P - Q

[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]

- P -

pagan, paganism - also see Druids; King Arthur; magic; Maypole dances; Norse myths

Pagan beliefs are religious views that are significantly different from, or even oppose, the teachings of the major established faiths: heterodoxy. Because Anthroposophy does not conform to the teachings of any major faith, it must be classified as pagan. While Anthroposophists typically reject this label, there is a limited sense in which Steiner himself affirmed pagan beliefs and practices. He taught, for example, that King Arthur [1] was an occult initiate who headed a sort of pre-Christian Christianity, what Steiner sometimes called pagan Christianity. Steiner taught that all religions prior to Christianity were steps along the road to Christianity, which is the final and true religion (when understood in accordance with his own teachings, such as that Christ is the Sun God. [2]) By "Christianity," Steiner often meant Anthroposophy, although this is a "Christianity" found in no mainstream Christian denomination. 

Thus, according to Steiner, ancient pagan rituals — like all other early religious rites — were essentially forms of pre-Christianity, and they often conveyed clairvoyant visions of the Christ who awaited in mankind’s future. [3] Steiner taught that after Christ came to earth and was crucified, the Christianity of the early church began to spread around the world, while pre-Christian Christianity also spread, closing the circle, as it were. Pagan Christianity came out of such things as the Norse myths, which describe a god, Baldur [4], who can be seen as a Christ figure (Baldur and Christ are both associated with the Sun; they are both supernally pure; they both died only to rise again; etc.). Baldur really existed, Steiner said, and his message was spread by King Arthur, who also really existed. The search for the Grail, which Arthur and his knights undertook, is the search for occult wisdom, gnosis, true apprehension of spiritual mysteries (which Anthroposophy provides). [5] Seen from an Anthroposophical perspective, pagan Christianity and gnostic Christianity have often been truer than mainstream, major-denomination Christianity. [6]

Pagan and semi-pagan rituals are often enacted in Waldorf schools, such as during the seasonal festivals. [7] Activities such as Maypole dances and even fire jumping may be included; these derive from pagan ceremonies. [8] In such observances and activities, Christian iconography may be combined with astrological signs and other pagan symbols. [9] Occasionally, the pagan elements in various Waldorf activities and/or symbolic displays are explicitly acknowledged. [10]

[1] See "Pagan" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Arthur, King".

[2] See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"

[3] Most of Steiner's teachings hinge on his claimed powers of clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance" and "Exactly".] These unreliable powers led him far from Christian orthodoxy, as for instance in his promulgation of his own "fifth gospel". [See "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".]

[4] See "The Gods" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Baldur".

[5] See "Gnosis" and "Grail".

[6] See, e.g., "Altogether".

[7] See "Magical Arts".

[8] See, e.g., June, 2011 and November, 2011.

[9] See, e.g., "Signs".

[10] See, e.g., the entry for "Palm Sunday", below.

painting - also see art; Hausaka therapeutic painting; lazure; veil painting; wet-on-wet painting

Waldorf schools often place special emphasis on "wet-on-wet" watercolor painting [1], producing images compatible with Steiner's description of the spirit realm, which he said is a place of colors, light, tone, and intensities, but not forms or spatial extensions. Other styles of painting are also undertaken in Waldorf schools, such as veil paintings [2], which are similarly meant to evoke the spirit realm. 

There is no single, required Anthroposophical painting style. In general, however, Waldorf art tends to be highly colorful, displaying colors prismatically, and Waldorf paintings often contrive to suggest levels of reality beyond the surface, as if maya (illusion) could be peeled back to reveal the spirit realm beyond. [See "Magical Arts" and "Anthro Art".]

[1] See the entry for "wet-on-wet painting" in this encyclopedia.

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

Palm Sunday - also see Easter; festivals; spring festivals

"[T]he Sunday preceding Easter ... This event is often celebrated in the lower classes of Waldorf schools in a festival that interweaves pagan and Christian elements." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 89-90.

panorama - also see bodies; death; life after death and before birth

◊ "[T]he first experience after death is a detailed and vivid panorama of one's past life ... The phenomenon is caused by the fact that the ether body [1] loosens itself from the physical body." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 90. ◊ "The First Experience after Death: The Panorama of the Past Life ...  The individuality involved [2] has no concept of time but during this period he has a wonderful experience. His whole past life is spread out before him as a vast panorama ... The vision fades as the etheric body dissolve but an aftereffect is preserved. His constitution is now twofold, soul and spirit." — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2001), pp. 173-174. [For more on after-death experiences, see, e.g., "Higher Worlds"  and "Kamaloka".]

[1] This is the first and lowest of the three invisible bodies that real human beings comes to possess, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

[2] I.e., the dead individual.

Para-Nirvana Plane - also see Maha-Para-Nirvana Plane; Nirvana; Nirvana Plane

A term from Steiner's Theosophical phase [1]: a level of consciousness/blessedness above the Nirvana Plane as conceived in Theosophy [2]; the realm of fluid beings. Steiner taught that virtually everything, including fluids, is alive. "The solid has its life...on the Maha-para-nirvana plane, the fluid on the Para-nirvana plane, the gaseous on the Nirvana plane." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 9, GA 93a. In later teachings, Steiner dispensed with differentiations between various Nirvana planes; he folded the Para-Nirvana Plane and the Maha-Para-Nirvana Plane into an enlarged conception of the Nirvana Plane. In Anthroposophy, the Nirvana Plane is the highest plane of spiritual existence. [3]


 ◊  Maha-Para-Nirvana Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Para-Nirvana Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Nirvana Plane ◊ 
 ◊  Buddhi Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Higher Mental Plane (Arupa)  ◊ 
 ◊  Lower Mental Plane  (Rupa)  ◊ 
 ◊  Astral Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Physical Plane  ◊ 

These are the planes of existence or worlds as described in much Theosophical literature. Steiner essentially accepted this description of reality during his Theosophical phase, although he tended to simplify it, and he took the simplification further after breaking away to found Anthroposophy as a separate movement. [4] 

[1] See the chronology provided in "What a Guy".

[2] For an overview of Theosophy, see "Basics".

[3] See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".

[4] See "Higher Worlds".

Paradise Play - also see Christmas Play; Kings' Play; Shepherds' Play 

"The first of three plays from Oberufer, Austria, that are traditionally performed at Waldorf schools...between Advent and Twelfth Night [1] ... The play shows how Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, as described in Genesis."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 90. The play is often performed by Waldorf faculty, but sometimes students are assigned to stage it.

[1] Advent is the first season of the traditional Christian church year, leading up to Christmas. Twelfth Night is the traditional final night of the Christmas festival.

paradox - see contradiction; mystery

parents of students at Waldorf schools - also see children; Waldorf parents; Waldorf students; Waldorf teachers

Unless they are Anthroposophists, the parents of students are often considered outsiders at Waldorf schools, to be told little. Steiner said that the students' hereditary ties to their parents are insignificant compared to the students' karmic connection to their teachers: The spiritual/karmic ties between students and teachers should generally take precedence over the merely biological ties between children and their parents, Steiner said. Parents make errors that Waldorf teachers should rectify. Here are some of the comments Steiner made about the parents of students in the first Waldorf school; he made these statements during faculty meetings. 

◊ “I have been back only a few hours, and I have heard so much gossip about who got a slap and so forth. All of that gossip is going beyond all bounds, and I really found it very disturbing. We do not really need to concern ourselves when things seep out the cracks. We certainly have thick enough skins for that. But on the other hand, we clearly do not need to help it along. We should be quiet about how we handle things in the school, that is, we should maintain a kind of school confidentiality. We should not speak to people outside the school, except for the parents who come to us with questions, and in that case, only about their [own] children, so that gossip has no opportunity to arise.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 10.  ◊ “Concerning the parent meeting, you could do that [i.e., have one], but without me. They might say things I could not counter, if I hear something I cannot defend. The things I say here [in faculty meetings], I could not say to the parents. We need to clear the air, and the teachers must take control of the school again.” — Ibid., p. 408.  ◊ [Concerning a request that teachers provide progress reports on their students:] “Progress reports? Giving in to someone like Mrs. X. (a mother who had written a letter to the faculty) is just nonsense ... As far as I am concerned, the reports could be phrased so that what the children are like is apparent only from the comments about their deportment, but that would only make things worse.” — Ibid., p. 408.  ◊ "You will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education given them by their parents. Indeed our intentions will only be fully accomplished when we, as humanity, will have reached the stage where parents, too, will understand that special tasks are set for mankind to-day, even for the first years of the child's education. But when we receive the children into the school we shall still be able to make up for many things which have been done wrongly, or left undone, in the first years of the child's life." — R. Steiner, STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16. 

For more, see the entry in this encyclopedia for "Waldorf Parents". Also see "Faculty Meetings" and "Teacher Training".

Parzival (Parsifal, Perceval) - also see Arthur, King; Holy Grail

In Medieval legend: one of King Arthur's knights who searched for the Holy Grail [1]; he was distinguished by his piety and childlike innocence. In Anthroposophy, he is considered a great initiate, and his quest is the search for occult wisdom — in effect, it is the search for Anthroposophy itself. Parzival unites the occult or mystery traditions [2] of the East and the West. "Belonging to the Mystery stream [3] coming from the East, Parzival unites this stream with the Western stream ... Parzival can be regarded as a human representative of Michael [4], who seeks to realize Christ's impulse [5] on earth." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 90-91.

The tale of Parzival's quest is considered a virtually sacred myth within Anthroposophy, and it is often stressed in Waldorf schools. Parzival is taken to represent the dawning of modern human consciousness and its earnest desire for spiritual insight (such as that offered by Rudolf Steiner). Parzival's is "a story in which the secrets of the spirit are brought together with a modern mind, the kind of mind we have today ... [A] superhuman intelligence might have thought up this story of Parsifal." — C. Kovacs, PARSIFAL and the Search for the Grail (Floris Book, Waldorf Education Resources Series, 2003), p. 13. [For more on Parzival, see "Through His Eyes".]

[1] See "Grail"; also see the entry in this encyclopedia for "Arthur, King".

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge".

[3] A "mystery stream" is a tradition or culture of occult (hidden, mysterious) lore. [See the entry for "mystery streams" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., the Archangel of the Sun. [See "Michael".]

[5] I.e., the evolutionary impetus imparted by Christ, the Sun God. [See the entry for "Christ Impulse" in this encyclopedia.]

past - see historical narrative

path, the - see white path

path(s) of perdition - also see black path; hell; perdition; subhumans

In Anthroposophy, the path of perdition is the black path of spiritual falsehood and excessive immersion in material reality. If one walks this path in sixteen separate incarnations, one is said to have walked the "sixteen paths of perdition." The errant soul then falls out of evolution, becoming subhuman. Steiner associated this with incarnating too deeply in a racial bodily form. "There are 16 possibilities of becoming merged with the race. [1] They are called the '16 paths of perdition'. On these paths man would merge with the material. [2] By striving forward, however, he is drawn up from race to race to ever higher stages [3] ... No one is obliged to take all the 16 paths and thereby fall out of evolution. We must only be aware of the possibility." — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 69. [See "Races".]
[1] I.e., being trapped at a particular level of development, the level embodied by a particular race.
[2] I.e., the material realm.
[3] Steiner taught that races are arranged hierarchically, some higher than others. To evolve properly, one rises from lower races to higher races over the course of several incarnations. [See "Steiner's Racism".]

pattern drawing - see form drawing

patterns in Anthroposophy - see design

peach-blossom - also see skin color; white; white race; cf. black

According to Steiner, this is the color of human health, the living image of the soul. It is also the color of Caucasian or "white" skin. "Why must [Waldorf] kindergarten room walls be painted 'peach blossom'?" — D. Snell, People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools. “The color which comes closest to a healthy human flesh color is that of fresh peach blossoms in spring. [1] No other color in nature so resembles this skin color, this flush. The inner health of man comes to expression in this peach-blossom-like color; and in it we can learn to apprehend the vital health of man when properly endowed by soul. If the flesh color tends toward green, he is sickly; his soul cannot find right access to his physical body ... Between [pale] whitish and greenish tones lies the healthy vital peach-blossom flesh-tint. And just as we sense in green the dead image of life [2], so we can feel in the peach-blossom color of the healthy human being the living image of the soul ... You experience the world as color and light if you experience green as the dead image of life; peach-blossom color, human flesh-color [sic], as the living image of the soul; white as the soul-image of spirit; black as the spiritual image of death.” — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), pp. 93-94. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Bile" and "Steiner's 'Science'".]


This is Steiner's circle of colors, running from white to black. Pure white spirit leads to birth and spring (peach-blossom), leading to the flourishing of summer (green), and then decay and death (black), returning to spirit (white). [THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION, p. 101; peach-blossom tint added.]


[1] Racial bias, possibly unconscious, is built into Steiner's statement. Only Caucasians can have the skin color he calls healthy, the color that indeed he calls "flesh color." Steiner discounts the other skin colors found among humans — individuals with brown, red, or yellow skin cannot have "healthy human flesh color," as defined by Steiner; they cannot exemplify "the living image of the soul." Only whites can.

[2] Green is deemed "dead" because it is not living or spiritual in the same way, or to the same degree, as white and peach-blossom. Green is a color of physical manifestation, vegetation; it is vibrant but removed from the purity of the higher colors that precede it (colors of spirit and soul).

pedagogical law - also see bodies; Waldorf education: goals; Waldorf teachers

"[A] law formulated by Rudolf Steiner, according to which one member or bodily sheath [1] of a teacher or parent affects the next lower member of a child. For example, if the educator wishes to work on the child's physical body, he should do so through his own ether body...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 91. Why would a Waldorf teacher "work on a child's physical body"? Because the goals of Waldorf education have little to do with conveying knowledge to children. Instead, the goals include such things as helping children to incarnate and develop their four bodies. [2] And how can a Waldorf teacher work "through his own ether body"? It is impossible. The ether body does not exist; but belief in etheric bodies is one of the occult tenets promulgated by Rudolf Steiner and accepted by his followers. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda".] Teachers who believe they have etheric bodies operate from questionable esoteric premises [3]; their qualifications to serve as educators may be called into question as a result. 

[1] A "member or bodily sheath," in the sense used here, is a body. Anthroposophists believe that human beings have four bodies: the physical body (the lowest), the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego body. [See "Incarnation".]
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Waldorf education - goals".

pentagram - also see bodies; geometry; hexagram

A five-pointed star. Often, it is used as a symbol for the human being. According to Steiner, the pentagram corresponds to the the movements of five types of ether within the human frame. [1] When a pentagram is arranged with a single point at its top, Steiner indicated, it represents humanity. When it is arranged with a single point at the bottom, it is the symbol of black magic. "We're always surrounded by five ether streams [2] in the world around us on earth. They're called earth, water, fire, air and thought ethers. These etheric streams are also active in man: earth ether from the head to the right foot, from there water ether to the left hand, from there fire ether to the right hand, from there air ether to the left foot, and then thought ether back to the head. This is the occultist's sacred pentagram, the symbol of man. Its point is directed upwards, which indicates that the spirit streams to man from the heights. The pentagram is present in many flowers and other things in nature. The sign of black magic is a pentagram with one point at the bottom, through which magicians [3] attract bad forces from the earth and send them out of the two top horns into the environment by means of their bad will in order to use soul and nature forces for their own egotistical, evil purposes." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 148. [See "Signs".]


This is the human being as microcosmic pentagram, embodying the cosmos, as depicted by Agrippa of Nettesheim (1486-1535). The astrological sign of Mars is above the head, Venus at the left hand, Mercury at the left foot, Saturn at the right foot, and Jupiter at the right hand. [Public domain image; color added.]

[1] More commonly, Steiner spoke of four types of ether. [See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., the influences flowing from five kinds of ethers (gaslike substances permeating the cosmos). More often, Steiner identified four types of ether, while teaching that ether in general is the "fifth essence" in addition to the four "elements": earth, air, fire, and water. [See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia; also see the entry for "elements".]

[2] While sometimes disavowing talk of magic, Steiner taught that both good and evil magic (white magic and black magic) are nonetheless real, as are their practitioners. [See "Magic" and "Magicians".]

Pentecost - see Whitsun

Perceval - see Parzival

perdition - also see abyss; Eighth Sphere; hell; path(s) of perdition

Anthroposophy holds out the hope that virtually all beings may be redeemed; however, various forms of perdition are also threatened. Whether consignment to perdition is a permanent doom is not always clear. ◊ "Let us suppose a man were to deny that it was the spirit which has given him the human countenance [1] ... He would remain united with the body and go down into the abyss. [2] And because of not having used the power of the spirit, the external shape [3] would again come to resemble the previous form. The man who descends into the abyss would become animal like." — R. Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 103. ◊ On at least some occasions, Steiner indicated that such a person would lose the ability to incarnate further — s/he would be stuck in an unending doom, having left the upward trajectory of evolution. "Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits. [4]" — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70. [See "Hell" and "Sphere 8".]

[1] I.e., he denies that his essential nature is spiritual.
[2] I.e., he would separate himself from the spirit realm, sink so deeply into material existence that he would fall into the abyss (a place of perdition). [See the entry in the encyclopedia for "abyss".]
[3] I.e., the physical body.
[4] I.e., they become subhuman — they become lowly types of elemental beings. [See "Neutered Nature" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "elemental beings" and "nature spirits".]

Perfected Astral Stage of Form - also see Astral Stage of Form; Physical Stage of Form; stages of form

According to Anthroposophical belief, this is the fifth stage of form, the fifth subdivision of our current condition of life. [1] After we pass through all of the remaining epochs of the Physical Stage of Form, the universe as we know it will end and we will evolve to the next stage of form, the Perfected Astral Stage. We will thus return to the Astral Stage, [2] but at a heightened, "perfected" form. Words can scarcely describe the Perfected Astral Stage, since so much of what we know now will have altered beyond recognition. Mysterious prophecies of the Book of Revelation will be fulfilled. "In the Perfected Astral stage of Form [sic], seven stages equivalent to epochs are depicted only negatively [3], as the outpouring of 'the last plagues of all' from the seven bowls of wrath of God (Rev. 15-16). Six broadly resemble those of the Trumpets [4], for they are still a revelation of divine love, but sullied here by human illusion. [5] Those cast down must experience the counterpart of that which carries the good beings upwards. [6] But when the seventh Angel pours his bowl on the air (astral world [7]), this culminates in a 'violent earthquake like none before it' (Rev. 16:18). [8]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), pp. 95-96.


 • STAGES OF FORM • ....

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

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

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

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

According to Anthroposophical belief (derived largely from Theosophy), we are evolving through a succession of lengthy, upward-tending phases called conditions of consciousness. (They are also known as planetary conditions; they are progressive incarnations of the solar system.) [8] Each condition of consciousness consists of seven conditions of life (essentially, upward passage through the kingdoms of nature and super nature)each of which consists of seven stages of form (essentially, passage from incorporeal life to corporeal life and then back again, in heightened form). [9] We currently exist in the fourth stage of form, the Physical Stage. When we complete our existence in this stage, we will advance to the Perfected Astral Stage. 

[1] See the entries for "stages of form" and "conditions of life" in this encyclopedia. For the overall pattern of evolution as described in Anthroposophy, see the entries for "epochs" and "design".

[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Astral Stage of Form".

[2] Each stage form consists of seven great epochs. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "great epochs".] The epochs of the Perfected Astral Stage of Form can only be described negatively : They will be ordeals.

[3] During the seventh epoch of our current stage of form (the Physical Stage), the trumpets of doom will sound (as described in the Book of Revelation). The first six epochs of the Perfected Astral Stage of Form will be similar.

[4] I.e., the tribulations to come reflect humanity's sullying of the benevolent intentions of the gods.

[5] I.e., evildoers must experience the antithesis of the virtuous impulses that enable good souls to ascend.

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

[7] The seven epochs of the Perfected Astral Stage are overseen by seven Angels (gods one level higher than humanity), who impart their substance to cosmic evolution. When the seventh Angel does so, the prophecy of a cataclysmic earthquake will be fulfilled.

[8] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness", "planetary conditions", and "incarnations of the solar system". 

[9] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of life" and "stages of form". 

periods - see ages; cultural epochs

Perra, Grégoire

A former Waldorf student, Waldorf teacher, and Anthroposophist who has written extensively about Waldorf education and Anthroposophy, revealing much that is usually hidden from outsiders. [See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".]

Persian Age - also see cultural epochs; epochs; Hyperborean Epoch

In Anthroposophical belief, this was the second cultural epoch of our present great epoch [1]; it ran from approximately 5067 BC to 2970 BC. It was epitomized by the Zoroastrian religion [2], which had an imperfect but productive vision of Christ, picturing him as their chief god, Ahura Mazda. [3] Earthly reality at that time was dark; it was the "kingdom of Ahriman." [4] The Persian Age developed under the aegis of Gemini, and it recapitulated the Hyperborean great epoch. [5] "The polarity of light and dark was at the same time experienced as a polarity of good and evil [6] ... On the inner path, which no longer coincided with the outer, people perceived the astral body instead of the spirit [7], and met there the forces of Lucifer.... [8]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), pp. 13-14. 



