> R <

- R -

Ra - also see Baldur; Christ; Hu; Sun God

a) The ancient Egyptian Sun god.

b) According to Anthroposophy, Ra is Christ as comprehended by humans at the ancient Egyptian stage of evolution. "Men spoke in those times of [the Sun God] Ra, whose representative on Earth was Osiris; Ra signified for them the Sun that moved round the Earth, giving light ... My dear friends, when the pupils of the old initiates [1] looked out into the wide universe and spoke of what they saw living out there beyond the Earth in the workings of the Sun, yes, in the Sun itself — when they spoke of the sublime Spirit-Being of the Sun [2]...they were speaking of the very same Being Whom, in these later times, we designate as Christ." — R. Steiner, MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Health Research, 1960), lecture 1, GA 211. [See "Was He Christian?"]


This is Ra, the Egyptian god of the Sun. According to Steiner, Ra is Christ as apprehended by the ancient Egyptians. Having the visage of a hawk, Ra carries the Sun on his head. [Public domain image.]

[1] I.e., people possessing occult knowledge. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[2] I.e., the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

race - also see advanced races; Africans; animal form (of evil race); Aryans; Asians; black; Caucasian race; degenerate races; evil races; Europeans; exogamy; French; Malayan race; Mongolian race; Native Americans; "Negro" race; peach-blossom; race soul; race war; racial missions; racism; root races; skin color; sub-races; white; white race

a) A major subdivision of humanity: people sharing the same lineage, color, history.

b) Also, according to Steiner, an evolutionary level (some races are more evolved than others, he taught). The gods intended for just one race to exist at any given time, but today we have a diversity of races. Each race should remain where it belongs, Steiner taught, and each has a special relationship with planetary gods and forces.

◊ “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149. ◊ “Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. [1] That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time ... Let us assume the original, divine cosmic plan [2] for the earth had been fulfilled ... In that case, a human race of Grecian beauty [3] would have spread over the earth, and in our age we would already see humanity approaching more and more this beautiful Grecian type.” — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 199), pp. 82-83.

◊ “We...find [in Asia] the Venus-race [4] or the Malay race. We then pass on across the wide domain of Asia and in the Mongolian race we find the Mars-race. We then pass over into the domain of Europe and we find in the Europeans, in their basic character, in their racial character, the Jupiter men. If we cross over the ocean to America, where the place is at which the races or civilizations die [5], we then find the race of the dark Saturn, the original American-Indian race, the American race. The American-Indian race is the Saturn race.” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121. ◊ "When we ask which race belongs to which part of the earth, we must say: the yellow race, the Mongols, the Mongolian race belongs to Asia, the white race or the Caucasian race belongs to Europe, and the black race or the Negro race belongs to Africa. The Negro race does not belong to Europe, and the fact that this race is now playing such a large role in Europe is of course nothing but a nuisance." — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), "Color and the Races of Mankind", a lecture, 1923, GA 349 [see "Forbidden"].

◊ "[E]verything connected to the body and the metabolism is strongly developed in the Negro. He has, as they say, powerful physical drives, powerful instincts ... [H]is whole metabolism operates as if he were being cooked inside by the sun. That is where his instinctual life comes from. The Negro is constantly cooking inside, and what feeds this fire is his rear-brain. [6]” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS, p. 55. ◊ “There is a biography of Schubert in which it is said that he looked rather like a negro. There is not a grain of truth in it. He actually had a pleasing, attractive face.” — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. I (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 7, GA 235.

For more on these matters, see "Races" and "Steiner's Racism".

[1] I.e., multiple races existed at the same time. (Since Steiner's time, the term "coexistence" has generally been taken to imply harmonious relations. But Steiner actually forecast violent clashes between races. [See, e.g., the entry for "Russian Age", below.])

[2] This is the gods' plan for human evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "divine cosmic plan".]

[2] This would have been a race that closely approximated "the pure, ideal human type." It would have been essentially European (white) and beautiful in the mold of ancient Greek statuary.

[3] I.e., the race that is particularly affected by the astrological or spiritual forces of Venus.

[4] I.e., where the native peoples and their cultures are senescent, nearing extinction. [For Steiner's general views on America, see "America".]

[5] Steiner taught that Africans are essentially childlike; they rely mainly on the "rear-brain" or "hindbrain" and lead impulsive lives; if they move from their proper place, they turn copper red and die out. Asians are essentially adolescent, Steiner said; they rely mainly on the "middlebrain" and lead emotional lives; if they move from their proper place, they turn brown and die out. White Europeans are mature adults, according to Steiner; they make good use of the "forebrain" and lead thinking lives.

races - see archangels; race; race soul; Race Spirits; racial missions; racism; root races; sub-races

race soul - also see Archangels; folk soul; nation spirits; race; racial missions; cf. race spirits

According to Steiner, each race has its own group soul. [1] This is a spiritual being, the spirit of that race. [See "Steiner's Racism" and "Embedded Racism".] “You know that what is called Folk-soul, Race-soul, has become a somewhat abstract idea today. Many think nowadays that the individual soul of man that dwells in his body is the actual reality. And if one speaks of German, French, Russian National-souls, people look on that as more or less an abstraction, as a comprehensive concept, embracing the characteristics which the individual members of these nations possess. To the occultist [2] this is not so at all. What one calls the Folk-soul, as the German, French, Russian Folk-soul, is to him an absolutely independent entity. [3] It is only that in our present Earth-existence the Folk soul is purely a spiritual being, perceptible only to one who can ascend to the astral plane [4]; there you could not deny it, for there it is present as an actual living being. You would encounter the Folk-soul there, as on the physical plane you encounter your friends. [paragraph break] On the Moon [5] it would have still less occurred to you to deny this Group-soul, for at that time it had a still more real existence. It was the Folk-soul, the Race-soul, which guided the bloodstream down into the bodies, into those beings which circled round the Moon. [6] It is the destiny of our age to deny the existence of such beings as possess an actual life on the astral plane, and are not perceptible here on the physical plane. And we are at the very height of this materialistic evolution which prefers to deny such beings as Folk-souls and Race-souls.” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), chapter 11, GA 99.

The group soul of each race, people, or nation — its "folk" soul — is a god who is the presiding essence of that group, Steiner taught. This spirit defines the mission or purpose of the group. “[Steiner] explained how each nation was guided from the spiritual worlds by a higher being of the rank of an archangel, who was indeed the folk spirit of that nation. Each nation thus had a mission to fulfill.” — S. Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: HERALD OF A NEW EPOCH (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 223.

[1] I.e., a soul shared by all members of a group such as a species, nation, race, or family. Steiner also used the terms "folk soul", "national soul," and "race soul."

[2] I.e., an individual who possesses secret spiritual knowledge. [See "Occultism".]

[3] I.e., the folk soul is a spiritual being, a god (generally, an Archangel or an abnormal god at the level of an Archangel — see "Embedded Racism").

[4] I.e., the soul world. [See "Higher Worlds".] The necessary power of perception is clairvoyance.

[5] I.e., during Old Moon — the previous major stage of evolution. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]

[6] I.e., racial folk souls directed the various types of blood into the forming bodies of the beings who would later incarnate as members of various races. (Steiner taught that different races have different kinds of blood — see "Blood".)

Race Spirits, Race-spirits - cf. race soul

These are gods, abnormal Spirits of Form [1], who cause the differences in human racial forms. Situated on various planets, they affect our blood, nervous systems, and glandular systems. [2] "[W]hen [man] looks up to what is centered in the several Planetary Spirits [3] (with the exception of the Sun and Moon), he sees that which makes him belong to a particular race ... Now how do these Race-spirits work in and upon man? [4] ... You know that what we call the four fundamental parts of man [5], are projected and imaged in certain parts of the physical body, so that we may say, the ‘I’ images itself in the blood; the astral body in the nervous system; the etheric or life-body in the glandular system, and only the physical body stands for itself, it is an image of its own being ... Those spiritual Beings, who there seethe and boil in man so that his racial character may come about, cannot at first work directly into his higher parts. They seethe first of all in these images of the higher parts in the physical body ... In these three systems, which belong to the physical body but are reflections of the higher members, the Race-spirits, the abnormal Spirits of Form." — R. Steiner,

THE MISSION OF THE FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121.

[1] Spirits of Form are gods four levels higher than human beings. "Abnormal" Spirits of Form are gods who should been promoted to the rank of Spirits of Motion, but they lagged behind in their evolutionary development,

[2] Steiner taught that various systems within the physical body are reflections or "images" of our invisible higher bodies. [For an overview of these bodies, see "Incarnation".] The blood system reflects the "I", the nervous system reflects the astral body, and the glandular system reflects the etheric body.

[3] I.e., planetary gods. Steiner subscribed to the ancient concept of seven “sacred” planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). There would then seem to be seven Race-spirits, but Steiner said no Race-spirits exist on the Sun or Moon. Thus, there are five Race-spirits corresponding to the five major races of mankind, according to Steiner.

[4] I.e., how do they exert their influence in the human organism?

[5] Steiner taught that we have four bodies, three of which are invisible. We have physical bodies, etheric bodies, astral bodies, and “I”s. These are the "four fundamental parts of man." [See “What We Are”.]

race war - also see race; race soul; races

Steiner taught that the transition from our present age, the Anglo-Germanic Age, to the next cultural epoch — the Russian Age — will be marked by a tremendous race war. “[T]hese things cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle. White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the [prior] period when the spirit was kept away from the body, when the spirit could only be sought outside of the physical human being. But the result will have to be that the transition from the fifth cultural epoch [1] to the sixth cultural epoch [2] cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas. And world history will consist of those events that will lead to these battles between white and colored mankind, until the great fight between white and colored mankind has been brought about. Future events are frequently reflected in previous events. You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science [3], we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.” — R. Steiner, KOMISCHE UND MENSCHLICHE GESCHICHTE - DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), GA 174b, p. 38. [4]

[1] I.e., the present. [See the entry for "Anglo-Germanic Age" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., the Russian Age. [See the entry, below, for "Russian Age".]

[3] As Steiner used this term, it applies principally to his own teachings, Anthroposophy.

[4] Like some other inflammatory statements by Steiner, this one is rarely translated into English.

racial missions - also see missions; national missions; race soul

According to Anthroposophy, races — like nations — have missions assigned to them by the gods. Specifically, the race soul of each race gives that race its mission. [1] Taking his lead from Theosophy, Steiner differentiated "root races" and "sub-races" [2] — the former are the overall racial forms intended for each great epoch of human evolution; the latter are subdivisions of these great races. Similarly, nations are subdivisions of sub-races. Here is Steiner discussing the mission of his own racial group: the fifth sub-race of the modern world, which includes the German and Anglo-Saxon nations. "The Germans and Anglo-Saxons — the fifth sub-race to which we ourselves belong — go very much further [3] in moulding the external world … The mission of this fifth sub-race is to study not only the laws which slumber within mankind, but those which permeate the whole world, and then to imprint them on the external world." — R. Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 97.

[1] See the entry, above, for "race soul."

[2] See the entries of these terms in this encyclopedia. There are seven sub-races in each root race; they correspond to the groupings usually designated by the term "races."

