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sagas - also see folk tales; legends; myths; Norse myths

a) Tales of heroic achievement, especially Old Norse or Icelandic tales.

b) According to Steiner, true clairvoyant reports in disguised form. “[T]he sagas of the different nations have a very deep content, and...are an expression of profound esoteric truth.” — R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 35. Anthroposophy places particular stress on the ancient sagas of northern Europe: Norse myths. “Myths and sagas are not just 'folk tales'; they are memories of the visions [1] people perceived in olden times ... At night [Norsemen] were really surrounded by the world of the Nordic gods of which the legends tell. [2]” — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 198. Norse myths, in particular, are stressed in Waldorf schools. [See "Oh My Word".]

[1] I.e., clairvoyant perceptions.

[2] See "The Gods".

Sagittarius - also see astrology; constellations; Jupiter; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (November 23-December 22); Element — fire ... Ruling planet — Jupiter. Qualities — highly endowed with mental gifts, discriminatory abilities; unusually honest, fearless, and bluntly outspoken; sensitive to suffering; a keen eye for the satiric and comic. Negatively, Saggitarius [sic] can be too suspicious, and when they must reflect on a situation can be too timid ad cautious; have a hasty temper; and tend to respond in extremes to life's events." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 251. ◊ "Sagittarius, the Archer, is the sign that beckons to higher places and higher realms [1] ... Sagittarius is aptly symbolized by a figure that is half-horse and half man, the man aiming his arrow toward the sky ... The symbol denotes the Ego [2] emerging from its animal-like state, taking on the shape of a noble form and erect posture, feeling the forces of the 'I AM' [3] ... The its best expression exhibits the delight of devotion, aspiring to live on the earth with consciousness of the spiritual world, which vivid dreams [4] and sometimes actual vision [5] have made valid." — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS ON THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 177-178.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Sagittarius. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Sagittarius. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Becoming achieves the power ‘to be’,/Into what is, the might of becoming dies./Achievement resolves the desire to strive/Into prevailing will-force of life./In dying, there ripens prevailing of worlds,/Forms disappear within forms/What has come to be, may it feel what is!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] See "Higher Worlds".

[2] In Anthroposophy, this is the spiritual ego, divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "I Am The I Am".

[4] See "Dreams".

[5] In Anthroposophy, this is clairvoyance. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "clairvoyance".]

St. George - also see dragons; 1879; Michael

a) A Christian martyr, a warrior-saint who became patron saint of Britain.

b) In Anthroposophy: the Archangel Michael's representative on Earth. [1] Images of Michael or George defeating a dragon represent the triumph of beneficent spiritual forces over the forces of evil. "[A] profoundly significant battle...took place in the spiritual regions ... This was one of the battles which occur repeatedly in world and human evolution and are customarily represented by the image of Michael or St George fighting the dragon. [2] Michael won one such victory over the dragon on behalf of the spiritual worlds in 1879." — R. Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), lecture 13, GA 177.

[1] See "Michael".

[2] In Anthroposophy, the dragon is usually taken as an embodiment of the arch-demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]

St. John's Day - also see evolution of consciousness; festivals; fire jumping

The celebration of St. John's Day is often the final festival of the Waldorf school year, coming (for schools in the northern hemisphere) at about the time of the summer break. "[T]he festival on 24 June in honour of St John the Baptist [1] ... In Waldorf schools, this festival is sometimes celebrated in the open air with a big bonfire ... At the end, pupils of the higher classes, often the ones about to leave school, are allowed to jump over the fire. [2]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 104.

As with other apparently Christian festivals celebrated at Waldorf schools, St. John's Day is given a distinctly Anthroposophical interpretation (which may or may not be made explicit). A brave transformation is enacted — a child courageously leaps from one state of being to a more advanced state (enacting the spiritual evolution central to Anthroposophical doctrine). This is done in service to the Sun God, Christ [3] — one follow's the example of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the incarnate Sun spirit, Christ Jesus.


Fire jumping does not occur at all Waldorf schools, by any means, but where it does occur, students of all ages are sometimes involved. (Generally, the younger students are assisted by their elders when leaping over the flames.) The event pictured here occurred at the Roseway Waldorf School [downloaded 6-26-2013 from]. The danger to the students should be apparent.

[1] "Saint John the Baptist, (born 1st century bc), Jewish prophet of priestly origin who preached the imminence of God’s Final Judgment and baptized those who repented in self-preparation for it; he is revered in the Christian church as the forerunner of Jesus Christ." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 6, 2015.