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

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

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

 ◊ 4. Greco-Roman Age ◊ 

According to Anthroposophical belief: Having evolved to live on the planet Earth in the Present Earth condition of consciousness, we have passed through four great epochs: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean Epochs. [9] We now live in the Post-Atlantean Epoch (i.e., the period following the destruction of Atlantis). During the Post-Atlantean Epoch, we have passed through four ages, the second of which was the Persian Age, We currently live in the fifth age, the Anglo-Germanic Age.

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

[2] See "Zoroastrianism".

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

[4] In Zoroastrianism, Ahriman is the devil. In Anthroposophy, he is an arch-demon, colleague and rival of Lucifer. [See "Ahriman".]

[5] Steiner taught that as we evolve, we continually recapitulate prior stages of evolution. The Hyperborean Epoch was the second stage of evolution during Present Earth. [See "Early Earth".]

[6] This was the polarity of the god Ahura Mazda and the devil Ahriman.

[7] I.e., the esoteric (occult, inner) path of evolution and the exoteric (open, outer) path had diverged, and humanity became confused. Instead of continuing to directly perceive spiritual realities, people could only perceive the astral body (the second of our three invisible bodies, according to Steiner [see "Incarnation"]).

[8] I.e., humanity's confusion led to the clutches of Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

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

phantoms - also see ghosts; nature spirits; specters

a) Ghosts.

b) According to Steiner, many phantoms are nature spirits [1] created by lying and slander. They are “beings which have been created in the physical body through the effect of lying and slander ... Such beings...now flit and whirr about in our world and belong to a class that we call ‘phantoms.’ They form a certain group of elemental beings [2] related to our physical body and invisible to physical sight.” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 83-84. [See "Neutered Nature".]

c) Also, according to Steiner, the physical human body is held together by a "form-shape" or "spiritual texture" that can be labeled a phantom: "[P]hysical, etheric and astral bodies [3] are laid aside [at death] ... [T]he physical body seems to drain away completely into materials and forces which, through decay or burning or some other form of dissolution, are returned to the elements. But the more clairvoyance is developed in our time [4], the clearer will it be that the physical forces and substances laid aside are not the whole physical body, for its complete configuration could never derive from them alone. To these substances and forces there belongs something else, best called the ‘Phantom’ of the man. This Phantom is the Form-shape which as a spiritual texture works up the physical substances and forces so that they fill out the Form which we encounter as the man on the physical plane." — R. Steiner, FROM JESUS TO CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 6, GA 131.

Steiner taught that the body of Christ Jesus that rose from the grave (the "resurrection body") was not a revivified physical body but rather a phantom ("the Phantom"). And it is this phantom that we should seek to receive with our own physical bodies. "The essential thing is that through a process of mystical feeling we work right into our physical body; and when we do this we are doing nothing less than making ourselves ready in our physical body to receive the Phantom that went forth from the grave on Golgotha. Hence we work into our physical body in order to make it so living that it feels a relationship with, an attractive force towards, the Phantom that rose out of the grave on Golgotha.” — FROM JESUS TO CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 10 (“The Esoteric Path to Christ”), GA 131. [For more on the phantom and the resurrection body, see "JvH".]

[1] I.e., subhuman entities that dwell in the natural world. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Beings".]
[2] "Elemental beings" is another term for "nature spirits." Steiner used both terms, but he said "elemental beings" is more accurate because these entities lack real spirit.
[3] I.e., three of our four bodies. [See "Incarnation."]
[4] Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant (most of his teachings stem from his claimed use of clairvoyance) and he said he could teach his followers to become clairvoyant. [See "Clairvoyance" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

phenomena - also see maya; natural science; physical plane; science

Generally speaking, phenomena are facts or situations that can be observed using our normal senses or analyzed with our material brains; the term is especially applied to observable facts or situations that require explanation. For Steiner, phenomena are trivial or even unreal — they belong to the physical universe, where maya (illusion) rules. [1] Truth is found in the spirit realm, he taught. This is why he often dismissed scientific information and scientifically observed phenomena, such as gravity. They are mere phenomena, he said; they are confined to the physical plane. Thus, he said to Waldorf teachers: “It would be wonderful if you could stop speaking about gravity. You can certainly achieve speaking of it only as a phenomenon. The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 29. [2]

Steiner's deprecating attitude toward phenomena infuses much of Waldorf education. Whereas most people would consider education seriously flawed if it did not convey to children factual information about the phenomena of the real world, Waldorf education tends to minimize the amount of such factual information it provides to students. As one leading Waldorf faculty member has written, the Waldorf movement generally opposes "fact-based education." — J. Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 26. Critics contend that Waldorf education, eschewing facts about phenomena, becomes a form of fantasy-based education. [3]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "maya".
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "gravity".
[3] See, e.g., "Weird Waldorf".

phenomenalism - also see philosophy; senses; world conceptions

a) The philosophical tenet that human knowledge is limited to what we can perceive with our senses.

b) According to Steiner, one of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions, which are philosophical standpoints that he associated with the twelve signs of the zodiac. "One can say...'I am clear that there is a world which appears to me; I cannot speak of anything more. I am not saying that this world of colours and sounds, which arises only because certain processes in my eyes present themselves to me as colours, while processes in my ears present themselves to me as sounds — I am not saying that this world is the true world. It is a world of phenomena.' This is the outlook called Phenomenalism." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 38. Steiner associated phenomenalism with Virgo. [See "Philosophy".]

philosophy - also see logic; PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM; science; thinking; truth; wisdom

Steiner set out to be a philosopher, but when his efforts did not elicit the acclaim he apparently expected, he turned to occultism. Some of his early works, such as THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM, can be taken as philosophical explorations, but later he tended to revise these to make them more consistent with his new, esoteric approach. [See "Philosophy" and "What a Guy".] As an occultist, Steiner taught that philosophical truths can be found only through the study of occult or mystery knowledge. "We can understand the great philosophers only when we approach them with the feelings gained from observation of the Mysteries. [1] How reverently Plato speaks of the 'secret teachings' in the Phaedo [2]: 'And it appears that those men who established the Mysteries were not unenlightened, but in reality had a hidden meaning when they said long ago that whoever goes uninitiated [3] and unsanctified to the other world will lie in the mire, but he who arrives there initiated and purified will dwell with the gods. For as they say in the Mysteries, "the thyrsus-bearers [4] are many, but the mystics few;" and these mystics are, I believe, those who have been true philosophers. And I in my life have, so far as I could, left nothing undone, and have striven in every way to make myself one of them.' — Initiation can be discussed in this way only by someone who has placed his own striving for wisdom entirely at the service of the conviction engendered by initiation. And there is no doubt that a bright light is cast upon the words of the great Greek philosophers when they are illuminated by the Mysteries. [5]" — R. Steiner, CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1961), chapter 3, GA 8.

[1] I.e., hidden spiritual truths. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] "Phaedo" is a philosophic dialogue written by Plato around 360 BCE.
[3] To be "initiated," in Steiner's teachings generally, means to gain access to hidden or secret knowledge. Here he is claiming a sort of confirmation from Plato.
[4] A thyrsus was a staff carried by Dionysus and his followers. In general, Dionysians were criticized by their opponents as sensuous aesthetes.
[5] Note that these concluding words (beginning with "Initiation can be discussed") are Steiner's, not Plato's.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM - also see freedom; philosophy

A philosophical treatise written by Steiner before he pronounced himself an occultist. He later revised the book extensively, attempting to make it seem consistent with his occult teachings. [See "Freedom".] Writing of the revised text, editors at the Rudolf Steiner Press have summarized Steiner's thesis thus: "In order to [become free] we must reach a point of view that recognizes no limits to knowledge, sees through all illusions, and opens the door to an experience of the reality of the spiritual world. [1] Then we can achieve the highest level of evolution. [2]"

[1] In effect, attaining freedom requires us to become initiated Anthroposophists, possessing the sort of virtually omniscient clairvoyance that Steiner claimed to possess. Experiencing "the reality of the spiritual world" means, from an Anthroposophical perspective, experiencing it as Anthroposophy expounds. [See "Exactly" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[2] This is the goal of Anthroposophy: evolving to higher and higher stages of spiritual consciousness. [See, e.g., the entries in this encyclopedia for "evolution", "evolution of consciousness", and "conditions of consciousness".] Although, according to Steiner, our evolution hinges on our "freedom," nonetheless the pattern of evolution is already laid out and known; we will proceed, unless evil forces overwhelm us, along an essentially predetermined path.

phlegmatic - also see choleric; humours; melancholic; sanguine; temperaments

One of the four temperaments described in ancient Greek medical theory. Phlegmatic individuals supposedly have high levels of phlegm in their systems. Medical knowledge long ago put aside the antiquated concept of the four classical temperaments, but Steiner revived it and it is still observed in Waldorf schools today. [See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".] "Someone with a phlegmatic temperament is liable to be comfortably self-contained ... Self-awareness and a sense of time are less well developed ... Phlegmatics enjoy food, especially soft and sweet foods. In class a phlegmatic child can be a wonderful centre of calm ... Their favourite color is often blue. Too much of the phlegmatic temperament can lead to indolence. Phlegmatics are very hard to rouse to anger, but when they do become angry it can be profound and volcanic." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 75-76. 


Steiner taught that the four temperaments are manifested in four bodily types. “The melancholic children are as a rule tall and slender; the sanguine are the most normal; those with more protruding shoulders are the phlegmatic children; and those with a short stout build so that the head almost sinks down into the body are choleric.” — R. Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 34. [R.R. sketch, 2010.] In Waldorf belief, phlegmatic students walk ploddingly, holding their eyes half-shut; they tend toward apathy; they are impassive and reserved albeit friendly; they dress conservatively; their memories are good but only for the recent past; teachers should gain their attention by shocking them.

phrenology - also see head; large-headed children; small-headed children

Pseudoscientific belief that an individual's character and intelligence can be discerned from the size and shape of the skull; affirmed by Steiner. “Although there will always be a great deal to be said against the charlatan phrenology that is commonly practised, a genuine phrenology really should be studied [1] by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects [in individuals]. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite inevitably in deformations of the physical organism. [2]” — R. Steiner, EDUCATION FOR  SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 68. [See "Humouresque".]

[1] Steiner here differentiates between false ("charlatan") and true ("genuine") forms of phrenology. He affirms the latter.
[2] I.e., an individual's karma affects the shape, etc., of the physical body (including the skull). Belief in karma is basic to Anthroposophy and plays a significant role in Waldorf education. [See "Karma".]


physical body - also see astral body; bodies; ego body; etheric body; incarnation; incorporation; physical nature

In Anthroposophical belief, the physical manifests the spiritual. A physical body is the condensation of a spiritual condition, reflecting an individual's level of evolutionary/spiritual development. Our physical bodies are the first and lowest of our four bodies (the others are the etheric, astral, and ego bodies or I's). [1] Physical bodies reflect the forces or kingdoms of nature [2]; they are the material forms in which we inhabit the physical plane of existence. [3] Everything that manifests in the natural world has a physical body; plants, animals, and humans also have higher, nonphysical bodies. [4] "All four realms of nature — minerals, plants, animals and human beings — become visible to the physical senses in a physical body [sic]. [5] Minerals consist of a physical body only. Plants have a physical body and an ether body. Animals have a physical body, and ether body and an astral body. Human beings have a physical body, an ether body, an astral body and...the 'I'." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 93.

Steiner taught that good humans evolve upward through a succession of physical bodies, as we reincarnate over and over. We start in physical bodies of low races and evolve to the bodies of high races. [6] We climb upward toward a future condition when we will be freed from the physical body and life on the physical plane. "The evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is thus a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149.

However, bad humans sink into lower and lower physical bodies and may become trapped in physical or even sub-physical existence. "Such souls lose the possibility of incarnation and find no other opportunity ... [T]here are no more bodies [7] bad enough [to house them] ... Beings that stay behind at such stages appear in a later epoch as subordinate nature spirits. [8]" — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 70.

The physical body may be invaded by a demon or other spiritual entity that takes possession of it, Steiner taught. "[A] spiritual being can invade a human being to such an extent that the 'I' of that human being is pushed aside. [9] This spiritual being uses the human body [10] for its own ends."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 60. [See "Double Trouble".] Thus, some people are not really human beings; they are demons in disguise. "Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form [11], but are not really human beings ... [T]hey are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings. [12]" — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 649-650.

[1] See "Incarnation".
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "kingdoms of nature"; also see "Neutered Nature". (In Anthroposophical teachings, minerals — members of the lowest kingdom of nature — are alive, but they have only physical bodies; they do not have nonphysical bodies.)
[3] See the entry for "physical plane", below. We leave the physical body behind when we die. Steiner taught that some portions of ourselves also leave it behind during sleep. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "sleep".]
[4] See the entry for "nonphysical bodies" in this encyclopedia.
[5] I.e., our physical senses can perceive that physical bodies reflect the four realms or kingdoms of nature. [See the entry for "kingdoms of nature" in this encyclopedia.]
[6] See "Steiner's Racism".
[7] I.e., physical bodies. As low races die out, Steiner taught, their bodily forms cease to exist. Errant humans, who otherwise would incarnate in low racial forms, cannot do so because such forms have ceased to exist.
[8] That is, they become subhuman: Unable to incarnate in lowly human forms appropriate to their degraded condition, they drop below the human level of existence, becoming inferior types of nature spirits. [See "Neutered Nature" and "Races"; also see the entry in this encyclopedia for "subordinate nature spirits".]
[9] The "I" is one's divine individual identity. A physical body from which the "I" has been expelled is human in form only; an invading entity or demon may then take possession of that body.
[10] I.e., the physical body.
[11] I.e., a human physical body.
[12] Physical bodies are thus potentially deceptive and dangerous: A person you meet may not be human at all but a demon. This distrust of physical bodies is of a piece with the general Anthroposophical attitude toward physical nature, the physical plane, nature, and the phenomena of the natural world. [See the entries for such terms in this encyclopedia.]

physical-etheric organism, organization, state - also see etheric body; organization; physical body; cf. spirit-soul

Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings have four bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies. [1] The two higher bodies (the astral and ego bodies) are intimately linked, giving form to the soul and spirit. [2] Steiner often spoke of the combination of these high components of the human constitution as the "spirit-soul" or, somewhat left often, as the "soul-spirit." [3] Likewise, Steiner taught that the two lower bodies (the physical and etheric bodies) are intimately linked. He spoke of the combination of these bodies or forces as the "physical-etheric organism" or "physical-etheric organization" of the human being. The physical and etheric bodies remain linked to one another even in conditions when the soul and spirit depart.  ◊ "During sleep the astral body and the ego are raised out of the physical-etheric organism of the human being." — R. Steiner, "Man and Woman in the Light of Spiritual Science", ANTHROPOSOPHICAL REVIEW, Winter 1980, Volume 2, No. 1, GA 56. ◊ "[A]t night the physical-etheric organization of every normal person refuses to absorb the soul-spiritual." — R. Steiner, THE INVISIBLE MAN WITHIN US (Mercury Press, 1979), GA 221. Specifically, Steiner taught that at night the astral body and ego body ascend to the spirit realm while the physical and etheric bodies remain bound to one another and to the Earth. Drawing a diagram to show this, Steiner said: “Here (left) we have the physical body and the ether body (yellow). [The ether body] fills the whole of the physical body. And here (right) we have the astral body, which is outside the human being [4] at night (red). At the top it is very small and hugely bulging down below. Then we have the I (violet). [5] This is how we are at night. We are two people in the night. [6]" — R. Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 102.

[1] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "soul" and "spirit".
[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "spirit-soul".
[4] I.e., it is outside of the physical body. (Steiner misspoke here; he did not equate humans with their lowly physical bodies. Here he meant that the astral body is outside of the physical body at night.)
[5] The "I" is the ego or ego body.[6] I.e., one "person" — the physical-etheric organism — is earthbound while the other "person" — the combination of the astral and ego bodies — departs from the Earth. [See, e.g., "Holistic Education".] 

physical nature - also see body nature; three-, four-, seven,- and ninefold natures of man

According to Steiner, this is the lowest division of body nature. Steiner sometimes said that the human constitution consists of nine major components; on other occasions, he said seven; on still others, he said four or three. In each case, however, our physical nature (the physical body and all its parts and processes that can be observed with ordinary senses) is the lowest portion.

Body nature is one of three clusters of components, lower than soul nature (b) and spirit nature, as developed in the nine-part description of human nature. Within body nature, physical nature is below etheric nature and soul nature (a) - not to be confused with soul nature (b). [See "What We're Made Of".]



• Spirit Nature •

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

• Soul Nature (b) •

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

• Body Nature •

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

These are the nine chief components of the human constitution as Steiner sometimes described them. Physical nature is the lowest component of the lowest set of components, body nature. [See "What We're Made Of".]

physical plane - also see nature; physical body; Physical Stage of Form; physical world

According to Steiner, this is the realm of natural or material phenomena — it is rudely comprehensible through our ordinary senses and our powers of reasoning, but essentially it is a sphere of maya (illusion). [See "Science".] The physical plane is lower than the soul world or the astral plane, which in turn is lower than the spirit world or the Devachanic plane. [1] Nonetheless, if we incarnate fully, we possess all four of our bodies [2] while living on the physical plane; we are not confined to our physical bodies on this plane. "We stated that man has the four principles of his being active on the physical plane; his physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. Further on we drew attention to the fact that in the animal, three principles are active on the physical plane; the physical, etheric, and astral bodies; while on the other hand, the [animal] group-ego [3] is on the astral plane. Further we saw that with regard to the plants, their physical and etheric bodies alone are active on the physical plane, their astral bodies on the astral plane, and the group-ego on the Devachanic plane. With regard to the mineral, we only found its physical body on the physical plane, its etheric body on the astral plane, its astral body on the Devachanic plane, while in the region we designate as the higher Devachanic plane [4], dwell the group-egos of the minerals." — R. Steiner, SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 9, GA 136. (Note that more typically Steiner said that plants do not have astral bodies and minerals do not have either etheric or astral bodies.)


 ◊ Higher Devachanic Plane ◊ 
 ◊ Lower Devachanic Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Astral Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Physical Plane  ◊ 

These are the planes of existence as often described by Steiner. However, he also gave other, more complex accounts. [See, e.g., the entries in this encyclopedia for "nirvana plane" and "para-nirvana plane".] The "Devachanic" plane is essentially equivalent to what Steiner often called the spirit world; the two levels of this plane are, thus, equivalent to the higher and lower spirit world. The astral plane is essentially equivalent to what Steiner often called the soul world. [5]

[1] Steiner's descriptions of the planes and/or worlds of existence were involuted and fluid, but he often indicated that (perhaps as a simplification) we can speak of three levels of existence, the physical, soul, and spirit levels. The latter, sometimes called "Devachan", can be deemed to contain two divisions, a lower and a higher. [See "Higher Worlds".]
[2] See "Incarnation".
[3] See the entries for "group ego" and "group soul" in this encyclopedia. Steiner often said that while human beings have four bodies (the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies), animals have three, plants have two, and minerals only one. Here he offers a variant of this doctrine. He says that humans have all four of their bodies while incarnated on Earth, but animals leave one of their bodies (or their "group-ego") in the higher realms when they descend for incarnation, plants leave two of their bodies in the higher realms, and minerals leave three of their bodies in the higher realms. Thus, all Earthly entities have four bodies, but only humans bring all four bodies into Earthly incarnation — i.e., life on the physical plane.
[4] I.e., the higher region of the spirit world. (Thus, Steiner says that plants leave their astral bodies in the lower region of the spirit world, and they leave their leave their "group-egos" in the higher region of the spirit world.)
[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Devachan", "Higher Spiritland", "Lower Spiritland", "soul world", "spirit world(s)", and "Spirit-land".

physical science - also see astronomy; chemistry; natural science; physics; science; cf. occult science; spiritual science

The physical sciences are sciences that deal with inanimate matter in the physical universe: chemistry, physics, etc. They are distinct from the life sciences (biology, botany, etc.), and are a subdivision of the natural sciences. [1] Anthroposophists deem all natural sciences, and especially physical sciences, to be deeply deficient and misleading. They deem Anthroposophy to be "spiritual science" [2], which they believe gives a more accurate and rounded view of reality. Steiner's statements about the physical sciences were generally dismissive. Thus, for instance, "Physical science will be utterly fruitless and only describe external facts as long as it does not penetrate into the spirit of [the] facts [it studies]. [3]" — R. Steiner, “The Four Human Group Souls (Lion, Bull, Eagle, Man)”, a lecture, GA 107. Steiner sometimes said that physical science would ultimately confirm the findings of his spiritual science, but he also said that there is an unbridgeable chasm between the ordinary sciences and his own teachings. "Occult Science [4] is the antithesis of Natural Science.” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), preface to editions 16-20, p.iv, GA 13. Speaking of natural or physical sciences generally, under the simplifying label of "science," Steiner made the startling assertion that "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." — R. Steiner, “The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets” (THE GOLDEN BLADE 1966). Disciplines that function under demonic influence are, of course, not to be trusted.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "biology", "botany", "natural sciences", etc.

