Em - Ey

[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]

 E (cont.) -

Emerson, Ralph Waldo - see American Transcendentalists

emotion - also see feelings; truth; cf. intellect; thinking

Feelings, emotions, link us to the spirit realm, Steiner taught; to know the spirit realm, we should use our hearts far more than our heads. At best, thinking helps us to understand the lowly physical realm, whereas emotion enables us to climb into higher realms. "[T]hinking is oriented to the physical plane. Feeling really has a connection with all the spiritual beings who must be considered real." — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 70. [See "Reality and Fantasy".] 

Steiner said that children between the ages of 7 and 14 live primarily through their feelings. (Before then, they were largely guided by will; after 14, thinking becomes predominant, although it needs to be moderated by emotion and will). He also said that Asians, possessing non-intellectual spiritual insight, live predominantly emotional lives. ”One race...has the instinctual life, the life of instinct. [1] At a higher level, [the Asian] has...the emotional life that sits in the chest. And we Europeans...have thought that sits in the head. [2]” — R. Steiner, “Color and the Human Races”, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349. [See “Forbidden”.]

On occasion, in some contexts, Steiner indicated that thinking is higher than emotion; but in general he placed emotion higher. [See "Thinking Cap".] At Waldorf or Steiner schools, Anthroposophy is taught primarily on an emotional rather than intellectual level — students are led to feel about things as Anthroposophists feel about them. [See “Spiritual Agenda”.]

[1] I.e., in Steiner's teachings, this is the black race. [See the entry for "Africans" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Note that Steiner ranks races along a hierarchy, low to high ("at a higher level"). [See "Races".] Despite the preeminence of emotion in "climbing to higher realms," the race Steiner designates as emotional (Asians) stands in the middle, between blacks and whites.

empiricism - also see philosophy; senses; world outlooks

The theory that all knowledge comes from sensory experience. According to Steiner, empiricism is one of the seven world outlooks, which are soul moods that he associated with the seven planets of astrology. "Empiricism signifies a soul-mood which simply accepts whatever experience may offer. Through all twelve constellations [1] one can be an empiricist, a man with a world-conception based on experience." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 47. Steiner associated each of the seven outlooks with one of the seven “sacred planets.” The "planet" of empiricism is the Sun. [See “Philosophy”.]


• World Outlooks •

 gnosticism — Saturn 
 logicism — Jupiter 
 voluntarism — Mars 
 empiricism — Sun 
 mysticism — Venus 
 transcendentalism — Mercury 
 occultism — Moon 

These are the seven world outlooks enumerated by Steiner, and the "planets" under whose power he said they stand.

[1] I.e., under all twelves signs of the zodiac. [See "Astrology".]

enemies - also see critics; critical thought; demons

Steiner saw foes all around, in both the visible and invisible worlds. He urged his followers to share this view. “[T]he Anthroposophical Movement is of a nature that attracts enemies ... [W]hat was cast in the mould [sic] of love has called forth bitter enmity. Our misfortune has unleashed a veritable hailstorm of ridicule, contempt and hatred, and the willful distortion of truth that has always characterized so large a part of our opposition is especially typical of the situation now, with enemies creeping out of every corner and spreading deliberate untruth ... I have been warning for years that we will have to reckon with a constantly growing opposition, and that it is our foremost duty to be aware of this and to be properly vigilant. It was always painful to have to hear people say that our enemies in this or that quarter seemed to be quieting down. This sort of thing is due to people's willingness to entertain illusions, unfortunately all too prevalent among us.” — R. Steiner, AWAKENING TO COMMUNITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), lecture 1, GA 257. [See "Enemies".]

England - see English (people)

English (as a subject) - also see fables; fairy tales; fantasy; folk tales; literature; myths

The Waldorf literature curriculum emphasizes fairy tales, myths, and other works consistent to varying degrees with Anthroposophical doctrines. The works studied in class often appear unobjectionable — literary classics (such as Dante's THE DIVINE COMEDY) or at least works of some repute (such as Cather's MY ANTONIA). But when carefully selected by Waldorf teachers who then guide the study of such literature, these works can be interpreted as expressing spiritualistic lessons that affirm Anthroposophical beliefs. [See "Oh My Word" and "Fairy Tales".] 

In other cases, books, stories, or poems with clear connections to Theosophy or Anthroposophy may be selected for use in Waldorf literature classes: novels such as THE THREE CANDLES OF LITTLE VERONICA or collections such as THE WALDORF BOOK OF POETRY, which includes works written by Anthroposophists. Modern literature is generally avoided or even proscribed. [See "His Education".]

English (people), England - also see Anglo-Germanic Age; consciousness soul; national missions; nations; races

Steiner taught that the various nations and races of mankind have their own spirits and missions. [1] He said that the English people have a particular affinity for the consciousness soul [2], the soul type that has developed particularly in our current evolutionary period, the Anglo-Germanic Age. [3] Development of the consciousness soul allows one to stand apart from phenomena as in independent observing individual. "The English people...are endowed with all the impelling forces that lead to the consciousness soul. The condition is such that the trend toward the consciousness soul appears instinctively in them in a manner entirely different from that characterizing the rest of humanity. This spiritualized instinct to develop the consciousness soul exists nowhere else in the world as it does among the English people ... What appears among the Latin people as a folk temperament is altogether different from what appears as a folk temperament among the English people. Among the English people this trend toward the consciousness soul, this striving of the individual person to stand upon his own feet, is an instinct. [paragraph break] In other words, what constitutes the mission of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch [4] is rooted in the English as an instinct, as an impelling force arising instinctively from the soul of the people." — R. Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), lecture 6, GA 186.

[1] See, e.g., "Embedded Racism".

[2] See the entry for "consciousness soul" in this encyclopedia.

[3] See the entries for "cultural epochs" and "Anglo-Germanic Age" in this encyclopedia. As the name of this age indicates, the other predominant nation during this period, Steiner taught, is Germany. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Germans, Germany".]

[4] According to Steiner, the Anglo-Germanic Age is the fifth cultural epoch within the Post-Atlantean great epoch, the great epoch following the destruction of Atlantis. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "great epochs" and "Post-Atlantean Epoch"; also see "Atlantis".]

enlightenment, Enlightenment - also see clairvoyance; initiation; philosophy; rationalism; religion

a) Spiritual awareness.

b) Modern consciousness, derived from the Enlightenment (a European intellectual movement emphasizing reason and individualism, 17th-18th Centuries) — Steiner sometimes used this term in this sense, generally with a pejorative imputation. [See "Clairvoyant Vision".]

c) Distinct from his other use of the term: a stage of initiation, according to Steiner. “The three stages [1] which [one] tradition specifies, are as follows: (1) preparation; (2) enlightenment; (3) initiation. [2] It is not altogether necessary that the first of these three stages should be completed before the second can be begun, nor that the second, in turn, be completed before the third be started. In certain respects it is possible to partake of enlightenment, and even of initiation, and in other respects still be in the preparatory stage ... [Through certain exercises] the organs of clairvoyance are formed [3] ... The organs thus formed are spiritual eyes. The student gradually learns, by their means, to see something like soul and spirit colors. [4]” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), chapter 2, GA 10.

Steiner taught that during the preparatory stage (also known as "probation"), one seeks to quiet and discipline the mind, gaining direct experience of fundamental realities. [5] One may then proceed to the stage of enlightenment, in which the inner, spiritual "light" behind phenomena becomes perceptible. Successful attainment of enlightenment may lead to the final stage, true initiation — gaining occult or hidden spiritual wisdom. [6] [For a summary of Steiner's instructions on the attainment of initiation, see "Knowing the Worlds".]

[1] I.e., stages of initiation — stages in the acquisition of occult knowledge of the spirit realm.

[2] I.e., initiation proper, or the completion of the initiation process. The first two stages are part of the process of initiation, although they bear different names. 

[3] According to Steiner, the initiate develops incorporeal organs that enable her/him to become clairvoyant. Physical eyes see in the normal way. "Spiritual eyes" — organs of clairvoyance — see spiritually, via clairvoyance. [See "Inside Scoop" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[4] I.e., having become clairvoyant, the initiate can see auras and other supersensible realities lying beyond the reach or our ordinary senses. Steiner described the spirit realm as consisting of (spiritual) colors, tones, and essences, as opposed to distinct forms and lines.

[5] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "probation".

[6] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "initiation".


entelechy - also see animated monad; ego; I; life force; monad; vital force

a) Generally, a term for the life force or vital force. [See the entry for "vital force" in this encyclopedia.]

b) The term has a specific and somewhat different meaning in Anthroposophy. ◊ "'[C]ontaining its aims within itself' ... [T]he human being is an entelechy because the 'I' [1], cloaked in its personal karma [2], can only manifest in life on earth what intrinsically corresponds to it ... [T]he human being is an intact and integral entity...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37. ◊ "An entelechy is therefore a power that, out of itself, calls itself into existence." — R. Steiner, GOETHEAN SCIENCE (Mercury Press, 1988), lecture 4, GA 1.

In some Anthroposophical texts, the term "entelechy" is used as a synonym for the "I" or spiritual ego. "Approximately around the age of 20, the fourth birth [3] takes place: the ego is born, also called the entelechy, or person, or individuality."
 — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), p. 21.) But more commonly, Anthroposophists use the term "entelechy" to denote the totality of a unique human (or superhuman) identity: "Steiner described the human being as an entity possessing four 'bodies' [4] ... Except for the 'physical body,' the other 'higher members' of the human entelechy are invisible to ordinary sight." — E. Schwartz, "ADHD - The Challenge of Our Time", Research Bulletin (Research Institute for Waldorf Education), Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1999.

[1] The "I" or "ego" is the spark of divine individual identity, which makes us human. [See "Ego".]
[2] See "Karma". 
[3] The first three "births" are the incarnations of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. [See "Incarnation".]
[4] I.e., the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies.

environmentalism - also see Earth; nature

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

With few exceptions, everything is nature is alive, Rudolf Steiner taught. This includes rocks and minerals; it includes the Earth itself, as a living entity. A multitude of gods are present above and within nature, beaming to Earth the influences of their domains among the planets and stars. Moreover, nature is the province of "nature spirits" or "elemental beings" — invisible presences such as gnomes and sylphs. In more common terms, these are fairies or elves, who infuse natural processes with their energies and influences. But nature also has an ominous side, according to Anthroposophical belief. The nature spirits are amoral, and other beings — arguably immoral or malevolent — are also present in the physical or material realm of nature. These "evil" spirits are demons. The material plane of existence is, in some sense, the antithesis of the spiritual plane; when we live here "below," we are separated from the "higher" spheres; influenced by demons, we are prone to illusion, maya, error. Steiner indicated that demons may ultimately contribute to the fulfillment of the beneficent gods' designs (and thus, ultimately, evil may not really exist). But he also indicated that humans can be lured astray by demons, which may cause us, eventually, to lose our souls (and thus evil is a real and terrible threat to us).

