ... You mention what Rudolf Steiner said about the lectures and the mantras 88 years ago — that they are only for members of the Free School for Spiritual Science — and even they could only copy the mantras for their own meditation. When Steiner died in 1925 they didn't know what to do with the Class lessons and it was one of the causes of conflict. The question for me is: Does the Esoteric School exist without Rudolf Steiner? In my opinion it does not. []

Waldorf Watch Response:

Rudolf Steiner claimed to possess “occult” — i.e., hidden or secret — spiritual wisdom. His most important book is titled AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. In that volume, and elsewhere, Steiner revealed much of his secret wisdom. But Steiner also kept a lot secret from the uninitiated. For his followers today, there is a continuing debate over how much to reveal and how much to keep hidden. This is something to bear in mind when considering a Waldorf school. The Anthroposophists on the faculty will almost surely want to guard many secrets from you.

Here is some background. The General Anthroposophical Society is the chief body of Rudolf Steiner's followers, headquartered at the cathedral Steiner designed: the Goetheanum, in Dornach, Switzerland. Steiner founded the Esoteric School in 1904, while he was a Theosophist. Although the name "Esoteric School" is still in use, the School as originally formulated disbanded after World War I. In 1923, having broken from Theosophy to found Anthroposophy as a separate movement, Steiner created the School of Spiritual Science, an outgrowth of the Esoteric School (the remnants of which were incorporated into the new school). Continuing to meet at the Goetheanum today, the School of Spiritual Science conveys occult knowledge, but only to those who have been admitted. The School is largely secretive, although various records and transcripts have been published. The First Class was/is the original class established for the School of Spiritual Science by Steiner, who presided over its original meetings. The Class has continued to function, as old members depart and replacements are admitted. Steiner intended to create other classes, but he died before he could do so. Class Readers play a central role in class meetings, reading Steiner's lectures aloud, over and over, to the gathered members.

Secrets are kept from us for good reasons and bad. Consider reincarnation, as per Steiner's occult doctrines. Below is an illustration of the reincarnation process, as described by Steiner. At the end of each Earthly life (downward-pointing arrowheads), we pass through the gate of "death" (the dark-blue vertical line on the left). Thereupon, we enter a looping life in the spirit realm, under the influence of six gods (Spirits of Form — delineated by the six white areas separated by five light-blue vertical bars). Then, having finished that disembodied life, we pass through the gate of "birth" (the dark-blue vertical line on the right). We then return to Earth (upward-pointing arrowheads) and lead a physical, Earthly life until it is time for us to "die" once again — after which the process repeats itself, over and over, lifetime after lifetime. Steiner explained all this in his book OCCULT SCIENCE. Thus, secrets can be revealed, although only by those wise enough to decide how, when, and where to reveal them. Steiner made small revelations here and there, in this book and that, in one lecture or another... He spoke, he wrote, he sketched — and he went mum, and deflected inquiry, and spun away on tangents... Finding the truth (or, at least, the intended meaning) is his works is not often easy. He was divided internally, impelled to tell and impelled not to tell. And his followers have often followed his two-pronged example.

Sometimes when Steiner told us something, it had the effect of not telling. The problem is considerably alleviated if you make the effort to master Anthroposophical jargon. But, bear in mind, secrecy is essential and, to a degree, it must be preserved. 

"If we think about man as he is between birth and death, we can envisage that in regard to his evolution he stands under the workings of the Spirits of Form. This too is set forth in OCCULT SCIENCE. But if we then think of his life from death until the next birth, an essential fact must be taken into consideration, namely, that the spheres of activity of these Spirits of Form fall as it were into seven categories, only one of which is allotted to Jehovah, namely, that concerned primarily with the life between birth and death. The six other categories of the Spirits of Form guide the life between death and a new birth.

"This can be discovered only if we investigate the life between death and a new birth. Just as Jehovah has to do with the Earth and actually made the sacrifice of going to the Moon in order from there to neutralise certain things in Earth-evolution, so have the other Spirits of Form to do with the other planets. But this fact must be cloaked, must be kept secret if it is desired that the conception of repeated Earth-lives shall be withheld from men; and moreover the concealment must be really effective, it must be brought about in such a way that men do not become alive to the secret of which I have just spoken. For if they are diverted from a true vista of the life between death and a new birth, their attention will be rivetted, without this secret, upon the life between birth and death and they will allow mediums to talk them into believing that the life after death is simply a continuation of the life on Earth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), pp. 71-72. 

