[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]

- F -

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

"Fable - story in which animals speak and act as human beings ... Fables and stories of saints form part of the story-telling curriculum of Class Two in Waldorf schools. In fables...every animal [displays] only one determining quality [1] ... In stories of saints, on the other hand...saints are lord and master of their own astral body. [2] Both types of stories offer the child support as the astral body begins to emancipate itself. [3]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 43.

[1] This is consistent with Anthroposophical doctrine. Steiner taught that most animals are beings that branched off the human evolutionary line when they proved unable to evolve further. [See, e.g., "Evolution, Anyone?"] Each animal represents the stage of evolution at which it stalled, and thus it represents (in a sense) a single characteristic. Humans, by contrast, comprise a vast range of charateristics and capabilities.
[2] This is the second of our invisible bodies, according to Anthroposophic belief. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "astral body".]
[3] I.e., as the astral body incarnates, an event that Anthroposophists believe happens around age 14. 
[See "Incarnation".]


An invaluable behind-the-scenes look at Waldorf education — notes and transcripts of faculty meetings presided over by Rudolf Steiner at the first Waldorf school. [See "Faculty Meetings".] Study of these texts is often an important part of Waldorf teacher training and professional development; the beliefs and practices prescribed by Steiner are still central in Waldorf education today. Parents thinking of sending their children to Waldorf schools would do well to read these books.


[Anthroposophic Press, 1998.]

This two-volume set is part of a series titled "Foundations of Waldorf Education". To sample various books in the series, see "Faculty Meetings", "Oh Humanity", "Foundations", "Underpinnings", "Basement", "Discussions", "Advice for Teachers", "Spiritual Agenda", "Soul School", "Schools as Churches", and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness". (For supplementary recommendations, see "Advice for Parents" and "Clues".)

fairies - also see elemental beings; elves; nature spirits; sylphs

The fair folk, small shy spiritual beings; in Waldorf belief, nature spirits or elemental beings  Anthroposophists sometimes use the term "fairies" for a particular type of nature spirit [1]; on other occasions, they use it to refer to nature spirits in general. In any event, Steiner assures us that fairies really exist. "[O]ur brain connects us with certain elemental beings [2], namely those elemental beings that belong to the sphere of wisdom ... To etheric observation [3], [an aura] hovers in the immediate vicinity of our head. [4] The I [5] lives in it, and alongside the I are found the elemental beings of the myths and sagas. There they are called elves, fairies, and so on." — R. Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 5, GA 170[See "Beings".]

[1] In Anthroposophical belief, nature spirits — otherwise known as elemental beings — are invisible beings that dwell within the forces and elements of nature. [See "Neutered Nature".] Fairies are often identified as sylphs, the nature spirits that live in the air. Sylphs fly, like winged fairies.
[2] I.e., nature spirits.
[2] I.e., clairvoyance.
[3] See "Auras".
[4] I.e., the spiritual ego. [See "Ego".]

fairy tales - also see fables; fantasy; folk tales; Grimms' fairy tales; legends; myths

According to Steiner: accounts of true clairvoyant visions had by people in olden times. “Fairy tales are never thought out [1]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance, experienced in dreams by human beings who still had the power [2] ... All the fairy tales in existence are thus the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — R. Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93.

Fairy tales are stressed in the early grades at Waldorf schools. The Waldorf interpretation of fairy tales — like the Waldorf interpretation of myths and Biblical stories — is esoteric. Here, for instance, are a Waldorf teacher’s varying explanations of “Hansel and Gretel”: “The story portrays spirit and soul [3] descending into a physical body and ascending again, enriched, to the spiritual world [4]  ... The story could also be looked upon as an initiation process. [5] Soul and spirit are engaged in developing higher organs [6] ... Yet another interpretation would be to consider the story as one of human evolution. [7] With the expulsion from Paradise the human being enters the material world. Through his experiences he regains the faculty of spiritual perception [8] in a new way and regains his spiritual home enriched.” — R. Wilkinson, THE INTERPRETATION OF FAIRY TALES (Henry Goulden, 1984), pp. 13-14. The story, in other words, is packed with occult doctrines. Telling the story in a Waldorf class is meant to convey these doctrines, if only indirectly. [See "Fairy Tales" and "Sneaking It In".]

Waldorf teachers often place special emphasis on fairy tales as collected and published by the brothers Grimm. [9] Steiner indicated that these fairy tales are especially accurate pictorial or symbolic representations of true spiritual events.

[1] I.e., they are not invented or made up.
[2] Steiner taught that humans used to have natural powers of clairvoyance. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".] He also taught that dreams can be reliable sources of information. [See "Dreams".] Here he suggests that the ancients had more informative (clairvoyantly informed) dreams than most moderns have.
[3] In Anthroposophy, a distinction is drawn between the spirit and the soul. True human beings have both. [See the entries for "spirit" and "soul" in this encyclopedia.]
[4] I.e., the story tells of spirit and soul incarnating in a physical body on Earth and then returning to the spirit realm. According to Anthroposophy, we incarnate many times: We pass through many lives, reincarnating many times. [See "Reincarnation".] Between our lives on earth, we live in the spirit realm.
[5] Occult initiation is the process of gaining hidden or occult spiritual knowledge. An initiate becomes a member of the inner circle of spiritual seers. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[6] I.e., invisible, incorporeal organs, especially organs of clairvoyance. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]
[7] The central narrative of Anthroposophy is the account of our evolution from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan. During this evolutionary process, we descend from an amorphous spiritualized stage into a densely physical existence. and then we rise again to a higher, more complete spiritualized state. [See "Matters of Form".]
[8] I.e., clairvoyance. Steiner claimed to possess a new form of clairvoyance, "exact clairvoyance," and he said he could teach his followers to attain it. [See "Exactly".]
[9] See "Grimms' fairy tales" in this encyclopedia.

faith - also see religion; reverence; cf. critical thought

Anthroposophists generally claim that Anthroposophy is a science, not a religion. [1] Consistent with this, they sometimes say that Anthroposophy does not require faith. But in fact considerable faith is necessary to accept Anthroposophical doctrines. [2] Steiner stressed the importance of faith. “[T]he forces expressed in the word ‘faith’ are necessary to the soul. For the soul incapable of faith becomes withered, dried-up as the desert ... If we do not possess forces such as are expressed in the word ‘faith’, something in us goes to waste." —  R. Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 162. [See "Faith".]

[1] See the entries for "Anthroposophy" and "spiritual science" in this encyclopedia.

faith body - see astral body

fall festival

 - also see festivals; Michaelmas

Often at Waldorf schools, the observance of Michaelmas (as conceived in Anthroposophical doctrine) is conducted in the guise of a "fall festival" — a seasonal celebration of autumn. Religious observances at Waldorf schools are frequently disguised in this manner. "At the request of non-Christian families, some schools have given their Festival celebrations and pageants more generic names, so that Michaelmas [1] becomes the Fall Festival and the Advent Garden [2] is called the Spiral of Light. In situations where it is not possible to soften or eliminate the 'Christian message,' [3] e.g. a performance of the Shepherds’ Play [4], parents may keep children home on the day of its performance ... On both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels [5] we ignore the world of nature at our peril. The Christian Festivals and their renewal and expansion as described by Steiner, provide a vital and comforting space in which children and adults alike can renew and expand their relationship with the earth and its relationship with the sun, moon, and stars. [6]" — Waldorf teacher E. Schwartz, "Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education: Do the Festivals Have a Future?" [See "Magical Arts".] Note that changing the name of a religious festival is not the same as altering the essence of that festival. As Schwartz indicates, the "fall festival" is still, at its core, a "Christian" festival — which is to say, an Anthroposophical festival. [7]


MICHAELMAS, published for Waldorf teachers by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2004. In Anthroposophical belief, Michael is the Archangel of the Sun. [8The "fall festivals" celebrated at Waldorf schools are generally disguised versions of Michaelmas observances.

[1] Michaelmas is the mass of St. Michael. [See the entry for "Michaelmas" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Advent is is celebration of the coming, or second coming, of Christ. [See the entry for "Advent" in this encyclopedia.] An "Advent Garden" is a spiral of greenery placed on the floor of a darkened room; students walk along the spiral in an pious ceremony. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Spiral of Light".]

[3] Among Anthroposophists, the term "Christianity" is sometimes applied to Anthroposophy itself, since Christ, the Sun God, is central to Anthroposophy. [See "Sun God".] But on some occasions, Steiner and his followers have drawn a distinction between Christianity (the religion practiced in mainstream Christian churches) and their own belief system, which they call a "science." [See "Steiner's 'Science'".] Note that the festivals celebrated in Waldorf schools remain essentially religious (e.g., Michaelmas and Advent). In some cases, the festivals' religious meaning is "softened," but in other cases this is deemed impossible. Thus, despite any generic labels applied (such as "fall festival"), the events remain religious.

[4] See the entry for "Shepherds' Play" in this encyclopedia.

[5] In Anthroposophy, the macrocosm is the universe, the cosmos, especially the spiritual levels of the cosmos; the microcosm is the human being, who is said to reflect the entire macrocosm. [See "The Center".]

[6] In Anthroposophy, the stars and planets are the homes of gods; they pour astrological influences down onto the Earth. [See "Astrology".]

[7] Anthroposophy diverges far from mainstream Christianity, but its adherents claim that it presents the truest teachings about Christ, the Sun God. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Christ" and "Christianity".]

[8] See "Michael".

fall of man and other beings - also see abyss; evil; fallen Angels; good and evil; Luciferic rebellion; materialism

a) According to Biblical teachings: the result of sinfulness, mankind's ejection from the Garden of Eden.

b) According to Steiner, to "fall" is to become overly hardened, materialized. "There is a tension between two poles of reality. There are the pristine world of spirit...and the over-condensing [physical] world ... This 'abnormal' 'fall' [1], in becoming gross and more rebellious — as with the 'Luciferic' spirits [2] in the Moon phase [3] — also becomes more independent and developed [4] ... [The] ascent of consciousness accompanies the...'fall' into 'abnormal' or gross matter." — G. Ahern, SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), pp. 116-117. “Abnormal,” in Anthroposophical argot, means failing to follow the proper evolutionary path. Abnormal spirits or beings lag behind the normal spirits or beings. 

Lucifer and his minions fell during Old Moon [5] — Lucifer rebelled during that period, and was defeated. Mankind fell later, during the Lemurian epoch — that is, while we lived on the continent of Lemuria. [6] As in the Biblical account, the Anthroposophical account associates humanity's fall with the acquisition of knowledge of good and evil. "Because of the increased hardening of the Earth more and more souls leave for the 'planets' [7] ... The hardening on Lemuria relents as our present (physical) Moon splits off from Earth. [8] In the course of time the souls who have left earth for the 'planets' return and multiply ... Fear, illness and death arise with the increased power of Luciferic Spiritual Hierarchies [9] ... [Humans acquire] the first ideas of good and evil." — G. Ahern, ibid., pp. 131-132.

The fall of man stemmed from the fall of Lucifer and his cohorts. "Rudolf Steiner describes the luciferic rebellion...that resulted in the Fall: '[A]n impulse arose in a number of the Third Hierarchy [10] to develop an inner life of their own. Everything else was simply the result, the consequence of this impulse. What then was this result? It was in fact a terrible one, namely, the betrayal of their own nature; untruth, falsehood ... [Y]ou should understand that the spirits of the Third Hierarchy which had this impulse, did not do what they did for the sake of lying, but in order to develop an independent life of their own; but in so doing they had to take the consequence, they had to become Spirits of Untruth — spirits which betrayed their own being — in other words, Spirits of Lies ... [T]he rebels of the Third Hierarchy brought about nothing less than the actual independence of man — making it possible for him to develop an independent life of his own.'" [11] — S. Franke, THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE HOLY GRAIL (Temple Lodge, 2007), p. 37.

[1] In Anthroposophy, "abnormal" beings are those who do not evolve at the normal, correct pace. This can be the result or the cause of wickedness. [See the entry for "abnormal" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] I.e., Lucifer and his minions. [See "Lucifer".]
[3] I.e., during Old Moon, the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Matters of Form".]
[4] The fall had some benefits: The fallen evolve toward freedom, in that they can choose between good and evil. (Those who have not fallen do not know evil and thus cannot truly choose. In becoming rebellious, the fallen become more independent. This holds promise of improvement as well as grave dangers for self-destruction.)
[5] This was the third incarnation of the solar system, the third evolutionary mega-stage. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[6] This was the third epoch of life of the physical planet Earth, occurring during the fourth incarnation of the solar system. [See "Lemuria".]
[7] I.e., planets as they existed then, in very different form. Steiner taught that as the Earth hardened, becoming more densely physical (a kind of planetary fall), many souls felt they could not continue their lives on the Earth so they fled to other planets. [See the entry for "planetary migrations" in this encyclopedia.] Planets, in Anthroposophical teachings, are spiritual locations and states; only during the present physical stage of evolution are they physical orbs such as we see in the sky today.
[8] The Earth and Moon were once a single body (along with the Sun), Steiner taught. The hardening of the Earth, and on Lemuria, decreased after the Moon broke away. (The Moon today is a super-hardened sphere, according to Anthroposophical belief. Many Anthroposophists deny that man has landed on the Moon — conditions there are too extreme for us.)
[9] I.e., Lucifer and his minions.
[10] The Third Hierarchy — comprising gods of the seventh, eighth, and ninth ranks — is the lowest of three groupings of gods. [See "Polytheism".]
[11] By creating a clear difference between good and evil, the Luciferic beings created conditions in which humans could attain inner freedom to choose between good and evil. [See "Freedom".] Steiner's statement is taken from THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE, lecture 6, GA 136.

