[A]  [B]  [C-Ch]  [Ci-Cu]  [D]  [E-El]  [Em-Ey]  [F]  [G]  [H]  [I]  [J-L]  [M-Me]  [Mi-My]  [N-O]  [P-Q]  [R]  [S-Sn]  [So-Sy]  [T-V]  [W-Z]

- A -

abdominal system - also see metabolic-limb system

According to Rudolf Steiner, this is one of the three primary systems that make up the human physical constitution. It includes both the metabolic organs and the limbs, and it is the seat of the will. “As we appear physically, we are clearly divided into the head system, the chest system, and the abdominal system, including the limbs." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 59. The three systems are distinct from one another, Steiner said, but they also reflect and overlie one another. [See "What We Are".] 

Anthroposophy considers the will to be a separate faculty [see "Will"], centered in the limbs or the abdominal system as a whole. According to its practitioners, the Waldorf curriculum is designed to emphasize development of the will during early childhood, followed by emphasis on emotion during middle childhood, and thinking after the onset of puberty. [See "Soul School".]

For more on the abdominal system, see the entry in this encyclopedia for "metabolic-limb system".

abnormal, abnormality - also see degenerate races; disease; evil; cf. advanced races; normal

In general, according to Anthroposophical doctrine, a person or being is abnormal if s/he lags behind in evolution or otherwise varies from the central stream of the divine cosmic plan. [1] Seen from one perspective, abnormal beings have strayed but they are not necessarily evil. From another perspective, however, deviating from the divine plan is the very essence of evil. [See "Abnormal".] ◊ “At all stages there are members of the Hierarchies [2] whose development is incomplete and man lives both under the influence of the normal beings and of those who have remained behind. [3] These were termed the Spirits of Adversity [4] but it must be remembered that they are not evil in themselves.” — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER - An Introduction to His World-view, Anthroposophy (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2001), p. 199. ◊ "Now on each planet there are also Spirits who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress. [5] You will recognise a law from this: If the most outstanding fall and commit the 'great sin' of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all. The noble sense of liberty has been reversed into wickedness, into its opposite. Those are the Spirits of Temptation [6], and they must be taken gravely into account; they lead to the evil side of egoism...." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99. [See "Sin".]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "divine cosmic plan".

[2] I.e.,  gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[3] The latter are abnormal spiritual beings, primarily abnormal gods.

[4] See the entry for "Spirits of Adversity" in this encyclopedia.

[5] I.e., they have chosen not to evolve further; hence, they are abnormal.

[6] See the entry for "Spirits of Temptation" in this encyclopedia.

Abraham - also see Jews; Judaism; Old Testament

The Hebrew patriarch. According to Steiner, the Bible does not accurately explain Abraham's role in Hebrew history. (Many of Steiner's "revelations" have this character — they "correct" the Bible and other texts or traditions.) Steiner taught that Shem, one of Noah's sons, had an etheric body [1] that housed an avatar (a god who had descended to Earth). [2] Melchizedek, a king/priest revered by Abraham, received this etheric body with its embodied avatar. Melchizedek was then able to guide Abraham who, in turn, guided the Hebrew people. "[I]n the later phase of the evolution of the Semitic people, it became necessary that a very exalted being [3] descend to earth in order to communicate with them and provide an impetus to their culture. Such a being was the Melchizedek of Biblical history who, as it were, had to ‘put on’ the preserved etheric body of Shem — the very etheric body that was still inhabited by an avatar being. Once it was woven into him, Melchizedek was able to transmit to Abraham the impulse necessary for the continued progress of Semitic culture. [4]” — R. Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY (Anthroposophic Press, 1986), lecture 3, GA 109.

[1] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The lowest of the invisible bodies is the "etheric body". [See "Incarnation".]
[2] See "Avatars".
[3] I.e., a highly evolved being, a god. (Steiner taught that gods, like humans, evolve.)
[4] Steiner taught that the Hebrews made a significant contribution to human evolution, but once the Sun God, Christ, incarnated on Earth, both the Hebrews and their culture/religion became outdated and should have ceased to exist. [See "Sun God" and "RS on Jews".]

abyss - also see Eighth Sphere; hell; materialism; physical plane; cf. salvation

a) A deep (perhaps bottomless) canyon, or the bottomless deeps of the ocean. Figuratively, a profound gulf of separation.

b) "The Abyss": the bottomless pit of Hell.

c) In Anthroposophy: the region separating physical reality from spiritual reality, and/or the region of perdition entered by those who descend too far into physicality. [See "Hell".] People who fail to adopt the proper spiritual vision will revert to animal form and constitute an "evil race" in the abyss, Steiner taught. "Let us suppose a man were to deny it was the spirit which has given him a human countenance [1] ... He would remain united with the body [2] and go down into the abyss. And because of not having used the power of the spirit, the external shape would again come to resemble the previous form. The man who descends into the abyss would become animal like [3] ... The evil race, with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." — R. Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103.


Steiner taught that during our current stage of evolution, we descend from the spiritual world to the physical world (symbolized here by the horizontal line). We must reascend, or we will fall too far and enter the abyss. "[I]n the abyss will sound forth names of blasphemy and of hatred ... [T]hose who remain in materiality [will] go down into the abyss ... They will afterwards form a world beneath the present world, so to speak, a world of the abyss, where man will again have assumed animal shape." — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN, lecture 7, GA 104. [Illustration from that lecture; color added.]

[1] I.e., deny that our essential nature, which makes us human, is spiritual.
[2] I.e., the physical body — that is, he would sink into a wholly physical existence and be unable to leave it ("he would remain united with the body").
[3] Sic. Steiner taught that animals have etheric and astral bodies, and they share group souls, but they lack true spiritual essence; they do not have spiritual egos. The spiritual ego or "I" makes us human. [See "Ego".] Animal bodies, similarly, are lowly when compared to the human form. Animals generally represent previous, lower stages of evolution. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Evolution, Anyone?"]

academic standards at Waldorf schools - also see anti-intellectualism; spiritualistic agenda; textbooks; Waldorf curriculum

Academic standards at Waldorf schools are often low; the underlying goal of the schools is to spread Anthroposophy, not to provide an education as that term is usually understood. [1] Moreover, Steiner's followers view ordinary knowledge askance — clairvoyance and its results provide "real" knowledge, according to Anthroposophical doctrine; ordinary cognition, scholarship, and science do not. [2] For these reasons, textbooks are rarely used in Waldorf schools; the use of electronic learning aids, especially computers, is likewise avoided or minimized. Factual information about ordinary reality (what is usually called knowledge about the real world) is given little emphasis, and students are generally not asked to memorize (or, in this sense, learn) much general information. [3]

Students in Waldorf elementary grades typically lag behind students in other schools, because Waldorf education postpones academic studies such as arithmetic and reading until the students incarnate their "etheric bodies." [4] The Waldorf curriculum [5] is geared toward the incarnation of the students’ three invisible bodies (the etheric, astral, and ego bodies), as well as the development of proto-clairvoyant modes of thought (imagination, etc.). [6] Waldorf defenders say that Waldorf students catch up with their peers at other schools eventually. The evidence for this is spotty at best and depends on the chosen metric of comparison.

[1] See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda", "Schools as Churches", "Sneaking It In", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Waldorf education - goals".

[2] See "Clairvoyance", "Steiner's Specific", and "Thinking".
[3] See "Academic Standards at Waldorf"; also see the entries for "knowledge" and "brain" in this encyclopedia.
[4] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings possess three invisible bodies, the first of which is the etheric body. The second is the astral body, and the third is the ego body or "I." [See "Incarnation".]
[6] See "Thinking", "Thinking Cap", and the entries in this encyclopedia for "clairvoyance" and "imagination".

Accadians - see Akkadians

Adam - also see Adam Kadmon; The Bible; Eve; Old Testament; planetary migrations

a) In the Bible: the first man.

b) In Anthroposophy: a sufficiently hardened early human, able to remain on Earth when other humans migrated to other planets. Adam's wife, Eve, also remained. Human races arose when the descendants of Adam and Eve married the descendants of humans who went to other planets and then returned to Earth. "[T]here was a principal human couple who survived the densification of the earth [1]. Spiritual investigation [2] impels us to accept what to begin with seems incredible, that there was such a couple as Adam and Eve, as the Bible tells us, and that the races which arose on the return of the soul/spirits from the cosmos [3] came about through their union with the descendants of this couple.” — R. Steiner, GENESIS: Secrets of Creation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 126. [See "Genesis".]

c) Steiner also used the name “Adam” to refer to a primal condition of humanity in general. “By ‘Adam’ we have to understand not a single human being, but an ego-consciousness [4] that embraced several generations ... If you look back as far as to Adam, you see the ego-consciousness flow through generations for hundreds and thousands of years.” — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (London Reference Library, 1942), lecture 8, GA 100. (Reconciling Steiner's various statements on many subjects can be difficult; Anthroposophy has many internal contradictions.)

d) Yet another Anthroposophical description (which may or may not be compatible with the others): ◊ "Adam, the ancestor of all living creatures, was a jellyfish that floated in albumin when the Earth was still in a liquid state." — Former Anthroposophist G. Perra. That is to say, when Old Moon reincarnated as Present Earth [5], the first human form — the "Adam" — was a sort of jellyfish: ◊ "Man...tumbled headlong down on to the earth. In the first stage of his earth existence he was a plant-animal formation, resembling the jellyfish. The organ that later became the head fastened itself to the bottom of the world ocean, which at that time covered the entire earth, while his extremities reached out towards the sun." — Anthroposophist G. Bondarev. ◊ "The Polarian human beings [6] were very similar to four-footed animals, but they were formed out of a soft, pliant substance similar to a jellyfish, but much warmer." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 23, GA 93a.

[1] I.e., the condensation of the Earth into hardened physical form.

[2] I.e., spiritual science — Anthroposophy — which employs "exact" clairvoyance. [See "Exactly".]

[3] I.e., other planets. People who could not bear the initial densification of the Earth fled to other planets, Steiner taught; they returned to Earth later. (The Earth and the other planets were very different then from their current conditions.) [See "Planetary Humans" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "planetary migrations".] The "soul/spirit" is the combined human soul and spirit. Steiner taught that we have both souls (our immaterial selves in one incarnation) and spirits (our immortal immaterial selves, which we carry through all incarnations).

[4] I.e., a spiritual ego shared by many people, spread across space and time; when humanity evolved further, individuals developed their separate spiritual egos. [See "Four Group Souls" and "Ego".]

[5] Old Moon was the third incarnation of the solar system. Present Earth is the fourth. [See "Old Moon, Etc.", "Present Earth", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".]
[6] I.e., the first humans on Earth. ("Human beings" at that stage, and at earlier stages, were not yet truly human; they might better be termed proto-humans. "Polaria" was the first dwelling place for humans on the planet Earth during its current stage of form. That period was the "Polarian Epoch". [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.])

Adam Kadmon (Adam Cadmon) - also see Adam; Christ; Jesus; Lucifer

According to Kabbalistic teachings, Adam Kadmon is the perfect prototype of the human form, or the mystical meaning of that form. Steiner taught that this prototype informed the first incarnate human being, Adam, who became corrupted and fell due to the intervention of Lucifer. But, Steiner said, the prototype also remained, unsullied, in the spiritual realm until it descended as one of the two Jesus children who became the receptacle for the incarnating Sun God, Christ.

"[T]hrough the hidden forces at work in unconscious depths, the human soul and spirit was [sic] presented to humanity...as the child at the beginning of the physical evolution on earth ... [I]t is the child who was there before human beings had reached the point of first physical embodiment in Earth evolution. This is the being known in the Kabbalah as Adam Cadmon — the human being who descended from divine, spiritual heights with all that he had acquired during the periods of Saturn, Sun and Moon incarnations. [1] The human being in his spiritual state at the very beginning of earth evolution, born in the Jesus child — this was what the divine wisdom presented to humanity through the festival of Jesus’ birth [2] ... [B]efore the luciferic forces began their work, we possessed an unsullied nature and being, which can inspire us with undying hope ... The Jesus of the Gospel of St Luke — not the Jesus described in the Gospel of St Matthew [3] — is the child before whom the shepherds worship … [A]t the place visited by the shepherds a human soul had been born in the state of innocence in which the soul existed before the first incarnation on earth ... [T]he soul of the Jesus child described in the Gospel of St Luke…was kept back in the worlds of spirit when the other human souls began to pass through their incarnations on earth. This soul remained in the guardianship of the holiest mysteries of the Atlantean and post-Atlantean epochs [4] … Then it was sent forth into the body predestined to receive it and became one of the two Jesus children — the child described in the Gospel of St Luke." — R. Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), pp. 61-65.

[1] I.e., the human being as he existed during the ancient stages of evolution known as Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. Our "incarnations" then were not physical as we understand this term now.  [See "Matters of Form".]

[2] I.e., one of the two Jesus children was a new incarnation of Adam Kadmon, the perfect prototype of Adam. (We might paraphrase the beginning of Steiner's statement as "The perfect prototype of humanity, Adam Kadmon, was reborn in the Jesus child....")

[3] The other Jesus provided other legacies, other spiritual forces. [See “Was He Christian?”.]

[4] I.e., it was preserved in the occult or mystery wisdom possessed by initiates during the period when humanity lived on Atlantis, and again during our own post-Atlantean period. [See "Epochs".]

adept - also see initiate

As conceived in Anthroposophy, an adept is an individual skilled in the application or use of gnosis [1], occult knowledge“The weapons of the mystic [2] are concentration and inner vision; the weapons of the occultist [3] are intuition and synthesis. Each corresponds to the other; they complete and presuppose each other. [paragraph break] These two human types are blended in the Adept, in the higher Initiate. [4] No doubt one or the other, and often both, are met with in the founders of great religions and the loftiest philosophies. No doubt also they are to be found again, in a less, but still very remarkable degree, among a certain number of personages who have played a great part in history as reformers, thinkers, poets, artists, statesmen. [5]” — E. Schuré, “The Personality of Rudolf Steiner and His Development”, introduction to THE WAY OF INITIATION (Harper & Row, 1960), by Rudolf Steiner, GA 10. [See "Adepts".]

[1] See "Gnosis".

[2] "Mysticism - the path that leads to the supersensible world through contemplation and self-surrender. In general it can be said that a mystic tries to acquire initiation by finding the ultimate reality either within himself or in nature." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 83.

[3] As Anthroposophists use the term, "occultism" is the study of hidden spiritual truths. Steiner described himself as an occultist; his most important book is AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. [See "Occultism".] In practice, Anthroposophists can be considered both mystics and occultists.

[4] For an overview of occult initiation, see "Inside Scoop".

[5] In Anthroposophical belief, the true history of mankind — hidden from most scholars — is to a large degree the history of occult initiation and the activities of occult initiates. Steiner identified many historical and legendary figures as occult initiates: King Arthur, for instance, and Moses. [See "Pagan" and "Moses".]

admirers of Rudolf Steiner - also see Barfield, Owen; Bellow, Saul; Kafka, Franz; Schweitzer, Albert; Wilkinson, Roy

Some illustrious individuals — including Saul Bellow, Franz Kafka, and Albert Schweitzer — have expressed admiration for Rudolf Steiner. Certainly, Steiner's teachings can be deemed, from various perspectives, attractive; arguably, they offer a grand and noble vision. But Steiner's admirers often lack extensive knowledge of his actual words and doctrines. Schweitzer, for instance, almost certainly was not fully acquainted with Steiner's unorthodox medical teachings and his controversial views on "lower" races [see "Steiner's Quackery" and "Steiner's Racism"], and Bellow probably was not fully apprised of Steiner's contentious teachings about Judaism [see "RS on Jews"]. When Steiner's admirers gain deep knowledge of Anthroposophy, they may either become full converts or they may recoil, disillusioned. For some, the institutions and ideology of the Steiner movement come to seem both alarming and repellent. [See, e.g., "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".] 

In their recruitment materials, Waldorf schools often include admiring quotations about Steiner, although these materials often mischaracterize him, identifying him as a philosopher or scientist, for instance, whereas he identified himself as a clairvoyant, "spiritual" scientist, and occultist. Individuals such as Owen Barfield and Roy Wilkinson, who truly grasped and embraced Steiner's mystic teachings, offer the most cogent commendations of Steiner. But such individuals are generally less well known than luminaries such as Schweitzer and Bellow, so their statements are less useful for public relations purposes.

People can make mistakes; even the illustrious can make mistakes. The admiration some celebrities have expressed for Steiner should not sway us; perhaps in this one matter — the validity of Steiner's teachings — they have made a mistake. Clearly, Anthroposophists would reject the proposition that they should abandon their beliefs because a celebrity of some sort has criticized Steiner. By the same token, no one should embrace Steiner's teachings because a famous individual has spoken well of Steiner. The only way to sensibly judge Steiner's teachings is to absorb Steiner's own words and evaluate them on their merits. To explore Steiner's two chief expositions of his teachings, read his books OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE and KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. [To consider analyses of these books, if you're so inclined, see "Everything" and "Knowing the Worlds".] Steiner's primary exposition of the rationale for Waldorf education is presented in the book variously titled STUDY OF MAN, A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN BEING, and THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE. [See "Oh Humanity".]

adult teeth - see teeth


advanced races - also see Aryans; Caucasian race; Europeans; race; root races; sub-races; white race; cf. abnormal; degenerate races; evil races; savages

According to Steiner, some races are more advanced than others. The white race is the most advanced — whites are the most “normal” humans, coming closest to realizing the "ideal human type." Other races are evolutionarily retarded — they are abnormal. [1] Steiner taught that blacks are childish, Asians are adolescent, and American Indians are senescent. [See “Steiner’s Racism” and “Races”.] 

Female influences in the past led to the development of advanced races, Steiner said. "The preeminence of the feminine soul [2]...was especially strong in the last Lemurian period [3] and continued into the Atlantean times [4], during which the fourth subrace [5] was preparing itself. But one must not imagine that this was the case among all of mankind. It was true, however, for that part of the population of earth from which the truly advanced races later emerged." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 5, GA 11. 

[1] See the entry for "abnormal", above.
[2] Steiner taught that males and females have distinctly different souls, interests, and needs; although ultimately we are all alike, incarnating in both male and female bodies over time, and containing both male and female qualities during each incarnation. [For an overview of Anthroposophical teachings about gender, see "Gender".]
[3] I.e., the time when we lived on the continent of Lemuria. [See "Lemuria".]
[4] I.e., when we lived on Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]
[5] In Anthroposophy, as in Theosophy, a "subrace" (or "sub-race") is a branch of the dominant, intended "root race" that exists during an evolutionary epoch. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.]

Advent - also see Christ, Second Coming of; Christmas; festivals; Spiral of Light

Advent is the celebration of the coming or second coming of Christ. In the church calendar, Advent occurs in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In Waldorf schools, Advent is often celebrated, but the event is frequently disguised as a Winter Festival or a Spiral of Light (a ceremony in which students walk a mystical spiral pattern, carrying and lighting candles, often in a darkened room). [See "Magical Arts".] "Advent ... Ample attention is paid to this period in Waldorf schools. On the Monday morning after each Advent Sunday, pupils gather in the school hall to sing Advent songs about the forthcoming birth of Jesus [1] ... In [Waldorf] nursery schools [2], an Advent spiral of fir branches is laid out on the floor ... The whole sequence [of Advent events] represents an evolution towards the arrival of the highest possible human potential — the human being's higher 'I' [3] — with which Christ [4] can unite through his own descent to earth."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 3.


Advent observance in a Waldorf school. The candles and evergreen branches form a spiral pattern on the floor. Students, one at a time, follow the spiral inward, carrying unlit candles. They light their candles from the flame there, then ceremoniously trace the spiral again in the opposite direction. [This Waldorf Life.]

[1] Waldorf schools are essentially disguised religious institutions. [See, e.g. "Schools as Churches".] "Advent songs," like many other songs performed in Waldorf schools, are essentially hymns or prayers set to music. [See "Prayers".] In Anthroposophical belief, Jesus was the human host for the Sun God's incarnation on Earth. [See "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".]
[2] This practice is not confined to Waldorf nursery schools; it may also occur in higher grades at Waldorf schools.
[3] According to Anthroposophical belief, the "I" is the spiritual ego, the spark of divinity that confers unique individuality. The "higher I" is the portion of the "I" that remains in the spirit realm while one lives an incarnated life on Earth. [See the entries for "I" and "higher I" in this encyclopedia.] Note that the celebration of Advent in Waldorf schools ultimately entails occult Anthroposophical beliefs, which may or may not be explained to the students.
[4] According to Anthroposophical belief, Christ is the Sun God who descend to incarnation on Earth. [See "Sun God".] Christ is the "highest I" or mankind's prototype: He represents the ideal toward which mankind should evolve. [See "Prototype" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "highest I".]

Advent spiral - see Advent; Spiral of Light

adversarial powers - see Ahriman; Ahrimanic beings; Asuras; demonic beings; demons; evil beings; Lucifer; Luciferic beings; Sorat; Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation

aeon, Aeon - also see Christ; Jehovah

In gnostic teachings, an aeon is an age (historical epoch) or the god presiding over that age. Christ is sometimes deemed to be a high aeon. In some teachings, Jehovah is described as a rather lowly aeon. "The Aeons were Beings who had issued from the Demiurgos. [1] Among these Aeons, Jahve or Jehovah [2] was a Being of a relatively subordinate rank." — R. Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 6, No. 3), GA 225. [See “Was He Christian?”.]

[1] In Gnostic belief, the creator god. [See "Gnosis".]

[2] In Steiner's teachings, Jehovah is not the One and Only God of monotheism; he is one of a great many gods, specifically the god of the Jews, who resides on the Moon. [See "Old Testament".]

Africans, “black race" - also see Mercury race; "Negro race"

According to Steiner, Africans are members of an abnormal human line. “Groups of men in whom the bones had, as it were, become too strong, were now left behind as degenerate races ... The last remnant of those human groups in which the nutritive system hardened too soon now forms the Negroid races." — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Collison, 1931), lecture 6, GA 105. [See "Negro".] 

According to Steiner, Africans are childlike and passionate. Steiner taught that blacks, heated by the Sun, are continuously “cooking” inside. "[E]verything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives, powerful instincts ... [H]is 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. [1]” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 55.

Steiner taught that black Africans are called the "Mercury race" because they are formed by powers in/on the planet Mercury. [2] Blacks live instinctual lives, Steiner taught, whereas Asians live largely through their emotions, and whites rely on their superior powers of cognition. [3]

[1] According to Steiner, the "degenerate" character of "the Negro" is indicated by the Negro's heavy reliance on the "rear-brain" and his passionate "instinctual life" (he "cooks" inside because of his hot passions).

[2] See “Races”.

[3] See "Forbidden".

ages - also see cultural epochs; epochs; great epochs; cf. yugas  

In Anthroposophy, this term is sometimes used for cultural epochs [1] and sometimes for great epochs. [2] The former usage is more frequent and proper.

Steiner taught that during our Earthly existence, mankind has evolved through a series of "great epochs" or extended temporal periods. One of these, for instance, was the Atlantean Epoch, when we lived on Atlantis. [3] In turn, Steiner said, each great epoch consists of seven shorter periods. During our current great epoch (the Post-Atlantean Epoch), these shorter periods are termed cultural epochs or ages. Thus, for instance, we recently passed through the Greco-Roman Age, and we now lived in the Anglo-Germanic Age. [4]



 ◊ 1. Indian Age ◊                                       .....   ◊ 7. American Age ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Persian Age ◊                                        ◊ 6. Russian Age ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Egypto-Chaldean Age ◊   ◊ 5. Anglo-Germanic Age ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Greco-Roman Age ◊ 

According to Anthroposophical belief, these are the seven ages or cultural epochs or our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch. We now live in the Anglo-Germanic Age. The Russian and American Ages lie in the future.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "epochs" and "cultural epochs".