[R.R. sketch, 2010, based on the one on p. 71.]

From "What's Waldorf?" 


"[John] Holland argues that the religious basis of a movement is not the problem, but the lack of disclosure about its religious roots is. And since Waldorf's whole philosophy is based on a set of religious values, Holland says, there is no real way to separate Anthroposophy from the Waldorf curriculum. 'It's a closed system,' he says. 'The timing of when certain things are taught, the subject matter itself, all is dictated by Anthroposophy ... I tell people that Anthroposophy is the DNA of Waldorf education.'

"... He also points out that the ultimate goal of Anthroposophy is to lead children through the stages of reincarnation, which blurs the line between education and religion to an even greater extent. Nancy Frost, a former Waldorf instructor, concurs: 'I heard in a faculty meeting that there were many important souls waiting to reincarnate in this century and that they would only be able to do so if there were enough Waldorf schools,' she says. 'By the end of the year I taught there I was completely convinced that Waldorf constituted a cultlike religious movement which concealed its true nature from prospective parents.'" 







by R.R.

Broadly speaking, Waldorf faculties often can be divided into three groups. I will give the groups descriptive names of my own devising; but related names or descriptors maybe found in various Waldorf schools, used openly or otherwise.

1. The Core. The members of this first group are conscious, devoted occultists. They have studied the works of Rudolf Steiner and they are committed to fulfilling Steiner’s vision. In this endeavor, they may consciously lie to outsiders, disavowing their occult agenda. They feel justified in doing so because they consider their goals to be lofty and pure, and because they accept Steiner’s assertion that the uninitiated must be shielded from truths for which the are not ready.

At many Waldorf schools, the fully committed Anthroposophists constitute a small, inner circle of the faculty. Often this is called the "college of teachers," and it exercises the real power at the schools. At other Waldorfs, the core is larger, constituting a majority of the faculty — and in some cases it may constitute the entire faculty. Often, most or all teachers at such schools consider themselves initiated Anthroposophists. But there are some nominal "Waldorf" schools that are far less devoted to Anthroposophy (or not devoted at all), contrary to Steiner's intentions. There may be few or no hardcore Anthroposophists teaching at a merely nominal "Waldorf" school.

2. The Associates. A second group at many Waldorf schools is made up of teachers who are, to one degree or another, uninformed mystics. They do not realize what Waldorf schools are really intended for, or they have not yet made a full commitment; they have not studied Steiner in depth. They are often good, kindly, spiritual romanticists who think they are working in good, kindly, spiritually sweet schools. They generally like the atmosphere of the schools and think that all is generally well within the schools' walls. They are far less inclined to lie to outsiders because they do not fully possess the schools’ secrets. Still, their descriptions of Waldorf schools can be deeply misleading to outsiders precisely for this reason — i.e., they do not fully possess the schools’ secrets, so their understanding of the schools, and the statements they make about the schools, are incomplete. 

Some members of this group may join the college of teachers, as the core group tries to convert them to full allegiance to Anthroposophy. Over the course of time, then, some associates become recruits to the core. But other associates remain happily where they are, in a sort of comfortable Waldorf haze, not asking too many questions, and often not grasping why anyone would criticize Waldorf education.

At some Waldorf schools, the associates comprise the largest bracket in the faculty. Steiner wanted all Waldorf teachers to be deeply committed Anthroposophists, but often this condition is unattainable. Thus, Waldorf schools often hire a good number of uninitiated fellow travelers. And sometimes they even hire ordinary teachers with no mystic or occult inclinations, as we will consider in a moment. At some nominal "Waldorf" schools, most or even all of the faculty may be members of what I am here calling the second and third groups. Whether such institutions are really Waldorf schools is certainly open to question. Steiner would likely have disavowed them.

3. The Outliers. This group consists of teachers who are essentially outsiders. They do not know what Steiner taught or what Waldorf schools are meant to achieve (although they may pick up clues in their day-to-day work experience). The core group and perhaps even the associates will often hold them at arms’ length, telling them as little as possible. Some outliers will resign sooner or later, and some will be fired. Waldorf schools tend to hire such teachers only when no Anthroposophists can be found to fill certain slots in the curriculum. But a few of the outliers may gradually adapt to the schools’ spiritual agenda, migrating into the associate circle. A tiny percentage may eventually become full Anthroposophical initiates.