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "spiritual science" and "occult science"; also see "Steiner's 'Science'", and "Occultism".

[3] The needed penetration is achieved in his "spiritual science" through the use of clairvoyance, Steiner taught. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "clairvoyance".]

[4] "Occult science" and "spiritual science" are generally interchangeable terms within Anthroposophy, particularly when they refer to Steiner's teachings or to the substance and practice of Anthroposophy.

Physical Stage of Form - also see physical plane; physical world; stages of form

We currently live in a physical condition, on the physical planet Earth in the physical solar system. Specifically, according to Anthroposophical belief, we live in the Physical Stage of Form, between the Astral Stage and the Perfected Astral Stage. Stages of form are subdivisions of conditions of life, which in turn are subdivisions of conditions of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] Steiner, drawing heavily from Theosophy, taught that each condition of consciousness comprises seven conditions of life, each of which in turn comprise seven stages of form. Thus, while we will evolve through seven conditions of consciousness, we will pass through 49 conditions of life (7 x 7) and 343 stages of form (7 x 7 x 7). During each seven-step sequence of stages of form, we move from essentially a formless condition downward to a densely formed condition and then upward toward an ideally incorporeal form. We currently exist at the bottom or turning point in this series: we are about as densely physical as possible while remaining within the divinely planned evolutionary pattern. [1]



This is how Steiner outlined stages of form when he still generally employed Theosophical terminology (derived partly from Hinduism). During each condition of life, we evolve through seven stages of form, depicted here as globes. We evolve downward from formlessness ("arupa") to an initial form ("rupa") that is still far above physicality. In a sense, the Arupa Stage occurs in the higher precincts of the spirit world, and the Rupa Stage occurs in the lower precincts of that world. After a further step downward, we attain the form possible on the astral plane, otherwise called the soul world. [2] Proceeding downward as far as we may safely go, we attain our physical forms in the physical universe. Thereafter, we reascend, strengthened and improved. We carry some of our physicality, cleansed of its baseness, into the soul world (we assume an "astral" form that is more pliant or "plastic" than previously). Then we ascend to lower spirit precincts where our form is now "intellectual" (i.e., entirely mental, shaped largely by our own will and consciousness). [3] Finally, we arrive again in the upper spirit precincts where our form is "archetypal" (i.e., ideal, entirely spiritual). [4] [Diagram from Steiner's FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 26, GA 93a; color added]

The Physical Stage of Form consists of seven epochs or great epochs. We have already evolved through four of these: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean epochs. [5] We are currently in the Post-Atlantean epoch [6], with the sixth and seventh epochs yet to come. The world and universe that we are accustomed to, perceiving them with our ordinary senses, has really existed only during the Post-Atlantean epoch, with the final portions of the Atlantean epoch and the initial portions of the sixth epoch being vaguely recognizable. The other periods of our evolution in the Physical Stage were and will be scarcely physical in the way we comprehend now, although all epochs of the Physical Stage are more earthly and material (in some sense) than any condition that we experienced before or will experience hereafter. The best source for such matters is R. Steiner's OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, although many passages are sketchy and opaque. [7]

[1] Anyone who falls even farther into physicality runs the grave risk of tumbling out of evolution and descending into the abyss. [See "Hell" and the entry for "abyss" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] See "Higher Worlds".

[3] Steiner's use of the term "intellectual" can be confusing. Sometimes, accepting Theosophical usage, he seems to affirm intellect. But on other occasions, and especially after breaking from Theosophy, he professed severe distrust of intellect. [See the entry for "intellect" in this encyclopedia.]

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

[5] See entries for these terms in this encyclopedia; also see "Early Earth", "Lemuria", and "Atlantis".

[6] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".

[7] See "Everything".

physical world - also see abyss; elemental beings; elements; maya; nature; nature spirits; physical plane; cf. spirit realm; spirit world(s)

Steiner generally taught that there are three worlds, the lowest of which is the physical world. Above this world are the soul world (also called the astral world or astral plane) and the spirit world (also called the devachanic world or devachanic plane). [1] “The three worlds are 1. The physical world, the scene of human life. 2. The astral world or the world of soul. 3. The devachanic world or world of spirit. The three worlds are not spatially separate. We are surrounded by the things of the physical world which we perceive with our ordinary sense, but the astral world is in the same space; we live in the other two worlds, the astral and devachanic worlds, at the same time as we live in the physical world." — R. Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 10-11.

The physical world is, in many ways, a place of illusion or maya. Steiner taught. “I must emphasize this again and again, that the saying ‘the [physical] world is Maya’ is so vitally important." — R. SteinerTHE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 64. [2] Although the spirit realm (soul world and spirit world) are all around us, we may easily lose contact with them while living in the physical world, Steiner said. Here in the physical world, we must rely to a great extent on our ordinary senses and our ordinary mental equipment, which are insufficient for finding Truth. Here, we are caught — to a large extent — in a merely material existence. [3] This exposes us to great danger. If we descend too far into merely material existence, we may lose all contact with the spirit realm and tumble into the abyss. [4]

According to Steiner, the physical world is inhabited by invisible subhuman creatures, called nature spirits or elemental beings: principally gnomes, sylphs, undines, and fire spirits. [5] Some of these are, or seem to be, beneficent, but others are amoral at best. “There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, 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. Accordingly, Waldorf students are generally taught to respect nature (which was created by the gods) but also to fear it (it is a place or illusion, amorality, and trickery); it is, in a sense, antithetical to the spirit realm.


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

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

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

[3] See, e.g., "Materialism U."

[4] See, e.g., "Hell".

[5] See "Neutered Nature".

physics - also see Einstein; natural science; Newton; physical science; science


This is the science that, broadly speaking, studies energy and matter. Like the other natural sciences, physics is viewed askance in Waldorf schools. Steiner rejected much of modern physics, including the atomic theory, the theory of universal gravitation, the theory of relativity, etc. [See "Science".] He disputed the findings of Newton and Einstein, assailing physicists in general, rejecting their views as materialistic nonsense or, at best, descriptions of the lowly physical plane that omit the true spiritual essence and the spiritual causes of physical phenomena. So, for instance, he said "The physicist imagines that each body consists of an infinite number of immeasurable small parts, like atoms. They are not in contact with each other, but they are separated by small interstices. They, in the turn, unite to [create] larger forms, the molecules, which still cannot be discerned by the eye. Only when an infinite [sic] number of molecules unite, we get what our senses perceive as bodies [1] ... The physicist explains all sense-perceivable, all sense-perceptible qualities by motion. So, what moves cannot yet have qualities. But what has no qualities cannot move at all. Therefore, the atom assumed by physicists is a thing that dissolves into nothing if judged sharply. So, the whole way of explanation falls. [2] We must ascribe to color, warmth, sounds, etc., the same reality as to motion. With this, we have refuted the physicists, and have proved the objective reality of the world of phenomena and of ideas. [3]" — R. Steiner, ATOMISM AND ITS REFUTATION (Mercury Press, 1985), GA 38. Anthroposophists are generally convinced by Steiner's arguments on such points; virtually no one else is. In fact, Steiner often seems uninformed about scientific findings, and he thus often argues from false premises. [4]

[1] I.e., physical objects. (Steiner taught that we also have other, nonphysical bodies. [See "Incarnation".])
[2] I.e., all of physics or the entire atomic theory — Steiner argues that they are false.
[3] I.e., Steiner claims to hereby disprove the physicsts' view and prove his own explanation of phenomena and the ideas (spirits) that inform them.
[4] Thus, nearly every statement he makes about the views of physicists — such as that each body contains "an infinite number" of component parts — is mistaken. Steiner appears not to understand what physics teaches.

physiology - see human constitution; medicine; physical body

pictorial activity, pictorial speech, pictorial thinking - also see clairvoyance; imagination; imaginations; living thoughts; thinking

According to Steiner, the formation of mental pictures — especially through imagination and/or clairvoyance — is central to cognition. Thinking with the brain is fraught with dangers [1], but using imagination [2] enables one to recapture knowledge learned in the spirit realm before coming to Earth. Steiner stated matters this way when addressing Waldorf teachers: "When we teach, in a certain sense we take up again the activities we experienced before birth. We must see that thinking is a pictorial activity which is based on the activities we experienced before birth." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 62. [See "Thinking Cap" and "Underpinnings".] In reality, much thinking entails concepts and abstractions that cannot be pictured. Steiner generally deplored such thinking, but his own lectures and books are full non-pictorial thought. All serious speaking and writing is.

[1] See "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".

[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "imagination". Steiner taught that true, clairvoyant imagination occurs not in the brain but in nonphysical "organs of clairvoyance." [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds".]

piety - see Vulcan consciousness

pineal gland - also see brain; Future Jupiter; head

The pineal gland is an endocrine gland, in the brain, that secretes melatonin. There had long been speculation about the function of this small, mysterious gland. Using his "clairvoyance," Steiner offered statements such as the following: ◊ "On Old Moon [1] the head of the human being was still open ... Today [the pineal gland] is stunted and withered but it was an important organ during the Old Moon embodiment. It was a kind of sense organ ...  The pineal gland at that time was a kind of warmth organ, emitting powerful, luminous rays of warmth. When on Old Moon man [2] was moving about, the function of this organ was to show him the direction he must take. Man's perception on Old Moon consisted in something like a dream picture rising up within him ... Everything a man set out to do on Old Moon, how he searched for his food and so forth, was always activated by these pictures." — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN ESOTERICISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 7, GA 109. ◊ "[T]he rock formation[s] of the Future Jupiter [3] [will] be the result of our words. The ocean of Jupiter, the warmth of Jupiter, will arise out of the feelings of present-day humanity. The beings of Jupiter will arise out of human will ... [T]hese beings will inhabit the forms which we develop by means of our pineal gland. [4]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 9, GA 93a.

[1] I.e., during the third incarnation of the solar system, the third condition of consciousness. The evolutionary stage called Old Moon came after Old Sun and preceded Preset Earth. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system" and "conditions of consciousness".]
[2] I.e., proto-humanity: ourselves as we existed during Old Moon. We were not yet human then. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".] Steiner's language is potentially confusing, here. When he speaks of "man" walking "on" Old Moon, he means proto-humans moving around during the Old Moon phase of evolution.
[3] I.e., during the fifth incarnation of the solar system. Future Jupiter will come after Present Earth, Steiner taught. [See "Future Stages".]
[4] I.e., Future Jupiter and its beings will result from our actions and consciousness during Present Earth; they will arise largely from the functioning of the human pineal gland.

Pisces - also see astrology; constellations; Jupiter; Neptune; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (February 20-March 21); Element — Water ... [R]uling planets — Jupiter and Neptune. Qualities...[T]hese people have lofty ideals, an attractive personality, psychic and occult gifts, and are artistic. But they can go in two directions at once, can be drifters, completely impractical, and famous worriers." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 223. ◊ "Pisces represents 'The Great Deep' ... It stands for Chaos ... At present, Pisces is especially important for all mankind, for we are passing through the Piscean Age ... Through the formless Spirit's imprisonment in the flesh, there has now developed a phase of life so dense [1] that the divinity in man has been largely forgotten. This has produced a mode of consciousness stepped down to such an extent by the brain [2] as to make man unresponsive to, and unaware of, the spiritual realms and beings [3], and of his true nature of soul and spirit [4] ... Pisces being the loftiest note in the Zodiac...it is small wonder in an age so intensely intellectual and godless [5], that any people fail to express the spiritual and gravitate toward intellectualism and materialism. [6]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS OF THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 251-252.

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 Pisces. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Pisces. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "In what is lost, may the loss find itself,/In what is gained, may the gain lose itself,/In what is comprehended, may comprehending seek itself/And sustain itself by sustaining./Through becoming, uplifted to existence,/Through existing, interwoven with the becoming./May the loss be gain in itself!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] Steiner taught that mankind's evolution from Old Saturn to Present Earth has been a descent from formlessness into dense, limiting, physical existence; we are now, in a sense, far removed from the spirit realm. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "evolution", "incarnations of the solar system","Old Saturn", and "Present Earth".]
[2] Anthroposophy generally disparages the brain. [See "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".]
[3] See "Higher Worlds", "Polytheism", and "Beings".
[4] Steiner taught that we have both souls and spirits. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[5] In Anthroposophical belief, intellect is a gift from Lucifer, and it has value in physical existence, but it is tainted by Ahriman and has no real value in the spirit realm. [See the entries for "intellect", "Lucifer", and "Ahriman" in this encyclopedia.]
[6] Godlessness, intellect, and materialism are closely linked, from an Anthroposphical perspective. [See, e.g., "Materialism U."]

Pitris - also see gods; leaders; Lunar Pitris; Solar Pitris; spiritual guides

In Anthroposophical and Theosophical belief, these are spiritual beings, forefathers of humanity, associated with the Moon and Sun. [See, e.g., "Events".] The word "pitris," meaning fathers, is taken from Sanskrit. The Pitris passed through the human level of development before us, Steiner said, and they have since risen to the ranks of the gods. They have been our leaders, showing us the way forward. Steiner taught that Christ — humanity's great leader, our prototype — is the highest of the Solar Pitris, i.e., gods of the Sun. [See "Sun God".] The "Lunar Pitris" were human during Old Moon and became gods during the Present Earth phase of evolution [1]; they are now the gods commonly called Angels. The "Solar Pitris" are more advanced, having been human during Old Sun [2] and becoming gods during Old Moon; they are now the gods known as Archangels. Here is Steiner speaking of Pitris: "These beings [3] are the 'Sons of Twilight,' the 'Spirits of Dusk' ... They attain[ed] the stage of humanity only on the Moon. [4] On earth [5] they, as well as their predecessors, the Sons of Fire [6], have already grown beyond the stage of humanity." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11. The gods of the lowest ranks — Sons of Twilight and Sons of Fire — have been our most direct spiritual fathers or guides. However, in another sense, extremely high gods — the Radiating Flames — were the "fathers" who created us during Old Saturn. [See the entry for Radiating Flames, in this encyclopedia. For a summary of the various ranks of gods, see "Polytheism".]


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

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

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

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods subdivided into three groupings called hierarchies. The lowest three ranks of gods form the Third Hierarchy. Solar Pitris are gods of the eighth rank; Lunar Pitris stand at the ninth rank.

[1] Old Moon and Present Earth are stages of evolution, incarnations of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc." and "Present Earth".] Steiner taught that beings become human by reaching a stage of evolutionary development just below deification. [See the entry for "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] According to Steiner, the first incarnation of the solar system was Old Saturn. It was followed by Old Sun, which preceded Old Moon. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[3] I.e., Lunar Pitris.
[4] I.e., they became human during Old Moon.
[5] I.e., during Present Earth. (These gods rarely if ever appear on the physical planet Earth.)
[6] I.e., Solar Pitris, Archangels.

planes - also see astral plane; Buddhi plane; Devachanic plane; higher mental plane; lower mental plane; Maha-Para-Nirvana plane; mental plane; Nirvana plane; Para-Nirvana plane; physical plane

In Theosophical/Anthroposophical discourse, these are segments or levels of existence or consciousness. The term “plane” is sometimes synonymous with “world,” according to which usage the “astral world” is the same as the “astral plane.” However, “plane” may also refer to a sub-world or a slice across one or more worlds, or it may sometimes refer some other stratum of reality or perception. Steiner began speaking of spiritual planes when he was a Theosophist, at which time he absorbed wisdom such as this: “No hard and fast enumeration can be made as to the number of planes in the kosmos [sic]. The number assigned depends on the particular purpose for which the definition is made. The septenary classification [1] is often used, as in the seven planes of prakriti [2] or the seven states of consciousness pertaining to each. But other enumerations may equally be made, and any plane is subdivided into subplanes.” — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999).

The chief planes Steiner discussed during his Theosophical period are the physical plane, astral plane, devachanic plane (includes rupa-devachan and, above it, arupa-devachan), buddhi plane (or shushupti), nirvana plane, para-nirvana plane, and maha-para-nirvana plane. [3] After breaking with Theosophy, Steiner continued to speak of planes, and his cosmology continued to resemble the Theosophical vision (or at least the Theosophical vision that he himself had preached). The Anthroposophical description of spiritual reality, like the Theosophical, is highly complex. Steiner’s teachings include references to spiritual worlds, lands, levels, spheres, regions, and planes that may coincide with one another, extend from one another, or cut across one another. [See “Higher Worlds”.] The chief planes Steiner discussed during his post-Theosophical period are the physical plane, astral plane (or soul world, imaginative world, elementary world), mental plane (Spirit Land, spiritual world, world of harmony of the spheres, world of inspiration; this includes the lower spiritual world or heavenly world, and the higher spiritual world or world of true intuition), buddhi plane (world of "fore-seeing"), and nirvana plane (incorporating nirvana, para-nirvana, and maha-para-nirvana planes). [See "Faculty Meetings" and "Higher Worlds".] 


 ◊  Nirvana Plane  ◊ 
 ◊   Buddhi Plane   ◊ 
 ◊ Higher Mental Plane ◊ 
 ◊ Lower Mental Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Astral Plane  ◊ 
 ◊  Physical Plane  ◊ 

These are the planes of spiritual consciousness as often enumerated in Anthroposophical literature. [4] When speaking of worlds rather than planes, Steiner in his Anthroposophical period often said there are just three: the physical world, the soul world (or astral world), and the spirit world (or the devachanic world). The last of these consists of a lower and a higher region. Thus, at least approximately, the physical world corresponds to the physical plane, the soul world corresponds to the astral plane, and the lower and higher regions of the spirit world (sometimes called Lower Spiritland and Higher Spiritland) correspond to the lower and higher mental planes.

 ◊ Higher Spiritland ◊ 
 ◊ Lower Spiritland  ◊ 
 ◊  Soul World  ◊ 
 ◊  Physical World  ◊ 

[1] I.e., sevenfold classification (division into seven planes).
[2] I.e., roughly speaking, approximately.
[3] See entries for such terms in this encyclopedia.
[4] For the more extensive array of planes often enumerated in Theosophy, see the entry for "Para-Nirvana Plane", above.

planetary conditions - also see conditions of consciousness; Future Jupiter; Future Venus; Future Vulcan; historical narrative; incarnations of the solar system; Old Moon; Old Saturn; Old Sun; planetary gods; Present Earth

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy, these are the main phases of evolution: They are our progressive conditions of consciousness [1] occurring during the progressive reincarnations of the solar system. We will pass through seven (or, more accurately, twelve) such phases. Each planetary condition is a new incarnation of the entire solar system. [2] During each planetary condition, the entire solar system is predominantly affected by the powers of one "planet" and its god(s). Thus, for example, during the planetary condition sometimes called "Saturn," the powers of Saturn were dominant. Steiner also taught that for beings other than ourselves, evolution began earlier than our own evolution, thus they experienced former planetary conditions that preceded our own existence. [See "Matters of Form".] 

Confusions can arise, since Steiner used the names of planets ("Saturn", etc.) to designate both actual planets (Saturn, etc.) and planetary conditions ("Saturn", etc.). To summarize the matter, we can say that planets are physical objects existing in the solar system: They are places in space. Planetary conditions are evolutionary stages; They are events in time or duration. In an effort at clarification, Steiner sometimes referred to the planetary conditions as Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [3] These may be taken as the correct names for the planetary conditions, even if Steiner often used shorter designations.

"In the course of our whole evolution we have seven Planetary conditions: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan ... [W]e stand exactly in the middle of our Earthly evolution [4] ... We have behind us three Planets [5]...and the same number still lie before us. But if we were standing on the Old Moon, we should see yet another Planetary condition before Saturn [6]; if we were standing on future Jupiter we should no longer see Saturn, but in its place a Planet beyond Vulcan. [7]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 26, GA 93a.


(Conditions of Consciousness)

Steiner usually spoke of seven planetary conditions, extending from Old Saturn (on the left) through Earth (fourth sphere from the left) to Future Vulcan (seventh sphere from the left, not counting the one below Earth). Sometimes he added an eighth sphere (below Earth) — a place of perdition [see "Sphere 8"]. He also said that there will be five conditions beyond Vulcan, but these cannot be described. [R. R. sketch, 2010.] For an account of evolution as presented in Anthroposophical texts, see the entry in this encyclopedia for "historical narrative".

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

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

[4] I.e., we live at the midpoint of the fourth planetary condition or condition of consciousness: We have evolved halfway through the Present Earth stage.

[5] I.e., before beginning the Present Earth stage of evolution, we evolved through three prior stages: Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon.