Fall of the Spirits of Darkness - see Spirits of Darkness; 1879

fallen Angels, fallen spirits - also see fall of man; Lucifer; Luciferic beings

These are spiritual beings who have fallen from higher realms to lower (cf. Christ and other avatars [1], good gods who have come to lower realms for beneficent purposes). Lucifer is the foremost fallen angel, according to traditional Christian teachings. According to Anthroposophical doctrine, the fallen Angels who cause harm on Earth may be perceived as Lucifer. (Steiner sometimes spoke of Lucifer as a particular demon, and sometimes he used the name "Lucifer" to refer to a group of demons, Luciferic beings.) [2] "Man takes the Christ-force [3] into himself, because he voluntarily receives it, and no one can receive it who does not do so voluntarily. This has only been made possible for man because he has become human upon earth, because he was called to grow into man on earth. [4] The fallen Angels who have spread over the earth as Lucifer, are in a different position. These ought really to have become men on the Moon [5]; they have remained behind in their development, hence they can enter the astral body but not the Ego. [6]” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 10, GA 110. [See "Lucifer".]

[1] See "Avatars".
[2] See "Lucifer" and the entry for "Luciferic beings" in this encyclopedia.]
[3] I.e., the spiritual power bequeathed humanity by Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God" and the entry for "Christ" in this encyclopedia.]
[4] I.e., we reached our human stage — acquiring our I's — during Present Earth. (Being "human" means reaching a certain stage of evolution. [See the entry for "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia. Also see the entries for "I" and "Present Earth".])
[5] I.e., they should have reached their human stage during Old Moon, the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Matters of Form".]
[6] I.e., they do not have I's, and thus they attack humans in the astral body but not in the I. (The astral body and the "I" are invisible bodies possessed by human beings. [See "Incarnation".] Subhuman beings may possess astral bodies, but they do not have I's. [See the entries for "astral body" and "I" in this encyclopedia.])

family soul
 - also see group soul; folk soul; group soul; race soul

According to Steiner, this is the group soul [1] shared by all members of a family. Humans also have national and racial group souls. "In the truest sense, every individual receives his allotted task [2] from his family, national or racial Group Soul. [3]" — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), pp. 141-142

[1] A group soul, according to Steiner, is a spirit, an Archangel. [See "Embedded Racism".] All members of a particular species, race, family, nation, etc., are guided by such a spirit, and they partake of it: They share that particular group soul. In addition to human beings, other beings — such as animals — also have group souls: All dogs, for instance, share the canine group soul, but dogs do not have individuals souls. Humans and beings higher than humans have individual souls. [For some of Steiner's teachings about group souls, see "Four Group Souls".]
[2] The meaning of our lives, our purposes for incarnating on Earth, are intimately bound up with our group souls. Seen from one perspective, the individual is simply an extension of her/his group souls.
[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "folk soul", "group soul", "nation spirit", and "race soul".

fantasy - also see dreams; clairvoyance; fables; fairy tales; fantasy-poor children; fantasy-rich children; folk tales; imagination; sleep; myths

Anthroposophy teaches that at least some fantasies, properly understood, are true visions. "Fantasy — sometimes used in anthroposophic literature as synonymous with the concept of imagination [1]...an intermediate state between daydreaming and the dream world of the night ... [W]hen we are asleep, the astral body and the 'I' [1] are in the spiritual world [receiving] images inspired by the hierarchies [3] ... On waking up, when the astral body and the 'I' re-enter the ether body and the physical body, these images can become manifest [as 'fantasies'] in our daily consciousness. [4]"  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 44. 

[1] In Anthroposophy, imagination is a preliminary stage of clairvoyance or a precursor to clairvoyance. [See "Thinking".]
[2] These are two of our four bodies, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".] At night, Steiner said, the astral body and the "I" ascend to the spirit realm while the physical and etheric bodies remain on Earth.
[3] I.e., gods. [See "Polytheism".]
[4] I.e., when part of us ascends to the spirit realm at night, we receive "images" from the gods (also called "living thoughts"). When we wake the next day, these images remain in our consciousness in the form of "fantasies" (which are spiritually true). Hence, what most people might call "dreams" are, or can be, true revelations. [See "Dreams".]

fantasy-poor children - also see constitutional types; fantasy; cf. fantasy-rich children

Anthroposophy generally identifies six "constitutional types" of children [1], especially "difficult" children. Fantasy-poor children have weak imaginations, which reduces their capacity for clairvoyance. [2] They stand at the opposite pole from fantasy-rich children. [3] "[Fantasy-poor] children have little imagination. They easily forget. They must be encouraged to be more observant while they are reading and also to listen to what the teacher tells them in class. In eurythmy [4], they should do the exercises mainly standing still so that their movements are mostly done with their arms. Consonants are particularly helpful in calling up ideas. Instrumental music has the same effect. " — Summary of presentation by Michaela Glöckler, Waldorf Journal Project 2: Child Observation and Study, ONLINE WALDORF LIBRARY.
[1] See "Holistic Education".
[2] See "Clairvoyance".
[3] See the entry, below, for "fantasy-rich children".
[4] See "Eurythmy".

fantasy-rich children - also see constitutional types; fantasy; cf. fantasy-poor children

Anthroposophy generally identifies six "constitutional types" of children [1], especially "difficult" children. Fantasy-rich children have strong imaginations, which increases their capacity for clairvoyance [2], although they may slip into purely fanciful dreams. They stand at the opposite pole from fantasy-poor children. [3] "[Fantasy-rich] children have a good memory — even too good of a memory. They cannot forget. Their memory-pictures do not only remain but acquire right away a power of their own and keep coming up again involuntarily. [4] The 'I' cannot bring the thoughts under control. [5] These pictures come up again, changed in form to fantastic imaginations: the child tells about the visit to the zoo and all the animals she saw, how they talked to her, how she rode on them, and so forth. [6]" — Summary of presentation by Michaela Glöckler, Waldorf Journal Project 2: Child Observation and Study, ONLINE WALDORF LIBRARY.

[1] See "Holistic Education".
[2] See "Clairvoyance".
[3] See the entry, above, for "fantasy-poor children".
[4] I.e., the pictures in their minds — their persistent memories — may block accurate perception in the present.
[5] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "I".
[6] I.e., the child's inclination toward fantasy distorts her memories; she lives in a dream world.

farming - also see animal kingdom; animals; biodynamic gardening and farming; kingdoms of nature; nature; plant kingdom; plants

Steiner prescribed special techniques for a spiritually "correct" form of organic agriculture, which he called biodynamic farming. [1] These techniques involve astrology and magic. For instance, here is how to rid a field of wild mice. Catch a mouse and skin it. Grind the skin into powder. “[O]btain your burned mouse-skin [powder] at the time when Venus is in Scorpio [2] ... [S]prinkle it over your fields ... Provided it has been led through the fire at the high conjunction of Venus and Scorpio, you will find this an excellent remedy ... [M]ice will avoid the field.” — R. Steiner, AGRICULTURE COURSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1958), p. 113. Note the importance ascribed to astrological influences.

Biodynamic farming involves procedures that are essentially forms of magic. Thus, here is how to prepare a dilute manure liquor to pour onto a field. “Horn Manure is cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn ... Before being applied very small amounts...are dissolved in water and stirred rigorously for one whole hour. This is done by stirring (preferably by hand) in one direction in such a way that a deep crater is formed in the stirring vessel (bucket, barrel). Then the direction is changed, the water seethes and slowly a new crater is formed. Each time a well-formed crater is achieved the direction is changed until the full hour is completed. In this way the dynamic effects concentrated in the prepared manure...are released into the rhythmically moved water and become effective for soil and plant.” — “Biodynamic Frequently Asked Questions", www.biodynamic.org.uk .


Biodynamic practitioners collect animal body parts for various uses, such as packing manure into cow horns to create "horn manure." A startled photographer spotted these cattle heads 
in the bed of a pickup truck at a biodynamic winery. [Photo by Frank Gaglione. See "Voodoo on the Vine".]

[1] See "Biodynamics".
[2] Astrology is present in most of Steiner's teachings as well as in the practices of his followers. [See "Astrology" and "Waldorf Astrology".]

fascism, Fascism - also see Nazism

Extreme-right authoritarianism (fascism) or the extreme-right ideology of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (Fascism). Nazism was the German form of fascism. There are troubling intersections between fascism and Anthroposophy. Historians have unearthed cases of prominent Anthroposophists who are fascists or Nazis. [See "Sympathizers?"]

"father" - also see father forces; Father God; gods; initiate

According to Steiner, a "father" is a very high initiate. "The highest Initiate in the Mysteries [1] was he who evolved in his heart and soul the forces whereby he could make manifest the Father [2] in his own external human being. When the pupils crossed the threshold of the Mysteries [3] and came into those sacred places which were institutions of Art and Science and of the sacred religious Rites at the same time [4], and when at length they stood before the highest Initiate, they saw in him the representative of the Father God. The ‘Fathers’ were higher Initiates...."— R. Steiner, THE MYSTERY OF GOLGOTHA (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1926), a lecture, GA 214.

In another, larger sense, our "fathers" are the gods. No single God created or fathered us, Steiner taught. Instead, multitudes of gods have participated in our creation and development. “The Saturn man [5] was surrounded by eleven other kinds of beings. [6] The four highest had had their tasks on levels of development which preceded the life of Saturn [2] ... The other kinds of beings [3], however — seven of them in addition to the Saturn man — are all concerned in the human development. In this they act as creative powers ... These ‘creators,’ too, once had to pass through the stages of man. [7] This took place on heavenly bodies which preceded Saturn [8] ... Because of their sublime, delicate body of rays, in mystery science [9] they [10] are called ‘Radiating Lives’ or ‘Radiating Flames.’ Because the substance of which this body consisted had a remote resemblance to the will of man, they are also called ‘Spirits of Will.’ [11] These spirits are the creators of the man of Saturn ... [T]he material body which he [12] has received is further elaborated. [13] The other kinds of beings indicated above participate in this elaboration in the most diverse ways.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA. 11. [For a summary of the ranks of gods as described by Steiner, see "Polytheism".]

[1] I.e., the highest initiate depicted in occult, mystery lore.
[2] I.e., the inner god, an extension of the Godhead. [See the entry for "Father, God the," above.]
[3] I.e, when they gained occult knowledge of spiritual mysteries.
[4] I.e., these were centers of all knowledge, mundane and occult.
[5] I.e., man — or the proto-human — during Old Saturn, the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Matters of Form".]
[6] I.e., principally, gods. Steiner enumerated nine ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".] In addition, he told of "abnormal" gods who fall between the main ranks. Some gods have taken a strong interest in us; some have had little or no involvement with us. Here Steiner indicates that seven types of incorporeal beings were present with proto-man during Old Saturn.
[7] I.e., the gods we may look on as our "creators" were themselves human once — that is, they passed through the human level of evolution before evolving higher.
[8] I.e., before the Old Saturn stage of evolution. Old Saturn was the first stage of our existence; in a sense, it was The Beginning as we understand such matters. But there were others stages, unknown to us, that occurred before The Beginning of our evolution. Gods of various ranks began their own evolutions in those ancient, veiled periods. The higher a god is now, the longer ago it began its evolution — the farther back its own Beginning lies.
[9] I.e., occult science or spiritual science; knowledge of occult mysteries. (Steiner represented his own teachings, Anthroposophy, as the highest form of such "science" in the modern world.)
[10] Steiner here speaks of the gods who were the chief creators or fathers during Old Saturn.
[11] These are gods seven levels higher than ourselves: They are the lowest gods in the First (highest) Hierarchy of gods.
[12] "He" is proto-man, the being who would eventually become human during Present Earth: "he" is ourselves in the early period of our evolution.
[13] I.e., the material body of proto-man, very different from today's physical body, was developed and elaborated. (Steiner's use of the present tense can be confusing in such passages. Here he is telling of things that happened in the extremely distant past.)

father forces - also see "father"; father principle; cf. mother forces

These are masculine primordial creative spiritual forces, associated with the Moon and with the Father God, according to Steiner. They are lower than the Sun forces directed by Christ, the Sun God. They were productive and valuable, especially in early periods of human evolution (and they are beneficial in the lower grades in Waldorf schools). ◊ "[I]t would be preferable to teach the children from the first to the fourth grade (ages seven to ten, approximately) out of the mood of the Father forces [1]." — R. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 30. [See "Soul School".] ◊ "Steiner is quoted as stating that it is the Father forces that 'can be identified in modern consciousness' with the forces of the deep, the 'lower gods.'" [2] — S. Clarke, "Some Notes Toward a Resolution of the Dilemma", address to the American Anthroposophical Society. ◊ "For a long time people were still aware of their dependence upon the Moon forces, the Father forces; but the consciousness of being dependent upon the Sun forces for their liberation disappeared.... [3]" — R. Steiner, EASTER AS A CHAPTER IN THE MYSTERY WISDOM OF MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), lecture 2, GA 233a.

[1] I

.e., Waldorf teachers in the early grades should work in the mood or spirit of the "father forces," stressing authority and obedience

. Steiner taught that children recapitulate the evolution of humanity, so they pass through a period when they benefit from primordial Moon forces.

[2] I.e., gods of the lower ranks. Generally, these are gods of the Third Hierarchy. 

[See "Polytheism".]
[3] The "Sun forces," in Anthroposophy, are the forces of Christ, the Sun God. They are needed for our liberation. Peoples long ago had some, incomplete knowledge of the Sun God, Steiner said. But much of this knowledge was lost (until Anthroposophy came to the rescue). The "Moon forces," according to Steiner, are essentially those of Jehovah, god of the Jews. Judaism, Steiner taught, is the Moon religion. [See "RS on Jews".] Steiner taught of humanity's evolution away from the Moon and toward the Sun (away from the Father forces and toward the Sun forces).