By and large, unless they become converts, the members of this third group are subject to deception practiced by the core group. Just as students' parents, outside educational authorities, and all other outsiders are so often deceived, the outliers in the faculty may also be kept in the dark and/or intentionally misled.

The number of outliers in a Waldorf faculty tends to be in direct, inverse proportion to the number of fully committed Anthroposophists. As a Waldorf school matures and expands, the number of outliers will shrink and eventually be reduced to zero, if at all possible. Remember what Steiner said: "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling." Failing that, members of the core group will vastly prefer hiring people suited to the associate circle, keeping the number of outliers — whom they consider materialists and thus potentially Ahrimanic — to an absolute minimum.

Like all generalizations, "In General"

is both questionable and debatable.

Individual Waldorf schools will conform to,

or diverge from,

the pattern described here 

to varying degrees.

For specific accounts of life as a Waldorf teacher,

see "He Went to Waldorf"

and the pages that follow it

("Ex-Waldorf Teacher #2", "#3", etc.).


[Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2016.]

Proponents of Waldorf education are often at pains to conceal the occult doctrines that underlie their preferred form of education. They often attempt to describe Waldorf schooling as if it were perfectly sensible. [See, e.g., “Common Sense” and “Nutshell”.] Omitting most references to esoteric Anthroposophical beliefs (etheric bodies, clairvoyance, karma, reincarnation, and so on), they focus instead on elements of the Waldorf approach that seem rationally defensible and even admirable. But if we become acquainted with Anthroposophy, we can often detect the mysticism concealed behind such expositions. 

Here are a few examples drawn from a book written by Waldorf teacher Christof Wiechert. It is THE WALDORF SCHOOL - An Introduction (Verlag Am Goetheanum, 2016). Accepting such a book as your introduction to Waldorf education is inadvisable. Far too much is left hidden.

I have added explanatory footnotes to each passage, saying a little of what the book leaves unsaid.

"[Waldorf] teachers are united by a spiritual bond [1] woven in weekly meetings [2] where collegiate attention is given to the development model at the heart of the school [3] ... Steiner placed key importance on the collaborative endeavors of teachers at Waldorf schools ... [I]t was decided not to have a principal or directorate but instead entrust educational responsibility to the whole faculty together. [4]" — THE WALDORF SCHOOL - An Introduction, pp. 25-27.

[1] Spirituality is central to the Waldorf approach. Waldorf schools are disguised religious institutions — they exist to promote (quietly, covertly) the religious views promulgated by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Schools as Churches" and "Waldorf Worship".]

[2] See "Faculty Meetings". The central guiding body within a Waldorf school is often called the "college of teachers." This "collegiate" body seeks to implement Rudolf Steiner's vision. For this reason, its meetings often include study and discussion of Steiner's works. [See the entry for "college of teachers" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[3] This model emerges from guidance Rudolf Steiner gave to teachers at the first Waldorf school; it reflects the occult doctrines of Steiner's creed, Anthroposophy. [See "Oh Humanity" and the entry for "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]

[4] This is not true in all cases. Experience has shown that leaderless Waldorf schools have tended to fall into organizational chaos. Consequently, some Waldorf schools vest authority in administrators, including principals, headmasters or headmistresses, and/or faculty chairs. But problems of weak or ineffective management continue to plague many Waldorf schools. [See, e.g., "The Steiner School Crisis".]

"The Waldorf curriculum responds to these inner changes [in fourth graders] in a very decided way. The narrative material for this year turns [to] Nordic mythology [1] … In these Scandinavian myths [2] we find a vivid portrayal of the end of the communal life between the gods and men [3] … [P]eople [today] must manage in the world by their own resources and the gods are no longer available to help. [4]” — THE WALDORF SCHOOL - An Introduction, pp. 56-57. 

[1] Steiner taught that many of the gods discussed in various mythologies really exist. Myths in general are true, he said, and Norse myths are especially true. [See “The Gods”.] 

[2] Norse mythology originated in Norway, but it spread to many areas of northern Europe, including parts of Germany. 

[3] Steiner taught that ancient peoples had direct experience of the gods. 