[6] Old Saturn was the first planetary condition in our history, but other planetary conditions — unknown to us — came before Old Saturn. During our Old Moon existence, we were able to perceive or know that another planetary condition predated Old Saturn.

[7] I.e., if we were living during Future Jupiter, we would no longer be aware of Old Saturn, but we would know that another planetary condition lies beyond Future Vulcan.

planetary gods - also see gods; planetary conditions; planetary spirits; planets; cf. planetary humans

These are spiritual beings, deities, who preside on or around various planets and other celestial bodies; the physical objects, the planets, are manifestations of these gods. We have perceived these gods in many guises and we have used many names for them, Steiner said. Thus, for instance, Jupiter has also been known as Jove and as Zeus. Today, in "true" Christianity or Anthroposophy, the gods of Saturn and the Sun are perceived as the Father and the Son. "The highest Ruler of Saturn...appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ." — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100.

A planetary god — usually referred to as a planetary spirit — is multifaceted, and may indeed consist of multiple spirits. Humans may join with these planetary gods or spirits. 
“When I say that a man becomes one with the planetary spirit, that he lives in union with this planetary spirit, you must not suppose that this implies an advanced degree of clairvoyance; this is but a beginning. [1] For when a man awakens in the manner described, he really only experiences the planetary spirit as a whole; whereas it consists of many, many differentiations — of wonderful, separate, spiritual beings ... The different parts of the planetary spirit, the special multiplicities of this spirit, of these [man] is not yet aware. What he realizes first of all, is the knowledge: 'I live in the planetary spirit as though in a sea, which spiritually laves [i.e., washes] the whole earth planet [2] and itself is the spirit of the whole earth.' One may go through immensely long development in order further and further to experience this unification with the planetary spirit; but to begin with, the experience is as has been described. Just as we say with regard to man: 'behind his astral body is his ego' [3] — so do we say that behind all that we call the totality of the Spirits of the Rotation of Time [4] is hidden the Spirit of the Planet itself, the Planetary Spirit." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 2, GA 136. [See "Planetary Spirits".]

[1] Steiner taught that clairvoyance is needed in order to perceive spiritual truths [see "Clairvoyance"], and there are degrees of clairvoyance [see, e.g., "Exactly"]. Gaining true knowledge of the spirit realm is a complex, involved process, he taught. [See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds" and "Everything".]
[2] We currently live on the planet Earth, so the one planetary spirit with which we typically can unite now is the spirit of the Earth. (Steiner uses the term "earth planet" to differentiate this planet from Present Earth — the evolutionary period in which we currently live. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Earth" and "Present Earth".]
[3] These are two of our three invisible bodies, Steiner taught. [See "Incarnation".]
[4] Steiner described many ranks and varieties of gods. [See "Polytheism".] Spirits of the Rotation of Time are gods that manifest in a planet's natural laws. [See the entry for "Spirits of the Rotation of Time" in this encyclopedia.]

planetary humans - also see Jupiter humans; Mars humans; Mercury race; Moon humans; planetary conditions; planetary migrations; planetary organs; planetary souls; planets; Saturn humans; Sun humans; Venus humans; Vulcan humans; cf. planetary gods

Steiner associated people with various planets in various ways. He said that some humans or proto-humans migrated to other planets [1], some remained on those planets (as "Mars men", etc.), and some earthly humans are the descendants of planetary migrants who returned to Earth and retained the effects of the planets to which they had traveled. Steiner said that, for these and other reasons, some people living in our time have particular spiritual (or astrological) ties to various planets; some have various sorts of "planetary souls." [2] Moreover, because humanity has evolved through various "planetary conditions," Steiner sometimes referred to humans or proto-humans in terms of these conditions (so, for instance, a "Saturn human" or "Saturn man" would be, in this sense, a proto-human living during Old Saturn; "Moon man" would be a proto-human during Old Moon; and so forth). [3]

Essentially, Steiner taught that a human being is associated with a particular planet if s/he is spiritually connected with that planet in some manner. Thus, for instance, “Human beings who perceived the presence of the exalted Sun-being in their life bodies can be called ‘Sun humans’ [4] ... We can also distinguish 'Saturn humans.' The being who appears as their higher I [5] had to leave the common cosmic substance along with his associates already before the Sun’s separation from the Earth. [6] In human beings of this type, both the life body and the physical body had portions that remained untouched by the Luciferic influence. [7]” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 238-239. [See "Planetary Humans".]

[1] See the entry for "planetary migrations", below.
[2] See "Astrology" and the entry for "planetary souls", below.
[3] Planetary conditions are incarnations of the solar system: Old Saturn, Old Sun, etc. They are also known as conditions of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[4] In Anthroposophical doctrine, the "exalted Sun-being" is the Sun God, Christ. [See "Sun God".] The "life body" is the etheric body, the first of our three invisible bodies, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".] Here Steiner says that "Sun humans" are people who have, and know that they have, a particular connection to the Sun God in their etheric bodies.
[5] The "higher I," according to Anthroposophical belief, is the portion of one's divine identity that remains in the spirit realm while the rest of oneself incarnates on Earth. The higher I is itself a spirit. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "higher I".]
[6] I.e., the higher I of the "Saturn humans," a spirit, had to distance himself (along with other spirits of the same type) from the unified substance of the solar system before the Sun split away from the Earth. (Steiner taught that the solar system was originally a single cosmic body; only gradually did various parts split apart to become independent celestial spheres such as we see in the sky today. The Sun separated from the Earth fairly recently, Steiner said: This happened during Present Earth, before the Moon separated from the Earth. [See the entry for "historical narrative of Anthroposophy" in this encyclopedia.])
[7] I.e., the etheric and physical bodies of Saturn humans were uncorrupted by Lucifer, one of the arch-demons described in Anthroposophical doctrine. [See "Lucifer".] Humans who remained on the Earth were more vulnerable to Lucifer's wiles.

planetary migrations - also see Lemuria; moon crisis; planetary humans

Steiner described travel to and from other planets by humans and/or proto-humans. Thus, he said that as the Earth grew denser during the Lemurian epoch [1] or slightly before it, many humans found they could not incarnate in the denser human form developing at that time. Therefore they went to other planets instead. “[W]e know from yesterday’s lecture that human beings were of course soul/spiritual beings [2], and for this very reason they could not unite with the earth materiality [3]...because, while the moon was still united with the earth, this was too coarse. [4] So it came about that the great majority of human souls had to relinquish their union with the earth ... Some soul/spirits were more suited to pursue their evolution on Saturn for the time being, others on Mars, others again on Mercury and so on ... So what we call our human soul condition went through an evolution on the neighboring planets of our earth ... [But] by no means all human soul/spirits left the earth. What we might describe as the toughest souls were able to go on using earthly matter [5], and remain united with it." — R. Steiner, GENESIS: Secrets of Creation (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 124-126. [See, e.g., "Genesis".]

[1] This was the third great epoch of human evolution during Present Earth, when humanity lived on the continent of Lemuria. [See "Lemuria" and "Present Earth".]

[2] Steiner differentiated between soul and spirit. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] We are still essentially soul/spiritual beings — that is, beings who possess both souls and spirits — but today we incarnate in physical bodies during our Earthly lives. We did not incarnate physically during earlier stages of our evolution, Steiner taught (there was no physicality then, at least not as we experience physicality now).

[3] The Earth hardened, becoming more densely physical, Steiner taught. Humans who had not yet themselves become densely physical could not continue their lives on Earth.

[4] The hardening of the Earth went too far, as it were. The Moon was still united with the Earth at that time. Steiner taught that the Moon later split away, taking with it much of the hardening that had been found throughout the Earth. (Anthroposophists tend to believe that the Moon today is super-hardened, and thus it is inaccessible to human beings even in our current, physical form. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Moon landings".])

[5] I.e., the substance of the Earth was not too "coarse" for their use, so they were able to incarnate and live on Earth. (Steiner taught that the humans who went to other planets were able to return to Earth when conditions became more congenial after the Moon split away.)

planetary organs - also see Jupiter organ; Mars organ; organs of clairvoyance; Saturn organ

In Anthroposophy: inner, nonphysical organs that we develop after death as we rise through various planetary spheres. [1] Steiner particularly spoke of three such organs, leaving their functions largely undisclosed. "In the same way that in earthly life we have head, heart, limbs...after death...we have organs which we must attribute to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. [paragraph break] These are then our inner organs, just as heart, pineal gland, kidneys, are on Earth. All this has gone through a metamorphosis into the spiritual and these new organs, not fully formed when first we leave the soul-world and enter the world of spirit [2], now have to be gradually developed. For this purpose we do not describe one circle only...but three. [3] In the first circle the spiritual Mars organ is developed; in the second, the Jupiter organ, and the Saturn organ in the last circle." — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227.

[1] These are physical/spiritual regions of the solar system, defined by the orbits of the planets. [See the entry, below, for "planetary spheres".] After we die, Steiner taught, we make the Sun our "skin" and we then rise through the spheres of the inner planets. Then we proceed to the spheres of the outer planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) and develop the "organs" he names here.
[2] Steiner generally taught that there are two "higher worlds": the soul world (the lower of the two) and the spirit world (the higher). [See "Higher Worlds" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "soul world" and "spirit world".]
[3] I.e., three planetary spheres in the outer solar system.

planetary regents - see planetary gods; planetary spirits

planetary seals - also see astrology; columns; seals; signs; symbols

"[T]o decorate the hall in which the Theosophical Congress...was held...Rudolf Steiner designed seven columns. Each column was related to one of the traditional seven planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn) and to the corresponding type of metal (gold, silver, iron, mercury, tin, copper, lead). The seven different capitals of the columns [bore] two-dimensional emblems [of the planets] ... The same sequence was also represented in relief [i.e., bas relief seals] ... These seals, likewise designed by Rudolf Steiner, can be regarded as pictorial or sculptural representations of the types of spiritual influence the planets exert on the earth."  — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 93. The columns and seals are depicted in Steiner's book MYSTIC SEALS AND COLUMNS (originally titled PICTURES OF OCCULT SEALS AND COLUMNS.) Steiner was a Theosophist before breaking away to found Anthroposophy. The same seals are recognized today in Anthroposophy. See, e.g., ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987). [Also see "Through His Eyes".]

planetary souls - also see planetary humans; planetary organs; planetary spheres; soul

Steiner taught that after we die (and, to some extent, while we sleep) we ascend into the spirit realm by rising through a succession of planetary spheres. [1] Within each sphere, we have contact with the resident planetary spirits. [2] Our souls are conditioned by this contact. We are most affected by the spirits in the sphere where we stay longest. Hence, we return to our next Earthly incarnations with souls that be a the imprint of the spirits. "Between two incarnations, the 'I' [3] lives in the spiritual world where it travels through the following sequence of planetary spheres: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. [4] When the 'I' is again born on earth [5], it arrives there with all the knowledge it has been able to absorb during its sojourn in the spirit world. This newly acquired knowledge manifests in the soul of the new human being. However, the planetary sphere where the 'I' stayed longest...will leave a predominant imprint on the soul. This imprint becomes more visible when the astral body...is 'born' [6]...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 95. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[1] These spheres are the regions of the solar system bounded by the orbits of the various planets. The spheres are nested: The spheres of planets orbiting close to the Sun lie within the spheres of the planets that orbit farther from the Sun. (Bear in mind, however, that Steiner sometimes said that the planets do not orbit the Sun. [See "Deception".])

[2] See the entry for "planetary spirits", below.

[3] I.e., the human spark of divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

[4] See "Higher Worlds" and the entry for "planetary spheres", below.

[5] I.e., when an individual is reincarnated. [See "Reincarnation".]

[6] The astral body is the second of three invisible bodies that, Steiner taught, real human beings possess. [See "Incarnation".]

planetary spheres - also see death; higher worlds; music of the spheres; sphere; cf. celestial sphere

In Anthroposophical belief, these are regions of physical/spiritual space falling under the influences of various planets/planetary gods. We visit them during sleep and death, Steiner taught. The sphere of each planet is defined by the orbit of that planet (if planets have orbits, which Steiner sometimes denied [see "Deception"]). Everything bounded by a planet's orbit falls within that planet's sphere. Spheres are nested within one another: The sphere of a planet close to the Sun is nested within the spheres of planets farther from the Sun. [See "Higher Worlds".] The Sun and Moon have spheres despite not being planets: The Sun sphere is the occult version of what would otherwise be the Earth sphere, while the Moon sphere is the occult version of what would otherwise be the Vulcan sphere (the smallest sphere). The planetary spheres are thus, from smallest to largest: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (In Anthroposophical teachings, Uranus and Neptune are not considered true members of the solar system and thus are omitted from this list.)

"[D]uring his life between death and a new birth, man passes into the Sun sphere [among others]. In this region the spirit-form [1] of the lower part of the human being is transformed into the head of the next earthly life. [2] It must of course be remembered that man's path between death and new birth is such that he passes through all these planetary spheres twice. [3] After death he passes, first of all, into the Moon sphere, then he goes on into the Mercury sphere, the Venus sphere and the Sun sphere ... In the Sun sphere the lower man begins to be transformed into the upper man. [4] The limb structures are transformed — spiritually, of course, at this stage [5] — into the future head-system ... After this work has been begun in the Sun sphere, man passes into the Mars sphere, then into the Jupiter sphere and into the Saturn sphere. The Saturn sphere is really the last, for Uranus and Neptune do not come into consideration here ... Man's path then leads him still further out into the cosmic expanse, out into the wide ocean of the cosmos [6], where the work of metamorphosis continues, until the time comes for him to take the path of return. Then, going back through the regions of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars to the region of the Sun, he comes again at length to the sphere of the Moon." — R. Steiner, SUPERSENSIBLE MAN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), lecture 4, GA 231.


Planetary spheres are nested within one another. The innermost sphere usually identified in Anthroposophy is that of the Moon/Vulcan; the outermost is that of Saturn (Steiner said Saturn is the planet farthest from the Sun). The inner spheres lie within the outer spheres. Thus, the sphere of the Moon/Vulcan lies within the sphere of Mercury; the spheres of the Moon/Vulcan and Mercury lie within the sphere of Venus; and so on. [R.R. sketch, 2010.]

[1] I.e., the phantom or constellation of spiritual forces that gives a person her/his physical form. [See the entry for "phantoms", above.] Here Steiner speaks of the phantom of the legs ("the lower part of the human being"). 
[2] I.e., the "spirit-form" (phantom) of the legs during one incarnation becomes the head in the next incarnation.
[3] I.e., we pass through each sphere once while ascending into the spirit realm and then a second time when descending to our next Earthly incarnation.
[4] I.e., the lower portion of oneself during one incarnation ("the lower man") is transformed so that it becomes the higher portion of oneself ("the upper man") in the next incarnation.
[5] I.e., the transformation occurring in the spirit realm is purely spiritual; the transformation becomes physical only when one incarnates on the physical Earth.
[6] I.e., spiritual regions beyond the planetary spheres.

planetary spirits - also see planetary gods; gods; planets; polytheism

These are spiritual beings who are the spiritual essences or representatives of planets or other celestial objects: planetary gods, also called planetary regents. [See “Planetary Spirits”.] Steiner taught that the “real” solar system has seven planets. Hence, there are seven planetary spirits in the system. These gods are “brothers” although there are profound differences between them. Thus, for instance, because Lucifer is the Spirit of Venus, he is Christ’s ”brother” (although, in another sense, he is one of Christ’s adversaries). “Christ shows us that He calls the directing Spirit of Venus — who, as we have learned, is Lucifer [1] — His brother, calls him His brother, accounting him a Planetary Spirit like the other Planetary Spirits. So that when Lucifer shows himself in the second stage of initiation [2], he at once reveals himself as a planetary Spirit taking his place among the seven Regents of the planets among his brothers. We enter thus into a world [3] where we find what we might call a highly exalted College [4] of seven planetary Spirits, who are in completely brotherly relation one with another. But here lurks a danger, and the pupil [5] must needs possess himself of a great deal more knowledge if he is not to go under [6] at this point. For he must on no account simply receive easily what here shows itself to him; he must earnestly endeavour to acquire an exact knowledge of what lies behind it. [paragraph break] When we come to enter into occult knowledge [7] in detail, we can look in many directions for help to find our way. Although we have learned to recognise the seven brothers who are the seven Planetary Spirits, we are still a long way from any full knowledge of them. Seven brothers may be quite different one from another, and the difference does not perhaps show itself at first sight. [8]” — R. Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 9, GA 137.

[1] See "Lucifer".
[2] I.e., during the process of occult initiation, one encounters Lucifer.
[3] I.e., a realm, a cosmos (not a planet).
[4] I.e., a gathering, brotherhood, or lodge within which certain forms of knowledge are developed and shared. (The term "college" is used in this way within Anthroposophy. Thus, the faculties of Waldorf schools often form "Colleges of Teachers" — gatherings of selected faculty members who discuss the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.)
[5] I.e., the candidate for occult initiation. [For more on initiation, see "Inside Scoop" and "Knowing the Worlds".]
[6] I.e., lose his way, stray from the path, fall victim to error.
[7] I.e., hidden spiritual knowledge. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "occult, occultism" and "mystery knowledge".]
[8] This caution may apply especially in the case of Lucifer, who although being a planetary spirit and the "brother" of the other planetary spirits, is also a demonic power. [See "Evil Ones".]


planetary stages  - see planetary conditions; also see planets

planetary types - see planetary souls

Planet of Love - also see Cosmos of Love; love; Future Jupiter; planetary conditions; Present Earth

This is our planet, Earth, as it may become. Anthroposophists say that they aim to turn the Earth into the planet of love, and sometimes they refer to the present Earth by this title. But strictly speaking, according to Steiner's teachings, the love that has been found on Earth thus far is imperfect. We are evolving toward more perfect love, a goal we will not reach until the Earth and the entire solar system as we know them cease to exist and are replaced by Future Jupiter. [1] Thus, the history of earthly evolution is the progression toward perfected love, which will be fulfilled during Future Jupiter. ◊ "Our planet (the Earth) is the planet of love. The development of this, the first instilling of love, had to be in its lowest form. This happened during the Lemurian epoch [2] ...  All further development [during Present Earth] consists in the continual refinement, the spiritualizing, of this love-principle. Just as in the Moon-period [3] wisdom was instilled into Moon-beings, so one day, when our earth shall have attained its goal, all earthly beings will be filled with love." — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Harry Collison, 1935), lecture 8, GA 105. Earth will not attain its goal until it ceases to exist in its present form. Wisdom was developed during Old Moon but it did not become generally accessible until Present Earth. Likewise, love is being developed during Present Earth, but it will not be "natural" until Future Jupiter. ◊ "The Moon [is the] planet of wisdom, the Earth [is the] planet of love. On [Future] Jupiter love will have become [as] natural as wisdom has on the Earth." — THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1982), lectures by Rudolf Steiner, synopsis of lecture 6, GA 102.

Note that Steiner sometimes spoke of the "cosmos" of love, rather than the "planet" of love, but his meaning was essentially the same. "Earth-existence signifies the Cosmos of Love; existence on the previous planet [4] signifies the Cosmos of Wisdom. We are to evolve love from its most elementary stage to its highest ...  [L]ove is not yet perfected ... Immense numbers of beings which the love-urge brought forth are destroyed in the battle for existence. [5] Conflict is active wherever love is, the entry of love brings conflict, necessary conflict [6] ... Those who attain the goal of earthly evolution will bring love into the next planet [7] as a force of nature, just as wisdom was once brought to Earth. The humanity of the Earth look up to the gods as to the bringers of wisdom. The men of the following planet will look up to the gods as to the bringers of love." — R. Steiner, ORIGIN OF SUFFERING, ORIGIN OF EVIL, ILLNESS AND DEATH (Steiner Book Centre, 1980), GA 55.

 ◊ Future Jupiter ◊ 
 ◊ Present Earth ◊ 

 ◊ Old Moon ◊ 

Steiner taught that we are evolving through a series of incarnations of the solar system. We currently live during the Present Earth incarnation of the solar system. (Despite its name, Present Earth is not the planet Earth. It is a stage of evolution, not a place. The planet Earth is one planet existing now in the solar system as it exists now.) The previous incarnation of the solar system — the previous evolutionary stage — was Old Moon. The next stage will be Future Jupiter. During Old Moon, wisdom was developed; hence, Old Moon is sometimes called the "planet" or "cosmos" of wisdom. During Present Earth, love is being developed; hence, Present Earth is sometimes called the "planet" or "cosmos" of love. The love currently being developed will be realized during the next incarnation of the solar system, Future Jupiter.