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

[For more on all this, see, e.g., "Neutered Nature", "Gnomes", "Beings", "Evil", "Evil Ones", "Indoctrination", and "Sneaking It In".]

Epiphany - also see Christ; festivals; Holy Nights

In Christianity: a festival (January 6) commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (Matthew 2:1-12). In Waldorf schools, Epiphany — like many other apparently Christian observances — is converted into an Anthroposophical event. "Almost all Christian holidays are celebrated at these schools: The festival of Saint Michel, the festival of Saint Antoine, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the festival of St. John, etc. ... [B]ut behind ceremonies that superficially seem akin to traditional forms, in fact we find disguised Anthroposophic rituals 'adapted' for children ... Anthroposophists celebrate Christian holidays, but within these rituals are hidden Anthroposophic beliefs. In Waldorf schools, Anthroposophic rituals and esoteric teachings in the form of traditional rituals are carefully modified to reflect in the end the Anthroposophic interpretation of their content." — G. Perra, "The Anthroposophical Indoctrination of Students in Steiner-Waldorf Schools". [See "Indoctrination".]

Epoch of Seals - see Sixth Epoch (Seals)

Epoch of Trumpets - see Seventh Epoch (Trumpets)

epochs (“great” epochs) - also see great epochs; root races; cf. ages; cultural epochs

In Anthroposophy: evolutionary stages, subdivisions of stages of form. They are sometimes called "great epochs" in order to distinguish them from "cultural epochs," which are subdivisions of the great epochs.

The grand scheme of our evolution, s described by Steiner, is that we progress through seven conditions of consciousness (Old Saturn to Future Vulcan). During each of these, we pass through seven conditions of life (first elementary kingdom to the human kingdom). Likewise, during each condition of life, we pass through seven stages of form (Higher Spiritland to the Archetypal Stage of Higher Spiritland). We are currently in the Present Earth condition of consciousness, in the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life, in the Physical Stage of Form. Within this stage of form, there are seven great epochs. These are historical periods of mankind's Earthly existence: the Polarian epoch, the Hyperborean, the Lemurian, the Atlantean, the Post-Atlantean, the Sixth Epoch (seals), and the Seventh Epoch (trumpets). We are currently in the Post-Atlantean Epoch.

Great epochs should not be confused with cultural epochs, which are seven “ages” within the current great epoch. We are now living through the Anglo-Germanic cultural epoch of the Post-Atlantean great epoch. “We are living in the fifth period [1] of the fifth great epoch [2]; we have still to live through two more periods [3] of this great epoch. Then will follow the seven periods of the sixth great epoch and then the seven periods of the seventh great epoch. [4]” — R. Steiner, “The Work of Secret Societies in the World” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. [See “Epochs”.]


According to Steiner: Having lived through Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon, we now live during the Present Earth Condition of Consciousness. Here, having evolved upward from the First through the Second and Third Elementary Kingdoms, we now exist in the Mineral Kingdom. Within this kingdom, we have evolved from Higher Spiritland to the Physical Stage of Form. Within this stage of form, we have lived through the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean Epochs. We now live in the Post-Atlantean Epoch; specifically, we are living in the Anglo-Germanic Cultural Epoch (not shown) of the Post-Atlantean Epoch. [Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), p. 132; color added. The diagram continues on p. 133.]

[1] I.e., the fifth cultural epoch or age: the Anglo-Germanic Age, often simply called the Present. [See the diagram for "cultural epochs or ages"  included with the entry in this encyclopedia for "Egypto-Chaldean Age".]

[2] I.e., the fifth great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch.

[3] I.e., two more cultural epochs.

[4] I.e., the sixth and seventh great epochs will also each consist of seven subdivisions — seven cultural epochs, as it were. (Conditions will be different then, so the subdivisions will be very different. In some texts, the subdivisions of the sixth great epoch are called regions of soul, and the subdivisions of the seventh great epoch are called realms of spirit.)

epochs of physical-etheric state - also see etheric body; great epochs; physical body; physical-etheric organism

Steiner used this term sometimes during his Theosophical phase to denote evolutionary periods that he later called great epochs. [1] During these periods, the physical and etheric bodies — or their combined structure, the physical-etheric organism — evolve to higher and higher levels or states. [2]

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

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "etheric body", "physical body", and "physical-etheric organism".

Epoch Spirits - see Time Archangels

esoteric, esotericism - also see Anthroposophy; gnosticism; initiation; occult; Mysteries; Rosicrucian; Theosophy; cf. exoteric 

Knowledge, beliefs, and/or practices known to only a few. "Esoteric - Greek, meaning: 'within' or 'hidden'. Rudolf Steiner has revealed a wide range of esoteric knowledge that hitherto had been preserved and passed on from initiate to initiate through the ages in the so-called Mystery schools." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37. Steiner followed the example set by Helena Blavatsky [1], whose massive book THE SECRET DOCTRINE impressed Steiner deeply. [2] Blavatsky revealed many esoteric secrets, and Steiner proceeded to do the same. [3] How much to reveal and how much must be held closely has remained an issue for Anthroposophists and, to a lesser extent, Theosophists.

Anthroposophists have increasingly turned to the word "esoteric," having become embarrassed by the term "occult," which Steiner used extensively. Thus, for instance, the title of Steiner's major book, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, was changed to AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE in a recent edition put out by the Anthroposophic Press. [See "Occultism".] “Anthroposophists themselves have historically used both 'esoteric' and 'occult', often enough interchangeably. Steiner's works frequently use both terms, and the same is true for many of his followers. In recent years, some anthroposophists have begun to shy away from the word 'occult', but that was not the case within the original anthroposophical movement in the first half of the 20th century.” — P. Staudenmaier. [See “I Went to Waldorf”.]

[1] See the entry for "Blavatsky, Helena" in this encyclopedia.
[2] To consider some of Steiner's  debt to Blavatsky and other Theosophists, see "Basics".
[3] Steiner's counterpart to THE SECRET DOCTRINE is his book AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. [See "Everything".]

Esoteric School — also see School of Spiritual Science; Theosophy

A school of hidden (esoteric or occult) spiritual knowledge established by Rudolf Steiner in 1904, while still a Theosophist. The school formally disbanded after World War I, but remnants of it were incorporated in the School of Spiritual Science, which Steiner founded in 1923, after breaking with Theosophy and establishing Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement. [See "January, 2013".]

Steiner traced the origins of the Esoteric School to the "Esoteric Section" within the Theosophical Society. In a rare display of modesty, he indicated that — in this sense — the Esoteric School was founded before he arrived on the scene: "The Esoteric School dated back to H. P. Blavatsky [1]. Within the Society, she instituted a small inner circle in which she communicated matters she did not wish to speak about to the general society ... Blavatsky's inner circled continued as the Esoteric School ... I became a member of the Esoteric School." — R. Steiner, AUTOBIOGRAPHY (Steiner Books, 2006), pp. 218-219.

Steiner established rules for the functioning of the school: A member should meditate for a half hour each morning, preferably before breakfast; s/he should study a recommended book for at least a half hour each day; 
at bedtime, s/he should meditate for at least a quarter hour on a statement given by Steiner, then review the day in reverse chronological order; keep a journal listing the meditative exercises performed; every two weeks, report to the School on the meditative exercises followed during that period; abstain from alcohol; abstain, in general, from animal food (meat, fish).

"Within the School, there were different grades or classes: the Probationary Order of Hearers; the First Class [2]; and after that, the Second Class, and so on ... Instruction was of three kinds. 1. There were rules and exercises practiced universally by all students. 2. There were individual exercises and practices given by Rudolf Steiner personally. 3. There were the esoteric lessons [3]. The function of the lessons was to address intimate aspects of the path [4], while at the same time to direct students to the Masters of Wisdom ... The Masters — the 'Manus' [5] — were the 'leaders of humanity,' 'superhuman individuals' [6] of the 'White Lodge' [7], who brought wisdom to human beings from the pre-earthly realms in the preceding epochs of human evolution [7]." — C. Bamford, introduction to ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), pp. xxiv-xxv.

[1] See "Blavatsky, Helena", in this encyclopedia.
[2] See "First Class"
, in this encyclopedia.
[3] For samples, see R. Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), ESOTERIC LESSONS 1910-1912 (SteinerBooks, 2012), and ESOTERIC LESSONS 1913-1923 (SteinerBooks, 2011). E.g., "In order to withstand the temptation of the devil, one should meditate on the rose cross." — ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909, pp. 394-395. [See "Rosy Cross", in this encyclopedia.]
[4] I.e., the path to higher levels of spiritual consciousness; the "white path." [See "White/Black".]
[5] See "Manu(s)"
, in this encyclopedia.
[6] See "Supermen".
[7] See "White Lodge".
[8] See "evolution" and "evolution of consciousness"
", in this encyclopedia.

Esoteric Society for Germany and Austria - also see Steiner, Rudolf; Theosophy; cf. Anthroposophical Society

This was the key Theosophical organization in Germany and Austria early in the twentieth century. Theosophical leader Annie Besant [1] visited Germany in the autumn of 1904; she appointed Steiner the Society's leader. Membership was small but growing. In 1905, Steiner reported having 377 members, up from 121. Steiner would eventually break from Theosophy to establish Anthroposophy [2] as a separate movement. The Anthroposophical Society was founded in 1913.

[1] See "Basics".

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

ESP see extrasensory perception

ether - also see air ether; chemical ether; cosmic ether; earth ether; etheric beings; etheric body; etheric Christ; etheric forces; etheric man; etheric nature; etheric realm; etheric senses; etheric sheath; etherisation of the blood; fire ether; life ether; light ether; moral ether; number ether; quintessence; sound ether; thought ether; warmth ether; water ether; world ether

a) Diethyl ether: colorless, odorless gas; an anesthetic and solvent.

b) A concept from discarded science: the medium for light, an impalpable gas once thought to fill the universe.

c) Poetic: air, upper atmosphere.

d) The fifth element, the finest of elements, a spiritualized universal essence. Ancient Hindu teachings indicated the existence of five fundamental "elements," four of which were also specified by the Greek philosopher Empedocles: earth, air, fire, and water. [1] But in addition, Hindu texts specified a fifth element, the finest of all, an "ether" or void. [2] Belief in this ether has persisted in Hinduism, Theosophy, and Anthroposophy. [See "Steiner's Blunders".] “The cosmic ether, which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts [3] of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth. [4] There, in the cosmic ether, are contained all the living thoughts there are.” — R. Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 37.