“Myths and sagas are not just ‘folk-tales’; they are the memories of the visions which people perceived in olden times ... Human beings were aware of the spiritual both by day and by night. At night they were really surrounded by that world of Nordic gods of which the legends tell. Odin, Freya, and all the other figures in Nordic mythology were not inventions; they were experienced in the spiritual world with as much reality as we experience our fellow human beings around us today.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198. 

[4] Modern humans have generally lost their ancient, instinctive connection to the spirit realm, Steiner taught. Yet the gods certainly still exist, he said [see “Polytheism”], and by following Steiner’s directions we can perceive them again [see “Knowing the Worlds”]. 

"The Waldorf School is founded on a pedagogical approach formulated by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) the initiator of anthroposophy [1] … To make this pedagogy a matter of practical application, teachers need a wealth of insights into the nature of the human being and his development [2]….” Ibid., pp.77-80. 

[1] This statement is admirably direct and true. But to comprehend the significance of this statement, the reader needs at least a general understanding of Anthroposophical doctrines, as well as information about the extent to which Anthroposophy enters the Waldorf curriculum and Waldorf methods. [See, e.g., “The Waldorf Curriculum” and “Methods”.] 

[2] Steiner’s teachings about “the nature of the human being and his development” are deeply esoteric, and they impact Waldorf education directly. Thus, for instance, much of the Waldorf approach centers on the incarnation of three invisible bodies — the etheric body at age 7, the astral body at age 14, and the “I” at age 21. [See “Incarnation”.] If such matters are not explained openly, then much about Waldorf education is being omitted.

[Also see "Oh Humanity".] 


“We all have mental pictures … We all have some imaginative capacity [1] … [As Waldorf teachers] do we have the ability to imagine what it would feel like to be inside the skin of a particular child? [2] … Teachers need their powers of imagination in all kinds of situations … Imaginative engagement…will make school life more creatively alive for all. [3]” — Ibid., pp. 85-86.

[1] In Waldorf belief, imagination is not primarily the ability to dream up fantasies. Instead, Steiner taught, when imagination is developed and used correctly, it is a reliable form of comprehension, leading to the acquisition of important truths. Indeed, Steiner taught that imagination leads to, and actually is a stage of, clairvoyance. [See the entry for “imagination” in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.] 

[2] Waldorf teachers use various techniques to try to understand their students. At their core, these techniques center on the use of clairvoyance. [See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”.] If clairvoyance is a delusion, then Waldorf education is severely undercut. [See “Clairvoyance”.] 

[3] At Waldorf schools, students as well as teachers are meant to exercise and develop their imaginative powers. For some families, this is one of the chief allures of Waldorf education. But if “imagination” is understood to mean, ultimately, “clairvoyance” — then the validity of the Waldorf approach is undercut

"If learning is not seen only as the acquisition of skills [1] but as a path of gradually increasing engagement with the world and human community, then learning has a connecting quality. [2] If education really encompasses all these three areas it has a religious tenor also. [3] … In Waldorf schools one can perceive this as a quiet undertone — a diffuse but real sense of underlying religiosity. [4]” — Ibid., pp. 89-90.

[1] Waldorf schools generally deemphasize both the acquisition of skills and, startlingly, the acquisition of knowledge. 

“The success of Waldorf Education...can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30. 

[2] Some presentations of the Waldorf approach are so anodyne as to be — when considered attentively — very nearly fatuous. All forms of education, if they have any real content at all, try to connect students to “the world” and to the “human community.” 

[3] Steiner told Waldorf teachers to impart religiosity in all their classes. 

"It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94. 

[4] The religious nature of Waldorf schools is “quiet” and “diffuse” because the religion involved is kept largely hidden. The Waldorf religion is Anthroposophy. [See “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”] But despite a general secretiveness about Anthroposophy, Waldorf teachers find many ways to import this religion into their classes. [See “Sneaking It In” and “Schools as Churches”.]

"Waldorf schools deserve a great deal of recognition for the courage they show in pursuing their own paths and swimming against the flow ... They are, after all, the only type of school that seeks to realize Steiner's art of education [1] ... They are on the move; and those who take their own steps are less likely to be compelled in directions dictated by others [2] ... These schools vary greatly from country to country [3], and must adapt to different government requirements [4]...." — Ibid., pp. 119-120.

[1] The courage of Waldorf schools resides principally in their devotion to Rudolf Steiner's vision, Anthroposophy. These schools differ from all others chiefly because they embrace Steiner's mystical beliefs. The "art of education" inaugurated by Steiner is essentially the effort to runs schools in a way that is consistent with Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Here's the Answer".] 