[2] As the photo, above, makes plain, young students are also encouraged to make these dangerous jumps. Often, they are assisted by older students or teachers.

[3] See "Sun God".

St. Martin's Day (Martinmas) - also see festivals

Following the celebration of Michaelmas (September 29), many Waldorf schools celebrate St. Martin's Day, otherwise known as Martinmas. In legend, Martin of Tours — at the time, a young soldier in the Roman army — kindly gave half his cloak to a beggar who was freezing in winter. Martin then had a vision of Christ, was baptized, and became a priest. In Anthroposophical teachings, St. Martin epitomizes mercy but also fervor. "Saint Martin moves our soul, he who shared his cloak with a beggar ... Compassion and love are combined with hardness toward himself, [and] severity toward those he considers unfaithful to Christ." — H. von Kügelgen, SAINT MARTIN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2009), p. 1.

Anthroposophists believe that in accepting Christ, Martin internalized the warmth and light of Christ's home place, the Sun. In celebration of St. Martin's Day, Waldorf students create small lanterns symbolizing the light of the Sun bravely fending off the cold and darkness of winter. "[F]estival on 11 November in honour of St Martin [1] ... In many Waldorf schools this festival involves making lanterns ... [T]he children go out into the street or a park, processing [sic] with their lanterns and singing St Martin songs ... As Jesus is born at Christmas, [the] inner light shines out from each individual." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 104-105.

[1] "Saint Martin of Tours, (born ad 316, Sabaria, Pannonia [now Szombathely, Hungary] — died Nov. 8, 397, Candes, Gaul [France]; Western feast day, November 11; Eastern feast day November 12), patron saint of France, father of monasticism in Gaul, and the first great leader of Western monasticism." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 6, 2015. In Waldorf schools, St. Martin is honored principally because of a legend that he gave his cloak to a beggar, who turned out to be Christ.

St. Michael - see Michael

St. Michael's Day - see Michaelmas

saints, lives of - also see fables; leaders; legends; religion

"[F]ables and saints' legends form the main story material told throughout the school year in Class Two of Waldorf schools ... In the lives of saints...the stories are of human beings who have overcome imbalance to achieve self-mastery. Saints can be said to have mastered all lower influences of the astral body. [1] That is why, in these legends, saints are often depicted surrounded by loving and obedient animals [2] ... The lives of saints are told to children [in Waldorf schools] at about age seven because, at that phase, their own astral body starts to develop a certain independence. For the first time they will be confronted with all the influences inherent in this 'astrality'. [3]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 105.

[1] I.e., the second of our nonphysical bodies described by Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

[2] These symbolize the "lower influences." (Steiner taught that animals branched off from the human evolutionary line at low levels of development. [See, e.g., "Evolution, Anyone?"])

[3] I.e., the inherent astral forces in humanity, and our existence on the astral plane. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "astral man", "astral nature", and "astral plane".]

salamander - also see fire spirits; nature spirits; cf. Fire Spirits

a) In biology: an amphibian resembling a newt.

b) In mysticism: an elemental being (nature spirit) that lives in fire; often called a fire spirit to differentiate this being from the animal called a salamander. Steiner said that such spiritual salamanders really exist. [See "Neutered Nature".] “[T]he elemental beings called by spiritual science 'Salamanders' have in part their origin from detached parts of animal group souls. [1] These have, as it were, ventured too far forward into our physical world and have not been able to find their way back and unite again with the group soul, after the death and dissolution of the animal. [2]” — R. Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 10, GA 102.


The animals called salamanders were once thought to be impervious to fire. The mystical "nature spirits" that dwell in fire are often called salamanders, but usually a distinction is drawn between these beings and their amphibian namesakes. This is a traditional image of a mystical salamander or fire spirit. [Image from Manly P. Hall's THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES (H. S. Crocker Co., 1928); color added.]

[1] Steiner taught that animals lack individual souls by each species or breed of animal shares a collective "group" soul. [See the entry for "group soul" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Steiner attempts to link spiritual salamanders to the animals called salamanders: The former derive "in part" from portions of the animals' (salamanders') collective souls that break away and become bodiless ethereal beings.

salvation - also see Anthroposophy; evolution; redemption; cf. perdition

Anthroposophists claim that their worldview is a science, not a religion. But in fact Anthroposophy is deeply devoted to the religious purpose known as salvation. "Our study of the Michael Mystery [1] was irradiated by thoughts of the Mystery of Golgotha. [2] For, in effect, Michael is the Power who leads man towards the Christ along the true way of man's salvation ... In the quick rhythmic repetition of the seasons of the year, the Divine-Spiritual Being [3] which descended into the depths of Earth [4] to permeate Nature's process with the Spirit, accomplishes this process. It is the ensouling of Nature with the Forces of the Beginning and of Eternity which must remain at work; even as Christ's descent [5] is the ensouling of Mankind with the Logos [6] of the Beginning and of Eternity, whose working for the salvation of mankind shall never cease." — R. Steiner, "A Christmas Study: The Mystery of the Logos", ANTHROPOSOPHICAL LEADING THOUGHTS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1973), GA 26.

