[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]

 G -


Steiner's works in the original German are cataloged by "GA" number. "GA" is an abbreviation of "Gesamtausgabe," meaning total or complete works. English translations of Steiner's works usually carry GA numbers to indicate their German sources. (Here at Waldorf Watch, when referring to Steiner texts that I have accessed through online sources that do not give page numbers, I provide GA numbers.)

Gabriel - also see Anglo-Germanic Age; Archangels; cultural epochs; Moon; Time Archangels

a) In the Bible: an Archangel who appeared to Daniel and Zacharias, and who foretold the birth of Jesus.

b) In Islam: the Archangel who revealed the Koran to Muhammad.

c) According to Steiner: the Archangel of the Moon, who was Time Archangel during the second period of the Anglo-Germanic Age, from about 1500 to 1879 CE. A transcript shows Steiner summarizing the influences of Archangels on recent human evolution thus: "Oriphiel gets his forces from Saturn: he ruled until about 109 A.D. Anael (Ananiel) — Venus: ruled until about Constantine's time; catacombs, martyrs, great devotion. Zachariel — Jupiter: folk migrations, breakup of Visigoths. Raphael — Mercury: ca. 817–1171 A.D. Samael — Mars: crusades, bellicose religiosity. Gabriel — Moon: ca. 1525–1879 A.D." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.

Gabriel's recent period "was dominated by the rise of the nation-state and of natural science (both firmly rooted in the moon forces of heredity) ... Gabriel brought also the moon quality of occultism ... Behind the scenes, Gabriel...was invisibly adapting the physical [human] brain to enable a new and objective living thinking to be introduced in the next period. This already made possible at the beginning of the nineteenth century the flowering of German philosophy...but this was overwhelmed. Instead democracy, socialism and bureaucracy, based on the lowest common factor of mundane egoism, rose with elemental force." — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 18.

As one of the four Archangels who oversee the seasons of the year, Gabriel exerts particular influence in winter, Steiner taught; this influence is balanced by Gabriel's effects in midsummer. "We have learnt to know Gabriel as the Christmas Archangel. He is then the cosmic Spirit; we have to look up above to find him. During the summer Gabriel carries into man all that is effected by the plastic, formative forces of nourishment. At midsummer they are carried into man by the Gabriel forces, after Gabriel has descended from his cosmic activity during the winter to his human activity in summer, when his forces stream through the Earth and it is winter on the other side." — R. Steiner, THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE ARCHANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968), lecture 5, GA 229.


This is a schematic representation of the end of Gabriel's reign in November, 1879. The arch to the left represents Gabriel; that to the right represents Michael, who succeeded Gabriel. [1] The horizontal line separates the astral plane (above) from the physical plane (below). At the same time that Michael assumed authority, the demon Mammon (Ahriman) [2] became increasingly active, as is suggested by the figure below the horizontal line. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on the one on p. 232 of Steiner's in ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007).] Also in 1879, Rudolf Steiner met the man who would give him occult initiation, or so he later claimed. [3]

[1] See "Michael".

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

[3] See the entries for "historical narrative" and "Koguzki, Felix" in this encyclopedia.

Gaia - see Earth; Earth Goddess

galaxies - also see cosmos; stars

Steiner referred to galaxies occasionally, just as he occasionally acknowledged other astronomical realities such as the existence of planets beyond Saturn or the truth that planets orbit the Sun. But for the most part, he denied the relevance of inconvenient scientific truths, essentially omitting them from his cosmology. [See "Higher Worlds" and "Deception".] He occasionally indicated that galaxies exert influences on human beings, although whether he understood that nature of galaxies is uncertain. "[I]t would be wrong to imagine that having passed through the portal of death we do not belong to any forces at all, for after death we are connected with the forces of the solar system and the other galaxies." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AND HUMANITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1992), lecture 3, GA 15. Galaxies are vast swarms of stars; an average galaxy contains millions or even billions of stars, and there are billions of galaxies in the observable universe. Steiner's cosmology, which may initially seem expansive, focuses primarily on the inner solar system, and is in fact dwarfed by astronomical reality.

gardens, gardening - see biodynamic gardening and farming

Gardner, John Fentress (1912-1998) - also see American transcendentalists

American Anthroposophist and author, Waldorf educator, longtime headmaster of the Waldorf School in Garden City, New York, USA. [See "I Went to Waldorf".] He developed the thesis that American transcendentalists anticipated Steiner's doctrines and hence Anthroposophy is not alien to America.

gate of birth - also see birth; incarnation; cf. gate of death

The portal through which one passes when leaving the spirit realm to begin a new life on the physical plane of existence. "[M]an undergoes an important experience in the spiritual world before entering the physical world through conception and birth, and the effects of this experience are active in his coming life ... After passing through the gates of death human souls appear, on the whole, as the after-effects of what they have immediately experienced in earthly life. Now such souls meet those who are about to descend into a physical body ... This meeting between those souls who have just passed through the gate of death and those who are just about to enter the physical world through the gate of birth is an important event ... In a certain sense, its function is to give the descending souls some idea of what they will encounter here. It is from this meeting that the 'impulse' is derived that stamps the peculiar expression of melancholy [1] on the faces of children entering the world to-day. They do not want to enter the world of which they have learnt through this meeting. For they know how, in a sense, their 'spiritual plumage' [2] will be ruffled by what mankind, immersed in materialistic thoughts and feelings, views and deeds, is experiencing on the earth to-day. [3]" — R. Steiner, SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF TO-DAY (Rudolf Steiner Book Centre, 1932), GA 193.

[1] See "Temperaments". Here, Steiner indicates that children incarnation on Earth in the modern age tend toward melancholia.
[2] I.e., their spiritual raiment, their spiritual beauty.
[3] In Anthroposophical culture generally, the modern world is thought to be inferior (less spiritual) than previous ages. [See, e.g., "The Ancients".]

gate of death - also see death; excarnation; cf. gate of birth

The portal through which one passes when leaving the physical plane of existence to begin a new life in the spirit realm. "[W]hen the human being passes through the gate of death, etheric body, astral body and Ego [1] are loosened from the physical body ... [L]et us think of the emergence of the threefold man from the physical body. This is a process which lasts for days, beginning when the human being passes through the gate of Death ... We must really try to grasp in its reality what is present as the first moment after the human individuality has passed through the gate of Death. The unlived-out karma [2] is freed from the individuality — the individuality can only live out his karma in a subsequent incarnation [3] — it is freed, and becomes cosmic: cosmic happenings are the result of it [4] ... [U]nlived-out karma is being expressed, karma that has taken over into the spiritual world and is like a wellspring in this death spectrum." — R. Steiner, THE PROBLEM OF DEATH (Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 2, 1915, GA 161.

[1] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.
[2] I.e., unfulfilled karma, karma that has not yet been discharged. (Belief in karma is fundamental to Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".])
[3] I.e., we can work through our karmas only while we are incarnated on Earth. (An "individuality" is a unique human or spiritual being, having an "I" or spiritual ego. [See "Ego".])
[4] I.e., an individual's karma flows outward, becoming part of the shared experience of all spirits in the cosmos, thus affecting all of the cosmos.

Gemini - also see astrology; constellations; Mercury; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (May 22-June 21) ... [R]uling planet, Mercury. Sensitive to every aspect of their environments, [Geminis] exhibit an incredibly mercurial personality; they are highly intelligent, versatile, tactful, diplomatic, and receptive to differing points of view. The danger of this sign is a lack of steadfast concentration, and a failure to express fully their talents...." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 108. ◊ "Gemini, the third sign of the Zodiac, denotes the Twins, indicating the dualism [1] inherent in this changeful sign of alternation ... In Gemini arises man's sense of his Ego [2], which I-dentifies his unique seed ... The quality of the imitative forces of genius are resident both in Gemini and are expressed by Gemini souls in accord with their soul-age in evolution [3] ... The close observer in zodiacal characteristics will [detect] a facial resemblance to the parrot in certain Gemini individuals, as he will find a likeness to the monkey in others. [4]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS OF THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 63-64.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Gemini. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Gemini. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Reveal yourself, life of sun,/Stir up what tends to rest,/Embrace what desires to strive/Towards a mighty prevailing of life,/Towards a blessed knowing of worlds,/Towards a fruitful maturing of growth./Oh life of sun, endure!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] A key dualism discussed in Anthroposophy is the presence of a double or doppelgänger within the individual. [See "Double Trouble".]
[2] In Anthroposophy, this is the spiritual ego, divine individuality. [See "Ego".]
[3] Steiner taught that humans evolve to varying levels of consciousness, which may be described as stages of soul maturity.
[4] According to Anthroposophical belief, animals embody distinct characteristics or qualities representing various evolutionary levels. A person having pronounced characteristics similar to those of a particular animal species may incarnate in a body resembling that species.

gender - see female; male; sexes

General Anthroposophical Society, The - also see Anthroposophical Society; Goetheanum; School of Spiritual Science

The central, formal body of the Anthroposophical movement, headquartered in the Goetheanum [1], in Dornach, Switzerland. The General Society grew out of the original Anthroposophical Society. [2] In 1923, Rudolf Steiner reconstituted the Society as the General Society, at which point he for the first time assumed a formal leadership role. (Previously, he was the spiritual leader but not the titular leader of the Anthroposophical movement.) There are also national and regional Anthroposophical societies, all with ties to the General Society.