[1] See "Future Stages". (Old Moon, Present Earth, and Futrure Jupiter are mega-stages of evolution, incarnations of the solar system, otherwise known as conditions of consciousness. As we evolve, we rise to higher and higher types of consciousness. Wisdom was developed during Old Moon, and now during Present Earth we have risen to a higher stage and we are developing love. [See the entries for "incarnations of the solar system" and "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia. For an exposition of the Anthroposophical conception of love, see "Love and the Universal Human".]
[2] I.e., during the third great epoch of Present Earth. [See "Lemuria" and "Present Earth".]
[3] I.e., during Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[4] I.e., during Old Moon. (The incarnations of the solar system are sometimes called "planetary conditions." [See the entry "planetary conditions", below.])
[5] I.e., love between males and females produces offspring, many of whom are destroyed in the harsh conflicts of Earthly life.
[6] I.e., Earthly love is imperfect; love itself may lead us to fight one another (due to jealousy, conflicting heartfelt beliefs, etc.); this is a necessary developmental stage.
[7] I.e., the next major stage of evolution, Future Jupiter.

Planet of Wisdom - also see brain; Cosmos of Wisdom; intellect; Old Moon; planetary conditions; truth; wisdom

This is the Old Moon stage of evolution, brought to fulfillment in the Present Earth stage. [1] When we evolved through the Old Moon phase, we gradually developed the capacity for wisdom. When we became capable of wisdom, we proceeded to the Present Earth stage. [2] During the Present Earth stage, Steiner said, we develop our intellectual capacities in support of the principle of wisdom. In this sense, Present Earth may be considered the fulfilled planet of wisdom progressing toward becoming the planet of love. Bear in mind, however, that "wisdom," in Anthroposophy, is not a product of brainwork. Both the use of the brain and the knowledge attained through it are of low importance, overall — they help us to progress, Steiner said, but they really apply only to life on the physical plane. We will evolve beyond them in our future evolution — we will take our wisdom and intellectual capacities with us, but we will rise to forms of consciousness far above intellect. The "wisdom" conferred by the gods, according to Steiner, consists of "living thoughts" which are generally implanted in human beings before their incarnation on Earth. Ordinary brainwork produces little or nothing of last value, Steiner taught. [See "Steiner's Specific" and "Thinking".]

All of this reflects the basic narrative of Anthroposophy, derived largely from Theosophy: Mankind is evolving upward through higher and higher forms of consciousness. "You know that our Earth, which forms the present dwelling-place of man, originated in another planetary being [3] usually called ancient Moon or the Cosmos or Planet of Wisdom [4], in contradistinction from our present Earth, which we designate as the Cosmos or Planet of Love. The Cosmos of Wisdom or the ancient Moon is again only the reimbodiment of a still earlier condition which we call the Sun Planet [5] ... And the Sun Planet is the re-imbodiment of ancient Saturn. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF SAINT JOHN (SteinerBooks, 1993), pp. 90-91.


 ◊ Present Earth ◊ 
 ◊ Old Moon ◊ 
 ◊ Old Sun ◊ 
 ◊ Old Saturn ◊ 

According to Steiner, these are the stages of our evolution thus far. Each of these is an incarnation of the entire solar system. The solar system first came into existence during a period called Old Saturn. Almost everything that exists today in the solar system existed then, but in very different form. We ourselves first came into existence during Old Saturn. After the solar system evolved as far as possible during Old Saturn, it ceased to exist, and then it was reincarnated in a new form: Old Sun. This process of evolution and reincarnation has continued down to today, when we exist in the incarnation of the solar system called Present Earth. During this stage of evolution, we are developing our capacity for love. During the previous stage of evolution — Old Moon — we developed our capacity for wisdom.

[1] Old Moon and Present Earth are mega-stages of evolution, otherwise known as conditions of consciousness. [See the entries for "incarnations of the solar system" and "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] See the entry for "planet of love", above.
[3] Conditions of consciousness are sometimes called planetary conditions. [See the entry for "planetary conditions", below.] Old Moon, like the other incarnations of the solar system, may be considered a being or a condition of being comprising all the members of the solar system during one evolutionary period. In a sense, all the members of the solar system existed then as a single "planet." Old Moon was followed by Present Earth, the next incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc." and "Present Earth".]
[4] I.e., Old Moon.
[5] Old Moon was the third incarnation of the solar system; it followed the second incarnation of the solar system, called Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".]
[6] Old Sun was the second incarnation of the solar system; it followed the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]

planets - also see Earth; evolution; Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan; Jupiter; Mars; Mercury; Moon; Neptune; Old Moon; Old Saturn; Old Sun; orbits; planetary conditions; planetary spheres; Saturn; Sun; Uranus; Venus; Vulcan

a) The Sun’s large natural satellites: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. (Modern astronomy also recognizes a growing list of "dwarf planets": Pluto, Sedna, Ceres, etc.)

Steiner sometimes accepted the scientific description of the solar system, more or less, acknowledging that planets are satellites of the Sun: They orbit the Sun. (Steiner refused to admit that Uranus and Neptune are real planets, however, and he sometimes referred to Vulcan as a real planet.)

b) Steiner, contradicting himself, sometimes said that the planets of our solar system do not orbit the Sun but move in line with the Sun: Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars ahead, the Sun in the middle of the line, with Mercury, Venus, and Earth behind. Hence, the planets are not satellites of the Sun. [See "Steiner's Blunders".] “[I]t is not that the planets move around the Sun, but that these three, Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, follow the Sun, and these three, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, precede it. Thus, when the Earth is here and this is the Sun [1], the Earth follows along. But we look at the Sun from here [2], and so it appears as though the Earth goes around it, whereas it is actually only following. The Earth follows the Sun.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 30.

c) Science recognizes the existence of eight major planets in the solar system. [3] All eight were known in Steiner's time. On the other hand, astrology and occultism generally affirm the existence of seven planets — the seven lights in the sky that ancient people saw moving across the immobile "fixed" stars. [4] "planets. In astrology and magic, a term for all celestial bodies visible from Earth that move in regular orbits across the background of stars. The sun and moon are thus considered planets by astrologers and occultists." — J. M. Greer, THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OCCULT (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), p. 375. Steiner often affirmed the truth of this ancient belief, referring many times to the "seven planets." These planets are the abodes of seven planetary gods, he taught. Thus, for instance, "[T]he Sun...now appears [to clairvoyant insigjh] as a planet among the seven planets, and Christ as the Spirit of the planet of the Sun [5] ... [T]he seven Spirits of the Planets become manifest." — R. Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 10, GA 137.

d) Steiner (drawing from Theosophy) often referred to conditions of consciousness as planetary conditions [6], and he sometimes referred to these as "planets." In part, this term, used in this way, was a form of shorthand; in part, it was the sort of language mystics use when discussing physical realities that to them are also spiritual realities. A planet, for Steiner, is a physical object that is also a spiritual manifestation, and it is manifested in different forms in different conditions of consciousness. [See "Matters of Form" and "Planets".] If "planets" are, in one sense, conditions of consciousness, then human beings have so far existed "on" Saturn, Sun, Moon, and Earth (i.e., we have lived during Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, and Present Earth). [7] Eventually we will live "on" Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan (i.e., we will evolve through Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan). [8] Steiner gave varying accounts of these matters. Thus, for instance, “[T]he ancestors of man existed on Saturn [9] ... The human being himself can [i.e., could] make no use of his luminosity on Saturn. [10] ... [But] other more exalted beings are [i.e., were] given the possibility to reveal themselves to the life of Saturn. [11] ... Without any necessity for them to do it, they now radiate [i.e., they radiated] something of their nature out of ‘free will’. [12]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

Realizing that his terminology could be confusing, Steiner offered a clarification in a revision of his most important book, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. He said that planets are, strictly speaking, different from planetary conditions, although there are connections. Thus, for instance, he said "Seen in the light of spiritual science, the present Saturn is a kind of reincarnation of Old Saturn ... Mars is a reincarnation of Old Moon on a higher level." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), pp. 328-329. [See "Planets".]

[1] Steiner was addressing a group of Waldorf teachers. He drew a diagram at this point. [See "Deception".]

[2] Steiner indicated the position of the Earth at the end of the line. (The line is serpentine, Steiner indicated. The position of the Earth relative to the Sun constantly changes as the line swings back and forth, Steiner said. This creates the illusion that the Earth circles the sun, he said.)

[3] Science today also recognizes the existence of numerous minor or dwarf planets. For a time, Pluto was considered to be the ninth major planet, but as of today (I am writing this early in 2016), it is instead considered to be one of the minor planets along with, for instance, Eris and Ceres.

[4] The moving or "wandering" lights, the "seven planets", are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. (Concerning the fixed stars, see the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.)

[5] See "Sun God".

[6] These are the mega-stages of our evolution, incarnations of the solar system. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness", "incarnations of the solar system", and "planetary conditions".]

[7] See "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", "Old Moon, Etc.", and "Present Earth". (Bear in mind that, according to Steiner, we did not become truly human until Present Earth. Prior to that, we were proto-humans. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".])

[8] See "Future Stages".

[9] I.e., we as proto-humans existed during Old Saturn.

[10] I.e., our inner light, the power of our souls, had little impact during Old Saturn. (We had only just come into existence; we were extremely unevolved.)

[11] I.e., more highly evolved beings were present and active during Old Saturn. (For the most part, they were beings we would call gods.)

[12] I.e., out of their own free will, they contributed to our evolution during Old Saturn.

PLANS (People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools)

An organization of volunteers opposing public financing or support for Waldorf schools. The group maintains a website called "waldorfcritics.org".

plant kingdom - also see animal kingdom; human kingdom; kingdoms of nature; mineral kingdom; Plant Kingdom Condition of Life; plant man; plants

According to Steiner, there are four kingdoms of nature. The second, between the mineral and animal kingdoms, is the plant kingdom. Beings at the plant level have physical and etheric bodies but not astral bodies or I's. [1] Like the other kingdoms of nature, the plant kingdom assumes different forms during different phases of cosmic evolution. [2] Thus, for instance, "Present-day animals are Moon-men descended to a lower level and human beings are Moon-men who have ascended higher. [3] But on the Moon [4] the plants too [were] different from those of today. The plant kingdom stood between the present mineral and plant kingdoms, similar to a peat bog that is half mineral and half plant. [5] The Old Moon was actually a great plant. [6] Its ground consisted of intertwined plants. At that time rocks did not exist." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 24, GA 93a.


 ◊  Human Kingdom  ◊ 
 ◊ Animal Kingdom ◊ 
 ◊  Plant Kingdom ◊ 
 ◊ Mineral Kingdom ◊ 
According to Anthroposophical teachings, these are the four levels of existence below the supernal, especially as nature is constituted now, during Present Earth. [7] The kingdoms below the human level are occupied by beings that are unable to continue evolving toward divinity. They have been ejected from the upward stream of human evolution and dwell within segments of existence where subhuman nature spirits [8] hold sway. There, aided by the nature spirits, they grow and evolve in their own fashions. Thus, gnomes — nature spirits dwelling within the soil [9] — contribute to the development of plant roots, while sylphs — nature spirits dwelling in the air — contribute to the development of plants'  leaves and flowers.

[1] According to Anthroposophical belief, a fully incarnated human being has four bodies: a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an "I" or spiritual ego. [See "Incarnation".] An animal has the first three of these, a plant has the first two, and a mineral has only the first one.
[2] See the entry for "incarnations of the solar system" in this encyclopedia.
[3] "Moon-men," in this formulation, were proto-humans who existed during the stage of cosmic evolution called Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."] In effect, they were ourselves as we were at a previous evolutionary stage. Here, Steiner says that animals as they exist today are descendants of Moon-men who fell to a lower level, while we humans of today are descendants of Moon-men who evolved to a higher level.
[4] I.e., during Old Moon.
[5] I.e., during Old Moon the plant kingdom was less evolved than it is today. It was midway between the plant kingdom as we know it now and the mineral kingdom as we know it now.
[6] In Anthroposophical teachings, Old Moon was a period of evolution, it was not a physical orb. However, the solar system was incarnate during Old Moon, so it is possible to describe various incarnated conditions found during that period. Here Steiner says that Old Moon in general was alive and can be compared to an enormous plant (and thus, in a sense, it existed in the plant kingdom). Rocks (minerals) did not yet exist, at least as we know them now — the solar system had not yet hardened sufficiently for rocks to exist.
[7] Present Earth is the fourth incarnation of the solar system. [See "Present Earth".]
[8] See "Neutered Nature".
[9] See "Gnomes".
[10] See, e.g., "Beings".

Plant Kingdom Condition of Life - also see conditions of life; plant kingdom; plants

In Anthroposophical teachings, this is the fifth condition of life [1], the condition we will enter after the present Mineral Condition of Life. [2] In the same way that plants are higher than minerals, the plant condition will be higher than our present mineral condition: It will be a step upward from our current densely physical incarnation toward more spiritual existence. In the plant condition, entities will not be plants, per se (any more than we are currently minerals by virtue of living in the mineral condition), but they will be living forms, more nearly akin to ideal, spiritual thoughts than to densely mineralized embodiments. Entering the plant condition, we will experience a preview of life as we will know it during Future Jupiter. [3] "The fifth Condition of Life...may be seen as a precursor of Jupiter evolution [4] ... Human beings [will] no longer dwell within a [physical] body ... Everything which we today work into the mineral kingdom reappears [i.e., will reappear]...as a plant kingdom. Buildings and machines [will be] deliberately grown from the living ground — Cologne Cathedral grows [i.e., will grow] as a plant, everything painted today becomes [i.e., will become] living cloud formations ... The whole world thus becomes one single, immense living being [5] ... The majority [of people] have already put their karma in order [6] ... But there are still evil ones, 'Satan [7] will be let loose' (Rev. 20:7); and the Manichaeans [7] have educated others to become their teachers, who unite with the fallen ones in another attempt to bring salvation, which even black magicians [8] can still find ... Before the end of the plant condition the decision is taken as to what is to be severed from evolution, though this is not yet carried out. [9] " — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), pp. 104-106.



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

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

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

 ◊ 4. Mineral Kingdom ◊ 

The Plant Kingdom is the fifth condition of life. We evolve through all seven conditions of life during each condition of consciousness (that is, we pass through all seven of these subdivisions during each major stage of our evolution). During each condition of consciousness, we begin our existence at the lowest level of life possible in that condition of consciousness (i.e., we begin in the first of the elementary levels). Thereafter we gradually evolve to the highest level of life possible during that condition of consciousness (i.e., we eventually reach the "human kingdom" or its analogue in that condition of consciousness).

[1] Conditions of life are subdivisions of conditions of consciousness, the largest phases of our evolution. [See the entries for "conditions of life" and "conditions of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] See the entry for "Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life" in this encyclopedia. We currently live in the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life, although obviously we are not minerals — we are human beings incarnated in a physical (mineral) form. In the Plant Kingdom Condition of Life, we will not be plants — we will be human beings incarnated at a higher (somewhat vegetative) level than presently.
[3] Future Jupiter will be the fifth condition of consciousness — the next major stage of our evolution following the Present Earth stage. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] During the Plant Kingdom Condition of Life, we will have a preview of life as it will be during Future Jupiter.
[4] I.e., during Future Jupiter.
[5] Steiner generally taught that all things are alive. During the Plant Kingdom Condition of Life, all things will live as plants, as it were — or, more accurately, all things will be parts of a single enormous plant.
[6] Although phrased in the present tense, this is a statement about the future: how things will be during the Plant Kingdom Condition of Life  Most people will have put their karmas in order (i.e., they will be virtuous, having discharged their karmic obligations), but there will still be some evil people. (Belief in karma is a basic Anthroposophical tenet. [See "Karma".])
[7] In Anthroposophical teachings, Satan is generally identified as Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]
[8] See "Manichaeism".
[9] See "Magicians". Seddon says that evil will still exist during the Plant Kingdom Condition of Life, and various efforts will be made to save the evildoers. Even black magicians will not be beyond hope, at least not for some time yet.
[10] During evolution, as described in Anthroposophy, various beings are expelled from the upward course of evolution at various stages. The "evil" or "abnormal" or "substandard" are cast aside so that the virtuous can continue their ascent toward spiritual perfection. Here Seddon says that a decision will be made, during the plant condition kingdom of life, concerning the next group to be expelled, but the expulsion will not occur yet.

plant man - also see animal man; plant kingdom; plants; Old Sun; Sun humans

According to Steiner, this was the evolving human being as he existed during Old Sun. [1] We were not yet truly human — that is to say, we had not yet attained our I's, our spark of divine individual identity. [2] Instead, we stood at a level analogous to plants. During Old Saturn, we had been at the mineral stage, as it were [3]; during Old Sun, we were at the plant stage; and on Old Moon we would rise to the animal stage. [4] We would not become truly human until Present Earth. [5] "[T]he plant man needed the mineral basis for his life. As today there can be no plants without a mineral realm from which they take in their substances, so was it on the Sun [6] with respect to the plant man. For the sake of his further development, the latter had to leave a portion of the human rudiments behind at the level of the minerals. [7] Since on the Sun conditions were quite different from those of Saturn [8], these minerals which had been thrust back assumed forms quite different from those they had had on Saturn. Thus, alongside the human plant realm, a second province, a special mineral realm came into being. It can be seen that man ascends into a higher realm by thrusting a part of his companions down into a lower. [9] We shall see this process repeating itself many times in the subsequent stages of development. It corresponds to a fundamental law of development." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 15 , GA 11. (The companions whom we thrust down are beings who had evolved alongside us but then prove incapable of evolving further, so we leave them behind.)

[1] Old Sun was the second major stage of our evolution, according to Steiner: the second incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Sun" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".]
[2] See "Ego".
[3] Old Saturn was the first major stage of our evolution. [See "Old Saturn"]
[4] Old Moon was the third major stage of our evolution. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[5] Present Earth is the fourth major stage of our evolution, the one we are undergoing now. [See "Present Earth".]
[6] I.e., during Old Sun.
[7] During evolution, as described in Anthroposophy, we have to shed various inferior parts of ourselves at various stages so that we can evolve higher. We did this during Old Sun, ridding ourselves of certain "rudiments" that were unable to evolve higher (they remained behind at the mineral stage, as it were).
[8] I.e., during Old Saturn.
[9] The process of shedding inferior parts includes expelling "evil" or "abnormal" or "substandard" beings, effectively removing them from our evolutionary line ("man ascends into a higher realm by thrusting a part of his companions down into a lower").


plants - also see botany; biodynamic gardening and farming; plant kingdomPlant Kingdom Condition of Life

According to Steiner, plants as we know them now are members of the second tier of creation, the second kingdom of nature. [1] They are above minerals and below animals. They are endowed with physical and etheric bodies, but they lack astral bodies and I's. [2] Steiner gave varying accounts of plants that may or may not be consistent with one another. Plants often are the expression of thoughts, feelings, or spirits, he said; they are sense organs for the Earth or, in a manner of speaking, they are the Earth's hair; they are the reflection of the Sun. [See, e.g., "Biodynamics".] ◊ "What, then, are the plants in this whole web of existence? We could say that when spring approaches, the earth organism [3] begins to think and to feel, because the sun with its being lures out the thoughts and feelings [of the Earth]. The plants are nothing but a kind of sense organ for the earth organism, awakening anew every spring, so that the earth organism with its thinking and feeling can be in the realm of the sun activity [4] ... [E]very spring the sun organism [5] creates for itself the plant covering [on the Earth] in order to look at itself [6], to feel, to sense, to think by means of this plant covering. The plants cannot directly be considered the thoughts of the earth, but they are the organs through which the awakening organization of the earth in spring, together with the sun, develops its thoughts and feelings ... [T]he spiritual investigator [7] sees in what transpires between earth and sun with the help of the plants the marvelous weaving of a cosmic world of thoughts, feelings, and sensations. The spiritual investigator finds that the earth is surrounded not merely by the mineral air of the earth, by the purely physical earth atmosphere, but by an aura of thoughts and feelings. For spiritual research the earth is a spiritual being whose thoughts and feelings awaken every spring, and throughout the summer they pass through the soul of our entire earth." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRIT IN THE REALM OF PLANTS (Mercury Press, 1980), GA 60. ◊ "It may seem fantastic, but plants are in fact the 'hair' of the living Earth. Just as you can understand what a hair is really like only when you consider how it grows out of the head — actually out of the whole organism [8] — so in teaching about nature you must show the children how the Earth exists in a most intimate relationship to the world of plants. You must begin with the soil and, in this way, evoke an image of Earth as a living being. Just as people have hair on their head, the Earth as a living being has the plants on it." — R. Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 65.

[1] See the entry for "plant kingdom", above.

[2] These are the four types of bodies described by Steiner; three of them are invisible. [See "Incarnation".] Humans have all four types of bodies, animals have three, plants have two, and minerals have one, Steiner said.

[3] I.e., the Earth conceived as a single living organism. Steiner taught that the living Earth has thoughts and feelings, although he sometimes indicated that the Earth is now dead. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Earth".]

[4] I.e., plants provide sensations to the Earth, enabling the Earth to receive the influences of the Sun.

[5] I.e., the living Sun. Steiner says that the Sun endows the Earth with its covering of plants.

[6] I.e., in plants, the Sun's sees a reflection of itself.