[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "great epochs".

[3] See "Atlantis".

[4] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Greco-Roman Age" and "Anglo-Germanic Age".

Agnishvattas - see Archangels

Ahern, Geoffrey

Fellow of the Center for Leadership Studies, Exeter University, UK; one of the first scholars to attempt a dispassionate study of the Anthroposophical movement.

Ahriman - also see Ahrimanic beings; Ahrimanic world; America; Antichrist; intellect; Lucifer; Satan; technology

a) The devil as seen in the Zoroastrian religion.

b) According to Steiner, Ahriman is Satan, aka Mephistopheles, aka Beelzebub. [1] He is the demonic rival/partner of Lucifer. [2] Ahriman is the power of darkness, materialism, external life, technology, intellect, and egoism. He will incarnate in the third millennium AD and will be centered in the West. "[B]efore only a part of the third millennium of the post-Christian era has elapsed, there will be, in the West, an actual incarnation of Ahriman: Ahriman in the flesh. Humanity on earth cannot escape this incarnation of Ahriman. It will come inevitably." — R. Steiner, THE INFLUENCES OF LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), pp. 16-17.

Ahriman is “the supreme intellectual power: Ahriman.” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167. Lucifer gave humanity the gift of intellectual apprehension, but under Ahriman this gift has turned into a cold and heartless force of destruction. “The intellect destroys or hinders.” — R. Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 233. Products of the intellect, particularly technological devices such as TVs and computers, come from the realm of Ahriman; this is essentially why Waldorf schools try to minimize students' exposure to such devices. [3] Indeed, the incarnation of Ahriman may come through such devices. "With the achievement of the stored program computer [4], it begins to be possible to talk in terms of a (macrocosmic) [5] incarnation vehicle capable of sustaining the being of Ahriman.” — D. B. Black, THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981), p. 33.

The two arch-demons, Lucifer and Ahriman, work in cooperation but also competition with one another. According to Steiner, Lucifer attempts to seduce humans into a false spirituality, while Ahriman attempts to seduce humans into complete immersion in the material realm. Succumbing to either demon would be disastrous — Steiner said we need Christ to hold the demons at bay, so that we may benefit from their "gifts" while resisting their temptations. [6] Of the two demons, Ahriman is usually depicted as the more terrible; he represents the greater danger to humanity today. "[T]oday...the spirit-soul [7] is asleep. The human being is thus in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world [8], in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls [9] to materialistic impulses." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.


Bust of Ahriman attributed to Rudolf Steiner. 
[Public domain image.] 

Ahriman's malevolence is clearly indicated.

[1] See “Ahriman”.

[2] See "Lucifer".

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

[4] I.e., a computer that carries its programs internally.

[5] In Anthroposophy, the macrocosm is the universe or cosmos; the human being is the microcosm, a miniature replica reflecting the structure and spiritual powers of the macrocosm. Whatever affects the macrocosm affects the microcosm, and vice versa. [See "The Center".]

[6] See "Was He Christian?"

[7] Steiner taught that we have both souls (our immaterial selves in one incarnation) and spirits (our immortal immaterial selves, which we carry through all incarnations). The "spirit-soul" (or the "soul-spirit") is the combination of these two.

[8] I.e., the realm ruled by Ahriman, a realm of thorough immersion in material or physical existence, far removed from the spirit realm.

[9] Here "souls" is used somewhat informally — both soul and spirit (the spirit-soul) are meant.

Ahrimanic beings, Ahrimanic powers - also see Ahriman; Ahrimanic world; Luciferic beings; cf. Michael

According to Steiner, these are Ahriman's minions; spirits who have fallen under the domination of Ahriman and/or who serve Ahriman. [1] These minions make war against the benevolent powers of the universe. One such struggle culminated during Steiner's own lifetime, according to Steiner. Ahriman's forces were then pitted against the archangel Michael [2] and his followers. [W]e have to point to a struggle, a real war in [the spiritual] world, which began...and came to a certain conclusion...by the autumn of 1879. [3] To have the right idea about these things, you must visualize a battle which continued for decades in the spiritual world, from the 1840s until the autumn of 1879. [paragraph break] This may be called a battle which the spirits who are followers of...Michael fought with certain ahrimanic powers. [4] Please consider this battle to have been in the first place a battle in the spiritual world. Everything I am referring to at the moment relates to this battle fought by Michael and his followers against certain ahrimanic powers.” — R. Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), pp. 136-137.

[1] See the entry for "Ahriman", above.

[2] See "Michael".

[3] See the entry for "1879" in this encyclopedia.

[4] I.e., minions of Ahriman. (Steiner taught that Ahriman threatens humanity in many ways; he has many different powers and servants.)

Ahrimanic world - also see Ahriman; America; materialism

The world or the plane of existence dominated by Ahriman. [1] At one level, the Ahrimanic world is the material world, found particularly in materialistic America. “This is the region where, through the prevailing external conditions, above all a relationship is developed with the mephistophelian-ahrimanic nature [i.e., the spirit of Ahriman]. [2]" — R. Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS and the Mystery of the Human Double (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 69. At another level, Ahriman rules the evil level of the lower portion of the heavenly or "devachanic" realm. "[T]he evil Lower Devachan [is] the province of Ahriman. [3]" — R. Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. [4] 


More generally, the Ahrimanic world is a realm in which no true spirit or soul can survive. "The human being is...in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the spirit-soul [5] will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls to materialistic impulses. This is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.

At another level, Ahriman rules the evil level of the lower portion of the heavenly or "devachanic" realm. "[T]he evil Lower Devachan [is] the province of Ahriman. [3]" — R. Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. [See "Evil Ones".] 

[1] See the entry for "Ahriman", above.

[2] See "Steiner and the Warlord", "America", and the entry in this encyclopedia for Mephistopheles (who, Steiner taught, is Ahriman). 

[3] "Devachan" is a term used in Theosophy, referring to the heavenly world we enter after death. There are lower and higher regions of Devachan, and they include areas of evil. Steiner spoke of Devachan when he was still a Theosophist; he generally dropped the term later. In both Theosophy and Anthroposophy, descriptions of the various worlds above our own are extremely convoluted. [See "Higher Worids" and "Basics".]

[4] See "Evil Ones".

[5] Steiner taught that we have both souls (our immaterial selves in one incarnation) and spirits (our immortal immaterial selves, which we carry through all incarnations). The "spirit-soul" (or the "soul-spirit") is the combination of these two.

Ahura Mazda
 (Ormazd) - also see Christ; Zoroaster; Zoroastrianism; cf. Ahriman

a) The chief Zoroastrian god, the opponent of Ahriman. [1]

b) In Anthroposophy, Ahura Mazda is the Sun God, which is to say he is Christ [2] as comprehended by Zoroastrians. [3] "Zarathustra called that which lies behind the physical Sun, Aura Mazda or Ahura Mazdao ... With this spiritual essence behind the Sun, all spiritual experiences and conditions are bound up, just as the existence and well-being of plants, animals and all that lives on Earth are bound up with the physical Sun. Behind the physical Sun lives the spiritual Lord and Creator, Ahura Mazdao. This is the derivation of the name 'Ormuzd,' Spirit of Light."  — R. Steiner, "Zarathustra", ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1927.

Steiner taught that various pre-Christian religions had some (incomplete) knowledge of Christ; they called him by various names. In the following passage, Steiner tells of a "lodge" of initiated spiritual beings (Bodhisattvas or Buddhas). [3] There are twelve regular members in the lodge, plus a thirteenth who is Christ or, in other words, Ahura Mazda. "If you were able to look into the great Spirit-Lodge of the twelve Bodhisattvas [4] you would find that in the midst of the Twelve there is a Thirteenth — one who cannot be called a ‘Teacher’ in the same sense as the Bodhisattvas, but of whom we must say: He is that Being from whom wisdom itself streams as very substance. It is therefore quite correct to speak of the twelve Bodhisattvas in the great Spirit-Lodge grouped around One who is their Centre; they are wrapt in contemplation of the sublime Being from whom there streams what they have then to inculcate into Earth evolution in fulfilment of their missions. [5] Thus there streams from the Thirteenth what the others have to teach. They are the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Inspirers’; the Thirteenth is himself the Being of whom the others teach, whom they proclaim from epoch to epoch. This Thirteenth is He whom the ancient Rishis [6] called Vishva Karman [7], whom Zarathustra called Ahura Mazdao, whom we call the Christ." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 7, GA 114. [SeeGod”.]

[1] See "Ahriman".
[2] See "Sun God".
[3] Zoroastrianism is the Persian religion founded by Zoroaster or Zarathustra in the sixth century BCE. [See the entries for "Zoroaster" and "Zoroastrianism" in this encyclopedia.]
[3] "Buddha" is a title awarded to an enlightened being. [See the entry for "Buddha, buddha" in this encyclopedia.] In Anthroposophy, enlightenment is a matter of occult initiation. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[4] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Lodge of Twelve" and "Bodhisattvas".
[5] I.e., from Him they receive their assigned missions in support of human spiritual evolution.
[6] Hindu saints.
[7] See the entry for "Vishva Karman" in this encyclopedia.

air - also see earth; elements; fire; water

In Anthroposophical teachings, drawing from ancient lore: Air is one of the four "elements." It is the home of the nature spirits [1] called sylphs. [2] ◊ "[A] Greek philosopher, Empedocles, [taught] that all substances are composed of four elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Aristotle agreed and emphasized that these four elements are bearers of fundamental properties." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, "Chemical Element", Jan. 5, 2015. ◊ Anthroposophy recognizes "the 'four elements', the archetypal activities of earth, water, air and fire, which were once dynamic qualities in the medieval cosmos and are now Anthroposophical." — G. Ahern, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), p. 92. ◊ "Each of the four elements is home to the corresponding type of elemental beings." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 36.

Anthroposophy is generally backward, accepting teachings that science has long since discarded. Science today recognizes more than one hundred elements, and air is not one of them. (Nor are earth, water, or fire now categorized as elements.) Air consists of various gases, predominantly oxygen and nitrogen.

[1] I.e., elemental beings — invisible beings that dwell within the elements. [See "Neutered Nature".]
[2] See "Beings".

air ether - also see air; elements; ether; pentagram

Steiner affirmed the ancient belief that there are four fundamental "elements": air, earth, fire, and water. [1] Early in his career as an occultist, he said that there is an "ether" associated with each element. Air ether is the rarefied, more elevated variant of the element called air. The symbol for air ether, Steiner said, is the circle, and its color is green. Air ether functions in the human nerve system, and its taste is sour. [2]

In his early teaching, Steiner also indicated that there is a fifth ether, "thought ether". [3] He later generally taught that in fact there are four ethers: life ether, light ether, sound ether, and warmth ether. [4] (In this later scheme. the fifth ether — thought ether — was folded into sound ether.)

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "elements".

[2] See R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), 12/1/1906, GA 266.

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "thought ether".

[4] See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.

air-fire beings - also see Luciferic beings; Lucifer; cf. earth-water beings

According to Steiner, these are Luciferic beings [1] composed of air and warmth, dwelling in the atmosphere around the Earth. They battle against Ahrimanic beings [2] and they interfere with the astrological influences [3] humans should receive. "[W]e find these air-fire beings making sallies from their strongholds not only upon the Ahrimanic powers, but upon the influences that should be continually reaching man from Mars, Jupiter and Saturn." — R. Steiner, MAN’S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1952), p. 89[See "Neutered Nature".]

[1] I.e., minions of Lucifer. In Anthroposophical belief, Lucifer is one of the two great demons who tempt, threaten, and to some extent benefit mankind. [See "Lucifer".]

[2] I.e., minions of Ahriman. In Anthroposophical belief, Ahriman is the other great demon who tempts, threatens, and to some extent benefits mankind. [See "Ahriman".] Ahriman and Lucifer sometimes cooperate with each other, and sometimes they compete against each other.

[3] Belief in astrology is central to Anthroposophy and much that happens in Waldorf schools. [See "Astrology".]

akasha (akasa) - also see Akashic Chronicle; ether

The spiritualistic universal ether, sometimes termed astral light; originally a Hindu concept, adopted by Theosophy and Anthroposophy. [1] "Akasa (Sanskrit) [from akas to be visible, appear, shine, be brilliant] The shining ether, cosmic space, the fifth cosmic element. [2]" — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999). 

Occult knowledge is supposedly inscribed on the ether, in the form of the Akashic Chronicle or Akashic Record. [3] Reading this inscribed information is difficult. "Akasha pictures speak a confusing language, because the Akasha is alive." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1986), lecture 2, GA  95. [See "Akasha".] In order to read such pictures, one must develop reliable powers of clairvoyance, Steiner said. [4]

[1] Physicists once postulated a universe substance, "ether," that filled the universe and served as the medium for the propagation of light. The concept was eventually dropped from physics, but a similar concept stemming from Hindu teachings has remained embedded in both Theosophy and Anthroposophy. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "ether".]

[2] The ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles taught that there are four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. [See, e.g., "Chemical Elements", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 11, 2015.] Ancient Hindu teachings include a similar belief, except that a fifth element is added: ether or empty space. [See, e.g., THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Ocford Universoty Press, 1997), p. 599.]

[3] See the entry for "Akashic Chronicle," below.

[4] See "Exactly".

Akashic Chronicle or Record(s) - also see akasha; clairvoyance; occult script

A supersensory storehouse(s) of knowledge, written on akasha. [1] "In occult lore of the Theosophical period and modern New Age teachings, [it is] the permanent trace of all past events, preserved on the akasha or astral light." — J. M. Greer, THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OCCULT (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), p. 10. The Chronicle can be read by initiates, according to Steiner and other self-described initiates. [2] “[A]t a certain high level of his cognitive power, man can penetrate to the eternal origins of the things which vanish with time. A man broadens his power of cognition [3] in this way if he is no longer limited to external evidence where knowledge of the past is concerned. Then he can see in events what is not perceptible to the senses, that part which time cannot destroy. He penetrates from transitory to non-transitory history. It is a fact that this history is written in other characters [4] than is ordinary history. In gnosis and in theosophy it is called the 'Akasha Chronicle.’" — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), preface, GA 11. [See "Akasha" and “Gnosis”.]

"Not only events that took place in the physical world can be unveiled [by reading the Chronicle], but also underlying spiritual connections." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 5. Thus, the Chronicle leads to understanding of the eternal and spiritual as well as the merely temporal and physical. In this sense, it ushers initiates to understanding of the deepest truths.

Because the Akashic Chronicle cannot be perceived by anyone but professed clairvoyants, its existence is — from a rational perspective — extremely doubtful. Indeed, if occult Anthroposophic "knowledge" depends on clairvoyance and the Akashic Chronicle, neither of which can be confirmed as real, then such "knowledge" — which is the basis of Waldorf pedagogy — is virtually indistinguishable from fantasy. 

[1] See the entry for "akasha", above. (The Akashic Chronicle is "supersensory" or "supersensible" in that it cannot be perceived by our ordinary senses.)

[2] For an overview of occult initiation, see "Inside Scoop".

[3] I.e., clairvoyance. [See the entry for "clairvoyance" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., a different kind of writing. ("The initiate can 'read' this chronicle ... Rudolf Steiner developed the capacity to read this supersensible chronicle." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 5.) See the entry in this encyclopedia for "occult script".

Akkadians - also see Atlantean; Atlantis; sub-races

The sixth sub-race [1] that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis. [2] “The men of the sixth subrace, the Akkadians, developed the faculty of thought even further than the fifth. [3] They differed from the so-called Primal Semites in that they employed this faculty in a more comprehensive sense than the former ... Turbulent conditions...began to prevail under the fifth subrace, and in the sixth they led to a feeling of the need to bring the obdurate thinking of the individual under general laws ... The calculating faculty of thought...spurred men to enterprises and new foundations. The Akkadians were therefore an enterprising people with an inclination to colonization. It was commerce, especially, which nourished the waxing faculty of thought and judgment.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.


According to Theosophical teachings — which Steiner affirmed during his Theosophical period — the Atlanteans constituted the fourth root race in humanity's evolution: The Atlanteans were the divinely intended racial form of the fourth great epoch. [5] The Atlantean root race, like the others before and since, was comprised of seven sub-races. [6] Here are the Atlantean sub-races (subdivisions of the Atlantean root race):


 ◊ 1. Rmoahals ◊                                           ◊ 7. Mongols ◊ 
 ◊ 2. Tlavatlis  ◊                              ◊ 6. Akkadians ◊ 
 ◊ 3. Toltecs ◊          ◊ 5. Primal Semites ◊ 
 ◊ 4. Primal Turanians ◊ 

[1] According to Theosophy and Anthroposophy, a sub-race is a subdivision of a root race, the intended racial form for a stage of evolution. [See the entries for "sub-races" and "root races" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] See "Atlantis".
[3] I.e., the fifth sub-race, the Primal Semites.
[4] See the entries for "root races" and "great epochs" in this encyclopedia.

[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "sub-races", "Rmoahals", "Tlavatlis", etc..

alchemy - also see magic; cf. chemistry

a) A pseudoscience aimed at converting base metals to precious metals.

b) More generally, any mystical, antiscientific “science” or process.

c) In Anthroposophical belief, alchemy is occult transmutation, a mystical process proceeding from and leading to spiritual knowledge. "Alchemy has always been known in its higher manifestations as a way to contact the deeper levels of reality, described as the superhuman ‘spirits' or guiding archangels of the universe [1] ... [A]lchemy is finally seen in Rudolf Steiner’s presentation as a step towards the cosmic understanding we will need for our future role [in cosmic evolution].” — A. J. Welburn in the introduction to ALCHEMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), a collection of Steiner's lectures.

Astrologers sought "the philosopher's stone," the mineral that would transmute base metals into precious metals. Steiner taught that the true philosopher's stone is the power, which evolving mankind will attain, to transmute one's physical body to a higher form: 
"In the far future...Man will learn to extend his power more and more ... [He will build] his corporal frame himself. That is a grand perspective of the future, for in this way no more beings will be killed [for food]. In times to come man's body will consist of transparent soft carbonic matter. He will then have found the philosopher's stone; he will have changed his own body into the philosopher's stone." — R. Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS IN OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Putnam and Sons, 1929), p. 184.

 [See "Alchemy".]


Rudolf Steiner, ALCHEMY 

- The Evolution of the Mysteries

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001).

[1] In Anthroposophical teachings, Archangels are gods two levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".] Archangels guide human development during various periods. [See, e.g., the entry for "Time Archangels" in this encyclopedia. More generally, Steiner taught, Archangels supervise various groups of human beings, such as families, nations, and races.]

alcohol - also see drugs

Steiner sometimes cautioned against the use of alcohol, yet he also credited alcohol with an important function in human evolution, enabling humans to develop individual spiritual identities. Previously, humans only possessed group souls [1], like animals do; we did not have true individuality. Alcohol helped then, and because humans have not yet risen to full spiritual selfhood, alcohol remains necessary now. It will disappear when it is no longer needed. “Men have not always used alcohol ... Wine, alcohol, only appeared at a certain time in the history of humanity and the world; and it will disappear from it again ... Alcohol was the bridge which led from the group-ego [2] to the independent, individual ego [3]; without the material effect of alcohol man would never have made the transition from the group-ego to the individual ego; it produced the individual, personal consciousness in man. When humanity has reached this goal [4], it will no longer require alcohol, and this will then disappear again from the physical world.” — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (London Reference Library, 1942), lecture 8, GA 100.

Steiner is reported to have relied on alcohol to suppress his primitive powers of clairvoyance so that he could proceed to higher forms of clairvoyance. Steiner himself as a child brought with him into the world a vestigial relic of the old clairvoyance, the old 'original' participation [5]. Biographies and his own autobiography bear witness to it. And it is credibly reported of him that he took deliberate steps to eliminate it, not even rejecting the help of alcohol, in order to clear the decks for the new clairvoyance [6] it was his destiny both to predict and to develop.” — O. Barfield, “Introducing Rudolf Steiner” (TOWARDS, Fall-Winter, 1983).

[1] A group soul is a soul shared by all the members of a species or population. [See the entry for "group soul" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., group soul.

[3] See "Ego".

[4] Steiner taught that, in addition to our individual souls, we still have group souls as members of families, nations, and races. When we cease to have group souls, and when we fully develop the capacities of our individual egos, we will no longer need alcohol.

[5] I.e., primordial awareness of, and involvement in, the spirit realm. (Steiner taught that ancient peoples has innate powers of clairvoyance that have now largely bee lost.)

[6] Steiner claimed to attain "exact" clairvoyance. [See "Exactly".]

All Against All, The War of - also see American Age; War of All Against All

"The Lemurian epoch [1] was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean [2] by water; our epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife. And the terrible thing — more desperately tragic than other catastrophes — will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves. [3] A tiny handful of men will make good and thus insure their survival in the sixth epoch of civilisation. [4] This tiny handful will have attained selflessness. The others will develop every imaginable skill and subtlety in the manipulation and use of the physical forces of nature, but without the essential degree of selflessness. In the seventh epoch of civilisation [5], this War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form. Great and mighty forces will be let loose by [scientific] discoveries, turning the whole earth-globe into a kind of [self-actuated] live electric mass. [6] In a way that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved. [7]" — R. Steiner, “The Work of Secret Societies in the World” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 93. [See "All vs. All".]

[1] I.e., the period when humans lived on the continent of Lemuria.

[2] I.e., the Atlantean epoch — when we lived on Atlantis.

[3] On other occasions, Steiner indicated that the blame for the destruction of Lemuria and Atlantis also lay with human beings. [See "Lemuria" and "Atlantis".]

[4] Steiner taught that we currently live in the fifth cultural epoch (the Anglo-Germanic Age) of the fifth great epoch (the Post-Atlantean Epoch). "A tiny handful" of humans will advance into the sixth cultural epoch (the Russian Age) as selfless beings; they will be accompanied by other humans who are less spiritually evolved. During the seventh cultural epoch (the American Age), the dreadful War of All Against All will erupt. Only the survivors of that War, and any superior humans who manage to rise above it, will progress to the sixth great epoch, the Epoch of the Seals. [See "Sixth Epoch" and "Lucky Seventh".]

[5] I.e., the American Age.

[6] Steiner provided various accounts of the horrors that science and technology will unleash. [See, e.g., "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[7] According to Anthroposophical belief, the tiny handful will be the true Anthrosophists of that era (reincarnated Anthroposophists: themselves).

 - see elves

alternative education - also see holistic education; occultism; progressive education

Waldorf schools often present themselves as offering "alternative" education. This claim is true, but the Waldorf alternative is rooted in occultism. [See “Soul School”.]

America - also see Ahriman; American Age; materialism; Native Americans

According to Steiner, America is the home of abnormal humans [1] — Native Americans — who are descended from one branch of Atlanteans (i.e., peoples of Atlantis). [2] “Groups of men in whom the bones had, as it were, become too strong, were now left behind as degenerate races. They could not adapt themselves to post-Atlantean conditions [3]; the last remnant of these people are the American Indians; they had degenerated.” — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Collison, 1931), lecture 6, GA 105. 

Steiner added that white Americans — transplanted Europeans — are abnormally materialistic and they are associated with the arch-demon Ahriman. [4] ◊ “Ahriman-America should not have the only voice; Lucifer-Bolshevism should not be allowed to do the only deed. [5]" — Helmuth von Moltke the Younger speaking to R. Steiner from beyond the grave, according to R. Steiner. [6] ◊ "Ahrimanic fear [7], the holding back from the spiritual, makes itself felt especially in the culture of the West, and particularly in the element of American civilization ... The mark of Americanism is fear of the spiritual." — R. Steiner, A SOUND OUTLOOK FOR TO-DAY AND A GENUINE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 181. [See “America”.]