[2] Waldorf schools do largely resist the directives issued by outsiders such as governmental education authorities. The schools are fundamentally insurgent institutions whose ultimate purpose is to spread Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Serving the Gods" and "Mission".] 

[3] Actually, Waldorf schools are much the same everywhere. They must be, so long as they remain true to Anthroposophy. Variations within the Waldorf movement tend to be small, except in the case of wayward schools that probably should not be considered real Waldorfs. [See, e.g., "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs".] 

[4] This contradicts the claim that Waldorf schools courageously go their own way. If Waldorf schools "adapt" to "government requirements," they may cease to be real Waldorf schools. But Waldorf teacher-training programs generally strive to ensure that Waldorf faculties remain true to Anthroposophy. [See "Teacher Training".]



Be cautious about accepting messages like the following.

I substantiate my own work with careful documentation.

The following messages, more informal, are largely undocumented.

Still, they seem sincere, and they may be worth considering.

The problem of secrecy at Waldorf schools run wide and deep. 

Parents who visit Waldorf schools with questions 

may receive incomplete or misleading answers. 

Here are reports from parents who had this experience. 

(I have edited them slightly for inclusion here.)

The first is a message from a disillusioned father.

Like many parents, we chose Waldorf for what it is not and — sadly — later we learned what it is. We initially toured the school, read a pamphlet (Internet was a toddler in those days) and learned that there were no junk food machines, no computers for young children, no televisions anywhere, no fluorescent lights, no standardized tests or mountains of homework. We also learned that the school promotes families sending kids to school with decent food — a biggie for us. We liked the walls and classrooms and a few of the teachers we spoke with sounded very calm and relatively intelligent. The festivals seemed wonderful. [Waldorf schools celebrate many annual festivals for occult reasons that are often not explained to parents or students.] There were lots of smiles everywhere and a sheet of Waldorf FAQ's made us believe we had found a wonderful little community school for our family. I do remember hearing the word "anthroposophy" and thought the person was having trouble pronouncing "anthropology". True. When I asked I was told it simply means "wisdom of man" and it came from a wonderful philosopher called Rudolf Steiner. Sounds fine to me — the goal is for each child to reach her true potential, each is an individual, no need to push through academics, etc. We were sold a false bill of goods. Nothing about the morning "verse" [a morning prayer, recited in unison] or the reality of "eurythmy" [a form of dance designed to connect students to the spirit realm] or "wet-on-wet" painting [a form of painting intended to have a similar effect] or the absolute authority of the teacher, the cookie-cutter main lesson books, the significance of Michaelmas, advent garden, etc.

We were misled and deceived by those who sold the product. THAT is my # 1 criticism of the Waldorf movement. Before purchasing any product (or enrolling a child in any school), is the duty of the buyer to assume the seller is lying about that product (school)? If we had chosen to send our kids to the local mainstream school, we'd have had a pretty good idea of what to expect — same with a Catholic school or Sudbury Valley school, etc.

As a result of being misled and deceived, we unwittingly put our kids into a dysfunctional educational/social (and heavily Anthroposophic) environment and we stayed for years. I will take blame for staying too long, but it's important to understand how very difficult it is for parents to remove their children from the only "community" they have ever known. When we finally made the gut-wrenching decision to pull the plug, it was VERY difficult for our entire family but especially for the children. Although many families had bailed out before us, our kids still had close friends there and starting over elsewhere does not come easily to many kids (and parents). Because of the cult-like atmosphere of the place, the kids picked up on the adult stuff — after we left, some teachers and Anthro-inspired parents would try to avoid us at the local health food store, etc. Very confusing and unhealthy for young children.

I think it is very important to at least try to understand what some children go through in Waldorf/Steiner schools — especially those where anthroposophic extremism is the norm. There are the obvious questions around "is anthroposophic education good for children?" And then there are other issues: I've known more than a few children who were hit, screamed and sworn at by Waldorf teachers — with virtually NO repercussions, other than pathetic suggestions that those who raise concerns do not understand karma. [Steiner taught that the things that happen to us in this life often come from our karma, which we created for ourselves in our previous lives — Steiner’s doctrines include reincarnation.] Fact is there were no other available teachers, so the wild ones stayed, believing (and being supported by peers) they were destined to be with the children in their class. That what Steiner says. 