Father God - also see Father, God the; father forces; Father World

According to Steiner: the planetary spirit of Saturn. The Father God is the spiritual essence of divine identity, the spiritual ego or "I" — he is the fathering Ego Spirit.  “The highest Ruler of Saturn, the Ego Spirit [1], appears to us as the Father God [2], and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. [3] Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth [4] appears to us as the Holy Spirit [5] with his hosts known in Christian esotericism as the Messengers of the Godhead, the angels. [6]” 
— R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100.

Anthroposophy is polytheistic, as the statement above reflects. Steiner indicated that in monotheistic faiths, the Father God is associated with the Moon. "

In certain religious systems of Antiquity, provided they are monotheistic, we find the veneration, the worship, of a single divinity. It is the divinity we speak of in our Christian conception as the First Person of all divinity, as the Father-God. [7] 

Now, in all religions embodying the idea of this Father-God there obtained to a greater or lesser degree the connection of this Father-God with the cosmic Moon forces streaming down to Earth; and the Mystery priests in particular were fully aware of it. [8]" — R. Steiner

, EASTER AS A CHAPTER IN THE MYSTERY WISDOM OF MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), lecture 2, GA 233a. As Steiner indicated in the previous passage, 
however, the true Father God (in the polytheistic vision of Anthroposophy) is the "highest Ruler of Saturn."


◊ The Apparent Trinity ◊

 • The Father            The High God of Saturn • 
 • The Son (Christ)                    The Sun God • 
 • The Holy Spirit        The Ruler of Old Moon • 

[1] I.e., the god known as Saturn is the spirit of divine spiritual selfhood. The "ego" is the "I". [See "Ego".]
[2] I.e., Saturn is the god we apprehend, and speak of, as the Father God. [See "God."]
[3] I.e., the Sun God is the deity we apprehend as Christ. [See "Sun God".]
[4] I.e., Old Moon, the evolutionary stage of our solar system. [See "Matters of Form".]
[5] I.e., this is the god we apprehend as the Holy Spirit. [See "God."]
[6] I.e., gods one level higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".]
[7] Here Steiner associated himself with Christian teachings, in which a single God is recognized. The Christian god is triune — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Steiner says that the "First Person" of the Christian gods is the Father-God.
[8] Here Steiner departs from Christian orthodoxy, saying that monotheistic faiths associate their conception of a single God with the Moon and its forces. In Anthroposophy, the Moon god is Jehovah, the god of the Jews, whereas Christ is the Sun God. [See "Lunacy" and "Sun God".] Christ stands to Jehovah as the Sun stands to the Moon: The Sun is far greater. Jehovah, in Anthroposophy, is not the One and Only God of monotheism — he is one of the Elohim, gods four levels above humanity. Essentially, Steiner argues that monotheism is mistaken: There is no One and Only God, at least not yet; and Jehovah is certainly not that God. [See "Old Testament" and "Polytheism".] The "Mystery priests" — i.e., high occult initiates — understood these matters, in their various ways, even if the congregants of these monotheistic faiths did not.

Father, God the - also see Father God; Father world; God; God the Father; Godhead

a) In Christianity, the first person of the triune God.

b) In Anthroposophy, the Father is an extension of the Godhead. [1] He is the "hidden God" within us, but He is also what we are evolving toward, the god we ourselves will become. "In an individual human being there lives a drop of divinity, and we are evolving towards the divine level, on the way to expressing our deepest, innermost nature. Once we have brought this deepest, innermost nature to expression we shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity 'the Father'. What lies hidden in the human soul, the highest goal that lies ahead of us, is 'the Father in heaven.' [2]" — R. Steiner, THE LORD'S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17.

To the extent that God the Father is perceptible in Steiner's universe — Godhead manifest in particular form — He is the appearance of the patron god of Saturn. [See the entry for "Father God," below.]

[1] See "God". ("The most daring forms of Christian mysticism have emphasized the absolute unknowability of God. They suggest that true contact with the transcendent involves going beyond all that we speak of as God — even the Trinity — to an inner 'God beyond God,' a divine Darkness or Desert...the hidden Godhead." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, Aug. 28, 2015.]
[2] Note that Anthroposophy is polytheistic. God the Father, and/or a single monotheistic God, is an ideal, a goal, but He does not exist now, Steiner said. [See "Polytheism".] Anthroposophical prayers addressed to "God" are in a sense phrased metaphorically, or they may be considered as addressing the amorphous Godhead. Steiner rewrote monotheistic prayers so that they address multiple gods. Thus, one revised version of the Lord's Prayer addresses "you Fathers in the heavens." [See "Unenlightened".]

father principle - also see father forces; Father World; cf. mother principle

According to Steiner: the male "principle" that works in the physical body and the "I" [1], conferring stature and seriousness of purpose. "[T]he father-principle works very strongly in the physical body and the I, and that the mother-principle [2] predominates in the etheric and astral bodies. [3] Goethe divined this truth when he wrote the beautiful words: 'From my father I have my stature [4] and the serious conduct of life [5], from my dear mother my happy nature [6] and joy in creative fantasy. [7]" — R. Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997) p. 61. [See "Discussions".]

In a different sense, according to Steiner, the father principle is the essence of the Father God. [8] It was supplanted by the Christ principle [9] following the Mystery of Golgotha. [10] "[B]efore the Mystery of Golgotha the Father Principle held sway. Yet it was felt how man had departed ever more and more from the Father, to whom as we look up we say Ex Deo nascimur. [7] Mankind stood in need of healing, and the seers and initiates lived in expectation of the Healer, the Hælend, the healing Saviour. To us the conception of Christ as the Healer is no longer living. But we must find our way to it again, for only when we can feel His presence once more as the Cosmic Physician, shall we also realise His true place in the Universe.” — R. Steiner, “The Mystery of Golgotha” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 1, 1926), GA 214. [See "Prototype".]

[1] This is the spiritual ego. [See "Ego".] 
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "mother principle".
[3] Steiner taught that by the time we become adults, we have four bodies. The physical body is the lowest, and we develop it first. The "I" is the highest, and we develop it (that is, it fully incarnates) around age 21. The etheric body, which is closely related to the physical body, incarnates at around age 7, while the astral body (which, like, the "I", travels frequently to the spirit realm) incarnates around age 14. [See "Incarnation".]
[4] This is predominantly a property of the physical body: one's height.
[5] This is primarily connected with the "I," one's true selfhood.
[6] This is primarily connected with the etheric body.
[7] This is primarily connected with the astral body.
[8] See the entry for "Father God", above.
[9] I.e., the spiritual influence of Christ, establishing a new evolutionary momentum for humanity. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Christ Principle".]
[10] Golgotha is Calvary, The "Mystery of Golgotha" is the occult meaning of Christ's incarnation on Earth, his Crucifixion, and his subsequent involvement in human evolution. [See "Was He Christian?"]
[11] Latin, meaning "We are born of God."

Father World - also see Father God; father forces; father principle

The realm of the Father God. [1] At Waldorf schools, the influences of the Father World are meant to imbue the lower grades. Just as in human evolution the father principle [2] gradually gave way to the Christ principle [3], so does the influence of the Father World gradually subside as the developing human beings begin to attain autonomy. [4] “[A]ll subjects [taught at Waldorf] arise out of the interplay of the creative forces of the Heavenly Father world and the Earth Mother. [5] In the first grade this is reflected very clearly in nature stories, fairy tales, and folk tales. In the second grade animal stories...[and also legends that deal] with human beings who have shown particular ability in rising above much of humanity ... St. Francis, St. Elizabeth, St. Bridget ... The third grade illustrates clearly the creative powers of the Godhead [6] ... When we turn to the Norse stories [7] in fourth grade, we hear another creation myth, very different from Genesis. The gods and goddesses appear on the scene ... But the dramatic saga ends with the twilight of the gods. [8] The gods retreat and human beings must learn to stand on their own ... Gradually the Father world withdraws so that the human being might begin to play his central role. [9]” — R. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), p. 30. [See “Soul School”.] In essence, young Waldorf students are meant to be lowered gently from the sky or Father World to earthly incarnation. [See "Thinking Cap".]

[1] See the entry for "Father God", above.

[2] See the entry for "father principle", above.

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

[4] According to Anthroposophical belief, we become are truest, best selves by learning to emulate Christ as our model. [See "Prototype".] Although the concept of freedom is given much emphasis in Anthroposophy, the amount of permissible autonomy or liberty is extremely limited: One either follows the right path or the wrong path. [See "Freedom".]

[5] In Anthroposophy, "Earth Mother" is more than a figure of speech. The Earth and the plane of earthly existence are deemed literally female, while the sky and/or the celestial realm are generally deemed masculine. [See "Goddess".]

[6] See "God".

[7] I.e., Norse myths. [See "The Gods".]

[8] In Norse mythology, the gods and giants destroy each other and virtually all of creation in a cataclysmic war, Ragnarok. This is also referred to as Götterdämmerung, the twilight of the gods. [See "The Gods".]

[9] Steiner taught that Norse myths contain a particularly accurate account of human evolution. Here the destruction of the old gods is taken as a reflecting the Anthroposophical tenet that the power of the Father God had to diminish so that humanity (as guided by Christ, the Sun God) could evolve further, gaining autonomy. Steiner taught that human beings attain their unique identities when their "I's" develop [see "Ego"]; and human beings are the center of the created universe [see "The Center"].

fauns - also see Ahrimanic beings; Luciferic beings; satyrs

a) In Roman mythology: lustful gods, part-goat in form.

b) According to Steiner: real beings who use Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers for ill. [1] "If the whole reality is revealed to us as we look over towards the East of Europe to-day, we see not human beings alone but an astral sphere [2] which since the Middle Ages has become the Paradise of beings once known as the Fauns and Satyrs." — R. Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (ANTHROPOSOPHY, No. 3, Vol. 6), GA 225. [See "Steiner's Blunders".]

[1] See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer".
[2] I.e., a supernatural level of existence. [See the entries for "astral plane" and "astral world" in this encyclopedia.]

Faust - also see Devil; Goethe; magic; Parzival

A German magician, said to have sold his soul to the Devil: the protagonist of various poems, plays, and novels. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the great German author whom Rudolf Steiner admired, wrote a two-part play titled FAUST, dramatizing the magician's self-destructive pact with evil and his later salvation and purification. This work is often staged at the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum [1], and the text is frequently assigned as reading matter for Waldorf students. [2]

In Anthroposophical interpretation, the story of Faust — like that of Parzival [3] — becomes in effect a parable of mankind's search for the salvation available through Anthroposophy. Faust attempts to gain knowledge and power in a false manner, sinking to the level of materialism. Only by realizing that above the physical plane there is a soul plane [4], and above that a spirit plane [5], can Faust truly come to understand himself and human destiny under the benevolent guidance of the gods. [6] Faust must learn, in effect, that Rudolf Steiner's teachings are true, including Steiner's teachings about reincarnation. "Body, soul and spirit — how they unite, how they mutually react — that is the lesson Faust must learn ... [H]e [must] become ripe so that he is worthy to truly penetrate into the spirit realm. [7] For this purpose he had to learn that this immortality comes to man only when he can be re-embodied [8] repeatedly within physical existence ... Therefore must Goethe show how the soul lives between spirit and body [9], how the soul is placed between the immortal spirit and the body which exists only between birth and death. The second part of FAUST shows us this." — R. Steiner, "Goethe's Faust from the Point of View of Spiritual Science" (transcript, Los Angeles Steiner Library), GA 272.


The magician Faust temporarily 
resisting the Devil
[This illustration is from an edition of the 1636 
play by Marlowe, 
reproduced in 


AND HOAXES OF THE OCCULT AND SUPERNATURAL (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995), p. 95

.] Steiner found great significance in Goethe's version of the Faust legend. [See "Goethe".]

[2] See, e.g., "He Went to Waldorf".
[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Parzival".
[4] See the entry for "soul world" in this encyclopedia.
[5] See the entry for "spirit world(s)" in this encyclopedia.
[6] Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheisim".]
[7] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "spirit realm".
[8] I.e., reincarnated. [See "Reincarnation".]
[9] Steiner taught that we have both souls and spirits. The latter is higher than the former. [See "Our Parts".] We develop a new soul during each incarnation, but the spirit is immortal, staying with us from incarnation to incarnation.

feelings - also see clairvoyance; emotion; imagination; will; cf. critical thought; intellect; thinking

Steiner taught that we attain truth more through feelings, and their associated states, than through thought. He said that there are three main systems within the human constitution [1], and they are centers for three main conditions: thinking [2], feeling, and willing. [3] Feeling is central. "Thinking occurs in a fully-awake state, whereas the will acts unconsciously. Feeling holds an intermediate position and thus unfolds in a dream-like state. This threefold division into thinking (head) — feeling (chest with heart and lungs) — will (metabolic system and the limbs) — is an essential concept in the anthroposophic image of the human being." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 44-45.

Through feelings, we find connections to the gods and the spirit realm. "[T]hinking is oriented to the physical plane. [4] Feeling really has a connection with all the spiritual beings who must be considered real. [5]" — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 70. [See "Reality and Fantasy".]  

In Waldorf schools, children are deemed to be primarily creatures of will during their first seven years, then they are largely guided by feelings during their second seven years. During this second stage, they are believed to approach the world chiefly through imagination [6] — the making of pictures infused with emotion. This is considered the path to truth. Even after the presumed dawning of intellect in adolescence, feelings are considered the higher capacity. In the Waldorf view, intellect is suspect and should generally yield to the promptings of the heart and the glimmerings of clairvoyance. [See "Steiner's Specific".]