[1] See the entry for "abnormal", above.

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] I.e., conditions after Atlantis sank. We currently live in the Post-Atlantean great epoch, Steiner taught. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".]

[4] See "Ahriman".

[5] That is, the powers of Ahriman, centered in American, and the powers of Lucifer, centered in Russia (which then was Communist, Bolshevik), must not be allowed to go unanswered.

[6] See "Steiner and the Warlord".

[7] I.e., the fear of spirituality, a fear implanted by Ahriman.

American Age
 - also see America; mechanization; spider beings; War of All Against All; Wilson, Woodrow

In Steiner's account of human evolution, the seventh and concluding cultural epoch of our current great epoch [1] will be the American Age. It will run from 5733 CE to approximately 7900 CE. [2] There will be little advancement over the prior Russian Age [3]; in a sense, retrogression or at least stasis will occur. Anglo-American culture will predominate, under the direction of an abnormal god opposed to spiritual progress. The Moon will reunite with the Earth. Horrible monsters of intellect will be unleashed, and the epoch will culminate in the War of All Against All. [See “All v. All”.]

"The Seventh Age [4]: This age extends from 5733 [CE] to about 7900 [CE] ... The age as a whole is dominated by Anglo-American culture, led by an abnormal Spirit of Personality [5] who does not work for the progress of evolution ... The true mission of the American people, whilst acquiring world domination, is to listen to others and learn to interpret the gesture of language ... But world egoism [6] also proceeds from the English-American people; through their inventions they cover the earth with a network of egoism fraught with evil ... This dominating egoism causes the drying up of regions where it is pursued ... Because by this time sufficient souls have the power to use the moon forces [7] for the benefit of evolution, the moon again unites with the earth [8] ... When the moon does unite, all the thoughts of the shadowy intellect [9] which at present have no reality at once become substantial realities. There springs forth a terrible brood of beings, automata [10] lying between the mineral and plant kingdoms, possessed of an overwhelming power of intellect. This swarm spreads over the earth as a ghastly network of spiderlike creatures [11] ... The reunion with the moon brings the culmination of evil on earth. The whole Post-Atlantean epoch ends with the War of All Against All. [12]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), pp. 54-60.



 ◊ 1. Indian Age ◊                                      .....   ◊ 7. American Age ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Persian Age ◊                                    ◊ 6. Russian Age ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Egypto-Chaldean Age ◊   ◊ 5. Anglo-Germanic Age ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Greco-Roman Age ◊ 

According to Anthroposophical belief, these are the seven ages or cultural epochs or our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch. We currently live in the Anglo-Germanic Age. The American Age will be the final period of the Post-Atlantean Epoch.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "epochs", "cultural epochs", and "great epochs".

[2] See "Oriphiel".

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Russian Age".

[4] I.e., the seventh cultural epoch: the American Age.

[5] Spirits of Personality are gods three stages higher than humanity. [See "Polytheisim".] Abnormal gods, however, lag behind their peers; they stand a step lower on the evolutionary scale. An abnormal Spirit of Personality has failed to keep abreast of the normal Spirits of Personality. [See the entry for "abnormal", above.] (Steiner uses the present tense, here — "is dominated" — although he is describing events in the distant future. Such usage creates a sense of timelessness and mystic sagacity.)

[6] I.e., global arrogance.

[7] I.e., the Moon's astrological/spiritual forces.

[8] Steiner taught that the Moon and Sun were both once part of the Earth. They separated in the distant past and will one day reunite with the Earth.

[9] Although he was an intellectual, Steiner generally deplored intellect. It is dark ("shadowy") and abstract, he said; it is involved in the destructive powers of science and technology, and it functions under the sway of Ahriman. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific", "Materialism U.", and "Ahriman".]

[10] I.e., robots or robot-like creatures, having brains but not souls.

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

[12] See “All v. All”.

American Indians - see Native Americans

American Transcendentalists - also see America; transcendentalism

These were members of an idealistic philosophical and political-reform movement centered in New England in the nineteenth century. Foremost among them were Ralph Waldo Emerson [1], Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. American Anthroposophists stress real and fancied parallels between American Transcendentalism and Anthroposophy; they attempt to make their creed seem compatible with American thought and values. [2] Actually, however, Anthroposophy assigns centrality to the German nation and culture, and it associates America with Ahriman. [3] Moreover, there are fundamental differences between Steiner's occultism and the romanticism of the American Transcendentalists. 

Waldorf teacher-training programs in America sometimes give emphasis to American Transcendentalists, and some American Anthroposophists have published works that seek to reconcile Anthroposophy and American Transcendentalism (e.g., John Fentress Gardner's AMERICAN HERALDS OF THE SPIRIT), but Anthroposophical interpretations of the Transcendentalists' work have received little affirmation from outside the Anthroposophical movement.

[1] Steiner referred to Emerson on various occasions, but the extent of his admiration for Emerson is uncertain. "According to American anthroposophists, Rudolf Steiner is supposed to have said that everything Emerson taught in his lectures could serve as a foundation for Anthroposophy. Steiner's remark is widely believed though not verified, as far as I know." — G. Hughes, "Hearing Steiner's Anthroposophy in Emerson's Prophetic Voice," in R. McDermott's AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY AND RUDOLF STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, Anthroposophic Press, 2012),  p. 1. Whatever Steiner may have said on the point, the truth is that there is a vast difference between Emerson's teachings and Steiner's.

[2] See “Light and Dark”.

[3] See "The Good Wars" and "America".

Amshaspands - also see Time Rulers; Zoroastrianism

These are Zoroastrian [1] spiritual powers: time beings or time rulers. Steiner adopted various Zoroastrian teachings, including belief in Ahriman [2] and belief in the Amshaspands. In Anthroposophy, the Amshaspands are linked to the astrological signs of the zodiac. [3] "I should like to [speak about time] ... Not, however, the abstract Time we think of today, but Time viewed as a living, super-personal Being. [4] From this Being proceed the rulers of Time [5]; first of all the Amshaspands, the spiritual Beings who are symbolised in cosmic space by the signs of the Zodiac. [6]” — R. Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD & THE SEARCH FOR THE HOLY GRAIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 4, GA 149[See "Magic Numbers".]

[1] See the entry for "Zoroastrianism" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See “Ahriman”.

[3] Anthroposophy underlies much of the Anthroposophical and Waldorf belief system. [See "Astrology" and "Waldorf Astrology".]

[4] I.e., a god.

[5] I.e., gods that rule time and temporal periods. [See, e.g., the entry for "Time Spirits" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] See “Zodiac”. 

Anael - also see Archangels; Time Archangels; Venus

The Archangel of Venus. [1] According to Anthroposophical belief, he was Time Archangel [2] during the period 150-500 CE, and he will take up this role again during the fifth period of the Anglo-Germanic Age [3], ~2600-2950 CE. During Anael's rule, "Venus fills the soul with ideals and religious impulses, and gives rise to great deeds ... [I]ntellectuality becomes increasingly paralyzed by immorality ... The gap between ordinary abstract thinking and...imaginative pictures grows wider [4] ... Antisocial forces also continue to increase until the thirtieth century ... Materialists...will now find their brains too soft for thinking. [5]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 33.

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, Archangels — who are typically associated with various celestial bodies — are gods two levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism" and the entry for "Archangels", below.]

[2] See the entry for "Time Archangels" in this encyclopedia.

[3] See the entry for "Anglo-Germanic Age", below.

[4] Steiner taught that intellect is cold and largely false, as opposed to warm, heartfelt clairvoyance. [See. e.g., "Steiner's Specific" and "Thinking".]

[5] Steiner taught that true cognition, clairvoyance, does not occur in the brain; the brain is only capable of shallow intellectual thinking, As evolution proceeds, thinking that depends on the brain will become virtually impossible, especially for "materialists" (i.e., people who are wholly oriented to the physical plane of existence).

Ancient Akkadians - see Akkadians

ancient clairvoyance - see ancients; atavistic clairvoyance; natural clairvoyance

Ancient Mars - see Old Mars and Old Moon

Ancient Mongolians - see Mongols

Ancient Moon - see Old Moon

ancients, ancient ways, ancient powers, ancient wisdom... 

Like other esotericists, Steiner and his followers have given the ancients credit for being wiser in some ways than modern humans, especially modern scientists. Steiner credited the ancients with natural clairvoyance and a primordial, living awareness of the spirit realm. “Imagine what the people of ancient times perceived [clairvoyantly], entrancing them, pouring through their heads, till they exclaimed, 'Ah, the nymphs! Ah, the gnomes! [1] How the nymphs whirl in my head, how the gnomes hammer....' That no longer exists for us. Today the hammering, surging, and whirling are eclipsed and overwhelmed by what comes from [physical] seeing or hearing.” — R. Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 230[See “The Ancients”.] Repairing this loss is a key aim of Anthroposophy. Steiner taught that by following him, we can attain a higher, truer form of clairvoyance and thus a higher knowledge of the spirit realm. [2]

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, such beings really exist. [See "Neutered Nature" , "Beings", and "Gnomes".]

[2] See "Knowing the Worlds".

Ancient Saturn - see Old Saturn

Ancient Semites - see Primal Semites

Ancient Sun - see Old Sun

Ancient Tlavatlis - see Tlavatlis

Ancient Toltecs - see Toltecs

Ancient Turanians - see Primal Turanians

Angel Jesus - also see Angels; Archangels; Christ; Jesus; Nathanic Jesus; Solomonic Jesus

The Angel Jesus is an archangel (a god two levels above humanity) who condescended to work at the level of an angel (a god one level higher to humanity). The Angel Jesus has functioned in the spirit realm much as the earthly Jesus (the combined Solomonic and Nathanic Jesuses) functioned in the physical realm, providing a vessel in which the Sun God could incarnate: "A pure immaculate Angelic being who sacrifices himself so that Christ may work through him. The Angelic being is actually of the status of an Archangel, who has descended to work on the Angelic level in order to be closer to human beings and to assist them on the path of confrontation with evil." — R. Powell, JOURNAL FOR STAR WISDOM 2016 (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2015), p. 229.

Angels - also see guardian angels; Lunar Pitris; Sons of Life; Sons of Twilight; supermen

In Anthroposophy, Angels are divine beings — gods — one evolutionary rank above humanity. They dwell in the Moon sphere, and each Angel has responsibility for overseeing one individual human being. Thus, Angels are also known as Guardian Angels. They also are known by such names as Sons of Life, Sons of Twilight, Spirits of Dusk, and so on. [See "Polytheism".]

"Angel - spiritual being nearest to the human being ... The general task of angels is to guide us through life. Angels focus their guiding activities on enabling us to experience the spiritual world through the power of imaginative thought. They do this by instilling spiritual images into the astral body [1] when people are asleep." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 6.

Angels and other, higher gods underwent the same kinds of evolution we humans are passing through, but they did so ahead of us. Thus, Old Saturn was the first stage of evolution for us, but it was the second stage for Angels, who began their own evolution in a previous period unknown to us. We were scarcely alive during Old Saturn, but Angels stretched and grew during that period. "[Certain] Beings found it possible to unfold their activity on Saturn [2]. These Beings may be called the ‘Sons of Twilight,’ or ‘Sons of Life’ (in Christian language they are the Angeloi or Angels.)” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13

Various gods passed through the "human" level of development during various previous stages of cosmic evolution — that is, they stood then at the level we stand at now. Angels were "human" during Old Moon. “These beings [3] are the ‘Sons of Twilight,’ the ‘Spirits of Dusk’ ... They attain[ed] the stage of humanity only on the Moon [4]. On earth [5] they, as well as their predecessors, the Sons of Fire [6], have already grown beyond the stage of humanity.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.


In Anthroposophical theology, there are nine ranks of gods divided into three "hierarchies". [See "Polytheism".] Angels (also known as Angeloi, Sons of Life, or Sons of Twilight) stand at the lowest rank of the lowest hierarchy, the Third Hierarchy. Above the Angels stand the Archangels (Spirits of Fire, Archangel.) Above them stand the Archai (Spirits of Personality, Primal Beginngs, Principalities.) [Adapted from a table in R. Wilkinson's RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 186; color added.]

[1] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The second of the invisible bodies is the "astral body". [See "Incarnation".]
[2] I.e., during the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] (Adapting to the language used by others before him, Steiner often spoke and wrote in terms that can mystify and beguile more than inform. When he described life "on" various "planets," he sometimes meant existence on actual planets, but often he meant existence in/on phases of the solar system's evolution. His meaning must often be deduced from context. [See the entries for "planets" and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia.])
[3] I.e., Angels. [See "Polytheism".]
[4] I.e., they were human during the third incarnation of the solar system, called Old Moon. [See "Old Moon".]
[5] I.e., during the fourth incarnation of the solar system, called Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".]
[6] I.e., Archangels.

Anglo-Germanic Age - also see cultural epochs; Gabriel; Michael; Samael

According to Anthroposophy: the present cultural epoch (1413 CE - 3573 CE); sometimes called the European-American Age. The earliest years of this Age were presided over by Samael, the Archangel of Mars. [1] He was succeeded by Gabriel, the archangel of the Moon. Currently, Michael — the archangel of the Sun — presides“The fifth, Anglo-Germanic age began in 1413 and will extend until 3573. Although we might suppose that we understand it because we live in it, we have so far seen only its earliest stages ... It carries the future within it like a seed. At first, however, it spiritually looked backwards [2] ... [We] experience progressive deterioration [3] ... Around 1471 spiritual rulership passed [from Samael] to Gabriel, the Archangel of the Moon. His period was dominated by the rise of the nation-state and of natural science (both firmly rooted in the moon forces of heredity) [4] ... Gabriel brought also the moon quality of occultism [5] ... Meanwhile Michael, the Sun Archangel, who strides ahead of Christ as his countenance [6], was preparing a new spiritual content for humanity ... His rulership of 350 years as Time Archangel began in 1879. [7]” — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), pp. 17-19. Michael will continue as Time Archangel until approximately 2250 CE. Thereafter, the remainder of the Anglo-Germanic Age will be overseen by four more archangels: Oriphiel, Archangel of Saturn (~2250-2600 CE); Anael, Archangel of Venus (~2600-2950 CE); Zachariel, Archangel of Jupiter (~2950-3300 CE); and finally Raphael, Archangel of Mercury (~3300-3650 CE; this period extends into the next cultural epoch, the Russian Age).



 ◊ 1. Indian Age ◊                                         .....   ◊ 7. American Age ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Persian Age ◊                                       ◊ 6. Russian Age ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Egypto-Chaldean Age ◊   ◊ 5. Anglo-Germanic Age ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Greco-Roman Age ◊ 

According to Anthroposophical belief, these are the seven ages or cultural epochs or our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch. We currently live in the Anglo-Germanic Age.

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, Archangels — who are typically associated with various celestial bodies — are gods two levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism" and the entry for "Archangels", below. For more on Mars, see "Mars".]

[2] During each phase of evolution, Steiner taught, we recapitulate prior stages.

[3] We have sunk further and further into physicality, removing us very far from the spirit realm, Steiner taught.

[4] In Anthroposophy: The Moon is a parasitic sphere, not a source of true light like the Sun; the influences of the Moon tend to be unreliable, unstable; heredity, which is less important than karma, is affected by the changeable Moon.

[5] Steiner identified himself as an occultist, meaning a seer who possessed hidden (secret, occult) knowledge. [see "Occultism".] Occultists can be either good or evil.

[6] Anthroposophy teaches that Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".] Michael, as the Sun Archangel, is Christ's ally.

[7] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Time Archangels" and "1879".

animal - see animals

animal form (of evil race) - also see abyss; animals; evil races

Sinful humans descend through lower and lower stages of development, Steiner taught. Instead of progressing upward in proper evolution, they fall back to prior, lower stages of existence. Ultimately, as one form of perdition, they may become bestial or animal-like and fall into the abyss. [1] "The evil race [2], with its savage impulses, will dwell in animal form in the abyss." — R. Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103.

[1] See the entry for "abyss", above.

[2] I.e., the "race" or subset of humanity comprised of evildoers. (Steiner is not saying, here, that a race existing today is "the evil race"; he is saying that an evil race will develop as more and more evildoers move toward plunging into the abyss.

animal kingdom of nature - also see Animal Kingdom Condition of Life; animals; kingdoms of nature

This is the kingdom of nature above the plant kingdom and below the human kingdom, Steiner taught. [1] Purely at the physical level — in terms of the physical form, the physical body — the human kingdom can be considered part of the animal kingdom. "Basically speaking, everything in his earthly environment belongs to one of the three kingdoms of Nature — to the mineral or the plant or the animal kingdom, or indeed the physical human kingdom, which in this particular connection can be taken as belonging to the animal kingdom." — R. Steiner, MAN AND THE WORLD OF THE STARS (SteinerBooks, 1963), lecture 4, GA 219. Higher portions of the human kingdom transcend the animal kingdom, Steiner said; our essential nature is spiritual, not physical.

According to Anthroposophic doctrines, beings in the animal kingdom have physical, etheric, and astral bodies, but they lack I's. [2] The mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms of nature all exist now, but as evolution proceeds the lower kingdoms of nature will be extinguished in sequence: first the mineral kingdom will be eliminated, then the plant kingdom, and eventually the animal kingdom.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "plant kingdom" and "human kingdom".

[1] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The invisible bodies are the etheric body, astral body, and ego body (or ego, or "I"). [See "Incarnation".]

Animal Kingdom Condition of Life - also see animal kingdom; conditions of life

During each condition of consciousness (Old Saturn, Old Sun, etc.) [1], beings that are evolving upward pass through seven ancillary cycles — to reach the next condition of consciousness, they must rise through these cycles. In our own condition of consciousness today, Present Earth [2], these cycles may be called conditions of life. (The same term may be applied to cycles within other conditions of consciousness, although the environment there may be very different.) Proceeding through the seven conditions of life takes us through the types of life that are possible in a given condition of consciousness. The sixth condition of life represents the animal kingdom of nature, an evolutionary phase in which animal existence is the lowest existent level — there is no plant kingdom or mineral kingdom. Here, we become ensouled. Existence in the Animal Kingdom Condition of Life is a preliminary version of life as it will be experienced in the Future Venus condition of consciousness [3], and thus the "animal" life we will experience then will be far more advanced than anything we see in the animal kingdom around us on the planet Earth today. Indeed, we currently live in the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life [4]; the Animal Kingdom Condition of Life lies in our future. "In this sixth Life Condition [5], which may be seen as a precursor of Venus evolution [6], there is no longer any mineral or plant kingdom. 'Earth and heaven have vanished' (Rev. 20:11). Humanity now comes to exist as a fine substance of warmth and air expressed in vibrations, sound, rhythmic or nonrhythmic will, and is thus revealed to all. Breathing is fully developed, and everything taken in as light and warmth fashions the spiritual body [7] and becomes wisdom. Human beings reproduce by uttering their likeness [8], and the whole atmosphere resounds with the power of the Word. [9] Thus is fulfilled 'Let us create men in our own image' (Gen. 1:26)." — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2009), p. 107. (Note that Seddon's descriptions of these matters, like Steiner's, incline toward our own evolution. Terms would need to be adjusted if we sought to accurately describe the experiences of other beings who have evolved through their own equivalents of the Animal Kingdom Condition of Life.)


During mankind's existence on Earth (or, more properly, during the Present Earth condition of consciousness), we evolve upward through seven conditions of life: We rise progressively from the 1st Elementary Kingdom (when we begin to develop our physical bodies) to the Human Kingdom (when we fully develop our spiritual egos). The penultimate condition of life is the animal kingdom (when we become ensouled). Note that we have not yet reached the Animal Kingdom Condition of Life; we currently exist in the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life. [Detail from a chart in Richard Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2009), p. 132; color added.]

[1] These are the largest stages of cosmic/human evolution; they are incarnations of the solar system. [See "Matters of Form" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness" and "incarnations of the solar system".]

[2] This is the fourth incarnation of the solar system. [See "Present Earth".]

[3] I.e., the sixth incarnation of the solar system, called Future Venus. [See "Future Stages".]

[4] We are "human" now, but we have not yet fulfilled our human potential. We still have mineral bodies and we are in various ways imperfect. We will not reach our potential as human-beings-on-Earth until we reach the seventh condition of life, the Human Kingdom Condition of Life. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution" and "Human Kingdom Condition of Life".]

[5] I.e., sixth condition of life, the Animal Kingdom Condition of Life.

[6] I.e., Future Venus.

[7] I.e., the immaterial human body at that stage of evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "spirit body".]

[8] I.e., we will reproduce through speaking our intention to reproduce. Steiner taught that the larynx will become our organ of reproduction. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "larynx".]

[9] I.e., the Word of God, or gnosis. [see "Gnosis".]

animal man - also see animals; Moon humans; Old Moon

During the Old Moon stage of evolution [1], Steiner taught, humans were at a stage of development roughly equivalent to the status of animals today, although even then we were higher than animals are now. (Prior to Old Moon, we were essentially like plants during Old Sun, Steiner taught. [2]) Those animal men of Old Moon who were capable of evolving further rose to become the human beings we know now during Present Earth. [3] Those who were incapable of evolving further branched off and became animals such as we know now. ◊ “If, as he had developed on the Sun [4], man was called plant man, the man of the Moon [5] can be called animal man." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 16, GA 11. ◊ "To physical sight all these animal-men had various forms that recall our present animals, but they only remind us of these; it is only when we rise from physical sight to astral vision [6] that we perceive the higher nature of the animal-man of the Moon." — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Harry Collison, 1931), lecture 5, GA 105. ◊ "Our plant-world has sprung from the lunar plant-animal. [7] Similarly, the animal world has arisen from the lunar animal-man. [8] So we see that on the Earth [9], each of these lunar kingdoms makes a descent into materiality. [10]" — R. Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978), lecture 27, GA 94.

[1] This was the third incarnation of the solar system, during which we attained our third condition of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia; also see "Old Moon, Etc."]
[2] I.e., during the second incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Sun".]
[3] This is the fourth incarnation of the solar system. [See "Present Earth".]
[4] I.e., during Old Sun. (When he described life "on" various "planets," Steiner sometimes meant existence on actual planets, but often he meant existence in/on phases of the solar system's evolution. His meaning must often be deduced from context. [See the entries for "planets" and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia.])
[5] I.e., the proto-human during Old Moon. We were not yet truly human. [See the entry for "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia.]
[6] I.e., clairvoyance.
[7] Some beings that existed during Old Moon were intermediate between plants and animals, Steiner taught. Here he says that the plants we know today evolved from the plant-animals of Old Moon.
[8] Steiner taught that animals branched off from the upward line of human evolution. Here he indicates that animals embody the lower portions of the proto-human beings (animal-men) of Old Moon. (Humans have evolved from the higher portions of the animal-men of Old Moon, he said.)
[9] I.e., during Preset Earth.
[10] Steiner taught that physical reality as we know it did not develop until Present Earth. Here he indicates that the physical plants, animals, and humans of Present Earth descended from more ethereal predecessors that existed during Old Moon.

animals, animality - also see animal kingdom; animal man; biology; zoology

According to Steiner, animals are members of the third tier of creation, above plants and below man. Animals are endowed with etheric and astral bodies but not with "I's." [1] Animals are descended from man. Humans did not evolve from animals, Steiner taught; instead, animals branched off from the human evolutionary tree. They became "hardened" or established in their physicality too soon, failing to continue the correct upward movement toward spirituality. Thus, they "fell" and became the lowly creatures of the natural world.