Another message from a parent: 

A mother tells of being deceived when 

choosing a Waldorf school.

I asked specific questions about Anthroposophy and its role in our local Waldorf school before enrolling our children. This was before the Internet was a part of people's lives. I later discovered the answers I was given were lies.

I had no reason not to trust the information I was given. I've interviewed numerous private school directors/principals and in those cases where my children ended up attending their schools there were no conditions or events that contradicted anything they told me about the schools. Because my father was in the army, my parents interviewed many private school principals before sending my brother and me to new schools. None of those schools had hidden agendas. There are some people you expect to lie: criminals, politicians, teenagers. It is not normal, however, for schools to lie to parents of prospective students.

— Margaret Sachs 

Here's another. Background: 

Steiner's doctrines include karma, 

reincarnation, and clairvoyance. 


Eugene Schwartz is a leading 

Waldorf educator.

When I asked about karma, for instance, I was given the casually studied answer that "all it really means is that the children have a past and a future". 

There seems to be a deliberate quest to make out that the questions we ask are outlandish and laughable, but Waldorf teachers are really down-to-earth simple creative folk, gently dealing with the children. They "only take what they want from Steiner". 

Last year [my partner] received this reply from Alan Swindell, Education Co-ordinator at Devon Steiner School, when he emailed Martin Whitlock about Anthroposophy at the school. 

"The importance of reincarnation and 'Anthroposophical tenets' to the teaching staff is a question for each individual teacher to answer. I would not dare attempt it on their behalf! As a school, however, [our] colors can be nailed squarely to the mast. Teachers are urged to study Steiner's views on child development, teaching methods, and the age-appropriate curriculum he initiated with his books and lectures. Decisions made in the classroom will be influenced by this study." 

One answer seems to negate the other. The teachers have their own personal beliefs about Anthroposophy, no one would dare presume otherwise, how absurd! Anthroposophy is all about freedom! Yet the school "urges" them to study Steiner (presumably Anthroposophy) and make decisions in the classroom based on this study. Where is the "individual freedom" in that? It doesn't make sense. Either they have a starting point of so called "truths" and "beliefs" or they don't. They can't have it both ways. Unless it's comparable to an atheist teaching Creationism in a faith school, which is entirely possible; it would just seem a bit ... hypocritical. 

It's extremely hard to nail them down with any sort of straight answer. And when they are open, it's seen as a slip. When Eugene Schwartz said the schools are religious, or when Jeremy Smith of the Steiner Waldorf School's Fellowship said Steiner's insights were clairvoyant for instance. These are words which are never seen in the promotional material. 

They are so practiced in euphemisms and vague terms which could translate in myriad ways. 

For an exploration of karma,

please use this link: "Karma".



Here is a worrisome report by a father

whose children attend a Waldorf school.

These are excerpts from Glenn Faulkner's

"Why Parents Should Beware this Cult"

which appeared in 



My children have been at a Steiner school for the last six years. Their time and education there has been intriguing, scary and disappointing ... [T]he brochure offered an environment of creativity, imagination, lessons through the learning of ancient legends, an arts and music focus, and a promise to nurture and encourage individuals in their strengths. Over the years the reality has proved very different. 

Take the promises: 

Creativity: Is actually discouraged. Yes, they have art and craft classes, but everything must be produced exactly as the teachers dictate....

Imagination: On one hand, they are encouraged to use their imagination and believe in fairies, gnomes and other mythical creatures, but the imagination is limited to what the teachers want them to imagine. 

Lessons through ancient legends: ...[M]ost of the ‘legends’ taught are not classical Greek or Norse legends...but are usually legends of obscure origin. Many fables are from the original unedited Grimm’s fairy tales...gruesome and unpleasant.... 

Art: As mentioned, it is very strictly controlled: every picture, regardless of the artist, looks the same. There is a big focus on wet paper art so that there is no clear definition to the image ... [T]he pictures in Grade Six are obviously better quality, but the overall theme and style doesn’t seem to progress at all. 

Music: ...Nearly all the songs and tunes are of a very muted, dull and repressed nature. There never seems to be any vibrancy in the music. The children always seem bored with what they are playing or singing and the volume always subdued ... Passion and fun within their music seems to be non-existent....