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


genius - also see daemon; gods; cf. demons

In addition to the ordinary meaning, in Anthroposophy "genius" refers to the active spiritual presence of a place, people, etc. This presiding spiritual being is usually beneficial, as opposed to the demon of that place, people, etc. According to Steiner, the genius of the Sun is Christ (who became the Regent of the Earth after his descent to human incarnation). [1] The genius of the Sun is opposed by Sorat, the demon of the Sun (i.e., the Antichrist). [2] ◊ "Christ, the Genius of the Sun, has since His descent to earth made His throne [here], as Regent of the earth." — R. Steiner, THE BIRTH OF A NEW AGRICULTURE (Temple Lodge, 1999), p. 17. ◊ "Sorat continues to work on and on against the forces coming from the Genius of the Sun ." — R. Steiner, THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 111.

[1] See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".
[2] See "Evil Ones".

genius of language - also see genius; folk soul

In discussing language, Steiner sometimes spoke of the "genius of language." This is the divine essence of language, the divine capacity for language; it is the spirit or god of language. “[T]he conscious and the unconscious are interwoven in the marvelous being called the genius of language that expresses itself through the totality of a folk, tribe, or people.” — R. Steiner, THE GENIUS OF LANGUAGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 34. In expressing itself through multiple peoples, the "genius" may indeed be the multiple souls of those peoples; it maybe be a multi-part god, in which case referring to "geniuses" of language may sometimes be more apt. [1]

[1] See "Oh My Word". 

Genius of the Sun - see genius

geography - also see Atlantis; continents; geology; Lemuria

Steiner said that in geography classes, Waldorf teachers should somehow convey the truth that islands and continents float in the sea. ◊ "With the students, we should at least try to...make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 607. ◊ “The continents swim and do not sit upon anything. They are held in position upon the earth by the constellations. When the constellations change, the continents change, also.” — R. Steiner, ibid., p. 618. Note that these statements were made during meetings with Waldorf faculty members.

Other unorthodox concepts may also find their way into geography studies at Waldorf schools. ◊ “By comparing the eastern coast of America with the western coast of Europe, taking into consideration the flora and fauna, a connection can be established leading to the idea of the lost continent, Atlantis. [1]” — R. Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION (Hawthorn Press, 1993), p. 97. ◊ "When you teach animal geography, you need to consider the zodiac. [2]" — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, pp. 659-661. [See "Basement".]

[1] Anthroposophists believe that Atlantis existed. [See "Atlantis".] In addition to Atlantis, Anthroposophists believe in another lost continent: Lemuria. [See "Lemuria".] For an overview of the earliest stages of the development of the Earth, as related in Anthroposophy, see "Early Earth". For an indication of the ways related Anthroposophical concepts may be conveyed to Waldorf students, see "Out in the Open".
[2] Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. [See "Astrology".]

geology - also see Atlantis; Earth; earthquakes; geography; volcanos

Like other subjects studied in Waldorf schools, geology may be infused with occult beliefs. ◊ “We can show that the British isles have risen and sunk four times and thus follow the path of geology back to the concept of the ancient Atlantis ... [W]e should not be afraid to speak about the Atlantean land [1] with the children. We should not skip that ... The only thing is, you will need to disavow normal geology since the Atlantean catastrophe [2] occurred in the seventh or eighth millennium.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 25. [See "Basement".] ◊ “The Fire Earth [3] is made essentially of feeling and will. It is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped on. It consists entirely of passions.” — R. Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH: An Esoteric Study of the Subterranean Spheres (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 31. ◊ “The human being experiences the earth, for instance, as the cosmic body upon which he moves about ... This whole way of experiencing things, this whole attitude towards the earth, is, however, completely alien to the gnomes [4]; they sink down everywhere, because for them the whole earth-body is primarily a hollow space through which they can pass ... For the gnomes it is a transparent globe, a hollow body.” — R. Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 9, GA 230. [See "Past and Future".] Whether occult beliefs of this sort are explicitly conveyed to students varies from one Waldorf teacher to another, and from one Waldorf school to another.

[1] I.e., Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]
[2] I.e., the sinking of Atlantis.
[3] I.e., one of the interior layers of the Earth, according to Steiner.
[4] Steiner taught that gnomes are real. [See "Gnomes".]

geometry - also see clairvoyance; form drawing; mathematics

Steiner laid special stress on this branch of mathematics, crediting it with helping to awaken his own apprehension of supersensible realities. [1] Geometry leads to clairvoyance, he said. Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — R. Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92[See "Mystic Math".] In general, math — like all others subjects — is given an esoteric spin in Waldorf schools, and the pictorial nature of geometry fits the Waldorf preference for imagined (pictured) knowledge. [2] Form drawing [3] is intended to lead toward high, spirit-revealing geometric constructions, often resembling mandalas.


Geometry is accorded special significance in Waldorf schools. This book, volume two of a set, focuses on "freehand form drawing and basic geometric construction" for middle schoolers. [Ernst Schuberth, GEOMETRY LESSONS IN THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Association of Waldorf Schools, 2004).] 

[1] I.e., realities that lie beyond the reach of our senses: supernatural or extrasensory phenomena.

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "imagination", "imaginations", and "pictorial activity".

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

German Idealism - also see clairvoyance; enlightenment; Germans, Germany; philosophy; Spiritual Revolution

This was a philosophical movement that opposed the rational skepticism of Enlightenment philosophy; it harkened back to a more metaphysical vision. "Modern continental philosophy emerged in response to the skeptical challenges posed by the philosophies of the British empiricists, especially George Berkeley (1685–1753) and David Hume (1711–76) ... Both philosophers questioned the commonplace assumptions that there is a 'reality' distinct from the ideas or perceptions given in experience and that it is within the power of human reason to discern that reality’s true nature. The forceful skepticism to which they contributed, which became one of the most powerful philosophical currents of the Enlightenment, treated the scope of human knowledge as severely limited ... The philosophy of German idealism arose to challenge the Enlightenment’s skeptical, materialist, empiricist, and antimetaphysical worldview." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 30, 2015. German Idealism is often emphasized in Waldorf schools, where it is deemed a stage of spiritual progress leading to the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. [1] Steiner himself credited German Idealism with laying the groundwork for the sort of clairvoyant investigations he claimed to conduct. [2] "German idealism points to...a real development of those cognitive powers of man that behold the supersensible spiritual the way our senses behold the sense-perceptible material. [3]" — R. Steiner, "A Forgotten Stream in German Spiritual Life", THE RIDDLE OF MAN (Mercury Press, 1990), GA 20.

See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Spiritual Revolution".
[2] See "Clairvoyance".
[3] I.e., Steiner claimed that German Idealists pointed toward the development of "cognitive powers" that can perceive the spirit realm (the realm beyond the reach of our ordinary powers, hence the "supersensible spiritual"). In a word, this is clairvoyance. (If the German Idealists were philosophers, Steiner departed from their track and became a mystic, an occultist. [See, e.g., "Occultism".])

Germans, Germany - also see Central Europe; Europe; German Idealism; missions; cf. America; France; Russia

Waldorf education was originally designed to advance the occult mission of the German nation, as conceived by Steiner. Steiner was a German nationalist — he described Germany as standing between the evil East (Russia) and the evil West (America), much as Christ stands between Lucifer and Ahriman. [1] Germany, Steiner said, stands at or near the current apex of human evolution. In addition, Steiner taught, the folklore of Germany and northern Europe generally — Norse mythology — conveys uniquely profound truths about human evolution. [2] Hopes for mankind's future rest largely with the German people. “[H]uman development has not yet torn out of the soul what we need to improve it. [3] It is still in the soul, particularly in the German people.” — R. Steiner, EDUCATION AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 178.

Waldorf schooling was created for German students, specifically to aid them in fulfilling their national/spiritual mission. [The German] must be educated to [his] mission...[which is] looking at the world from the most varied points of view. This is the special mission of the German people ... They shall take hold upon world culture from this side, even as the German people ... [C]ertain things that I shall touch upon today, for example, in the realm of knowledge, can be evolved only through the German people.... ” — R. Steiner, THE CHALLENGE OF THE TIMES (SteinerBooks, 1979), pp. 207-209[4] This calls into question the applicability of Waldorf education outside Germany, given that the basic Germany-centered Waldorf curriculum — including, for example, the study of Norse myths — is rarely varied, even at Waldorf schools operating on other continents. [5]

[1] See "Steiner and the Warlord", "Lucifer", and "Ahriman".

[2] See "The Gods".

[3] I.e., modern life has not yet destroyed what is most precious in the human soul, the power that will improve the soul.

[4] See "The Good Wars".

[5] See "Curriculum".

ghosts - also see phantoms; specters

a) Disembodied souls of the dead.

b) According to Steiner, ghosts are beings produced by our own evil actions and thoughts. Our wickedness builds up in the "etheric body" (the lowest of our three invisible bodies) [1] and this causes bits of spiritual beings to descend to Earth as ghosts or specters. The ghosts accumulate inside us while we live, and after we die they spread out into the wide world. “The accumulation in the etheric body caused through these [wicked] experiences of the soul...brings about detachments from the beings working in the spiritual worlds [2] and these...are now to be found in our environment — they are the ‘spectres’ or ‘ghosts.’ Thus these beings...grow out of the life of human beings. Many a person can go about amongst us [whose] etheric body is crammed with spectres, and as a rule after a person's death or shortly afterwards all this rises up and disperses and populates the world.” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 84. [See "Neutered Nature".]

[1] See "Incarnation".