Steiner generally differentiated four types of ether. "Ether - in general, shapeless and invisible life force [5], also called the fifth essence or 'quintessence' in addition to the four elements ... [T]he four kinds of ether [are] warmth ether, light ether, sound ether, [and] life ether." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37. [6]

According to Steiner, warmth ether mediates the forces that provide the necessary internal heat to permit physical existence. (It is associated with the element called fire.) Light ether mediates the forces controlling size or extension. Sound ether mediates the forces producing shape or pattern. ("Sound ether" is also an synonym for the harmony of the spheres. [7]) Life ether mediates the forces allowing life beyond the merely physical plane, enabling a being to exist as a distinct entity.

[1] See, e.g., "Chemical Elements", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 11, 2015.
[2] See, e.g., THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Ocford Universoty Press, 1997), p. 599.
[3] These are divine thoughts — the thoughts of the gods. Living thoughts may be deemed spiritual beings in their own right; they are alive. [See "Thinking".]
[4] I.e., before birth, before a new incarnation on Earth.
[5] See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.
[6] Steiner sometimes specified five types of ether: air ether, earth ether, fire ether, thought ether, and water ether. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "pentagram".] This was, however, an early teaching that Steiner effectively abandoned later, affirming then the existence of the four ethers mentioned above: life ether, light ether, sound ether, and warmth ether.
[7] See the entry for "harmony of the spheres" in this encyclopedia.

ether body - see etheric body

etheric, the - see etheric realm; also see soul world

etheric aura - see aura

etheric beings - also see astral beings; elemental beings; etheric forces; etheric realm

Steiner offered varying statements about such beings, spirits that presumably dwell on the etheric plane [1] and have etheric bodies [2] but not physical bodies. Etheric beings may be spirits that dwell in etheric bodies cast off by humans after death, and/or they may be closely related to elemental beings [3], and/or they may be spirits intermediate between physical and astral beings [4], and/or they may be astral beings or, loosely defined, spiritual beings in general. Here are a few indications provided by Steiner: ◊ "After death, when human beings surrender the ether body, certain other beings can inhabit it; with the ether bodies laid aside by human beings, they become etheric beings." — R. Steiner, THE REAPPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN THE ETHERIC (SteinerBooks, 2003), pp. 161-162. ◊ "Gnomes [5]...so manifest themselves that they seem to be elemental or etheric beings." — R. Steiner, THE THRESHOLD OF THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (Cosimo, 2007), p. 29. ◊ "Whereas with our physical eyes we behold only the physical plants growing out of the soil, we see spiritual beings, etheric beings, growing down from the cosmic environment." — R. Steiner, APPROACHES TO ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992), p. 48. [6]

[1] See the entry for "etheric realm", below.

[2] See the entry for "etheric body", below.

[3] I.e., nature spirits. [See "Neutered Nature".]

[4] I.e., beings that exist in the astral realm. [See the entries for "astral beings" and "astral plane" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] See "Gnomes".

[6] For more on invisible beings who, Steiner said, really exist, see "Beings". For a review of the ranks of the highest cosmic spirits, gods, see "Polytheism".

etheric body, etheric form, etheric organism - also see etheric forces; etheric man; etheric nature; etheric organization; etheric realm; etheric senses; life force; nonphysical bodies; cf. astral body; ego body; I 

In Anthroposophical belief, this is the first of our nonphysical bodies. [1] The etheric body is a constellation of life forces; it is also called the life-body or formative-forces body. The living, formative forces of this body sculpt and preserve the physical body. The etheric body incarnates (i.e., is born) at about age 7, an event marked by the replacement of a child's baby teeth by adult teeth. Once the etheric body develops adequately, it actuates the knowledge-acquiring faculty called imagination (the first stage toward clairvoyance). [2] In addition to human beings, Steiner said, plants and animals also have etheric bodies; minerals do not. 

◊ “The ether[ic] body is an organism that preserves the physical body from dissolution every moment during life. In order to see this body, to perceive it in another being, the awakened spiritual eye [3] is required. Without this ability its existence as a fact can still be accepted on logical grounds, but it can be seen with the spiritual eye just as color can be seen with the physical eye.” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, part 4, GA 9. ◊ “It may perhaps be difficult to understand this, but the etheric body does not in any way grow older; the etheric body grows younger and younger, in the same degree in which the physical body grows older, until it reaches, as it were, a certain childlike stage of etheric existence [4], when the human being passes through the portal of death after having reached a normal age. We should therefore say to ourselves: When we begin our physical life on earth through birth, then our etheric body, that has become united with our physical body, is, comparatively speaking, old, and in the course of our earthly life it grows younger and younger, until it reaches its childhood stage, when we pass through the portal of death." — R. Steiner, "The Etheric Body as a Reflexion of the Universe", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 39/40, GA 159.


In Waldorf belief, a fully incarnated human has four bodies, shown here schematically: the physical body (red), etheric body (blue), astral body (yellow), and ego body (gold). [5] [R. R. sketch based on one by Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 161. This  image represents the four bodies as conceived by intellect, which does not comprehend the connections between the human being and the cosmic realm beyond. To see the four bodies with a schematic suggestion of the connections beyond the self, see the diagram accompanying the entry for "nonphysical bodies" in this encyclopedia.]

[1] Steiner taught that human beings gradually incarnate three invisible bodies: the etheric, astral, and ego bodies. [See "Incarnation"].

[2] See "Thinking Cap" and the entry for "imagination" in this encyclopedia.

[3] I.e., clairvoyance, or an organ of clairvoyance. [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds".]

[4] I.e., existence on the etheric plane. [See the entry for "etheric realm", below.]

[5] The ego body or its essence is also called the "I". [See the entry for "I" in this encyclopedia.]

Etheric Christ - also see Christ; etheric realm; Second Coming of Christ; Sun God

The resurrected Christ, who has returned in etheric form. According to Anthroposophic belief, the Second Coming of Christ has already occurred, in the etheric realm. [1] "Rudolf Steiner tells us that the resurrected etheric Christ is present in the ether body [2] of the earth and can be encountered by anyone who has developed the necessary perception. [3]"  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 39. Anthroposophists believe that the necessary power of clairvoyant perception is obtained through Anthroposophy. For them, the Etheric Christ is effectively the spirit of Anthroposophy — the propagation of Anthroposophy and the return of Christ are bound up in each other.

Christ's return as the Etheric Christ is usually dated, by Anthroposophists, around 1930 CE — shortly after Steiner's death in 1925. The ending of Kali Yuga [4], the spiritual dark age, in 1899, made perception of the Etheric Christ more generally possible among mankind. (Steiner began delivering his spiritual lectures in 1899.) Steiner spoke of the return of Christ in the etheric realm as a future event, linked to mankind's acquisition of new clairvoyant powers (which his own teachings, Anthroposophy, were meant to enable). [5] Steiner made the following remarks in 1910: "
Kali Yuga has run its course, and now human souls are beginning to develop new faculties, faculties that — because this is precisely the purpose of the age — will cause souls, seemingly out of themselves, to exhibit certain clairvoyant powers that were necessarily submerged in the unconscious during Kali Yuga ... The second coming of Christ will be, for human beings who have developed clairvoyance naturally, the same as when the etheric Christ appeared to Paul as a spiritual being. [6] He will appear once more to human beings, if they come to understand that these faculties that will arise through the evolution of the human soul are to be used for this purpose." — R. Steiner, THE REAPPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN THE ETHERIC (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 1, GA 118.

[1] See the entry for "etheric realm", below.
[2] i.e., etheric body. [See the entry for "etheric body", above.] Steiner often taught that the Earth is alive and has an etheric body.
[3] I.e., clairvoyance.
[4] See the entry for "Kali Yuga" in this encyclopedia.
[5] See "Knowing the Worlds".
[6] See Acts 9:1-31.

etheric force(s) - also see etheric nature; etheric realm; formative forces; life force

a) Electromagnetism.

b) According to Steiner and his followers: supernatural or supersensory powers mediated by or associated with ether. [1] As expressions of the etheric realm [2], these forces make themselves felt on the physical plane in ways that conventional science does not comprehend. “Recently I flew one day from Louisville to Chicago, and on the plane we were given a little booklet as an introduction to the meteorological phenomena which we could see. There it was stated that 'the clouds are suspended by an uprush of cold air.' But as everybody knows, cold air does not rush up. It may do so in front of a mountain, but there is nothing flatter than the country between Louisville and Chicago. There is nothing to induce an uprush of cold air. How, then, are those clouds suspended? It is by the action of the etheric forces.” — A. Heidenreich, THE RISEN CHRIST AND THE ETHERIC CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969). (Anthroposophical statements about scientific phenomena or indeed the natural world are often seriously flawed. The fallacies in Heidenreich's statement should be evident. [3] Heidenreich demonstrates a typical form of Anthroposophical "reasoning": He does not know something, or he thinks he spots a flaw in conventional knowledge, so he leaps to a wholly unsupported esoteric postulate that he embraces as truth — in this case, the existence of "etheric forces.")

In various contexts, Anthroposophical references to "etheric forces" may denote formative forces or life force. [4]

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

[2] See the entry for "etheric realm", below.

[3] Air rushes upward for various reasons. Thermals or updrafts are usually warm, but clouds themselves are quite cold, and they are suspended in cold layers of air. The booklet Heidenreich read was evidently unclear, but in no sense does such a publication lead necessarily to the conclusion that "etheric forces" exist. The interactions of warmer and colder air, and humidity in the air, account for clouds. [See, e.g., "cloud (meteorology)" and "updraft and downdraft (meteorology") in THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.]

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

etheric man
 - also see etheric beings; etheric body; etheric realm; etheric senses; etherization of the blood

In Anthroposophic belief, this is the portion of a human being that lives within the etheric realm, in the etheric body. [1] "From the point of view of occultism [2], the physical body as we see it in front of us is actually permeated by the etheric body and the astral body [3] ... Thus we have the fourfold human being: physical man, etheric man, astral man, [and] ego or 'I '.” [4] — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 2, GA 99.

[1] See the entries for these terms, above and below.
[2] See "Occultism".
[3] The etheric and astral bodies are our first and second invisible bodies: enveloping constellations of forces. The etheric body incarnates at about age 7, and the astral body incarnates around age 14. [See "Incarnation".]
[4] The ego is the third invisible body, or the divine spark of individual identity. [See "Ego".] Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution, telling of the threefold man, fourfold man, sevenfold man, etc. [See "What We're Made Of".]

etheric movement, eurythmic - also see etheric realm; eurythmy

Movements in the dance form called eurythmy [1], giving physical expression to laws or meanings found in the etheric realm. [2] "Speech has its own laws, as music does, which eurythmists have to obey. These laws are found in our etheric body [3] and eurythmy is thus an art of etheric movement. The vital, life forces [3] that surge through our etheric bodies include the forming power of the zodiac and planets. [4] These can be made visible through their corresponding eurythmy gestures." — Eurythmy.org, FAQ.