Nurturing of the Individual’s strengths: I have yet to see any evidence of this. In fact, I see more of the opposite. There is a lot of emphasis on making the children conform to a set standard of boundaries. Again, the word ‘repression’ springs to mind. 

Eco friendly/Conservation, etc.: ...[T]hey do openly talk about a connection to mother earth and nature but this doesn’t appear to translate into any modern meaning of ‘Green’ as in conservation of the planet’s ecosystems and native flora and fauna, or simply the ability of our planet to sustain us into the future.... 

Some other observations over the years in no particular order are:

Parent/teacher interaction: As a parent, you are kept very much in the dark about what is really being taught. Discussions with the teacher can only be through formal appointments and these are usually long after the request.

Use of technology: The school has no computers, not even in the office. There is also no other form of technology. It is like being in a 1930s or `40s environment.... 

Learning to read: Steiner schools do not teach reading and writing until Grade Two ... With my children it meant that by the time they started to learn they were nearly ‘over it’. They had been so keen to learn to read and write when they first started school that by the time they finally started to learn their enthusiasm had just about faded....

Winter/Summer solstice ceremonies: ...These ceremonies have a very pagan feel and tone and have always felt very wrong. It makes you wonder what is really behind the ceremony and what are the children really involved in – some sort of cult or religion? 

Religion: ...Apart from the summer/winter solstice ceremonies, there are morning songs/chants that the children do every morning before class begins ... [T]hey are chants and do sound very similar to prayers and hymns as in other religions. Many of the songs they do in music are similar. 

...Parent/family/child interaction: There is a very heavy culture in the school that the teachers have control of all aspects of the children’s lives, whether at school or at home....

...Teachers: The teacher the children have in their first year of school (founders/preps) stays with them right through their school life as their main teacher ... But time shows that if there is a personality clash or conflict between the teacher and the child then this problem is carried from one year to the next with the problem(s) usually becoming more intense ... I have seen children at other schools excited at seeing their teacher again after the holidays and wanting to tell them what they have done over the break. This sort of rapport doesn’t seem evident at Steiner....

Facilities: School facilities are very basic — most public mainstream schools would have far better....

Bullying: One of my biggest disappointments in the school is the interaction of the children ... [B]ullying is rife in the schoolyard. As the years go on the bullying seems to becoming worse and more uncontrollable. 

Secrecy: ...I increasingly had a feeling that things happen in the school that are beyond the obvious curriculum and that some of those within the curriculum may have hidden meanings. These feelings along with my reading and research on Steiner, his philosophies and his educational methods lead me to believe that many things are hidden from the parents.... 

My conclusion ... [It is] a school with poor facilities, a culture of repression and conformity, teachers that believe that parents are secondary in the raising of children, where transparency about how the children are being educated is not something aimed for. Is it a cult? I believe so....



For more personal reports by

parents who sent children to Waldorf schools,

and by former Waldorf students,

former Waldorf board members,

former Waldorf teachers, etc.,

see, e.g.,

"Our Experience",

"Coming Undone",

"I Went to Waldorf",

"Steiner's Quackery",

"Magical Arts",


"My Sad, Sad Story",

"My Life Among the Anthroposophists",

"Ex-Teacher 2",

"Ex-Teacher 3",





"Help 2",




Here are reasons to be concerned 

about the spread of Anthroposophy,

as expressed by the operators 

of the website CHASE

(Challenging Anthroposophy 

and Steiner Education)


These excerpts refer to UK (the United Kingdom)

but they are applicable to all parts 

of the English-speaking world

and, with modifications, beyond.

Parents, statutory agencies, civil servants and civil administrators, the media and the public generally are largely unaware of Steiner and Anthroposophy, or hazy about the details if they are aware.

An informational gap exists because Steiner wrote in German and we rely for information on translations into English provided by Anthroposophists. In the words of the only UK academic to research in depth the Anthroposophical belief system (Dr Geoffrey Ahern) these translations of Steiner’s original texts can give an effect “not short of conceptual Jabberwocky”. This is in part due to difficulties in finding English equivalents for the actuality or vision of the spiritual domain Steiner reported on, his reports being complex and containing nuances that can become lost in translation.