[2] See "Higher Worlds".


giants - also see elemental beings; Norse myths; cf. dwarfs

According to Steiner, these are huge elemental beings [1] or primordial spiritual beings. "The Sun-Initiation [2] gave the Druid priest [3] the spiritual impulse, and as a result he had his science of Nature ... His science of Nature being a Moon-science [4], the Druid priest perceived how the elemental beings can grow and expand into gigantic size. [paragraph break] From this resulted his knowledge of the Jötuns, the giant-beings. [5] When he looked into the root-nature of a plant beneath the soil, where the Moon-forces were living [6], there he found the elemental being in its true bounds. But the beings were ever striving to go forth and grow outward gigantically. When the kind of elemental beings who lived beneficially in the root-nature, expanded into giants, they became the giants of the frost [7] ... And what worked in the growth of the leaves, this too could grow to giant size. Then it lived as a giant elemental being in the misty storms that swept over the Earth. [8]" — R. Steiner, MAN IN THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE, AND THE SUN-INITIATION OF THE DRUID PRIEST AND HIS MOON-SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 4, GA 228. [See "Beings".]

[1] I.e., huge nature spirits. [See "Neutered Nature".]
[2] I.e., acquisition of occult knowledge from the realm of the Sun.
[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Druids".
[4] I.e., it developed under the influence of the Moon.
[5] Jötuns are the giants portrayed in Norse mythology, which Steiner said gives a true indication of human evolution. [See "The Gods".]
[6] Steiner taught that astrological forces of the Moon penetrate the soil of the Earth, where they nourish the roots of plants.
[7] One type of giant described in Norse myths consist of "frost giants" — beings that embody the forces of the frozen North.
[8] Another type of giant described in Norse myths — giants of mist and cloud.

globes, global states - also see stages of form; Theosophy

These Theosophical terms tended to fall from Steiner's vocabulary after he split from Theosophy. [1] In general, we can think of globes as stages of form [2], although in Theosophy the term is elastic. Here is the beginning of the definition of "globe" given in the ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999): "In theosophy, a unit in the constitution of every planet or sun, each of which is composed of several globes, in their entirety referred to as a planetary or solar chain. Furthermore, moons, nebulae, and comets also have a seven or twelvefold constitution, even as has man, who is a copy in the small of the universe. These globes are analogous to the monadic centers in the human constitution. The seven manifested globes on the four lower cosmic planes for purposes of convenience are enumerated as A, B, C, D, E, F, G; but reference is sometimes made more mystically to the globes from 'A to Z,' plainly hinting at all the globes of the chain. When considering seven cosmic planes, twelve globes are given. These globes are related to the seven (or twelve) sacred planets and to the twelve zodiacal constellations...." [See "

[1] See "What a Guy".
[2] Stages of form are subdivisions of conditions of life, which in turn are subdivisions of conditions of consciousness [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms. Also see "Matters of Form" .]

gnomes - also see elemental beings; fairies; goblins; nature spirits; salamanders; sylphs; undines

According to Steiner, these are nature spirits [1] dwelling within the Earth; at least some of them are known as goblins. Steiner taught that such beings are real but invisible to ordinary vision. "A gnome is only visible to someone who can see on the astral plane [2], but miners frequently possess such an astral vision [3]; they know that gnomes are realities.” — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 27, GA 93a. 

Waldorf classrooms often have gnome dolls or statuettes, and the children are often led to believe that gnomes are real. Some parents report that Waldorf teachers use gnome figures to insinuate Anthroposophical religious beliefs into class in an apparently cute and harmless manner. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Gnomes".]


Waldorf students are often directed to create drawings of gnomes (sometimes copying images created by their teachers). The results are strikingly uniform. The upper picture shown here was created by a young Waldorf student in France. The lower picture was created by an American Waldorf student. (Steiner said that miners often see gnomes. In the lower picture, gnomes are shown working in a mine.) Whether the students are led to believe that gnomes are real varies from school to school and from teacher to teacher. All the teachers who believe Steiner consider gnomes to be real — not as little men in pointy hats but as invisible presences.

[1] See "Neutered Nature".
[2] I.e., the soul world. [See "Higher Worlds".] Such "seeing" is the use of clairvoyance.
[3]I.e., clairvoyance.

gnosis - also see gnosticism; mystery knowledge; occult; occult science; spiritual science

Knowledge of spiritual mysteries. In some of Steiner's teachings, gnosis is equivalent to occult science — the highest spiritual knowledge available to humanity at a particular stage of evolution. "When the Mystery of Golgotha [1] took place, the ‘Gnosis’ was the mode of thought of those among humanity who were able, already at that time, to understand this event — the most momentous in the earthly evolution of mankind — with an understanding not only of deep feeling but of clear knowledge." — R. Steiner, ANTHROPOSOPHICAL LEADING THOUGHTS, 21, "Anthroposophy and Gnosis" (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1973), LT 159-161, GA 26. 

The major sources Steiner drew upon when formulating Anthroposophy were Theosophy and gnostic Christian teachings. Steiner altered the beliefs he drew upon, but despite the resulting differences, Anthroposophy is deeply indebted to earlier spiritual movements. Steiner taught that the roots of gnosticism extend far back; ancient peoples had their own gnostic wisdom that, while imperfect, accords with the highest spiritual wisdom in the modern world (i.e., Anthroposophy). “Those men in [ancient] Greece who meditated upon the earliest stages of world-evolution spoke of a primordial Being [2] for the understanding of whose nature a much more highly spiritual mode of knowledge is required than for an understanding of the events described in the Old Testament. [3] These men spoke of the Being whom they held to be the actual Creator of the world — the Demiurgos [4] ... We must therefore think of the Demiurgos as a sublime Being, as the Creator of the world who sends forth other Beings from Himself. The Beings sent forth by the Demiurgos were ranked in successive stages, each stage being lower than the last ... In Greece they were known as Aeons — of the first rank, the second rank and so on [5] ... Among these Aeons, Jahve or Jehovah was a Being of a relatively subordinate rank. [6] And this brings us to a consideration of the teachings of the Gnostics, as they were called, in the early centuries of Christendom ... According to this Gnostic conception, therefore, Jehovah was a somewhat lower descendant of the more lofty Aeons who had proceeded from the Demiurgos, and as the outcome of Jehovah's union with matter, man was created [7] ... The Gnostic teaching was that in the man Jesus there had dwelt a Being [8]...of a far more highly spiritual order than Jahve or Jehovah.” — R. Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (Anthroposophical Publishing Company), ANTHROPOSOPHY - Michaelmas 1931, Vol. 6, No. 3, GA 225.

[1] I.e., the Crucifixion of Christ Jesus.
[2] I.e., an ancient spirit or god.
[3] I.e., to understand this Being, deeper insight is required than is needed to understand Old Testament teachings.
[4] See "Gnosis". The account Steiner gives here parallels his own theology, but with some important differences. Anthroposophy does not recognize the Demiurgos, as such. Rather, above the ranks of gods is the Godhead — a nebulous divine essence, sometimes referred to as divine will. 
[See the entry for "Godhead", below.] No single God presides over the universe, according to Anthroposophy; Steiner's teachings are polytheistic, with many gods contributing to the creation and evolution of the universe. [See "God" and "Polytheism".] In some gnostic accounts, the Demiurgos or Demiurge is a wicked god, quite unlike Seiner's conception of the Godhead.
[5] Aeons, in this account, are gods, subordinate to the Demiurgos. (Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods below the Godhead. [See "Polytheism".])
[6] Steiner taught that Jehovah, the god of the Jews, was not the Creator but, instead, a rather lowly god. [See "Old Testament".]
[7] I.e., Jehovah united with the material plane of existence, and he gave mankind its physical form.
[8] I.e., Christ. Steiner taught that Christ is the Sun God, who incarnated in the body of a man named Jesus. [See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"]

gnosticism - also see esoteric; gnosis; initiation; occult; world outlooks

a) Upper-case G: Gnosticism: Heretical Christian movement of the 2nd Century CE. ◊ "Even the external scholarship [1] of today has come to recognise that in this period of transition at the beginning of our era some religious-philosophic geniuses lived. And they can best be encountered by looking at Gnosticism. The Gnosis [2] is known in the most varied ways. Externally, remarkably little is really known about it, but from the available documents one can still get an impression of its endless depth.” — R. Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 1, GA 149. ◊ “In the early years of Christianity it was those in whom something of the old spiritual perception [3] still lingered, who were best adapted to understand the cosmic significance of the life and death of Christ. Gnosticism had done its work [5] before it was rejected by the Church.” — O. Barfield, “Introducing Rudolf Steiner” (TOWARDS, Fall-Winter, 1983).


b) Lower-case g: gnosticism: Occultism stressing secret or “mystery” knowledge (salvation comes not truth faith or good works but through initiation into occult mysteries). Anthroposophy is gnostic in this second sense. Steiner saw value in the teachings of the 2nd Century Gnostics, but he claimed to supercede those teachings. His "exact clairvoyance" [4] provided occult knowledge unavailable to earlier seers.

c) When enumerating possible world outlooks (soul moods that he associated with the seven "planets" of astrology), Steiner designated gnosticism as the first of seven. "A man can be so attuned in his soul...that the soul-mood expressed in the whole configuration of his world-outlook can be designated as Gnosis. A man is a Gnostic when his disposition is such that he gets to know the things of the world not through the senses, but through certain cognitional forces in the soul itself." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 47. Steiner located gnosticism under the influence of Saturn. 