See "Eurythmy".
[2] See the entry for "etheric realm", below.
[3] See the entry for "etheric body", above.
[4] See the entries for "life force" and "vital force" in this encyclopedia.
[4] Astrology is integral to the Anthroposophical belief system. [See "Astrology".]

etheric nature - see body nature; etheric body; etheric force[s); three-, four-, seven,- and ninefold natures of man

The second subdivision of body nature [1], according to Steiner. The etheric body [2] manifests etheric nature, the forces and anatomy found at the etheric level of existence . Steiner offered varying accounts of the human constitution. Here is the ninefold nature of man, as Steiner described it. Etheric nature stands at the second level, within body nature. ("Body nature" comprehends all that is part of, or closely bound up with, the physical body. The etheric body fits in here, as does the lower portion of our "soul nature," Steiner taught. The higher portion of our soul nature stands higher than body nature, and spirit nature is higher yet.) 



• Body Nature •

 1. Physical Nature 
 2. Etheric Nature 
 3. Soul Nature (a) 

 • Soul Nature (b) •

 4. Sentient Soul 
 5. Intellectual Soul 
 6. Spiritual Sou l

• Spirit Nature •

 7. Spirit Self (a) 
 8. Life Spirit 
 9. Spirit Man 

According to this schema, a human being has three main parts: body, soul, and spirit. [3] Each of these parts has three subparts. Etheric nature is one subpart of our body nature — the etheric is intertwined with the physical, so that the etheric body remains with the physical body whereas the astral body and "I" can transcend the physical body. The lower portion of our soul nature (a) is likewise involved with the physical body — one's soul is the spiritual identity one has during a single physical incarnation. The higher, more extensive form of soul nature (b) is above and independent of the physical body — it exists most truly not on the physical plane of existence but in the soul world. [4] Spirit nature is higher still — one's spirit is the spiritual identity one carries through all incarnations. The restrictive form of spirit self is the lowest subpart of spirit nature; but in his sevenfold description of the human constitution, Steiner gave a more extensive interpretation, combing spiritual soul with spirit self. [5]

The etheric is higher than the physical body, and it confers higher capacities. Still, to enter the spiritual realm, we must leave both the physical and the etheric behind, since they are bound to our Earthly lives. Truly religious individuals have always risen above the physical and etheric, Steiner said. “Religion in its original meaning is based on that experience whereby man feels himself independent not only of his physical and etheric nature, the cause of his existence between birth and death, but also of the Cosmos [6], in so far as this has an influence on such an existence.”  — R. Steiner, COSMOLOGY, RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), chapter 1, GA 25.

[1] See "What We're Made Of".

[2] See the entry for "etheric body," above.

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

[4] See "Higher Worlds".

[5] For further information about the human constitution as conceived in Anthroposophy, see, e.g., "Our Parts" and "Oh Humanity".

[6] I.e., the physical universe. In other contexts, by "cosmos" Steiner meant the entirety of existence, including the spirit realm.


etheric organization - also see etheric body; etheric nature; etheric world

According to Anthroposophy, the "etheric organization" is the inner structure or constitution of etheric forces (forces originating in the etheric world) that go to make up the etheric body. This organization represents one's etheric nature. In ordinary Anthroposophical parlance, "etheric organization" may be deemed essentially synonymous with "etheric 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.

etheric plane - see etheric realm

etheric process - see ether process

etheric realm - also see ether; etheric nature; Second Coming of Christ; Soul World

The supersensory realm above the physical level of reality: the etheric level of existence, located within the universal spiritual ether [1], according to Steiner. Christ’s Second Coming [2] has already occurred in the etheric realm, or so Steiner taught. And it is in the etheric realm that new powers of clairvoyance become possible. “[H]uman beings can acquire the new faculty of perception [3] in the etheric realm — a certain number of human beings to begin with, followed gradually by others, because humanity will have 2,500 years in which to evolve these faculties increasingly. [4]” — R. Steiner, THE REAPPEARANCE OF CHRIST IN THE ETHERIC (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 1, GA 118.

The etheric realm encompasses the four ethers as described by Steiner. "The etheric realm begins with the first state of ether — the ‘fire-ether’ or simply ‘fire’. [5] Fire or warmth, regarded by modern physics merely as motion and non-substantial, is the first state of the ether. The second is the ‘light-ether’, or simply ‘light’. And the third state — sound, tone, or number — is one that is not revealed to man in its original form at all; it is only a reflection, as it were a shadow of this ether that can be perceived in the physical world as tone or sound. Behind external ‘sound’, however, there lies something of a finer etheric nature, something spiritual. Physical tone or sound is a mere phantom of spiritual tone, of ‘sound-ether’ or also ‘number-ether’. The fourth etheric realm is the ‘life-ether’ — that which underlies actual ‘life’." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 7, GA 114. 

[1] See the entry for "ether", above.
[2] See the entry for "Second Coming of Christ" in this encyclopedia.
[3] I.e., a form of clairvoyance. [See the entry for "clairvoyance" in this encyclopedia; also see the entry for "etheric senses", below.]
[4] Each cultural epoch lasts approximately 2,500 years, Steiner taught. This is approximately the length of time we spend under one sign of the zodiac, and Steiner sometimes indicated it is — more or less — the length of time that passes between our earthly incarnations under normal circumstances. If we evolve properly, we tend to move forward in steps spaced 2,500 years apart — but of course it is wrong to view these things mechanistically, much variation is possible, and there are shorter cycles included in each 2,500-stage, while these stages themselves are parts of much longer cycles. [See, e.g., the diagram included with the entry for "epochs," above.]
[5] Or "warmth ether." [See the entry for "ether", above.]

etheric senses - also see clairaudience; clairvoyance; ether; etheric body; etheric Christ; etheric man; etheric nature

These are the senses available to beings in the etheric realm. [1] They "correspond closely with our earthly senses [2], and function similarly, but there appear to be important extensions of senses, difficult for us to comprehend, plus telepathy as a normal means of communication.” — THE STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PSYCHIC, MYSTIC, OCCULT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1973), p. 76.

The various etheric senses are forms of psychic perception. "Etheric vision" is essentially clairvoyance, "etheric hearing" is essentially clairaudience, and so on. These senses function on the etheric plane and permit us to perceive what exists there. Thus, the return of Christ [3] is perceptible through etheric sight. "[E]
theric sight will develop in individual human beings as a natural faculty. In days to come it will be more and more possible for human beings to experience what Paul experienced at Damascus. [4] ... Christ will appear again inasmuch as people raise themselves to him through etheric sight." — R. Steiner, RELIGION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 181.

[1] See the entry for "etheric realm", above.
[2] I.e., physical senses: physical sight, hearing, etc.
[3] See the entry for "Second Coming of Christ" in this encyclopedia.
[4] I.e., perceiving the spirit of Christ or the etheric Christ. See Acts 9:1-31.

etheric sheath
 - also see etheric body; sheath

The etheric womb in which the etheric body [1] gestates. "
During the period just before birth, the human being is able to live only because he is enveloped on all sides by the maternal sheath. [2] At birth the human being thrusts away this physical maternal sheath. At first, it is only the physical body that becomes free; the etheric body — the clairvoyant sees this — is still enveloped by a maternal etheric sheath [3] and remains protected and guarded by this sheath until the time of the second dentition [4]. It is an important point in the evolution of humanity [5] when the maternal etheric sheath is cast off and a second birth takes place. Then, when the etheric body has cast off its maternal sheath, the etheric body as such is born, it becomes free." — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN ESOTERICISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 5, GA 109. 

The etheric sheath is sometimes deemed the same as the etheric body, and indeed Steiner himself sometimes said that the two are the same. But usually he drew the distinction we see here.

[1] See the entry for "etheric body", above.
[2] I.e., the physical womb. (Like all physical objects, Steiner taught, the physical womb has spiritual/etheric/astral extensions.)
[3] I.e., the etheric womb.
[4] I.e., he replacement of baby teeth by adult teeth in the physical body, at about age 7.
[5] I.e., in the development of a human being, Steiner taught that individual humans recapitulate the evolutionary history of humanity as a whole.

etheric sphere - see etheric realm

etheric streams - see ether streams

etheric technology - also see Atlantis; evolution of consciousness; technology

A type of technology, hypothesized by Steiner, that runs on life forces (etheric forces) rather than mechanical or physical (lifeless) forces. The people of Atlantis had etheric technology at a primordial level, Steiner said. We have subsequently lost such technology, he taught, but we will regain it at a higher, more sublime level when we have evolved to higher levels of consciousness. Whereas today's technology is essentially demonic, Steiner indicated, tomorrow's etheric technology will embody correct, harmonized spirituality.

Here is précis, quoted from the Steiner book ATLANTIS; the author is the book's editor: "Etheric Technology: Atlantean 'Magic' Powers   As we re-examine our modern sources of energy, based on the exploitation of nature, Rudolf Steiner shows us the quite different ways in which early humanity was able to manipulate forces 'magically', i.e. by a connection from within, by fusing one's consciousness together with nature rather than standing back to control it from outside. Our consciousness has changed enormously over millennia of evolution — yet it is Steiner's contention that such forces can once again fall under human spiritual control." — A. J. Welburn, chapter headnote, R. Steiner's ATLANTIS (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 34.

Steiner claimed that the people of Atlantis possessed technological devices such as flying cars or air ships. These were powered not by the burning of coal (lumps of dead matter) but by the "magical" (spiritual) application of the living forces of the nature. "Think of the life force that causes the blades of grass to sprout from the earth. This life force was extracted from the seed by the Atlanteans and put to use. In their sheds where the Atlanteans kept their 'air ships', they laid up enormous stocks of seeds, just as we today store coal. They propelled their vehicles with the power accumulated from the seeds." — R. Steiner, ATLANTIS, p. 38. Bear in mind: Steiner describes a spiritual practice, not a mechanical process. Through their inner connection with life forces, the Atlanteans could control outer reality. Steiner taught that we will have the same ability, at a higher level, when we acquire harmony with nature, the spiritual powers behind nature, and one another.

etheric world - see etheric realm; spirit world(s)

etherisation of the blood - also see blood; Christ; Christ event; Christ impulse; Golgotha; "I"; pineal gland

Transformation of blood into an etheric substance that carries the human "I". [1] "When a man stands in front of us today in his waking state and we observe him with the eye of clairvoyance, certain rays of light are seen streaming continually from the heart towards the head. Within the head these rays play around [2] the organ known in anatomy as the pineal gland. [3] These streamings arise because human blood, which is a physical substance, is perpetually resolving itself into etheric substance. In the region of the heart there is a continual transformation of the blood into this delicate etheric substance which streams upwards towards the head and glimmers around the pineal gland. This process — the etherisation of the blood — can be perceived in the human being all the time during his waking life." — R. Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130.