[7] I.e., a spiritual scientist, in particular an Anthroposophist, who uses clairvoyance to study the spirit realm.

[8] I.e., the whole human being.

Plato - also see Aristotle; Atlantis; initiate, initiation; living thoughts; mysticism; philosophy; Platonism; reincarnation

Ancient Greek philosopher (c.429-347 BC) who postulated a world of abstract, ideal universal forms; the material world is but a reflection of these, he said. Because this and some of his other ideas can be taken as mystical, Plato (as interpreted by Steiner) is embraced in Anthroposophy. "The significance of the Mysteries [1] in the spiritual life of Greece can be seen in Plato's conception of the world. There is only one means of understanding him fully: he must be placed in the light which shines forth from the Mysteries." — R. Steiner, CHRISTIANITY AS MYSTICAL FACT, chapter 4, GA 8. [2] In particular, Plato's myth of Atlantis is accepted in Anthroposophy as an essentially factual report. [3]

"Plato...was certainly an initiate, and from past lives had reached a high degree of spiritual development ... Platonism would always be a philosophy for the mystic and would-be mystic ... Plato held that abstract ideas, or archetypes, are exclusively of a spiritual nature, and can be attained by man only by 'bringing them to birth' within him, so that all such knowledge is really recognition of what had been experienced [in the spirit realm] before birth." — Stewart C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 68-70.

[1] I.e., spiritual mysteries and their meaning. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Also see the entry for "philosophy", above.

Platonism - also see geometry; mathematics; philosophy; Plato

Plato's teachings have been revived at various times in reformulations usually called forms of Platonism. At their core is the proposition that abstractions such as numbers and geometric forms have an objective existence apart from, and superior to, their reflections in the real world. Steiner credited geometry with fostering his knowledge of the spirit realm: “In my relation with geometry I...perceive the first budding forth of a conception which has since gradually evolved in me ... [T]he reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical.” — R. Steiner, THE STORY OF MY LIFE (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1928), p. 11. Steiner credited Plato with living on the ideal or spiritual plane. “The mood in which I came to Weimar was tinged by previous thorough-going work in Platonism ... [I asked myself] How did Plato live in the ideal world, and how [did] Goethe? [1]” — Ibid., p. 142.

[1] Steiner's admiration of Plato, as he understood him, was perhaps second only to his admiration of Goethe. [See "Goethe".]

play at Waldorf schools - also see crafts; Olympics; outdoor play at Waldorf schools; cf. academic standards; arithmetic; computers; reading

Waldorf schools stress unstructured play for young children, both to keep them young (it is thought that youngsters retain connections to their past lives in the spirit realm) and to delay “harmful” intellectual development. Basic academic skills such as reading and arithmetic are often not taught until age seven, and children are considered incapable of abstract or intellectual thought until at least age 14. [See "Incarnation" and "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

Thus, Waldorf schools discourage early-childhood education and development, as these are usually conceived. “Childhood is commonly regarded as a time of steadily expanding consciousness.... Yet in Steiner’s view, the very opposite is the case: childhood is a time of contracting consciousness.... [The child] loses his dream-like perception [1] of the creative world of spiritual powers [2] which is hidden behind the phenomena of the senses ... In mastering the world of physical perception the child encounters difficulties in that he first has to overcome a dream-like yet intensely real awareness of spiritual worlds. [3] This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16. [See "Thinking Cap".] Hence, early preparation for academics, such as is provided by programs like Head Start, is usually ruled out in Waldorf schools. [4]

When young children play, they reenact scenes from their past lives, or they renew memories of the spirit realm — or so Anthroposophists believe. “Already at a very early age, the child enjoys the game of hide-and-seek ... These games reflect the transition from there to here, from the spiritual to the physical world....” — H. Britz-Crecelius, CHILDREN AT PLAY: Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development (Park Street Press, 1996), p. 18. Waldorf schools often attempt to teach children how to play, channeling the children's energies into recreational activities that are deemed spiritually correct and fruitful. Special toys are often used, such as faceless dolls onto which children can project their inner visions. [See "Coming Undone".] Natural materials are stressed — woolen dolls, wooden blocks — since the products of industrialization are considered harmful. Computers and video games are almost totally banned, since these are considered tainted with demonic influences. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

The free play of young children prepares them for their independent lives as adults, Steiner indicated, while the collaborative play of children after age seven has social benefits. [5] Perhaps surprisingly, he added that directing play and its "soul activities" into wholesome channels can produce physical benefits. "Play involves a whole constellations of soul activities ... When we guide children's play toward contentment, we improve their health by promoting an activity that is indirectly connected with the digestive system. And the way a person's play is guided during childhood can determine whether a person's blood circulation and digestive system become congested in old age." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 106.

[1] In Anthroposophy, dreams and dream-like states of consciousness, especially imagination, are deemed conveyors of truth. [See, e.g., "Dreams", "Thinking", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "imagination".]
[2] The "spiritual powers" are the gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]
[3] I.e., adapting to life on the physical plane requires children to lose their dream-like spiritual awareness, at least to some degree. Waldorf schools see this as a necessary but regrettable development, and they seek to ameliorate it.
[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "early-childhood education"; also see "Academic Standards at Waldorf".
[5] See, e.g., THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001, chapter 13, "Children's Play."

pluralism - also see polytheism; cf. monism

The doctrine that the universe arises from multiple sources or consists of several underlying substances. Steiner said the universe is pluralistic or polytheistic, but he also said that all of the many gods arise (like everything else) from an underlying, unified "principle" or spirit. True unification, however — the ultimate overcoming of pluralism — is only a distant objective. "Monism or monotheism in itself can only represent an ultimate ideal; it could never lead to a real understanding of the world, to a comprehensive, concrete view of the world. [1] Nevertheless, in the post-Atlantean age [2] the current of monotheism also had to be represented, so that the urge, the impulse toward monotheism devolved upon a single people, the Semitic people. [3] The monistic principle is reflected in this people by a certain rigidity or inflexibility, whilst all the other peoples, in so far [sic] as their different divinities are comprehended in a unity, receive the impulse toward monism from them. The other peoples are inclined to pluralism." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 115. Steiner tried to affirm both pluralism and monism. "Pluralism is not possible without monism. We must recognize the necessity for both." — Ibid., p. 116. The point is true only linguistically (and even there it is moot): We need a word for pluralism only because we can conceive of monism, so we must make a distinction. But in reality, either pluralism or monism is true; they cannot both be true. [See

[1] Pluralism is thus truer.
[2] I.e., the period we live in now, following the destruction of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]
[3] I.e., the Hebrews or Jews. [See "RS on Jews".]

Pluto - also see Neptune; planets; solar system; Uranus

Rudolf Steiner died early in 1925; Pluto was discovered early in 1930. Steiner evidently knew nothing about Pluto, for which he should reasonably be excused. However, from 1930 until 2006, Pluto was regarded as the ninth planet in the solar system. Steiner claimed to be able to see the future, and he gave extensive descriptions of the solar system, yet he made no mention of Pluto. Pluto was demoted to the new category of "dwarf planet" in 2006, but it remains an important presence in the solar system. (The space probe New Horizons visited Pluto in 2015.) Did Steiner's professed clairvoyance [1] fail him, leaving him unaware of Pluto, or did Steiner choose to remain mum about Pluto because his clairvoyance informed him that Pluto would not be counted as a major planet after 2006? [2] Steiner failed to recognize not only Pluto (and all the other dwarf planets), but also Uranus and Neptune. [3] His descriptions of the solar system were, at best, seriously incomplete; at worst, they were fundamentally false.

[1] Steiner was almost certainly not clairvoyant. There is no reliable evidence that clairvoyance exists. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[2] Steiner's professed powers of clairvoyance often failed him — he made numerous false observations. [See "Steiner's Blunders".]

[3] Steiner acknowledged the existence of Uranus and Neptune, but he denied that they are real members of the solar system. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these planets.]

pneumatism - also see medicine; philosophy; world conceptions

a) An antiquated medical theory that respiration involves a subtle vapor called pneuma.

b) One of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions, according to Steiner. "When someone is a Psychist [1], and able as a thinking person to contemplate the world clearly, then he comes to the point of saying to himself that he must presuppose something actively psychic in the outside world. [2] But directly [3] he not only thinks, but feels sympathy for what is active and willing in man, then he says to himself: 'It is not enough that there are beings who have ideas; these beings must also be active, they must be able also to do things.' But this is inconceivable unless these beings are individual beings. That is, a person of this type rises from accepting the ensoulment of the world to accepting the Spirit or the Spirits [4] of the world. He is not yet clear whether he should accept one or a number of Spirits, but he advances from Psychism to Pneumatism, to a doctrine of the Spirit." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 35. Steiner associated pneumatism with Aquarius. [See "Philosophy".]

[1] See the entry for "psychism", below.
[2] I.e., he comes to believe that mental phenomena, thoughts, exist objectively outside oneself.
[3] I.e., as soon as.
[4] I.e., the God or gods. (The pneumatist, as defined by Steiner, comes to believe in the objective existence of a God or gods: spirits.)

Polaria - also see Hyperborea; Lemuria; Old Saturn; Polarian Epoch

a) In some esoteric accounts: an ancient lost continent in polar regions, possibly in or near today's Siberia. 

b) In Theosophy: an invisible northern continent that will become visible one day; the ancient residents of Polaria were the first root race [1] of the earth. 

c) In Anthroposophy: the first dwelling place of humanity during Present Earth [2]: the situation of humanity during the Polarian Epoch. [3] Usually descriptions of Polaria are vague, if attempted at all — conditions were so different then, we can scarcely find the right words. But some Anthroposophists have tried to give a plain account. "Polaria was...a recapitulation of Ancient Saturn [4] ... Polaria was smaller than [Old] Saturn, though still immense; it was about the size of the earth's orbit today. [5] In fact Polaria still contained both sun and moon [6] and, like Ancient Saturn, was a globe." — A. Whitehead, ANCIENT SATURN TO ATLANTIS (Golden Beetle Books, 1991), p. 48. [See "Out in the Open".]

[1] See the entry for "root races" in this encyclopedia.
[2] Present Earth is our current condition of consciousness, the current incarnation of the solar system. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. Also see "Present Earth".]
[3] See the entry for "Polarian Epoch", below.
[4] I.e., Old Saturn: the first condition of consciousness, the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn".]
[5] Polaria may be spoken of as a location on the Earth, possibly a continent; or it may be spoken of as the entire incarnation of the Earth at that ancient time (in which case the "Earth" or "Polaria" was a gauzy sphere as big as the orbit of the Earth today, having a radius of 93 million miles).
[6] I.e., the Sun and Moon had not yet separated from the Earth. [See "Early Earth".]

Polarian Epoch - also see epochs; great epochs; Hyperborean Epoch; Polaria; Present Earth

According to Steiner — drawing from Theosophy — this was our first evolutionary stage or "great epoch" of what we can consider our Earthly existence. [1]  Steiner gave only brief and vague descriptions of that period. “[I]n the beginning of its development, our Earth was united with Sun and Moon. [2] At that point man had arisen once more out of the earliest germ [3] which comprised physical, etheric, and astral bodies [4]; he appeared, so to speak, in his first earthly form — the only one possible to him while the Earth still contained both Sun and Moon [5]. This period of Earth evolution, which man experienced in common with his planet, is usually called in the literature of spiritual science [6], the ‘Polarian’ period. It would lead too far to explain today why this period is called ‘Polarian’; meanwhile let us simply accept the term.” — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1948), p. 66. [See "Early Earth".] 

Sometimes Steiner was slightly more forthcoming about at least some aspects of Polarian life. "The Polarian human beings were very similar to four-footed animals, but they were formed out of a soft, pliant substance similar to a jellyfish, but much warmer.  — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2019), pp. 176-177..

Here is an elaboration by a Waldorf teacher: "In the Polaris state [7] the solar system is [i.e., was] still a homogenous unity [8] ... There is [was] transformed warmth from [Old Saturn], providing the basis for the [future] physical body of man [9] ... There is life force [10] and something akin to light ... [T]here is astral substance [11], which, taken into the human being, gives him the ability to have external and internal experiences ... One might imagine the substance of Polaris as refined ether [12] surrounded by an astral atmosphere. [13] In this atmosphere are the souls of human beings [in a form not yet differentiated one from another] ... Our present Saturn comes into existence. [14]" — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), pp. 96-97.



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

 ◊ 2. Hyperborean Epoch ◊          ◊ 6. Epoch of Seals ◊ 
 ◊ 3. Lemurian Epoch ◊   ◊ 5. Post-Atlantean Epoch ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Atlantean Epoch ◊ ........

The Polarian Epoch was the first great epoch of our Earthly lives,
according to terminology usually employed in Anthroposophical texts.

[1] Anthroposophical accounts of evolution are complex. In one sense, we have always existed on "Earth" if we conflate the evolution of the solar system with the evolution of the Earth, as Steiner often did. However, past incarnations of the solar system are referred to as Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. Only after passing through all three of those stages did we arrive at the Present Earth stage (the fourth incarnation of the solar system). Within this stage, we have evolved through numerous smaller stages (conditions of life and, within those, stages of form). Currently, according to Anthroposophical teachings, we exist within the Physical Stage of Form, within the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life, within the Present Earth incarnation of the solar system. It is within this current phase that we began evolving through the seven great epochs, of which the Polarian Epoch was the first. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these various terms. For an overview, see the entries for "evolution" and "design".] 
[2] I.e., Earth, Sun, and Moon were a single body. (In its earliest incarnation, Steiner said, the entire solar system was a single body. Evolution has entailed the gradual splitting off of various parts from that original unity.)
[3] I.e., germinal or embryonic condition. (We arose "once more" because we incarnate and reincarnate many times as evolution progresses. When the Polarian Epoch began, we had evolved to a point where our germinal condition included early versions of the physical, etheric, and astral bodies.)
[4] I.e., man incarnated as a physical, etheric, and astray being — but he did not yet have an "I." [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[5] The Earth was very different then (it still contained the Sun and Moon), and consequently our form was very different then.
[6] As Steiner used the term, "spiritual science" is essentially Anthroposophy, which Steiner said enables practitioners to scientifically study the spirit realm.
[7] I.e., during the Polarian Epoch.
[8] I.e., no planets or other bodies had yet separated from the others.
[9] Old Saturn was our first condition of consciousness, the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn".] Steiner taught that it was largely composed of a form of spiritual warmth, analogous to the warmth of blood.
[10] See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.
[11] I.e., essence from the astral plane or soul world. [See "Higher Worlds".]
[12] See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia.
[13] I.e., an "atmosphere" such as is found in the soul world.
[14] I.e., the planet Saturn separated from the "homogenous unity" — the unified mass comprising much of the rest of the solar system.

polarities - also see dualism; good and evil 

The concept of polarities or polar oppositions plays a crucial role in Anthroposophy, which tends toward dualism. Steiner discussed polarities of many types: light and dark, upward evolution and downward evolution, good gods and evil gods, West and East, Lucifer and Ahriman, the Sun God and the Sun Demon, knowledge and belief, materialism and mysticism, and so forth. [1] While Steiner often indicated that, ultimately, all things tend to contribute to the fulfillment of the divine cosmic plan, he also indicated that the forces of good are arrayed against the forces of evil, here on the physical plane and also high above in the spiritual realm. So, for instance, Steiner told his followers this: ”[W]e are watching the battle waged by the good gods against the evil gods." [2] The task of Waldorf teachers is to work in cooperation with the beneficent forces of the cosmos, Steiner said. “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods, that we are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” [3] 

[1] See, e.g., the book POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND, consisting of lectures delivered by Rudolf Steiner (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987).
[2] Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. II (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 251.
[3] Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

polytheism - also see gods; goddesses; planetary gods; pluralism; Sons of Twilight; Spirits of Fire; Spirits of Form; Spirits of Harmony; Spirits of Love; Spirits of Movement; Spirits of Personality; Spirits of Will; Spirits of Wisdom; cf. monotheism

The doctrine that multiple gods exist; affirmed by Steiner. Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods, extending from those who are just slightly more advanced than humans to those who are almost inconceivably advanced. Above or behind the nine ranks he located the nebulous Godhead, which he described as divine will and/or a sort of committee of three exalted gods. [1] Steiner divided the nine ranks of gods into three "hierarchies." Below the gods stand humans — Steiner said that we will evolve to become gods, and eventually we will ascend to the highest divine rank. Indeed, the divine plan for our evolution to ultimate apotheosis is the central narrative of Anthroposophy. [2]

Steiner used different terms at different times, and his descriptions/enumerations were not wholly consistent, but in a general sense we can say that, according to Steiner, these are the ranks of the gods, from highest to lowest: 

First Hierarchy

 1. Spirits of Love 

 2. Spirits of Harmony 

 3. Spirits of Will 


Second Hierarchy

 4. Spirits of Wisdom 

 5. Spirits of Movement 

 6. Spirits of Form 


Third Hierarchy 

 7. Spirits of Personality 

 8. Spirits of Fire 

 9. Sons of Twilight 

Gods known by many other names are also located among the three "hierarchies." [3] In addition, some gods do not stand at the levels they normally should — "abnormal" gods lag behind, standing at lower levels than their titles would ordinarily indicate. [4] Thus, for instance, while normal Spirits of Wisdom stand in the fourth rank, abnormal Spirits of Wisdom may stand at the fifth rank and function much like Spirits of Movement.

The gods in general evolve much as we evolve, Steiner taught. We originally came into existence during the stage of cosmic evolution known as Old Saturn. [5] Our evolution then and in subsequent stages has been overseen by the various ranks of gods, some extending themselves to us more at one stage, others extending themselves to us at other stages. The gods themselves originally came into existence at various prior stages of cosmic evolution, before the first formation of our solar system. Thus, for instance, the gods who stand one step higher than ourselves — Sons of Twilight, also known as Angels — first came into existence during a period preceding Old Saturn, while the gods one step higher than Sons of Twilight — Spirits of Fire, also known as Archangels — first came into existence during the period preceding that. We can know virtually nothing about such stages, Steiner said; they were, in a sense, stages of a different universe from our own.

The Godhead hovers above the hierarchies [6], while humanity stands below. Steiner taught that we are in the process of forming a tenth divine rank, somewhat confusing called, in Anthroposophical texts, "the tenth hierarchy." [7]

[1] See "Polytheism", "Trinity", and "The Father."

[2] See "Tenth Hierarchy". Steiner taught that we will become the tenth rank of gods, and thereafter we will evolve upward through the divine ranks.

[3] See "Polytheism" and entries in this encyclopedia for specific types of gods. 

[4] See "Abnormal".

[5] See "Old Saturn".

[6] See "God".

THE PORTAL OF INITIATION - also see Goetheanum; mystery plays

A mystery play [1] written by Steiner. Like Steiner's three other plays, it is often performed at the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. [2] [See "Plays".]



as staged at the Goetheanum.

[GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press,

 1961, p. 22); color added.]

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

[2] For information about the Goetheanum, see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

possession - also see demonic possession; demons; doubles; incorporation

As described in various occult traditions, being "possessed" is the state or condition of being controlled by another being that invades your body; it dominates, bewitches, or owns you. The invader is usually considered demonic. "Spirits [i.e., demons] who arise through immoral actions [1] have a particular tendency to be parasites in human evolution on Earth under Lucifer's leadership [2], and to seize hold of the evolution of human beings before these make their physical entry into the world. They attack human beings during the embryonic stage and share their existence between conception and birth. [3] Some of these spirits, if they are strong enough, can continue to accompany the human being after birth, creating the phenomena seen in children who are possessed.” — R. Steiner, ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 167-168. One's inner demon is often called a double, Steiner taught. [See "Double Trouble".]

[1] According to Anthroposophical belief, our actions and thoughts produce spirits that take up independent existence in the spirit realm. Evil actions and evil thoughts create evil spirits: demons. (Spirits dwelling in the spirit realm may influence us on the physical plane, and occasionally they may descend to the physical plane. Spirits that "possess" humans do precisely this, entering physical existence inside human physical bodies.)
[2] I.e., these demons interfere in our evolution during life on Earth; they do so under the leadership of the arch-demon Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]
[3] I.e., the demons attach themselves to us before our incarnation on Earth, attacking us between the moment of conception and the moment of physical birth.

Post-Atlantean Epoch - also see Aryan Epoch; Atlantean Epoch; great epochs; War of All Against All

This is our current great epoch [1], according to Steiner — the stage of Earthly evolution we entered following the destruction of Atlantis. [2] Steiner taught that Lemuria [3] was destroyed in firestorms brought on by human wickedness, Atlantis was destroyed in The Flood caused by human wickedness, and the Post-Atlantean Epoch will end similarly, in the catastrophic War of All Against All. [4]

The Post-Atlantean Epoch is the fifth of the great epochs. All great epochs are divided into seven subdivisions. In the Post-Atlantean Epoch, these subdivisions are called "cultural epochs" or "cultural ages." "[I]t is only in our fifth (Post-Atlantean) epoch that one can first speak of cultural ages [5], each guided by a different Archon as Spirit of the Age [6] ... Each of these [cultural ages] is first prepared and then influenced by forces from one particular constellation. [7]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), pp. 11-12.