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "metabolic-limb system", "nerve-senses system", and "rhythmic-circulatory system". These systems are centered, respectively, in the abdomen, head, and chest, Steiner taught.
[2] See "Thinking".
[3] See "Will".
[4] I.e., thinking — especially intellect — has value primarily on the lowly physical plane. Feelings lead us to the higher, spiritual realm.
[5] These real beings are the gods.
[6] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "imagination".

female - also see mother forces; sexes; cf. father forces; male

In Anthroposophical belief, female and male represent significantly different spiritual conditions, although each individual has both female and male components. Here are a few of Steiner's comments on such matters:

◊ "[T]he woman’s body carries an earlier condition [1] into present-day existence." — R. Steiner, CHRIST IMPULSE AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EGO CONSCIOUSNESS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1925; facsimile edition by Kessinger Publishing), p. 58. ◊ "The bull race [2] had a special attractive force for the female etheric body. [3] Thus the bull body had the special force to attract the female etheric body and unite with it ... The bull humanity became more and more unfruitful. The result was that on the one side there was a humanity which was maintained by fructification [4], on the other side, another half which became more and more unfruitful. The one side became the female sex, the other the male. The modern female physical nature has in fact a male etheric body, whereas the etheric body of the man is female. The physical body of the woman has proceeded from the lion nature [5], whereas the physical bull-body is the ancestor of the male body." — R. Steiner, "The Four Human Group Souls (Lion, Bull, Eagle, Man)" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 107. ◊ “The whole of the female organism is organized toward the cosmos through the astral body. [6] Most of what are really cosmic mysteries is unveiled and revealed through the female constitution. [7] The female astral body is more differentiated, essentially more richly structured. than that of the male. Men’s astral bodies are...coarser.” — R. Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 75. ◊ "[W]e shall...educate the girls correctly by recognizing the fact that they are more inclined to the cosmos and boys more inclined to the earth. Girls incline more to the cosmic, and this means that their ideals are heroes and heroines; we should tell girls about them, about their lives and deeds ... Boys need to hear about character, about complete human beings. [7]” — Ibid., p. 83.

[For more on the Waldorf view of gender, see "Gender".]

[1] I.e., characteristics from an earlier phase of evolution.
[2] I.e., proto-humans having the bull group soul. [See "Four Group Souls".]
[3] The etheric body is the lowest of our three invisible bodies. [See "Incarnation".] Steiner taught that the female etheric body differs from the male, just as our physical bodies differ.
[4] I.e., fruitful reproduction.
[5] I.e., the nature manifesting the lion group soul. [See "Four Group Souls".]
[6] The astral body is the second of our invisible bodies. Steiner taught that females are oriented toward cosmic spiritual forces whereas males are oriented toward the earthly.
[7] Cosmic mysteries are occult spiritual truths. Steiner taught that women have more intuitive spiritual wisdom than do men. [See "Goddess".]
[8] Steiner prescribed different educational approaches and subject matter for female and male students. By some standards today, this would be deemed sexist.

festivals at Waldorf schools - also see Christmas; fall festival; Easter; Michaelmas; St. John's Day; St. Martin's Day; spring festival; Winterfest

Generally, these are periodic or seasonal observances with astrological/occult significance: thinly disguised religious observances (Easter, Advent, Michaelmas, etc.). Such festivals are often decked out, however, in secular trappings that mask their spiritual significance. Other celebratory gatherings, other fairs or fests, are also held in Waldorf schools — but usually there is an underlying religious theme or purpose in these as well. The primary festivals observed are, generally, the "fall festival" (Michaelmas), Christmas, and the "spring festival" (Easter). [1] “Through finding the right way to celebrate Michaelmas (traditionally September 29) [2] we may awaken new human forces needed to create completely open community [sic], grounded in spiritual reality. It was clear to Steiner that much depends on our awakening to such new festivals ... If, in our social life, we can learn to accompany the out-breath of the earth in spring and summer [3]...then with Michael’s help in autumn we can accompany the elemental world’s withdrawal into itself during the winter’s death and darkness. [4] The evil, estranging ahrimanic powers [5] that seek to possess the earth...must now be transformed and illumined from within at Christmas ... Steiner shows how this new understanding of the yearly festivals prepares us for our current historical transition. [6]” — H. Barnes, A LIFE FOR THE SPIRIT: Rudolf Steiner in the Crosscurrents of Our Time (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 185-186. [See "Magical Arts".]

In some cases, Waldorf schools observe far more than the three primary festivals named above, with the result that festival observances may dominate the school calendar, leaving little time for other activities or studies. "Festivals — like towers in a landscape, the annual festivals mark important moments in the calendar as observed in fields of work inspired by Anthroposophy. The main festivals are: Easter, Whitsun, St John's, Michaelmas, St Martin [sic], Advent, Christmas, Epiphany. [7] These festivals are not only reminders of events that took place in the past, but also reflect cyclical spiritual events that take place in the breathing process of the earth every year ... Celebrating the festivals enables human beings to get in touch with both nature and spirit ... The festivals, if we engage with them fully and connect through them with our ongoing human evolution, offer an opportunity for us to develop greater awareness of the course and aim of human life on earth. [8]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 45-46.

The dates of various Waldorf festivals are sometimes shifted so that the events' underlying religious significance is less apparent. Additionally, such festivals — which are typically colorful and celebratory — are used as window dressing to impress students' parents; they also serve as useful recruitment vehicles; and they may help raise funds for the schools. These secondary objectives further disguise the deeper intent of the festivals. But the “real” meaning of the festivals is spelled out by Steiner and his followers in such books as THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998). In brief, Waldorf festivals are spiritual observances meant to secure our connections with the beneficent gods, holding demonic spirits at bay, and advancing mankind's evolutionary progress.


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002.]

[1] This is the situation for Waldorf schools in the northern hemisphere; such schools are generally in session from, approximately, early September to mid-June. The situation is different in the southern hemisphere; the seasons are different and the festivals falling within the school year are somewhat different.
[2] Michaelmas is the feast of St. Michael. Autumnal festivals at Waldorf schools chiefly reflect Michaelmas, but they may also incorporate Martinmas (November 11) and they anticipate Advent (the Sundays preceding Christmas). Although many Waldorf festivals seem to be Christian, the Anthroposophical understanding of Christ, Michael, and other biblical figures is incompatible with mainstream Christianity. Thus, Christ is deemed to be the Sun God and Michael is deemed to be a warrior god, the Archangel of the Sun, fighting of behalf of the Sun God. [See "Sun God" and "Michael".]
[3] Steiner taught that the Earth is alive. It breathes in and out with the seasons.
[4] In Anthroposophy, Archangels are believed to oversee the seasons: Michael oversees autumn (Michaelmas), Gabriel oversees winter (Christmas), Raphael oversees spring (Easter), and Uriel or Oriphiel oversees summer (St. John's Tide). Steiner taught that the elemental world (the natural world, home of the elemental beings) withdraws during autumn, preparing for the strife of winter. (St. John's Tide is rarely observed in Waldorf schools in the northern hemisphere, because it falls in late June, when school is generally not in session.)
[5] Forces of darkness, forces of evil, allied to the arch-demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".] They attack strongly during winter, Steiner said. The powers of Christmas should overcome them annually, especially if the proper observances are made (celebrations of the festivals).
[6] I.e., our current evolutionary forward movement. [See "Evolution, Anyone?" and "Oriphiel".]
[7] These are all nominally Christian observances, although the form of "Christianity" embraced by Anthroposophists diverges far from mainstream Christian belief. [See, e.g., "Was He Christian?"] The central faith in Waldorf schools is not mainstream Christianity, it is Anthroposophy. When a Waldorf school observes a great many festivals during the year, these become the primary experience of the students, largely determining the students' school life. [See, e.g., "My Life Among the Anthroposophists" — the section titled "The School's 'Celebrations'".]
[8] From the Waldorf perspective, the "course and aim of human life on earth" are to be found in Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., the entry for "historical narrative" in this encyclopedia.]

fields of work for Anthroposophists - also see "doing" Anthroposophy; threefolding

Anthroposophists work to establish "professional domains of society in which anthroposophy plays an inspiring, innovative and influential role."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 46. Waldorf schools are just one (albeit major) extension of Anthroposophy, which seeks to remake all human institutions. Anthroposophists aspire to realize their vision in such diverse fields as agriculture, medicine, architecture, and politics. They generally believe they should strive to distinguish themselves so as to attract adherents to Steiner and his belief system. See, e.g., OUR OBLIGATION TO RUDOLF STEINER IN THE SPIRIT OF EASTER (Whittier Books, 1955) by F. Winkler, in which the author explicitly develops this theme. [For more on Anthroposophical social goals and efforts, see "Threefolding".]

fifth essence - see ether

fifth gospel - also see Akashic Record; The Bible; Christ; Christianity; gnosticism; Jesus

Various mystics have written "fifth gospels" — accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ intended to supplement, reconcile, and/or correct the four gospels of the New Testament. Rudolf Steiner's FIFTH GOSPEL consists of several lectures he delivered in 1913 and 1914. He claimed to possess accurate knowledge of Jesus and Christ (whom he carefully distinguished) thanks to his readings of the Akashic Record (a celestial storehouse of knowledge, accessible only through clairvoyance). [1] The "Christianity" found in Anthroposophy is consequently deeply at odds with mainstream, orthodox Christian teachings. In his lectures, Steiner explained, for example, that karma and reincarnation [2] are key doctrines for "true Christianity." [See, e.g., "Was He Christian?" and "Steiner's Fifth Gospel"]


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001.]

From the back cover: "From his clairvoyant reading of the spiritual Akashic Record — the cosmic memory of all events, actions and thoughts — Rudolf Steiner was able to speak of aspects of the life of Jesus Christ which are not contained in the four biblical Gospels ... Steiner states that divulging such spiritual research [3] is intensely difficult, but that it is '...absolutely essential that knowledge of such facts should be brought to Earth evolution [4] at the present time.'"

[1] See "Akasha".

[2] See "Karma" and "Reincarnation".

[3] By "spiritual research," Anthroposophists mean the disciplined use of clairvoyance to study the spirit realm. Everything in Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education, depends on clairvoyance. Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence that clairvoyance is anything but a delusion. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[4] See "Matters of Form".

films (cinema, motion pictures, movies) - also see computers; media policies; technology; television

Rudolf Steiner and his followers generally deplore the products of modern technology, including modern communication media such as motion pictures, television, and computer networks. Many Waldorf schools bar use of such media within their walls, especially for younger students; many also have media policies under which parents are encouraged to minimize students' access to such media outside school hours. [1] All products of modern technology, Steiner warned, tend to make us more materialistic and, hence, less spiritual. Here are some of Steiner's words of disapproval specifically concerning films or motion pictures: "[F]ilms have an extremely harmful effect on what I have been calling the ether, or life, body. [2] ... It is a fact that, by watching film productions, the entire human soul-spiritual constitution [3] becomes mechanized. Films are external means for turning people into materialists. [4] I tested these effects, especially during the war years [5] when film propaganda was made for all sorts of things. One could see how audiences avidly absorbed whatever was shown. I was not especially interested in watching films, but I did want to observe their effects on audiences. One could see how the film is simply an intrinsic part of the plan to materialize humankind [6], even by means of weaving materialism into the perceptual habits of those who are watching." — R. Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 328.

[1] See "media policies at Waldorf schools" in this encyclopedia.
[2] See "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.
[3] See "spirit-soul" in this encyclopedia.
[4] Those who watch films excessively become "mechanized," they turn into "materialists." They thus become, in effect, automatons. [See "automatons (automata)" in this encyclopedia.]
[5] I.e., World War I.
[6] Anthroposophy contains a wide stream of conspiracy theory. Here, a "plan" has been hatched by evil spirits (including demons and human malefactors) to "materialize" humanity, severing its ties to the spirit realm. [See "conspiracies" in this encyclopedia.] Deeply implicated in such hellish conspiracies, according to Anthroposophical belief, is the arch-demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman" in this encyclopedia.]

fire - also see air; earth; elements; water

In Anthroposophical belief: one of the "four elements," home of the nature spirits [1] called salamanders. [2] ◊ Anthroposophy recognizes "the 'four elements', the archetypal activities of earth, water, air and fire, which were once dynamic qualities in the medieval cosmos and are now Anthroposophical." — G. Ahern, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), p. 92. ◊ "Each of the four elements is home to the corresponding type of elemental beings."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 36.  

Anthroposophy is generally backward, accepting teachings that science has long since discarded. Science today recognizes more than one hundred elements, and fire is not one of them. (Nor are air, earth, or water now categorized as elements.) Fire is the process in which a fuel combined with oxygen combusts, producing heat, light, and (usually) smoke.

[1] Nature spirits are also called elemental beings. [See "Neutered Nature".] 

[2] These are "fire spirits," not the amphibians of the same name. (Amphibian salamanders were once thought to be impervious to fire.) The nature spirits called salamanders are invisible beings similar to gnomes, sylphs, and undines — the elemental beings that dwell in earth, air, and water.

fire-air - also see air; fire; animal men; Old Moon; plants

The atmosphere of the Old Moon consisted of "fire-air," according to Steiner. The Old Moon was the evolutionary mega-stage preceding our own stage here on Earth, Steiner said. Conditions on the Old Moon were less evolved than conditions today; elements and beings that have evolved to separate existence remained mingled with one another then. Thus, the inhabitants of the Moon included "plant-animals" (half plant, half animal) and "animal-men" (half animal, half human). These dwelled in an atmosphere consisting of "fire-air" (half fire, half air). 