In a sense, animals chose their own fate. But in another sense, we humans pushed animals away. Sensing that they were becoming a drag on us, we ejected them from the community of being who were evolving higher. "[T]he animal kingdom is the human being spread out [2] ... [A]nimals [are] the by-products of human development ... [T]he animal forms represent physically incarnated soul forces which the human being had to dispense with in order to mature sufficiently to receive the ego [3] ... We see then that man is not the result of animal evolution but that he is at the beginning of it and is central to it. Indeed he is the cause of it. The animal world represents soul qualities which the human being has discarded although he still retains remnants of them.” — R. Wilkinson, MAN AND ANIMAL (The Robinswood Press, 1990). 

Unlike humans, animals do not possess individual souls — they only have group souls, Steiner said. [4] Human beings revert to a sort of animal condition in Kamaloka (in effect, purgatory), but then we rise higher, prepared to enter the spirit realm. [5] Evil humans, however, become trapped in animal form in the Abyss — they fall to subhuman condition, reverting to lower evolutionary levels. [6]

For more on animals, see “Biodynamics”, “Neutered Nature”, and "Evolution, Anyone?".

[1] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The invisible bodies are the etheric body, astral body, and ego body (or ego, or "I"). [See "Incarnation".] Animals have three of these four bodies, but they are subhuman because they lack ego bodies.

[2] I.e., according to Steiner, each animal species represents a single attribute (the remnant of the stage of evolution at which that species ceased evolving). Human beings possess a full spectrum of attributes. A similar spectrum exists in the animal kingdom only when all animals are considered together.

[3] I.e., animals represent physically incarnated stages of soul development through which humans passed through and then left behind. Only by evolving higher could we become human, receiving our spiritual egos or "I"s. [See "Ego".]

[4] See the entry for "group souls" in this encyclopedia.

[5] We purge ourselves of passions and worldly attachments by revisiting those lowly conditions and then transcending them. [See "Kamaloka".]

[6] See "Hell".

animated monad - also see Atma-Buddhi; monad; Old Sun

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, this is Atma-Buddhi (the germ of our developing spiritual essence) [1], which originated during Old Sun. [2] 

More generally, a monad is a self-enclosed being, an individual. [3] We become monads when we, in our spirits, carry our individuality through this life and our future lives. See, e.g., R. Steiner, INITIATION, ETERNITY, AND THE PASSING MOMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1980), p 44. The sum of all monads is Monad, the macrocosmic human, Christ. See R. Steiner, CORRESPONDENCE AND DOCUMENTS 1901-1925 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1988), p. 83.

[1] See the entry for "Atma-Buddhi" in this encyclopedia.
[2] This was the second incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Sun".]
[3] "Monad, Monas [from Greek monas a unit, individual, atom] A unit, a one; something nondivisible and which is therefore conceived of as real, in contradistinction to compound things which (as compounds) are not real." — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999). An animated monad is a living monad. "Monads are the ultimate elements of the universe, spiritual-substantial entities, self-motivated, self-impelled, self-conscious, in infinitely varying degrees. They engender other monads, which in turn engender others, and thus springs up the host of living entities forming the immense variety and unity of the manifested world." — Ibid. (Bear in mind that Steiner's teachings are not wholly consistent with mainline Theosophy.)

Anthroposophia, Anthropo-Sophia - also see Anthroposophy; female; goddesses; Sophia

This is a variant of "Anthroposophy" (human wisdom) emphasizing "Sophia" (the goddess of wisdom, the female element in divinity, according to Steiner). [1] According to Steiner, the female principle is intuitive, inconstant, emotional, and wise. [2] This germinating, female spiritual force is found at the root of civilization; it is the impetus in, and essence of, Anthroposophy, Steiner taught.

According to Steiner, Christ represents male spiritual force and the Holy Ghost represents female spiritual force. The Holy Ghost, as female or mother, gave birth to Christ-in-us and his wisdom-in-us, Anthroposophia (Anthropo-Sophia). "One could...say that the ‘Holy Spirit’ is the (feminine) ‘Mother’ principle of the (male) ‘Son’ principle, Christ. We owe the development of the ‘Christ in us’ to the ‘Holy Spirit’ (the female creator of Christ)." — R. Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 49. [3] The Holy Ghost is, in effect, the divine Sophia, divine wisdom, which — according to Anthroposophy — is Anthroposophy. 


Many of Steiner's followers believe that Anthroposophia is a divine spiritual being, a goddess who oversees their movement and who works for the correct evolution of humanity. This book, written by a prominent Anthroposophist, promotes such a thesis. According to the author, Anthroposophia is an extension of the heavenly Sophia (divine wisdom): it is the essence of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual movement. [Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE HEAVENLY SOPHIA AND THE BEING ANTHROPOSOPHIA (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2006).] From the publisher: "Based on the author's own experience of the supersensible being who stands behind the science of the spirit known as Anthroposophy, THE HEAVENLY SOPHIA is the culmination of 25 years of work by Sergei Prokofieff on Rudolf Steiner's spiritual impulse. The being Anthroposophia, he shows, is not a poetic image or an abstract concept, but is an actual spiritual entity who works in the higher worlds for the good of earthly evolution, bringing to humanity '...the new revelation of the heavenly Sophia, the divine wisdom'."

[1] See "Goddess".

[2] See "Gender".

[3] See "God".

Anthroposophical medicine - see medicine

Anthroposophical Society - also see First Class; General Anthroposophical Society; Goetheanum; School of Spiritual Science

The central organization of Steiner's followers, founded in 1913; reconstituted in 1923 as the General Anthroposophical Society. It is headquartered at the Goetheanum, in Dornach, Switzerland. [1] Originally, Rudolf Steiner had no formal connection to the Society, although all of its work was essentially based on his teachings. Upon the reconstitution of the Society in 1923, Steiner assumed a formal leadership role. There are also national Anthroposophical Societies around the world (e.g., the Anthroposophical Society in America) and regional branches (e.g., the Los Angeles Branch).

Steiner said that Waldorf schools should not become formally associated with the Society, although individual faculty members could (or should) become members. [2] Keeping formal separation between the schools and the Society was smart public relations, he said. “[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." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 705.

[2] Membership is not required, but Steiner strongly indicated that Waldorf teachers should be (or become) Anthroposophists. "As Waldorf teachers, we must be true anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 118.

Anthroposophy - also see Anthroposophical Society; biodynamic gardening and farming; Christian Community; "doing" Anthroposophy; General Anthroposophical Society; historical narrative of Anthroposophy; medicine; occult science; polytheism; Rosicrucianism; School of Michael; Steiner, Rudolf; spiritual science; Theosophy; Waldorf schools

The word "Anthroposophy" (pronounced an-throw-POSS-o-fee) comes from Greek, meaning human ("anthropo") wisdom ("sophy") or knowledge of the human being. Generally described as "spiritual science" by its adherents, Anthroposophy is a polytheistic religion entailing meditations, observances, and prayers. A variant of Theosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy assigns tremendous significance to human beings, placing them at the center of the created universe. The faith’s cosmology is essentially a set of reassurances for the frail human ego. The principles and practices of Waldorf education derive from Anthroposophy. [1]

The "human wisdom" embodied in Anthroposophy is esoteric and fundamentally unsupported by verifiable knowledge or information. According to Waldorf belief, human beings have both souls and spirits, they have three invisible bodies, they have 12 senses, they exhibit four classical temperaments, their racial identities reflect their degree of spiritual evolution, their hearts do not pump blood, their brains do not think, they have karmas, they are heavily influenced by astrological forces, they have hidden inner doubles, and so on. None of this is demonstrably true. [2]

The "science" in Anthroposophy is the use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. [3] Rudolf Steiner laid out spiritual exercises, meditations, prayers, and other practices intended to assist his followers in developing precise or exact powers of clairvoyance. [4] The process, he taught, is a modern form of occult initiation. [5] He claimed that he himself was a high initiate whose clairvoyant findings — being "exact" — are very nearly undeniable. [6]

Anthroposophists believe that there are invisible worlds both above and below us, populated by powerful, invisible beings. The beings below us have no true spirits, while those above us are, for the most part, beneficent gods. There are many ranks of gods. [7] The gods have evolved, much as we evolve, and we ourselves will ultimately rise to the highest divine rank. Our evolution began during a period called Old Saturn, followed by Old Sun and Old Moon. [8] After our present existence during Present Earth, we will evolve through the phases Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [9] This is the central narrative of Anthroposophy. [10]

While most of the gods are good and merciful, there are also evil gods, demons, and other forces of evil. The intended trajectory of human development is upward, but not all humans participate properly in evolution as intended by the good gods. Some people descend, taking the "black path" toward perdition. [11] It is possible, indeed, that only a small band (in effect, only Anthroposophists) will persevere in the ways of righteousness. The coming War of All Against All will winnow humanity, just as previous catastrophes have done. [12]

Steiner became a Theosophist in 1902. In 1913, he broke away to establish Anthroposophy as a separate occult movement. However, he had described his own teachings as Anthroposophy even while he was nominally a Theosophist, and his teachings changed little after the break. In 1919, Steiner oversaw the creation of the first Waldorf school. Waldorf schools are rooted in Anthroposophy, and Waldorf faculties are typically guided by Anthroposophists. Indeed, the chief purpose of Waldorf education is to spread Anthroposophy and its purported benefits, although the effort is often covert and subtle. [13]

Like many of the sources from which it draws [14], Anthroposophy is a complex, multi-layered body of teachings. Such complexity can be alluring. A single falsehood, standing alone, may be readily pierced and rejected; it has little power to sway us. But a rich tapestry of untruths, multicolored and vibrant, may exert a powerful, persistent attraction. Anthroposophy offers an intricately detailed alternative reality. The susceptible may lose themselves within it — they may plunge into its fabulous landscapes and remain for the rest of their days in a world that is far removed from what other people would call reality.


The best guide to Anthroposophy is Steiner's magnum opus, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE. It has been published in many editions. This is one of the most recent (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009).

[1] See “Everything”, “Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”, “Here’s the Answer”, and "Spiritual Agenda".
[2] See, e.g., "What We're Made Of", "Our Parts", "Oh Humanity", "Races", "Karma", "Waldorf Astrology", and "Double Trouble".
[3] See "Clairvoyance".
[4] See "Knowing the Worlds".
[5] See "Occultism" and "Inside Scoop".
See "Exactly".
See "Polytheism".
See "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", and "Old Moon, Etc."
[9] See "Present Earth" and "Future Stages".
[10] See "Everything", "Higher Worlds", "Matters of Form" and "Steiner Static I".
See "Evil", "Evil Ones", "Hell", and "Sin".
See "All vs. All" and "Steiner Static II".
See "Here's the Answer", "Oh Humanity", and "Sneaking It In".
[14] S
ee, e.g., "Basics".

Antichrist - also see Ahriman; Christ; Sorat

In Christian tradition: the personal opponent of Christ; or, secondarily, any opponent of Christ. The former — the "great" Antichrist — will spread sin and destruction through the world before being defeated at Christ's Second Coming.

According to Steiner, Sorat is the “great” Antichrist. [1] He is the Sun Demon, the reverse image of Christ the Sun God. [2] "Christ is the good spirit, the intelligence of the sun [3]; the adversary is the demon of the sun. Certain forces that are constantly working on the human astral body [3] come forth from the demon of the sun. This demon of the sun is the opponent of the Christ spirit and is called Sorat." — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), lecture 10, GA 104a“Minor” Antichrists or stand-ins for Sorat may include Ahriman and other evil beings. [4]

[1] See "Bad, Badder, Baddest". 
[2] Christ, in Anthroposophical belief, is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".] 
[3] Christ, the Sun God, may also be referred to as the Sun hero, the genius of the Sun, the intelligence (or spirit) of the Sun, etc.
[4] See "Ahriman" and Evil Ones

anti-intellectualism in Anthroposophy - also see academic standards at Waldorf schools; anti-scientific bias; brain; intellect; thinking

Steiner taught that true cognition comes from clairvoyance, not through use of the brain. (Clairvoyance is not seated in the brain but in nonphysical organs of clairvoyance, he said. [1]) In Waldorf schools, intellectual work is minimized and/or postponed — children are not deemed capable of rational though until quite late. According to Waldorf doctrine, use of the intellect should always be mediated by will and emotion“The brain is an instrument for purely intellectual apprehension. [2] Intellectualism and materialistic thinking are one and the same [3] ... This manifests itself, on the one hand, in the empty formalism of belief; on the other, in Bolshevism. [4]” — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 147-148. [See “Steiner’s Specific”.]

When children undergo the entire process of Waldorf education, beginning in kindergarten and extending through high school, they are unlikely to emerge with respect for intellect or with a sharp capacity to employ intellect. By the time intellect is given nominal emphasis in the final years of schooling, the children will have absorbed such a deeply emotional, intuitive, mystical approach to life that all forms of brainwork will be deeply compromised. [4]

[1] See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds".

[2] Purely intellectual apprehension is shallow and does not produce ultimate truth, Steiner taught. True cognition, according to Steiner, is clairvoyance. [See "Thinking" and "Clairvoyance".]

[3] "Materialistic thinking" is use of the material brain; it is confined to the material or physical plane of reality and thus knows nothing profound or ultimately important. [See "Steiner's Specific".]

[3] Sic: emphasis by Steiner. (Bolshevism is Communism.)

[4] See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".

antipathy - also see feelings; sympathy; thinking

In Anthroposophical belief, humans who have descended to the physical world experience a continual rhythmic oscillation between antipathy and sympathy. The former is caused by our descent; the latter anticipates our return to the spirit realm. Due to antipathy, we develop the capacity for thinking as it exists in the physical world. This is a necessary but limited capacity, unlike the fuller cognition coming through spiritual existence. [1] Antipathy temporarily alienates us from the spiritual. "Because we can no longer remain in the spiritual world [2]...we are brought down into the physical world. In being brought down into the physical world we develop an antipathy for everything spiritual so that we radiate back the spiritual, pre-natal reality [3] in an antipathy of which we are unconscious. We bear the force of antipathy within us, and through it transform the pre-natal element into a mere mental picture or image. [4] And we unite ourselves in sympathy with that which radiates out towards our later existence...after death. [5] We are not immediately conscious of these two, sympathy and antipathy, but they live unconsciously in us, and they signify our feeling, which consists continually of a rhythm, of an alternating between sympathy and antipathy." — R. Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 2, GA 293.

[1] See, e.g., "Thinking".
[2] Steiner taught that there are two great worlds above the physical world: the soul world and the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".] Here he refers to the spirit realm generally.
[3] I.e., the reality we knew before Earthly incarnation: the reality of spiritual existence.
[4] I.e., our lives before Earthly incarnation come to seem almost unreal to us.
[5] I.e., our positive feelings for the spirit realm focus on our coming lives after Earthly death.

anti-scientific bias at Waldorf schools - also see Ahriman; anti-intellectualism; Goethean "science"; science; technology

Although Steiner claimed that Anthroposophy is a science, he disparaged real science. The study of science is often downplayed or distorted in Waldorf schools. Antiscientific ideas are sometimes taught quite explicitly. Science is deemed to fall within the ambit of Ahriman and other demons. [1] "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces. [2]" — R. Steiner, ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 126. [See “Steiner’s ‘Science’”.]

Steiner opposed “scientific simpletons” with their “scientific trash” and their “logical, pedantic, narrow-minded proof of things.” He deplored “primitive concepts like those...of contemporary science.” — R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 276; THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 94; ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 240; HOW CAN MANKIND FIND THE CHRIST AGAIN (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 54. The demonic nature of science spreads Evil across the globe. "[W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons...we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity.” — R. Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940. Scientists rarely if ever talk sensibly. "If physicists were for once to talk sense, they would not produce speculations about atoms and molecules." — R. Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935), lecture 1, GA 291.

Scientists use the material brain and the physical body's senses; they are intellectuals, not esotericists or occult initiates. From an Anthroposophical perspective, the findings of science have superficial bearing on conditions in the physical universe, but they are devoid of deep insight. In steering students away from belief in science, Waldorf schools try to protect them from what the schools deem multiple baleful influences.

To the degree that science is promoted in Waldorf schools, it tends of be "Goethean" science — that is, a spiritualistic study of phenomena based on the metaphysics of the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. [3] In essence, this means science classes infused with speculative romanticism and, usually kept under the surface, Anthroposophy. [4]

[1] See "Ahriman" and "Evil Ones".

[2] I.e., evil forces originating on Mars. [See "Mars".]

[3] See "Goethe".

[4] See, e.g., the discussion of THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY in “Steiner’s ‘Science’”.

anti-Semitism, Steiner's - also see Hebrews; Jehovah; Jews; Judaism; Moon religion; Nazism

Steiner made numerous anti-Semitic statements throughout most stages of his career. He said that Jews no longer have a useful role to play in human development and therefore should cease to exist as a separate people. [1] He taught that Jews are distinct from all other peoples, having been under the sway of Jehovah, a god who dwells on the Moon. [2] They are highly materialist and lack spiritual vision, he said. "As you know, we distinguish the Jews from the rest of the earth's population. The difference has arisen because the Jews have been brought up in the moon religion [3] for centuries ... The Jews have a great gift for materialism, but little for recognition of the spiritual world." — R. Steiner, FROM BEETROOT TO BUDDHISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 59. Steiner also occasionally made philo-Semitic statements, and historian Peter Staudenmaier has argued that Steiner began as an anti-Semite, changed to a pro-Jewish position, and then reverted to anti-Semitism.

[1] See "RS on Jews".

[2] See, e.g., "Genesis".

[1] I.e., they worship the Moon being, Jehovah.

Apocalypse - also see Twilight of the Gods; Götterdämmerung; War of All Against All

The impending ultimate showdown between the forces of good and evil. [1] The term "Apocalypse" also refers to the Book of Revelation. Steiner offered elaborate interpretations of that book, as in his lectures collected in READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993). His discussion of Biblical topics was informed, as ever, by occultism and gnosticism. At one level, he said, the Apocalypse essentially embodies the revelation of secret or occult spiritual knowledge, such as he himself offered. "At the end of the New Testament stands a remarkable document, the Apocalypse [2], the secret revelation of Saint John. [3] We need only read the opening words to feel the esoteric character of this book. 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God granted him, to show to his servants how the necessary events will shortly run their course; this is sent in signs by the angel of God to his servant John.'  What is revealed here is 'sent in signs.' Therefore we must not take the literal sense of the words as they stand, but seek for a deeper sense, of which the words are only signs. But there are also many other things which point to such a 'secret meaning.' [4] John addresses himself to seven communities in Asia. This cannot mean actual, material communities. For the number seven is the sacred symbolic number [5] which must be chosen because of its symbolic meaning." — R. Steiner, CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1961), chapter 9, GA 8.

In Steiner's teachings, the world-ending Apocalypse finds enactment in the War of All Against All. [6] “The war of all against all will be an expression of the egotism that is always growing stronger ... That will be the end of the last post-Atlantean culture. [7] This catastrophe will also have its mission, its usefulness in the ascent of the entire human race. [8] However, the great war of all against all will be something much worse than war of the present-day with weapons. It will be a war of souls, of souls who no longer understand one another, a war of the classes. This future catastrophe is difficult for present-day consciousness to understand." — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), lecture 3, GA 104a.

Anthroposophists believe that the Apocalypse or War of All Against All is anticipated in Norse myths as Götterdämmerung, the ultimate war of gods against giants, in which all are destroyed. [9]

[1] See, e.g., "Matters of Form".

[2] I.e., the Book of Revelation.

[3] The Book of Revelation has traditionally been attributed to John the Apostle (one of Christ's twelve apostles), but more recently biblical scholars have largely rejected that attribution. "Revelation...appears to be a collection of separate units composed by unknown authors who lived during the last quarter of the 1st century, though it purports to have been written by an individual named John...at Patmos, in the Aegean Sea. The text includes no indication that John of Patmos and John the Apostle are the same person." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 15, 2015.

[4] I.e., the meaning of the Book of Revelation is hidden or occult.

[5] See, e.g., "Magic Numbers".

[6] See "All vs. All".
[7] I.e., it will bring an end to our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] It will usher in an extended period when the seals mentioned in the Book of Revelation will be opened and the trumpets of doom will sound. [See "Sixth Epoch" and "Lucky Seventh".]

[8] I.e., the terrible war — a "catastrophe" — is necessary for human evolution to proceed. (Evil must be confronted and defeated.)

[9] See "The Gods".

apocrypha - also see Bible; gnosticism; occult

According to THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (SteinerBooks, 1980), apocrypha are "spiritual writings too sacred or mysterious for the uninitiated." Rudolf Steiner made heavy use of such texts. He claimed that his doctrines derive from his personal clairvoyant investigations of the spirit realm, but in fact he was a student of apocrypha. 

A more precise definition of "apocrypha" is this: "[I]n biblical literature, works outside an accepted canon of scripture. The history of the term’s usage indicates that it referred to a body of esoteric writings that were at first prized, later tolerated, and finally excluded [by church authorities]. In its broadest sense apocrypha has come to mean any writings of dubious authority. [paragraph break] There are several levels of dubiety within the general concept of apocryphal works in Judeo-Christian biblical writings. Apocrypha per se are outside the canon, not considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by the faithful. Pseudepigrapha are spurious works ostensibly written by a biblical figure. Deuterocanonical works are those that are accepted in one canon but not in all. [paragraph break] Heretical movements such as Gnosticism and Montanism spawned a great body of New Testament pseudepigrapha." — "apocrypha." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 16, 2011.

Apollo - also see Apollonian; Christ; Sun God

a) The Ancient Greek god of music, poetry, inspiration, and the pastoral life. Later, he became associated with the Sun, and in some accounts he was conflated with Helios, the god who drove the Sun across the sky.

b) In Anthroposophy, Apollo is Christ as apprehended imperfectly by ancient Greeks. “Apollo, the Sun god, was the representative of the divine spiritual beings [1] which exist behind the tapestry of the sense world [2] ... We may now ask: What is the relation of Apollo to the Christ? When a Greek uttered the name of Apollo, he referred to the spiritual realm behind the sun [3]. But men's conception of a being or of a fact differs according to their capacities ... [W]hen the Greek uttered the name of Apollo he was indeed referring to the being which later was revealed as the Christ [4], but he could only conceive of it in a kind of veiled form, as Apollo.” — R. Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1940), lecture 6, GA 113.


[Public domain image.]

[1] I.e., gods.
[2] In Anthroposophical belief, truth resides behind the maya or illusion of the physical world (the "sense world" accessible to our ordinary senses). Truth lies in the supersensible realm — beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.
[3] I.e., the spiritual region concealed behind the physical Sun.
[4] Steiner taught that Christ is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".] According to Steiner, ancient peoples who worshipped Sun gods were — generally without realizing it — worshipping Christ.

Apollonian - also see Apollo; head; cf. Dionysian

Pertaining to the Greek god Apollo. In Anthroposophy, the term "Apollonian" is applied to forces emanating from the head, to the degree that Anthroposophy affirms the value of the head. Cool, measured judgment is considered Apollonian. Proponents say that Waldorf education balances coolly cerebral Apollonian influences with warmly emotional Dionysian influences. [1]

According to Anthroposophical accounts, Apollonian behavior is judicious and poised; it arises from, and reinforces, a broad, detached awareness. ◊ "Apollonian consciousness, if not in the classic period at least in modern literature, is high in the sky, removed from the action so as to gain a broad perspective. It differs from the Dionysian in that it keeps a distance from the concrete." — T. Moore, THE PLANETS WITHIN (Lindisfarne Books, 1990), p. 89. ◊ "In anthroposophy, [the term Apollonian] is used to refer to the formative forces emanating from the power of thought located in the head. Concepts such as 'order', 'rest', 'cool' and 'motionless' define the scope of this energy ... In Waldorf education, teachers try to organize their lessons in such a way that Apollonian and Dionysian activities alternate to create a balanced and living dynamic. [2]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 8.