◊ "The phrase also refers to [the Crucifixion] when the blood of Christ flowed from his body on the cross into the earth. The blood of Christ etherised and was united with the etheric aura of the earth. In this process, the earth was rejuvenated with new life forces. The etherised blood of Christ...can be united with the human etherised blood...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 39-40. ◊ "Because the etherised blood of Jesus of Nazareth is present in the etheric body of the Earth [4], it accompanies the etherised human blood streaming upwards from the heart to the brain, so that not only those streams of which I spoke earlier meet in man, but the human blood-stream unites with the blood-stream of Christ Jesus. A union of these two streams can, however, come about only if a person is able to unfold true understanding of what is contained in the Christ Impulse [5] ... [T]he evolution of humanity progresses and in our present age what matters is that people should recognise the need for the knowledge contained in Spiritual Science [6] and be able so to fire the streams flowing from heart to brain that this knowledge can be understood."  — R. Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD.

[1] See "Ego" and "Blood"; also see the entry in this encyclopedia for "I".
[2] I.e., are active around.
[3] See the entry of "pineal gland" in this encyclopedia.
[4] Steiner often taught that the Earth is alive, and as a living being it has an etheric body.
[5] I.e., the impetus given to human evolution by Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Christ Impulse".] "True understanding" comes through Steiner's own teachings: Anthroposophy.
[6] I.e., Anthroposophy. According to Steiner, salvation depends on the acquisition of occult knowledge, which he himself provides.

ether process - also see ether; etheric body; etheric nature

Physical, soul, or spiritual process occurring in or through the etheric body. Waldorf teachers attempt to facilitate seven such processes. "The seven processes are: Breathing ... Warming ... Nourishing ... Secreting ... Maintaining ... Growing ... Reproduction."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 40. 

To the extent that these processes occur beyond the physical plane, they become processes of perception and are deemed ether(ic) processes. "Etheric processes correspond to perception. Just as we live, as it were, with our metabolism in the fluid [1], and live with our breathing in the air, we live with our perceiving in the ether; inner ether processes, inner etheric processes, that occur in the invisible [etheric] body, also occur in sense perception." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 294.

[1] I.e., the fluids needed for, and enabling, our metabolic processes — especially water. "[W]e can think of the metabolic processes as occurring so that they are associated essentially with the fluid material element." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 293.

ether spirit - see life spirit

ether streams - also see ether; ether process

The movement of ethers, around or within entities, including human beings. Steiner usually identified four ethers, but he sometimes spoke of five. In the latter case, there would be five ether streams. "We're always surrounded by five ether streams in the world around us on earth. They're called earth, water, fire, air and thought ethers. These etheric streams are also active in man...." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 148. 

Ethiopian race - see Africans; Mercury race; "Negro" race 

eugenic occultism - also see Asia, Asians; astrology; exogamy; hygienic occultism; mechanical occultism; occultism; sex, sexes

"By the eugenic capacity I mean the removal of the reproduction of human beings from the sphere of mere arbitrary impulse and accident. Among the peoples of the East there will gradually develop a brilliantly clear knowledge as to how the laws of population, the laws of peopling the earth, must run parallel with certain cosmic phenomena. From this information they will know that, if conception is brought about in accord with certain constellations of the stars, opportunities will thus be given for souls that are either good or evil in their natures to obtain access for earthly incarnation. This capacity will be acquired only by those individuals who constitute the continuation as races, the continuation in the blood stream, of the Asiatic population. They will be able simply to see in detail how what works today chaotically and arbitrarily in conception and birth can be brought into harmony with the great laws of the cosmos in individual concrete cases. Here abstract laws are of no avail. What will be acquired is a concrete single capacity in which it will be known in individual cases whether or not a conception should occur at a particular time.

"This knowledge, which will make it possible to bring down from the heavens the impelling forces for the moralizing or demoralizing of the earth through the nature of man himself, this special capacity evolves as a continuation of the blood capacity in the races of the East. What evolves as a capacity there I call eugenic occultism." — R. Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), pp. 95-96.

Eunicke, Anna (1853-1911)

Rudolf Steiner's first wife, who was startled by his shift into occultism. She and her husband became estranged. After she died, Rudolf Steiner remarried. [See "What a Guy".]


Anna Eunicke.

[Public domain photograph; color added.]

Europe - also see Europeans; Central Europe; Germans, Germany

According to Steiner: the home of the generally highest-evolved descendants of the Atlanteans. [1] Steiner attributed particular virtues to Western or Central Europeans (certainly including Germans): "The task of West European culture, and particularly of Central European culture, is that men shall develop an individual culture, individual consciousness [2] ... The mission of Western and Central Europe is to introduce into men qualities that can be introduced by the consciousness soul. [3]" — R. Steiner, PREPARING FOR THE SIXTH EPOCH (Anthroposophic Press, 1957), a lecture, GA 159. Only by developing such consciousness can we become truly human, Steiner taught.

Critics often contend that Waldorf education is Eurocentric, Steiner taught that humanity has developed from primitive conditions to the pinnacle of civilization now evident in Europe. The Waldorf curriculum often reflects this conception, for instance by indicating that humans were incapable of rational thought until the ancient Greeks (Europeans) developed this capacity. Likewise, Waldorf schools typically place great emphasis on Norse mythology, the myths of north/central Europe. Steiner taught that Norse myths present a true picture of human spiritual evolution. [4]

[1] Steiner taught that Westerners have attained a degree of individualism unknown elsewhere: They come closer to possessing a fully developed "I." [See "Ego".]

[2] See "Atlantis" and "Clues".

[3] I.e., one of our three souls or soul parts, also called the spiritual soul; it enables us to think about our cognition of the world around us. [See "Our Parts".]

[4] See "The Gods".

The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education (ECSWE)

Coordinating and certifying authority for Waldorf schools in Europe.

European-American Age - see Anglo-Germanic Age

Europeans - also see Caucasian race; Central Europe; Europe; Germans; Norse myths

According to Steiner: the "Jupiter race," the product of powers on/in Jupiter. Europeans are highly evolved, Steiner said — higher than other races. [See, e.g., "Rankings".] ◊ "[In our survey of peoples we] pass over into the domain of Europe and we find in the Europeans, in their basic character, in their racial character, the Jupiter men.” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121. [See “Lecture”.] ◊ "Of the Europeans, to which we belong, we say that they are the white race ... On one side you have the black race, which is the most earthly ... We also have the yellow race, which is midway between earth and the cosmos ... The white race is the future, it is the most spirit-building race." — R. Steiner, "Color and the Human Races", VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349. [See "Forbidden".] Europeans have a different comprehension of Christ than do people elsewhere; latter-day Europeans sometimes lose their ancient insight, however. ◊ "The [European] people had been prepared but, to a certain extent, they had forgotten what had prepared them. They had been prepared out of the ancient northern Mysteries. [1] But they had forgotten the meaning of the ancient northern Mysteries. To discover, out of the inner meaning of the northern Mysteries, that deep secret [2] of how the feeling for Jesus entered into European soul life [3] it is necessary to go very far back indeed. These northern Mysteries were founded on something utterly different from the foundation of the Mysteries of Asia Minor, the Mysteries of the South. [4] These Mysteries of the North were founded on something that was more intimately bound up with the life of the stars, with nature, with the earth's growth forces, rather than that which was shown in the symbols of a temple. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1988), lecture 8, GA 173.

[1] I.e., occult wisdom found in northern culture, such as in Norse myths. ("Mysteries," in the sense Steiner applies here, are tales and teachings that explicate spiritual mysteries.)

[2] Most profound knowledge, according to Steiner, is secret or occult — it is revealed only to initiates.

[3] I.e., how the spirit of the Sun God flowed into the European soul. Steiner taught that various peoples have had various relationships with the Sun God. [Jesus is the human being in whom the Sun God incarnated. See "Sun God" and "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".]

[4] Steiner taught that various streams of mystery wisdom, converging in Anthroposophy, flow from various places and times.

[5] European mystery knowledge tells us more about objective reality (the stars, nature, the Earth's forces) than can be learned in temples and their symbols. (Steiner claimed that Anthroposophy is a science — "Spiritual Science" — not a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"])

eurythmy - also see arts; Atlantis; Bothmer gymnastics; curative eurythmy; karma; larynx; medicine; speech

A form of dance intended to connect the dancer to the spiritual realm. Invented by Steiner, it is usually a required activity for students at Waldorf schools. Eurythmy (pronounced yur-RITH-me) is "visible speech" — that is, its movements are meant to give shape to the inner meaning of language. Manifesting such meaning has enormous significance, in the Anthroposophical view, because our words and indeed our thoughts create living spiritual beings who exist in the spirit realm — or so Steiner taught. Eurythmists should experience bodily the spiritual essence of transcendent Truth. The inner language of eurythmy is meant to reflect the "universal language" as spoken on Atlantis, the language that underlies all the disparate language on Earth now. Various gestures of eurythmy are meant to embody the inner significance of all the letters of the alphabet and all the notes in music. A special branch of eurythmy is meant to be therapeutic — it can cure ailments, or so Anthroposophists believe. Eurythmy thus becomes a extension of Anthroposophical medicine.

Waldorf students who perform eurythmy are (usually without being told so) engaged in an Anthroposophical version of temple dancing — eurythmy is Anthroposophical devotion set in motion. Eurythmy is, then, a type of worship. [See "Eurythmy" and "Weird Waldorf".] Eurythmy is the highest of the arts, a fulfillment of karma ◊ “Eurythmy has grown up out of the soil of the Anthroposophical Movement, and the history of its origin makes it almost appear to be a gift of the forces of destiny ... Eurythmy must be accounted one of the many activities arising out of the Anthroposophical Movement, which have grown up in such a way that their first beginnings must be looked upon as the result of the workings of destiny ... It is the task of Anthroposophy to bring a greater depth, a wider vision and a more living spirit into the other forms of art. But the art of Eurythmy could only grow up out of the soul of Anthroposophy; could only receive its inspiration through a purely Anthroposophical conception.” — R. Steiner, A LECTURE ON EURYTHMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1967), GA 279. ◊ "In having people do eurythmy, we link them directly to the supersensible [i.e., supernatural] world." — R. Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 246-247. ◊ "Eurythmy is obligatory [for students at Waldorf schools]. The children must participate. Those who do not participate in eurythmy will be removed from the school." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65.


[Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2006.]