[1] I.e., scholarship that knows only external realities (mainstream scholarship resulting from the use of the physical brain, as compared to esoteric scholarship that penetrates spiritual mysteries through the use of clairvoyance). 
[2] I.e., the occult knowledge possessed by the Gnostics. [See "Gnosis" and the entry for "gnosis", above.]
[3] I.e., the old nature clairvoyance. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".
[4] See "Exactly".
[5] I.e., it had injected a new stream of occult wisdom into human evolution. Anthroposophists believe the beneficial influences of Gnosticism and other spiritual movements is found today not the "the Church" but in Anthroposophy.

goblins - also see fairies; gnomes; nature spirits; salamanders; sylphs; undines

In Anthroposophy: gnomes (or the more naughty gnomes); amoral nature spirits dwelling in the earth. Steiner taught that such beings actually exist. “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... If you dig into the metallic or stony ground you find beings which manifest at first in remarkable fashion — it is as if something were to scatter us. They seem able to crouch close together in vast numbers, and when the earth is laid open they appear to burst asunder ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man....” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63. [See "Gnomes".]

God - also see Brahma; Christ; Father God; God the Father; The Godhead; gods; Holy Ghost; Jehovah; polytheism; Sun God; trinity

Steiner taught that monotheism is only an ideal; no one-and-only God exists. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. “Monotheism or monism can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, complete view of the world.” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 115. 

Steiner and his followers often speak of "God," but strictly speaking there is no precise referent for this word in Anthroposophical teachings. This is why, for example, Steiner altered The Lord's Prayer so that instead of addressing "Our Father which art in heaven" it addresses "Ye Fathers in the heavens." [See, e.g., "Power Words".]

The closest Anthroposophy comes to belief in a single God, as such, can be found in its affirmation of the Godhead. [See the entry for Godhead, below.] In Steiner's teachings, the name attached to any god (Thor, Zeus, Lucifer, etc.) may sometimes refer not to a single deity, as such, but to a group of related gods, all of whom jointly comprise a particular spiritual power. The very designation "God" may thus be understood, at least sometimes, as referring to the generality of gods seen as a corporate unity, or to the spirit that infuses all the deities, the Godhead. Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods, divided into three "hierarchies." [See "Polytheism".] Humanity will become the tenth rank of deities, Steiner taught, and it will ascend to supreme apotheosis. [See "Tenth Hierarchy".]

For more on such matters, see "God", "The Gods", and "Goddess". Also relevant: "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?", "Prayers", and "Waldorf Worship".

God of Light
— also see Ahura Mazda; Baldur; Christ; Sun God

People have worshipped many gods of the Sun or gods of light. According to Steiner, the true Sun God or God of Light is Christ. The gods of light worshipped in various pre-Christian faiths have either been Christ as perceived at that time by those people, or other gods associated with the Sun and light, Steiner said. In Norse myths, the god of light is Baldur, who may be seen as a Christ figure. Similarly, the Zoroastrian faith includes a god of light: "In post-Atlantean time [1] the life of man between birth and death has had its influence...on the body-free condition after death. [2] The more man turned his interest to the physical world, the greater was the possibility for Ahriman [3] to find his way into the soul during earthly life, and then maintain his power over it after death ... The danger was [great] for the ancient Persian people, who in the time between birth and death had turned their gaze with interest upon the physical world. They would all too readily have fallen a prey to the snares of Ahriman, had not Zarathustra [4], with his teaching of the God of Light, impressed it so earnestly upon them that behind the world of the physical senses is the world of the Spirits of Light. [5]" — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 212-213.

[1] We currently live in the Post-Atlantean age or epoch, Steiner taught: the period that began with the destruction of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".].
[2] I.e., the way we live during each of our Earthly lives affects our condition during our intervening lives in the spirit realm.
[3] In Zorastrianism, Ahriman is the devil, the opponent of Ahura Mazda, the God of Light. In Anthroposophy, Ahriman is a great demon, one of the chief opponents of human evolution. [See "Ahriman".]
[4] The Persian prophet Zoroaster, founder of Zorastrianism.
[5] There are many Spirits of Light. There chief, the God of Light, is Christ, according to Steiner. [See "Sun God".]

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


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

b) In Anthroposophy, God 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".]


goddesses - also see Anthropo-Sophia; Demeter; Earth Goddess; female; gods; Isis; Mary; mother forces; Sophia

Some of the plethora of gods recognized in Anthroposophy are feminine; they are goddesses. Steiner taught that they female perspective is more cosmic than the male [1], and the mother forces of the cosmos [2] are especially nurturing. Female gods epitomize these virtues, he taught. Some of the goddesses he particularly discussed include Isis, Gaia, Demeter, Persephone, and Mary. [3] As he did with virtually all subjects, Steiner affirmed ancient myths and teachings, giving them new Anthroposophical interpretations. Thus, for instance: “Of Demeter, the Earth Mother, and Persephone, Steiner says, ‘With these two names we touch on what are really two souls in modern human beings — two souls whose union is achieved only through the severest ordeals.’ Persephone, taken down to Hades, is our ancient heritage of clairvoyance, raped by modern knowledge. [sic] Demeter is...‘the archetypal mother of the human soul and the fruitful sources of nature,’ out of whom what is born elementally [i.e., physically] becomes Persephone [our clairvoyant soul] in the human being.” — C. Bamford, Introduction to Steiner's ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 29.

Just as some evidently male gods are evil, abnormal, or destructive, so are some goddesses. Steiner's teachings include references, for instance, to the terrible Hindu goddess Kali. She is the "dark goddess...the female representation of [the forces of] destruction and cosmic dissolution." — THE EFFECTS OF ESOTERIC DEVELOPMENT (SteinerBooks, 1997), p. 164. On the other hand, one of the most important and beneficent gods of all for Anthroposophists is the goddess Anthropo-Sophia, the spirit of their faith. Thus, an Anthroposophical publisher has this to say about one of its offerings, S. Prokofieff's THE HEAVENLY SOPHIA AND THE BEING ANTHROPOSOPHIA (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2006): "Based on the author's own experience of the supersensible being who stands behind the science of the spirit known as Anthroposophy, THE HEAVENLY SOPHIA is the culmination of 25 years of work by Sergei Prokofieff on Rudolf Steiner's spiritual impulse. The being Anthroposophia, he shows, is not a poetic image or an abstract concept, but is an actual spiritual entity who works in the higher worlds for the good of earthly evolution, bringing to humanity '...the new revelation of the heavenly Sophia, the divine wisdom'." [4]

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "female" and "male"; also see "Gender".
[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "mother forces" and "mother principle".
[3] See "Goddess".
[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthropo-Sophia".

The Godhead - also see God; gods; divine cosmic plan; trinity; cf. Father; Jehovah

a) The Supreme Being, the originator: God.

b) The essence of God — hidden, unknowable. A mystical concept, the hypothesis of the Godhead calls into question the existence of God — that which is unknown and unknowable may not, for all we know, exist. "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 in which all distinction is lost. This form of 'mystical atheism' has seemed suspicious to established religion ... God is eternally the dark mystery of which nothing can be said." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, Aug. 28, 2015.

c) In Anthroposophy: the ground of being; the creative force behind all creation. Essential but nebulous, the Godhead may be conceived as divine will (which is or can be reflected in human will); it is not a god, as such, but the divine intentionality that animates the gods. Thus, in a sense, it is coextensive with the divine cosmic plan. The Godhead is sometimes equated with the Holy Trinity, although in the polytheistic vision of Anthroposophy the Trinity must be seen as a collegial union of three separate gods, and for accuracy we should say that the Trinity is the highest expression of the transcendent Godhead. [See "God" and "All".]

According to Steiner, humans have perceived the Godhead in many ways. Atlanteans [1] had the most direct comprehension of the Godhead as an omnipresent reality. "When he [i.e., the Atlantean] touched a leaf, or saw a flash of lightning, he was aware that part of the Godhead was displayed before him; it was as if he were touching the garment of the Divine. Just as we make contact with some element in a man's soul when we shake hands with him, so the Atlantean, when he took hold of a form in nature, felt that he was touching the body of the Godhead. He lived in a religious feeling quite different from our own." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1986), lecture 11, GA 95.

Steiner taught that the Atlantean's living awareness of the Godhead is reflected, at a less vibrant level, by "Christian" or especially "esoteric Christian" awareness: “[A] Christian sees a mirror image of the Godhead, of divine will, in every single thing in the world. The universe contains the sacrificed Godhead [2], and this reflected image of the Godhead was called in esoteric Christianity ‘the kingdom’. What the kingdom meant to them [3] was the divine will raying back to them multiplied a million times. The kingdom was the creative power of Atma [4], the living force of Buddhi [5] in us, the creative force working in the outside world.” — R. Steiner, THE LORD'S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 64. This account, drawing from Hinduism (Atma, Buddhi) clearly separates the Anthroposophical vision from orthodox Christianity.

Anthroposophists sometimes speak of the Godhead as if it were the essence of the Christian triune God. "God — referring to the Christian concept of the holy Trinity, the three aspects of one godhead ... [It is] the Trinity, as ultimate origin of the Creation of the world...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 49-50. This, however, brings the Godhead within the ranks of the gods, for as Steiner explained, the Trinity consists of three identifiable gods associated with celestial orbs and stages of evolution: "The highest Ruler of Saturn...appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth [6] appears to us as the Holy Spirit....” — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100. Steiner himself sometimes identified the Godhead with the Holy Trinity, but more generally he indicated that the Godhead stands beyond the ranks of the gods and beyond the reach of our comprehension. Anthroposophists today often acknowledge this teaching. “Above [man], in the spiritual world, are three ranks of [gods], reaching to the Godhead which is so far beyond [man] as to be incomprehensible in his present state of development. [7]” — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER: An Introduction to His Spiritual World-View (Temple Lodge Publishing 2005), p. 185. 