Steiner’s followers make some extraordinary claims concerning the powers of Apollo and Dionysus. Thus, for instance: “These two gods — Apollo and Dionysus — embody polar complementary forces that work in opposite ways to develop the child and young adult ... Left to themselves [3], these forces can work one-sidedly on the growing child, with devastating consequences. Allow the sculptural, formative, centripetal, linear forces of Apollo to exert too strong a grip, and we can see children grow prematurely stiff in carriage and sometimes burdened of soul ... Allow the musical, centrifugal, curvilinear forces of Dionysus to rise up too strongly, and we can see children who stay youthful and carefree too long ... Children overly prone to becoming trapped in the [physical] body need to draw, write, and revel in the details of a subject in order to loosen their ‘I’ [4] a little from the confines of the physical organism. By contrast, children who have difficulty taking hold of the physical organism [5] need to observe, as from a bird’s eye view, what they have drawn or written, or be encouraged to attend to the overall meaning or context of a subject, rather than its details. [paragraph break] Underlying these suggestions is the general maxim: Move, and you excarnate [6]; be still, and you incarnate. [7]” — D. Gerwin, introduction to BALANCE IN TEACHING (Anthroposophic Press, 2007), pp. x-xi.

[1] See the entry for "Dionnysian" in this encyclopedia.
[2] See the entry for "rhythm" in this encyclopedia.
[3] I.e., if they are not balanced, one against the other.
[4] The “I” is the spiritual ego that confers divine individuality. [See “Ego”.] Gerwin is saying that children who are prone to sink too deeply into the physical level of existence need activities that will loosen the soul or the “I” from the physical body.
[5] I.e., children who have difficulty incarnating sufficiently in their physical bodies.
[6] I.e., Dionysian activities help you to leave the physical body.
[7] I.e., Apollonian activities help you to enter the physical body.

apotheosis - also see evolution; evolution of consciousness; gods; human beings

In Anthroposophy, the goal for humanity is to evolve upward to higher and higher levels of spiritual consciousness. [1] This means evolving to become gods, and then evolving to become higher and higher gods. [2] We are human beings only because we evolved to this level of development. Other beings have been at this level before us [3], and they evolved further to become gods. We ourselves will (or should) follow a similar trajectory. [4]

◊ “[T]he gods who dwell in exalted regions had not always been gods, but had once been human beings ... [H]uman beings can become a god [sic] only when they are ripe for that condition ... Two paths are therefore open to humanity. Either a person can live patiently in anticipation of...deification (theosis), or one can imagine oneself prematurely already a god [hubris]. The first path leads to true deification; the second, to folly and madness.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 54.

◊ "Towards the middle of the Sixth Root-Race [5], in the last third, there will no longer be a physical body. Then the entire human being will again be etheric. [6] It will pass over into the finer substance. But this will not happen if man himself does not bring it about. For this he must first pass over to the nourishment which he prepares [within himself]. So that man, in so far as he no longer takes his nourishment from Nature, but gains it from his own wisdom, from the God within him, so far does he also hasten towards his own deification. [7]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 30, GA 93a.

Steiner's vision of human apotheosis is fundamental to the mission of Waldorf education, as sometimes described by its adherents. 
“Rudolf Steiner...saw and addressed himself to the latent possibilities in man of advancing beyond the present-day accepted limits of cognition [8] to awaken knowledge of the spiritual worlds [9] ... That means that man himself properly belongs to those higher worlds ... If [a person] learns systematically to apply his will to his own thinking...it becomes God-thinking, a creative force itself [10] ... Rudolf Steiner’s method of work calls upon man, in the highest degree, to face and outgrow himself [11].” — F. Edmunds, AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 6-7.

Steiner foresaw that humanity will (or should) rise through the nine divine ranks and ultimately become the highest divinity. 
"In an individual human being there lives a drop of divinity, and we are evolving towards the divine level, on the way to expressing our deepest, innermost nature. Once we have brought this deepest, innermost nature to expression we shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity 'the Father'. What lies hidden in the human soul, the highest goal that lies ahead of us, is 'the Father in heaven.'" — R. Steiner, THE LORD'S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17. 

[1] See "evolution of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.
[2] There are nine ranks of gods, Steiner taught. [See "Polytheism".]
[3] See "human beings" in this encyclopedia.
[5] I.e., during the sixth major epoch of human life on Earth. we are now in the fifth such epoch, Steiner taught. [See "Epochs" and the entry for "root races" in this encyclopedia.]
[6] I.e., we once were nonphysical (ethereal, spiritual) beings; we are currently physical beings upon the physical Earth; we will evolve to become nonphysical again.
[7] I.e., we will become gods when we no longer need physical sustenance but gain our nourishment from our own spiritual wisdom. We will, in this sense, make ourselves gods.
[8] Instead of accepting the limits imposed by our brains and our ordinary senses, Steiner advocated "supersensible" cognition — clairvoyance. [See "clairvoyance" in this encyclopedia.]
[9] Steiner claimed that by using precise, disciplined clairvoyance, we can know the spirit realm. One of his most important books is titled HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (or, in other editions, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS - How Is It Achieved?, and KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT). [See "Knowing the Worlds".]
[10] This is the result, Steiner said, of following his instructions for developing "exact" clairvoyance. [See "Exactly".] We move toward the status of gods, able to alter reality through the sheer spiritual force of our thoughts: We think something, and that thing is thereby created. [See, e.g., the discussion of "Anthroposophy 101" in "Thinking Cap".] In the future, Steiner taught, people who follow his guidance will evolve to literally become gods. [See, e.g., "The Tenth Hierarchy" and "apotheosis" in this encyclopedia.]
[11] This essentially means evolving to higher and higher levels of spiritual consciousness — we will evolve upward through the ranks of the gods.

Aquarian Age - see Russian Age

Aquarius - also see astrology; constellations; Saturn; Uranus; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (Jan. 21-Feb. 19) ... [R]uling planets, Saturn and Uranus ... [Q]ualities — cautious, prudent, noble, progressive, mentally acute, intuitive, psychic, inquisitive, generous, cosmic, modest; but can be lazy, erratic, unreliable, too self-interested, subservient to others' opinions. Many astrologers consider this the finest of all twelve signs...." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 13. ◊ "In Aquarius, the highly evolved individual [1] matures into a spiritualized being, the 'perfect man' of Christ [2] ... Today, most Aquarians are as yet far from being perfect men ... Highly evolved souls [3], responding to the mighty mood of Aquarius, become conscious of the Spirit in the Earth, the Cosmic Christ [4] ... These awakened ones becomes conscious cooperators with the Christ in the evolution of the cosmos ... The Aquarian Age...will not properly prevail until the Sixth Post-Atlantean Civilization. [5]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS ON THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 217-218.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Aquarius. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Aquarius. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "May what is bounded yield to the boundless./What feels the lack of bounds, may it create/Bounds for itself in its depths;/May it raise itself in the current,/As wave, flowing forth, sustaining itself,/In becoming, shaping itself to existence./Set yourself bounds, oh boundless!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] Personal and cosmic evolution are key themes in Anthroposophy. [See the entries for "evolution", "evolution of consciousness", and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] In Anthroposophy, Christ — the Sun God — is humanity's role model. He embodied what we should evolve to become. [See "Sun God" and "Prototype".]
[3] In Anthroposophical belief, such souls are spiritual guides, masters, and initiates; they are also, in a more general sense, Anthroposophists themselves.
[4] Steiner taught that the Sun God's essence flowed into the Earth when Christ was crucified. The Sun God then became the "Spirit of the Earth". [See the entry for "Cosmic Christ" in this encyclopedia.]
[5] Steiner taught that we currently live in the Fifth Post-Atlantean Age — the fifth historical period since the sinking of Atlantis. The Aquarian Age, then, will comes during the next historical period, the sixth since the sinking of Atlantis.

Arabism - also see intellect; Islam

The influence and worldview of Arabs; Arab culture and identity. Steiner taught that Arabism is less advanced than the views of white Europeans. [1] In particular, he associated Arabism with the intellect, which he taught is a materialistic and faulty form of thinking. "We know what kind of associations the Arabic spirit calls up in those of us who have read and lived for some time with the last lectures which Rudolf Steiner gave in the summer of 1924; those karma lectures where Arabism has become almost a symbol not only for people who lived in the desert but who cultivated the desert of intellectualism. [2]" — A. Heidenreich, THE RISEN CHRIST AND THE ETHERIC CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 2.

[1] See, e.g., "Trinity" and "Islam".
[2] Steiner was an intellectual (or was before he became a professed occultist), and he sometimes spoke of the value of intellect. However, in his Anthroposophical teachings, he more generally associated intellect with Ahriman and evil. [See "Steiner's Specific" and the entry for "Ahriman" in this encyclopedia.]

 also see Archon; Principalities; Spirits of Personality; Zeitgeists

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels above mankind. They are the highest gods in the lowest (third) divine hierarchy. [1] They dwell in the Venus sphere and oversee the cultural epochs of human evolution. [2] Because of their connection with historical periods, they are sometimes called Spirits of Time or Zeitgeists. They help mold the spirit or personality of an age. They were human during Old Saturn [3], where they played a major role in promoting our development. “[N]ow at this stage in the evolution of Saturn [4] certain Beings [5] intervene ... Through them the I [6] looks down from the surrounding spaces on to Saturn, and communicates its nature to the single ‘live’ beings [7] ... The Beings [8] who bring this about may be called ‘Spirits of Personality’ (in Christian terminology they are the Archai, First Beginnings, or Principalities.)” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), chapter 4, GA 13.

The involvement of the Archai in human evolution did not end with Old Saturn. "Archai...see to it that human beings are born at a particular moment and in a particular place so that they will be able to meet other human beings on earth in correspondence with and fulfilment of their karma. [9]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 8.


See "Polytheism".
[2] See the entry for "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia.

[3] I

.e., during the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]
[4] I.e., during one phase of Old Saturn.
[5] I.e., gods.
[6] The spiritual ego or "I," which human beings would come to possess, is in a sense a god or spiritual force, predating humanity, and in this passage its effects are described as being directed by the Archai. 
[7] These beings are the proto-humans, the beings that would evolve to become ourselves as we are now.
[8] Having told of "beings" (gods) who involved themselves in the evolution of other "beings" (proto-humans), Steiner here speaks again about divine "beings" (gods).
[9] See "Karma".

Archangels - also see Fire Spirits; folk souls; Gabriel; Michael; Oriphiel; race soul; Raphael; Samael; Time Archangels

a) In Christianity, high-ranking angels.

b) According to Steiner, Archangels are gods, a step higher than Angels and thus two steps higher than mankind. Steiner taught that Archangels occupy the Mercury sphere and concern themselves with groups of humans such as  families, nations, peoples, and races. They are sometimes called Folk Souls, Folk Spirits, Race Souls, etc. They were human during Old Sun. [1] “Archangels are also called Spirits of Fire, and the Primeval Beginnings...[also] Archangeloi or Fire Spirits ... [T]hey bring single lives [2] into harmonious order with the life of larger human groups, as, for instance, nations, races, etc. Within our earth's evolution the Archangels’ task is to bring into certain harmonious relationship each single soul with the national or race-soul. [3]” — R. Steiner, 

THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110.

 [See “Polytheism”.]

Four of the Archangels are associated with the seasons of the year. Raphael, the archangel of Mercury, exerts particular influence during spring; Uriel (or Oriphiel), the archangel of Saturn, becomes predominant in summer; Michael, archangel of the Sun, has particular influence in autumn; Gabriel, archangel of the Moon, becomes predominant in winter. [See Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE ARCHANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008).]

Seven Archangels operate, on a rotating basis, to oversee 350-year-old phases of human history. "Of the many archangels, Rudolf Steiner mentions seven in particular who alternate as serving Epoch Spirits. [4] These seven archangels are: Oriphiel (200 BC - 150 AD), Anael (150-500), Zachariel (500-850), Raphael (850-1190), Samael (1190-1510), Gabriel (1510-1879), Michael (1879-2300). This sequence should be understood as a repeating cycle".

 — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 9.



 ◊ 7. Spirits of Personality, Archai, First Beginnings, Principalities, 
 Original Forces, Spirits of an Age, Spirits of Epochs, 
 Primeval Beginnings, Primeval Forces, Time Spirits, 
Zeitgeists, Spirits of Selfhood ◊ 

 ◊ 8. Fire Spirits, Archangels, Sons of Fire, Spirits of Fire, 
 Agnishvattas, Solar Pitris ◊ 

 ◊ 9. Sons of Twilight, Sons of Life, Angels, 
 Spirits of Dusk, Lunar Pitris ◊ 

According to Anthroposophical belief, there are nine ranks of gods divided into three tiers or "hierarchies." Archangels are gods of the eighth rank — they stand at the middle level of the Third Hierarchy.

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, to be "human" is to stand at a particular stage of evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".]

Archangels were human during 

the second incarnation of the solar system, called 

Old Sun [See "Old Sun"]; they subsequently evolved to become gods.

[2] I.e., individual human beings.

[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "folk soul", "nation spirit", and "race soul".

[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Time Archangels".

Archetypal Stage of Form - also see archetypes; Higher Spiritland Stage of Form; Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life; stages of form


This is the seventh and final stage of form in our condition of life. [1] At this stage, we fully attain the form the gods intend for us at our current evolutionary level — a form established by the gods as an ideal model or archetype. Empowered by the gods, we are able to attain this form through our own efforts. "This [stage] comprises the creative forces and purposes of the archetypes [2] ... [Each person at this level] is in a state of absolute mobility and absolute self-control, able to shape everything out of itself [3] ... Through Intuition the deeds of individual beings from the ranks of the Hierarchies [4] can be grasped ... Progressive human beings [5] are indeed sun beings [at this stage] [6], and Christ, who has been the Earth Spirit [7], is once again the Spirit of the Sun, the Sun Genius. [8] But there is also a Sun Demon...Sorath [9] who seduces especially those who abuse spiritual forces in the practice of black magic [10] ... [Sorath] draws them down into the Abyss. [11]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2009), pp. 98-99.  (Note that Seddon's descriptions of these matters, like Steiner's, incline toward our own evolution. Terms would need to be adjusted if we sought to accurately describe the experiences of other beings who have evolved through their own equivalent evolutions.)


 • STAGES OF FORM • ....

 ◊ 1. Higher Spiritland ◊                                ◊ 7. Archetypal Stage ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Lower Spiritland ◊                   ◊ 6. Intellectual Stage ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Astral Stage ◊    ◊ 5. Perfected Astral Stage ◊ 

          ◊ 4. Physical Stage ◊ ..............

We currently live in the condition of life called, occultly, the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life. Within this condition of life, we evolve through seven subdvisions called, occultly, stages of form. The Archetypal Stage is the seventh of these stages of form. In the course of the seven stages of form, we descend, in steps, from Higher Spiritland to the Physical Stage of Form (this is a descent, as it were, from spirituality to physicality). Then we reascend, in steps, arriving finally at the Archetypal Stage of Form (this is an ascent, as it were, from physicality to spirituality). The fifth stage of form is a perfected version of the third; the sixth is a perfected version of the second; the Archetypal Stage is a perfected version of the first.

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, we evolve upward through seven prolonged stages of increasing spiritual consciousness; these stages are generally called conditions of consciousness. Each condition of consciousness consists of seven shorter periods that may be termed conditions of life, and each of these consists of seven still shorter periods that may be termed conditions or stages of form. [See "Matters of Form" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "design".] The term "Archetypal Stage of Form" may also be applicable to the final stage in other conditions of life, but the realities encountered there may be very different. 
[2] See the entry for "archetypes," below.
[3] I.e., each can act as an archetype.
[4] I.e., gods. Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods; these are divided into three groupings called hierarchies. [See "Polytheism".]
[5] I.e., human beings who are evolving properly.
[6] I.e., they are spiritually connected to the divine powers of the Sun, especially Christ, who is the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]
[7] Steiner taught that the Sun God became the Earth Spirit by joining with the Earth at Golgotha (the blood of his host, Jesus, flowed into the Earth during the Crucifixion). Golgotha is Calvary.
[8] I.e., when his work on Earth is completed, the Sun God returns to the Sun. ("Spirit of the Sun" and "Sun Genius" are alternate terms for "Sun God".)
[9] I.e., Sorat, the Antichrist. [See "Bad, Badder, Baddest".]
[10] See "Magic".
[11] See the entry for "Abyss", above.

archetypes - also see Archetypal Stage of Form; Platonism; polytheism

a) Typical examples, models, recurrent motifs.

b) According to Steiner, archetypes are spiritual beings who manifest as thoughts outside the brain or mind: They are perfect spiritual models for incarnated beings, they are the spiritual powers that find expression in physical phenomena. Seen in the largest sense, archetypes are the macrocosmic forces — divinities, gods — giving shape to the phenomena of the material universe, phenomena that are tiny, imperfect copies of their spiritual progenitors. All divine forces, all gods, may thus be deemed to be, in this sense, archetypes. “Occult investigation [1] shows decisively that all the things which surround us in this world — the mineral foundation, the vegetable covering, and the animal world [2] — should be regarded as the physiognomical expression, or the ‘below,’ of an ‘above’ or spirit life lying behind them. [3] From the point of view taken by occultism [4], the things presented to us in the sense world can only be rightly understood if our knowledge includes cognition of the ‘above,’ the spiritual archetype, the original Spiritual Beings [5], whence all things manifest have proceeded.” — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1922), pp. 11-12.

[1] I.e., spiritual science — the use of clairvoyance to penetrate spiritual mysteries.
[2] I.e., the mineral, plant, and animals kingdoms.
[3] I.e., the phenomena of the physical world are incarnations or expressions of spiritual beings or powers. That which is "below" (i.e., on the physical level of existence) reflects what is "above" (i.e., in the spirit realm).
[4] As Steiner used this term, it applies to investigation of hidden spiritual truths. Steiner identified himself as an occultist: a spiritual investigator. [See Occultism".]
[5] I.e., gods. [See "Polytheism".]

architecture - see organic architecture

Archon - also see Archai; cultural epochs; Spirits of an Age; Time Spirits

According to Steiner: a spiritual planetary ruler during a particular cultural epoch: a Spirit of an Age, one of the Archai or Spirits of Personality. [1] Archons (or Archai) are generally beneficent, helping to steer humanity in the correct direction. However, Steiner taught that there are also evil Archons who would mislead humanity. Thus, for instance, ◊ "Satan...is an exalted ahrimanic power [2] with the rank of an Archon (Spirit of Personality), who not only aims to throw human evolution off course, but even to throw the whole earth out of orbit. [3]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 98. ◊ "The Archons ... Rudolf Steiner would call them Ahrimanic demons." — D. Tresemer, THE VENUS ECLIPSE OF THE SUN 2012 (Lindisfarne Books, 2011), p. 44. [4]

[1] These are gods three levels above mankind. [See "Polytheism" and the entry for "Archai", above.] A cultural epoch is an historical age such as the Greco-Roman Age. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "epochs" and "cultural epochs".]
[2] I.e., a demonic spirit allied with Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]
[3] In Anthroposophical discourse, the name "Satan" often applies to Ahriman himself. [See "Evil Ones".] However, a distinction is sometimes made, in which case Satan is seen as a servant of Ahriman. (Steiner sometimes acknowledged that planets orbit the Sun, but on numerous occasions he denied it. [See"Deception".])
[4] This goes too far. Not all Archons are demons, according to Steiner; the majority serve the divine cosmic plan. [See the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.]

Aries - also see astrology; constellations; Mars; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (Mar. 22-April 20) ... [R]uling planet, Mars ... [Q]ualities — ambitious, sincere, industrious, courageous, pioneering, idealistic, high-spirited, loyal, generous, determined, energetic; but can be completely self-centered, unfeeling, and over-involved in projects." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 42. ◊ "Aries rules the head and is symbolized by the ram ... Aries [represents] human beings in whom the Ego [1] is active ... [T]he Aries force forever flies off a center to the periphery and beyond ... This frequently produces negation and barrenness in the native who is unaware of himself as a being of soul and spirit [2] and who is not cognizant of the purpose of life on Earth. [3]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS ON THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 26-27.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Aries. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Aries. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Arise, oh shining light,/Take hold of growth and becoming,/Lay hold of the weaving of forces,/Yourself ray forth, life-wakening./In face of resistance, gain;/In stream of time, disperse;/Oh shine of light, abide!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] This is the spiritual ego, divine individuality. [See "Ego".]
[2] Steiner taught that human beings have both souls and spirits. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[3] The purpose of life on Earth, Steiner taught, is to progress toward higher evolutionary/spiritual forms, in large part by discharging one's karma. Our mission on Earth now is entwined with the mission of the Archangel Michael. Our evolution is similarly connected with the evolution of the cosmos as a whole, as we and the gods attain higher and higher levels of consciousness. [See "Karma", "Michael", and the entry for "evolution of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.]

Aristotle - also see "I"; initiate, initiation; logic; philosophy; Plato; reincarnation; science; zoology

a) "Aristotle, Greek Aristoteles, (born 384 BCE, Stagira, Chalcidice, Greece—died 322, Chalcis, Euboea), ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, one of the greatest intellectual figures of Western history ... Aristotle’s intellectual range was vast, covering most of the sciences and many of the arts ... He was the founder of formal logic ... [H]e pioneered the study of zoology ... [H]e is, of course, most outstanding as a philosopher. His writings in ethics and political theory as well as in metaphysics and the philosophy of science continue to be studied ... [I]n 367, Aristotle migrated to Athens, where he joined the Academy of Plato (c. 428–c. 348 BCE). He remained there for 20 years as Plato’s pupil and colleague ... When Plato died about 348...Aristotle left Athens ... [Later] Aristotle, now 50 years old...established his own school." — "Aristotle", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, accessed June 8, 2020.

b) "Steiner tells us that Aristotle was himself a great initiate and a highly developed individuality [possessing a highly developed spiritual ego or 'I'] who had already passed through important previous earth lives. It was precisely because of this spiritual background that he was able to perform his difficult task of transmuting the living ideas and thoughts of his predecessors [especially Plato] into material satisfying to the analytical mind that was coming into existence ... Whereas Plato had held that abstract ideas, or archetypes, are exclusively of a spiritual nature...Aristotle taught that the human mind can draw forth (ab-stract) the universal ideas from the sense perceptible objects, precisely because these contain both a physical element...and a non-physical element, The student of Ryudolf Steiner's philosophy will recognize the similarity of this theory to Steiner's own epistemology." — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 69-70.

arithmetic - also see mathematics

Arithmetic or elementary mathematics is generally not taught in Waldorf schools until the children reach age seven, as the teachers wait for the children's etheric bodies to incarnate. [See "Incarnation".] Once math instruction begins, it is given a subtle but pervasive mystical significance. ◊ "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." — R. Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94. ◊ “Mathematical science teaches the way to become independent of sense-perception [1], and at the same time it teaches the surest path; for though indeed its truths are acquired by supersensible means [2], they can always be confirmed in the realm of the senses ... No one can become an Occultist [3] who is not able to accomplish within himself the transition from thought permeated with sense to thought emancipated from sense-perception." — R. Steiner, “Mathematics and Occultism” (THE ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. 6, No. 28), GA 35.