[3] I.e., further than other races or previous sub-races. Steiner says here that the mission of the fifth sub-race is to delve deeply into the nature of humanity ("the laws which slumber within mankind") and the nature of the world ("those [laws] which permeate the whole world"), and then to shape physical reality. In essence, he says that the august fifth sub-race extends both spiritual science and natural science, attaining great mastery in both.

racism in Anthroposophy - also see advanced races; degenerate races; evil races; exogamy; race; race soul

Many of Rudolf Steiner's teachings must strike most people today as racially insensitive and objectionable. [1] It would seem that Anthroposophists today should distance themselves from Steiner's teachings concerning race. But instead of renouncing those teachings, Anthroposophists generally defend them, claiming that Steiner was no racist. In part, this defense stems from the Anthroposophical belief that Steiner was a great spiritual master who could not be mistaken about any important subject [2]; and, in part, it apparently stems from a misunderstanding about the meaning of the word "racism." [3] Racists are often portrayed as fanatical bigots who are blinded by their hatred for other races. But racism need not entail hatred. The essence of racism is an idea, not an emotion: It is the idea that some races are superior to others. And this idea is distinctly present in Steiner's teachings. Thus, for instance: “A race or nation stands so much the higher, the more perfectly its members express the pure, ideal human type.” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1944), p. 149. [4]

Racism persists in Anthroposophy precisely to the degree that Anthroposophists fail to extirpate it. It may go largely unspoken, and it may not manifest in racial hatred, but it remains embedded in core Anthroposophical teachings. [5] Whether racism surfaces in Waldorf schools depends largely on the specific choices made by the teachers at those schools. In general, overt displays of racism are unlikely, and students of all races may be treated well. (Those teachers who accept Anthroposophical doctrines will deem nonwhite students to stand at a lower evolutionary level than white students, but they may treat the nonwhites students considerately, hoping to help them incarnate in higher racial forms in future lives. Steiner taught that the "evolution of man through the incarnations in ever higher national and racial forms is...a process of liberation [leading to] an ideal future.” [6])

Steiner was influenced by the cultural norms of his time and place, and to some degree he must be forgiven for expressing views that are considered abhorrent today. But anyone who today wishes to affirm Steiner and his works needs to clarify whether that affirmation extends to Steiner's teachings about race. (Bowing to the cultural norms of a time and place has led at least a few Anthroposophists to embrace views that today seem even worse than Steiner's. Some evidently became entangled in fascism, at least in part because they found fascist racial views congruent with their own. [7])

[1] See "Steiner's Racism" and "Races".

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

[3] Here is one authoritative definition: "Racism, also called racialism[:] any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview — the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called 'races,' that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some races are innately superior to others." — ENECYLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, downloaded 12/13/15. Note that racism is defined in terms of beliefs, worldview, ideas, ideology, not emotions. Specifically, it represents the idea "that some races are innately superior to others."

[4] See the entry for "race", above.

[5] See "Embedded Racism".

[6] See "White Guys".

[7] See "Sympathizers?"

Radiating Flames - see also see Radiating Lives; Thrones

Various beings have been humanity's guides and creators, according to Steiner. [See, e.g., the entry for Pitris in this encyclopedia.] Extremely high gods, the Radiating Flames, were the "fathers" who shaped us as we were during Old Saturn. [1] They stand seven levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".] "When the Saturn development [2] began, the most sublime of [spiritual] beings [3] already had attained a level of consciousness which man will reach only after his Vulcan life [4], that is, a high creative (supra-spiritual) consciousness. These 'creators,' too, once had to pass through the stages of man. [5] This took place on heavenly bodies which preceded Saturn [6] ... Because of their sublime, delicate body of rays, in mystery science [7] they are called 'Radiating Lives' or 'Radiating Flames' ... These spirits are the creators of the man of Saturn. [8]" — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.


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

[1] I.e., the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn" and the entry for "incarnations of the solar system" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., during Old Saturn.

[3] I.e., gods. (Steiner taught that gods, like humans, evolve.)

[4] I.e., after Future Vulcan, the seventh incarnation of the solar system. [See "Future Stages".] The story of cosmic evolution, the central narrative of Anthroposophy, deals fundamentally with evolution to higher and higher states of consciousness. During Old Saturn, the gods called Radiating Flames had already evolved to a state of consciousness we will not attain until after Future Vulcan.

[5] I.e., they were once human. [See the entry for "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] I.e., during phases of evolution before Old Saturn. (Neither we nor our solar system existed then.)

[7] I.e., occult science — knowledge of spiritual mysteries. [See "Everything" and "Altogether".]

[8] I.e., they created us as we were during Old Saturn. (We were not yet human then.)

Radiating Lives - also see Radiating Flames; Spirits of Will; Thrones

According to Steiner: gods seven levels above man — also called Radiating Flames (see above) and/or Spirits of Will. [1] "Those spirits which are called 'Radiating Lives' or 'Flames' (in Christian esoteric science, 'Thrones')...performed their labor [contributing to man's development] during the first half of the first Saturn cycle. [2]" — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 15, GA 11.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] I.e., during the earliest phase of Old Saturn. Each major stage of evolution consists of numerous smaller stages, according to Steiner, drawing from Theosophy. [See "Basics".] Here Steiner says that Radiating Lives made their contribution to our development extremely early in the history of Old Saturn — during the first half of the first phase or "cycle" of Old Saturn.

radical subjectivity - also see Anthroposophy; Goethean "science"; emotion; feelings; spiritual science; thinking

The inward focus, blotting out objective reality and rationality, promoted by Anthroposophy and Waldorf schools. [See "Criticism".]

Ragnarök - also see Götterdämerung; Norse myths; Twilight of the Gods; War of All Against All

In Norse myths, this is the epic final battle between the gods and giants, in which all perish, the world ends, and a new world becomes possible. [See "The Gods".] Norse myths, which are central to much of Waldorf schooling, are immensely violent. Much of this violence is paralleled in Anthroposophical belief, in which epochs tend to end in violent cataclysms. Thus, our current "great epoch" will end in a form of Ragnarök: the War of All Against All. “The downfall of our present epoch will be caused by lack of morality. The Lemurian epoch [1] was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water [2]; our epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. [3] Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife. And the terrible thing — more desperately tragic than other catastrophes — will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves. [4] [paragraph break] A tiny handful of men will make good and thus insure their survival in the sixth epoch of civilisation. [5] This tiny handful will have attained selflessness. The others will develop every imaginable skill and subtlety in the manipulation and use of the physical forces of nature, but without the essential degree of selflessness. [paragraph break] In the seventh epoch of civilisation [6], this War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form. Great and mighty forces will be let loose by the discoveries [7], turning the whole earth-globe into a kind electric mass. In a way that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved.” — R. Steiner, “The Work of Secret Societies in the World” (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), a lecture, GA 93. [See "All v. All".]

Steiner taught that Ragnarök, as depicted in Norse myths, is a vision of a real event lying in humanity's future. "The Initiates [8] had taught Nordic man that a change was taking place in the spiritual world ... [T]he Initiates described [this] to him as a vision of the future — the Vision that will one day appear to man when he is able to see into the spiritual world again [9], when he will see what has been the destiny of the old Gods and what was their relation to other powers. They described to him this vision of the future as seen by the Initiates when the Luciferic influence [10] will to some extent override that which comes from the Gods and will, in its turn, be overcome. This was their vision of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods. And again we shall see that all the events which were portrayed as future events could not, even down to the smallest details, be portrayed better or more aptly, nor in more fitting terminology than in the wonderful picture of the Twilight of the Gods. [11] That is the occult background to the Saga of the Twilight of the Gods." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 9, GA 121.


Ragnarök, the final conflict.

[F. W. Heine illustration; color added.]

[1] I.e., the third great epoch in our current cycle of evolutionary stages. At that time, Steiner taught, we lived on the continent of Lemuria. [See "Lemuria."]

[2] I.e., the fourth great epoch, when — according to Steiner — we lived on the continent of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis."]

[3] See "All vs. All". (Steiner's followers sometimes say that evil does not exist in Steiner's teachings. But clearly this is not correct.)

[4] Steiner also ascribed the destruction of both Lemuria and Atlantis to human actions; human wickedness produced the fires and storms that destroyed those continents. [See the entries for "Lemuria" and "Atlantis" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] Steiner taught that we currently live in the Post-Atlantean Epoch (that is, the great epoch following the destruction of Atlantis). Within this great epoch, we are evolving through a series of shorter "cultural epochs" of "ages." We are currently in the fifth such age, the Anglo-Germanic Age. The sixth such age will be the Russian Age, and the seventh will be the American Age. The American Age will lead to the War of All Against All. [See the entries for these various terms in this encyclopedia.] The "tiny handful" of good souls who will evolve higher are, implicitly, Anthroposophists.

[6] I.e., the seventh cultural epoch of our great epoch, the American Age.

[7] I.e., the discoveries of science and technology, "the manipulation and use of the physical forces of nature."

[8] I.e., spiritual sages possessing occult knowledge.

[9] Steiner taught that ancient peoples had natural powers of clairvoyance, which have since been lost. But he said humanity will attain greater clairvoyant powers in the future (and he claimed to both possess such powers and to be able to teach his followers to attain them in the present).

[10] I.e., the power of Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

[11] Steiner taught, and his followers generally believe, that Norse myths overall provide an accurate account of cosmic evolution.

rainbow - also see Atlantis; Noah

In the Bible, the rainbow is the sign of God's covenant with Noah following the Flood. [1] In Anthroposophical belief, the Flood caused the destruction of Atlantis, after which rainbows became possible for the first time. "Before the Flood, the atmosphere of the earth was apparently so dense that a phenomenon like the rainbow could not occur ... The period before the Flood is dealt with extensively by Rudolf Steiner in his accounts of Atlantis. Due to their natural clairvoyance [2], the Atlanteans had no difficulty in finding their way through the misty atmosphere ... After the Flood, humankind slowly adapted to the new environment [3] and...thought of the rainbow as a bridge to the spiritual world. [4]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 98.

[1] Genesis 9:11-13: "And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth./ And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:/ I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."

[2] Anthroposophists believe that ancient peoples had innate clairvoyant powers that have since been lost. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".]

[3] I.e., the newly thinned atmosphere in which rainbows became possible.

[4] In Norse myths, which are prominent in Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, the land of the gods (Asgard) is connected to the land of men (Mithgard) by a "rainbow bridge." [See "The Gods".]

Raphael - also see Archangels; Mercury

According to Steiner, Raphael is the Archangel of Mercury. [1] In accordance with the regular cycle of Archangelic reigns, Raphael presided over human evolution most recently ca. 817-1171 C.E. [2] Holding his staff of Mercury (resembling a fiery serpent), Raphael transmutes the elements to elicit their healing properties, aiding us to see how Ahriman and Lucifer [3] lead us into illness. [4]

According to Steiner, there are a great many Archangels — enough to preside over all human groupings such as families, nations, and races. [5] But small subsets of Archangels play particular roles in earthly affairs. Raphael is a member of at least two of these subsets. Thus, as one of the four archangels who oversee the seasons of the year, Raphael has particular influence in spring. [6] Also, seven Archangels operate, on a rotating basis, to oversee 350-year-old phases of human history; as indicated above, Raphael is one of these. "Of the many archangels, Rudolf Steiner mentions seven in particular who alternate as serving Epoch Spirits. [7] These seven archangels are: Oriphiel (200 BC - 150 AD), Anael (150-500), Zachariel (500-850), Raphael (850-1190), Samael (1190-1510), Gabriel (1510-1879), Michael (1879-2300). This sequence should be understood as a repeating cycle". — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 9.

[1] Steiner taught that Archangels (Spirits of Fire) are gods two levels higher than humanity.; they stand between Angels (Sons of Twilight) and Archai (Spirits of Personality). [See "Polytheism".]

[2] Such dates are approximate, Some Anthroposophical texts date Raphael's last reign 850-1190 CE.

[3] These are the two chief demons of Anthroposophical belief. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".]

[4] For an overview of Anthroposophical medicine, see "Steiner's Quackery".

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

[6] See Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE ARCHANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008).

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

rationalism - also see brain; critical thought; materialism (materialistic thinking); philosophy; thinking; world conceptions

a) Reliance on reason in the search for truth.

b) According to Steiner, one of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions. “[Someone] might say to himself: 'It cannot be a superstition that the colour blue has so and so many vibrations. The world is ordered mathematically. If mathematical ideas are found to be real in the world, why should not other ideas have equal reality?' Such a person accepts this — that ideas are active in the world. But he grants validity only to those ideas that he discovers outside himself — not to any ideas that he might grasp from his inner self by some sort of intuition or inspiration, but only to those he reads from external things that are real to the senses. Such a person becomes a Rationalist, and his outlook on the world is that of Rationalism." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 33. Steiner associated rationalism with Taurus. [See “Philosophy”.]

In Waldorf education, rationalism or critical thinking is usually discouraged. "A youth whose childhood has been touched by the blight of 'critical thinking' [1] will come to the moment of independent insight badly crippled ... Because skepticism has long since robbed him of part of his heart, he will now feel unable to embrace enthusiastically what he has come to understand." — J. F. Gardner, THE EXPERIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE (Waldorf Press, 1975), pp. 127-128.