"The plant-animals [moon creatures] grew out of this whole foundation, and above them, in the Moon's environment which may be designated as 'fire-air', moved those beings who were man-animals. Imagine the whole atmosphere filled with saltpetre, carbon and sulphur gases; the Moon-men lived in this fiery air which you would thus obtain. Occultists always knew of the existence of this fire-air, and under older conditions of the Earth it was even possible to produce this fire-air artificially. This is only possible today in a very restricted circle, but this knowledge has been preserved in genuine alchemy." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY AND ROSICRUCIANISM (transcript, General Anthroposophical Society, 1942), lecture 9, GA 100.

fire ether - also see fire; elements; ether; warmth ether

Steiner affirmed the ancient belief that there are four fundamental "elements": air, earth, fire, and water. [1] Early in his career as an occultist, he said that there is an "ether" associated with each element. Fire ether is the rarefied, more elevated variant of the element called fire. The symbol for fire ether, Steiner said, is an equilateral triangle, and its color is red. Fire ether functions in human blood, and its "taste" is hot. [2] In his early teachings, Steiner also indicated that there is a fifth ether, "thought ether". [3] He later generally taught that in fact there are four ethers: life ether, light ether, sound ether, and warmth ether. [4] (In this later scheme, the fifth ether — thought ether — was folded into sound ether.) Warmth ether became, effectively, a variant of fire ether.

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

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

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

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

fire jumping - also see festivals; St. John's

Originally a pagan fertility rite in which people jump over a fire or bed of coals. The rite is sometimes used in Waldorf schools as an enactment of graduation or, more generally, transition to a new phase of life. According to one former Waldorf student, "
One...significant ritual [at our school] was 'the fire of Saint John.' On the Saturday falling closest to the longest day of the year [1], students gathered around a big fire. Forming a circle around it, we intoned songs. Then, once the fire had died back, each student had to jump over the flames. [2] This was akin to a game for us, but we also felt that it contained a sacred and symbolic dimension. Later, I learned that the purpose of this event, instituted by the teachers, was to symbolize the elevation of the human soul that occurs at this time of year, according to Rudolf Steiner in the book FOUR COSMIC IMAGINATIONS OF THE ARCHANGELS...." — G. Perra, "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".

[1] I.e., late in June. Some schools are not in session at that time, so the festival of St. John may not be observed. If fire-jumping occurs at these schools, it is associated with other festivals or activities. 
[2] In some cases, the children jump over smoldering beds of coals. In other cases, the children confront fairly large and active fires. Young children are usually assisted by older students or teachers. [See the entry for "St. John's" in this encyclopedia.]

Fire Spirits (gods) - also see Archangels; Solar Pitris; Sons of Fire; cf. fire spirits (nature spirits)

According to Steiner, these are gods two levels above man. [1] ”In the further course of Saturn evolution [2]...a life of light begins [3] ... The Saturn warmth-bodies [4] begin to glimmer and glisten, even to radiate light. The attainment of this stage affords once more the possibility for certain Beings to unfold their activity. [5] These are the Beings who may be designated ‘Fire Spirits’ (in Christian terminology, Archangeloi, Archangels.) They have an astral body [6] of their own ... They cannot say to themselves ‘I am,’ rather would they have to say: ‘My environment enables me to be’ [7] ... Man's sense-organs are...the fruits of the activity of the Fire Spirits. [8]” — R. Steiner, 

OCCULT SCIENCE — AN OUTLINE, chapter 4, part 3, GA 13. Note that gods called Fire Spirits should not be confused with the nature spirits called fire spirits or salamanders.



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

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

 • 9. Sons of Twilight, Sons of Life, Angels, 
 Spirits of Dusk, Barhishad-Pitris, Lunar Pitris • 

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The lowest three ranks comprise the "Third Hierarchy". [9]
The gods of each rank are known by various names.
 Fire Spirits are among the eighth rank — they stand one rank higher than Sons of Twilight or Angels,
who in turn stand one rank higher than humanity.


See "Polytheism".

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


i.e., began. Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events from the distant past.
[4] Steiner taught that Old Saturn consisted largely of spiritual warmth. The bodies that evolved then consisted, in a sense, of this same warmth.

[5] I

.e., because evolution had progressed to this point, certain gods — the Fire Spirits — found scope for their activities.
[6] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings today have four bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies (or "I"s). Here he says that during Old Saturn, the Fire Spirits has astral bodies.
[7] At that stage of their own evolution, the Fire Spirits had astral bodies but not I's. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "I" and "I Am The I Am".]
[8] I.e., our sense organs evolved thanks to the activities of the Fire Spirits.
[9] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "hierarchies" and "Third Hierarchy".

fire spirits (nature spirits) - also see salamanders; cf. Fire Spirits (gods)

In Anthroposophical belief, these are the nature spirits [1] sometimes known as 

salamanders. Fire spirits dwell in fire, just as gnomes dwell in the earth, sylphs in air, and undines in water. [2] Anthroposophists believe that these beings actually exist. "The sylphs experience their self, their ego, when they see the birds flying about. [3] The fire-spirits have this experience, but to an intensified degree, in regard to the butterfly-world, and indeed the insect-world as a whole. [4] And it is these fire-spirits which take the utmost delight in following in the tracks of the insects' flight so that they may bring about the distribution of warmth for the seed buds [5] ... [T]he bee [6] is everywhere accompanied by a fire-spirit which feels so closely related to it that, for spiritual vision, the bee is surrounded by an aura [7] which is actually a fire-spirit. [8] When a bee flies through the air from plant to plant, from tree to tree, it flies with an aura which is actually given to it by a fire-spirit. The fire-spirit does not only gain a feeling of its ego in the presence of the insect, but it wishes to be completely united with the insect.” — R. Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 7, GA 230.

Aside from their esoteric content, Anthroposophical beliefs about fire spirits can give rise to various confusions. The nature spirits known as fire spirits should not be confused with the gods known as Fire Spirits. [9] Likewise, the nature spirits known as salamanders (i.e., fire spirits) should not be confused with the amphibians known as salamanders. [10]

[1] See "Neutered Nature".
[2] See, e.g., "Beings".
[3] I.e., birds are, in a sense, manifestations of sylphs. When a sylph sees a bird, it sees a reflection and affirmation of its own deep nature, its ego.
[4] I.e., insects are to fire spirits as birds are to sylphs.
[5] I.e., fire spirits contribute to growing plants by imparting warmth to the plants. (The other sorts of nature spirits make other contributions to the growth of plants, Steiner taught.)
[6] See "Bees".
[7] See "Auras".
[8] I.e., fire spirits are, in a sense, the auras of bees; or, as Steiner proceeds to say, fire spirits impart auras to bees.
[9] See the entry fort "Fire Spirits", above.
[10] Real salamanders, newt-like amphibians, were once believed to be impervious to fire. Thus, they were sometimes thought to be the legendary nature spirits who dwell in fire. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "salamander".]

First Beginnings - also see Archai; Original Forces; Spirits of Personality

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels above man. [1] “[N]ow at this stage in the evolution of Saturn [2] certain Beings intervene [3], who...have the astral body for their lowest member, but have brought it on so far in its evolution that it works like a human I of the present time. [4] Through them the I looks down from the surrounding spaces on to Saturn, and communicates its nature to the single ‘live’ beings. [5] Hence something is sent forth from Saturn into the heavenly spaces, that resembles the impression made by human personality in our present cycle of life. [6] The Beings who bring this about may be called ‘Spirits of Personality’ (in Christian terminology they are the Archai, First Beginnings, or Principalities.) These Beings communicate to the particles of the Saturn body [7] a semblance of the character of personality. The Spirits of Personality...cause their own being to be rayed back to them from the Saturn bodies [8] ... [T]he Spirits of Personality behold and recognize the image of their own inwardness, in that it streams out to them as warmth from Saturn." — R. Steiner

OCCULT SCIENCE — AN OUTLINE, chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.



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

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

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

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The lowest three ranks comprise the "Third Hierarchy". [9] The gods of each rank are known by various names.  First Beginnings are among the seventh rank, which places them three ranks higher than humanity. (We are not yet gods, but Steiner said we soon will be.) [10]


See "Polytheism".
[2] I.e., during the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]
[3] i.e., intervened. Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events from the distant past.
[4] These gods had astral bodies developed to a higher extent than the astral bodies that we have today. (An astral body is the second of three invisible bodies that full human beings possess now, Steiner taught. The "I" is the fourth. [See "Incarnation".]) The astral bodies of these gods functioned much as our I's function now, creating and conveying a sense of personal identity.
[5] I.e., these gods projected into the Old Saturn environment a sense of identity or personal being, which was absorbed by the evolving proto-humans of Old Saturn.
[6] I.e., the influence of these gods, becoming in effect the influence of Saturn (Old Saturn) itself, flowed outward into cosmic space, the heavens. This influence was akin to what we know now as the impression caused by personality. (The First Beginning sent their influences down into the solar system as it existed then. This influence then rebounded, as it were, into heavenly spaces, where the First Beginnings received it again.)
[7] I.e., the components of the solar system as it existed then. (Saturn or Old Saturn was the entire solar system in its earliest incarnation.)
[8] I.e., the bodies evolving during Old Saturn (in essence, the bodies of the proto-humans, the beings who would become us).
[9] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "hierarchies" and "Third Hierarchy".
[10] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

First Class - also see Goetheanum; Esoteric School; Reader; School of Spiritual Science

A group comprised of initiates within the School of Spiritual Science [1] and, before that, in the Esoteric School [2]. Steiner intended to create a Second Class and a Third Class also, but he died before he could complete this plan. The First Class at the School of Spiritual Science continues to exist, accepting new members as time passes and older members depart. "Steiner made provision for three Classes. Only one — the ‘First Class’ — is known to be in operation ... At least two years' affiliation to the General [Anthroposophical] Society [3] is a pre-condition for joining. Also, 'inner responsibility' for Anthroposophy has to be accepted ... The First Class adapts Steiner's meditative path for individuals ... Members of this elite are pledged to secrecy, a vow which is usually strictly observed.” — G. Ahern, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), pp. 60-61. [See "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education".] 

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "School of Spiritual Science".
[2] See "Esoteric School", in this encyclopedia.
[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophical Society" and "General Anthroposophical Society".

first elementary kingdom - see elemental kingdoms; First Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life

First Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life - also see conditions of consciousness; conditions of life; second elementary kingdom condition of life; third elementary kingdom condition of life

According to Anthroposophic teachings, this is the initial condition of life we pass through during each condition of consciousness. [1] Conditions of consciousness are the largest stages of our evolution; conditions of life are subdivisions of these stages. Thus, during each condition of consciousness (Old Saturn, Old Sun, etc.) [2], we cycle through seven conditions of life. In the first condition of life, we acquire the forces that will eventually incarnate as the physical body. In succeeding conditions of life, we acquire the forces that will become the etheric and astral bodies [3]; then we become a created forms; then we become, in a higher sense, truly alive; then we are ensouled; and finally we reach the human kingdom (i.e., we become ego beings to the degree this is possible during a given condition of consciousness). [4] Essentially, we cycle through the levels of life that are possible within a given conditions of consciousness; we move from the lowest, most inchoate condition of life (the first elementary kingdom) to progressively more fully formed levels. Along the way, we frequently recapitulate previous phases of evolution, reliving them in successively modified form. "The first elementary kingdom and the first Condition of Life comprise thought-seeds or intentions [5] that become physical points of force before any form has arisen [6] ... The elements of nature belong here, and the physical human body...is prepared to receive its future form ... [This] is a recapitulation of Saturn evolution, thrice modified. [7]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 103.



 ◊ 1st Elementary Kingdom ◊                  ◊ 7. Human Kingdom ◊ 

 ◊ 2nd Elementary Kingdom ◊          ◊ 6. Animal Kingdom ◊ 

 ◊ 3rd Elementary Kingdom ◊  ◊ 5. Plant Kingdom ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Mineral Kingdom ◊ 
According to Anthroposophical teachings: During each condition of consciousness, we evolve through seven conditions of life. The three elementary kingdoms are stages preceding mineral existence, providing the most basic constituent forces that go to make up the mineral kingdom and the kingdoms that follow it. Evolving from the 1st Elementary Kingdom to the Mineral Kingdom is, in a sense, a descent; but thereafter, we reascend as we evolve upward to the Human Kingdom.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness". Also see the diagram accompanying the entry for "epochs".
[2] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. Also see "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", "Old Moon, Etc.", "Present Earth", and "Future Stages".
[3] These are the second and third of the four bodies we eventually incarnate, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]
[4] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Human Kingdom Condition of Life" and "human stage of evolution".
[5] I.e., intentions of the gods, divine thoughts that serve as seeds from which life and evolution arise.
[6] The first elementary kingdom is a level of evolution at which beings do not yet have bodily forms. Beings develop shapes (still etherial) in the second elementary kingdom; they develop forms or bodily manifestations in the mineral kingdom (the fourth condition of life).
[7] As we evolve, Steiner taught, we continually recapitulate prior stages of evolution at new, higher levels. We are currently in the Present Earth condition of consciousness. [See "Present Earth".] The first elementary kingdom, as we experience it here during Present Earth, recapitulates the first condition of consciousness: Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] Likewise, the second elementary kingdom recapitulates Old Sun and the third elementary kingdom recapitulates Old Moon.