Steiner taught that various arithmetical operations are more congenial to children who have particular temperaments than to children who have other temperments. [4] Thus, for example, phlegmatic children do well with addition while melancholic children are comfortable with subtraction, he said. [See "Mystical Math".]

[1] A key goal of Anthroposophists is to develop clairvoyance, which they deem a form of cognition that is freed from dependence on the ordinary senses. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] Here, Steiner indicates that mathematics — which deals with concepts that stand apart from the particularities of ordinary existence — moves us toward such transcendent perception. Steering children toward development of clairvoyant abilities is an underlying objective in Waldorf math instruction. Of all the branches of mathematics, Steiner said geometry has the greatest spiritual effect: Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — R. Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92.
[2] I.e., means that do not depend on the ordinary senses. "Supersensible" may be taken, approximately, as a synonym for "supernatural" or "extrasensory."
[3] Steiner was a professed occultist — he claimed to possess secret knowledge that is hidden from people who rely on the ordinary senses and the physical brain. 
[See "Occultism".]
[4] See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".

art - see arts; arts-intensive Waldorf curriculum; crafts; music; shaded drawing; painting; wet-on-wet painting; veil painting

Arthur, King - also see Holy Grail; mystery streams; pagan

a) A legendary king of Britain (possibly based on a Romano-British tribal chief, 5th or 6th century AD). Legends tell of his quest, alongside his "Knights of the Round Table," for the Holy Grail. [See "Grail".]

b) According to Steiner, Arthur was a real person, an initiate — in effect, a proto-Anthroposophist. "After Atlantis sank [1], great initiates [2] led two main streams of people from west to east, one through Africa, the other through Europe ... [T]he northern stream of initiates raised a strong, powerful stock of people who not only knew how to spite their enemies but were also physically a match for demonic influences. [3] At various locations in Europe there were mystery centers [4], the existence of which is reported in many old sagas. For example, behind the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table is hidden a report of such a secret school. [5] King Arthur was a high initiate who made known the wisdom of the mysteries to his pupils." — R. Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007) p. 427. [See “Pagan”.]


Traditional image of Arthur,
the legendary British king.
[Etching by Gustave Doré.]

[1] See "Atlantis".
[2] I.e., spiritual leaders who possess occult knowledge. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[3] I.e., they were strong enough to resist demons. [See "Evil Ones".]
[4] A mystery center is a location where initiates delve into spiritual mysteries (hidden or occult knowledge of the spirit realm).
[5] Mystery centers are "schools" if occult knowledge is divulged to aspirants there.

Arthur stream, Arthurian stream - see mystery streams.

arts - also see arts-intensive Waldorf curriculum; beauty; colors; crafts; eurythmy; music; shaded drawing; wet-on-wet painting; veil painting

At Waldorf schools, the arts are thought to have spiritual powers and benefits; arts are emphasized in order to attain such powers and benefits. “This is what gives art its essential lustre: it transplants us here and now into the spiritual world.” — R. Steiner, quoted in THE GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961), p. 25. When considering such statements by Steiner and his followers, you should realize that they are meant literally, not figuratively. Thus, for instance, Steiner said “In having people do eurythmy [1], we link them directly to the supersensible world. [2]” — R. Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247. 

For Steiner and his followers, linking to the spiritual or supersensible world is a central goal. Pursuit of this goal is woven into the Waldorf curriculum, although the religious nature of Waldorf education is often kept hidden. [3] Steiner taught that art comes to us from the spirit realm; the true origin of art lies with the gods, so performing or creating art is effectively a religious activity. "It is only during our materialistic age that...we have forgotten the supersensible origin of art.”  — R. Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY, p. 238. Characteristic forms of art found in Anthroposophical communities and Waldorf schools seek to evoke and express spirituality. Thus, young Waldorf students are taught a style of painting — "wet on wet" watercoloring — that produces images that approximate Steiner's descriptions of the spirit realm, while older students are taught a second style — "veil painting" — that suggests the soul's capacity to pierce the veil of illusion and see clairvoyantly into the spirit realm. [4]

The Anthroposophical take on art is revealed in such books as ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), and ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996). 

[See “Magical Arts” and the entry "arts-intensive Waldorf curriculum," below.]

[1] This is a form of dance performed by Steiner's followers and usually made a required activity in Waldorf schools. [See "Eurythmy".]
[2] I.e., the spiritual realm. "Supersensible" may be taken to mean, approximately, supernatural or extrasensory. 
[3] See "Secrets".
[4] See "Wet-on-Wet", the entry in this encyclopedia for "veil painting", and "Anthroposophical Art".

arts-intensive Waldorf curriculum - also see alternative education; arts; progressive education

Arts are stressed in Waldorf schools, and this tends to make the schools attractive. But the purpose of the arts at Waldorfs is occult: The goal is to enter the spirit realm and invoke spiritual presences. ”This is what gives art its essential lustre: it transplants us here and now into the spiritual world.” — R. Steiner, quoted in THE GOETHEANUM: School of Spiritual Science (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961), p. 25. ◊ Wet-on wet watercolor painting, perhaps the most characteristic form of Waldorf art, creates images representative of the spirit realm as Steiner described it, a place of colors and tones but indeterminate forms. "[W]hen the soul arrives on earth [1]...it has come down from spirit-soul worlds [2] in which there are no spatial forms ... But though the world from which the soul descends has no spatial forms or lines, it does have color intensities, color qualities. Which is to say that the world man inhabits between death and a new birth...is a soul-permeated, spirit-permeated world of light, of color, of tone; a world of qualities not quantities; a world of intensities rather than extensions.” — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), p. 23.

According to Waldorf belief, colors have spiritual properties. [3] “We have seen that colours...are windows through which we can ascend spiritually into the spiritual world.” — R. Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2010), p. 111. ◊ Music, too, is meant to have spiritual effects. “[O]n listening to music, [a person] has an inkling...of the spiritual world.” — R. Steiner, quoted in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER, John Fletcher (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 136. [4] ◊ The special Anthroposophical type of dance, eurythmy, is meant to create an immediate connection to the spirit realm. “Eurythmy shapes and moves the human organism in a way that furnishes direct external proof of our participation in the supersensible world. [5] In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible world.” — R. SteinerART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 247. [6]

Much of the artwork (drawings and paintings) produced in Waldorf schools is intended for inclusion in the students' notebooks or "lesson books." [7] These purport to record the material studied during various portions of the school year. The books can be colorful and striking, but they may also mislead the students' parents, giving the impression that much more has been learned than is actually the case. The students assemble the books primarily by copying material that their teachers place on classroom chalkboards. The students may not be quizzed on this material or required to memorize much subject matter. [8] Indeed, so much time may be spent on creation of the lesson books that little else gets accomplished. As one prominent Waldorf educator has acknowledged, “Copying is the curse of the Waldorf Schools. There is altogether too much of it, and it is not confined to the elementary school. In high school, where there is much less excuse for it, it still goes on. The way in which many [Waldorf] teachers organize their work implies that they consider that the whole object of the course is the creation of a gorgeous notebook. And the way in which some teachers judge the work of other teachers implies the same thing.” — K. Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. 132. [9]

[1] I.e., at birth.
[2] Steiner taught that we have both souls (our immaterial selves in one incarnation) and spirits (our immortal immaterial selves, which we carry through all incarnations). The "spirit-soul" (or the "soul-spirit") is the combination of these two. Steiner likewise taught that above the physical universe are the soul world and the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".] The term "spirit-soul worlds" encompasses both.
[3] See "Mystical Colors".
[4] See “Magical Arts”.
[5] The supersensible world is essentially the spirit realm — it is beyond the reach of our ordinary senses. (Note that Steiner often used different terms for the same things. The supersensible world is essentially the combined spirit-soul world(s).
[6] See "Eurythmy".
[8] Waldorf schools generally de-emphasize memorization. [See "Report Card".] Certainly, there is more to education than memorizing; but committing some material to memory —mastering or learning the material — is essential in any genuine educational system.
[9] See "His Education".

arupa conditions of form - see Archetypal Stage of Form; Higher Spiritland Stage of Form; stages of form

During his Theosophical phase, Steiner employed the terms "arupa" and "conditions of form"; he later amended them. In Theosophical terminology, adapted from Sanskrit and Hinduism, "arupa" means bodiless. The first arupa condition of form — the initial condition in a sequence of seven — is what Steiner later termed the Higher Spiritland Stage of Form. The second arupa condition of form — the last of seven, coming after a spirit has descended into physicality and then reascended — is what Steiner later termed the Archetypal Stage of Form. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Archetypal Stage of Form",  "Higher Spiritland Stage of Form", and "stages of form".] 

Aryan Epoch - also see Aryans; great epochs; Post-Atlantean Epoch

This is one of the labels Steiner attached to the present stage of human development, a period defined by the Aryan race. [1] "In the Aryan epoch, what had taken place in an earlier epoch was introduced into man's thinking as religion, making a stage by stage recapitulation. We are in the fifth Sub-Race of the Aryan Root-Race. [2]" — R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), pp. 190-191. Such language is more characteristic of Steiner's Theosophical period than his later Anthroposophical period. In his later period, Steiner more typically referred to the present epoch of human development as the "Post-Atlantean Epoch" — that is, the first epoch following the destruction of Atlantis. [3] This is how the epoch is generally labeled in Anthroposophical literature today. [4]

The root races generally bear the names of the epochs in which they predominate. Thus, the root races to date, in order, have been the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, Atlantean, and Aryan root races. However, Steiner cautioned his followers that tracing the histories of races, especially as they exist in the current epoch, is complex. "If we want to have a picture in our minds of the migrations of the Fifth Root Race (Aryan), we must realize at the very outset that it is difficult to see clearly in this chaos. Descendants of many earlier races have continued to exist among us, and even in the Fourth Root Race (Atlantean) there was a population which spread out like rays and was itself mixed with descendants of other races. The peoples of Southern Asia are remains of the population of ancient Lemuria, whose descendants are still to be found in the interior of Australia. Remains of the Fourth Root Race (Atlantean) are to be found in Western and Northern Asia and in Southern Europe. That is the soil into which the branches of the Fifth Root Race (Aryan) were implanted." — R. Steiner, "The Migrations of the Races" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive).


 • GREAT EPOCHS • .....

 ◊ 1. Polarian Epoch ◊                                  ◊ 7. Epoch of Trumpets ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Hyperborean Epoch ◊                  ◊ 6. Epoch of Seals ◊ ...

 ◊ 3. Lemurian Epoch ◊   ◊ 5. Post-Atlantean Epoch ◊ 
        ...................     (Aryan Epoch           
 ◊ 4. Atlantean Epoch ◊ ..... 
According to Theosophical/Anthroposophical teachings, our history on the planet Earth during our present condition of consciousness, condition of life, and stage of form [5] includes seven major periods or "great epochs". [6] We currently live in the fifth of these major periods, sometimes called the Aryan Epoch or, more frequently now, the Post-Atlantean Epoch.

[1] See the entry for "Aryans", below.
[2] In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, "sub-races" are subdivisions of root races. During each epoch, one root race is meant to exist — it is the form of humanity appropriate to that epoch. Within the root race are various sub-races. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "root races: and "sub-races".] Steiner also taught that, because of the interference of Ahriman and Lucifer, races that should have died out — races that should not exist now — have continued to exist. [See "Steiner's Racism".]
[3] See "Atlantis".
[4] The term "Aryan Epoch" appears prominently in the work of American Rosicrucian Max Heindel: "The present Epoch is called the Aryan Epoch." — M. Heindel, THE ROSICRUCIAN COSMO-CONCEPTION (Rosicrucian Fellowship, 1911) p. 165. (Steiner claimed that Heindel cribbed much of his material from him and his colleagues: "A man from America learned our teaching over a period of many months, wrote it down, brought it to America in a watered down version and then published a Rosicrucian Theosophy, which he copied from us." — R. Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Anthroposophic Press, 2006), lecture 5, GA 148.)
[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness", "conditions of life", and "stages of form".
[6] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "epochs" and "great epochs".

Aryans - also see Aryan Epoch; race; root races

a) Indo-European people who invaded Indian in the second century BC.

b) In Nazi ideology, non-Jewish Caucasians.

c) In Theosophy/Anthroposophy, the root race of our evolutionary period. [1] “The ancestors of the Atlanteans lived in a region [2] which has disappeared ... After they had passed through various stages of development the greatest part of them declined. These became stunted men, whose descendants still inhabit certain parts of the earth today as so-called savage tribes. [3] Only a small part of Lemurian humanity was capable of further development. From this part the Atlanteans were formed. Later, something similar took place. The greatest part of the Atlantean population declined, and from a small portion are descended the so-called Aryans [4] who comprise present-day civilized humanity [5] ... [T]he Lemurians, Atlanteans, and Aryans are root races of mankind.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Garber Communications, 1990), pp. 45-46. [See “Atlantis and the Aryans”.]

In denying that Anthroposophy is racist, Steiner's followers often claim that everyone alive today is — regardless of skin color — an "Aryan." However, Steiner taught that many people today are members of outdated racial groups that, due to demonic interference, have persisted down to the present. “Lucifer and Ahriman [6]...managed to change the whole process ... While there should have been basically only one form of human being...Lucifer and Ahriman preserved [earlier racial types] ... Thus, forms that should have disappeared remained. Instead of racial diversities developing consecutively, older racial forms remained unchanged and newer ones began to evolve at the same time. Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time. [7]” — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 75. [See "Steiner's Racism".]

[1] In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, a "root race" is the form of humanity meant to exist during a particular stage of evolution. Root races are divided into sub-races.
[2] I.e., Lemuria. Lemurians were the proto-humans who lived on that continent. Atlanteans were the proto-humans of Atlantis (the same beings, having evolved to a higher stage).
[3] Although, in some Theosophical and Anthroposophical accounts, all humans alive at any one time are deemed members of a single root race and thus are said to stand at the same level of development, here and elsewhere Steiner distinguishes between lower and higher races — e.g., savages as opposed to civilized humans.
[4] Steiner often distanced himself slightly from terms that he used. Thus, here, he speaks of "so-called Aryans." Such formulations allowed him to suggest that the common understanding of most matters was at least partly mistaken, whereas he himself possessed deeper, truer understanding. (Note that later he refers to Aryans without any distancing, qualifying phrases.)
[5] I.e., most people deteriorated to lower levels of development, but a small group proved capable of evolving higher.
[6] These are arch-demons. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".]
[7] I.e., lower, older (less evolved) human types exist alongside higher, newer (more evolved) types. In this formulation, "coexistence of races" is a bad thing, resulting from the action of demons.

Asia, Asians - also see abnormal; Chinese people; Malayan race; Mongolian race

According to Steiner, Asia is the home of abnormal humans [1] descended from one branch of the peoples of Atlantis. [2] The main Asian sub-races [3] are Malayans and Mongols. In the hierarchy of races, Steiner said, Asians (yellow-skinned) embody the adolescent stage, between blacks (childish) and whites (adult). Asians live largely through their emotions, whereas blacks rely on instinct, and whites use their powers of thinking. [4] Asia is associated with Lucifer (the light-bearer, in the eastern land of the sunrise — from a European perspective), a demonic gift-bearer and tempter. Like other nonwhite races, Asians represent unproductive side-streams, branching off from the correct central stream of human evolution, Steiner indicated. ◊ "How can we fail to realise that the Asiatic peoples have retained certain cultural impulses of past earthly epochs, whereas the Euro-American peoples have advanced beyond them?” — R. Steiner, "The Christ-Impulse as Bearer of the Union of the Spiritual and the Bodily" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 174b. ◊ “[F]undamentally we have two groups of people representing combinations: those on European soil, forming the root stock of the white population, who had predominantly developed the feeling of personality [5] ... On the other hand there are those peoples in Asia with passive, self-effacing natures in whom just this passivity expresses itself in the highest degree. This makes the people dreamy, and the etheric body [6] penetrates very deeply into the physical body. That is the fundamental difference between the European and the Asiatic peoples." — R. Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 120-121. ◊ “Very few inventions have been made in Asia. They [7] can assemble things, but as for inventions themselves, that is, that which arises from experience with the external world, the Asians cannot do this ... This sort of independent thinking which Europeans develop in dealing with their surroundings, the Asians do not have this. The Japanese will therefore follow [8] all the European inventions, but they will never think up something on their own.” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 59. [See “Races”, “Steiner’s Bile”, "Forbidden", and "Steiner's Racism".]

[1] See the entry for "abnormal" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] See the entry for "sub-races" in this encyclopedia.

[4] See "Steiner's Racism".

[5] I.e., individuality. Steiner taught that one becomes truly human by developing a human spiritual ego, an "I." [See "Ego".] Steiner here argues that Europeans have evolved to possess individuality, whereas Asians have not.

[6] The etheric body, Steiner taught, is the lowest of the human invisible bodies, lower than the astral body and the "I." The etheric and physical bodies are earthbound; the astral body and the "I" ascend to the spirit realm at night.  [See "Incarnation".]

[7] I.e., Asians.

[8] I.e., copy or imitate.

Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA)

Coordinating and certifying authority for Waldorf schools on the North American continent. From the Association's website (downloaded 11/22/2015): "The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a non­profit membership organization of independent Waldorf Schools and Institutes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The Association was founded in 1968 to assist schools and institutes in working together to strengthen and nurture Waldorf Education and to advance Waldorf principles. Today there are over 900 Waldorf schools in 83 countries. In North America, there are greater than 160 member schools and 14 teacher education institutes."

asteroids - also see colonies in space; comets

These are small bodies, composed primarily of rock, orbiting the Sun. Most occupy a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. According to Steiner, they are celestial way stations, celestial colonies. “In order that man...may receive, between death and a new birth [1], something of the forces of Jupiter and also of Saturn [2], many planetoids [3] are interspersed between Mars and Jupiter; in their outer aspect they are constantly being discovered by the astronomers. [4] They make up the region which in its spiritual aspect is experienced by a man after death because he cannot yet reach Jupiter. [5] They have the remarkable characteristic of being spiritual colonies, as it were, of beings from Jupiter and Saturn who have withdrawn there. And before a man is ripe for existence on Earth, he can find in this region of the planetoids, which are there for that purpose, a kind of preparatory substitute, before he is able to enter the region of Jupiter and Saturn. [6] At present, therefore, by the time a man has gone through death and rebirth, he has achieved his Mars-organisation [7], and has absorbed those Jupiter and Saturn forces to be found in the colonised regions of the planetoids. With the after-effects of this...the human being embarks on another earthly life.” — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227. [See "Planetary Humans".]

[1] Steiner is referring, here, to the process of reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".]

[2] I.e., the spiritual/astrological influences of Jupiter and Saturn. In our lives between earthly incarnations, Steiner said, we ascend and descend through the spheres of various planets and their gods. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[3] I.e., asteroids.

[4] I.e., astronomers perceive only the outer (physical) body of the asteroids, not their spiritual essence.

[5] I.e., we cannot receive the full impact of Jupiter's influence because we have not yet evolved sufficiently.

[6] I.e., preparing for reincarnation on Earth, we gain some of the benefits of Jupiter and Saturn by spending time among the asteroids.

[7] I.e., organs and capacities conferred by the influence of Mars.

astral beings - also see astral body; astral plane; astral world; cf. etheric beings

According to Anthroposophical doctrine, drawing from Theosophy, these are beings deeply connected with stars and existing on the astral plane. [See “Matters of Form”.] They condescend to have relationships with humans beings; they stoop from the celestial or soul world to deal with us. [1] Their lowest embodiment is the astral body; they have no etheric or physical bodies. [2] “Now in this world-of-soul (let us call it the soul world for the present; medieval philosophers referred to it as the heavenly world or the celestial)...we find beings who are just as real as we are during our life between birth and death, nay, more so. They are, however, beings who do not need to come to embodiment in a physical, or even in an etheric, body. They live — as in their lowest corporeality — in that which we are wont to call the astral body. Constantly, during our life and after our death, we are connected intimately with a large number of these purely astral beings. [4]” — R. Steiner, "On the Connection of the Living and the Dead" (General Anthroposophical Society transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 168.

[1] The soul world is the lower of the two "higher worlds" above the physical plane of existence, Steiner taught. [See "Higher Worids".]

[2] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies: they are the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies (or the "I"). [See "Incarnation".] Beings more highly evolved than humans no longer have the lower bodies — the higher a being stands in the celestial hierarchies, the more completely spiritualized it becomes.

[3] Steiner taught that the higher worlds above the physical world are the soul world and, above it, the spirit world.

[4] The astral beings — spirits of the stars; gods existing on the astral plane and (sometimes) higher — involve themselves with us both during our Earthly lives and during our lives in the spirit realm, between Earthly lives. Essentially, they are gods, although Steiner also discussed other nonphysical beings. [See "Polytheism" and "Beings".]

astral body - also see astral man; astral nature; astral organization; etheric body; nonphysical bodies; spirit body

According to Steiner, the astral body is the second of our nonphysical bodies; it is also called the soul body, faith body, or sentient body. [1] Housing the soul [2], it consists of soul forces/living forces that fine-tune the physical body (which has been shaped by the etheric body). [3] The astral body contains the senses (twelve in all). [4] It incarnates at about age 14, an event marked by the sexual changes of puberty. Once this body develops adequately, it actuates the knowledge-acquiring faculty called inspiration (the second stage toward clairvoyance). [5] Steiner taught that animals also have astral bodies; plants and minerals do not. 

The Waldorf curriculum is keyed to the incarnation of the astral body as well as the etheric body and the “I.” [6] As the various invisible bodies incarnate, we effectively recapitulate former periods of cosmic evolution, Steiner taught. Gods one level above humanity, Angels, implant true clairvoyant images in the astral body. “[T]he astral body is the legacy of the Moon-evolution [7], the etheric body of the Sun-evolution [8], the physical body, in its first rudiments, of the Saturn-evolution [9]... The astral body is the member nearest to the Ego [10] ... The Angels form pictures in man's astral body and these pictures are accessible to thinking that has become clairvoyant.” — R. Steiner, THE WORK OF THE ANGELS IN MAN’S ASTRAL BODY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1960), GA 182.

The astral body is far more attuned to the spirit realm than are the physical and etheric bodies. Indeed, every night, when we sleep, the astral body and the “I” rise into the spirit realm while the physical and etheric bodies remain behind on Earth. During one of his lectures, Steiner drew a diagram [10] showing the astral body and the “I” floating outside the physical body and its attendant etheric body. Describing the diagram, Steiner said: “Here (outline) we have the physical body and the ether body (yellow). It fills the whole of the physical body. And here (right) we have the astral body, which is outside the human being at night (red). At the top it is very small and hugely bulging down below. Then we have the I (violet). This is how we are at night. We are two people in the night." — R. Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 102. Arrows in the diagram show how, after their sojourn in the spirit realm, the astral body and "I" return to the physical and etheric bodies in the morning.

[1] See "Incarnation".

[2] See the entry for "soul" in this encyclopedia; cf. spirit. (Anthroposophists sometimes say the astral body is the soul, but — if we are to be guided by Steiner's teachings — this is only approximately accurate.)

[3] The etheric body is the first of our three nonphysical bodies. Unlike the astral body, it is tightly bound to the physical body.

[5] See "Thinking Cap" and the entry for "inspiration" in this encyclopedia.

[6] The "I" or ego or ego body is the third and highest of our nonphysical bodies. [See "Ego".]

[7] I.e., the third incarnation of the solar system, called Old Moon. [See "Old Moon".]

[8] I.e., the second incarnation of the solar system, called Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".]