Eve - also see Adam; female; Old Testament

a) According to the Book of Genesis, Eve was the first woman, the wife of Adam. 

b) Steiner taught that Adam and Eve were the primordial humans who — unlike other humans alive at the same time — were dense or sturdy enough to remain on Earth while other humans departed for other planets. “[H]uman beings were of course soul/spiritual beings, and for this very reason they could not unite with the earth materiality...because, while the moon was still united with the earth, this was too coarse. [1] So it came about that the great majority of human souls had to relinquish their union with the earth ... Some soul/spirits were more suited to pursue their evolution on Saturn for the time being, others on Mars, others again on Mercury and so on [2] ... So what we call our human soul condition went through an evolution on the neighboring planets of our earth ... [But] by no means all human soul/spirits left the earth. What we might describe as the toughest souls were able to go on using earthly matter, and remain united with it. I have even mentioned that in a surprising way there was a principal human couple who survived the densification of the earth. Spiritual investigation [3] 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 [4], and that the races which arose on the return of the soul/spirits from the cosmos came about through their union with the descendants of this couple. [5]” — R. Steiner, GENESIS: Secrets of Creation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 124-126. [See "Genesis".]

[1] I.e., the Earth (which was still united with the Moon) had become too densely physical for those proto-humans who were still essentially non-physical. (Steiner taught that an important part of evolution was the gradual hardening of the Earth, making it more and more physical. We now live in a very densely physical condition. In the future, we and the Earth will become less physical and more spiritual again.)
[2] I.e., they departed for planets that were less densely physical. (Bear in mind that all the planets, including Earth, were very different in ancient evolutionary periods from the planets that we find in the solar system today.)
[3] I.e., spiritual science, using clairvoyance to study the cosmos.
[4] Aside from affirming the existence of Adam and Eve, Steiner;'s account bears little relation to the Bible's.
[5] I.e., different races arose because proto-humans returning from different planets had different types of offspring when they mated with the descendants of the humans who remained on the Earth. The differing offspring became different races. (This is one of Steiner's explanations for the simultaneous existence of differing races on the Earth today.)

evil - also see abnormal; abyss; Ahriman; Antichrist; Asuras; bad souls; demons; Eighth Sphere; evil beings; evil races; evil souls; fall of man; good and evil; hell; Lucifer; sin; cf. morality

a) Immorality — violating moral norms, principles, or rules.

b) Sin — violating divine laws.

c) Violation of divine intent not necessarily codified as laws (Steiner shares this view).

According to Steiner, evil is evolutionary retardation or anachronism; it contravenes the evolutionary progression planned by the gods. As such, evil is important in Anthroposophical narratives and doctrines. [See "Evil".] “People will have to know all the forces that the soul must summon up in order to overcome the powers of evil, or to transform them into good impulses ... The good and evil forces in man could to a great extent influence the health and illness of other people, and consequently also birth and death [1] ... [D]uring our own epoch, the 5th post-Atlantean epoch [2], people will have to struggle with evil in the same elemental way in which they struggled with birth and death during the Atlantean age [3]; particularly through the control of the different forces of Nature, the impulses that lead to evil will send their influences into the world in an immense, gigantic form. And the opposite forces, the forces of good, will have to grow out of the opposition to evil, and man will have to draw the strength for this opposition out of spiritual sources. This will take place above all during the 5th epoch, when the exploitation of electric forces, which will assume quite different dimensions from those which they have assumed so far, will enable man to spread evil over the earth, and evil will invade the earth by coming in an immediate way out of the forces of electricity [4] ... [T]hose who wish to take in spiritual impulses will find the points of attack for the opponent forces and the points of issue for the impulses which have to develop out of the resistance offered to evil.” — R. Steiner, “The Overcoming of Evil”, THE ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 21-22 (General Anthroposophic Society, 1947), GA 273.

Much of the Anthroposophical narrative describing human evolution has to do with evil and the overcoming of evil. However, there is also a strong disposition in Anthroposophy to discount the reality of evil. From this perspective, the forces of evil actually serve the forces of good — they are part of the divine cosmic plan. [See, e.g., "Sixth Epoch".] This view is perhaps easiest to justify in considering the figure of Lucifer. [5] He is a demon, yet he offers mankind gifts of real value, Steiner taught. And, arguably, Lucifer's "evil" nature is revealed to be illusory when we make sufficient spiritual progress to penetrate the illusion. Likewise, gnomes or goblins [6] can seem evil and they can harm humans, but their ultimate function may be deemed beneficial. Overall, Anthroposophy tends to view, or wish to view, evil as existing under the benevolence of the gods; it exists for our own good. Evil exists so that humans can be free, attaining the capacity to choose between good and evil. [See "Freedom".] "For the sake of freedom the gods had to allow evil to enter the world." — R. Steiner, THE INNER REALITIES OF EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1953), p. 49.

However, in figures such as Ahriman and Sorat, the Anthroposophical distinction between good and evil seems more enduring. [7] Thus, whereas Anthroposophy sometimes seems to be an innovative vision that reconciles opposites, it also sometimes seems to embody the same dualistic vision of irreconcilable oppositions that can be found in various other faiths. To some degree, contradictions are endemic to Anthroposophy and must be accepted — or rejected — as part of the overall package. Many Anthroposophists are deeply invested in the proposition that Anthroposophy is wholly affirmative. But in fact there is much darkness in Anthroposophical doctrines. The question, then, is whether those doctrines adequately address that darkness, defeating it or possibly reworking it so that it plausibly joins with the light. If the concept of evil is blended into the concept of virtue, a crucial moral distinction — needed to guide our conduct — may be lost. In any event, Steiner's own teachings contain many references to forms of evil that cannot be rationalized as virtue: In these teachings, Steiner posits a real and crucial combat between the forces of evil and the forces of virtue.

[1] I.e., the forces in our souls exert influences that reshape reality, including the health of those around us, birth and death, etc.
[2] I.e., the fifth cultural epoch of our great epoch. [See the entries for "epochs", "cultural epochs", and "great epochs" in this encyclopedia.] We live in the fifth historical age — the fifth cultural epoch — since the destruction of Atlantis. (Our current great epoch, of which the fifth cultural epoch is a subdivision, is the "Post-Atlantean Epoch." Each subdivision of this great epoch may be considered a Post-Atlantean [cultural] epoch.)
[3] I.e., the fourth cultural epoch, when we lived on Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]
[4] Anthroposophist generally deplore modern technology; their aversion stems from Steiner's teachings about electricity, steam engines, etc.: He said they are, or may become, essentially demonic.
[5] See "Lucifer".
[6] See "Gnomes" and "Neutered Nature".

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

evil beings - also see demons; evil; evil gods; evil races; evil souls

Although Anthroposophists sometimes deny it, Steiner taught that evil is a real and threatening force in our universe, and the possibility that evil beings may triumph over the good cannot be discounted. Evil is enacted by various beings who are immoral or perverse to one degree or another. These beings include demons and evil gods who war against the good gods. Thus, Steiner was able to say to his followers, “[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods....” — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. [1]

Evil beings, in the Anthroposophical cosmology, include Sorat the Antichrist [2], the arch-demons Ahriman and Lucifer [3], and demonic beings such as the Asuras. [4] Steiner labeled various evil spirits "spirits of darkness", "powers of evil", etc. [See "Evil Ones".]

Human beings may fall into error and evil, in which case we may bring various subordinate nature spirits [5] into existence: ghosts, phantoms, specters. Our actions, words, and even thoughts can create such beings, Steiner taught. [See "Neutered Nature".] Nature spirits are not in themselves evil, although some are troublingly amoral. “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63. Lack of moral responsibility may, of course, produce evil consequences.

When humans are evil enough for long enough, they may fall out of the human family and become, themselves, subordinate nature spirits. "They...cut themselves off entirely from the progress of evolution ... They appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature-spirits." — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 69-70. In a somewhat different sense, wicked individuals may become the servants of evil spirits. "To the extent in which they have been unscrupulous during their life upon the earth, they now condemn themselves to be the servants [certain] evil beings." — R. Steiner, "Anthroposophy as a Substance of Life and Feeling" (General Anthroposophical Society, 1938), a lecture, GA 140.

[1] See, e.g., "War".

[2] See, e.g., "Bad, Badder, Baddest".

[3] See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer".

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

[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "nature spirits", "elemental beings", and "subordinate nature spirits".

evil gods - see Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Opposition; also see evil beings; cf. good gods; light, spirits of

Steiner sometimes indicated that no gods are truly evil; all gods contribute, directly or indirectly, to human spiritual evolution. Thus, even the arch-demons Lucifer and Ahriman may be acquitted of being genuinely evil. "[W]e cannot say that there are good gods on the one hand and the evil gods Ahriman and Lucifer on the other. We must not assume that a trial should be held in the universe...and sentence Lucifer and Ahriman to be locked up once and for all, so that only the good gods can get to work ... The opposing forces ['evil gods'] were created by the good gods themselves...so that they would be able to bring to bear their full force for the development I have described [i.e., human betterment]." — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), lecture 4, GA 165. The oppositional or "evil" gods, then, contribute in their way to the fulfillment of the divine cosmic plan.

However, on other occasions, Steiner indicated that the distinction between good and evil gods carries genuine spiritual import. For instance, "[W]hen we contemplate the horrors of war, the guilt and ugliness of war in their connection with death-dealing elemental catastrophes, we are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods." — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. Or, again, "[There] was a time when men were still unfree and must needs follow the Will of the good and the evil Gods." — R. Steiner, WORLD HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977), lecture 8, GA 233. Or, yet again, "Feeling has really a connection with all the spiritual beings who must be spoken of as real. So that if a man with inadequate concepts sinks into his feeling-life, he comes into collision with the gods — if you wish to express it thus — but also with evil gods ... The year 1879 arrived. The battle that had been going on in the spiritual realms began to be transferred to earth after the fall of the spirits of darkness ... [A soul could be caught] in the midst of the battle, up in the spiritual world, between the spirits of darkness and the spirits of light." — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1946), lecture 2, GA 178.

Whether some gods may be deemed good and others evil depends, in the end, on the question whether evil actually exists. Steiner vacillated on this subject. [See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "good and evil".] If evil is a sort of illusion, then "evil gods" and "demons" present "opposition" that is not ultimately opposition at all; their actions work for the betterment of humanity — they provide temptations for us to overcome and rise above. But if evil is a real force in the universe — if humans may fall into gross error and sin, and thereby lose their souls — then indeed some gods may be considered truly evil. Steiner indicated as much, for instance, when he spoke of Ahriman's terrible power and the perilous condition of humanity today: "[T]oday...[human beings are] in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic world, in which case the [human] spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos. We live in a time when people face the danger of losing their souls ... That is a very serious matter. We now stand confronted with that fact." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 115.

evil races - also see degenerate races; bad souls; evil; savages; substandard souls; cf. advanced races

According to Steiner, these are races that embody evil human impulses, in particular materialism (i.e., the denial of spirituality). We create evil races through our own faults; such races may threaten to overrun the Earth. They fall away from the upward-evolving, virtuous course of human advancement just as degenerate animals have done. "All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations [1] ... [A] portion [of humanity will] split off and represent the evil part of humanity ... [T]he inner badness of the soul will express itself externally. Just as older conditions that have degenerated to the ape species [2] seem grotesque to us today, so will materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, peopling the earth as evil races. [3] It will lie entirely with the human being as to whether a soul wants to remain in the bad race or wants to ascend by spiritual culture to a good race. [4]" — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 150. [For more on Steiner's racial teachings, see "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".]