[1] See, e.g., "Criticism"; also see "Thinking".

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "feeling", "emotion", and "heart". Steiner taught that truth is found more through subjective feeling than through rational thought.

rational soul - see intellectual soul; mind soul

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

An Anthroposophical leader who conducts meetings of the First Class [1] in the School of Spiritual Science [2] at the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. [3] S/he reads Steiner lectures aloud to the class, generally the lectures Steiner gave to the original members of the First Class. [See, e.g., "Waldorf Now".]

[1] A group comprised of initiates within the School of Spiritual Science. Steiner intended to create a Second Class and a Third Class also, but he died before he could complete this plan.

[2] A school within the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum, devoted to Steiner's doctrines and to clairvoyant spiritual research.

[3] See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

reading - also see etheric body; lesson books; libraries; seven-year stages of growth; teeth; textbooks

Waldorf schools typically do not want children to begin reading before age seven, or until the etheric body has incarnated. [1] The replacement of baby teeth by adult teeth is taken as an indicator that the incarnation has occurred. [2] Premature development of intellectual capacities is thought to be spiritually damaging. [3] Other academic skills may be downplayed for the same reason, especially during the first seven years of a child's life. Thus Waldorf students are generally denied the benefits of early-childhood education. [4] If a child attends a Waldorf school for the first few grades and then transfers to a different school, s/he will almost certainly be far below grade level in most subjects and skills. [See "Incarnation" and "Academic Standards at Waldorf".]

Steiner indicated that children should, as much as possible, emulate spiritual beings (gods), who do not read or write. Children may be damaged by an intellectual approach to literacy and knowledge, Steiner said. "Spirits do not write, nor do they read. They do not read in books nor write with a pen … We do something good for the child only when we do not teach...reading and writing intellectually, but instead implant reading and writing into the child through the chest and limbs [5] … When children begin elementary school, we can use what they have already awakened in their head-spirit to teach reading and writing in the conventional way. But, then we begin to damage this head-spirit [6] through our influence. For this reason, I have said that, to be good, the instruction of reading and writing must be based in art … [We] torture the head aspect…if we simply teach reading and writing in the intellectual, conventional way. [7]" — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 178-179.

Steiner taught that real knowledge and real thinking are not intellectual or based in the brain. ◊ “[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition.” — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 60. ◊ "[O]ne can think with one's fingers and toes much more brightly, once one makes the effort, than with the nerves of the head" — R. Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 126. Thus, approaching reading and writing "through the chest and limbs" is, in Anthroposophy, a meaningful concept. (Outside Anthroposophy, it may seem to be nonsense.) Certainly, Steiner taught, reading should not be used to expand a child's intellectual horizons. "[T]he children should read as little as possible about things they do not understand very well." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 63. Consistent with the objective of keeping children's mental horizons small, Waldorf schools often have small libraries. Classrooms may, likewise, hold few books, and both teachers and students may make only minimal use of any printed matter, including textbooks. [8]

[1] The etheric body is the first of three invisible bodies that, Anthroposophists believe, incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See "Incarnation".]

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

[3] Waldorf schools endeavor to prolong the first stages of childhood as long as possible, in order to preserve the children's subconscious ties to the spirit realm. [See "Thinking Cap".]

[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "early-childhood education".

[5] I.e., through physical action, especially artistic activities such as singing, painting, and drawing.

[6] I.e., the spiritual essence of the head. All parts of the body, Steiner taught, have spiritual archetypes or essences.

[7] Steiner generally indicated that an intellectual approach to anything can be damaging. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific".]

[8] Instead, Waldorf students make "class books" or "lesson books" that essentially contain information (limited and perhaps tendentious) received from their teachers. [See "Lesson Books".]

realism - also see philosophy; science; world conceptions

a) The philosophical doctrine that abstract concepts have objective or real existence.

b) In art and literature, a movement stressing objective portrayal of familiar things.

c) According to Steiner, one of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions; the recognition of the material plane of existence without reference to a spiritual realm. "There can also be persons who say...'I recognize the external world; that is something I see and can think about. I have no particular reason for supposing that it is or is not spiritual at root. I restrict myself to what I see around me' ... [W]e can call such Realists, and their concept of the universe: Realism." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 31. Steiner associated realism with Libra. [See “Philosophy”.]

reality - also see brain; clairvoyance; dreams; imagination; intuition; inspiration; thinking; truth; wisdom; cf. fantasy; maya; veil

What actually exists. Perhaps the crucial issue in assessing Anthroposophy concerns the nature of reality and our ability to ascertain it. Is reality accessible through our senses and brains, or through clairvoyance, dreams, and intuition? Anthroposophy and the Waldorf movement depend fundamentally on the latter approach. The resulting worldview is often considered attractive, but arguably it consists of little but fantasy. Steiner and his followers generally reject the findings of modern science and scholarship, preferring their "clairvoyant" insights — a dubious approach that may amount to the rejection of real knowledge. [See "Reality and Fantasy" and "Clairvoyance".]

Realms of Spirit - also see epochs; cultural epochs; Regions of Soul; Seventh Epoch (Trumpets); cf. higher worlds

In Anthroposophical doctrine: the seven stages or periods during the seventh great epoch, analogous to cultural epochs in the fifth great epoch. [1] The trumpets of doom foretold in the Book of Revelation — the last book of the New Testament — will sound as the Seventh Epoch unfolds through the seven successive Realms of Spirit. The Realms are Continental, Oceanic, Atmospheric, Heat Death, First Woe, Second Woe, and Third Woe, in that order. The first six are associated with Taurus, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Sagittarius, in that order. [2]

Having evolved through seven progressive levels of mentality in the Post-Atlantean Epoch [3], and then through the seven stages of soul evolution during the Sixth Epoch [4], mankind will enter an epoch of spirit evolution: the Seventh Epoch. [5] The Realms of Spirit are difficult to describe; they are wrapped up in Steiner's interpretation of the Book of Revelation. [6] Mankind will be scourged, progressing through trials that will lead to spiritual elevation. Beginning in a more or less recognizable solid condition ("Continental"), humans will evolve to spiritual conditions corresponding to liquid ("Oceanic"), then ethereal ("Atmospheric"), and then thermal ("Heat Death"). Having "died," the evolving humans will then undergo three successive "woes" that will serve as necessary correctives, allowing for further spiritual improvement.

The stages of tribulation and elevation during the Realms of Spirit will be denoted by the sounding of seven trumpets. Evolution will be, as always, a struggle between good and evil. For instance, "[The] sixth trumpet sounds the experience of the '66', when those who still exercise a high degree of evil, hardened in matter and unfit for the astral earth, have to form a material sphere which now separates from the astralizing etheric earth as a slag, but it is not yet ejected." [7]

Note that although the Book of Revelation tells of a future time often referred to as the End of Days, in Steiner's schema reaching the end of the Seventh Epoch will by no means be the end of humanity's evolution. A very long evolutionary road will still lie ahead, leading to Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan, and beyond. [8]


During the seventh great epoch, when the trumpets of doom will sound, mankind will pass through these seven phases, according to Anthroposophical belief. Mankind will undergo tribulations in order to be cleansed. Having passed through mental and soul evolution in the fifth and sixth great epochs, we will undergo spirit evolution during the seventh great epoch. [9] The Realms of Spirit stand in the same relation to the seventh great epoch as cultural epochs or ages stand in relation to the fifth great epoch.

[1] The great epochs are the major evolutionary periods of our life on Earth during our current cycle of evolutionary stages. Each great epoch consists of seven shorter periods. During the fifth great epoch — the Post-Atlantean Epoch — these shorter cycles are called cultural epochs or ages. [See the entries for "epochs", "great epochs", and "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Astrology is important throughout Anthroposophy and the Waldorf movement. [See "Astrology", "Star Power", and "Waldorf Astrology".]

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch". Essentially, during the Post-Atlantean epoch, mankind evolves through all the mental conditions represented by Earthly civilizations, from the first to the seventh. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "cultural epochs".] In the sixth great epoch, mankind evolves through seven stages of soul development. In the seventh great epoch, mankind evolves through seven stages of spirit development.

[4] See "Sixth Epoch".

[5] According to Steiner, we have both souls and spirits. Souls are temporary incorporeal members, existing during just one incarnation. Spirits are undying incorporeal members, which we carry through all our incarnations. Spirits are thus higher than souls. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "soul" and "spirit".]

[6] See R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993). For a primer, see R. Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), Chapter 6, "The Seventh Epoch (Trumpets)".

[7] Seddon, p. 89.

[8] See "Future Stages" and "Matters of Form".

[9] For more on the seventh great epoch, see "Lucky Seventh".

recapitulation - also see evolution; rhythm; spiral

a) Summary, restatement, or repetition. In biology, the term "recapitulation" is applied to the concept that growing life forms repeat earlier evolutionary stages of development.

b) In Theosophical and Anthroposophical doctrine, evolution occurs in spirals: As we move forward, we continually recapitulate previous stages in new forms. Thus, Steiner's works contain many statements such as this: “During the recapitulation of the Saturn embodiment [1], Uranus, Vulcan and Saturn separated from the earth. [2] During the recapitulation of the Sun embodiment [3], Jupiter and Mars separated.” — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN ESOTERICISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 7, GA 109. [See, e.g., "Vulcan".]

Steiner taught that we have evolved through the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods or "planetary conditions": Old Saturn, Old Sun, and Old Moon. [4] Each period recapitulates what came before, although at a higher level. ◊ "[T]he Earth [as we know it] appears as a re-embodiment of [an] earlier planetary condition, although by virtue of the spiritualized condition it has meanwhile undergone [5], this recapitulation represents a higher stage than that of the former embodiment ... [M]an is thus lifted a stage higher in his development." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 2, GA 13. ◊ "Man attains [a] higher state of consciousness [at each stage] ... But this cannot take place until the [previous] conditions have been recapitulated. Such recapitulation has a quite definite meaning. When the interval of rest is over, what was previously Saturn emerges from the 'cosmic sleep' as a new world-entity — as Sun. [6]" — Ibid., chapter 4, part 4. ◊ "[N]ow, at the beginning of Moon evolution, another repetition of the Saturn events takes place [7] ... The physical life of man passes in recapitulation through the stages of Saturn evolution, but under altogether changed conditions. [8]" — Ibid., chapter 4, part 5. Humanity as a whole recapitulates prior stages of our common development, and so do individual humans. ◊ “[I]ndividual evolution...tends to recapitulate general human evolution....” — R. Steiner, THE GENIUS OF LANGUAGE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 105.

c) Steiner taught that growing children recapitulate the evolutionary cultural, racial, and historical stages of mankind as a whole. The Waldorf curriculum is intended to present each subject at the "proper" stage of childhood development. Thus, for instance, Waldorf fifth graders often study ancient Greek myths, since fifth graders are thought to be recapitulating the evolutionary experience of the ancient Greeks. Likewise, astronomy classes for sixth graders are often limited to the astronomical knowledge available to the ancient Romans, since sixth graders are thought to stand at the evolutionary level of the ancient Romans. [See "Oh My Stars".]

At a higher level, the Waldorf curriculum is intended to reflect the overall spiritual-evolutionary history of humanity. Childhood consists of three major phases, Steiner taught; each phase lasts seven years [9], and each recapitulates one of the planetary conditions of cosmic evolution. The child progresses through recapitulations of the planetary conditions, which occur in their proper sequence. “If you recall the teachings of Spiritual Science on the subject of the education of the child you will know that in the first seven-year period of develops principally the physical body ... [T]his is really a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Saturn ... The second of the seven-year a recapitulation of what man underwent on Old Sun ... The third seven-year period...recapitulates the development of the astral body that normally belongs to the Old Moon epoch.” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 68. [10] Waldorf education is thus keyed to these occult evolutionary teachings; if these teachings are baseless, the rationale for Waldorf education is undermined.

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

[2] Steiner taught that the early solar system was essentially a single unified mass; all of the planets were combined as a single unit. Later, one by one, the planets separated — which Steiner usually described as leaving or parting from the Earth. (Note that here Steiner seems to accept Uranus as a member of the solar system. In other statements, he denied that Uranus and Neptune are true members of the solar system. The outermost planet he usually recognized is Saturn. It is also worth noting that here Steiner seems to accept Vulcan as a real planet.)