[9] I.e., the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]

[10] To see a copy of the diagram, see, e.g., "What a Guy". [Scroll down to "Here (outline)".]

astral conditions of form - see Astral Stage of Form; Perfected Astral Stage of Form; stages of form

astral light - see akasha

astral man - also see astral body; astral plane

This is the portion of a human being that lives on the astral plane, in the astral body. "The astral body [1] is the bearer of feeling, of happiness and suffering, joy and pain, emotions and passions; wishes and desires, too, are anchored in the astral body ... Thus we have the fourfold human being: physical man, etheric man, astral man, [and] ego or 'I '. [2]” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 2, GA 99.

[1] Anthroposophy teaches that fully incarnated humans have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The lowest of the invisible bodies is the etheric body; above it is the astral body; and above that is the ego body or "I." [See "Incarnation".]
[2] Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution: He varyingly said that we consist of three, four, seven, or nine major parts. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".] 

astral nature - also see astral body; astral plane; astral world

According to Steiner, astral nature is either the third division of the sevenfold nature of man, combining Soul Nature (a) and Sentient Soul, or it is the third division of the fourfold nature of man. [1] Steiner taught that, basically, we have a physical body tied to an invisible etheric body; above these are the astral body and the "I". [2] Astral nature is the portion of a being's constitution that functions on the astral plane or in the astral world [3]; it is the essence of the astral body. [4] Most of these terms are relative, however, and have varying meanings in varying circumstances. According to Steiner, many other beings in addition to human beings have astral natures, expressed during life on Earth and elsewhere. ”[I]f we should observe the astral nature of the individual moon-beings clairvoyantly — and we are entirely justified in speaking of them — we would be convinced that the worst and basest feelings that we have on earth are as nothing compared to what is found on the moon. [5] Thus, in respect of the astral, the etheric, and the physical parts of the moon, we may speak of beings, of elements, that had to be expelled so that our earth could pursue its way, free from injurious influences.” — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 6, GA 106. 

[1] See “What We’re Made Of”.

[2] See "Incarnation".

[3] This is the soul world, which is higher than the physical level of existence and lower than the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[4] See the entry for "astral body", above.

[5] See, e.g., "Lunacy".

astral organization - also see astral body; astral nature; astral plane; soul world

According to Anthroposophy, the "astral organization" is the inner structure or constitution of astral forces (forces originating in the astral plane or soul world) that go to make up the astral body. This organization represents one's astral nature. In ordinary Anthroposophical parlance, "astral organization" may be deemed essentially synonymous with "astral body." Influences from the highest of the organizations or bodies flow downward. "In a certain sense, then, we have an invisible man within us ... [W]e can say that this invisible man also contains the ego, the astral organization, the etheric organization...and the physical organization ... During earthly life there is a continuous stream [of forces flowing] from ego to astral body, to etheric body, to physical body." — R. Steiner, THE INVISIBLE MAN WITHIN US (Mercury Press), GA 221.

astral plane - also see astral nature; astral world; soul world

According to Steiner, drawing from Theosophy, this is the soul world. [1] In Anthroposophical texts, it is alternately described as existing above the etheric plane or as including the etheric plane. [2] In the latter, more common description, it is the realm of "ether" beings — the imaginative world, also sometimes called the elementary world, and as such it is the first "higher world" we enter when we are initiated [3] or fall asleep or die. Astral beings, who are essentially akin to our true selves, dwell on the astral plane. “As soon as an initiate enters the astral plane he comes to know a whole series of new beings who are utterly unrepresented on the physical plane, and who yet appear to be beings such as he is himself. [4]” — R. Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS IN OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Health Research Books, 1996), p. 111.

[1] The soul world is higher than the physical level of existence and lower than the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".]
[2] See the entry for "etheric realm" in this encyclopedia. (Note that Steiner's terminology was not always consistent. He sometimes used different words for the same thing, or the same word for different things.)
[3] Initiation, in the sense used here, is admission to the inner circle of occultists, those who possess secret spiritual wisdom. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[4] Essentially, these beings are gods, although Steiner also discussed other nonphysical beings. [See "Polytheism" and "Beings".]

astral sheath - also see astral body; incarnation; sheath

A protective, nonphysical covering within which the astral body [1] gestates; in effect, it is an astral womb. It drops away, merging again with the surrounding spirit realm, when the astral body is born or incarnated. "In ordinary life, when the protective astral sheath is cast off in the course of development and the astral body is actually born, the sheath dissolves into the universal astral world. [2]" — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 4, GA 114.

[1] See the entry for "astral body", above.
[2] See the entry for "astral world", below.

astral slap - also see discipline

In Waldorf schools, a nonphysical blow, used for nonphysical discipline. “If you give them [i.e., students] a slap, you should do it the way Dr. Schubert [one of the Waldorf teachers] does ... There are physical slaps and astral slaps. It doesn’t matter which one you give, but you cannot slap a child sentimentally.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 323. [See "Slaps".]

Astral Stage of Form - also see astral beings; astral world; stages of form

According to Anthroposophical doctrine, drawing heavily from Theosophy, we evolve through seven long evolutionary periods, which may be called conditions of consciousness. Each condition of consciousness contains seven sub-periods, which may be termed conditions of life. Likewise, each condition of life contains seven shorter phases, which may be termed stages of form. [1] 

We currently live in the Physical Stage of Form. Prior to this, we evolved through the Astral Stage of Form. That stage was very different from what we experience now, so it is difficult for us to describe, but it was the third stage of our descent toward physical existence within the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life. [2] Having descended, as it were, from the higher regions of the spirit world (Higher Spiritland) to the lower regions of the spirit world (Lower Spiritland), we entered the soul world, otherwise called the astral world (the Astral Stage). [3] Having completed our evolution in the Astral Stage of Form, we proceeded to physical existence (the Physical Stage).

The three worlds (the spirit world, the soul world, and the physical world) are tightly interconnected, occupying the same "space." Our activities in the astral world produce manifestations in the physical world, and vice versa — the astral world as we experience it is at least partly populated by astral beings — good and bad — that we ourselves created during previous evolutionary cycles. [4] We thus, in a sense, create our own astral stage. "All our earthly actions [5] are...accompanied by astral beings [6], leaving a trail behind us; the astral stage of form is therefore already prepared [7] ... [A]ny karmic effects we produced objectively as grotesque astral beings must still be adjusted [8] ... The fruits of all we have done [previously] unfold again as astral forms.... [9]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2009), p. 93.


 • STAGES OF FORM •  ....

 ◊ 1. Higher Spiritland ◊                           ◊ 7. Archetypal Stage ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Lower Spiritland ◊                   ◊ 6. Intellectual Stage ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Astral Stage ◊    ◊ 5. Perfected Astral Stage ◊ 

       ◊ 4. Physical Stage ◊ ..............

We currently live in the condition of life called, occultly, the Mineral Kingdom. Within this condition of life, we evolve through seven subdvisions called, occultly, stages of form. The Astral Stage is the third of these. Essentially, we descend, in steps, from higher spiritland to the physical stage, then we reascend, in steps, arriving finally at the archetypal stage. The fifth stage of form is a perfected version of the third; the sixth is a perfected version of the second; the seventh is a perfected version of the first.

[1] See "Matters of Form" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness", "conditions of life", and "stages of form".
[2] The Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life is the fourth of the seven conditions of life. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life".]
[3] See "Higher Worlds" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit world", "astral world", and "soul world".
[4] We lead many lives, Steiner taught, incarnating over and over. Steiner usually said there will be seven conditions of consciousness, each of which contains seven conditions of life, each of which in turn contains seven stages of form. Hence, there are 49 conditions of life overall (7 x 7), and 343 stages of form overall (7 x 7 x 7). We pass through all of these as we evolve, reincarnating repeatedly. [See "Reincarnation".]
[5] I.e., actions performed during our lives on Earth, especially during the fourth condition of consciousness, called Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".] Steiner taught that we currently live on the planet Earth as it is incarnated now, within the Present Earth condition of consciousness. We lead a series of Earthly lives interspersed with lives in the spirit realm when we are "dead." Actions we take during one evolutionary cycle affect conditions we experience during subsequent cycles. We create our own karma. [See "Karma".]
[6] I.e., spirit beings, largely of our own making. (Our actions, words, and even thoughts have spiritual consequences. In a sense, they create spirits or spirit beings that live on, separate from ourselves.)
[7] I.e., the spirit beings we created during our various prior lives exist on the astral plane and constitute a large portion of the astral realities we will encounter in our subsequent lives.
[8] I.e., if we through error or evil produced deformed astral beings, we must confront these and deal with them as we work out our karma.
[9] I.e., shapes or beings in the astral world.

l vision - also see clairvoyance; imagination; pictorial thinking; cf. inspiration; intuition.

According to Steiner, this is the first, lowest form of clairvoyance: imagination. [1] Using it, one finds images or symbols that represent spiritual truths. At later, higher levels of cognition — inspiration, intuition [2] — we pass beyond these symbols to see the Truth directly. "[E]xact, correct observation [3] appears at first in symbols. If man concentrates for instance on his spinal cord, it is a fact that he always sees [4] a snake. He may perhaps also dream of a snake, because this is the creature which was placed out in the world when the spinal cord was formed [5], and has remained at this stage. The snake is the spinal column outwardly projected into the world. This pictorial way of seeing things is astral vision (Imagination)." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 1, GA 93a.

[1] See the entry for "imagination" in this encyclopedia.
[2] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.
[3] In general, "correct" observation, for Anthroposophists, entails piercing the veil of illusion. The observer moves past the limitations of the ordinary senses, developing higher powers of observation and cognition (essentially, clairvoyance). The goal is to attain "exact" clairvoyance. [See "Exactly".]
[4] I.e., imagines. The image is not an invention or fantasy, Steiner says — it is a true perception of a spiritual fact or link. Snakes truly embody the essence of the spinal cord.
[5] Steiner taught that animals evolved from humans — they branched off from the human evolutionary line at various stages of development. Snakes branched off when the human spinal cord was developed.

astral world - also see astral plane; Devachan; soul world

In general, in Anthroposophy, this is the soul world or astral plane, intermediate between the physical and spiritual worlds. “The three worlds are 1. The physical world, the scene of human life. 2. The astral world or the world of soul. 3. The devachanic world [1] or world of spirit. The three worlds are not spatially separate. We are surrounded by the things of the physical world which we perceive with our ordinary sense, but the astral world is in the same space; we live in the other two worlds, the astral and devachanic worlds, at the same time as we live in the physical world. [2]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 10-11. Sometimes Steiner specified that the gods of the astral world speak to us through colors, musical tones, and other elements of the arts. [3]

Steiner's varying use of terms can cause confusion. Sometimes, instead of distinguishing the astral world from the world of spirit, he used the term "astral world" to denote the entire universe that lies beyond the reach of our senses. Defined in this way, the "Astral World" contains multiple worlds. “The Astral World  As long as we are only observing the physical world, the Earth as our dwelling-place appears like a separate cosmic body. However, if supersensible cognition [4] rises to the level of other worlds, this separation ceases [5] ... In addition to the Earth’s supersensible aspect, other cosmic bodies [6] that are physically separate from the Earth are embedded in the world [7] that we enter in this way. Those who perceive supersensible worlds do not observe only the Earth’s supersensible aspect but to begin with they also perceive the supersensible aspect of other cosmic bodies. [8]” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 402.

[1] In Theosophical usage, Devachan is the happy spiritual realm we enter after death. Steiner used this term less after breaking from Theosophy.

[2] The higher worlds infuse the lower, physical world. But Steiner also taught that we can be blinded to, and separated from, the higher worlds despite their imminence. We currently live in a time when the higher worlds are difficult to discern, and we can easily lose contact with them — and hence lose our souls — altogether.

[3] See “Magical Arts”.

[4] I.e., clairvoyance. "Supersensible" may be taken to mean supernatural or extrasensory.

[5] I.e., our consciousness rises to a level at which we perceive that the Earth is profoundly connected to other worlds. All of these worlds are one, in a sense: All are parts of the broadly conceived "Astral World."

[6] In general, planets and their spiritual spheres or regions of influence.

[7] I.e., the "Astral World" defined in this broader sense.

[8] I.e., in this sense, the "astral world" contains many worlds or the supersensible aspects of planets and their spheres. [See "Higher Worlds".]

astrology - also see astrosophy; constellations; horoscope; zodiac; cf. astronomy

A superstitious system that attempts to trace the spiritual or magical influences of the stars and planets on man and the Earth. [1] Horoscopes are drawn in an effort to learn destinies. [2] 

Astrology runs as a broad thread through much of Anthroposophy and its offshoots. ◊ “[T]he old, real, and genuine Astrology expresses itself in the destinies of men. [3]” — R. SteinerROSICRUCIANISM AND MODERN INITIATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965), lecture 3, GA 233a. ◊ “When teaching animal geography, you need to consider the zodiac in connection with what I have just said, that is, look at the projection of the zodiac upon the Earth. [4] You will then find the areas of the animal groups on the Earth. You have some globes where the zodiac is drawn upon the Earth. They will provide you with what you need.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 661. 

Note that in the second quotation, above, Steiner is addressing Waldorf teachers, and he indicates that astrology — or at least the implications of astrology — should be present in Waldorf classrooms. The degree to which this directive is followed varies from one Waldorf school to another, and from one teacher to another. But indeed astrology underlies many Waldorf beliefs and practices. [See "Waldorf Astrology".]


Many Anthroposophical texts deal with astrology. This book was written by a follower who, Steiner said, understood his teachings particularly well. [ANTHROPOSOPHY AND ASTROLOGY - The Astronomical Letters of Elizabeth Vreede (SteinerBooks, 2001).]

[1] See Astrology” and "Star Power".
[2] See "Horoscopes".
[3] Steiner taught that much astrological lore today is false; many astrologers are false. But he also said that "real and genuine" astrology has been practiced and can be practiced still.
[4] I.e., trace the areas of influence various astrological constellations have upon the surface of the Earth. Thus, for instance, different animals exist in different places because different parts of the zodiac affect conditions in various parts of the Earth.

astronomy - also see asteroids; comets; Moon; planets; stars; Sun; cf. astrology; astrosophy

Astronomy is often a required subject in Waldorf schools, especially in sixth or seventh grade. But little real astronomical information is presented. The Anthroposophical view of the heavens is essentially Medieval and akin to astrology. [1] According to Steiner, astronomers — like other "materialistic" scientists — know little or nothing of value. Indeed, scientists are often intentionally misled by occult savants who possess the Truth. (True knowledge of the stars and planets comes through the use of clairvoyance, Steiner taught.) A few of Steiner's statements about astronomical matters: ◊ ”In all occult nomenclature, what astronomers call Venus is called Mercury, and vice versa. Astronomers know nothing of the mysteries behind this, because in the past it was not desired that the esoteric names should be revealed. This happened in order to conceal certain things.” — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 4, GA 107. ◊ “I have spoken to you of the ingenious description of the sun given by astrophysicists. But if it were possible to journey to the sun it would be found with amazement that nothing of what is to be expected from these physical descriptions exists.” — R. Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 35. ◊ “[M]aterialistic physicists would be immensely astonished if they went up into space expecting to find the sun as they describe it in their science. Their descriptions are nonsense. If by some convenient transport the physicists could reach the sun, they would be amazed to find no gas whatsoever. They would find hollow space, a real vacuum. This vacuum radiates light.” — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 143-144. ◊ “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — R. Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93. ◊ “Mars is not densely solid in the sense in which today the earth is solid ... [T]he earth too was once in a condition when mineral, solid matter took shape for the first time ... [T]here were then gigantic animals which, however, had as yet no solid bones. Mars today is in a condition similar to that of the earth in that earlier epoch and therefore also has upon it those living beings, those animal beings which the earth had upon it at that time. And ‘human beings’ on Mars are as they were on the earth at that time — still without bones ... These things can be known. They cannot become known by the means employed in modern science for acquiring knowledge; nevertheless it is possible to know these things. [2]” — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 10, GA 354. The problem for Waldorf teachers when they attempt to teach astronomy is the same problem they face concerning so many other subjects: Their beliefs are incompatible with firmly established factual knowledge — i.e., objective truth.

[1] See “Oh My Stars”.
[2] Steiner "knew" such things thanks to his claimed use of clairvoyance. In his day, long before space probes had been sent to the Moon, Mars, etc., Steiner's statements about astronomical matters may have seemed plausible. But science has long since gained sufficient real astronomical knowledge to disprove Steiner's assertions about the stars, planets, and other astronomical phenomena. [For more, see, e.g., "Deception", "Lunacy", "Mars", and "Vulcan".]

astrosophy - also see astrology; cf. astronomy

As Anthroposophists use this term, it applies to clairvoyant knowledge of the stars and their powers: Anthroposophical astrology. Anthroposophists believe astrosophy is truer than ordinary astrology and vastly better than ordinary astronomy. The approach taken by secular scientists has its uses, Steiner indicated, but to truly understand the stars we need an astronomy that has "deepened" beyond mere physical science. Relying on physical astronomy alone is damaging, Steiner said. ”What is offered by a well-developed astronomy that has deepened into astrology and astrosophy (for one can think of it in that way) is all destroyed for immediate use by [the physical sciences].” — R. Steiner, 

PASTORAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), lecture 10, GA 318. [See "Astrosophy".]

Asuras - also see evil; evil beings; Spirits of Darkness

a) In Indian mythology: evil spiritual beings.

b) In Zoroastrianism: benevolent spiritual beings.

c) In some usages: a name for all spiritual beings.

d) In Theosophy: devils or, according to Steiner, gods equivalent to Spirits of Darkness or Archai. "[Spirits] of 'Darkness' (in Christianity, Archai, in theosophy, Asuras)." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Harper & Row, 1981) chapter 15, GA 11.

e) In Anthroposophy: abnormal Archai [1] who lure humans into extreme egoism. "Asuras are spirits of the very greatest egoism who remained behind during Saturn evolution. [2] They want to condense matter and compress it ever more so that it can't be spiritualized and brought back to its original condition. They're the dregs of the planetary evolution that goes from Saturn to Vulcan. [3] The asuras inhabit the moon and from there they work on the men whom they want to drag down into the eighth sphere [4] and thereby tear away from progressive evolution and its goal — the Christ. [5] All those who strive towards the eighth sphere will eventually live on a moon." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. 

[1] That is, gods who should be three levels higher than humanity but who have not evolved as far as normally they should have. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "abnormal" and "Archai".] Although abnormal gods are not always evil, the Asuras are evil. [See "Evil Ones".]
[2] I.e., during the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]
[3] I.e., the overall pattern of our solar system's evolution, from its first incarnation (Old Saturn) to it the seventh incarnation (Future Vulcan). ["Matters of Form" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".]
[4] I.e., perdition. [See "Sphere 8".]
[5] The goal of human evolution, Steiner often indicated, is to realize the potential given to us by Christ, the Sun God. [See, e.g., "Prototype".] The evil intention of the Asuras is to prevent us from reaching that goal; instead, they would drag us into one version of hell, as described by Steiner. [See "Hell".]


atavistic clairvoyance - also see clairvoyance; natural clairvoyance; cf. exact clairvoyance

Steiner taught that ancient peoples had innate, primitive powers of clairvoyance. With these, they were more directly attuned to the spirit realm than most modern people are. A person who cannot read world phenomena [clairvoyantly] is like a cosmic illiterate where these phenomena are concerned.... In the time of ancient clairvoyance human beings were far less illiterate in the spirit.” — R. Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 111-112. Waldorf teachers generally accept the proposition that ancient peoples had such clairvoyance, and sometimes they convey this belief to their students. "The History curriculum for fifth and sixth grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance]...." — R. Wilkinson, TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).

In general, mankind has lost its ancient, natural clairvoyant powers, Steiner taught. This loss has led to the spiritually blind condition of the modern world, he taught. [1] However, occasionally the old clairvoyance resurfaces, and it is then "atavistic" clairvoyance. This represents a reversion to a lowly form of spiritual vision, not controlled by the "I," our spark of divine identity [2]; it is not "exact" clairvoyance of the type Steiner claimed to possess and that he said others could develop by following his instructions. [3] Sometimes, in Anthroposophic texts, the word "atavistic" is used as a virtual synonym for "ancient," so that various peoples in the past are credited with possessing "atavistic clairvoyance": "If we go back to the ages before the Mysteries [4] to which I am now referring...we find in the regions of civilized humanity people with a primeval atavistic clairvoyance, human beings who, if they spoke of the needs of life, could invoke the impressions of their heart, of their soul, of their inner vision. [5] These people were spread over the regions now called India, Persia, Armenia, North Africa, South Europe, etc." — R. Steiner, THE COSMIC NEW YEAR (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1938), lecture 1, GA 195.

[1] E.g., “When we today — permeated even a little with anthroposophical consciousness — take a walk in the streets, we no longer see human people; rather we see [blind] moles that move about in the smallest of circles....” — R. Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 92.
[2] See "Ego" and the entry for "I" in this encyclopedia.
[3] See "Knowing the Worlds" and "Exactly". Steiner taught that Waldorf teachers should seek to develop high. "exact" clairvoyance, what he called "the Waldorf teacher's consciousness." [See "Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]
[4] I.e., spiritual mysteries. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge".]
[5] "Inner vision" is second sight or clairvoyance.

athletics - see sports; cf. circus arts

Atlantean, Atlanteans - also see Atlantean Epoch; Atlantis

A resident of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans".] ◊ “The ancient Atlantean did not possess a developed intellect and mind, but he was equipped with fine somnambulistic-clairvoyant forces [1]. Logical power...did not exist in ancient Atlantis, for man's faculties of thought and feeling were quite different. At that time, he could not have combined thoughts, nor could he have reckoned, counted, or read, as men do now; yet certain somnambulistic-clairvoyant spiritual forces lived in him. He could understand the language of Nature and could hear God [2] speak to him in the murmuring waves; he could understand the rolling thunder, the rustling forest, the delicate aromas of the flowers; he could understand this language of Nature ... [T]he Atlantean just went out and listened to the sounds of the trees and of the wind and these told him what he had to do." — R. Steiner "The Adept-School of the Past", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET 31/32, 1941, GA 97.

◊ ”While the power to think logically was absent among the Atlanteans (especially the earlier ones), in their highly developed memory they possessed something which gave a special character to everything they did ... Memory is closer to the deeper natural basis of man than reason ... Thus the Atlanteans could control what one calls the life force. [3] As today one extracts the energy of heat from coal and transforms it into motive power for our means of locomotion, the Atlanteans knew how to put the germinal energy [4] of organisms into the service of their technology ... Plants were cultivated in the Atlantean period not merely for use as foodstuffs but also in order to make the energies dormant in them available to commerce and industry ... [T]he Atlanteans had mechanisms in which they — so to speak — burned plant seeds, and in which the life force was transformed into technically utilizable power. The vehicles of the Atlanteans, which floated a short distance above the ground, travelled at a height lower than that of the mountain ranges of the Atlantean period, and they had steering mechanisms by the aid of which they could rise above these mountain ranges.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.


According to Theosophical teachings — which Steiner affirmed during his Theosophical period — the Atlanteans constituted the fourth root race in humanity's evolution: They were the divinely intended racial form of the fourth great epoch. [5] The Atlantean root race, like the others before and since, was comprised of seven sub-races. [6] Here are the Atlantean sub-races (subdivisions of the Atlantean root race):


 ◊ 1. Rmoahals ◊                               ◊ 7. Mongols ◊ 
 ◊ 2. Tlavatlis  ◊                     ◊ 6. Akkadians ◊ 
 ◊ 3. Toltecs ◊     ◊ 5. Primal Semites ◊ 
 ◊ 4. Primal Turanians ◊ 

[1] I.e., the Atlantean had a dreamlike, sleep-walking type of clairvoyant consciousness.