Essentially everything that has happened during what is normally considered the history of human civilizations, and everything that will occur before conditions change out off all recognition, occurs during the Post-Atlantean Epoch. The subdivisions of the Post-Atlantean Epoch — the seven cultural ages — are the Indian Age (eighth to sixth millennium BCE), the Persian Age (fifth to four millennium BCE), the Egypto-Chaldean Age (2900-747 BCE), the Greco-Roman Age (747 BCE-1413 CE), the Anglo-Germanic Age (our present cultural age: 1413-3573 CE), the Russian Age (3573-5733 CE), and the American Age (5733-~7900 CE). Following the American Age, mankind will plunge into a calamitous war, and thereafter the Post-Atlantean Epoch will end. Steiner taught that survivors of the war will proceed to the Sixth Epoch (the Epoch of the Seals) and then the Seventh Epoch (the Epoch of the Trumpets). [8]



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

 ◊ 2. Hyperborean Epoch ◊          ◊ 6. Epoch of the Seals ◊ 
 ◊ 3. Lemurian Epoch ◊   ◊ 5. Post-Atlantean Epoch ◊ 

 ◊ 4. Atlantean Epoch ◊ ........

According to Anthroposophical belief, we have already evolved through the Polarian, Hyperborean [8], 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.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "great epochs".
[2] See "Atlantis".
[3] According to Steiner, this was the continent we inhabited before moving to Atlantis. [See "Lemuria".]
[4] See "All vs. All".
[5] Other great epochs are also divided into seven subdivisions, and often — somewhat loosely — these are also called cultural epochs or cultural ages. But Seddon is correct: Technically, only the subdivisions of the Post-Atlantean Epoch should be referred to under these designations
[6] Archons (Archai) are gods three levels higher than humanity — they are the highest gods of the Third Hierarchy. [See "Polytheism".]
[7] I.e., under the astrological influence of one sign of the zodiac. Astrological forces are important throughout Anthroposophical teachings. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".]
[8] See "Sixth Epoch" and "Lucky Seventh".
[9] See "Early Earth".

Powers - also see Authorities; Elohim; Exusiai; Spirits of Form

According to some esoteric teachings, Powers are angels of a middle rank. Steiner designated them as gods of the sixth rank, placing them four levels higher than humanity. “[W]hen we get beyond the Archai [1], we reach to those Beings...the so called Powers, — Exusiai, whom we also call the Spirits of Form. [2] Here we have to do with tasks that reach beyond the earth ... Humanity will have to be guided from one planetary condition to another. [3] Spiritual Beings must...exist, whose care it is during the whole earth evolution [4] to see that when that evolution will have come to an end, humanity may pass in the right manner through a Pralaya [5] and find its way to the next goal, to the Jupiter goal. [6] These are the Powers or Spirits of Form ... The spirits whose care it is to see that the whole of humanity should be led from one planetary condition to another, are the Powers, Exusiai or Spirits of Form.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110.



 • 4. Dominions, Spirits of Wisdom, 

 Wisdom Spirits, Kyriotetes • 


 • 5. Mights, Dynamis, Spirits of Motion, 
 Spirits of Activity, Principalities, Virtues • 


 • 6. Powers, Spirits of Form, Revelations, 
 Exusiai, Elohim, Spirits of Light, Authorities • 

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods subdivided into three "hierarchies." Powers stand among the lowest ranking gods of the Second Hierarchy — they are members of the sixth rank of gods, which puts the four levels higher than humanity.

[1] These, according to Steiner, are gods of the seventh rank, putting them three levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".]

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Exusiai" and "Spirits of Form".

[3] Planetary conditions are incarnations of the solar system, Steiner taught. We currently live in the fourth incarnation of the solar system, which is called Present Earth. When this incarnation ends, there will be a rest period (a "pralaya") during which the solar system will vanish. Then the next incarnation of the solar system — calledFfuture Jupiter — will begin. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system" and "planetary conditions".]

[4] I.e., Present Earth.

[5] A rest period, a pause between incarnations of the solar system.

[6] I.e., Future Jupiter.

pralaya - also see evolution; conditions of consciousness; conditions of life; stages of form

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy: a rest period between evolutionary phases. The word comes from Sanskrit and means, roughly, to melt away. During evolution, as described in Theosophy and Anthroposophy, from time to time everything fades out of existence and no new evolutionary stage begins for a while. The universe, in a sense, pauses. Thus, for instance, Steiner taught that there will be a long (five-step) pralaya following Present Earth and prior to Future Jupiter. [1] Likewise, during Present Earth, there will be a three-step pralaya between the fourth condition of life (Mineral Kingdom) and the fifth condition of life (Plant Kingdom). [2]

The math for the evolutionary phases discussed in Theosophy and Anthroposophy doesn't work out precisely. (For example, a great epoch is something like 2160 years long, while subdivisions of it are about 350 years long. There are seven such divisions, but 2160/350 is 6.27243, not 7.) Various pauses are required up and down the line, so that the clock can be reset. Pralayas fill this function. Steiner refers to pralayas in passages such as this: "After the great cosmic era of Saturn [3]...there follows that of the Sun. [4]. Between them lies a period of rest (Pralaya) [sic] ... Saturn man, as it were [5], has left behind his seed, which is sunk in a kind of sleep, after which it will develop into Sun man. [6]" — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 15, GA 11.

[1] These are the fourth and fifth incarnations of the solar system. [See "Present Earth" and "Future Stages".]

[2] Conditions of life are subdivisions of conditions of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[3] See "Old Saturn".

[4] See "Old Sun".

[5] I.e., the proto-human as he evolved during Old Saturn. (Steiner often inserts qualifying expressions such as "as it were," generally to indicate that human language is inadequate to fully convey occult realities.)

[6] I.e., after the pralaya, the proto-human will appear in a new form during Old Sun. ("Sun man" is the progeny of the "seed" or inheritance left by "Saturn man.")

prãna - see life ether

prayers in Waldorf schools - also see graces; hymns; meditations; spiritual exercises; spiritualistic agenda; verses

Prayers written by Steiner, often disguised as "morning verses," are recited by students and teachers each morning in most Waldorf schools. Waldorf teachers also pray to various gods for guidance in their work. The following is the prayer Steiner wrote for use each morning by students in the lower four grades:

"The Sun with loving light
Makes bright for me each day; 
The soul with spirit power
Gives strength unto my limbs; 
In sunlight shining clear 
I reverence, O God,
The strength of humankind,
That thou so graciously 
Hast planted in my soul, 
That I with all my might 
May love to work and learn.
From Thee come light and strength, 
To Thee rise love and thanks.”

— R. Steiner, PRAYERS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 45. 

[See "Prayers".]


Prayers used and recommended by Steiner's followers can be found in various Anthroposophical publications. Often the prayers were written by Steiner himself. Prayers recited by Waldorf students appear on pp. 44-47 of this book.

pre-earthly life - also see evolution; incarnation; higher worlds; life after death and before birth; planetary conditions; preexistence; reincarnation; spirit realm

As discussed in Anthroposophy: life in the spirit world between earthly incarnations, and/or life during earlier stages of evolution (Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon). [1] “During his pre-earthly existence man lives in the cosmic creation which is the spiritual germ of his future physical organism [2] ... Man has his pre-earthly existence in the active recognition of the spirit-cell of his future physical organism [3] ... As during his existence on earth he perceives through his senses a physical world round him in which he is active, so in his pre-earthly existence he perceives his physical organism being built in spirit; and his activity consists in helping its construction, just as his activity in the physical world consists in helping to shape the physical things of the outer world. [paragraph break] In the spirit-cell [4] of the physical human body which the psycho-spiritual man [5] experiences in his pre-earthly existence, a whole universe is present [6], no less manifold than the physical outer world of the senses. Indeed intuitive knowledge [7] may well say that man, incorporated in his physical body, though unknown to himself, carries a universe of such magnificence that the physical world cannot be remotely compared with it. [8] [paragraph break] This universe it is which man experiences in a spiritual manner in his pre-earthly state, and in which he is active. He experiences it in its growth, its mobility, but filled with spiritual beings. [9]” — R. Steiner, COSMOLOGY, RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), chapter 6, GA 25.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Old Saturn", "Od Sun", and "Old Moon"; also see, e.g., "Steiner Static" and "Matters of Form".
[2] I.e., man lives in the spirit realm, in a form that will give rise to his next Earthly incarnation.
[3] I.e., man focuses on the spiritual locus or seed ("spirit-cell") from which the physical form of his next incarnation is created. (The central activity and purpose of life between incarnations is making preparations for the next incarnation.)
[4] I.e., spiritual formative matrix.
[5] I.e., man as he exists in the spirit realm.
[6] Steiner taught the the human being is a microcosmic replica of the entire cosmos. [See "The Center".] Here, he says this is true during pre-earthly life, in the spirit realm, just as it is true during physical incarnation. (Man experiences virtually the entire spiritual universe during pre-earthly life, and he carries this with him, internally, when he descends to earthly life.)
[7] Steiner taught that intuition is one form of clairvoyance, akin to imagination and inspiration — other forms of clairvoyance. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[8] I.e., the spirit realm — which man carries inwardly — is vastly more magnificent than the physical universe — which man also carries inwardly.
[9] Chiefly, these are gods. [See "Higher Worlds" and "Polytheism".]

preexistence - also see higher worlds; life after death and before birth; pre-earthly life; reincarnation; spirit realm

As discussed in Anthroposophy: pre-earthly life [see above], the period man spends in the spirit realm before beginning a new life on Earth. "Pre-existence — in a broad sense, the period between two lives in which the 'I' [1], after having gradually cast off its preceding life, is guided and inspired by the hierarchies [2] to start creating new conditions for its next incarnation on earth." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 96.

[1] The "I" is one's inviolable, divine identity. [See "Ego" and the entry for "I" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., gods.

premonition — also see clairvoyance; future; imagination; inspiration; intuition

According to Steiner, clairvoyant training allows one to see the future. He claimed that he himself knew the future. [See, e.g., "Everything" and the essays that follow it. Also see "Millennium".] Steiner taught that primitive peoples had untrained powers of premonition, and these powers sometimes emerge among modern humans. "We know...that the subconscious activity [1] is not aroused by spiritual training alone, but that it may exist as inheritance of an old, primitive atavistic state of the human mind. [2] Under these conditions there arise what we define as visions, and visions of this naive consciousness would correspond to imaginations [3] gained through training. Premonitions arise; and these might be [called] primitive inspirations." — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS (Anthroposophic Press, 1946), lecture 4, GA 143.

[1] I.e., intuitive perception. Steiner taught that intuition, imagination, and inspiration are precursors to, or forms of, clairvoyance. He said that ancient people had natural clairvoyant abilities that modern humans have lost.
[2] I.e., instinctive clairvoyance. Steiner taught that Anthroposophy ("spiritual training") enables its practitioners to develop high, "exact" clairvoyance [see "Exactly"], whereas ancient peoples had a natural but lower ("old, primitive") form of clairvoyance; sometimes this ancient clairvoyance arises today, in which case it is "atavistic".
[3] I.e., images perceived through clairvoyance.

preparation, spiritual - see probation

preparations - also see biodynamic gardening and farming; medicine; mistletoe

In Anthroposophy, the word "preparations" often refers to magical compounds prepared for use in biodynamic agriculture, such as liquids produced by stuffing manure into a cow's horn, burying the horn for a prescribed period, digging it up, pouring the decayed manure into a pail of water, and stirring vigorously for an hour, reversing the direction of the stir every few minutes. Careful observance of astrological conditions is usually required. [See "Biodynamics".] 

Another Anthroposophical use of the term, almost as common, applies to various herbal remedies (powders, pills, potions) prepared for use in Anthroposophical medicine. Thus, for instance, a preparation consisting mainly of mistletoe is often prescribed for the treatment of cancer. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

preschool - see early childhood education

Present Earth - also see conditions of consciousness; Earth; Future Jupiter; Future Venus; Future Vulcan; human stage of evolution; Old Moon; Old Saturn; Old Sun; physical plane; planetary conditions

According to Anthroposophical belief, this is the fourth incarnation of the solar system (our fourth condition of consciousness), coming after Old Moon and before Future Jupiter; it is the condition in which we now exist. [1] We have evolved from an extremely nonphysical condition, Old Saturn. [2] We proceeded to progressively more condensed conditions, Old Sun and then Old Moon. [3] We are now in a densely material, physical condition — Present Earth. Here, we are far removed from the spirit realm (although it is immanent). Our tasks during Present Earth have included confronting and comprehending evil. In this sense, we have fallen from grace, descending from a spiritualized condition to a lowly physical condition; but in exchange, we are acquiring the capacity to be free, able to choose between the white and black paths. [4] Another, related task during Present Earth has been to develop intellect. This is a dubious and dangerous attainment, but it strengthens us for our future, free development. [5]

Following Present Earth, we will reascend toward spiritualized, nonphysical existence, passing through progressively less and less condensed existences, first Future Jupiter, then Future Venus, and then Future Vulcan. [6] Having begun our evolution in a form of consciousness like coma during Old Saturn, we have proceeded to ordinary waking consciousness during Present Earth. Ahead, we will attain perfected imagination (Jupiter consciousness), perfected inspiration (Venus consciousness), and then perfected intuition (Vulcan consciousness). [7] A few advanced humans — Anthroposophists, mainly — have attained preliminary forms of these high, clairvoyant powers during Present Earth, chiefly by following the indications given by Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf schools endeavor to set students' feet on the path toward such advancement. [8]

The gods with greatest creative authority during Present Earth are the Spirits of Form. [9] Under their aegis, we have become human — that is, we have attained our I's during Present Earth, just as the Angels attained their I's during Old Moon and the Archangels attained theirs during Old Sun. [10] When we have evolved through all of the phases of Present Earth [11], we will proceed to our next condition of consciousness, Future Jupiter. [See "Matters of Form" and "Everything".]

Present Earth should be distinguished from the planet Earth. Present Earth is a period of time or a stage of evolution; the planet Earth is a physical sphere, a location within the solar system. [11] Often, Anthroposophical references to the planet Earth center on the planet as it exists now or as it has existed during various phases of Present Earth. [12] However, according to Steiner, the Earth existed — in very different forms — during previous incarnation of the solar system. It is also important to recognize that Anthroposophists sometimes refer to the major stages of evolution (Old Saturn, Old Sun, etc.) as if they were physical orbs ("Saturn," "Sun," etc.). Thus, Anthroposophical references to "Earth" sometimes refer to Present Earth. When reading Anthroposophical texts, distinctions or precise meanings must sometimes be inferred from context.


The seven conditions of consciousness or planetary conditions described by Rudolf Steiner: They are incarnations of the solar system. We currently live in the Present Earth condition. (The term "Manvantaras," derived from Sanskrit, is used in Theosophy; Steiner used it for a time, but generally he avoided it after splitting from Theosophy. A "Manvantara," as conceived in Theosophy, is an age or "round." [14]) [This is a portion of a chart from THE TEMPLE LEGEND, a collection of Steiner lectures (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 357; color added.]

[1] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. Steiner taught that humans will evolve through a series of seven major stages of evolution (sometimes he said there will be 12 such stages). These seven major stages, shown in the diagram above, are usually called Conditions of Consciousness, because we develop a particular form of consciousness during each one. An alternate designation for Conditions of Consciousness is "Planetary Conditions." Each Condition of Consciousness or Planetary Condition is a new incarnation of the entire solar system, and during each such incarnation the powers of one celestial sphere (generally a planet) are paramount. Thus, the stages bear names akin to the names of planets. "Old Saturn" was the first of these major stages of evolution; Future Vulcan will be the seventh. We currently live on the planet Earth during the Present Earth stage.
[2] See "Old Saturn".
[3] See "Old Sun" and "Old Moon, Etc."
[4] In Steiner's teachings, the white path is the upward path of spiritual improvement, toward which his own teachings direct us. The black path is the downward path to spiritual corruption and ruin. [See "White-Black" and "Guardians".]
[5] Steiner was an intellectual, but he generally disparaged the intellect, rating it lower than clairvoyance and teaching that it chiefly has value in the lowly physical realm, not in the realms above. [See "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".] However, he said that we needed to develop intellect, which empowers us to make rational choices. Having been exposed to evil, we have potentially gained the power to differentiate good from evil, and to choose between them. Thereby, we may become "free." [See "Freedom" and "Freedom - Static".]
[6] See "Future Stages".
[7] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.
[9] These are gods four levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".]
[10] According to Anthroposophy, becoming truly human (which entails developing one's "I" or spiritual ego) is a stage of spiritual evolution. We have become human now, during Present Earth. Beings we look up to as gods became human during previous stages of cosmic evolution and later rose further to become gods. [See the entries for "I" and "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia.]
[11] Like the other Conditions of Consciousness or Planetary Conditions, Present Earth consists of seven subdivisions, which may be referred to as Conditions of Life. Each of those consists of seven subdivisions, often called Stages of Form. Each of those consists of seven subdivisions, often called Great Epochs. Each of those consists of seven subdivisions, generally called cultural epochs or ages. Thus, during Present Earth, we will pass through seven Conditions of Life, 49 Stages of Form (7x7), 343 Great Epochs (7x7x7), and 2,401 Cultural Epochs (7x7x7x7).
[12] See the entry for "Earth" in this encyclopedia.
[13] All phases of Present Earth have been more densely physical than phases of the preceding incarnations of the solar system. However, it is only during our current incarnations that we have become as thoroughly, materially physical as we are today.
[14] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "rounds".

priestly office of Waldorf teachers - also see divine cosmic plan; messianism; spiritualistic agenda; Waldorf teachers

Waldorf schools are religious institutions, although this is usually concealed. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Schools as Churches", and "Secrets".] Steiner gave Waldorf teachers the charge to act in the name of the gods, serving at the altar of human life. The teachers then become, in effect, priests. ◊ “Among the faculty, we...should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods....” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55. ◊ “[W]e wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 33. ◊ “In the child we have before us a being who has only recently left the divine world. [1] In due course, still at a tender age, he comes to school and it is the teacher’s task to help guide him into earthly existence. The teacher is therefore performing a priestly office.” — R. Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23. 

The religion practiced in Waldorf schools — the religion in which Waldorf teachers serve as priests — may initially be mistaken for Christianity, but it is in fact Anthroposophy. [2]

[1] I.e., recently descended from the spirit realm to Earthly incarnation.

Primal Semites - also see Akkadians; Atlantis; Mongols; Primal Turanians; Rmoahals; sub-races; Tlavatlis; Toltecs

The fifth sub-race that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis. [1] Members of that race, Steiner taught, were the first to develop a capacity for ratiocination. “The origin of logical thinking [2] must be sought among the fifth subrace, the Primal Semites. Men began to go beyond a mere remembrance of the past and to compare different experiences. The faculty of judgment developed. Wishes and appetites were regulated in accordance with this faculty of judgment. One began to calculate, to combine ... The Primal Semites at first arranged their personal circumstances as their faculty of thought directed. Intelligence took the place of mere appetites and desires. The conditions of life changed. If preceding races were inclined to acknowledge as leader one whose deeds had impressed themselves deeply upon their memory, or who could look back upon a life of rich memories, this role was now conferred upon the intelligent.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.



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

According to Steiner — drawing heavily from Theosophy — each root race consists of seven consecutive sub-races A root race is the overarching racial form intended by the gods for a particular evolutionary period. Sub-races represent the progressive steps that reincarnating souls should take during their evolution in that period. These are the seven sub-races of the Atlantean root race.

[1] See the entries for "sub-race", "root- races", and "Atlantis" in this encyclopedia.
[2] The benefits of logical or intellectual thinking are, according to Steiner, far less than may appear at first. [See "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific"].

Primal Turanians - also see Akkadians; Atlantis; Mongols; Primal Semites; Rmoahals; sub-races; Tlavatlis; Toltecs

The fourth sub-race that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis [1]; the doom of that continent can be traced, in part, to them. “Man wanted to count for something through his power [over nature]. The greater the power became, the more he wanted to exploit it for himself. The ambition which had developed turned into marked selfishness. Thus the misuse of these powers arose. When one considers the capabilities of the Atlanteans resulting from their mastery of the life force [2], one will understand that this misuse inevitably had enormous consequences. A broad power over nature could be put at the service of personal egotism. [paragraph break] This was accomplished in full measure by the fourth subrace, the Primal Turanians. The members of this race, who were instructed in the mastery of the above-mentioned powers, often used them in order to satisfy their selfish wishes and desires.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.