Steiner taught that both faith [7] and moral behavior [8] are important, but — as the quotation above suggests — in Anthroposophy, salvation comes primarily through acquisition of occult knowledge: the Logos or Gnosis. [9] Thus, salvation is effectively a matter of occult initiation. [10] This is what Steiner claimed to offer his followers, through the medium of his "spiritual science": Anthroposophy. In this sense, Anthroposophists look to Steiner and his teachings — and the enactment of his "science" — for their salvation. [11]

[1] I.e., occult knowledge concerning the Archangel Michael. [See "Michael".]

[2] I.e., the occult meaning of Christ's Crucifixion. Golgotha is Calvary.

[3] I.e., Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]

[4] I.e., when Christ's blood flowed down from the cross.

[5] I.e., the Sun God's descent to Earth, where he incarnated in the body of a human being named Jesus. [See "Was He Christian?"]

[6] I.e., the divine Word. [See "Logos".]

[7] See "Faith".

[8] See "Morality".

[9] See "Gnosis". Gnosticism, which essentially asserts that salvation comes through knowledge — and particularly occult or hidden knowledge, difficult to discover and comprehend — is deemed a heresy from the viewpoint of orthodox Christian teachings. "Gnosticism. A complex of religious movements...appearing in developed form as a Christian heresy in the 2nd cent. ... Opponents of gnosticism...pointed to the plain sense of the scriptures and the unbroken tradition of the Church as proof against the legitimacy of esoteric revelation; to the absurdity of gnostic cosmology[;] the reality of Jesus' sufferings; the immoral character of the gnostics themselves." — THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 376.

[10] See "Inside Scoop".

[11] Concerning the practice of Anthroposophy, see "Knowing the Worlds" and "Serving the Gods" (in particular, the section "Doing Anthroposophy").

Samael - also see Archangels; Mars

In Anthroposophical belief: the Archangel of Mars; also known as Samuel. Like the other Archangels, Samael periodically assumes responsibility for Earthly life, Steiner taught. “The fifth ruler of the world was Samael, the Angel of Mars [1] ... Samael ruled for 354 years and 4 months and impressed his influence strongly upon humanity. Under Samael's reign...the universal flood occurred [2] ... [E]ach time Samael, the Genius of Mars [3], governs the world, a complete change occurs in some great monarchy.” — J. T. von Sponheim (1462-1516), quoted in an appendix to THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL, a collection of Steiner lectures (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 301.

[1] I.e, the Archangel of Mars. "Archangels rule historical periods of approximately 350 years, which also have a planetary connection, namely: 550-200 BCE Michael (Sun); 200 BCE-150 CE Oriphiel (Saturn); 150-500 Anael (Venus); 500-850 Zachariel (Jupiter); 850-1190 Raphael (Mercury); 1190-1510 Samael (Mars); 1510-1879 Gabriel (Moon); 1879-2230 Michael (Sun)." — Appendix in ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), a collection of Steiner lectures, p. 234.

[2] According to Anthroposophical belief, the Flood destroyed Atlantis. This differs significantly from the Biblical account. [See "Atlantis" and "Old Testament".] The Flood obviously did not occur during Samael's most recent Earthly reign, but during an earlier period.

[3] For more on Mars, see "Mars". (The "Genius" of a planet is its presiding god. [See the entry for "genius" in this encyclopedia.])

Samuel - see Samael

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

One of the four temperaments described in ancient Greek medical theory. [1] Medical science long ago put aside the antiquated concept of the four classical temperaments, but Steiner revived the concept and it is still observed in Waldorf schools today. [2] Sanguine individuals supposedly are more affected by blood than any other chemicals in their systems. They are, in some ways, the most "normal" people, with pleasing appearances and happy dispositions. Like everyone else, however, they have their shortcomings. "Sanguine people flutter through life like butterflies ... Friendships are easily made and easily ended. There is a preference for bright primary colours ... The danger of this temperament is a tendency to superficiality, or a chaotic approach to things. Sanguine people thrive on variety and frequent change." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 105-106.