[1] I.e., when we think materialistically (denying the reality of spirit; relying on a material organ, the brain), we help to produce evil racial forms. (Steiner taught that our thoughts create realities: spirits that live in the spirit realm, and manifestations of such spirits, incarnated on the physical plane of existence.)
[2] Steiner taught that most animals descend from human beings — they are discarded remnants, beings that were unable to keep evolving alongside humanity, so they were ejected from the human evolutionary line.
[3] I.e., evil races will split off from the human evolutionary line just as animals have done.
[4] I.e., individual humans can choose whether to remain members of bad races or evolve upward to join good races during future incarnations. 

evil souls, evil spirits - also see bad souls; evil; evil races; Great Sin; substandard souls

According to Steiner, some humans are evil — they are "abnormal," committing the "great sin" of failing to keep pace with human evolution. They are materialistic and wicked. They are drawn to destructive phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, and through their evil will they actually create natural catastrophes. ◊ ”[M]aterialistic souls incarnate, drawn sympathetically by volcanic phenomena [1] ... And these births can in their turn bring about new cataclysms because reciprocally the evil souls exert an exciting influence on the terrestrial fire. [2]” — R. Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978), chapter 16, GA 94. Human beings are not the only souls or spirits that may become evil. ◊ "Now on each planet there are also Spirits who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress. 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. " — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99. 

[1] And other catastrophic events, equivalent to volcanic eruptions.

[2] I.e., evil individuals actually create catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions — they "exert an exciting influence on the terrestrial fire," the burning lava within the Earth. Steiner taught that our thoughts and actions mold the reality around us.

evil spirits - see evil beings; evil gods; evil souls

evolution - also see conditions of consciousness; divine cosmic plan; evolution of consciousness; future; historical narrative; history

a) In biology: development, through natural selection, of features having survival benefit.

b) In Anthroposophy: development, through the enactment of the divine cosmic plan [1], of higher spiritual states — the progressive elevation of consciousness. [See the entry for "evolution of consciousness", below.“Besides the physical nature revealed to the senses, there is a concealed spiritual nature — a hidden spiritual environment. This surrounding spiritual world, of which only the veriest surface is apparent to sense-perception, carries even now in its womb man's future evolution. [2] Just as we bear within us in mighty pictures the entire past and are ourselves the outcome of those pictures [3], so in the concealed life of nature there works and weaves that which, in its further unfolding as world-evolution, will bring us our future ... In my [book] OCCULT SCIENCE I have pointed out how a Saturn-evolution [4], a Sun-evolution [5], a Moon-evolution [6], preceded in turn the Earth-evolution in which we are living [7] and during which the Saturn-, Sun- and Moon-evolutions have been recapitulated. [8] We are now rather past the middle of the actual Earth-evolution, the evolution of man on Earth.” — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 12, GA 227.


[THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 385.]

Here is the overall pattern of human evolution, as per Steiner. We are moving from left to right along each of these scales. At each stage, we rise to a higher level of evolutionary development.  We have evolved through Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon, and now we are in the Present Earth stage. During Present Earth, we currently live in the Mineral Kingdom. [9] Within the Mineral Kingdom, we are currently incarnated in the Physical-Etheric State. [10] Within the Physical-Etheric State, we currently live in the Present Great Epoch. [11] Within the Present Great Epoch, we are currently in the Present Cultural Epoch. [12] Moving forward entails continual recapitulations of previous evolutionary stages.Each "planetary condition" (i.e., each evolutionary mega-stage) consists of seven "life conditions," some of which recapitulate previous evolutionary stages. Overall, we will evolve through 49 life conditions (seven life conditions during each of seven planetary conditions: 7x7). In turn, each life condition contains seven "conditions of form," so overall we will evolve through 343 conditions of form (7x7x7). Likewise, each condition of form contains seven "great epochs," so overall we will evolve through 2,401 of these (7x7x7x7). And because each great epoch contains seven "cultural epochs," overall we will pass through 16,807 of these (7x7x7x7x7). By the time we have passed through all these stages and attained fulfillment during Future Vulcan, our consciousness will have evolved from a comatose condition (Old Saturn) to divinely aware intuition (Future Vulcan). [For another depiction of the pattern of evolution as per Steiner, see the diagram included with the entry for "epochs", above. For an account of evolution as presented in Anthroposophical texts, see the entry in this encyclopedia for "historical narrative".]

[1] See the entry for "divine cosmic plan" in this encyclopedia.
[2] I.e., our future evolution is known and pictured in the spirit realm; our future is gestating in the spirit realm's "womb."
[3] Steiner taught that reality is created when the imaginative pictures conceived by spiritual beings are made manifest. We carry deep within us the pictures of our evolutionary past.
[4] I.e., our first evolutionary mega-stage, Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]
[5] I.e., our second evolutionary mega-stage, Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".]
[6] I.e., our third evolutionary mega-stage, Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[7] I.e., the evolutionary mega-stage in which we currently exist, Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".]
[8] Steiner taught that as we evolve, we continually recapitulate former stages but at a higher level.
[9] That is, we have not yet become fully human — we are still densely physical or mineral. We will evolve upward to the Human Kingdom.
[10] Steiner used this terminology during his Theosophical period. Later, after founding Anthroposophy as a separate movement, he used different terms. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "stages of form".] We are "physical-etheric" now because we live in physical incarnation, with our physical bodies suffused by the forces of our etheric bodies. [See "Incarnation".]
[11] In Anthroposophy, this is usually referred to as the Post-Atlantean Epoch, the epoch after the sinking of Atlantis. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".]
[12] In Anthroposophy, this is often referred to as the Anglo-Germanic Age, [See the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.] Cultural epochs or ages are subdivisions of great epochs.

evolution of consciousness

 - also see 


atavistic clairvoyance; clairvoyance; conditions of consciousness; evolution; exact clairvoyance; imagination; inspiration; intuition; Jupiter consciousness; natural clairvoyance; Venus consciousness; Vulcan consciousness

A basic tenet of Anthroposophy: Humanity is evolving upward through higher and higher stages of consciousness or cognition. If we live wisely and well, we move to higher forms of consciousness during our Earthly lives, during our lives after death, and during our future evolution in other conditions of consciousness. [1] 

Steiner taught that we began our evolution in a period occultly denominated "Old Saturn." [2] Our consciousness then was analogous to being in a coma. Our next major evolutionary stage was "Old Sun," during which our consciousness was analogous to deep sleep. [3] We then evolved to "Old Moon," when our consciousness was analogous to dreaming sleep. [4] Currently, during our lives in the Present Earth Condition of Consciousness [5], we have ordinary waking consciousness. We will perfect Imagination during our next condition of consciousness: Future Jupiter. After that we will perfect Inspiration during Future Venus and Intuition during Future Vulcan. [6]

The following is from is an Anthroposophical description of the Steiner book THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS: "In these comprehensive lectures...Rudolf Steiner explains how it is possible to develop higher faculties of consciousness — Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. [7] A particularly vivid description is given of one's life after death and the progress of the individual through the planetary spheres [8] where tasks and goals for future incarnations are prepared in cooperation with the spiritual beings of the Hierarchies. [9] The lectures culminate in the call for humanity to gradually take in hand its own destiny through the conscious and free development of spiritual capacities."  [The Rudolf Steiner Archive.]

Inspiration is higher than Imagination, and Intuition is higher still. Essentially, these are all stages of "exact" or "strict" clairvoyance. [10] Steiner's teachings about such matters are both mystical and arcane. Consider the following statement about Intuition. Attaining true, conscious Intuition — as a supreme form of clairvoyance — is a central evolutionary goal. "Conscious Intuition, therefore, the highest development of strict clairvoyance, actually consists in arresting the actions which a sleep-walker is instinctively compelled by the Moon-forces to perform. [11] Anyone who brings about this metamorphosis does not give himself up to the physical forces of the Moon but holds them in check within himself. Thus he is enabled to devote himself intuitively to the relevant spirituality; that is, he attains to Intuition." — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS, lecture 7, GA 227. 

Anthroposophical teachings about consciousness and its develop lie behind the emphasis Waldorf schools place on imagination, inspiration, and intuition. [12]

[1] See the entry for "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia. Conditions of consciousness (also called planetary conditions) are the largest phases of our evolution, and indeed they are stages in the evolution of the entire solar system. Each condition of consciousness is an incarnation of the solar system at a higher level than the previous incarnation. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system". Also see the entry for "historical narrative".]
[2] See "Old Saturn" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Old Saturn".
[3] See "Old Sun" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Old Sun".
[4] See "Old Moon, Etc." and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Old Moon".
[5] See "Present Earthand the entry in this encyclopedia for "Present Earth".
[6] See "Future Stages" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "Future Jupiter", "Jupiter consciousness", "Future Venus", "Venus consciousness", "Future Vulcan", and "Vulcan consciousness".
[7] We will perfect these types of consciousness during future conditions of consciousness, but by following Steiner's directions we can develop these types of consciousness — at some level — now, during our lives here on the Earth as it exists now. Or so Steiner said. (Waldorf schools seek to augments their students' nascent powers of imagination, inspiration, and intuition.)
[8] See "Higher Worlds".
[9] I.e., gods. [See "Polytheism".]
[10] See "Exactly" and the entry for "exact clairvoyance", below.
[11] Steiner taught that astrological influences from various "planets" (including the Moon), stars, and constellations impinge on us almost unceasingly. To evolve, we must deal with such influences, using them to their best potential. [See "Astrology", "Star Power", "Astrosophy", etc.]
[12] See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".

exact clairvoyance - also see atavistic clairvoyance; clairvoyance; initiation; natural clairvoyance