[1] I.e., residents of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]
[2] I.e., Godhead made manifest, at the expense of becoming material.
[3] I.e., esoteric Christians, forerunners of Anthroposophists.
[4] A Hindu concept: the spiritual life principle, one's true inner self; in a sense, the soul. Steiner called this "spirit man." (Despite Steiner's statement, early Christians did not use the term "Atma"; nor generally have later Christians.)
[5] A Hindu concept: the mental component that aspires to Brahman, the highest god or truth. Steiner called this "life spirit." (Despite Steiner's statement, early Christians did not use the term "Buddhi"; nor generally have later Christians.)
[6] See 'Old Moon'.
[7] Note that actually Steiner taught there are nine ranks of gods, divided into three "hierarchies." [See "Polytheism".] The Godhead stands behind or above the ranks and hierarchies of gods.

gods - also see apotheosis; devas; divine cosmic plan; God; goddesses; Godhead; Norse gods; planetary gods; polytheism

Anthroposophy is polytheistic. According to Steiner, gods such as Zeus, Thor, etc., are real beings; they are rulers of spheres and cosmic/evolutionary functions. They are the immortal, incorporeal, spiritual beings above man. They are not unchanging, however: They evolve. Nor are they uniformly beneficent: There are evil gods as well as good gods. There are nine ranks of gods, and we ourselves will become the tenth rank. 

The gods are known by many names. Here are the nine ranks of gods, divided into three hierarchies, as described by Steiner. I will provide some of the names that frequently appear in Anthroposophical texts (there is considerable overlap and some inconsistency in the texts):

• The First Hierarchy •
 ◊ Gods nine steps above humanity: 
 Spirits of Love, Seraphim ◊ 
 ◊ Gods eight steps above us: 
 Spirits of the Harmonies, Cherubim, 
 Spirits of Harmony ◊ 
 ◊ Gods seven steps above us: 
 Spirits of Will, Thrones, Radiating Lives, 
 Radiating Flames ◊ 

• The Second Hierarchy •
 ◊ Gods six steps above us: 
 Spirits of Wisdom, Kyriotetes, 
 Dominions, Wisdom Spirits ◊ 
 ◊ Gods five steps up: 
 Spirits of Movement, Dynamis, Mights, 
 Spirits of Motion, Spirits of Activity, 
 Principalities, Virtues ◊ 
 ◊ Gods four steps up: 
 Spirits of Form, Revelations, Exusiai, 
 Elohim, Spirits of Light, Powers ◊ 

• The Third Hierarchy •
 ◊ Gods three steps up: 
 Spirits of Personality, Archai, First Beginnings, 
 Principalities, Original Forces, Spirits of an Age, 
 Spirits of Epochs, Primeval Beginnings, 
 Primeval Forces, Zeitgeists, Spirits of Selfhood ◊ 
 ◊ Gods two steps up: 
 Fire Spirits, Sons of Fire, Archangels, 
 Spirits of Fire, Agnishvattas, Solar Pitris ◊ 
 ◊ Gods one step above humanity: 
 Sons of Twilight, Sons of Life, Angels, 
 Spirits of Dusk, Lunar Pitris ◊ 

Good gods are benevolent and selfless; they help humanity to evolve. Evil gods oppose the divine cosmic plan and they seek to derail human evolution. Steiner identified some of the evil gods as Spirits of Adversity, Spirits of Darkness, Spirits of Hindrance, Spirits of Obstruction, Spirits of Temptation, and so forth.

Normal gods evolve at the proper rate. Abnormal gods lag behind their peers — they remain at a level they normally would have risen beyond (thus an abnormal Archon may, for example, stay at the rank of Archangel). Sometimes they do this with good intentions, such as intending to provide special assistance to mankind.

For more on these matters, see "Polytheism", "Evil Ones", "The Gods", and "Tenth Hierarchy". For more on particular types of gods, see especially the R-S section of this encyclopedia. For information on individual gods, look for them by individual name: Brahma, Odin, etc.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832) - also see Goethean "science"; Goetheanum

German poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher. Steiner edited Goethe's "scientific" writings and affirmed them, arguing for example that Goethe was right and Newton was wrong about the nature of light. [See "Goethe".] Steiner named the Anthroposophical headquarters the Goetheanum, in honor of Goethe. (Note, however, that there is a considerable difference between many of Steiner's teachings and Goethe's.)

Goethean "science" - also see Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von; cf. science

Observation of nature in a manner predisposed to "see" spirit within. Critics call it subjective: projecting one's beliefs rather than maintaining objectivity. Goethe's approach has been disavowed by modern science, but it is affirmed by Steiner and his followers, including Waldorf teachers generally. [See "Goethe" and "Steiner's 'Science'".]

The Goetheanum - also see Anthroposophy; Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von; Steiner, Rudolf

The worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters, in Switzerland. Essentially a cathedral, the Goetheanum — named for Goethe — is the site of various Anthroposophical religious activities and observances. The main hall has a large pipe organ, a mystical ceiling mural, pillars adorned with occult/astrological symbols, and colored glass windows bearing occult/religious imagery. The building houses a monumental statue of Christ, Ahriman, and Lucifer sculpted under Steiner's direction.

In naming his headquarters for Goethe, Steiner brushed a coat of respectability over the occult purposes of Anthroposophy. There are connections between Steiner's teachings and Goethe's, but also significant differences. Admirers of Goethe do not, generally, subscribe to Anthroposophy. 

The current Goetheanum, built of concrete, replaced the original Anthroposophical headquarters, a wooden structure that was destroyed by fire. Anthroposophists claimed that the fire was set by their enemies — an act of arson — but no proof was ever found. [For more on the Goetheanum, see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]


The second Goetheanum.
The first was destroyed by fire.
[R. R., 2013, based on image
on p. 10 of GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961).]

Golden Age, The - see Krita Yuga

Golgotha - also see Christ; etherisation of blood; Jesus; Mystery of Golgotha

Golgotha is Calvary, the site of Christ's Crucifixion. In Steiner's teachings, the Mystery of Golgotha is the enigmatic but redemptive union of a god, Christ, with a man, Jesus, and its occult effects on us. [See "Prototype".] "His phrase 'the mystery of Golgotha' refers to the redemptive, world-transforming presence of the Christ in Jesus." — R. McDermott, THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2009),  p. 40.

Gondwana (Gondwanaland) - also see Lemuria

A primeval landmass that may have stretched from South America to Australia before it began to break apart approximately 180 million years ago. Steiner's followers sometimes identify Gondwana (also called Gondwanaland) with Lemuria, although little or no support for this can be found in science or in Steiner's own teachings. “Lemuria is the traditional name for one of the primal continents which present-day science calls Gondwanaland. It covered a region stretching from South America via Africa, Arabia, India to Australia.” — B. Urieli, MALE AND FEMALE (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2001), note 1, p. 81.

good and evil, and knowledge of them - also see black path; fall of man; freedom; hell; intellect; Lucifer; morality; sin; white path

Steiner taught that Lucifer [1] brought us the knowledge of good and evil, which enables us to become free: We can now choose between good and evil, the white path and the black path. “The temptation of Lucifer [2] has had a specific effect on human life; as a result of it we can develop a particular kind of knowledge and reason, a particular way of relating through our powers of reason to things around us. [3] This kind of relationship to the world and its phenomena arose because of Lucifer’s temptation and influence, because we tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” — R. Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 113

In Anthroposophical belief, the good gods can make use of evil, turning it to good account. Some Anthroposophists argue, consequently, that there is really no such thing as evil. But Steiner generally asserted that evil is real and threatening. He taught that evil became a distinct force in our universe during Old Moon. [4] “[U]ntil Old Moon evil was still wholly included in the plans of the good. On the Old Moon, however...there came about for the first time a complete separation from the forces of the good.” — S. O. Prokofieff, THE MYSTERY OF THE RESURRECTION IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2010), p. 70. The separation occurred when Lucifer and his minions rebelled against the good gods. Following that, good and evil gods often came into conflict. Thus, Steiner could say to his followers, "[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods...." — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. [5]

Waldorf schools often say that they aim to help their students become free. In Anthroposophy, however, the only real freedom we have is the choice between good and evil, and in this there is only one correct choice. [See "Freedom".]

[1] See "Lucifer".
[2] I.e., Lucifer’s temptation of us.
[3] According to Steiner: In enabling us to choose between two paths, Lucifer promoted our powers of reasoning, the intellect. This was a "gift," although Ahriman has made the intellect terrible, and Steiner taught that we must move beyond intellect. [See "Thinking", "Ahriman", and "Steiner's Specific".]
[4] I.e., the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc.".]
[5] For more on evil as discussed by Steiner, see, e.g., "Evil Ones", "Sin", and "Hell".

good gods
- also see good and evil; light, spirits of; cf. demons; evil gods; Spirits of Darkness

Steiner sometimes indicated that all gods are, ultimately, good: all contribute to human spiritual evolution. Thus, even the arch-demons Lucifer and Ahriman may be deemed good gods. "[W]e cannot say that there are good gods on the one hand and the evil gods Ahriman and Lucifer on the other. We must not assume that a trial should be held in the universe...and sentence Lucifer and Ahriman to be locked up once and for all, so that only the good gods can get to work ... The opposing forces ["evil gods"] were created by the good gods themselves...so that they would be able to bring to bear their full force for the development I have described [i.e., human betterment]." — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), lecture 4, GA 165.
The oppositional or "evil" gods, then, contribute in their way to the fulfillment of the divine cosmic plan.