However, it cannot help that English translations of his original works have been divested of Steiner’s more overtly racist remarks ... Clearly there is a problem of racism with Steiner but it is unclear as to how or even if the Anthroposophy community in this country either acknowledges it or deals with it. Sanitisation of texts suggests an awareness of a problem with the texts but how can sanitisation of texts in our country cope with the fact that many Anthroposophical practitioners arrive here in the UK having been trained in countries where the intact versions of Steiner are published?

...Problems with Steiner extend beyond that of racism. Steiner held and presented his highly unorthodox and controversial views on such emotive and personally sensitive matters as religion, karma, reincarnation, evolution, the economy, science, medicine and health, human relationships the arts – he even went so far as to champion a belief in the existence of gnomes and Atlantis. Given that an informational gap exists, the British public is poorly served in having to cope with conceptual Jabberwocky and sanitised texts before engaging with the issues surrounding Steiner and his beliefs or before studying the man and his beliefs for the first time.

People engaging with Anthroposophy, e.g. by placing kids or loved ones with a Steiner school, medical facility or other institution, expect and deserve to be fully informed of the beliefs of its practitioners when, as with Anthroposophic/Steiner beliefs, those beliefs are so different from the mainstream as to be considered alternative, radical, progressive, codswallop, New Age, avant-garde, brilliant or whatever else way they might be described. As a result of the informational gap people can end up giving support to organisations they would not ethically, intellectually or morally support. The possibility of unintended support happening exists because Anthroposophy consists of a community of mutually supportive projects and organisations.




When Anthroposophists mislead outsiders, they may or may not know what they are doing. They may believe that, truly, Anthroposophy is not a religion; and, truly, Waldorf schools do not promote Anthroposophy; and, truly, Waldorf schools foster freedom. They would be mistaken in all of this, but they would be honestly mistaken. 

Like Steiner, Anthroposophists often have a strained relationship with truth. Indeed, becoming an Anthroposophist requires you to detach yourself from the truth — the real universe — and enter a fantasy realm instead. From within that fantasy realm, perception may be quite blurred. For this reason, the ultimate victims of Anthroposophy's distortion of reality may be Anthroposophists themselves — they convince themselves that what is false (Anthroposophy) is true, and what is true (modern science and much of modern scholarship) is false. Membership in any cult such as Anthroposophy usually depends on willing self-deception. [See "Fooling (Ourselves)", "Deception", and "Why? (Oh Why? Oh Why?)".]

Anthroposophists may be good, caring, compassionate people who are entirely sincere in what they think and do. In particular, this may be true of Anthroposophists who serve on Waldorf faculties. But none of this excuses what such Waldorf teachers do to youngsters. An informed adult may make a conscious decision to join a cult. But children are in no position to make such a choice, and Waldorf schools do not present them with such a choice. Instead, Waldorf schools immerse children in an Anthroposophical atmosphere week after week, month after month, year after year. The ultimate result — whether or not all Waldorf teachers understand this — is to pull children toward Anthroposophical occultism. This is what Waldorf schools are set up to do; this is the outcome Waldorf schools are designed to achieve, whether or not all Waldorf teachers understand this.

— R.R.




OK. I have spilled some of the beans; I have told you some of the secrets of Anthroposophy. How many other secrets do Anthroposophists hide from outsiders like you and me? I don't know. I've told you what I've found, but I don't know — I can't know — what I may have missed. We're talking about secrets, after all. A secret remains a secret only if it remains undisclosed. So how many secrets remain guarded and hidden within Anthroposophy ? I don't know.

But what you and I can clearly know is that trusting Anthroposophists is dangerous. People who think they possess divine secrets are likely to be deceptive. Secrecy inevitably means concealment, and quite often it means deceit. And hiding divine  secrets is, of course, far more important than hiding ordinary secrets — the impetus to deceive is all the greater.

What Steiner acknowledged in public is clearly not the whole story. What an Anthroposophist or Waldorf teacher will admit to you is almost surely not the whole story. So be wary. Even if you like Anthroposophists and are impressed by them, be wary. You are an outsider who, according to the rules of Anthroposophy, should not be told the whole truth.

"Occult science" is spiritual science — that is, it is Anthroposophy. "Occult" means hidden or secret. Anthroposophy is built on the notion of secret wisdom. And Waldorf education is built on Anthroposophy. So be wary.

— R.R.

[For examples of Steiner describing himself as an occultist, 

and to hear him addressing his followers 

as occultists, see "Occultism".

 To take a preliminary pass through Steiner's 

theory of everything, occult science, see "Everything".]