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

[4] Each "planetary condition" is the incarnation of the entire solar system in a new form. We rise to a new level of consciousness during each new planetary condition; hence, these stages are also referred to as conditions of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[5] Steiner taught that between incarnations, the solar system — including the Earth — takes up temporary existence in the spirit realm. The entire solar system reincarnates much as individual humans do, dwelling alternately in the physical and spiritual realms.

[6] I.e., after incarnating as Old Saturn, the solar system reincarnated as Old Sun. It later repeated this process, reincarnating in further, more advanced forms. (During each reincarnation, the solar system first recapitulates previous incarnations before progressing to higher states. Along the way, periodically, the entire process pauses; there are rest periods called "pralayas".)

[7] I.e., at the beginning of Old Moon, the solar system again recapitulated Old Saturn, much as it had done during Old Sun. (During Old Sun, the solar system recapitulated Old Saturn; during Old Moon, it recapitulated first Old Saturn and then Old Moon. This process continues, so that in each successive incarnation the solar system recapitulates a growing number of previous incarnations.)

[8] I.e., as the solar system evolves, so does man, passing through the same recapitulations along the way.

[9] See "Most Significant".

[10] For more on the planetary conditions, see "Matters of Form".

redemption - also see divine cosmic plan; evolution; salvation; cf. Great Sin; irreclaimable moon; perdition

Compensation, atonement, or salvation. In Anthroposophy, redemption is evolution to a highly spiritualized state — we are redeemed by being changed wholly to become highly evolved spirits. "At the beginning of to-day's considerations, I said, with regard to the consciousness that is filled to-day with intellectualism, that humanity has slipped entirely into the consequences of the Fall. [1] If this persists, humanity will be unable to raise itself. This means that it will not reach the goal of the evolution of the Earth. [2] Modern science makes it impossible to reach the goal of the evolution of the Earth. [3] Nevertheless, the depths of the human soul are still untouched: If man appeals to these soul-depths and develops super-sensible knowledge [4] in the spirit of the Christ-impulse [5] he will attain redemption once more, even in the intellectual sphere redemption from the intellectual forces, that have fallen — if I may express it in this way — into sin." — R. Steiner, "Man's Fall and Redemption", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET (1932, No. 20; General Anthroposophical Society), GA 220.

How many will be redeemed, according to Anthroposophical belief, is moot. [6] Anthroposophists often claim that Steiner's vision foresees the redemption or evolutionary ascendance of all. However, Steiner often indicated that the future is not assured, and redemption may not be attained. In the passage we have just seen, he indicates that "humanity...[may] not attain the goal."

[1] I.e., man's descent into a state of sin. Stieiner viewed intellect askance, associating it in its modern form with the demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman", "Thinking", and "Steiner's Specific".]

[2] I.e., we will not fulfill the divine cosmic plan for our evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "divine cosmic plan".]

[3] Steiner sometimes claimed that science would eventually confirm his teachings, and he referred to Anthroposophy as spiritual science. However, more often, he ridiculed and disparaged science (along with its reliance on intellect). [See "Science" and "Steiner's 'Science'".]

[4] I.e., clairvoyant awareness.

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

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

Regions of Soul - also see epochs; cultural epochs; Realms of Spirit; Sixth Epoch (Seals)

In Anthroposophical doctrine: seven stages or periods during the coming sixth great epoch, analogous to cultural epochs in ours, the fifth great epoch. [1] The mystic seals foretold in the Book of Revelation — the last book of the New Testament — will be opened as the Sixth Epoch unfolds through the seven successive Regions of Soul. The Regions are Sense-Free Thinking, Moral Feeling, Sacrificial Will, End of Karma, Purification, Sealing of the Ordeal, and Silence, in that order. They are associated with Sagittarius, Scorpio, Libra, Virgo, Leo, Cancer, and Gemini, in that order. [2]

Having evolved through seven progressive levels of mentality in the Post-Atlantean Epoch [3], mankind will enter an epoch of soul evolution. (In Anthroposophical teachings, soul stands higher than mind, and spirit stands higher than soul.) The Regions of Soul are difficult to describe; they are wrapped up in Steiner's interpretation of the Book of Revelation. [4] A procession will occur that reflects, but does not preempt, the progress souls must make during all stages of further evolution. We learn to think without reliance on our ordinary (and benighted) senses, we develop our moral understanding (as unreflective feeling), we attain to self-sacrificing will, we free ourselves of karma [5], we purify ourselves, we complete our current spiritual ordeal (with others to come), and we enter wise holy silence (maintaining occult secrets).

Our progress during the Sixth Epoch will occur, effectively, through a series of unsealings (as the foretold seals are, in spirit, opened). Thus, for instance, "The fourth level of kamaloca [6] now unsealed is the illusion of selfhood based on strength of feeling, on likes and dislikes — the very stuff of karmic relationships. Karma is finally balanced in the good stream, for whom work that has been in progress ever since Lemuria [7] is brought to a certain conclusion: Karma comes to an end. [sic]" [8]

Note that although the Book of Revelation tells of a future time often referred to as the End of Days, in Steiner's schema reaching the end of the Sixth Epoch will by no means be the end of humanity's evolution. A very long evolutionary road will still lie ahead, leading first to the Seventh Epoch, and much later to Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan, and beyond. [9]


During the sixth great epoch, when the seals foretold in the Book of Revelation will be opened, mankind will pass through these seven phases, according to Anthroposophical belief. The regions of soul stand in the same relation to the sixth great epoch as cultural epochs or ages stand in relation to the fifth great epoch. [10] As in all the other great epochs, during the sixth great epoch mankind will evolve toward higher and purer consciousness and existence.

[1] The great epochs are the major evolutionary periods of our life on Earth during our current cycle of evolutionary stages. Each great epoch consists of seven shorter periods. During the fifth great epoch — the Post-Atlantean Epoch — these shorter cycles are call cultural epochs or ages. [See the entries for "epochs", "great epochs", and "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Astrology is important throughout Anthroposophy and the Waldorf movement. [See "Astrology", "Star Power", and "Waldorf Astrology".]

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch". Essentially, during the Post-Atlantean epoch, mankind evolves through all the mental conditions represented by Earthly civilizations, from the first to the seventh. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "cultural epochs".] Now, in the sixth great epoch, mankind evolves through seven stages of soul development. (In the seventh great epoch, we will progress to spirit evolution.)

[4] See R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993). For a primer, see R. Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), Chapter 5, "The Sixth Epoch (Seals)".

[5] Karma is a crucial element in Anthroposophical teachings. [See "Karma".]

[6] This is, in effect, purgatory. [See "Kamaloka",]

[7] This was the continent on which we lived before Atlantis. [See "Lemuria".]

[8] Seddon, p. 76.

[9] See "Lucky Seventh", "Future Stages" and "Matters of Form".

[10] For more on the sixth great epoch, see "Sixth Epoch".

reincarnation - also see birth; evolution; incarnation; karma; life after death and before birth

The soul's return to a new life on Earth in a different body; usually associated with karma. Primarily a belief found in Eastern religions, the doctrine of reincarnation was woven by Steiner into his pagan/Christian belief system. [See "Karma".] Steiner taught that reincarnation is actually a process of alternating existences in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm. We live most of the time in the spirit realm, incarnating in physical form only occasionally. Yet this process is of the greatest importance, he said.

◊ "Among the subjects we have been studying in our lectures there are many that might be considered less distinctive from the point of view of something entirely new being presented to modern humanity. Nevertheless they are fundamental truths which do indeed penetrate into humanity as something new. We need not look very far to find this new element. It lies in the two truths which really belong to the most fundamental of all and bring increasing conviction to the human soul: these are the two truths of reincarnation and karma. [1] It may be said that the first thing a really serious anthroposophist discovers along his path is that knowledge of reincarnation and karma is essential ... Even when we are speaking of what is absolutely fundamental in evolution, for example, the subject of Christ [2]...the essential point is the form which the subject of Christ assumes when reincarnation and karma are received as truths into the hearts of men. The light thrown upon the subject of Christ by the truths of reincarnation and karma — that is the essential point. [3]" — R. Steiner, REINCARNATION AND KARMA (Steiner Book Centre, 1977), lecture 5, GA 135.

◊ "[M]en [i.e., humans] spend only a relatively small part of their total existence clothed in their earthly sheaths [4]. They continue to have different experiences in the spiritual worlds between death and rebirth [5] ... The human beings who pass through the gates of death and birth undergo certain experiences of which they are naturally totally unconscious, but which nevertheless influence their subsequent lives, and especially their soul configurations [6]. In the nearly two thousand years since the Mystery of Golgotha [7] few men have not been incarnated at least twice [8], but such spiritual advancement as most of us have made has been exceedingly slow, as has the spiritual evolution of mankind as a whole." — S. C. Easton, MAND AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 86-87.

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

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

[3] Reconciling the doctrine of reincarnation with mainstream Christian teachings is nearly impossible. Steiner's teachings are essentially heretical, from the perspective of the major Christian denominations. [See, e.g., "Gnosis", "Rosy Cross", "Pagan", and "Was He Christian?"]

[4] I.e., inhabiting physical bodies on the physical plane of existence.

[5] While living in the spirit realm, we are under the direct tutelage of the gods. These periods are generally of greater importance to our development than the brief periods we exist in physical bodies, relatively removed from the gods's direct involvement.

[6] The purpose of reincarnation, Steiner taught, is to enable us to evolve: If we proceed properly, we develop higher and higher spiritual consciousness — reflected in higher and higher forms of soul — during our successive lives.

[7] I.e., the Crucifixion of Christ or, more generally, Christ's earthly ministry brought to its conclusion at the Crucifixion: the moment that became the Turning Point of Time, when human evolution entered a new, upward trajectory.

[8] Generally, Anthroposophists believe, we reincarnate on the physical plane once during each astrological age or great year (the period when one sign of the zodiac is paramount) — about once every 2,160 earthly years. Specific circumstances (including one's self-created karma) may alter this schedule, however.

religion - also see Advent; Anthroposophy; BHAGAVAD GITA; THE BIBLE; Buddhism; Christ; Christian Community; Christian-Gnostic way; Christianity; Christmas; Easter; esoteric; festivals; gnosticism; God; gods; higher worlds; Hinduism; Jehovah; Judaism; Michaelmas; monotheism; Mystery of Golgotha; mystery streams; occult; Old Testament; polytheism; prayers; reverence; Theosophy; VEDA(S); worship in Waldorf schools; Zoroastrianism

Religion may be generally defined as belief in spiritual powers, gods, or a God who should be revered, honored, obeyed, and/or served. Steiner denied that Anthroposophy is a religion, calling it a science instead, yet it exhibits most of the usual markers of religion: prayers, meditations, observances, ethical precepts, guidance toward salvation, threats of spiritual punishment, etc. There can be little doubt that Anthroposophy is, in fact, a religion. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

Steiner said that religion must be taught in Waldorf schools, and this guidance is still generally followed today. The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America has said: “Waldorf schools are nonsectarian and non-denominational ... The pedagogical method is comprehensive, and, as part of its task, seeks to bring about recognition and understanding of all the world cultures and religions.” Providing "understanding" of "all" world religions takes up a significant portion of the Waldorf curriculum.

The study of religion in Waldorf schools is not merely academic. The schools are essentially religious institutions, seeing religion as essential to human life. “Without religion no person is whole ... To deprive children of religious instruction is to only half-educate them.” — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION (Hawthorn Press, 1993), p. 136. Waldorf schools attempt to infuse religion into all the subjects students study. "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." — R. Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94. The religion promoted in Waldorf schools is Anthroposophy. "[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706. [See "Schools as Churches".]

Steiner described the religious nature of Waldorf education in various ways ◊ “I want you to understand what is religious in an anthroposophical sense ... [R]eligion connected with a specific church is not actually religious... [1] Religious instruction for children...must invoke the feelings ... A religious mood is the goal.” — R. Steiner, in RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION, pp. 136-137. ◊ "In our teaching and educating we should really become priests ... We have been placed next to children [by the gods] in order that spirit properly germinates, grows, and bears fruit. This attitude of reverence must underlie every [instructional] method." — R. Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 225-226. ◊ "Our form of educating can have the correct attitude only when we are aware that our work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings [2] have done before birth." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37.