Steiner taught that the four temperaments are manifested in four bodily types. “The melancholic children are as a rule tall and slender; the sanguine are the most normal; those with more protruding shoulders are the phlegmatic children; and those with a short stout build so that the head almost sinks down into the body are choleric.” — R. Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 34. [R.R. sketch, 2010.] In Waldorf belief, sanguine students are lithe and graceful, with dancing eyes; they love bright colors; they are often fickle; they are superficial, and forgetful; teachers should encourage them to pay attention as a personal favor.

[1] See "Humouresque".

[2] See "Temperaments".

Satan - also see Ahriman; cf. the Devil; Lucifer

In Jewish and Christian teachings, Satan is the chief demonic spirit, God's adversary. [1] Steiner distinguished between two terrible demons, whom he identified as Ahriman and Lucifer. In general, he equated Ahriman [2] with Satan while occasionally referring to Lucifer as "the Devil." [3] Steiner generally depicted Ahriman/Satan as a more terrible demon than Lucifer. [4] ◊ "Only from esoteric teachings did the Gospel writers also know of Satan — Ahriman.” — G. A. Kaufmann, SOULS OF THE NATIONS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1938), lecture 9. ◊ “You will find, — for at the time of the writers of the Gospels the word ‘devil’ (dämon) was taken from the Greek, — that in St. Mark's Gospel, where the temptation is spoken of, a ‘devil’ is spoken of; but whenever Ahriman is in question, the word ‘Satan’ is used.” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 9, GA 121. However, on occasion, Steiner used the title "Satan" in the orthodox sense, applying it to Lucifer. ◊ "Christ had to learn to hold fast to a supersensible good God, but only that He had a meeting with that which was for Him the 'evil,' — with Satan, with Lucifer." — R. Steiner, MAN IN THE LIGHT OF OCCULTISM, THEOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 8, GA 137.

[1] "The word Satan is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word for 'adversary.'" — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, June 16, 2015.

[2] See "Ahriman."

[3] See "Lucifer".

[4] Steiner taught that both Ahriman and Lucifer offer mankind temptations that may prove to be beneficial if received in the correct way, that is, through the intermediation of the Sun God, Christ. [See "Sun God".] But unless Christ holds Ahriman and Lucifer under his divine authority, the two demons may inflict grave damage.

Saturn - also see astrology; astronomy; Old Saturn; planets; Saturn humans; Saturn organ

a) The sixth planet from the Sun.

Steiner taught that Saturn is the outermost planet in our solar system: ◊ “Jupiter is, of course, very important ... And then comes the outermost planet, which is Saturn. [1]” — R. Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 44. ◊ "[I]f we take Saturn, the outermost planet of our Universe [2], we must represent him [3] as the leader of our planetary system in cosmic space. He directs our system in space. He is the body for the outermost force which leads us round in the lemniscate [4] in cosmic space.” — R. Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, GA 201.

Steiner also taught that Saturn has particular influences on Native Americans. “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. [See "Races".]

b) In Greek/Roman mythology, Saturn is Cronus (Kronos), who was the supreme god until he was dethroned by Zeus (Jupiter); Saturn is also the god of agriculture.

c) According to Steiner, the term "Saturn" — or, more correctly, "Old Saturn" — applies to our first evolutionary mega-stage or condition of consciousness. [6] “[T]he ancestors of man existed on Saturn [7] not only as beings with the dull Saturn consciousness [8], but also along with [i.e., they existed alongside]...beings which had already developed the higher stages of consciousness [9] ... The human being himself can [i.e., could] make no use of his [inner] luminosity on Saturn...but through it other more exalted beings [were] given the possibility to reveal themselves to the life of Saturn.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

The planet Saturn that we see in the sky today (see definition a, above) should not be confused with Old Saturn, although there is a connection. In Anthroposophical belief, the planet Saturn exists today as the home of beings so imbued with Saturnian qualities that they needed to remain in an Old-Saturn-like condition. Thus, the planet Saturn is a sort of reincarnation or surviving fragment of Old Saturn. [10]

[1] Steiner sometimes acknowledged Uranus and Neptune as being members of the solar system, thus demoting Saturn from its "outermost" place, but he generally either ignored those more distant planets or said that they are not true members of the solar system. Hence, usually, Steiner said that Saturn is "the outermost planet."

[2] I.e., our solar system. (It is not the entire universe, but it is "our" universe.)