[1] See the entries for "sub-race", "root- races", and "Atlantis" in this encyclopedia.
[2] See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.

primal wisdom, Primal Wisdom - also see Godhead; knowledge; spiritual science; wisdom

This term is used in various, interrelated ways by Anthroposophists. It is sometimes a reference to the Godhead or the ground of being. [1] Primal wisdom is, then, the formative power behind all of creation. "Religious doctrines and formulas are only echoes of the sensations that could be once communicated from person to person and that were drawn from the primal wisdom that created the world itself." — R. Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER: An Esoteric Study (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 57. The term is also used to refer to the shared truth underlying all forms of religion and/or spiritual science (the divinity within truth). [2] And the term is also used in reference to the innate divine wisdom within each human soul (the god within). [3]

[1] See "God".
[2] See "All".
[3] Steiner taught that human beings are microcosmic replicas of the entire cosmos, the macrocosm. [See "The Center".] Hence, we can find all truth, ultimately, by looking within.

Primeval Beginnings - also see Archai; Primeval Forces; Spirits of Personality

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels above humanity. [1] "Then we rise to those beings whom we designate the Spirits of Personality, Primeval Beginnings, Primeval Forces, or Archai ... [T]hey live in such a way that, on the waves of time, from epoch to epoch, they transform themselves at certain definite periods, they assume other spiritual bodies ... You have here to do with that which represents the meaning and the mission of an epoch of humanity [2] ... This ‘Spirit of the Age’ comprises something which reaches beyond single nations, beyond single races [3] ... That which one really calls a ‘Zeit geist’ [sic] or Spirit of an epoch is the spiritual body of the Archai or the Primeval Beginnings or Spirits of Personality.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110. [See "Polytheism".]



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

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

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

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods subdivided into three groupings or "hierarchies." Primal Forces are gods of the seventh rank, the highest rank in the third or lowest hierarchy. Mankind stands one level below the ninth rank of gods; hence, we stand three levels below the seventh rank.

[1] For an outline of the ranks of the gods, see "Polytheism".
[2] I.e., these gods oversee historical epochs, giving them meaning and purpose.
[3] Steiner taught that gods two levels above humanity — Spirits of Fire, Archangels — oversee individual nations, peoples, and races. [See "Embedded Racism".] Gods three levels above humanity have a broader mission, encompassing virtually all of humanity during a given historical period.

primeval clairvoyance - see atavistic clairvoyance; natural clairvoyance

Primeval Forces - also see Primeval Beginnings; Principalities; Spirits of Personality; Zeitgeists

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels higher than humanity. "Men are not the only beings we know of, we also know of beings [1] that are superior to present-day earth man. We know of the sons of life or the angels [2], and we know that they went through their human stage on ancient Moon. [3] We know of the spirits of fire or the archangels, that went through their human stage on the old Sun condition of the earth [4], and we also know of the primeval forces, who went through their human stage on ancient Saturn. [5] These beings are in advance of man in their cosmic evolution. If we were to study them today we would find that they are beings of a much more spiritual nature than man. Therefore they live in higher-worlds. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), lecture 5, GA 107.



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

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

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

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods subdivided into three groupings or "hierarchies." Primal Forces are gods of the seventh rank, the highest rank in the third or lowest hierarchy. Mankind stands one level below the ninth rank of gods; hence, we stand three levels below the seventh rank.

[1] I.e., gods.
[2] I.e., gods one level higher than humanity.
[3] I.e., they attained their divine egos, their "I's", during Old Moon. [See "Ego" and "Old Moon, Etc."] According to Steiner, becoming human means rising to the evolutionary level at which beings attain their "I's." We "present-day earth men" have attained our I's recently, during the Present Earth period. [See "Present Earth".] Gods one level above us attained their I's one major evolutionary stage ago, during Old Moon.
[4] I.e., gods two levels above us became human during Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".] Like other incarnations of the solar system, Old Sun may be considered an evolutionary stage of the Earth itself, hence Steiner speaks of the "old Sun condition of the earth."
[5] I.e., gods three levels above us became human during Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]
[6] See "Higher Worlds".

primeval teachers - also see leaders; Lunar Pitris; spiritual guides; Sons of Twilight

According to Steiner, these are superhuman spiritual guides who assisted us during Old Moon [1] and during our early lives at the Present Earth stage of evolution. [2] They later colonized the Moon. ◊ “Through spiritual perception [i.e., clairvoyance]...we become aware of beings of signal grandeur who leave an impression of the superhuman, rather than the human. They exist today and the Moon sphere [3] is their permanent abode, as the Earth is ours between birth and death ... We learn from these figures that they were once united to the Earth [4] as we human beings are today. Whilst human beings live in their physical bodies, these Moon beings formerly lived on Earth in subtle, ethereal bodies. [5] And we realize that we are in the presence of beings who, in primordial times, were associated with humanity and were the spiritual Teachers of mankind on Earth. [6] When their tasks on Earth were fulfilled, they withdrew to the Moon sphere and are no longer associated with the Earth today.”  — R. Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, GA 243. ◊ “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon together with the spiritual guides of humanity” — R. Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93.

[1] Old Moon was the major stage of evolution preceding the current stage. [See "Old Moon, Etc.".]

[2] Present Earth is the current major stage of evolution. [See "Present Earth".] During Present Earth, we live on the planet Earth in some of its varying, evolving forms. [See, e.g., "Early Earth".]

[3] I.e., the Moon and the region it defines. [See the entry for "planetary spheres", above.]

[4] I.e., they lived in the Earth sphere or "on" the Earth as it then existed.

[5] "Ethereal" bodies consist of ether or ether-like, virtually impalpable substances, far finer than the material found on the current physical plane of existence. (Ethereal bodies are related to the etheric bodies that plants, animals, and humans have now. [See the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] Steiner taught that humanity has been guided by the gods and also by "humans" who were more evolved than others, essentially rising to divine status. These are beings who "leave an impression of the superhuman, rather than the human."

Principalities - also see Archai; Dynamis; Spirits of Movement; Spirits of Personality

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels above man. [1] “[N]ow at this stage in the evolution of Saturn [2] certain Beings intervene [i.e., intervened], who...have the astral body for their lowest member [3], but have brought it on so far in its evolution that it works like a human I of the present time. [4] Through them the I looks down from the surrounding spaces on to Saturn [5] ... Hence something is sent forth from Saturn into the heavenly spaces [6], that resembles the impression made by human personality in our present cycle of life. [7] The Beings who bring this about may be called ‘Spirits of Personality’ (in Christian terminology they are the Archai, First Beginnings, or Principalities.) These Beings communicate to the particles of the Saturn body [8] a semblance of the character of personality. The Spirits of Personality have their real personality in the surrounding sphere. [9] They cause their own being to be rayed back to them from the Saturn bodies [10], and this very process bestows upon the Saturn bodies the fine substantiality which was described above as ‘warmth' [11] ... [T]he Spirits of Personality behold and recognize the image of their own inwardness, in that it streams out to them as warmth from Saturn.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13. [See "Polytheism".]

Steiner also referred to certain gods five levels above us as Principalities: “The third kind of spirits with the self-conscious (supra-psychic) object consciousness [12] is called ‘Spirits of Motion’ or of ‘Activity.’ In Christian mystery science they are called ‘Principalities’ (Dynamis). (In theosophical literature, the expression Mahat is to be found for them.) From the middle of the second Saturn cycle onward [13] they combine with the progress of their own development, the further elaboration of the human material body [14], in which they implant the capacity of movement and of forceful activity. This task comes to a conclusion around the middle of the third Saturn cycle. [15]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.


Hebrew/Christian Esotericism.......................Anthroposophy
(Ranks of Angels).........................................(Ranks of Gods)

 1. Seraphime, Seraphim..................................Spirits of Love 
 2. Cherubime, Cherubim..........................Spirits of Harmony 
 3. Thronos, Thrones..........................................Spirits of Will 
 4. Kyriotetes, Dominions............................Spirits of Wisdom 
 5. Dynamis, Mights.................................Spirits of Movement 
 6. Exusiai, Powers...........................................Spirits of Form 
 7. Archai, Principalities.........................Spirits of Personality 
 8. Archangeloi, Archangels                                Spirits of Fire 
 9. Angeloi, Angels                                          Sons of Twilight 

These are the ranks of divine beings, from highest to lowest, according to some esoteric teachings. The nine ranks of angelic beings were denominated as shown to the left  by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in the 6th century CE. [16] According to Steiner, the beings shown are gods, and he assigned them the names shown to the right. Note that other names are also sometimes used for beings of the various ranks. In Steiner's teachings, human beings constitute (or will constitute) the tenth rank. [17] Thus, Sons of Twilight (rank 9) stand one level higher than humanity, Spirits of Fire (rank 8) stand two levels higher than humanity, etc. Ultimately, Steiner said, humans will ascend through the ranks, destined for the pinnacle of divinity. [Table adapted from E. R. Smith's THE BURNING BUSH (Anthroposophic Press, 1997). Also see R. McDermott, THE NEW ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, 2009).] 

[1] For a summary of the ranks of gods as described by Steiner, see "Polytheism".
[2] I.e., Old Saturn, the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn".]
[3] I.e., they had astral bodies but not physical or etheric bodies. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[4] Steiner taught that human beings have four bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies. The ego body, usually called the "I," is the spiritual ego that confers divine individuality. [See "Ego".] Here Steiner says that during Old Saturn, Principalities had astral bodies that functioned much like the spiritual egos that humans possess today.
[5] I.e., onto the solar system as it existed during Old Saturn. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".]
[6] I.e., the spiritual influence of these gods was reflected out into the cosmos from "Saturn." (Some of this description is imagistic, discussing the period of Old Saturn as if it were a planet, Saturn.)
[7] I.e., the influence of these gods is analogous to the effect of human personality during the current stage of cosmic evolution, Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".]
[8] During Old Saturn, Steiner taught, virtually everything in the solar system existed within a unified, undifferentiated mass. "The particles of the Saturn body" were components of Saturn that would later split off and assume independent existence, becoming, for example, human beings.
[9] To the extent that "Saturn" may be conceived as a globe (and this is only approximate — Old Saturn was a period, not a planet such as we know today), then the Principalities existed chiefly within the surrounding "sphere" or spiritual atmosphere (this is where their "real personality" was to be found).
[10] I.e., from the surrounding sphere, these gods beamed their essence ("their own being") down to the particles or "bodies" of Old Saturn, and this essence was then reflected back up to them.
[11] The process of divine influence beaming down to Saturn and then back up caused a spiritual "warmth" to develop among the particles or bodies of Saturn. (Steiner taught that all of Old Saturn was, in a sense, spiritual warmth, analogous to the warmth of human blood today.) This "warmth" was the "substance" of Saturn ("the fine substantiality which was...'warmth'").
[12] I.e., a level of conscious we will acquire after Future Vulcan. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Future Vulcan" and "Vulcan consciousness".]
[13] I.e., during and after the second phase of Old Saturn.
[14] i.e., in addition to promoting their own evolution they help develop what will become the physical body for human beings.
[15] I.e., during the third phase of Old Saturn
[16] "Pseudo-Dionysius The Areopagite, (flourished c. 500), probably a Syrian monk who, known only by his pseudonym [Dionysius the Areopagite], wrote a series of Greek treatises and letters for the purpose of uniting Neoplatonic philosophy with Christian theology and mystical experience ... Historical research has been unable to identify the author, who, having assumed the name of the New Testament convert of St. Paul (Acts 17:34), could have been one of several Christian writers ... The treatises 'On the Divine Names,' 'On Mystical Theology,' 'On the Celestial Hierarchy,' and 'On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy' comprise the bulk of the Dionysian corpus of writings." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 21, 2015.
[17] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

probation, spiritual - also see enlightenment; initiation

The testing period for a candidate for occult initiation. During probation, Steiner said, the candidate should focus on certain physical phenomena, not trying to understand them as such, but developing the feelings they inspire. "To begin with, the attention of the soul is directed to certain events in the world that surrounds us. Such events are, on the one hand, life that is budding, growing and flourishing, and, on the other hand, all the phenomena connected with fading, decaying and withering ... Whenever [the aspirant] observes a definite kind of blooming and flourishing, he must banish everything else from his soul ... [A] feeling which heretofore, in a similar case, would merely have flitted through his soul, now swells out ... He must now allow this feeling to reverberate within himself.... [1]" — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1944), p. 27.

Probation is a process of spiritual preparation (and is sometimes referred to as "preparation" rather than "probation"). One seeks to quiet and disciplie the mind, gaining direct experience of fundamental realities. One may then proceed to a second stage, usually called enlightenment, in which the inner, spiritual "light" behind phenomena becomes perceptible. [2] Successful attainment of enlightenment may lead to the final stage: true initiation — gaining occult or hidden spiritual wisdom. [3] For a summary of Steiner's instructions on the attainment of occult initiation, see "Knowing the Worlds".

[1] Feelings are more important than thoughts, Steiner taught. They provide a surer pathway to spiritual truth. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda".]

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

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

progressive education - also see alternative education; humanism; cf. Waldorf education: goals

Waldorf schools sometimes describe themselves as "progressive," but this is generally misleading. In fact, Waldorf thinking is often quite backward, harking to ancient times and bygone beliefs. [See, e.g., "The Ancients".] ◊ “In several significant ways, Waldorf developed in conscious contrast to alternative pedagogy and educational reform movements, even while borrowing extensively from those sources. Central aspects of Waldorf pedagogy stand in direct opposition to standard principles of progressive education. Several of Waldorf's more conspicuous weaknesses stem directly from Steiner's rejection of progressive educational ideals and from the early Waldorf movement's hostility toward alternative educational models.” — P. Staudenmaier. [See “Waldorf Now”.] ◊ “Aside from its [spiritual] content, about which people may agree or disagree depending on their personal beliefs, I already perceived that the general setup for teaching [in Waldorf schools] was far from being progressive, which, in my opinion, has everything to do with opening up the learning situation and with self-determination of the students.” — C. Pangh. [See “Ex-Teacher 3”.]

Prokofieff, Sergei O. (1954-2014)

A Russian-born Anthroposophist, co-founder of the Anthroposophical Society in Russia, and a member of he Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society. His published works include RUDOLF STEINER AND THE FOUNDING OF THE NEW MYSTERIES and THE FOUNDATION STONE MEDITATION - A Key to the Christian Mysteries. (He should not be confused with his grandfather, the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953).)

proto-humans - also see human stage of evolution; conditions of consciousness; subhumans

This term may be applied to ourselves as we were, according to Anthroposophical belief, before we became human beings. According to Steiner, "human" is a stage of spiritual development. [1] We are human now during Present Earth [2], Angels were human during Old Moon [3], Archangels were human during Old Sun [4], and so forth. We ourselves first came into existence during Old Saturn [5], and we subsequently evolved through Old Sun and Old Moon, but we did not become human (i.e., we did not acquire our I's) until Present Earth. [6]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".
[2] This is the fourth incarnation of the solar system, our fourth major evolutionary stage. [See "Present Earth".]
[3] According to Steiner, Angels are gods one level higher than humans. [See "Polytheism".] Old Moon was the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]
[4] Archangels are gods two levels higher than humans, Steiner taught, and Old Sun was the second incarnation of the solar system. [See "Polytheism" and "Old Sun".]
[5] This was the first incarnation of the solar system, [See "Old Saturn".]
[6] The "I" is the spiritual ego, possession of which makes one human. [See the entry for "I" in this encyclopedia.]

Prototype - also see Christ; Sun God

According to Steiner, Christ's great contribution to our evolution was showing us how to be truly human. Christ, the Sun God [1], descended to and merged with the Earth. He gave us the impulse to develop our "I's" [3] and thus enabled us to evolve properly, in imitation of Him. “Fire and air in the macrocosm are, in man the microcosm, blood and nerves. [4] As you have lightning and thunder in the macrocosm, so you have thoughts arising within the human being. And the God seen and heard by Moses in the burning thorn-bush, Who spoke to him in the fiery lightning on Sinai, was present as the Christ in the blood of Jesus of Nazareth. [5] Christ, descending into a human form, was manifest in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. In that He thought as a man in a human body. He became the great Prototype of the future evolution of humanity.” — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1956), lecture, 7, GA 109. [See "Prototype".]

[1] See "Sun God".
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Christ impulse".
[3] This is the spiritual ego, possession of which confers divine individuality, according to Steiner. [See "Ego" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "I".]
[4] Steiner taught that the human being is a microcosmic replica of the cosmos, the macrocosm. [See "The Center".] Events occurring outwardly in the macrocosm are reflected by inner events within the microcosm.
[5] In Anthroposophical teachings, the god of Moses, or the god of the Jews — Jehovah — is not truly the One and Only God proclaimed in monotheistic belief, but simply one of many gods who have overseen human evolution. [See, e.g., "Genesis", "Moses", and "Old Testament".] This god was present "in the blood of Jesus," Steiner taught, because Jesus descended from two Hebrew lines. (Actually, Steiner taught that there were two Jesuses, who merged, becoming a single vessel to house the incarnated Sun God. [See "Was He Christian?"])


psychic consciousness - see imagination

psychic powers - in the Semi-Steiner Dictionary: see clairaudience; clairsentience; clairvoyance; ESP; telekinesis; etc.


psychism - also see philosophy; world conceptions

One of the twelve justified world conceptions, according to Steiner: philosophical perspectives that he associated with the twelve astrological constellations. "Idealism can be enhanced. In our age there are some men who are trying to do this. They find ideas at work in the world, and this implies that there must also be in the world some sort of beings in whom the ideas can live. Ideas cannot live just as they are in any external object, nor can they hang as it were in the air ... Anyone who understands that ideas, if they are there are all, are bound up with some being capable of having ideas, will no longer be a mere Idealist ... He becomes a Psychist and his world-outlook is Psychism." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 34. Steiner associated psychism with Pisces. [See "Philosophy".]

pure thinking - also see clairvoyance; Goethean science; living thoughts; cf. thinking

In Anthroposophical doctrine, this is thinking that is directed by the "I." [1] The practice of Anthroposophy entails great efforts to discipline thinking so that one perceives what one aspires to perceive. [2] Pure thinking occurs when "the higher 'I' [3] is aware of the thinking process and, in addition to this, all subconscious influences from the physical body, the ether body and the astral body [4] are kept at bay." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 97. The key question, in this regard, is whether "pure thinking" as conceived in Anthroposophy is anything more than self-deception. [See, e.g., "Thinking" and "Why? Oh Why?"]

[1] This is the spiritual ego, possession of which confers divine individuality. [See "Ego" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "I".]
[2] See "Knowing the Worlds".
[3] I.e., the part of the "I" that remains in the spirit realm. [See the entry for "higher I" in this encyclopedia.]
[4] I.e., the three bodies below the "I." [See "Incarnation".]

purgatory - also see Kamaloka

A region of expiation or spiritual intermediation. In Roman Catholic teachings, purgatory is a state of suffering in which souls pay for their sins before rising to heaven. In Theosophy and, by extension, Anthroposophy, the concept of purgatory is found in a condition called Kamaloka. [1] "If we can clearly envisage what will remain when we are parted from all our physical organs [2], from everything that normally fills our daytime consciousness and enlivens the soul, from everything for which we have to be grateful to the [physical] body all day long, we shall begin to form some conception of what the condition of life is after death, when the two corpses [3] have been laid aside. This condition is called Kamaloka [4], the place of desires ... [M]an has to wean himself gradually from these physical wishes and desires, so that the soul may free itself from the Earth, may purify and cleanse itself. When that is achieved, the Kamaloka period comes to an end...." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1986), lecture 3, GA 95.

[1] See "Kamaloka". The term derives from Buddhism. In Buddhist teachings, kama-loka is the lowest of three spheres of existence. [See http://www.britannica.com/topic/arupa-loka.]
[2] I.e., when we die and no longer have physical bodies.
[3] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings have four bodies, the lower two of which are the physical and etheric bodies. [See "Incarnation".] At death, we separate not only from the physical body but also from the etheric body. Thus, we leave "two corpses" behind.
[4] "Kama-loka (Sanskrit) Kāma-loka [from kāma desire + loka world, sphere] Desire world; a semi-material plane, subjective and invisible to us, the astral region penetrating and surrounding the earth. It is the original of the Christian purgatory, where the soul undergoes purification from its evil deeds and the material side of its nature. It is equivalent to the Hades of the Greeks and the Amenti of the Egyptians, the land of Silent Shadows." — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999).

 - Q -

Qabalism - see Cabalism

quintessence - also see ether

Ether. ◊ "[I]n mediaeval times there was still some knowledge of a super-sensible [1], scarcely material substance lying behind all material substance, for a so-called quintessence, a fifth mode of being [2], was spoken of together with the four elements: earth, water, air, fire — and quintessence." — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 4, GA 227. ◊ "Ether - in general, shapeless and invisible life force [3], also called the fifth essence or 'quintessence'...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37.

[1] I.e., supernatural or supernal, beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.
[2] I.e., a fifth element, enabling incarnated existence.
[3] See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.