[1] Anthroposophy itself provides "what is religious."

[2] I.e., the gods. The religion underlying Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]

religious education in Waldorf schools - see religion

remote viewing - see clairvoyance

Representative of Humanity, The - also see Christ; The Group; Prototype; Sun God

One of the names used for a monumental statue of Christ [1] standing between Ahriman and Lucifer [2]; the name applies specifically to Christ, who mediates between the demonic figures. Steiner taught that Christ is mankind's ideal model or prototype; in this sense, he represents us. [3]

The statue is attributed to Steiner although most of the sculpting was done by Edith Maryon. Situated in the Goetheanum [4], the statue is also referred to as The Group.


The Representative of Humanity: Christ stands with arm upraised. Beneath him and to his right are images of Ahriman. Above Christ's right shoulder and behind his raised arm are images of Lucifer. (One is hard to discern — around the corner, inverted, Lucifer is plunging out of the spirit realm.) A "rock being" looks down from the upper left corner. [5] [R. R. sketch, 2009.]

[1] See "Sun God" and the entry for "Christ" in this encyclopedia.

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

[3] See "Prototype".

[4] This is the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[5] See the entry for "rock being", below.

Research Institute for Waldorf Education

An Anthroposophical enterprise that seeks to promote and enhance Waldorf education while forging links with mainstream educators; headquartered in Wilton, New Hampshire, USA.

responsive soul - see sentient soul

Resurrection, The - also see Christ; Christ Impulse; Easter; Mystery of Golgotha; Sun God

According to the New Testament, Christ was resurrected three days after his death; he then ascended to heaven. According to Anthroposophy, the true meaning of the Resurrection is the renewal of the Earth and the new impetus given to human evolution by the earthly incarnation of the Sun God. [1] According to Steiner, the Resurrection was also an enactment or representation of the process of initiation — the process of gaining access to occult knowledge. "Easter is the festival of the Resurrection. [2] Yet at the same time it leads us back into pre-Christian times. It leads us to the festivals which were held about the time of the Spring Equinox (which still plays a part in our calculation, at least, of the date of Easter). It points to those old festivals which were connected with the reawakening of Nature — with the springing of life that grows forth once more from the Earth ... What had been undergone at a certain level by the candidate for initiation in the Mysteries [3] — the Death and Resurrection of the soul — took place even as to the body with Christ Jesus. For how does the Mystery of Golgotha [4] appear to one who is acquainted with the Mysteries! He gazes back into the ancient Mysteries. He sees how the candidate for Initiation was led, in his soul, through death to the Resurrection of the soul; that is to say, to the awakening of a higher consciousness in the soul. The soul died, to rise again in a higher consciousness. [5] We must above all hold fast to this, that the body did not die, but the soul died, in order to be awakened to a higher consciousness. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE EASTER FESTIVAL IN RELATION TO THE MYSTERIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968), lecture 1, GA 233a.

[1] In Anthroposophical doctrine, Christ is the Sun God. He descended to Earth to provide a new impetus for human evolution. [See "Sun God" and the entry for "Christ impulse" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Religious festivals such as Easter are often observed in Waldorf schools, although they may be disguised under such names as "spring festival." In this sense, Waldorf festivals often become, in effect, pagan observances, as may be inferred from Steiner's next statements — their Christian character is downplayed while more ancient themes and forces are brought to the fore. [See the section on festivals in "Magical Arts".]

[3] "Mysteries," as Steiner uses the term here, are spiritual mysteries and their esoteric meanings. The term also applies to secret (occult) teachings about such matters. An initiate is one who has gained access to occult secrets. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[4] I.e., the occult meaning of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Golgotha is Calvary.

[5] Steiner speaks here of ancient initiations, but his lesson applies to Anthroposophy in the present. Mankind's evolution to higher and higher forms of consciousness is the central narrative of Anthroposophy. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "evolution of consciousness".] Steiner often harkened back to the ancients, finding greater wisdom in bygone times than in the modern world. [See "The Ancients" and "Materialism U."]

[6] In dying and being triumphantly reborn in a higher form, Christ enacted the process of initiation, according to Steiner: Christ gave us a model for our own spiritual progress. In this, as in so much, Christ was mankind's "prototype," Steiner said. [See "Prototype".]

resurrection body - see phantoms

retrospection - also see mantra; meditation; recapitulation; reverse ritual; sleep

A key meditative practice prescribed by Rudolf Steiner for his followers is to review, before bedtime, the events of the day in reverse order. The psychological effect is to create a detached perspective, loosening the grip of logic and causality — and thus conditioning the mind for a meditative, mystical consciousness.

Steiner said this practice is a conscious prelude to a process that occurs unconsciously during sleep. The astral body and ego [1] recapitulate the day in reverse order; this is part of the overall developmental or evolutionary pattern of life, in which we move forward through a series of recapitulations that repeat the past as a higher level. The reverse experience occurring at night is part of the moral development of the individual. "[M]an, during every night, retraces the life of the past day ... If we are gifted with super-sensible knowledge [2], we may take a look at what is experienced by the ego and the astral body ... Every night we repeat the experiences of the day in reverse order ... [T]he human being, during every period of sleep, passes through in reverse what he has experienced during his last waking period. He recapitulates the events not only by seeing them before him, but also by interweaving his experiences with a complete moral judgment of what he did during the day. The human being, as it were, is summoned to judge his own state of morality. And when, on awaking, we have finished this activity, we have passed something like a world judgment on our worth as human beings. Every morning, having experienced in reverse what we did during the day, we appraise ourselves as a being of greater or lesser worth." — R. Steiner, MAN'S BEING, HIS DESTINY AND WORLD EVOLUTION (Anthroposophic Press, 1966), lecture 1, GA 226.

[1] See "astral body" and "ego" in this encyclopedia.

[2] "Super-sensibile" knowledge does not depend on the use of our ordinary senses or even our brains. Such knowledge, Steiner taught, is attained through disciplined clairvoyance; it essentially reveals supernatural or spiritual truths.

Return of Christ in the Etheric - see Second Coming of Christ

Revelations - also see Elohim; Spirits of Form; Spirits of Light; Spirits of Love

According to Steiner, these are gods four levels above man: Spirits of Light, Elohim, etc. “We have now raised ourselves [1] to very lofty Spirits [2], and we come next to the hierarchy [3] who are called ‘Revelations’ ... The Spirits of Light belong to the order of the Powers or Revelations. We know that Yahve [4] had six companions who separated off the sun. Yahve himself went with the moon [5] which reflected the sun's light to the earth, but he is a companion of the other Elohim ... The whole structure in which man is embedded, the guidance of the planet and what occurs on it is the affair of the Revelations or Powers. [6]” — R. Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1982), lecture 7, GA 102. [See “Polytheism”.]


There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief; the nine ranks are divided into three groupings or "hierarchies." Revelations are gods of the sixth rank overall, or the lowest rank of the second hierarchy. Humanity currently stands below the nine ranks of gods; we are, in a sense, the tenth rank. Thus, gods of the sixth rank stand four levels higher than ourselves.

[1] I.e., we have lifted our eyes. (Steiner was giving an account of various gods.)

[2] All gods are, of course, "lofty," and Revelations are higher than the gods who are most directly involved in human affairs (gods of the First Hierarchy). However, Revelations stand at only the sixth of nine godly ranks; five ranks of gods are loftier than they, according to Steiner's own teachings.

[3] I.e., rank of gods. (Steiner sometimes used the term "hierarchies" to designate groupings of divine ranks, and sometimes he used it to refer, loosely, to individual ranks.)

[4] I.e., Jehovah. [See "Genesis".] Jehovah is one of the Elohim, Steiner taught; he is not the One and Only God.

[5] "From the Moon, Jahveh reigned over the heart and soul of the Jewish people..." — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS: Esoteric Studies, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 203. [See "RS on Jews".]

[6] I.e., these gods oversee the entire physical planet, the Earth, on which mankind incarnates. Their authority is thus broader than the concerns of lower gods, who oversee individual humans (Angels), nations or races (Archangels), and human civilization in general (Archai). [See "Polytheism".]

reverence - also see faith; religion; veneration

Waldorf schools aim to instill reverence (essentially a religious attitude) in students. This is central to their religious mission. [1] Thus, for example, Waldorf schools generally have the students recite prayers written by Rudolf Steiner. [2] One of these prayers includes the following words:

“In sunlight shining clear

I reverence, O God,

The strength of humankind,

That thou so graciously

Hast planted in my soul ...

From Thee come light and strength,

To Thee rise love and thanks.”


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 45.

While seeking to teach the students to be reverent, Waldorf teachers must themselves embody and express reverence, Steiner said. "In our teaching and educating we should really become priests ... We have been placed next to children [3] in order that spirit properly germinates, grows, and bears fruit. This attitude of reverence must underlie every [instructional] method." — R. Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 225-226.

[1] See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Schools as Churches".

[2] See "Prayers".

[3] I.e., by the gods.

reverse ritual - also see recapitulation; retrospection

A practice found in various mystical traditions is to conduct rituals in reverse order, such as reciting a prayer backwards. Versions of this practice can be found in Anthroposophy. So, for instance, Rudolf Steiner sometimes recited a reworked version of the Lord's Prayer that ran in reverse order [1], and he instructed his followers to review each day's events in reverse order [2].

More generally, Steiner indicated that a reverse ritual is one in which the flow of beneficence is reversed — instead of streaming down from above, it rises from the Earth to the divine regions above. A ritual of this kind may be thought of as an earthly mirror-image of activities performed in the spirit realm. By conducting such a ritual, Anthroposophists believe, humans here below can open lines of communication with the spirits above. Anthroposophy as a whole may be deemed a sort of reverse ritual, and Waldorf schools may be considered focal locations where such a ritual is enacted. "[A] 'cultus' [3] or true ritual is an earthly reflection of something we have experienced in the spiritual world before birth. When we participate in a ritual together, we feel a connection with those who are participating with us because we have common cosmic memories ... [An important] foundation for community is what Rudolf Steiner terms the 'reverse cultus' or 'reverse ritual' ... While a ritual brings the supersensible [4] down into the physical world through words and actions, the reverse ritual raises earthly deeds into the supersensible realm [5]... The reverse ritual is the crux of College work [6]. When a meeting achieves the reverse ritual, spiritual beings [7] receive an offering...that is akin to the blessing we receive when we partake of a sacrament." — R. Trostli, CREATING A CIRCLE OF COLLABORATIVE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP (Waldorf Publications, 2014) pp. 43-45.

[1] See "The Lord's Prayer" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See "retrospection" in this encyclopedia.

[3] i.e., a type of religious worship.

[4] I.e., the supernatural or the spiritual (things that cannot be apprehended through our ordinary senses).

[5] I.e., the spirit realm.

[6] The "College" is the college of teachers, the central leadership committee in a typical Waldorf school. [See "college of teachers" in this encyclopedia.]

[7] Chiefly, gods.

rhythm - also see music of the spheres; recapitulation; reincarnation; rhythmic-circulatory system; rhythmic man; seven-year stages of growth; spiral

Anthroposophy lays great stress on rhythm. The cosmos is conceived as the outward expression of the harmonious activities of the gods — as it were, the music of the spheres. [1] Rhythm, in the broadest sense, is the periodic organizing principle of this cosmic music. All of the cosmos is believed to be characterized by rhythmical recurrences, ranging from the very large (such as the slow rotation of the zodiac) to the smallest (such as a child's breathing). "Natural rhythms" should be recognized and enhanced, Anthroposophists believe. Each day, week, month, season, and year is thought to have natural rhythms that reflect spiritual forces. One submerges oneself in such rhythms in order to be attuned with the spirit realm.

Steiner taught that human evolution proceeds in rhythmic recurrences, as we continually recapitulate past stages of evolution while advancing to new stages. [2] And, because we are microcosmic replicas of the cosmos or macrocosm [3], the rhythms of the cosmos echo within us. Thus, according to Anthroposophical belief, in the human body the beating heart and respirating lungs establish rhythms that, within the rhythmic-circulatory system [4], activate emotion and, at the higher levels, wisdom.