First Hierarchy - also see gods; hierarchies; polytheism; Second Hierarchy; Third Hierarchy

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. These ranks are subdivided into three classes or hierarchies. The First Hierarchy comprises the three highest ranks of gods: counting upward, they are the Spirits of Will (Thrones), the Spirits of the Harmonies (Cherubim), and the Spirits of Love (Seraphim). "In the First Hierarchy, which consists of the Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim, we have a form of creation in which the part created is detached ... That which proceeds from the beings of the First Hierarchy is a detached world [1] ... The actual life of this First Hierarchy is such that when such objective, independent, detached beings proceed from it, it realizes itself [2] ... [T]he inner experience of the beings of the First Hierarchy, lies in creation, in forming independent beings ... Creation of worlds is their external life — creation of beings [is] their inner life. [3]" — R. Steiner, SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 5, GA 136. [For a summary of the ranks of gods as described by Steiner, see "Polytheism".]



 • 1. Seraphim, Spirits of Love • 


 • 2. Cherubim, Spirits of Harmony • 
 • 3. Thrones, Spirits of Will, 
 Radiating Lives, Radiating Flames •  [4]

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The highest three ranks comprise the First Hierarchy. (Note that in Anthroposophy the word "hierarchies," used loosely, is often applied to the gods in general, as when saying that the hierarchies do thus and so — i.e., the gods do thus and so. Also, "hierarchy" is sometimes used as a synonym for "rank," as when it is said that human beings will become the "tenth hierarchy". [5])

[1] I.e., these high gods create entire, detached or autonomous worlds: generally speaking, planets and the inhabitants of such worlds.
[2] I.e., the gods of the First Hierarchy realize (fulfill) their purpose through the act of creating detached, autonomous "beings." (In Anthroposophy, planets are usually said to be alive.)
[3] I.e., the external life of these gods is poured into the creation of worlds; the inner life of these gods is poured into the creation of the inhabitants of worlds.
[4] Seraphim (Spirits of Love) are gods of the first rank; Cherubim (Spirits of Harmony) are gods of the second rank; Thrones, etc. are gods of the third rank.
[5] I.e., we will become the tenth rank of gods. [See "Tenth Hierarchy".]

fixed stars
 - also see crystal heaven; zodiac

Ancient peoples believed that the stars are motionless (except for the "wandering stars" — the planets). The stars were often described as being "fixed" or attached to the sky, which was often conceived to be a solid dome or sphere. Steiner often referred to the "fixed stars." His doctrines about stars, planets, and other celestial phenomena were almost uniformly unscientific. [See "Oh My Stars".] 

Steiner's use of such antiquated terms as "fixed stars" raises a problem. Was he merely describing the faulty knowledge of peoples in the past, or was he expressing his own antiscientific vision? Often, he was doing both. ◊ "Let us examine the times when human beings did not look to the earth, but out into the cosmos to find a content for their spiritual life, or to satisfy the deepest needs of their souls. At that period those with clairvoyant faculties [1], seeing the fixed stars and movements of the planets, considered everything on earth a reflection of events taking place in its cosmic environment." — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), lecture 5, GA 276. ◊ “[W]hen man has passed through the portal of death, he passes at the same time from the earthly world into the world of the stars. Though it appears that I am speaking figuratively, this description is a reality. Imagine the earth, surrounding it the planets, and beyond them the fixed stars, which are traditionally pictured, for good reason, as the Zodiac. [2] From earth, man views the planets and fixed stars in their reflections [3]; we therefore say that earthly man sees them from the front.” — R. Steiner, THE INNER NATURE OF MUSIC AND THE EXPERIENCE OF TONE (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 4, GA 283. 


"From earth, man views the planets and fixed stars in their reflections; we therefore say that earthly man sees them from the front ... When man moves away from the earth after death, he gradually begins to see the planets as well as the fixed stars from behind, as if were. He no longer sees these points or surfaces of light that are seen from the earth; instead, he sees the corresponding spiritual beings [i.e., gods] ... Where he looks back at Saturn, Sun, Moon, Aries, or Taurus, he sees from the other side spiritual beings." — R. Steiner, THE INNER NATURE OF MUSIC AND THE EXPERIENCE OF TONE, lecture 4, diagram 6 [color added]. The arrows show our perspective, looking out and looking in. The outermost region is the zone of "the fixed stars...the Zodiac."

[1] Steiner affirmed the reality of clairvoyance; he claimed to possess it. And he taught that events on earth reflect events in the cosmos.
[2] In reality, only a small number of stars are included in the signs of the zodiac. The zodiac stretches along the celestial equator. Most stars are scattered elsewhere across the sky. (Note that Steiner affirmed the existence and astrological powers of the constellations of the zodiac. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".])
[3] I.e., from earth, we do not see the planets and stars truly; we see their "reflections" (their physical manifestations) but not their spiritual essences. We see the celestial orbs truly, from the other side, after we die. (We look back on the physical universe from the outside.)

Flood, The

 - also see Atlantis; catastrophes; Manu; Noah

a) In the Bible, a punishment inflicted by God for man's wickedness. [See Genesis 6:9-9.17.]
b) According to Steiner, a man-made catastrophe (associated with the arch-demon Ahriman) [1] that destroyed Atlantis. [2] Steiner claimed that his clairvoyance allowed him to investigate both the physical and occult history of humanity, giving him a true vision of such events as the Great Flood. ◊ "[I]n Anthroposophy, by means of those spiritual records that are accessible to us [3], we go...back, even in this external history [4], to the time of the great Atlantean Flood. We observe the successive culture-epochs [5] following it, but we go even farther back into the distant past, to times preceding this great Flood which has been preserved as tradition in the legends of different peoples. All this is history, investigated, it is true, by occult means [6], but in a certain sense it is still an external, physical — more or less physical — history of facts and events. But there is also an occult history. [7]” — R. Steiner, “A Chapter of Occult History” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, 1969), GA 108. ◊ “Mighty and ominous powers of Nature were thus let loose by the deeds of men, leading eventually to the gradual destruction of the whole territory of Atlantis by catastrophes of air and water. [8] Atlantean humanity — the portion of it, that is, which did not perish in the storms — was compelled to migrate. [9] As a result too of the great storms, the whole face of the Earth changed.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 198-200. [See "Old Testament" and "Genesis".]

[1] See "Ahriman".
[2] See "Atlantis".
[3] I.e., the Akashic Record, a celestial storehouse of knowledge, accessible through clairvoyance. [See "Akasha".]
[4] I.e., the history of external (physical, manifest) events.
[5] I.e., cultural epochs or ages: subdivisions of great epochs. [See the entries for "epochs" and "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia.]
[6] I.e., by clairvoyance.
[7] I.e., the inner, hidden, spiritual essence of history.
[8] I.e., mighty storms and inundations. Steiner equated these with the Biblical Flood. [See "Atlantis".]
[9] Steiner equated this with the travels of Noah and his family. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Noah" and "Manu".]

flying saucers

Unidentified flying objects (UFOs), often shaped like discs; believers generally think they are spaceships from other worlds. Flying saucers are not central to the Anthroposophical worldview, but many Anthroposophists have expressed at least provisional belief in them. Here is the relevant entry in THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980): "Flying Saucers. Technically described as U.F.O.'s, or unidentified flying objects. However, after thousands of sightings the world over, the famous saucer shape (once universally regarded as the only design) has now been discovered to be but one style among a number. Sound evidence for the prevalence of U.F.O.'s has been presented by some contemporary astronomers [sic], and they have urged the scientific community to study this epochal phenomenon. Unfortunately, there is much dubious literature on the subject which panders to the taste for sensationalism." Also see, e.g., Anthroposophist Georg Unger's FLYING SAUCERS - Physical and Spiritual Aspects (New Knowledge Books, 1971). Unger affirms the reality of UFOs, but he says they have been misinterpreted. “[M]any of the UFO’s are real phenomena. But they need not be solid objects. Certainly they are not space-craft from other planets. We are not being watched nor visited by physical space men.” — G. Unger, FLYING SAUCERS: Physical and Spiritual Aspects (New Knowledge Books, 1971), pp. 35-41. Unger suggests that we are, perhaps, being visited by nonphysical space men. Some Anthroposophists have argued that UFOs are spirits from other worlds descending to Earth, as Steiner said is happening: "[N]ow Vulcan Beings [i.e., spirits from Vulcan] are actually coming into the realm of earthly existence. Super-earthly Beings are already here ... These Beings of whom I have spoken will gradually come down to the earth. Vulcan Beings, ‘Supermen’ of Vulcan, ‘Supermen’ of Venus, of Mercury, of the Sun, will unite with this earth-existence." — R. Steiner, “A Picture of Earth Evolution in the Future”, THE GOLDEN BLADE, 1960, GA 204.

folk soul, folk spirit - also see Archangels; family soul; group soul; race soul; soul

According to Steiner, a real being: the soul of a people, nation, family, or race. [See "Lecture".] The soul shared by a population is a god standing two levels higher than mankind; it is an Archangel or Spirit of Fire who acts within the consciousness of that population. In one lecture, Steiner said, “To-day...we are confronted with the necessity of glancing into the inner nature of those Beings of whom we have spoken in the two preceding lectures, the normal Folk-spirits. [1] [paragraph break] We have already said what was necessary to characterize them outwardly: that they are Beings who are two stages higher than man, Beings who are working at the transformation of their etheric bodies [2] ... Man is spun into the web of this work. In so far as the evolution of these Beings so progresses that man is woven into this evolution, the reflection of this Folk-spirit is expressed in human individuality itself, as the folk-character of the single human individual. [3]” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 3, GA 121.

Various terms are applied to the gods who serve as the souls or spirits of populations: national spirit, race spirit, and so forth. ◊ "An archangel can serve as a national spirit, inspiring a whole nation with all its characteristics such as language, ethics and folk customs. Expressions such as 'folk soul' and 'folk spirit' indicate the same spiritual being." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 9. ◊ "You know that what is called Folk-soul, Race-soul, has become a somewhat abstract idea today ... [I]f one speaks of German, French, Russian National-souls, people look on that as more or less an abstraction ... To the occultist [4] this is not so at all. What one calls the Folk-soul, as the German, French, Russian Folk-soul, is to him an absolutely independent entity. [5] ... [W]e are at the very height of this materialistic evolution which prefers to deny such beings as Folk-souls and Race-souls. [6]” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), chapter 11, GA 99.

[1] Steiner taught that there are normal and abnormal gods. The former evolve in the normal manner; the latter lag behind in evolution. [See "Abnormal".] Thus, there can be both normal and abnormal folk souls or folk spirits. (The terms "folk soul" and "folk spirit" are essentially synonymous.)
[2] Steiner said that gods evolve much as humans do. These gods are developing or perfecting their etheric bodies.
[3] The gods influence us, and we influence them. Humans are especially involved in the lives of the gods who take particular notice of them. The relationship is tightest between Archangels who serve as the folk souls of various populations, and the humans who are members of those populations. Individual humans express, in their "folk-character," the spiritual essence of a population: i.e., that population's folk soul.
[4] I.e., one who possesses occult knowledge. [See "Occultism".]
[5] I.e., a real being.
[6] I.e., in our materialistic age, when we have separated ourselves far from the spirit realm, we have lost true occult knowledge of the folk souls. [For more on such matters, see, e.g., "Materialism U." and "Embedded Racism".]

folk tales

 - also see fairy tales; fantasy; legends; myths

According to Steiner, these are true accounts of visions had by people in olden times, using their natural clairvoyance. [1] Myths, folk tales, and other fantasies are often stressed in Waldorf classes for this reason: They are considered important narratives conveying occult wisdom. Folk tales are given special prominence in the third grade at most Waldorf schools. [See "Oh My Word".] ◊ “Fairy tales and folk tales, with their deep human wisdom, are a 'nourishment of the soul' in the early years of school life.” — H. Fox, ‘The Origins of Michael Hall School’, A MAN BEFORE OTHERS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 30. ◊ Folk wisdom, according to Steiner, shines through folk tales — and the wisdom is deeply spiritual, telling us, for example, about Ahriman and Lucifer [2]: “These facts grew into a kind of folk tale [3] ... At first sight this seems a very unpretentious story. But in the way the story is constructed there is a sure feeling for the existence of Ahriman and Lucifer and the balance between them. [4] Think how sensitively this story has been formed. The same sensitive construction can be found in countless such folk tales; it grows out of this same sure feeling for Lucifer and Ahriman.” — R. Steiner, NECESSITY AND FREEDOM (SteinerBooks, 1988), p. 11.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".
[2] See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer."
[3] Steiner is discussing a folk tale about the construction of a wonderful clock, but — as he makes clear — what he says applies to "countless such folk tales", or folk tales generally.
[4] Ahriman and Lucifer are allies but also rivals, Steiner said. They are held in proper balance by Christ, who ensures that the temptations offered by these demons become fruitful gifts for mankind. [See "Was He Christian?"]

"forbidden lecture" - also see racism; secrecy

A racist Steiner lecture that Anthroposophists have tried to hide. Titled  "
Farbe und Menschenrassen" [
"Color and the Human Races"], it has not yet been published in English by any Anthroposophical publisher. Delivered on March 3, 1923, the lecture is included in the material (published in Germany) bearing the GA (general catalog) number 349. It is one of the lectures Steiner delivered to workmen constructing the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. A German collection of such lectures [1]
 includes 13 lectures, whereas the English-language edition [2] has only 12. 
Farbe und Menschenrassen"
 includes an illustration depicting white, yellow, and black races [3]  and such statements as “One can only understand history...if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual...if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin." [See "Steiner's Racism” and "Forbidden".]

(Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961).
FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999).
[3] See the entry for "white race" in this encyclopedia.

foreign languages - also see France; Germans; language; larynx; Waldorf curriculum

Waldorf schools usually require students to study at least one foreign language, sometimes two. The purpose is generally to make children citizens of the world (Anthroposophy is a worldwide movement). ◊ "The aim of foreign language teaching in Steiner Waldorf schools is to encourage a positive attitude towards people of other cultures and languages, as well as fostering human understanding generally [1] ... Learning foreign languages offers the individual other perspectives on his or her own language, culture, attitudes and mentality...." — M. Rawson, THE EDUCATIONAL TASKS AND CONTENTS OF THE STEINER WALDORF CURRICULUM (Steiner Schools Fellowship Publications, 2008), p. 132. The study of foreign languages often begins quite early. ◊ "The gift of learning languages 
deteriorates from the age of seven. [2] It is therefore advantageous to begin learning them in the earliest classes, even in kindergarten ... The choice of modern languages [to be taught] lies with the College [3] and may vary from one school to another." — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION (Hawthorn Press, 1993), p. 122. In English-language Waldorf schools, the foreign languages offered are often French and German. Some awkwardness may ensue, although it may be largely hidden from the students. Steiner had strong views about France and the French language. ◊ “[T]he French language...is actually dead, but the corpse continues to be spoken ... The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul ... The French are also ruining what maintains their dead language, namely, their blood. ... [This] contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559. Conversely, a preference for the German language may sometimes become apparent in Waldorf schools. ◊ "[F]or Anthroposophic educationalists, German is the only truly noble language, the only one truly worthy of being taught. Latin languages, such as Spanish, are considered barbaric tongues." — G. Perra, "My Life Among the Anthroposophists, Part 4." [4]

[1] This meritorious intention may be taken as an effort, avowed or otherwise, to offset the racism present in Anthroposophy from its outset. [See "Steiner's Racism".]
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "seven-year stages of growth". Anthroposophists believe that the "etheric body" incarnates at or about age seven. [See "Incarnation".]
[3] I.e., the school's "college of teachers" [see the entry for this term in this encyclopedia].

form drawing — also see arts; clairvoyance; geometry

This is the repetitive drawing of curved and angular geometric shapes; it is often a requited activity in Waldorf schools. Like most Waldorf activities, form drawing — also called dynamic drawing — is meant to direct students toward the spirit realm. “One of the many unique features of the Waldorf-Steiner Schools is the subject known as Form Drawing. Taught in Classes 1 through 5, but ideally going right through to Class 12, Form Drawing is introduced in such a way as to show the young child that all shapes in the world are derived from the two-fold alphabet of form: straightness and roundness [1] ... [As a Greek philosopher said,] the shaping power of linear design...is the recaptured memory of the invisible ideas of the soul [2] ... [It] awakens the spirit, purifies understanding, and brings the formative element, which is part of our being, to light ... It rouses the soul from sleep and impels it towards the spirit. It makes us a true human being, allows us to behold the spirit and guides us towards the gods. [3]” — V. James, LANGUAGE OF THE LINE: a Reinvented Art-form of the Waldorf Schools (http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/NZJournalvanjames.pdf).

The shapes drawn, freehand, are not ordinary geometric figures, but they derive from geometry and are meant to have the esoteric effects of geometry. Form drawing is "a subject taught in all years of the Waldorf curriculum ... In a non-intellectual way...pupils engage creatively with geometrical forms and patterns ... The eventual shapes on paper...[represent] the formative forces of nature. [4]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 33-34.

The ultimate purpose of Waldorf form drawing, startling to outsiders, is to foster the development of clairvoyance. "Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — R. Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92. This is what lies behind the suggestion that form drawing "
allows us to behold the spirit and guides us towards the gods." In Anthroposophical belief, we "behold the spirit," and find the gods, through the use of clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyant Vision".]

Form drawing ranks alongside eurythmy as a distinctly Anthroposophical activity near the spiritual center of Waldorf education. Thus, describing the subjects his students will study in the forthcoming year, a Waldorf teacher wrote to the students' parents: 
“In some respects, Form Drawing is the most important subject that your child will study this year.” [See "The Waldorf Curriculum".]


Elementary form drawing.
Die Entwicklung des Formensinns in der Erziehung 
(Freies Geistesleben, 1992).]

[1] I.e., Incarnated or manifest forms on the physical plane reflect two essential spiritual conditions: the straight and the rounded.
[2] I.e., designs we create in earthly life recreate spiritual conditions we remember from the spirit realm.
[3] I.e., form drawing (like most Waldorf activities) is fundamentally religious: It "guides us toward the gods." (Anthroposophy recognizes many gods. [See "Polytheism".])
[4] In Anthroposophical belief, these forces are fundamentally spiritual, expressing the will of the gods.

formative body - see etheric body

formative ether - see chemical ether

formative forces - also see etheric forces; father forces; incarnation; life force; mother forces

According to Anthroposophic belief, these are shaping forces that allow lower levels of existence to come into orderly incarnation. Essentially, they are emanations of the divine beings, the gods. [1] In the macrocosm (the universe), formative forces for the physical realm come from the spirit realm. In the microcosm (the human being) [2], formative forces for the physical body come from the head. Without the influence of forces originating above, lower levels of existence would be chaotic. The Earth exists because formative forces have flown in from the surrounding cosmos. "We can come to understand these cosmic forces [3]...by considering them as working towards the center and forming from outside what is on the earth and in the earth. It is, for example, a fact that the metals of the earth, in their entirety, are not primarily formed by forces inside the earth but are placed into the earth from out of the cosmos. These forces, which work through the ether [4]...we can call formative forces, the formative forces working from outside. They encounter forces [5] which in man and in the earth receive the formative forces, consolidate them and gather them around a center so that the earth can come into being." — R. Steiner, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND MEDICAL THERAPY (Mercury Press, 1991), lecture 9, GA 313.

[1] Anthroposophy recognizes many gods. [See "Polytheism".]
[2] In Anthroposophical belief, man is the microcosmic reflection of the entire universe, the macrocosm. [See "The Center".]
[3] I.e., forces emanating from the cosmos, the starry universe conceived as the manifestation of the gods.
[4] I.e., a spiritualized gas that fills the universe, according to Steiner. [See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia.]
[5] I.e., inner forces, which receive the formative forces coming from outside.

Foundation Stone Meditation, The - also see doing Anthroposophy; Christmas Conference; Goetheanum

This is an extended meditation offered by Steiner upon the placement of the foundation stone for the second Goetheanum. [1] Steiner meant the Meditation to summarize his spiritual teachings and to provide a renewed impetus for his followers. Contemplating the Meditation may be considered a central act in the effort to "do" Anthroposophy. [2] The Meditation addresses, evokes, and makes prescriptions for the human soul. [See http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Foundation_Stone_meditation.] "The Foundation Stone meditation encompasses the whole of anthroposophy ... According to Rudolf Steiner, all who really live with the meditation will be able to receive this foundation stone of love into their heart [sic]." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 47. When Anthroposophical buildings are under construction, copies of the meditation are often place in copper boxes and laid in the foundations.

Waldorf teachers often work with the Meditation, seeking guidance from it. In THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), sections of the Meditation are designated as "The Foundation Stone for Teachers" (p. 90). Here is how the first section begins:

"Soul of Man!
Thou livest in the Limbs
Which bear thee through the world of Space
Into the ocean-being of the Spirit.
Practice Spirit-recollection [sic]
In depths of soul,
Where in the wielding
Thine own I
Comes to being
Within the I of God.
Then in the All-World-Being of Man
Thou wilt truly live."

[1] The Goetheanum is the Anthroposophical headquarters. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] There have been two Goetheanums. The first Goetheanum was destroyed by fire in 1922. Construction of the second Goetheanum began in 1924.
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "doing Anthroposophy". Also see "Serving the Gods".


A collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, this is the first volume in the series Foundations of Waldorf Education, published by the Anthroposophic Press. THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE is the essential guide to Waldorf education. [See "Oh Humanity".] Other editions have been published under the titles A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN BEING and STUDY OF MAN. In 2009, the education authorities at the Anthroposophical headquarters wrote, "The basis of Waldorf education is a study of human being and developmental psychology presented by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in his volume of lectures entitled 'A General Knowledge of the Human Being' or 'Study of Man'."


[Anthroposophic Press, 1996.]

This book, which has also appeared under other titles, presents Rudolf Steiner's central rationale for Waldorf education. Parents considering Waldorf schools for their children would be well advised to read it, along with a related volume, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER. [See "Faculty Meetings".] Other volumes from the same series — Foundations of Waldorf Education —
are also informative.

fourfold nature of man - also see ninefold nature of man; sevenfold nature of man; threefold nature of man

One of several overlapping, not-wholly-consistent descriptions Steiner gave of human nature. Our four parts are physical nature, etheric nature, astral nature, and the I. "If we now consider the fourfold constitution of the human being, we see that one member is physical and the other three spiritual: Physical: body Spiritual: etheric, astral, ego." — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 28.

Anthroposophists generally speak of the human constitution as having three parts: The physical body, the soul (a spiritual component lasting during one incarnation), and the spirit (an immortal spiritual component). [1] However, to be consistent with Steiner'e teachings about human "bodies," Anthroposophists must speak of the fourfold nature of the human constitution (as Steiner himself often did). In Anthroposophical belief, a fully incarnated human being has four bodies: a physical body, an etheric body (consisting of invisible etheric matter, and incarnating around the age of seven), an astral body (consisting of invisible astral matter, and incarnating around the age of 14), and an "ego" or "ego body" or "I" (one's spark of divine individuality, which incarnates around the age of 21). [2] A true fourfold human has left childhood and become an adult, an independent being. However, other constituents are yet to be incarnated, and these will make one a seven- or ninefold human. [3]

The Waldorf curriculum is geared to the incarnation and development of the four human bodies described by Steiner — the bases of our fourfold nature. "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — R. Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents, and Teachers (SteinerBooks, 2017), p. 4. [4] 



 1. Physical Nature 

 2. Etheric Nature 

 3. Astral Nature 

  4. The I (Ego Nature) 

[1] See the entries for "physical body", "soul", and "spirit" in this encyclopedia.
[2] See "Incarnation" and "Ego".
[3] See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".
[4] For other formulations of the central goals of Waldorf education, see, e.g., "Conclusion".

France, French (people), French (language) - cf. Germans, Germany

Steiner said that the French "race" is deteriorating, in part because the French people are bringing blacks to Europe (largely from French colonies in Africa). He also said the French language corrupts the soul. “What keeps the French language going is the furor, the blood, of the French. The language is actually dead, but the corpse continues to be spoken. This is something that is most apparent in French nineteenth-century poetry. The use of the French language quite certainly corrupts the soul. The soul acquires nothing more than the possibility of clichés. Those who enthusiastically speak French transfer that to other languages. The French are also ruining what maintains their dead language, namely, their blood. The French are committing the terrible brutality of moving black people to Europe, but it works, in an even worse way, back on France. It has an enormous affect [sic] on the blood and the race and contributes considerably toward French decadence. The French as a race are reverting.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 558-559. [See "Faculty Meetings".]

Free Association for Anthroposophy, The - also see Halle, Judith von; cf. The General Anthroposophical Society

splinter group of Anthroposophists, centered around the controversial figure of Judith von Halle. [See "JvH".]

freedom - also see democracy; karma; will

Waldorf schools often claim that preparing students to live as free individuals is a central goal of their form of education. [See "Freedom".] To evaluate this claim, it is necessary to understand the Anthroposophical conception of freedom. In Anthroposophy, freedom entails the volitional, willing acceptance of guidance from superior beings; essentially, freedom is the ability to choose between right and wrong. This is the ability the gods steer us toward. [1] Humans will attain unprecedented freedom, Steiner taught, but at the expense of exposure to evil. 
"Freedom is the result of the Luciferian influence [2], and fear and similar feelings are only the phenomena attendant on the evolution of human freedom.” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophical Literature Concern, 1922), pp. 229-230. Because Lucifer exposed us to evil, we began our evolution toward freedom: We began to apprehend our great decision, to choose good or evil.

The Anthroposophical conception of freedom is essentially Germanic or, we might say, reductive: ridding oneself of evil and impure impulses. This is quite different from the French/American conception or, if you will, an expansive conception of freedom: gaining the ability to choose from among an array of potentially beneficial options. In Anthroposophy, expansive freedom is virtually impossible, since there is really only one correct choice open to us: following the path of Anthroposophy. Anthroposophical "freedom" is, in effect, submission to necessity. "Freedom arises when man can recognize his karma [3] and consciously directs his will to pursue this inevitable and necessary stream." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Books, 2011), p. 48. From this perspective, the scope of human "freedom" is narrow — it is constrained by inevitability and necessity. [4]

Freedom as conceived in Anthroposophy is essentially subjective and spiritual; it is an inner state, arguably self-deceiving — freedom from the constraints of logic, intellect, science, and rationality — freedom to "perceive" that which, from a different perspective, may be judged illusory. Such freedom has little bearing on outward actions in the physical world. Thus, Steiner taught that democracy is in many ways deceptive and should be confined to the tight bounds of politics. It has no place in the spheres of culture (including education) and economics. [5] "[I]t is necessary not to be dazzled by democratic logic — which has a place only in its own sphere — by empty phrases about democratic progress and so on." — R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992) lecture 17, GA 174. We must be free, internally, but this freedom essentially contracts to a single decision: We may choose the true path or the false path. In important ways, this means we have no real choice at all: If we choose the false path, we choose our own ultimate loss. "‘The purified world will develop above and beyond thee, and thou shalt be excluded from it. Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path.’" — R. Steiner, quoting the Guardian of the Threshold [6] in KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1994), p. 152. In practice, Waldorf schools generally seek to indoctrinate students in the ways of Anthroposophy (the "white way"), and such indoctrination [7] severely reduces, rather than enhancing, the possibilities for genuine, expansive freedom.