[3] I.e., the planet Saturn and/or its resident god. In Anthroposophy, planets are generally the outward signs or manifestations of various gods.

[4] Steiner often taught that the planets do not orbit the Sun but follow the Sun along a path that traces a lemniscate — a figure eight — in space. [See "Deception".]

[5] Steiner taught that American Indians and their culture are decrepit, on the verge of extinction. Black Africans, he taught, are childlike, Asians are adolescent, whites are mature adults, and "Red Indians" are senescent. [See "Steiner's Racism".]

[6] See "Matters of Form" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness".

[7] I.e., during Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] The "ancestors of man" were, in effect, ourselves in a much earlier form. Old Saturn, Steiner taught, was the first incarnation of the solar system, and the first stage of our own evolution.

[8] During Old Saturn, Steiner said, our consciousness was the equivalent of being in a deep coma. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Old Saturn".]

[9] These were gods who were evolving, much as we evolved; they were more advanced than ourselves and thus had "higher stages of consciousness."

[10] See "Planets".

Saturn humans - also see Jupiter humans; Mars humans; Mercury race; Moon humans; planetary humans; Saturn; Sun humans; Venus humans; Vulcan humans

In Anthroposophical belief, these are humans on Saturn or during Old Saturn and/or those who are particularly influenced by Saturn, or who migrated to Saturn and returned [1], or who are descended from humans who went to Saturn. [See "Planetary Humans".] Steiner's statements about Saturn humans tend to be opaque. "It is true that Saturn human not move about side by side with Earth humanity in the same way as three-year-old children move about alongside fifty-year-old men and women, but within the earthly human being the previous states of humanity [2] are supersensibly perceptible. [3]” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), chapter 4, part 1, GA 13.

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

[2] E.g., the human condition during Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]

[3] i.e., clairvoyantly visible.

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

According to Steiner: a spiritual organ developed through the influence of Saturn during our passage into higher worlds following death. [1] "In the same way that in earthly life we have head, heart, limbs, and, immediately after death, Moon, Mercury, [and] Venus [organs], so, after that, we have organs which we must attribute to Mars, Jupiter, [and] Saturn. These are then our inner organs, just as heart, pineal gland, kidneys, are on Earth ... [T]hese new organs...have to be gradually developed ... In the first circle the spiritual Mars organ is developed; in the second, the Jupiter organ, and the Saturn organ in the last circle. [2]” — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227.

[1] See "Higher Worlds".

[2] I.e., after we die, we rise through the spheres of the planets, receiving their beneficial influences in succession. We rise into the Saturn sphere last, since Saturn is the "outermost planet" [see the entry for "Saturn", above].

satyrs - also see Ahrimanic beings; fauns; Luciferic beings

a) In Greek mythology: lustful gods, horse- or goat-like in form.

b) According to Steiner: real beings who use Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers for evil. [1] “[T]he urge towards rationalistic thought and towards a purely intellectual grasp of the earthly world [2] mingled with the element of lust in material existence. [3] In other words, a Luciferic impulse [4] gradually insinuated itself ... If the whole reality is revealed to us as we look over towards the East of Europe to-day, we see not human beings alone but an astral sphere [5] which since the Middle Ages has become the Paradise of beings once known as the Fauns and Satyrs. And if we understand the nature of these beings, we can also follow the processes of metamorphosis through which they have passed since then. [6] These beings move about among men and carry on their activities in the astral world [7], using on the one hand the Ahrimanic forces [8] of decadent, Eastern magic [9] and on the other, the forces emanating from the Luciferic, rationalistic thinking of the West. [10] And human beings on the Earth are influenced and affected by these forces. [paragraph break] In their present state, the goat-form which constitutes the lower part of the bodily structure of these beings has coarsened and become bear-like, but on the other hand their heads are radiant and possessed of a high order of intelligence. They are the mirrored personifications of Luciferic rationalism developed to its highest point of subtlety.” — R. Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe”, ANTHROPOSOPHY, No. 3, Vol. 6, GA 225.

[1] See "Ahriman", "Lucifer", and "Evil Ones".

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

[3] I.e., during our lives on the physical plane we have sunk to rational thinking, intellectualism, materialism, and lust. [See "Materialism U."]

[4] I.e., an impulse proceeding from Lucifer.

[5] I.e., a supernatural sphere.

[6] I.e., like most other beings, they continued to evolve.

[7] I.e., the soul world. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[8] I.e., the powers of Ahriman.

[9] See "Magic".