However, on other occasions Steiner indicated that the distinction between good and evil gods is meaningful. For instance, “[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods." — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1956), p. 251. Or, again, "[There] was a time when men were still unfree and must needs follow the Will of the good and the evil Gods." — R. Steiner, WORLD HISTORY (Riudolf Steiner Press, 1977), lecture 8, GA 233. Whether some gods may be deemed good and others evil depends, in the end, on the question whether evil actually exists. Steiner vacillated on this subject. [See, e.g., the entry, above, on "good and evil".] It is correct to say, nonetheless, that Steiner generally taught that most gods are good, and the forces of good, while not absolutely assured of ultimate success in their benevolent intentions, are more than likely to prevail as evolution proceeds.

good races - see advanced races; good souls; cf. degenerate races; evil races

good souls - also see divine cosmic plan; evolution; freedom; white path; cf. bad souls; evil races; substandard souls; useless human beings

People and beings who walk the white (good) path of spiritual evolution. [1] Steiner indicated that there are good races and evil races, races that are ascending along the evolutionary path as laid out in the divine cosmic plan [2], and races that fall out of the correct upward stream. In general, individuals who are members of good races are themselves good; in general, those who are members of evil races are themselves inclined toward evil. But Steiner differentiated between the fate of races and the fate of individuals. An individual member of an evil race may become virtuous and rise to reincarnate as a member of higher, better races. "
How the single member [3] is constituted, and how he will behave, are determined by the character of the racial group ... [But] Man...makes himself free from what is generic [4] ... A man develops qualities and activities of his own ... What is generic in him serves only as a medium in which to express his own individual being. He uses as a foundation the characteristics that nature has given him, and to these he gives a form appropriate to his own being." — R. Steiner, THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), p. 203ff.

We create out own individual karma's, Steiner taught. [5] The key decision, which lies within each soul's power, is whether to take the white path or the black path. After we die, we meet the Guardians of the Threshold. [6] Individuals who have chosen wrongly will then hear these terrible words: "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 [7] tread the white path." — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1994), p. 152. Good souls avoid this dreadful pronouncement.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "white path". Also see "White-Black" and "Freedom".
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "divine cosmic plan".
[3] I.e., the individual within a group.
[4] I.e., individuals determine their own fates, freeing themselves from the "generic" qualities of the groups to which they belong.
[5] See "Karma".
[6] See "Guardians".
[7] Here, separating oneself from the group is a dreadful mistake. If the group is on the correct path, one must adhere to the group.

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

In Norse or Germanic mythology: the all-destroying final battle of the gods and giants; reflected in Anthroposophy by the coming War of All Against All and — at a higher level — the Apocalypse. [See "The Gods" and "All v. All".] ◊ “The downfall of our present epoch will be caused by lack of morality. The Lemurian epoch was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water [1]; our epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. [2] Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife ... [T]his War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form. Great and mighty forces will be let loose by [scientific] discoveries, turning the whole earth-globe into a kind of [self-functioning] live electric mass. In a way that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved. [3]” — R. Steiner, “The Work of Secret Societies in the World” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. ◊ "In a certain sense the Apocalypse represents a new kind of initiation; it shows how the old mysteries were transformed into Christian mysteries [4] ... There was an initiate in the most ancient times who was signified by the name 'Sig.' [5] The Drotten mysteries, which were in Russia and Scandinavia, the Druidic mysteries in Germany all derived from an initiate with the name Sig, who was the founder of the northern mysteries. [6] What happened in the mysteries has been preserved in the various myths and legends of the German nation and other Germanic peoples. [7] The myths and legends are pictorial representations of what was experienced. In the Siegfried legend [8] we see most clearly that feature that seeks for an end. This feature is expressed in mythological terms in the 'Gotterdammerung,' the twilight of the gods. This is characteristic of all the northern mysteries." — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), lecture 2, GA 104a.

[1] See "Lemuria" and "Atlantis".
[2] See "All vs. All".
[3] In general, Steiner said that only a tiny handful of humans escapes each catastrophe caused by human evil. In this instance, he essentially refers to true Anthroposophists.
[4] I.e., ancient occult wisdom was supplanted by Christian occult wisdom; the tale of the Apocalypse, in the Book of Revelation, symbolizes this "in a certain sense." "Mysteries" are true occult teachings that explicate spiritual mysteries.
[5] See the entry for "Sig" in this encyclopedia.
[6] I.e., the occult wisdom possessed in northern lands, including Russia, Scandinavia, and Germany.
[7] I.e., Norse myths. [See "The Gods".]
[8] See the entry for "Siegfried" in this encyclopedia.

grace - also see evolution; evolution of consciousness; gods; salvation; cf. sin

a) The freely bestowed favor of God or the gods: blessings, salvation. Anthroposophy generally adapts the concept of grace, affirming — or wishing to affirm — that all things are essentially blessed; all things ultimately promote and serve the good. Thus, evil is often described, in Anthroposophy, as a necessary force in the universe, allowed by the gods so that humanity can become free. (The existence of evil benefits us; we become free when we attain the capacity to choose between good and evil. Hence, despite the opposition for good and evil, evil ultimately serves the good of humanity and, by extension, the good of the cosmos. [1]) The matter is complex, and Steiner often indicated that evil is a genuinely menacing force — it can destroy us. But as a general attitude, grace is often posited as a basis of the Anthroposophical worldview. Everything is ultimately for the best; all levels of existence, even the lowliest, are ultimately infused by divine splendor. This nearly Panglossian vision may represent a gross simplification of Steiner's teachings, but it is common in Anthroposophical discourse, and it often finds expression in a characteristically sanctimonious tone and outlook. Steiner himself often adopted such a tone in at least some of his lectures and writings. Anthroposophy is offered, and embraced, as a joyous revelation, superior to any other.

b) Also in Anthroposophy, more specifically, grace is evolutionary assistance. "The background of the concepts of Sin, Original Sin, and Grace, is infinitely more profound than is generally imagined. The reason why this deep background is not perceived at the present time is that the real profundities of nearly all the traditional religions — this applies, to a greater or less extent, to nearly all of them in the form in which they now exist — have been more or less obliterated. [2] The tenets of these religions seldom contain anything even remotely comparable with what lies behind these concepts of Sin, Original Sin and Grace. For what lies behind them is actually the whole evolution of the human race." — R. Steiner, “The Concepts of Original Sin and Grace” (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1960), GA 127[See "Sin".] Many gods of various ranks have assisted our evolution, Steiner taught. [3] In this sense, many have shown us grace.

[1] See the entries for "evil" and "freedom" in this encyclopedia

[2] Steiner taught that the ancients possessed great spiritual insight that has slowly been lost. Spiritual truths are now largely occult or hidden, and they must be discovered through the techniques he taught.

[3] See "Polytheism" and "Manifestations".


graces - also see hymns; prayers; verses

Prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving are often recited in Waldorf schools before meals and snacks. In many cases, the phrasing of these prayers seems secular or merely metaphorical — nature, the Sun, and the Earth are addressed, not God. This may make the graces seem unobjectionably sweet and nondenominational. Parents of Waldorf students should realize, however, that such graces usually have specific theological meaning within an Anthroposophical context. Here is an example:

"Earth who gave to us this food:

Sun who made it ripe and good:

Dear Sun

Dear Earth

By you we live,

To you our loving thanks we give."

— C. Morgenstern, on p. 38 of PRAYERS AND GRACES 
(Floris Books, 1996), compiled by Michael Jones.

In Anthroposophical belief, celestial spheres are the abodes of gods. The Sun is the original home of the Sun God, Christ. [1] The Earth is embodied as the Earth Goddess [2] or Mother Earth. [3] Thus, according to the underlying Waldorf belief system, a simple grace like this is actually a prayer of thanks directed to the Sun God and Earth Goddess. Prayers addressed to such divinities, or to personified celestial spheres, are effectively pagan [4] and help usher the Waldorf students who are taught such prayers toward eventual embrace of Anthroposophy. [5]

[1] See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"
[2] See "Goddess".
[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Mother Earth". (Note that, according to Anthroposophical belief, after the Sun God descended to Earth and, in the body of Jesus, was crucified, the essence of the Sun God flowed into the Earth. In that sense, the prayer effectively thanks the Sun God — embodied in both the Sun and Earth — twice.)
[4] See "Pagan".
[5] See, e.g., "Indoctrination"

Graeco-Roman Age - see Greco-Roman Age.

Grail, The Holy - see Grail stream; Holy Grail.

Grail stream - also see ancients; Holy Grail; mystery streams

"One of the four mystery streams [1] on which anthroposophy is based. From a European perspective the Grail stream originated in the East ... Religious and esoteric content from ancient India, ancient Persia and the ancient Graeco-Roman period gave shape to this mystery stream ... [A]nthroposophy can be called the science of the Grail. [2]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 51-52.