Waldorf teachers generally accept the proposition that rhythms in the lives of students must be recognized and encouraged, and indeed class work and class scheduling should be rhythmical. ◊ "As far as possible, a certain rhythm is established in the sequence of lessons so that the same thing, or something of the same nature, is taken at the same time each day." — R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 33. ◊ The well-being of the students is thought to be at stake. "[I]f the outer influences do not synchronize with...inner rhythms, the young person will eventually grow into a kind of inner cripple...." — R. Trostli, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 129-130. ◊ Rhythms are also thought to extend beyond the limits of a single life; there are rhythmic patterns in an individual's reincarnations. "Just as there are world rhythms so are there rhythms in the life or lives of the human being. One of these rhythms is the frequency of incarnation. [5]" — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 50. Assisting children through the process of incarnation is a central Waldorf purpose. Having come from the timeless spirit realm, children need to be introduced into life-within-time through the use of rhythm.

[1] See "music of the spheres" and "harmony of the spheres" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See the section "Recapitulation" in "Matters of Form".

[3] See "The Center".

[4] This is one of three physiological systems postulated by Steiner. The others are the metabolic-limb system and the nerve-senses system. (The systems are sometimes referred to as the chest system, the abdominal system (including limbs), and the head system.) [See "What We're Made Of" and the entry for "rhythmic-circulatory system", below.]

[5] See "Incarnation" and "Reincarnation".

rhythmic-circulatory system - also see abdominal system; metabolic-limb system; nerve-senses system; rhythm; rhythmic man

This is one of the three major systems that Steiner said rule the functioning of the human organism. Primarily, this system has to do with breathing, but it includes the circulation of the blood. (Steiner said the lungs and breathing are part of the same system as the heart and blood circulation. Medical science considers these to be separate systems.) Using debatable arithmetic, Steiner explained the connection between human and cosmic rhythms [1]: "As regards its rising point at the vernal equinox, the sun traverses the entire zodiac in the course of 25,920 years. In middle life man draws on an average 25,920 breaths a day. [2] The pulse-beats are four times as many. The other circulation, the circulation which is concentrated more inwardly, is influenced by the digestion. Breath-circulation brings man into outer intercourse with the surrounding world, into reciprocal relationship with it. [3] This breath-rhythm must continually restrain the rhythm of blood-circulation, so that it remains in its proportion of one to four, otherwise man would come into a quite irregular rhythm, reaching the number 103,680. This corresponds to nothing in the cosmos; it would completely sever man and cosmos. His digestion tears him out of the cosmos, estranges him from the cosmos; the rhythm of his breathing continually pulls him back into it. In this holding the rhythm of circulation in control by the rhythm of breathing, you see the primal healing process which is continually at work in man." — R. Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 10, GA 230.

Steiner taught that the rhythmic processes of breathing and blood circulation were developed during the Old Sun stage of evolution. [4] "[Y]ou have a picture of what man owes to the old Sun-evolution when you look into everything within him which involves some kind of rhythmic process. Breathing and blood-circulation are of course the most important of these rhythmic processes, and these man owes to the old Sun-evolution." — R. Steiner, ibid.

In the Waldorf curriculum, focus is placed on the rhythmic-circulatory system — deemed the seat of feeling or emotion — during the middle grades. Steiner taught that feelings bring us more wisdom, more direct contact with the spirit realm, than does thinking. "[T]hinking is oriented to the physical plane. Feeling really has a connection with all the spiritual beings [5] who must be considered real." — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 70. [See "Reality and Fantasy".] When thinking is finally stressed in Waldorf education — during the final years of high school — such thinking is meant to be mediated by the will (directed into Anthroposophical channels during the lowest grades) and emotion (directed into Anthroposophical channels, via the rhythmic-circulatory system, during the middle grades).

[1] Steiner taught that the human being is a microcosmic replica of the macrocosmic universe: We are the center of creation. [See "The Center".]

[2] Steiner's sums are approximate; some critics would say he has jimmied the numbers. Thus, by some calculations, the sun traverses the zodiac in 25,800 years, not 25,920 years — a difference of more than a century. Likewise, the number of breaths taken per day may be calculated as about 28,800, not 25,920. And of course there is great variability between individuals and occupations. [See "Mystic Math".]

[3] I.e., through respiration (breathing in and out) we interact with our surroundings, particularly the atmosphere.

[4] I.e., Old Sun was the third incarnation of the solar system, according to Steiner. [See "Old Sun".]

[5] I.e., incorporeal beings: spirits, especially gods. [See "Polytheism" and "Beings".]

rhythmic man - also see chest man; head man; limb man; rhythmic-circulatory system; rhythm

According to Anthroposophical belief, this is the inner man [1] who finds expression in the rhythmic-circulatory system. Rhythmic man (or chest man) mediates between, and balances, head man and limb man [2], which are opposites of one another (i.e., head man is the inverse of limb man from the previous incarnation). Rhythmic man is the wise agent of balance and wholeness. "It now behooves us to study this three-membered man [3] more closely. We will first think of him as Head man, Rhythmic man and Limb man ... [T]he Head man and the Limb man are complete polar opposites, and the central, Rhythmic man is the adjustment between the two, balancing or reconciling them by means of Rhythm." — R. Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 201.

[1] Steiner sometimes indicated that human beings consist of numerous small inner humans. [See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "composite beings".]

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

[3] Steiner sometimes spoke of the human being as having three major parts or "members." But he also spoke of four, seven, and twelve major parts. [See "What We're Made Of".] Here, he is speaking of the physical human organism and the physiological systems he postulated centered in the head, chest, and abdomen ("Head man, Rhythmic man, and Limb man." Limb man includes the metabolic processes; Steiner said the adbomen and limbs are part of a single system). [See the entries in this encyclopedia for metabolic-limb system ("limb man"), nerve-senses system ("head man"), and rhythmic-circulatory system ("chest man").]

Rishis - also see BHAGAVAD GITA; Hinduism; initiates; lodges; VEDA(S)

a) Hindu saints and sages.

b) In Anthroposophy: occult initiates having special knowledge of the planets and planetary conditions. [1] "The forces preserved by the planets were the subject of the mysteries [2] of the seven Rishis ... [T]his primeval teaching contained approximately what we learn today as the evolution of humanity through the planetary conditions of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. [3] The mysteries of evolution were secreted in the seven members of the [Rishis’] lodge [4], each of whom typified one stage in the progress of humanity." — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 4, GA 106. [See "Veda".]

[1] See "Planets" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "planetary conditions".

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

[3] These are incarnations of the solar system: Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. The incarnations are referred to as "planetary conditions" or "conditions of consciousness". [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

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

rite - also see Anthroposophy; festivals; religion; worship

A rite is "a series of acts or rituals intended to draw the supersensible [1] into the sensible world. [2] Anthroposophy can facilitate a sense of rite or worship in which the spirit in the human being is guided to the spirit in the universe. [3]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 101-102. Many rites are enacted in Waldorf schools, including the daily recitation of prayers [4] and the observance of various annual festivals, often with Christian trappings although the essence is distinctly Anthroposophical and/or pagan. [5] In some instance, Anthroposophically modified church services are held in or near Waldorf schools. [6] More generally, the schools serve the role of Anthroposophical churches even if — aside from certain festivals — few distinctly religious activities are held within. [7] Faithful Anthroposophists on Waldorf faculties generally consider themselves to be priests or at least to perform priestly functions. Steiner described the priestly work of Waldorf teachers, and the ritual nature of their work, in statements such as this: "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life ... Our task is to ferry into earthly life the aspect of the child that came from the divine spiritual world." — R. Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XVIII (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 24.

[1] I.e., supernatural — beyond the physical plane of existence.

[2] I.e., the physical world that we can examine with our ordinary senses.

[3] I.e., spiritual beings, especially gods, and/or the Godhead. [See "Polytheism", "Beings", and "God".]

[4] See "Prayers".

[5] See, e.g., the section on festivals in "Magical Arts".

[6] See "Waldorf Worship".

[7] See "Schools as Churches".

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

The first sub-race [1] that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis. [2] “Theosophical writings call the first subrace of the Atlanteans that of the Rmoahals. The memory of this race was primarily directed toward vivid sense impressions ... A new bond [was] formed among men by communications through the medium of language. It is true that all this existed in a still youthful form among the Rmoahals, but nevertheless it distinguished them profoundly from their Lemurian forefathers [3] ... The word of the Rmoahals not only had meaning, but also power. The magic power of words [4] is something which was far truer for those men than it is for men of today. When a Rmoahals man pronounced a word, this word developed a power similar to that of the object it designated. Because of this, words at that time were curative; they could advance the growth of plants, tame the rage of animals, and perform other similar functions. All this progressively decreased in force among the later sub-races of the Atlanteans.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.


According to Theosophical teachings, the Rmoahals were the first sub-race within the Atlantean root race. [5] Mankind was meant to evolve through these sub-races sequentially, Theosophists believe. Anthroposophy generally adopted Theosophical teachings on such matters, with some alterations.

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

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] See "Lemuria".

[4] Steiner taught that language is generally a spiritually creative power. [See the entry for "language" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] See the entry for "root races", below.

rock being - also see elemental beings; the Group; nature spirits; the Representative of Humanity

The monumental statue at the Goetheanum [1] — depicting Christ, Ahriman, and Lucifer — also contains an enigmatic figure, a "rock being" sometimes referred to as "cosmic humour" or "world humour." The precise significance of this figure is a matter of debate and speculation. Generally, the figure may be taken to represent the detached, amused perspective of the elemental powers of the cosmos observing the tragicomic drama of the struggle between "good" and "evil." The figure of the rock being was evidently added to the statue primarily to create a greater sense of balance; reading great significance into the figure may therefore be an error. ◊ "Due to the already mentioned imbalance in the composition, it was necessary to bring more weight to the upper left-hand corner. Rudolf Steiner did not however want simply to add more mass to the rock formation [comprising the background for the central figures]. Instead he represented a being which belongs to the rock. In this position, it was necessary to give it an asymmetrical form...." — J. v. Halle & J. Wilkes, THE REPRESENTATIVE OF HUMANITY (SOPHIA BOOKS, 2010), p. 66. ◊ "[T]he 'humourful' rock being who, as an elemental being [2], has a lively interest in the coming together [of the central figures], looks down at all that is happening below, embracing the scene with his wings as though growing towards it from another world outside all these happenings." — Ibid., p. 55.


Occupying the upper lefthand corner of the monumental statue "The Representative of Man," a "rock being" observes the drama below. Although he exists within rock, he is depicted as having wings, suggesting his incorporeal nature. [R.R. sketch, 2009.]

[1] The Goetheannum is the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] The statue is often referred to as "The Representative of Humanity". [See the entry for this term, above.]

[2] I.e., an incorporeal being that dwells within the forces or elements of nature, in this case within rocks. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "elemental beings" and "nature spirits".]

Romanticism - also see Goethe; transcendentalism

An artistic/philosophical movement, originating in the late 18th century, that stressed individualism, subjectivity, and inspiration. Leading exponents included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and William Wordsworth. Anthroposophy arose, in part, from currents in German romanticism, and American Anthroposophists often seek connections between their beliefs and those of the American Transcendentalists (American romantics having transcendental aspirations). [See, e.g., "Goethe", "Choosing", and "Sympathizers?".]

root children - also see Mother Earth; nature; nature spirits

Imaginary beings, akin to nature spirits [1]; they are the offspring of Mother Earth. [2] Root children are often the subjects of nursery tales, etc., told to young children in Waldorf schools. "The root children spend the winter asleep. When spring comes, they wake, sew themselves new gowns, and clean and paint the beetles and bugs. All summer they play in fields, ponds and meadows before returning in the autumn to Mother Earth, who welcomes them home and puts them to bed once more." — Publisher's account of THE STORY OF THE ROOT CHILDREN (SteinerBooks), by S. v. Olfers. Also see MY FIRST ROOT CHILDREN, from the same publisher and author.

[1] I.e., elemental beings: incorporeal beings that exist within the forces of nature. [See "Neutered Nature".]