[10] Steiner sometimes associated the East with Ahriman and the West with Lucifer, but sometimes he reversed this. In either case, he taught that Germany stands between, balancing these influences, much as Christ does. [See "The Good Wars" and "Steiner and the Warlord".]

savages - also see Africans; racism

According to Steiner, these are members of low races, especially what he described as hot-blooded Africans. ◊ “[T]his question of race is one that we can never understand until we understand the mysteries of the blood and the results accruing from the mingling of the blood of different races [1] ... How can a negro [sic] or an utterly barbaric savage become civilized? ... [A race's fate hinges on] whether it be on the up- or down-grade of its evolution [2]...." — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Health Research Books, 1972), p. 13. ◊ "[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. The Negro has a powerful instinctual life. And because he actually has the sun, light, and warmth on his body surface, in his skin, his 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. [3]” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN CHRISTENTUMS (Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993), p. 55.

Whereas the people he called savage negroes are, he said, largely dependent on their "rear-brains," members of "higher" races use higher portions of their brains. [4] Steiner also identified other differences between civilized humans and savages. “Everyone possesses a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an ego [5], but there is a difference between a cultivated man and a savage ... The higher a man stands on a moral and intellectual plane, the more has his ego worked on his astral body.” — R. Steiner, INVESTIGATIONS INTO OCCULTISM SHOWING ITS PRACTICAL VALUE IN DAILY LIFE (Kessinger, 1996 — reproduction of 1920 edition), p. 51.

[1] Steiner opposed race mixing or exogamy. He taught that mankind needs to develop high clairvoyant abilities, but mixing racial blood types would cut off this possibility. "The physical organism of man survives when strange blood comes in contact with strange blood, but clairvoyant power perishes under the influence of this mixing of blood, or exogamy." — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD, p. 42.

[2] I.e., whether it is progressing or regressing.

[3] By contrast, Steiner taught that Asians rely primarily on the "middle brain" while whites rely mainly on the "forebrain." [See "Steiner's Racism".]

[4] See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "races".

[5] See "Incarnation".

schisms in Anthroposophy - also see Anthroposophy; clairvoyance; "doing" Anthroposophy; spiritual science

The central doctrines of Anthroposophy were laid down by Rudolf Steiner, and they have remained essentially unchanged since his death in 1925. Steiner claimed to employ "exact clairvoyance" [1], which meant that his visions should be accepted as virtually beyond question or dispute. Thus, in accepting Steiner's teachings, Anthroposophists should amicably share a uniform worldview. Nonetheless, disagreements and dissension are common among Anthroposophists, including Waldorf faculty members. [2] In part this is because Anthroposophy is a vast construct, meant to provide explanations for virtually all phenomena. [3] Moreover, Steiner was frequently inconsistent, even contradicting himself on many occasions. [4] Thus, it is natural that some Anthroposophists may focus on certain portions of the vast tapestry of Anthroposophy, while other Anthroposophists focus on other portions — and these portions may be difficult if not impossible to reconcile. Also, of course, there may be differing interpretations of Steiner's occult and esoteric pronouncements. A further complication is that Steiner urged his followers to make their own spiritual discoveries. [5] To this end, Anthroposophists strive to develop their own powers of clairvoyance. [6] In theory, the results of their clairvoyant pursuits should be consistent with Steiner's (since his effort were "exact"), but often their visions may differ from his or from one another's, in ways small or large. Hence, schisms may develop. A significant debate swirls, for instance, around the work of Judith von Halle, whom some Anthroposophists have accused of seeking to supplant Steiner as the central authority within Anthroposophy. [7]

[1] See "Exactly" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "exact clairvoyance".

[2] See, e.g., "His Education".

[3] See, e.g., "Everything".

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

[5] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "'doing' Anthroposophy".

[6] See, e.g., "Knowing the Worlds".

[7] See "JvH".

School of Michael - also see Anthroposophy; Michael; mystery schools; School of Spiritual Science

According to Steiner, the archangel Michael guides humanity in our time, and he does this primarily through Anthroposophy. [1] The term "School of Michael" is thus sometimes used to designate Anthroposophy. "St Michael and anthroposophy are connected in a special way. As the custodian of cosmic intelligence [2], and as spirit of the age [3], Michael inspires all human beings who wish to connect the human spirit with the spirit of the cosmos. [4] Anthroposophy is also called the School of Michael." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 78.