[1] I.e., occult, spiritual traditions and they spiritual forces that flow through them. They culminate in Anthroposophy, Steiner taught. [See the entry for "mystery streams" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] The Holy Grail, Steiner taught, is occult wisdom. This is what we seek, he said, and he claimed that he delivered it. His "science" (spiritual science, occult science) thus may also be called "the science of the Grail." [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Holy Grail"]

gravity - also see physics; planets; science

a) In physics, the universal force of attraction; curved space-time.

b) According to Steiner, a local effect found only on solid planets; hence, in a sense, "gravity" is only a word. ◊ "Gravity is...perceived only by those beings that live on a solid planet ... Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity ... And beings who live on a gaseous planet would regard as normal something that would be the opposite of gravity ... [B]eings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling towards the planet would see them always flying off ... Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet.” — R. Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137. ◊ “The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 29. [See "Steiner's Blunders".] When Waldorf science teachers discuss gravity with their students, they do so only to deflect criticism: “[G]ravity is really meaningless ... But we cannot avoid speaking of gravity; we must mention it ... Just imagine what would happen if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.” — R. Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2000), pp. 116-117.

Steiner's repudiation of the concept of universal gravitation stemmed from his rejection of Isaac Newton's teachings and, by extension, his rejection of modern science: Steiner deplored explanations of reality that are mechanistic or physical — i.e., those that do not center on spiritual forces and entities.

great chain of being - also see gods; divine cosmic plan; evolution; hierarchies

The concept, found among ancient Greek philosophers and even earlier, that the universe is structured hierarchically, extending from the lowest to the highest beings. In Medieval Christian teachings, the chain denoted levels of sinfulness and virtue, extending from the infernal regions upward to the angelic hosts and, ultimately, the throne of God. Steiner adapted the concept in describing spiritual hierarchies and kingdoms of nature. [See "Rankings".]


The great chain of being, extending from hell at the bottom, through the physical universe, to heaven at the top. [RHETORICA CHRISTIANA, 1579; colors added.]

great epochs - also see Atlantean Epoch; epochs; Hyperborean Epoch; Lemurian Epoch; Polarian Epoch; Post-Atlantean Epoch; Seventh Epoch (Trumpets); Sixth Epoch (Seals); cf. cultural epochs

In Anthroposophy (drawing from Theosophy): seven extended periods of evolution on Earth, associated with root races: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, Atlantean, Post-Atlantean, Sixth (Seals), and Seventh (Trumpets) Epochs. Each great epoch consists of seven minor epochs, called periods or ages. (In our own great epoch, these ages are also called cultural epochs.) All of these stages of spiritual growth — epochs great and small — have been planned for us by the gods. Initiates can foresee the coming stages, and indeed the stages correspond to levels of initiation, Steiner taught. “We are living in the fifth period of the fifth great epoch [1]; we have still to live through two more periods [2] of this great epoch. Then will follow the seven periods of the sixth great epoch and then the seven periods of the seventh great epoch. This makes sixteen stages of evolution in the future. [3] Humanity has still to climb these sixteen stages. A man who can experience something of the conditions of existence there possible, is to a certain degree initiated. There is a correspondence between the degrees of initiation and the secret of the epochs still to come. [4] In the life of our planet there are seven great epochs, and each of these seven has seven sub-periods [5] — forty-nine conditions, therefore, in all. [6]” — R. Steiner, “The Work of Secret Societies in the World” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. [See "Epochs".]



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

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

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

 ◊ 4. Atlantean Epoch ◊ 

Great epochs are long historical eras. They are subdivisions of stages of form. [7] We have already evolved through the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean Epochs. We now live in the Post-Atlantean Epoch, Steiner taught. It began after the destruction of Atlantis and will end in the War of All Against All. [8]


• 1. Indian Age •                                           • 7. American Age •
• 2. Persian Age •                                   • 6. Russian Age •
• 3. Egypto-Chalean Age •   • 5. Anglo-Germanic Age •
• 4. Greco-Roman Age •

Each great epoch consists of seven subdivisions, often called ages. During the Post-Atlantean Epoch, we have already evolved through the India, Persian, Egypto-Chalean, and Greco-Roman Ages. We now live in the Anglo-Germanic Age, Steiner taught.

[1] I.e., we currently live in the fifth cultural epoch of the fifth great epoch.
[2] I.e., two more cultural epochs.
[3] Steiner here speaks only of the near-term future. Long term, there will be many more stages, he said. (Altogether, he said, we will pass through 16,807 stages as we evolve from Old Saturn to Future Vulcan. [See "Magic Numbers".] And if, as he sometimes said, there will be addition conditions of consciousness after Future Vulcan, the total number of stages in our evolution will be vastly greater.)
[4] I.e., the higher an initiate climbs in the acquisition of occult knowledge, the further he can see into our evolutionary future.
[5] I.e., ages or cultural epochs.
[6] Again, Steiner here speaks only of the near term.
[7] See the entry for "stages of form" in this encyclopedia.
[8] See "Atlantis" and "All vs. All".

Great Sacrifice
- also see Atma; Godhead; will

Spiritual self-abnegation. “That which becomes the force of Atma [1] is, in so far as it is a force emanating from the Godhead [2], of a volitional nature. If you pause to reflect upon your own power of volition, upon your will power [3], then you have a pale copy, a pale reflection of that which proceeds from the force of Atma, from the Godhead. [4] Will is the power or force which is least developed to-day. The will, however, has the potentiality to grow increasingly in strength until a time will come when it reaches its maximum potentiality, when it will be able to attain its goal, which the religions call the ‘Great Sacrifice’.” — R. Steiner, “The Structure of the Lord's Prayer” (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 97[See "The Center".]

[1] A Hindu concept: the spiritual life principle, one's true inner self; in a sense, the soul. Steiner called this "spirit man."
[2] See the entry for "Godhead," above. The Godhead may be conceived as divine will.
[3] See "Will".
[4] This statement seems to equated the Godhead with Atma, but above — and in other texts — Steiner draws a distinction. The force of Atma, will, may emanate from the Godhead, but it is distinct from the Godhead, and indeed not all of the force of Atma emanates from the Godhead. (Above, Steiner speaks of "the force of Atma...insofar as it [emanates] from the Godhead;" some of it emanates from the Godhead, some of it does not.)

Great Sin
- also see abnormal; black path; evil; evolution; sin; cf. white path

Leaving the upward (white) path of evolution. "Now on each planet there are also Spirits [1] who have remained behind in evolution, they have remained stationary and not wished to progress [2]. You will recognise a law from this: If the most outstanding fall and commit the 'great sin' of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all. [3] The noble sense of liberty has been reversed into wickedness, into its opposite. Those are the Spirits of Temptation [4], and they must be taken gravely into account; they lead to the evil side of egoism, even today they are still in our environment, these evil Spirits of Saturn. All that is bad draws its power from these Spirits." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99.

[1] I.e., generally, gods.

[2] I.e., they are "abnormal." [See the entry for "abnormal, abnormality" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] Sometimes Steiner said that abnormality is not equivalent with evil, but sometimes he drew a distinct connection, as he does here.

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

Greco-Roman Age - also see ages; cultural epochs; Olympics; cf. great epochs

In Anthroposophical belief: the fourth cultural epoch of the Post-Atlantean Epoch [1], running from 747 BC to 1413 CE. "[It] echoed [i.e., recapitulated] the Atlantean epoch [2] ... The forces of Aries, the Ram, prepared the age to take in the universe...and look back on it [3] ... The Greek sought to harmonize perfectly with his environment ... Into this came the descent of Christ [4] ... Through Christ the individual ego was finally born [5] ... But through Rome, with its emphasis on conquest and personality, came a darkening ... [T]houghts became dead [6] ... [S]pirit as separate reality was formally denied [7] ... AD 666 designates the impulse of Arabism [8] ... [But] an esoteric Christianity...remained active behind the scenes ... The Rosicrucians [9] brought the wisdom of the pre-Christian ages to a single focus...." — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORETOLD BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), pp. 15-16.



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

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

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

 ◊ 4. Greco-Roman Age ◊ 

The Greco-Roman Age was the fourth of seven cultural epochs during our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch (the period since the sinking of Atlantis), according to Rudolf Steiner.

[1] Each great epoch consists of seven shorter ages. Steiner taught that we currently live in the Post-Atlantean great epoch — the epoch following the destruction of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".] The seven subdivisions of this great epoch are called cultural epochs. [See the entries for "great epochs" and "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia.] 
[2] Steiner taught that as we evolve, we continually recapitulate previous stages of evolution. Here Seddon reports that the Greco-Roman Age recapitulated the Atlantean Epoch. [See the entries for "Atlantean Epoch" and "Atlantis" in this encyclopedia.]
[3] These are astrological forces, which in Anthroposophy are deemed to be the forces of the gods who reside on various planets, stars, etc.
[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Turning Point of Time".
[5] I.e., Christ's incarnation on Earth led to humanity's acquisition of the "I," the spiritual ego that is an individual's unique, divine identity. [See "Ego".]
[6] I.e., mankind generally lost the capacity to receive "living" thoughts from the gods. [See "Thinking".]
[7] I.e., we lost the understanding that the spirit realm truly exists; this materialistic belief became formally integrated into our philosophies and world views.
[8] i.e., the influence of Arab culture. For the significance of 666 (often deemed the mark of the Antichrist), see "Mystic Math."
[9] See "Rosy Cross".

Greek Olympics (at Waldorf schools) - see Olympics

green values - see environmentalism

Grimms' fairy tales - also see fairy tales; folk tales; myths; Rosicrucians

Folklore collected by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, published between 1812 and 1857. Rudolf Steiner said that all fairy tales are clairvoyant reports of spiritual truths, and he placed special importance on the work of the Grimm brothers, whose work was divinely inspired, he said. "[A] higher guidance inspired the brothers Grimm to collect fairy tales." — R. Steiner, THE MYSTERY OF DEATH, lecture 10. The guidance may have come especially during the 12th and 13th Centuries, received by Rosicrucian initiates — the gods transmitted pictorial or symbolic representations of spiritual events to these recipients, Steiner indicated. The brothers Grimm later collected and published the initiates' inspired spiritual accounts. Waldorf faculties often rely heavily on the Grimm collections. "[T]he Brothers Grimm [were] the only source [of fairy tales] approved by Anthroposophists." — Former Waldorf student and teacher G. Perra. [See "He Went to Waldorf".]