[1] Anthroposophy recognizes many gods. [See "Polytheism".] The central narrative of Anthroposophy involves our evolution, aided by the gods, to higher and higher states of consciousness. [See, e.g., the entries for "conditions of consciousness" and "historical narrative" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., the influence of Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

[3] See "Karma".

[4] See "Steiner Static - Freedom".

[5] See "Threefolding" and "Democracy".

[6] See "Guardians".

[7] See "Indoctrination".

Freemasonry - also see occult lodges; secret brotherhoods

An international fraternal order that has secret rites; Steiner is said to have been a member. "Rudolf Steiner was involved in Freemasonry ... Zander’s account [1] is cautious and judicious; he notes that the connections between Steiner and Freemasonry, real and imagined, have played a distorting role in perceptions of Anthroposophy over the years (among other things, through supposed involvement in Masonic ‘sex magic’ activities; the ostensible Freemasonic background of Anthroposophy also played an important part in the charges leveled against Steiner’s followers by the anti-esoteric faction of the Nazis). [2]" — P. Staudenmaier. [See "Double Trouble".]

[1] Historian Zander has written a history of German Anthroposophy. 

[2] The ties oppositions between Nazism and Anthroposophy are a highly contentious subject. [See, e.g., "Sympathizers?"]

Free School of Spiritual Science, The - see The School of Spiritual Science

Frey - also see Norse myths

The Norse God of fertility, rain, and sunshine; brother of Freya. [See "The Gods".]

Freya - also see Norse myths

The Norse goddess of love, the night, war, and death. [See "The Gods".]

Freyr - see Frey

Frigg (Frigga) - also see German, Germany; Norse myths

The highest Norse goddess, the wife of Odin. She is the mother of the gods; also the mother of the German people. [See "The Gods".]

future - also see American Age; clairvoyance; Future Jupiter; Future Venus; Future Vulcan; Russian Age; War of All Against All; cf. past 

Steiner said he knew the future. In the relatively near term, we will move moved beyond our current age or "cultural epoch" [1] to the Russian Age and then the American Age [2], which will lead to the mighty War of All Against All. [3] In the much longer term, we will evolve beyond our current condition of consciousness, Present Earth [4], moving on to Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan [5], and then to five further, unnamed stages of spiritual development. [6]

Descriptions of Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan appear lower on this page.


According to Steiner, most of our evolution still awaits us in the future. This is the overall pattern of our evolution. The three spheres on the left represent the past: In descending order, they are Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. We currently live in the condition represented by the fourth sphere: Present Earth. (Below Present Earth dangles the terrible "Eighth Sphere".) To the right are eight more stages: the future. The first three future stages can be discussed; they are Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. Beyond them lie five stages that wholly transcend our current comprehension. [See "Stages" and "Future Stages". R.R. sketch, 2015.]

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

[2] See "Oriphiel".

[3] See "All vs. All".

[4] See the entry for "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.

[5] See "Future Stages".

[6] See "Matters of Form".

Future Jupiter
 - also see conditions of consciousness; Future Venus; Future Vulcan; planetary conditions

According to Steiner, drawing heavily from Theosophy: This will be the next "condition of consciousness" or "planetary condition," i.e., our next major stage of evolution, following the Earth stage (Present Earth). [1] The entire solar system will reincarnate in a form dominated by the forces of Jupiter. [See "Everything" and "Planets".] Future Jupiter will be, in a sense, a mirror-image of Old Moon [2], recapitulated at a much higher level. When we arrive there, we will have the Jupiter consciousness: perfected imagination. [3] 

As the center of the created universe [4], we ourselves will bring about the conditions that will exist during Future Jupiter. "[T]he rock formation[s] of the Future Jupiter [will] be the result of our words. The ocean of Jupiter [5], the warmth of Jupiter, will arise out of the feelings of present-day humanity. The beings of Jupiter will arise out of human will. Thus the inhabitants of a previous planet [6] create the basic conditions for its successor [7] ... There will then exist a kind of Jupiter-Lemurian race [8]." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 9, GA 93a.


Future Jupiter will be the next incarnation of the solar system: It will be the fifth "condition of consciousness" or "planetary condition." Although the stages of evolution as described by Steiner are often depicted as circles or spheres, and despite the shorthand designations often applied to them ("Jupiter," "Venus," etc.), they are not planets — they are not physical objects such as we see through telescopes today. They are periods of time, phases of evolution. The three shown here lie in our future. They trace an ascending trajectory as we become increasingly spiritualized. [Detail from a diagram in R. Steiner's THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), p. 81. Color added, published smudge removed.]

[1] See the entries for "conditions of consciousness" and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Matters of Form". 
[2] Old Moon was the condition of consciousness prior to our current condition of consciousness; that is, it was the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "imagination" and "Jupiter consciousness".
[4] See "The Center".
[5] Steiner's terminology can be confusing; his meaning must often be deduced from context. Here, when he refers to "Jupiter", he means Future Jupiter.
[6] I.e., the previous planetary condition: the previous condition of consciousness.
[7] I.e., the beings who are alive during one planetary condition or condition of consciousness create — through their actions, words, and thoughts — the spiritual circumstances that determine the contents of the next planetary condition or condition of consciousness. The process is akin to karma: What we do in our present lives determines what we will face in our next lives.
[8] I.e., during Future Jupiter we will recapitulate our existence on the lost continent of Lemuria. [See "Lemuria".] Our "race" (i.e., our racial evolutionary form) during Future Jupiter will reiterate some of the characteristics of our racial form during the Lemurian epoch — we will be members of the "Jupiter-Lemurian race."

Future Venus - also see conditions of consciousness; Future Jupiter; Future Vulcan; planetary conditions

According to Steiner, this will be the sixth "condition of consciousness" or "planetary condition," the evolutionary stage that will follow Future Jupiter. [1] The entire solar system will reincarnate in a form dominated by the forces of Venus. [See "Everything" and "Planets".] Future Venus will be, in effect, a mirror-image of Old Sun [2], recapitulated at a much higher level. When we reach Future Venus, we will have the Venus consciousness: perfected inspiration. [3] 

◊ "On the future Venus [4] a complete consciousness in the etheric body [5] will develop. Then, while man sleeps, he will gain a consciousness concerning the other side of the world. [6]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 25, GA 93a. ◊ Advanced students of initiation can explore Future Venus even during the Present Earth stage of evolution [7]. Steiner spoke of this as a reality that has already occurred among initiates and near-initiates. "The mystery of the shining of light, of the shining of soul-light, arose for the pupil. Thus he was transported into that future when the earth will be changed into the Venus-planet, into the future Venus-planet." — R. Steiner, MYSTERY CENTRES (Garber Communications, 1985), lecture 9, GA 232.

Future Venus will follow Future Jupiter, and in turn it will be followed by Future Vulcan. [8] But only meritorious or highly, correctly evolved humans will graduate from Future Venus to Future Vulcan; others will be sent to an "irredeemable Moon" — effectively a place of perdition. During that state [i.e., during Future Venus] a special cosmic body splits off [i.e., will split off] that contains all the beings who have resisted evolution, a so to speak ‘irredeemable moon,’ which now moves [i.e., will move] toward an evolution, for the character of which no expression can be found because it is too dissimilar to anything that man can experience on earth. [9]” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), chapter 6, GA 13. 



 ◊ 1. Old Saturn ◊                           ◊ 7. Future Vulcan ◊  

 ◊ 2. Old Sun ◊                   ◊ 6. Future Venus ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Old Moon ◊      ◊ 5. Future Jupiter ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Present Earth ◊ ...

Future Venus will be the sixth incarnation of the solar system, according to Steiner. [9]
These incarnations are called conditions of consciousness or planetary conditions.
Future Venus will recapitulate Old Sun, but at a much more highly evolved level.
(Likewise, Future Jupiter will recapitulate Old Moon and Future Vulcan will recapitulate Old Saturn.)

[1] See the entry for "conditions of consciousness" and "planetary conditions" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Matters of Form".
[2] See "Old Sun".
[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "inspiration" and "Venus consciousness".
[4] Steiner's terminology can often confuse. Sometimes he spoke of conditions of consciousness or planetary conditions as if there were physical planets. "On future Venus" suggests that we will stand on the planet Venus as it will exist in the future. But more accurately, as Steiner often indicated, what he meant is that in the future we will exist within a stage of evolution that can be called (somewhat confusingly) Future Venus. [For Steiner's own effort to clarify his discussions of planets as distinct from conditions of consciousness, see "Stages".]
[4] This is our lowest nonphysical body. [See "Incarnation".]
[5] I.e., the far or hidden side of reality. (Our "complete consciousness" will give us clairvoyant knowledge of events occurring far away.)
[6] I.e., a candidate for occult initiation. (Steiner is describing how the "pupil," receiving spiritual enlightenment — "the shining of soul-light" — is effectively transported to a future stage of human spiritual evolution.)
[7] Present Earth, our current condition of consciousness, will reincarnate as Future Jupiter, which will in turn reincarnate as Future Venus. In this sense, using a sort of shorthand, we may say that Earth will become "the future Venus-planet.." (Such a formulation is, however, potentially confusing. See note #3, above.)
[8] See the entry for "Future Vulcan", below.
[9] I.e., the remaining bad souls — those who are irredeemable — will be segregated on a separate “moon” where they will undergo an unimaginable fate.

Future Vulcan - also see conditions of consciousness; Future Jupiter; Future Venus; planetary conditions

According to Steiner, this will be the seventh "planetary condition" — the condition of consciousness [1] that will follow Future Venus. Sometimes Future Vulcan is considered the final planetary condition, although Steiner sometimes indicated that there will be five more, indescribable stages after it. 

During Future Vulcan, the entire solar system will reincarnate in a form dominated by the forces of Vulcan. [See "Everything" and "Planets".] We will then all have the Vulcan consciousness: perfected intuition. [2] Future Vulcan will be, in a sense, a mirror-image of Old Saturn [3], just as Future Venus will be a mirror-image of Old Sun [4], and Future Jupiter will be a mirror-image of Old Moon [5]; but of course these reflections will be greatly heightened and far more spiritually evolved. Thus, in reaching Future Vulcan, we will recapitulate and culminate all the stages of our prior evolution. 

We will reach Future Vulcan after laggard and regressive — evil — humans are split off from Future Venus and sent to a sort of cosmic correctional institution. Unfortunately, not much about Future Vulcan can be revealed to the public. "Lastly a supersensible consciousness even more highly developed [6] perceives an evolutionary state of the more distant future to which the name of Vulcan may be given. [7] Vulcan is in like relation to Saturn evolution as Venus to Sun and Jupiter to Moon. [8] Thus in considering the past, the present and the future of Earth evolution [9] we have to name its successive stages: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan [10] ... From Venus [11], at a certain stage, a separate celestial body becomes detached. [12] This — as it were, an 'irreclaimable Moon' — includes all the beings who have persisted in withstanding the true course of evolution. [13] It enters now upon a line of development such as no words can portray, so utterly unlike is it to anything within the range of man's experience on Earth. The evolved humanity [14] on the other hand, in a form of existence utterly spiritualized, goes forward into Vulcan evolution [15], any description of which would be beyond the compass of this book. [16]" — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), chapter 6, GA 13.



 ◊ 1. Old Saturn ◊                           ◊ 7. Future Vulcan ◊  

 ◊ 2. Old Sun ◊                   ◊ 6. Future Venus ◊ 

 ◊ 3. Old Moon ◊      ◊ 5. Future Jupiter ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Present Earth ◊ ...

Future Vulcan will be the seventh condition of consciousness, according to Steiner. Conditions of consciousness are incarnations of the solar system [17], and they are sometimes referred to as planetary conditions. Future Venus will be the culmination of our entire evolution beginning with Old Saturn. (Steiner sometimes indicated, however, that five additional conditions of consciousness await us beyond Future Vulcan.)

[1] See the entries for "planetary conditions" and "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Matters of Form".
See the entries in this encyclopedia for "intuition" and "Vulcan consciousness".
[3] See "Old Saturn".
[4] See "Old Sun".
[5] See "Old Moon, Etc."
[6] I.e., very high clairvoyant awareness.
[7] I.e., clairvoyance reveals a future evolutionary stage which may be dubbed "Vulcan." (Just as we must distinguish between Old Saturn and the planet Saturn, and between Future Jupiter and the planet Jupiter, etc., we must distinguish between Future Vulcan (a stage of evolution) and the planet Vulcan (if it exists). Steiner evidently believed that the planet Vulcan does exist. [See "Vulcan".] But here he is referring to the future stage of evolution, Future Vulcan.)
[8] I.e., Future Vulcan bears the same relationship to Old Saturn ("Saturn evolution") as Future Venus bears to Old Sun and Future Jupiter bears to Old Moon. (The future stages recapitulate those past stages.)
[9] In Steiner's teachings, the evolution of the Earth is essentially the same as the evolution of the solar system. This evolution centers on our own evolution; it is the evolution from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan and beyond.
[10] I.e., Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[11] I.e., from the central essence of Future Venus (which may be, somewhat confusingly, discussed as if it were a planet).
[12] I.e., it will become detached. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although the events he is describing lie far in the future.)
[13] I.e., those individuals who have resisted the proper course of spiritual evolution will be sent to an "irreclaimable Moon." (These wayward souls would seem to be irreclaimable — in some translations, the word "unredeemable" is used — although, as Steiner goes on to say, their moon will undergo a mysterious further evolution.)
[14] I.e., those individuals who have evolved correctly.
[15] I.e., Future Vulcan.
[16] Future Vulcan is the farthest stage of our evolutionary future that Steiner said he was free to discuss, and he said he could divulge very little about it. Beyond it, he sometimes said, are five more stages of evolution that must remain wholly veiled.
[17] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".