Prior to its manifestation on Earth, the School of Michael existed in the supersensible or spirit realm, Steiner said. [5] "[T]here arose under the leadership of Michael something which we may call...a supersensible School. What had once been the Michael Mystery [6]...this Michael himself now gathered up, expressing it again with untold significance to those whom he had gathered around him in this School of Michael. For it was a supersensible School of Michael at the beginning of the 15th century. All that once lived as the Michael became alive again in supersensible worlds. [7]" — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 3 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977), lecture 7, GA 237.

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

[2] I.e., the wisdom on the gods.

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Spirits of an Age".

[4] I.e., the gods collectively or the Godhead. [See "God" and "Polytheism".]

[5] "Supersensible," as Steiner used the term, means beyond the reach of our ordinary senses. To perceive the supersensible, we need clairvoyance, he said. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[6] i.e., the occult knowledge of or about Michael. [See "Michael" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge".]

[7] I.e., spiritual or "higher" worlds. [See "Higher Worlds".]

School of Spiritual Science - also see Anthroposophy; Esoteric School; First Class; Goetheanum; School of Michael; spiritual science

A school within the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum [1], devoted to Steiner's doctrines and to what Anthroposophists call clairvoyant spiritual research. [2] The School includes sections focusing on art, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, etc., as defined from an Anthroposophical perspective.

The School of Spiritual Science arose from the Esoteric School, which Steiner established in 1904, while he was still a Theosophist. [3] Steiner broke with Theosophy in 1913, setting up Anthroposophy as a separate spiritual movement, and soon thereafter the Esoteric School was formally disbanded. Remnants of the Esoteric School were folded into the School of Spiritual Science upon the creation of the latter in 1923, when Steiner reconstituted the Anthroposophical Society as the General Anthroposophical Society. [4] Steiner intended to create three classes within the School, but he died after creating only one: the "First Class." [5]

"Rudolf Steiner spoke of the School as the School of Michael. He linked it to the school that Michael [6] had guided behind the scenes of historical events ... The mystery wisdom [7] that lived in the supersensible School ... It was transformed...and brought to expression as living concept, or idea, in anthroposophy. The School of Spiritual Science was born in order to offer an esoteric training ground, a path of [esoteric] schooling for those who freely choose this way." — H. Barnes, RUDOLF STEINER: A Life for the Spirit (Anthroposophic Press), p. 246.

"The collective aspect of [Anthroposophical spiritual] striving tends to be concentrated in the School of Spiritual Science: it, more than any other social organ, is designed to be at the centre of the [Anthroposophical] movement ... Steiner made provision for three Classes. Only one — the 'First Class' — is known to be in operation ... [T]he door to the First Class is not opened to everyone, and not all members [of the General Anthroposophical Society] wish to belong to it. Probably 10 to 30 percent of recent General Society members have belonged to this inner society ... Members of this elite are pledged to secrecy, a vow which is usually strictly observed." — G. Ahern, SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), pp. 60-61.

For glimpses into the teachings provided to students at the School of Spiritual Science (and its predecessor, the Esoteric School), see R. Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), ESOTERIC LESSONS 1910-1912 (SteinerBooks, 2012), and ESOTERIC LESSONS 1913-1923 (SteinerBooks, 2011).


The School of Spiritual Science meets on the campus of the Goetheanum, the worldwide headquarters of Anthroposophy, located in Dornach, Switzerland. [GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961), p. 12; color added.]

[1] See the entries for "General Anthroposophical Society" and "Goetheanum" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

[2] There is little or no evidence that such "research" has any validity or, indeed, that clairvoyance exists. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[3] See the entries for "Esoteric School" and "Theosophy" in this encyclopedia. Also see "Basics".

[4] See the entries for "Anthroposophy" and "Anthroposophical Society" in this encyclopedia.

[5] See "Six Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education" and the entry for "First Class" in this encyclopedia.

[6] I.e., the archangel Michael. [See "Michael".]

[7] See "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.

Schwartz, Eugene (b. 1945)

American Anthroposophist who has served as a Waldorf school teacher and head of a Waldorf teacher-training program. He consults widely on educational matters, promoting Waldorf education. His published works include MILLENNIAL CHILD and THE WALDORF TEACHER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE. He has argued that, to do their work well, Waldorf teachers need to use clairvoyance. [1] He has also urged Waldorf faculties to stop deceiving students' parents: They should admit that Waldorf schools are essentially religious. [2] In 2014, Schwartz became embroiled in a sex scandal relating to his actions as a Waldorf teacher in 2005. [3] He has maintained his innocence.

[1] See, e.g., E. Schwartz, WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century (Xlibris Corporation, 2000), p. 17.

[2] See "Waldorf Education — For Our Times Or Against Them?"