Group, The - also see Ahriman; Christ; Goetheanum; Lucifer; Prototype; The Representative of Humanity; rock being

One of the names used for the statue of Christ, Ahriman, and Lucifer attributed to Steiner. The statue, which stands in the Goetheanum, is also called The Representative of Humanity (referring to Christ Jesus as mankind's exemplar). [See "Prototype". For more on the Goetheanum — the Anthroposophical headquarters — see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]


The large figure is Christ, who stands between Ahriman (bottom) and Lucifer (hidden, behind Christ). To Christ's right are two smaller images of Ahriman and Lucifer, and in the top corner above these is a "rock being" — an elemental being or nature spirit who has a detached, bemused expression. [R.R., 2009.]

group ego - also see group soul; soul; cf. ego; I

"Group ego" is an alternative term for "group soul" [see the entry for "group soul", below]. Steiner used both expressions, but "group ego" is somewhat misleading. Animals have group souls, but no animal has an ego or "I" [1] — possession of an ego or "I" is what separates humans from animals, Steiner taught. Still, Steiner did sometimes speak of animals' "group egos": “[A]ll the animals of a particular species have a group ego or group soul. All individual lions, for example, are part of one group ego, as are all tigers or all pike [2] ... The individual animals are simply the limbs of what dwells in the astral world. [3] These animal egos are different from the human ‘I’, although comparable from a spiritual point of view. An animal ego is an extremely wise entity, far wiser than an individual human soul. [4]” — R. Steiner, WHITSUN AND ASCENSION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 47.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "ego" and "I". Also see "Ego".
[2] I.e., while the animals of a species do not have individual egos, they share groups egos or group souls. (If there are a million tigers on Earth, each tiger possesses one one-millionth of the tiger group soul.) The animals are "part" of their shared soul — each animal is, as it were, one extension of the group soul.
[3] I.e., the group ego or group soul is a spirit being — a god — that lives in the soul world, one region of the spirit realm. [See "Higher Worlds".]
[4] I.e., group souls are wiser than individuals souls.

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

According to Steiner, a group soul is the over-soul shared by members of a spiritual grouping. Group souls are more characteristic of animals than of modern humans. Human groups such as nations and races have group souls, but individual humans have their own individual souls; animals do not have individual souls. "The higher we move in the scale of nature towards man, the more individual does destiny become. [1] Animals have a group-soul, and the destiny of a group of animals is bound up with the group-soul. [2] A man has his own Ego, and the individual Ego undergoes its destiny just as the group-soul of animals does." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), p. 55. [See "Karma".] 

Early in human evolution on Earth, four group souls developed, Steiner said. [See "Four Group Souls".] We are evolving away from our group souls, but the process is not complete. "Even today human group-soulness is still not overcome. Those who claim the opposite merely fail to take into account certain subtler phenomena of life, such as the resemblance of certain people not only in their physiognomies but also in their soul qualities. [3] In a sense, people can be divided into categories, and everyone will fit into one of them. Individuals may differ as to this or that quality but a certain group-soulness still makes itself felt and not only because there are still different peoples. [4] The boundaries between the nations continue to disintegrate, but other groupings are still perceptible. Thus certain basic characteristics are combined in individuals in such a way that the last vestiges of group-soulness can still be perceived today." — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), lecture 1, GA 117.

Group souls are the progeny of the Second Hierarchy, the middle grouping of gods. [5] "[T]he offspring of the Third Hierarchy are the nature-spirits, while the offspring of the Second Hierarchy are the Group-souls ... [T]he Spirits of the Rotation of Time [are] the offspring of the beings of the First Hierarchy. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Center, 1981), lecture 2, GA 136.

[1] I.e., the higher a biological species stands on the scale of evolution, the more nearly it approaches a human-like condition. Very high animals are subhuman, but they approach the status of human beings, who have individuals egos and individual karmas (destinies).
[2] Whereas humans have individual karmas, animals have group karmas. (That is, the destiny of the species determines the life of each member of the species.)
[3] I.e., the continued existence of human group souls shows up in the physical and spiritual similarities between people who share a group soul.
[4] I.e, different nations, races, etc.
[5] Hierarchies are groupings of gods. [For an overview of the Hierarchies, se
[6] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "nature spirits" and "Spirits of the Rotation of Time".

guardian angels - also see Angels; Archangels

Steiner taught that we all have ties to angels who watch over us. Each angel (a god one level higher than humanity [1]) has responsibility for guarding one human being. For this reason, Waldorf teachers sometimes feel little need to protect the children in their care — the angels will do it. Waldorf teachers likewise rely on their own guardian angels, and they believe that as a group ("the college of teachers") the leading members of a Waldorf faculty enlist the aid of archangels, who are thus seen as higher guardian angels. "[Steiner] spoke of the teacher's guardian angel who stands behind him, giving strength and the power of imagination. [2] As a collective body, working together, the college [of teachers] attracts the attention of the next rank, the archangels [3], who help unite the members and give courage and inspiration. [4]" — R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 122. [See "Serving the Gods".]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Angels". Also see "Polytheism".

[2] In Anthroposophical belief, imagination is a precursor to, or initial stage of, clairvoyance. [See the entry for "imagination" in this encyclopedia.] Many Waldorf teachers consider themselves clairvoyant.

[3] I.e., the next rank of gods, Archangels — who stand two levels above humanity. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Archangels". Also see "Polytheism".]

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

THE GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD - also see Guardian(s) of the Threshold

A mystery play by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Plays" and "Guardians".]



[R. R. sketch based on a production 

staged at the Goetheanum.]

Guardian(s) of the Threshold - also see Christ; doppelgänger; double; spirit realm; threshold; veils

a) A concept that apparently originated in a work of fiction: ZANONI, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The Guardian of the Threshold patrols the perimeter to the spirit realm, denying access to the unworthy. A dead soul must confront this spirit before entering the higher spiritual regions.

b) According to Steiner, two such guardians really exist: the lesser and the greater Guardian. Dead souls and also spiritual aspirants confront these spirits when they approach the higher worlds. “The important experiences marking the [esoteric] student's ascent into the higher worlds include his meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold. Strictly speaking, there are two Guardians: a lesser and a greater. The student meets the lesser Guardian when the threads connecting willing, feeling, and thinking [1] within the finer astral and etheric bodies [2] begin to loosen ... The greater Guardian is encountered when this sundering of the connections extends to the physical parts of the body, that is, at first to the brain. [3] The lesser Guardian is a sovereign being ... [He is a] truly terrible spectral being. [4]” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), chapter 10, GA 10. [See "Guardians".]

"[T]here are two guardians of the threshold: the lesser guardian and the greater guardian. The lesser guardian reveals itself as a being created by man himself during previous incarnations ... Through this being man can meet, recognize and understand his own karma ... The concept of the 'doppelgänger' (double) [5] approximately coincides with the lesser guardian ... The next step on [one's] spiritual journey is the encounter with the greater guardian who urges man to deploy on earth all his acquired knowledge and capacities to benefit his fellow creatures ... [Otherwise] the greater guardian must bar his way into the spiritual realism. The greater guardian is identified as Christ." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 52-53.

[1] I.e., the three essential inner human activities.
[2] I.e., the first and second of our three invisible bodies. [See "Incarnation".]
[3] I.e., we meet the greater Guardian when we separate ourselves from our physical bodies, in particular our physical brains. (Steiner often preached against reliance on the brain. [See "Steiner's Specific".])
[4] Steiner taught that the great Guardian, on the other hand, turns out to be Christ. [See "Guardians".]
[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "doppelgänger" and "double".

Guiding Lodge, The - see The Lodge of Twelve

guru - also see leaders; masters

A concept derived from Hinduism and Buddhism: A guru is a spiritual guide and teacher. Steiner said we each need one. For Anthroposophists, Steiner himself is in effect the guru-from-the-grave. [See "Guru".] But Anthroposophists often also select living personal gurus from the ranks of fellow Anthroposophists. [See, e.g., "His Education".]

Steiner taught that there are basically three paths leading to spiritual wisdom. [1] On the Eastern or Yoga path [2] , the aspirant is largely subservient to a guru, a master. On the Christian or Gnostic path [3], one's guru is a guide, leading one to Christ, who then becomes one's ultimate guru. On the Rosicrucian path (as defined by Steiner: in essence, the path of Anthroposophy [4]) , one must depend chiefly on oneself; one's guru is merely an adviser, not a controlling leader.  Steiner taught that only the "Rosicrucian" path is correct for modern humans. [5] 

[1] Steiner differentiated the correct path, Rosicrucianism/Anthroposophy, from the Christian path. Although Christ is an important figure in Anthroposophy, the doctrines of Anthroposophy are, in many cases, inconsistent with Christian teachings. [See "Was He Christian?"]
[2] See "Yoga".
[3] See "Gnosis".
[4] See "Rosy Cross".
[5] Along this path, Anthroposophists in practice look upon Steiner himself as the great guru. The independence or freedom Steiner discussed is in fact extremely limited. One can choose truth or falsehood, goodness or evil. Only one of the two options is correct, obviously. [See "Freedom".]