The cognitive power Steiner claimed to possess and that he said he could teach to others — precise, highly reliable clairvoyance; it is the proximate goal for Anthroposophists and initiated Waldorf teachers. [See "Exactly", "Knowing the Worlds", and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] Unlike ancient or atavistic clairvoyance [1], exact clairvoyance is fully controlled by the consciousness, in particular by the "I," Steiner taught. [2] Clairvoyance thus becomes an accurate tool for use in spiritual scientific investigation. “Clairvoyance, which is the basis of the modern science of initiation [3], has always existed ... In our age the methods are entirely built, as in external science, upon the continuous and full control of the individuality and personality; in the soul life there must be control in every stage and in every step taken by the new candidate for initiation. [4] Hence in speaking of exact clairvoyance in connection with the modern science of initiation we use the word ‘exact’ as it is used in the term ‘exact’ science.” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE AND INITIATION — COGNITION OF THE CHRIST THROUGH ANTHROPOSOPHY (Steiner Book Center, 1983), lecture 2, GA 211.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".
[2] The "I" is the spiritual ego, the spark of divine individuality. [See "Ego" and the entry for "I" in this encyclopedia.]
[3] Initiation, in the sense used here, is acquisition of hidden or occult spiritual knowledge. An initiate is admitted to the circle of occult savants. The "science" of initiation is essentially the same as "spiritual science" and/or "occult science." Steiner used all these terms. Centrally, he meant his own teachings: Anthroposophy. He also said that forms of occult science existed in the past, and they yielded valuable — but incomplete — knowledge of the spirit realm. Anthroposophy is more complete and exact, just as the "exact clairvoyance" Steiner claimed to possess is more productive than the inexact clairvoyance used by others.
[4] I.e., development of exact clairvoyance requires great discipline and control. Steiner outlined the necessary processes. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

excarnation - also see death; reincarnation; cf. incarnation

The opposite of incarnation: leaving the body; death. Human beings undergo excarnation, and so do gods (in a different way, of course). “An essential point is that the Archangels [1] cannot work down into purely physical conditions, such as the configuration of mountain-ranges and the like [2]; these are the work of higher, more potent Beings. [3] Therefore we have the wanderings of people, guided by their Archangels to seek the ‘promised land’ they need, and — which is also an important thing to note — the coming and going of the Archangels themselves, their incarnation and excarnation, so to speak. [4] For an Archangel is not at all times working as the folk-spirit [or group soul] of a nation upon Earth. There are times when the Archangel withdraws into another state of consciousness (then the nation He belonged to passes away from earthly history); after an intervening time He may return again, to ensoul another nation in a new historic epoch.” — G. A. Kaufmann, SOULS OF THE NATIONS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1938), lecture 2.

[1] I.e., gods two levels above humanity; they guide nations and races. [See the entry for "Archangels" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Embedded Racism".] 

[2] I.e., they cannot function at the purely physical level. Hence, physical phenomena such as mountains are not their creations.

[3] I.e., higher, more powerful gods. [For a summary of the various types of gods discussed by Steiner, see "Polytheism".]

[4] I.e., sometimes Archangels "incarnate" in human affairs, guiding various nations and races; at other times, they withdraw, "excarnating" so as to exist wholly in the spirit realm. (The "incarnation" of Archangels occurs at the level of human spirits and souls, not at the level of the purely physical human body. The "excarnation" of Archangels thus does not mean departing from physical incarnation. For human beings, incarnation and excarnation entail entering and leaving the physical body.)

exercises, spiritual - also see exact clairvoyance; initiation; mantras; meditations in Anthroposophy; prayers; spiritual exercises; supplementary exercises

Steiner specified exercises, meditations, mantras, and prayers for his followers to use. [See "Knowing the Worlds" and "Power Words".] He taught that by following his directions, individuals can develop reliable clairvoyant powers of the sort he claimed to possess. He presented necessary spiritual exercises in his book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. (A newer edition is titled HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS.) These exercises are the essence of the spiritual discipline Anthroposophists follow, and they are sometimes prescribed for Waldorf school students. [See "Serving the Gods".]

Here is one typical, and central, exercise Steiner prescribed: "We begin by examining different natural objects in a particular way: for example...we try to direct our whole attention to comparing a stone and an animal. The thoughts that we form to make this comparison must pass through the soul accompanied by lively feelings. No other thoughts or feelings must be allowed to intrude ... [T]wo very different kinds of feeling come to life in the soul. One kind streams into the soul from the stone, another from the animal ... Eventually, they become something that remains alive in our souls ... Out of these feelings, and the thoughts accompanying them, organs of clairvoyance [1] are formed ... The organs built up in this way are spiritual eyes. They gradually allow us to see soul and spiritual colors. [2]" — R. Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), pp. 49-50.

[1] These are invisible, immaterial organs, existing at levels higher than the physical body. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "organs of clairvoyance". Also see "Knowing the Worlds".]
[2] See, e.g., "Auras".

exogamy - also see blood; races; racism

Mating outside one's tribe, ethnic group, or race; generally deplored by Steiner. According to Steiner, exogamy or race mixing caused humanity to lose its clairvoyant awareness of the spirit realm [1], a loss that brought us to our present, benighted form of consciousness. “Modern science has discovered that if the blood of one animal is mixed with that of another not akin to it, the blood of the one is fatal to that of the other. This has been known to occultism [2] for ages ... Just as this mingling of the blood of different species of animals brings about actual death when the types are too remote [3], so, too, the ancient clairvoyance of undeveloped man was killed when his blood was mixed with the blood of others who did not belong to the same stock. The entire intellectual life of today is the outcome of the mingling of blood. [4]” — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Health Research Books, 1972), pp. 12-13. [See “Blood” and "Steiner's Racism".] On the other hand, Steiner sometimes indicated intermarriage between different peoples can carry benefits. So, for instance, he indicated that people will be able to share the benefits of one another's innate capacity through intermarriage. "From the bodies of the English-speaking peoples the possibility of developing eugenic occult capacities [5] in the future through birth can never arise. It is precisely in the West that these will be applied, but the manner in which they will be applied will be that a mastery will be established over the Eastern lands, and marriages will be brought about between people of the West and people of the East. Thus use will be made of what can be learned only from the people of the East." — R. Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (Anthroposophic Press, 1941), p. 99. (Note that even in this case, racial or national superiority is nonetheless stressed: The Western peoples will established "mastery" over Eastern lands.)

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".
[2] See "Occultism".
[3] I.e., when the species are not closely related.
[4] Intellect has its uses, Steiner taught, but fundamentally it is harmful. “The intellect destroys or hinders.” — R. Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 233. [See "Thinking".]
[5] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "eugenic occultism".

exoteric - cf. esoteric

Intended for, and understandable by, the general public; the opposite of esoteric. "We should realize how tremendously important the step from the exoteric life into the esoteric one is. An esoteric [1] must gradually see exoteric life [2] in an entirely different light ... An esoteric has a relation to outer life that's quite similar to the one that an adult has to the play of children. When he returns to outer exoteric life from esoteric exercises [3] he'll gradually look upon the former as if he wanted to play with children as an adult." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES, Part 2 (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.

i.e., a student of esoteric knowledge, especially an initiate.
[2] I.e., the life of the uninitiated, the general public: the "outer" life (superficial), as opposed to the "inner" life (profound) of the initiated.
[3] See the entry for "exercises", above.

extrasensory perception (ESP) - also see clairvoyance

The ability to perceive things without relying on the physical senses. [See "ESP".] Belief in ESP is widespread, but despite extensive investigations into claims of ESP, there is little or no solid evidence that anyone possesses such ability. [See "Clairvoyance".] ◊ “Some think that everyone has ESP; others think it is a talent that only special folks have. Some think that animals or plants have ESP ... The existence of ESP and other paranormal powers such as psychokinesis (PK) [1], are disputed, though systematic experimental research on these subjects, known collectively as psi [2], has been ongoing for over a century in a field known as parapsychology. Most of the evidence for ESP, however, is anecdotal. The anecdotes consist of two parts: the experience itself and the interpretation of it. A story may be true, but the attempt to make sense or give psychic meaning to the story often seems to the skeptic to exceed the bounds of reasonableness.” — R. T. Carroll, THE SKEPTIC’S DICTIONARY [http://skepdic.com/esp.html] ◊ 

"After thousands of experiments, a reproducible ESP phenomenon has never been discovered, nor has any individual convincingly demonstrated a psychic ability." — D. G. Myers, PSYCHOLOGY (Worth Publishers, 2004), p. 260; emphasis by Myers.

[1] I.e., the power to move physical objects using only the power of one's mind.
[2] I.e., psychic phenomena or powers in general.

Exusiai - also see Powers; Revelations; Spirits of Form

According to Steiner: gods four levels above man. [See "Polytheism".] ”[Man] is a part of the supersensible world [1], a world where, in the first place, we find Beings called in Christian esotericism, Angeloi or Angels; these are the Beings standing next above man. [2] Above them come the Archangeloi or Archangels [3], then the Archai or Spirits of Personality [4]. Above these again are the Exusiai [5], Dynamis [6] and Kyriotetes [7], and still higher are the Thrones [8], Cherubim [9] and Seraphim [10]. We have thus a Hierarchical order of nine kinds of Beings one above the other, the lowest of which is man.” — R. Steiner, EXCURSUS ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1937), lecture 4, GA 124.

The end of Steiner's statement may be confusing. There are nine ranks above man; man is the lowest of ten levels, not the lowest of nine godly ranks. Steiner taught that humans will eventually constitute the "Tenth Hierarchy." [See "Tenth Hierarchy".]



 • 4. Dominions, Spirits of Wisdom, 

 Wisdom Spirits, Kyriotetes • 


 • 5. Mights, Dynamis, Spirits of Motion, 

 Spirits of Activity, Principalities, Virtues • 


 • 6. Powers, Spirits of Form, Revelations, 

 Exusiai, Elohim, Spirits of Light, Authorities • 

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The ranks are divided into three larger groupings called hierarchies. The middle three ranks of gods comprise the Second Hierarchy. The gods of each rank are known by various names. The Exusiai are generally located in the sixth rank, the lowest rank in the Second Hierarchy. [11]


[1] I.e., the world that lies beyond the reach of our senses: the supernatural or extrasensory realm.
[2] Angels are gods of the ninth rank. They are the lowest gods in the Third Hierarchy, a subdivision of gods. They stand one evolutionary level higher than human beings. [See "Polytheism".]
[3] Archangels are one level higher than Angels: They occupy godly rank #8.
[4] Godly rank #7. 
[5] Rank #6. They are the lowest gods in the Second Hierarchy.
[6] Rank #5.
[7] Rank #4.
[8] Rank #3. They are the lowest gods in the First Hierarchy.
[9] Rank #2.
[10] Rank #1. They are the highest gods below the Godhead. [See "God".]
[11] Drawing from esoteric tradition, Steiner generally associated Exusiai with Authorities, and sometime he placed Authorities in the fifth rank rather than the sixth. [See the entry for "Authorities" in this encyclopedia.]

 - also see senses; cf. clairvoyance; extrasensory perception

One of the twelve human senses enumerated by Steiner. [See "What We Are".] Anthroposophists consider eyesight to be an active function, not merely receptive. "We are able to 'think' in our eyes, so that in fact we only see the things we understand. We send our inner spiritual light through the eyes into the world where it is met by the light reflected from objects...." 
 — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 42. Eyesight, or the sense of vision, falls under the aegis of Virgo, according to Anthroposophical teachings. [See, e.g., A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), p. 142.]