[2] The term "Mother Earth" is usually used as a metaphor for the nurturing powers of nature or the planet Earth. In Anthroposophy, Mother Earth is often taken to be a real being. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Mother Earth".]

root races - also see great epochs; races; sub-races

In Theosophy and Anthroposophy: fundamental human races; associated with great epochs. [1] Steiner taught that the gods intended only one form of human being to exist in each great epoch — this is the intended "root race" of that epoch. Humanity evolves toward spiritual perfection in part by attaining higher and higher racial/spiritual forms, Steiner said. The "fifth root race" is thus the proper form of humanity in the fifth epoch, and it is higher — more perfect — than the root race of the fourth epoch. If the divine plan [2] played out as originally intended, humanity would climb through higher and higher forms in succeeding epochs. However, two demons interfered, causing older forms — races that belonged to prior epochs — to continue to exist. This is why, Steiner said, "higher" and "lower" races exist simultaneously on the Earth. “While there should have been basically only one form of human being ... Lucifer and Ahriman [3] preserved [earlier human types] ... Thus, forms that should have disappeared remained. Instead of racial diversities developing consecutively, older racial forms remained unchanged and newer ones began to evolve at the same time. Instead of the intended consecutive development of races, there was a coexistence of races. That is how it came about that physically different races inhabited the earth and are still there in our time although evolution should really have proceeded....” — R. Steiner, THE UNIVERSAL HUMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), p. 75.

The term "root races" comes from Theosophy. Steiner used it less after he separated himself from Theosophy to establish Anthroposophy as an independent movement. However, he retained the core concepts of a hierarchy of races and evolutionary progress through the ascent to higher racial forms. The term "root races" is preserved in many transcripts of Steiner's lectures. [See, e.g., "Early Earth".] Thus, for instance, "[T]he human spirit in the fifth Root Race [4] has worked through a recapitulation of the [happenings of] the Lemurian Root Race [5] when humanity was still of one sex only." — R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 228. [The interpolations appear in the text; I did not add them. — RR]


Here are the root races as usually indicated in Theosophy and in Steiner's teachings from his Theosophical period:

The term "Aryan race" — designating the root race of our current great epoch — has become an embarrassment and is often avoided by Anthroposophists today, at least when addressing the uninitiated. [See "Atlantis and the Aryans".] The sixth and seventh root races lie in the future and are usually unnamed. Steiner provided some information, nonetheless. E.g., "The Leader of the Sixth Root Race...will be a man as we are, only one of the most advanced, indeed the most advanced among men. He will be a Being who began his development when incarnation started, approximately in the middle of Lemuria, one who has always been a man among men, only he was able to advance more rapidly, and one who has gone through every stage of human evolution. This will be the fundamental characteristic of the Manus [sic] of the Sixth Root Race." — R. Steiner, "The Migrations of the Races" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA unknown. In Theosophy, a "Manu" is the father or leader of a race, especially a root race. [Diagram from R. Steiner's THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 249; labels added. Steiner taught that humanity divided into sexes during the Lemurian period; hence the vertical line in the third circle. Likewise, he taught that in our time spiritual evolution has divided into male and female spirits; hence the vertical line in the fifth circle.]

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

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

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

[4] I.e., our present root race, often called the Aryan root race.

[5] I.e., the third root race, the root race during the Lemurian epoch. [See "Lemuria".]

rose - also see Rosenkreutz, Christian; Rosicrucian; Rosy Cross

◊ "The most important symbolic flower in the Western tradition, the rose appears constantly in occult imagery ... [T]he rose generally represents love in all its forms, from the most spiritual levels of compassion to the most earthy of passions." — J. M. Greer, THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OCCULT (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), p. 399. ◊ "[T]he red rose denotes beauty, love, passion, and consummation ... In the Christian tradition is signifies the blood of martyrs and the resurrection. In Islam it represents the blood of the Prophet and his two sons." — K. Wilkinson et al, SIGNS & SYMBOLS (Dorling Kindersley, 2008), p. 84.

The rose has particular importance in Anthroposophy because of Steiner's affirmation of Rosicrucianism. [1] ◊ “The name [Rosicrucianism] derives from the order’s symbol, a rose on a cross, which is similar to the family coat of arms of Martin Luther.” — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA. ◊ "Rudolf Steiner labels his first two Mystery Plays [2] as 'Rosicrucian Mysteries' and in his major work AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE [3] the only explicit description of how one can meditate centers on the Rose Cross. He mentions Christian Rosenkreutz [4] and the Rosicrucian stream [5] in numerous lectures and states that Christian Rosenkreutz is an active spiritual helper also in present times." — E. Katz, THE MISSION OF RUDOLF STEINER, transcript of an address given to the American Anthroposophical Society, 2004. ◊ "The Rose a symbol of the death of the lower nature [i.e., the lower parts of human nature] and the resurrection of the higher ... [On a Christmas tree] roses, growing out of the green, are a symbol of the victory of eternity over time." — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 41.

[1] See "Rosy Cross".

[2] See "Plays".

[3] This is OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, published under an alternate title. [See "Everything".]

[4] The putative founder of Rosicrucianism. [See the entry for "Rosenkreutz, Christian", below.]

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

Rose Cross - see Rosy Cross

Rosenkreutz, Christian - also see Lodge of Twelve; Rosicrucian; sub-races

The putative founder of Rosicrucianism; a fictional character, accepted by Anthroposophists as real. “[A]t the end of the Graeco-Roman period, in the thirteenth century, humanity was for a short period cut off from any clairvoyant capacity. [1] This is why a great conference of the wisest people [i.e., spiritual masters] was held at that time, the ‘College of the Twelve’. [2] The first seven...[represented] the seven Atlantean evolutionary stages. [3] Four other wise masters embodied the first four sub-races of our epoch ... The twelfth represented all that followed [in evolution]. Among these twelve was a boy, the thirteenth, whom they took into their midst; and all twelve poured out their wisdom upon him ... He lived only a short while under this mighty influence, but during this time was able, through what he had taken up from the others, to become their teacher ... Then he died and was reborn in the fourteenth century as Christian Rosenkreutz. He then lived for a hundred years, and since then has been the teacher not only of the twelve wise men, but of all humanity. He has the task of protecting humanity against the luciferic influence. [4]" — R. Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 306-307. [See "Rosy Cross".]


Numerous Anthroposophical works about Christian Rosenkreutz have been published. This is CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ - The Mystery, Teaching and Mission of a Master (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001); the book consists of a selection of Steiner's teachings about Rosenkreutz.

[1] Steiner taught that ancient peoples had innate clairvoyant powers, which have generally been lost. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".] But he claimed to be able to show people how to attain higher clairvoyant powers now, powers that he said he possessed. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

[2] Steiner often used the term "college" to denote a gathering of spiritual initiates or masters. At Waldorf schools, gatherings of the inner faculty — gatherings at which Steiner's doctrines are studied — are often called "colleges of teachers". [See the entry for "college of teachers" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., phases of our evolution on Atlantis. In Theosophical parlance, these would be referred to as Atlantean sub-races. [See the entries for "root races" and "sub-races" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., the sway of Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

Rosicrucian, Rosicrucianism - also see Anthroposophy; esoteric; gnosticism; occult; Rosenkreutz, Christian; Rosy Cross; white path

The Rosicrucians are “a worldwide brotherhood claiming to possess esoteric wisdom handed down from ancient times ... Rosicrucian teachings are a combination of occultism and other religious beliefs and practices, including Hermeticism, Jewish mysticism, and Christian Gnosticism. The central feature of Rosicrucianism is the belief that its members possess secret wisdom that was handed down to them from ancient times.” — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.

Steiner claimed to revive Rosicrucianism in improved form (Anthroposophy): It is the proper path for modern humans, he said. For this reason, Steiner is sometimes identified as a Rosicrucian initiate. ◊ “We shall study the path that is right for modern humanity: the Rosicrucian path.” — R. Steiner, MACROCOSM AND MICROCOSM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 94. ◊ "The Rosicrucian way...leaves the pupil with the greatest possible independence. The Guru [1] here is not a leader but an adviser; he gives directions for the necessary inner training. At the same time he takes good care that, parallel with the occult training, there is a definite development of thinking, without which no occult training can be carried through ... [O]ne activity — logical thinking — goes through all worlds. Logic is the same on all three planes. [2] Thus on the physical plane you can learn something which is valid also for the higher planes; and this is the method followed by Rosicrucian training ... Here, then, the Guru is only the friend and adviser of the pupil ... But he [the pupil] will of course still need a Guru...." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 12, GA 95. [See "Rosy Cross". For an examination of Steiner's appreciation of logic, see "Steiner's Illogic".]

True Rosicrucianism, according to Steiner, includes the following teachings (which prove to be essentially indistinguishable from Steiner's central Anthroposophical teachings): ◊ There is an elemental world below man, and a spiritual realm (or several such realms) above us. We go to the latter during sleep and after death. ◊ We lead many lives, through the process of reincarnation. ◊ After we die, we prepare for our next earthly incarnation — in the spirit realm, we take in wisdom and prepare for our next life in the physical realm. ◊ Our lives on Earth and elsewhere are heavily influences by karma, the destiny we create for ourselves. We should work to improve not only our own karmas but the shared karma of all humanity. ◊ During the long process of reincarnation, humanity gradually evolves from a very lowly condition to a godlike state. This evolution began on or during Old Saturn and will continue to and beyond Future Vulcan. [3]

[1] A guru, as Steiner used the term, is a spiritual teacher, leader, and/or guide. Steiner taught that there are basically three paths leading to spiritual wisdom. On the Eastern or Yoga path [see "Yoga"] , the aspirant is largely subservient to a guru, a master. On the Christian or Gnostic path [see "Gnosis"], one's guru is a guide, leading one to Christ, who then becomes one's ultimate guru. On the Rosicrucian path (as defined by Steiner: in essence, the path of Anthroposophy [see "Rosy Cross"]) , one must depend chiefly on oneself; one's guru is merely an adviser, not a controlling leader. [See "Guru".] Steiner taught that only the "Rosicrucian" path is correct for modern humans, and along this path Anthroposophists in practice look upon Steiner himself as the great guru. The independence or freedom Steiner discussed is in fact extremely limited. [See "Freedom".] (It is also worth noting that Steiner differentiated the correct path, Rosicrucianism/Anthroposophy, from the Christian path. Although Christ is an important figure in Anthroposophy, the doctrines of Anthroposophy are, in many cases, inconsistent with mainstream Christian teachings. [See "Was He Christian?"])

[2] I.e., the physical plane, the soul plane (or the soul world), and the spirit plane (or the spirit world). [See "Higher Worlds".] Steiner contradicts himself here. He more generally indicated that logic and intellect apply to the physical level of existence, but they have limited application to the higher realms. And, indeed, he argued that even in the physical realm, "living thoughts" are truer than logical thoughts. [See "Thinking".]

[3] These are periods of cosmic evolution. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Old Saturn" and "Future Vulcan".]

Rosicrucian stream - see mystery streams; Rosicrucian; Rosy Cross

Rosy Cross - also see Anthroposophy; Rosenkreutz, Christian; Rosicrucian; symbols

The symbol of Christian Rosenkreutz and, by extension, Rosicrucianism: a dark cross with a rose or a circle of roses at its center. "In Anthroposophy it [is] an image used during mediation ... The cross represents our conquered instincts, drives and desires. The seven roses represent the purified human members [1]." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 103. [For more, see "Rosy Cross".]

Sometimes the Rosy Cross has seven roses near its center, sometimes just one. In the former case, the roses are usually deemed to represent drops of Christ's blood; in the latter case, the rose is usually thought to represent Christ himself. Steiner sometimes offered a different interpretation, saying the Rosy Cross represents, in essence, the reintegration of male spiritual wisdom with female spiritual wisdom. [2] "An Order...was founded with the aim of winning the earth back to the old priestly wisdom. This order [the Jesuit Order] chose the ideal male in contrast to the cult of Mary [3] ... It championed the male principle, the Cross by itself ... However, another Order added roses [4] to the Cross and new life sprang out of them ... It has grafted a new shoot — the Cross entwined with roses ... These are the Rosicrucians. The theosophical movement grew out of this current...." — R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 240. Steiner delivered this lecture while still a Theosophist, before he broke away to establish Anthroposophy as a separate movement. Under Steiner, Anthroposophy grew out of Theosophy just as Theosophy, according to Steiner, grew out of Rosicrucianism. Thus, Anthroposophy becomes the perfected Rosicrucianism that, Steiner said, is the correct path for modern humans. [5]


"In order to withstand the temptation of the devil, one should meditate on the rose cross." — R. Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 394-395. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 395, where the cross is shown solid black.]