[2] Anthroposophy is polytheistic; it recognize many gods. When Anthroposophical texts refer to "God" (i.e., a one and only Lord of the universe), the reference must be understood to be imagistic rather than literal.

[3] I.e., the spiritual-physical force that makes life possible, conferring strength and vitality, and enabling growth. [See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., primal or basic energy: life force.

[5] See the entries for "root races" and "great epochs" in this encyclopedia.

[6] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "sub-races", "Rmoahals", "Tlavatlis", etc..

Atlantean Epoch - also see Atlantean; Atlantis; great epochs

According to the Anthroposophical account of evolution and history (derived largely from Theosophy), this was the fourth great epoch of our current stage of form. [1] During the Atlantean Epoch, we lived on the continent of Atlantis [2] and we were, thus, Atlanteans. [3] Following the end of the Atlantean Epoch, marked by the physical destruction of Atlantis, we entered the Post-Atlantean great epoch, the historical epoch in which we currently exist. [4]


 • GREAT EPOCHS • .....

 ◊ 1. Polarian Epoch ◊                              ◊ 7. Epoch of Trumpets ◊ 

 ◊ 2. Hyperborean Epoch ◊             ◊ 6. Epoch of Seals ◊ ...

 ◊ 3. Lemurian Epoch ◊   ◊ 5. Post-Atlantean Epoch ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Atlantean Epoch ◊ ..... 
Steiner taught that the Atlantean Epoch was the fourth great epoch of our existence on the physical Earth during our current stage of form. Prior to living on Atlantis, we lived on the continent of Lemuria [5] during the Lemurian Epoch. After Atlantis was destroyed, we spread out across the Earth as we know it now, during the Post-Atlantean Epoch.

[1] Great epochs are extended historical periods. They are subdivisions of still longer evolutionary periods called stages of form. [See the entries for "stages of form", "epochs", and "great epochs" in this encyclopedia].
[2] See the entry for "Atlantis," below.
[3] See the entry for "Atlantean, Atlanteans", above. (Anthroposophy teaches that we reincarnate over and over as we evolve. Thus, our ancestors were really ourselves as we were at earlier stages of evolution. Humans alive today previously lived in other bodies, at other developmental levels, in the past.)
[4] See the entries for "Post-Atlantean Epoch" and "Aryan Epoch" in this encyclopedia.
[5] See "Lemuria".

Atlantis - also see Atlantean; Atlantean Epoch

A fabled lost continent. Plato spoke of Atlantis, evidently as a fictional device, nothing more. [1] Science has found no evidence that Atlantis ever existed.

According to Steiner, Atlantis was a real place, the home of mankind before the present ("Post-Atlantean") phase of evolution: We lived on Atlantis during the "Atlantean Age." During that period, we met various gods who walked the Earth. “[I]n Atlantis...man learned to know Thor, Zeus, Wotan, Baldur [2] as actual companions ... When man still lived in the water-fog atmosphere [of Atlantis]...incarnations were possible for [these gods] ... [They] assumed a human form and moved about in the physical world.” — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), p. 140.

The leaders of human life on Atlantis were occult initiates. [3] They acquired great powers, but in this lay the seeds of their destruction. “Powerful rulers [of Atlantis] themselves were initiated ... [T]he initiated kings and leaders of the Atlanteans came into being. Enormous power was in their hands, and they were greatly venerated. But in this fact also lay the reason for decline and decay ... [T]he misuse of these powers arose. When one considers the capabilities of the Atlanteans resulting from their mastery of the life force [4], one will understand that this misuse inevitably had enormous consequences.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), pp. 51-52.

Atlantis sank because of human misdeeds.  “Mighty and ominous powers of Nature were thus let loose by the deeds of men, leading eventually to the gradual destruction of the whole territory of Atlantis by catastrophes of air and water. [5] Atlantean humanity — the portion of it, that is, which did not perish in the storms — was compelled to migrate. As a result too of the great storms, the whole face of the Earth changed. Europe, Asia and Africa on the one hand, and America on the other, began gradually to assume their present shape....” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 198-200. [See "Atlantis" and "Atlantis and the Aryans".]


A recent collection of Steiner's teachings about Atlantis.
[Rudolf Steiner, ATLANTIS 
- The Fate of  a Lost Land and Its Secret Knowledge
(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007).]

[1] "Atlantis...a legendary island in the Atlantic Ocean ... The principal sources for the legend are two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 20, 2015.
[2] Thor, Wotan, and Baldur are Norse gods. [See "The Gods".]
[3] For some Anthroposophical beliefs about initiates and initiation, see "Inside Scoop".
[4] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Atlantean" and "life force".
[5] Steiner equated the destruction of Atlantis with the Flood described in the Old Testament. Noah was the initiate who led some survivors to safety, Steiner said. [See "Old Testament".]

Atma - see spirit man

Atma-Buddhi - also see Atma; Buddhi; life spirit; spirit man 

According to Steiner, drawing from Theosophy, this is the combination of Atma (the self or soul: spirit man) and Buddhi (life energy: life-spirit). [1] Atma-Buddhi was achieved during the second incarnation of the solar system, called Old Sun. [2] "From the middle of the sixth course of the Sun onward [3], man himself is [i.e., was] so far advanced that he can unconsciously work on his physical body. [4] In this respect he now relieves the 'Sons of Twilight'. [5] Through this activity...he creates the first germinal predisposition to the living spiritual being, which one calls life-spirit (Buddhi) [6] ... From the middle of the seventh course of the Sun onward, the germ of spirit-man (Atma), already formed on Saturn [7], appears again. [8] It combines with the life-spirit (Buddhi), and the animated monad (Atma-Buddhi) thus comes into being. [9]" — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 15, GA 11.

[1] See "What We're Made Of" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit man" and "life spirit".

[2] See "Old Sun" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".

[3] I.e., from the midway point of the sixth period of life during Old Sun. (Each incarnation of the solar system consists of seven phases or periods, Steiner taught. Here Steiner refers to the sixth such subdivision of Old Sun. Further on, he refers to the seventh.)

[4] I.e., the proto-human of Old Sun worked unconsciously to create the preliminary form of the human physical body. (Steiner uses the present tense, here — "man himself is" — although he is describing events that happened long ago.)

[5] I.e., the proto-human took over such work from the Angels, who had previously had this responsibility. (Angels or Sons of Twilight are gods one level higher than ourselves, Steiner taught. [See "Polytheism".])

[6] I.e., we took our initial steps toward realizing the life spirit (Buddhi).

[7] I.e., first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] (Steiner often spoke and wrote in terms that can mystify and beguile more than inform. When he described life "on" various "planets," he sometimes meant existence on actual planets, but often he meant existence in/on phases of the solar system's evolution. His meaning must often be deduced from context. [See the entries for "planets" and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia.])

[8] I.e., during the seventh period of Old Sun, the initial version of spirit man (Atma) — which had been formed during Old Saturn — reappeared. (It then merged with the initial version of the life spirit to create the initial version of Atma-Buddhi.)

[9] I.e., when Atma-Buddhi was formed by the union of the life spirit and spirit man, the evolving proto-human became an "animated monad" — that is, a living entity having its own independent existence. [See the entry for "animated monad", above.]

Atma-Buddhi-Manas - also see Atma-Buddhi; spirit self

This is the further development of Atma-Buddhi (see above), adding Manas or spirit self [1] after man reaches the Present Earth stage of evolution. [2] 

“One must therefore imagine the earth, when it condenses as a refined etheric body out of its astral precursor [3], to be a conglomerate of an etheric mineral basic mass and of etheric plant, animal, and human beings [4] ... 

In all this it must be borne in mind that what today is separated from the earth as Sun and Moon, is still entirely united with the earth. [5] Only later [did] both heavenly bodies separate from the earth. 

The ‘higher man’ (spirit-man, life-spirit [6], spirit-self, Atma-Buddhi-Manas) has as yet no independence at this stage. He still constitutes a member of the spirit state [7], and for the time being is bound to the Spirits of Form [8]....” — R. Steiner

, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 17, GA 11

[See "What We're Made Of" and "Ego".]

[1] See "What We're Made Of" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "spirit self".
[2] I.e., the fourth incarnation of the solar system, coming after Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. [See "Matters of Form" and "Present Earth".]
[3] According to Steiner, the "earth" (or the solar system as a whole) gradually condensed to become the physical realm we know today. The solar system began as astral substance; it later condensed to etheric substance; eventually it would condense further to physical substance. (Steiner uses the present tense, here — "it condenses" — although he is describing events that happened long ago.)
[4] I.e., Earth (and the entire solar system) existed at the etheric level, formed of etheric substance ("an etheric mineral basic mass"). Plants, animals, and humans (as they existed then, in preliminary forms) were also etheric ; they had not yet become physical.
[5] I.e., at that stage the Earth, Sun, and Moon did not exist as separate bodies — they were still united as a single cosmic body. (Essentially, this body contained everything that constitutes today's solar system; the solar system was essentially a single, unified body.)
[6] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit man", "life spirit", and "Atma-Buddhi".
[7] I.e., the spirit realm. (We had not yet become physical entities. The process of condensation was a process of descent, leading us eventually down to the physical existence we know today.)
[8] I
.e., the proto-human of that stage was closely connected to gods who stand four evolutionary levels above humanity; such gods are called Spirits of Form, among other names.
 [See "Polytheism".]

Atman - see spirit man

atom - also see atomic theory; physics; science

a) In physics, atoms are the basic units of the various chemical elements. Once thought to be indivisible — the smallest units of matter — atoms are now known to consist of subatomic components.

b) Steiner offered multiple, generally dismissive and more or less incompatible descriptions of atoms. ◊ “[T]hose thought-out atoms have no existence.” — R. Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD, ORDEALS OF THE SOUL, REVELATIONS OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), p. 184. ◊ "If physicists were for once to talk sense, they would not produce speculations about atoms and molecules, but they would say: The visible world consists of the past, and carries in it not molecules and atoms, but the future." — R. Steiner, COLOUR, (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1935), lecture 1, GA 291. ◊ “[A]toms are really tiny little caricatures of demons." — R. Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 161. ◊ “[T]he atom is nothing else than congealed electricity.” — 
R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 114. ◊ "[A]ll atoms are holes or empty bubbles in the spiritual world. All physical things are composed of countless numbers of such holes. When we touch things we bump into these holes, this nothing." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENT OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript. Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. [See "Atoms".] Some of these statements are clearly fatuous ("congealed electricity," "caricatures of demons"); others are harder to evaluate ("in the spiritual world"). Overall, however, Steiner gives the impression that he was pontificating on a subject he knew little or nothing about. He did this often, on a wide array of subjects.

atomic ether - see life ether

atomic theory

 - also see atom; scientific theory

The theory (quite well established by science) that, at a deep level, physical reality consists of tiny bundles of energy/mass called atoms. For the most part, Steiner denied the truth of the atomic theory. 

“[A]toms are really tiny little caricatures of demons, and our learned scholars would not speak about them as they do unless people had grown accustomed, in education, to putting everything together out of its parts.” —R. Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 161. Steiner often dismissed academics, scientists, and other authorities, frequently directing sarcasm their way ("our learned scholars"). He taught that phenomena are not built up from below, with tiny parts (such as atoms) combining to create larger structures; instead, he taught that all structures are delivered whole, from above, from the spirit realm. At least concerning physical phenomena, he was wrong. 

aura - also see auric sheath

a) In ordinary usage, an aura is the distinctive atmosphere, characteristic, or quality of a person, place, or thing.  

b) According to mystics, an aura is a nimbus of vital forces radiating from a living form, revealing spiritual and psychological qualities. Auras of this sort are accepted as real by Anthroposophists, although the auras are visible only to clairvoyants such as Steiner. "

The color effects perceptible to the spirit eye [1] that ray out around the physical man observed in his activity, and that envelop him like a somewhat egg-shaped cloud, are the human aura. The size of this aura varies in different people, but we may say that the entire man [2] appears on the average twice as long and four times as wide as the physical man." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), “Thought Forms and the Human Aura”, GA 9. 

[See "Auras".]

[1] I

.e., clairvoyant vision.
[2] I.e., physical man plus aura.

auric sheath - also see aura; sheath

According to Steiner, this is the spiritual "skin," the outer covering that separates a spiritual being from the rest of the spirit realm. [See "Our Parts".] ”If we investigate the human physical body, it is found to contain the same materials and forces as are to be found outside in the rest of the physical world. It is the same with the spirit man. [1] In it pulsate the elements of the external spirit world. In it the forces of the rest of the spirit world are active. Within the physical skin a being is enclosed and limited that is alive and feels. It is the same in the spirit world. The spiritual skin that separates the spirit man from the unitary spirit world makes him an independent being within it, living a life within himself and perceiving intuitively the spiritual content of the world. [2] Let us call this ‘spiritual skin’ (auric sheath) the spirit sheath. Only it must be kept clearly in mind that the spiritual skin expands continually with advancing human evolution so that the spiritual individuality of man (his auric sheath) is capable of enlargement to an unlimited extent. [3]” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, part 4, GA 9.

[1] I.e., the man living wholly or nearly so in the spirit realm. (Steiner taught that we live in the spirit realm between Earthly incarnations, and we rise into the spirit world — literally, not merely in dreams — each night during sleep.) In a somewhat different sense, Steiner taught that "spirit man" is Atma. [See the entry for "spirit man" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] Within the auric sheath, one is a monad or animated monad. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[3] Steiner taught that our evolution will take us to higher and higher (or wider and wider) levels of divinity. The ultimate, essentially infinite enlargement of "the spiritual individuality of man" would make the super-evolved human being the ultimate divinity.

Authorities - also see Exusiai; Mights; Powers; Spirits of Form; Spirits of Motion

In Hebrew and Christian esotericism, these are high angels, also known as Powers or Exusiai. According to Steiner, they are gods; he identified them with the Spirits of Form [1], for instance when he wrote of "the Spirits of Form (in Christian esotericism, 'Exusiai,' or 'Authorities')." — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), p. 124. The Spirits of Form occupy a rank four levels higher than humans. [See "Polytheism".]  But on some occasions, Steiner located Authorities and Exusiai five steps above mankind. See, e.g., ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), pp. 346-347, where Steiner distinguishes Authorities from Powers (gods four steps above mankind) and locates them on the level of Mights (gods five steps above mankind). [2]


Hebrew/Christian Esotericism                       .Anthroposophy
(Ranks of Angels).........................................(Ranks of Gods)
 1. Seraphime, Seraphim..................................Spirits of Love 
 2. Cherubime, Cherubim..........................Spirits of Harmony 
 3. Thronos, Thrones..........................................Spirits of Will 
 4. Kyriotetes, Dominions............................Spirits of Wisdom 
 5. Dynamis, Mights.................................Spirits of Movement 
 6. Exusiai, Authorities...................................Spirits of Form 
 7. Archai, Principalities.........................Spirits of Personality 
 8. Archangeloi, Archangels...............................Spirits of Fire 
 9. Angeloi, Angels.........................................Sons of Twilight 

These are the ranks of divine beings, from highest to lowest, according to some esoteric teachings. Nine ranks of angelic beings were denominated, as shown to the left, by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 6th century CE. [3] According to Steiner, the beings shown here are actually gods, and he assigned them the names shown to the right. Steiner usually identified Authorities with the Spirits of Form. Note that other names are also sometimes used for beings of the various ranks. In Steiner's teachings, human beings constitute (or will constitute) the tenth rank. [4] Thus, Sons of Twilight (rank 9) stand one level higher than humanity, Spirits of Fire (rank 8) stand two levels higher than humanity, etc. Ultimately, Steiner said, humans will ascend through the ranks, destined for the pinnacle of divinity. [Table adapted from E. R. Smith's THE BURNING BUSH (Anthroposophic Press, 1997). Also see R. McDermott, THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, 2009).] 

[1] See "Polytheism" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Spirits of Form".

[2] Mights are also called Dynamis and Spirits of Movement.

[3] "Pseudo-Dionysius The Areopagite, (flourished c. 500), probably a Syrian monk who, known only by his pseudonym [Dionysius the Areopagite], wrote a series of Greek treatises and letters for the purpose of uniting Neoplatonic philosophy with Christian theology and mystical experience ... Historical research has been unable to identify the author, who, having assumed the name of the New Testament convert of St. Paul (Acts 17:34), could have been one of several Christian writers ... The treatises 'On the Divine Names,' 'On Mystical Theology,' 'On the Celestial Hierarchy,' and 'On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy' comprise the bulk of the Dionysian corpus of writings." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 21, 2015.
[4] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

authority, authoritarianism - also see discipline; guru; veneration; Waldorf teachers

Steiner informed Waldorf teachers that they need to exert firm authority with their students, especially the young ones. The students want this, he said; but regardless, Waldorf teachers must exercise authority. “[I]t will be very good if you can keep the children from losing their feeling for authority. That is what they need most. You can best achieve that by going into things with the children very cautiously, but under no circumstances giving in.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 14-15. [See "Faculty Meetings" and "Basement".]

The degree of authority asserted by Waldorf teachers should gradually lessen in the upper grades, Steiner said. After puberty, students should begin to think for themselves and prepare themselves ultimately to no longer depend on outer authorities. Of course, by then the students should be firmly established on the path their authoritative instructors set for them in the early, formative years. 

Seen in a wider context, the principle of authority is central in Anthroposophy. Steiner urged his followers to cultivate a feeling of veneration for their spiritual superiors. Respect for authorities, rather than critical analysis of the authorities' pronouncements, should be a guiding principle. For spiritual seekers, a spirit of veneration should begin in childhood, Steiner said, and then carried into adulthood. While denying that he advocated meek submission, Steiner nevertheless told his followers to bestow veneration where it is due. "There are children who look up with religious awe to those whom they venerate. For such people they have a respect which forbids them, even in the deepest recess of their heart, to harbor any thought of criticism or opposition ... From the ranks of such children are recruited many students of higher knowledge. Have you ever paused outside the door of some venerated person, and have you, on this your first visit, felt a religious awe as you pressed on the handle to enter the room which for you is a holy place? If so, a feeling has been manifested within you which may be the germ of your future adherence to the path of knowledge. It is a blessing for every human being in process of development to have such feelings upon which to build ... Experience teaches that they can best hold their heads erect who have learnt to venerate where veneration is due...." — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1944), p. 10). Veneration leads to absolute reliance upon a master or guru, Steiner taught. A spiritual seeker “would find himself plunged into the stormy sea of astral experiences [i.e., soul experiences] if he were left to fend for himself. For this reason he needs a guide who can tell him from the start how these things are related and how to find his bearings in the astral world. Hence the need to find a Guru on whom he can strictly rely." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 12, “Occult Development”, GA 95.

In Waldorf education, the teacher often stands in the role of master or guru for students. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers fulfill a priestly role. Waldorf is thus, according to its critics, fundamentally authoritarian. So, for example, historian Peter Staudenmaier wrote the following in a review of a book by a leading German scholar of Anthroposophy: "Helmut Zander’s new book offers an illuminating and informed guide to contemporary anthroposophy in its various manifestations ... The book is especially insightful on the authoritarian and hierarchical elements within internal anthroposophical culture and its chronic difficulties with open debate and democratic procedures ... Discussing the growing popularity of Waldorf schooling in China, for instance, Zander notes the possibility that this success may have to do with similarities to standard Chinese educational practices, above all an authoritarian and teacher-centered pedagogy, reflecting longstanding features of the Waldorf model...." — P. Staudenmaier, "Helmut Zander, Die Anthroposophie: Rudolf Steiners Ideen zwischen Esoterik, Weleda, Demeter und Waldorfpädagogik (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2019)", Theologische Revue 116 (2020).

automatons (automata) - also see intellect; materialism; spider beings; subhumans

a) Robots.

b) According to Steiner, wholly materialistic people who are inhuman or subhuman; also monsters of intellect that will be released in the future. [See "Sixth Epoch".] Sometimes Steiner used the word "automation" literally, and sometimes he used it figuratively. ◊ “The task of Anthroposophy is not simply to replace a false view of the world with a correct one ... The task is to raise the spirit-soul [1] into the realm of the spiritual, so that the human being is no longer a thinking and feeling automaton." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115. ◊ ”From the earth, there will spring forth a horrible brood of beings. In character they will be in between the mineral and plant kingdoms. They will be beings resembling automatons, with an over-abundant intellect of great intensity. [2] Along with this development, which will spread over the earth, the latter will be covered as if by a network or web of ghastly spiders possessing tremendous wisdom. Yet their organization will not even reach up to the level of the plants. [3] They will be horrible spiders who will be entangled with one another. In their outward movements they will imitate everything human beings have thought up with their shadowy intellect, which did not allow itself to be stimulated by what is to come through new Imagination and through spiritual science in general. [4]” — R. Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204.

[1] I.e., the combined spirit and soul. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[2] Steiner generally deprecated intellect. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific".]
[3] I.e., the internal structure of the "spiders" will be at a lower level than plants.
[4] I.e., the "spiders" will result from the use of intellect that has not been moderated by imagination (clairvoyance) and spiritual science (Anthroposophy).

avatars - also see Christ; Krishna; Maitreya Buddha; Shem 

Originally a Hindu concept: An avatar is the manifestation of a god, or a god incarnated on Earth. Steiner identified Christ as an avatar. (Generally Steiner indicated that Christ was the one god who descended to Earth. But at other times he indicated that other gods have done the same.) “[I]t can happen that such a being [1] appears; if we test it clairvoyantly in regard to the soul, we cannot say, as we can of other human beings, that we trace it back in time and discover it in a previously fleshly incarnation, then trace it farther back and find it again in another incarnation, and so on [2] ... Such a spiritual being who descends in this way into a human body in order to intervene in evolution as a human being is called an ‘avatar’ in the East ... The greatest avatar being who has lived on earth, as you can gather from the spirit of our lectures here, is the Christ.” — R. Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY (Anthroposophic Press, 1986) lecture 2, GA 109. [See "Avatars".]

[1] I.e., an avatar.
[2] I.e., the avatar is not a reincarnated human being; it may appear human, but it is a god.


It can take a while to grow accustomed to Steiner's idiosyncratic use of language. If you have difficulty with some of the passages quoted in this encyclopedia , you can at least get a general sense of the sorts of things Steiner said. This is Anthroposophical discourse, which typical Waldorf teachers affirm.

The task of grasping Steiner's meaning is complicated by several factors, including his variable, inconsistent terminology. Steiner sometimes used different words for the same thing, or the same words for different things. He claimed that he was discussing matters that are very nearly beyond the reach of human language and human comprehension. He also evidently preferred not to be pinned down. None of this, however, stops his followers from proclaiming the truth of his statements.

It is best to read Steiner in German, his native tongue, but the problems found in English translations of his works tend to exist in the German texts as well.


A note on sources: I have accessed Anthroposophical texts in various ways. 1) Chiefly, I have acquired books in the old-fashioned way, as physical objects. When I refer to a book I possess, I give the title, publisher, date of publication, and page number for each reference. 2) I have dipped into some books through Google Books [http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search]. I provide the same information for these volumes. 3) I have read various texts at the Rudolf Steiner Archive [http://www.rsarchive.org/Search.php]. Because the Archive does not provide page numbers, for these references I provide titles, names of publishers, dates of publication, and (where applicable) GA numbers. Be advised that Google Books sometimes gives inaccurate page numbers, and the Steiner Archive is full of typos. I have corrected these problems as well as I could, but I may have missed some instances. 

You may have difficulty finding a few of the sources I cite. Anthroposophists tend to conceal various sources, and sometimes — following criticism — they remove or alter sources that they had previously made available.
— R. R.