[1] I.e., the seven "parts" of the human constitution. Steiner gave varying accounts of our constitution; in one of them, the total number of major parts is seven. [See "What We're Made Of".] If the rose represents Christ, then it represents the purified prototype for humanity. [See "Prototype".]

[2] Steiner taught that in our time, female and male spiritual wisdom have become divided. [See the entry for "root races", above; also see the entries in this encyclopedia for "female" and "male".]

[3] See "Goddess".

[4] The roses here represent female spirituality, as in the cult of Mary.

[5] See the entry for "Rosicrucian", above.

rounds - also see conditions of life; cf. globes

In Theosophy, generally, a round is the period during which a planet is occupied by seven successive root races (this is a "globe round"); at a higher level, a round (a "planetary round") is the progressive reincarnation of a planet through seven or twelve globes. As Steiner used the term, a round is a subdivision of a major stage of evolution: It is a subdivision of a condition of consciousness, also called a planetary condition. [1] We currently live in the fourth such major stage of evolution, Present Earth. [2]

Each condition of consciousness or planetary condition, Steiner taught, consists of seven shorter periods, called conditions of life or "rounds." During Present Earth to date, we have evolved upward through three conditions of life or rounds: the first, second, and third elementary kingdoms. [3] During these conditions of life or rounds, we recapitulated Old Saturn, then Old Sun, then Old Moon, in that order. [4] Our current condition of life or round is the mineral kingdom. Steiner used the term "round" less after splitting from Theosophy.

"In the course of our whole evolution we have seven Planetary conditions: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan [5]; and in connection with each Planet we must consider seven Rounds. [6] The passing through a Round may also be called a Kingdom, and the Fourth Round on the Earth we call the Mineral Kingdom. [7] We are now on the Fourth Planet, in the Fourth Round and within this Round in the Fourth Condition of Form or Globe." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 26, GA 93a. This is an early lecture. If we translate Steiner's statement into terminology he used later, we could say: During our evolution, we pass through seven conditions of consciousness: Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. During each of these conditions of consciousness, we pass through seven conditions of life, which can also be called kingdoms. The fourth condition of life during Present Earth is called the mineral kingdom. We are now in the Present Earth Condition of Consciousness, in the fourth condition of life (the mineral kingdom), and within this condition of life we are in the fourth stage of form, otherwise known as a globe.


According to Steiner, drawing heavily from Theosophy, we are evolving through seven extended cosmic periods. [8] Each of these periods is embodied by a new incarnation of the solar system, which may be referred to as planetary condition, a condition of consciousness, or a manvantara. We currently live in the Present Earth planetary condition, Steiner taught. Each of the planetary conditions consists of seven shorter periods, which may be called conditions of life, kingdoms of life, or rounds. According to Steiner, we currently live in the Mineral Condition of Life within the Present Earth planetary condition. Similarly, each condition of life consists of seven still shorter periods, which may be called conditions of form, global states, or globes. We currently live in the Physical Condition of Form within the Mineral Condition of Life within the Present Earth Planetary Condition. [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] These are successive incarnations of the solar system — they are major stages of our evolution. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.]

[2] See "Present Earth".

[3] According to Steiner, these were the first three life conditions — the first three major subdivisions — of Present Earth. [See the entry for "conditions of life" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] These were the first three incarnations of the solar system.

[5] More correctly, these are Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [See the diagram, above.]

[6] I.e., each "planetary condition" consists of three subdivisions called "rounds." A round may be defined as a condition of life or a "life kingdom": Essentially, it is a period during which we, as evolving entities, enter a new stage of living embodiment, higher than the preceding stages.

[7] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life".

[8] Steiner sometimes indicated that there will actually be twelve such periods. [See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "planetary conditions".]

Round Table, The - also see Arthur, King; Holy Grail; Parzival; sentient soul

The table of King Arthur [1] and his knights. Steiner taught that Arthur was a high initiate. The Holy Grail [2], sought by Arthur's knights, is a symbol of occult wisdom, according to Steiner. [See "Pagan".] As he almost always did with the subjects he discussed, Steiner read his own occult teachings into the tales of King Arthur and his knights. "[T]he persons who expressed the transit of the cosmic forces through the signs of the Zodiac [3] were those called 'The Knights of King Arthur's Round Table'. Twelve in number, they had around them a band of other men, but they were the principal Knights. The others represented the starry host [4]; into them flowed the inspirations which were more distantly distributed in cosmic space; and into the twelve Knights flowed the inspirations from the twelve directions of the Zodiac. [5] The inspirations which came from the spiritual forces of the Sun and Moon were represented by King Arthur and his wife Guinevere. [6] Thus in King Arthur's Round Table we have the humanised Cosmos ... [W]e are the Knights of King Arthur's Round Table journeyed far and wide and slew monsters and giants. These external pictures point to the endeavours of human souls who were to make progress in refining and purifying those forces of the astral body [7] which expressed themselves for the [clairvoyant] seer in pictures of monsters, giants and the like. [8] Everything that the Sentient Soul [9] was to experience through the later Mysteries [10] is bound up with the pictorial concepts [11] of King Arthur's Round Table." — R. Steiner, THE MYSTERIES OF THE EAST AND OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 4, GA 144.

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

[2] See "Grail".

[3] I.e., astrological influences: the powers of the gods resident in or around celestial constellations. [See, e.g., "Astrology".]

[4] I.e., the influence of gods residing in or around individual stars flowed through them.

[5] I.e., greater powers — from the gods of the signs of the Zodiac — flowed through the Knights of the Round Table. (A constellation or sign of the Zodiac consists of numerous stars.)

[6] Arthur thus had special connections to Christ, the Sun God [see "Sun God"], while Guinevere had special connections to the Moon gods [see "Lunacy"]. (In much mythology, women are associated with the Moon, which is "inconstant" because it constantly changes shape, just as women are allegedly inconstant. By today's standards, this would be considered sexist. Steiner here embraces the traditional mythic view.)

[7] The astral body is the second of three invisible bodies that fully incarnated humans possess, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

[8] Steiner taught that ancient humans had innate clairvoyant powers, and myths are true accounts of clairvoyant visions. “Myths and sagas are not just 'folk tales'; they are memories of the visions people perceived in olden times ... At night [the ancients] were really surrounded by the world of the...gods of which the legends tell.” — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198. Thus, the tales of Arthur and his knights are essentially true, in a spiritual sense.

[9] I.e., the lowest portion of our soul nature. [See "What We Are Made Of".]

[10] Traditions of occult knowledge. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.]

[11] I.e., true visions attained through clairvoyance. [See the entries for "clairvoyance", "imaginations", and "pictorial activity" in this encyclopedia.]

Rubicon - see crossing the Rubicon

Rudolf Steiner College

A Waldorf teacher-training institution located in Fair Oaks, California, USA.

Rudolf Steiner Institute

An educational institution offering summer courses — centered on Anthroposophy — for adults; located in Easton, Massachussetts, USA.

rupa conditions of form - see Intellectual Stage of Form; Lower Spiritland Stage of Form; stages of form

During his Theosophical phase, Steiner employed the terms "rupa" and "conditions of form"; he later amended them. In Theosophical terminology, adapted from Sanskrit and Hinduism, "rupa" means having a body. The first rupa condition of form — the second condition in a sequence of seven — is what Steiner later termed the Lower Spiritland Stage of Form. The second rupa condition of form — the penultimate of seven, coming after a spirit has descended into physicality and then begun reascending — is what Steiner later termed the Intellectual Stage of Form. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Intellectual Stage of Form", "Lower Spiritland Stage of Form", and "stages of form".]

Russia - also see America; Germany; Lucifer; Russian Age

According to Steiner, a Luciferic region [1], counterpart to Ahrimanic America. [2] Germany stands between Russia and America as Christ stands between Lucifer and Ahriman. [See "Steiner and the Warlord".] ◊ "[W]e notice how Russian orthodox Christianity has remained stationary at an earlier stage of Christian development, refusing to advance and thereby keeping something of the luciferic element. [3] In short, we can detect a luciferic remnant in the East...." — R. Steiner, CHRIST IN RELATION TO LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), GA 159. ◊ “Ahriman-America should not have the only voice; Lucifer-Bolshevism should not be allowed to do the only deed." — R. Steiner (reporting a message from beyond the grave), LIGHT FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 230. [4]

The Russian mission, Steiner indicated, is to prepare for the coming Russian Age. Ideally, that age will be a time of spiritual advancement; but it will also contain the potential for great destruction, and indeed it will be founded on destruction. [5]

[1] I.e., a region dominated by Lucifer. [See "Lucifer".]

[2] I.e., a region dominated by Ahriman/ [See "Ahriman" and "America".]

[3] I.e., Lucifer's influence.

[4] Ahriman is not wholly absent from the Russian scene, according to some Anthropsophic sources. Ahriman was perhaps particularly active in Russia before the fall of Communism. "[T]he subconscious impulse [of the Russians] toward their mission was seized upon by Ahriman ... Bolshevism, Communism, State-ordered socialism, whatever the Soviet system may be called, is an Ahrimanic illusion...." — S. C. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 116.

[5] See the entry for "Russian Age", below.

Russian Age - also see American Age; cultural epochs; race war; Russia

According to Steiner: the sixth age or cultural epoch of the fifth great epoch [1], leading to the American Age. [See "Oriphiel".] "The sixth Post-Atlantean cultural age [2], the so-called Russian age, extends from 3573 to 5733 [CE]. It is also known as the Aquarian age, because it is prepared and guided by forces from the Waterman [3], where the vernal point stands from 2375 to 4535 [CE]. These are etheric forces [4] of rejuvenation, resurrection and rebirth, but if not turned to the spirit they can lead to dissolution. This age is represented in the Apocalypse [5] as Philadelphia (Rev. 3: 7-13). [6]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), p. 41.

The transition from our present age, the Anglo-Germanic Age, to the Russian Age will be marked by a tremendous race war. “[T]hese things cannot happen in the world without the most violent struggle. White mankind is still on the path of absorbing spirit more deeply into its essence. Yellow mankind is on the path of preserving the [prior] period when the spirit was kept away from the body, when the spirit could only be sought outside of the physical human being. But the result will have to be that the transition from the fifth cultural epoch [7] to the sixth cultural epoch [8] cannot happen differently than as a violent fight between white mankind and colored mankind in the most varied areas. And world history will consist of those events that will lead to these battles between white and colored mankind, until the great fight between white and colored mankind has been brought about. Future events are frequently reflected in previous events. You see, we stand before something so colossal that, if we regard it through the diverse perceptions of spiritual science [9], we will in the future recognize it as a necessary occurrence.” — R. Steiner, KOMISCHE UND MENSCHLICHE GESCHICHTE - DIE GEISTIGEN HINTERGRÜNDE DES ERSTEN WELTKRIEGES (Dornach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1974), GA 174b, p. 38. [10]

Following the Russian Age, humanity will enter the American Age, which will culminate — on or about the year 8000 CE — in a cataclysm similar to the ones that destroyed Lemuria and Atlantis: The War of All Against All. [See "All v. All".]


These are the ages or cultural epochs of our current great epoch, according to Steiner. The Russian and American Ages lie in the future; we currently exist in the Anglo-Germanic Age.

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

[2] I.e., the sixth age of our current great epoch, the epoch following the destruction of Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]

[3] I.e., the constellation of Aquarius, also called the Waterman.

[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "etheric force(s)".

[5] I.e., the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

[6] "7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Philadelphia was an Asian city; the church there was considered a model for true Christian churches.

[7] I.e., the present. [See the entry for "Anglo-Germanic Age" in this encyclopedia.]

[8] I.e., the Russian Age.

[9] As Steiner used this term, it applies principally to his own teachings, Anthroposophy.

[10] Like some other inflammatory statements by Steiner, this one is rarely translated into English.