[3] See "Extremity".

Schweitzer, Albert (1875-1965) - also see admirers of Rudolf Steiner

German theologian, doctor, and missionary; winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1952. Schweitzer is sometimes quoted as admiring Rudolf Steiner, and there were similarities between the two men. Both were polymaths with interests in theology, medicine, the arts, and social welfare. Schweitzer is best remembered for his humanitarian work in Africa, where he established a hospital that eventually included a leper colony. Both his theology and his medical practice were controversial (the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA refers to "occasional criticisms of Schweitzer’s medical practice as being autocratic and primitive"), but his moral example inspired many around the world. Despite he purported admiration for Steiner, he did not become an Anthroposophist, and he does not mention Steiner in his autobiography, OUT OF MY LIFE AND THOUGHT.

science, and Waldorf opposition to it - also see anti-scientific bias; Darwin; Einstein; evolution; logic; medicine; natural science; physical science; science curriculum at Waldorf schools; scientific theory; technology; thinking; cf. alchemy; Anthroposophy; astrology; clairvoyance; Goethean "science"; magic; mystery science; occult science; spiritual science; superstition

Science is the search for knowledge based on careful observation, accumulation of verifiable information, formulation of testable hypotheses, and diligent experimentation. Steiner claimed that Anthroposophy is a science devoted to studying the spiritual realm, but in reality Anthroposophy depends on clairvoyance (which almost certainly does not exist) and thus its findings cannot be considered careful observation, nor can they be tested or verified. [See "Clairvoyance", "Steiner's 'Science'", and "Is Anthroposophy Science?".]

Despite sometimes asserting that there is (or should be) no conflict between the natural sciences and Anthroposophy, Steiner was often highly critical of science. Thus, for instance: "When the intellectual age began to dawn, the old conception of the fall of mankind was responsible for the veto on all thoughts concerning pre-existence. [1] Then science arose as the immediate offspring of this misunderstood fall of man. Our science [2] is sinful, it is the direct outcome of the misunderstanding relating to the fall of man ... 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.

Although Steiner claimed to be a scientist of sorts (a "spiritual scientist"), and although he sometimes said that natural science would eventually confirm his teachings, Steiner expressed his antagonism toward science in statements such as the following. He opposed “scientific simpletons” [6] with their “scientific trash” [7] and their “logical, pedantic, narrow-minded proof of things.” [8] He deplored “primitive concepts like those...of contemporary science.” [9] "[S]cience speaks under the influence of the demonic Mars-forces." [10] Hence, "[W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons...we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity.” [11]

Advocates of Anthroposophy today often skim through scientific literature, cherry-picking test results and observations that — with careful interpretation — may be made to seem consistent with the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy. Thus, they seek to validate Steiner's claim that Anthroposophy is scientifically valid. But in fact, as science has progressed, Anthroposophical tenets that may have seemed plausible in Steiner's time have become less and less credible. Indeed, science and occultism are fundamentally at odds, as Steiner himself sometimes acknowledged: "Occult Science [12] is the antithesis of Natural Science.” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), preface to editions 16-20, p. xiv, GA 13.

[1] I.e., the existence of human beings or proto-humans in earlier stages of spiritual evolution. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".] (Steiner often dismissed or "corrected" not just natural science but mainstream religion, including Judaism and Christianity. [See, e.g., "Genesis", "Sermon", and "Steiner's Fifth Gospel".])

[2] I.e., modern science. [See "Science".] Cf. "spiritual science." [See the entry for the latter term, below.]

[3] I.e., the purpose of earthly — and, indeed, cosmic — evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "divine cosmic plan".]

[4] I.e., knowledge based on clairvoyance. Essentially, Steiner meant the "knowledge" he himself presented in his Anthroposophical teachings.

[5] I.e., the impetus for our evolution provided by Christ, the Sun God, when he descended to Earth. [See "Sun God" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Christ Impulse".]

[6] R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 276.

[7] R. Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 94.

[8] R. Steiner, ART AS SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 240.

[9] R. Steiner, HOW CAN MANKIND FIND THE CHRIST AGAIN (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), p. 54.

[10] R. Steiner, “The Spiritual Individualities of the Planets” (THE GOLDEN BLADE 1966).

[11] R. Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940.

[12] By "occult science," Steiner meant any science that uses clairvoyance to ascertain spiritual truths. His own "spiritual science" is the highest such science yet, he claimed. AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE is his magnum opus, in which he summarizes his occult teachings. [See "Everything" and "Occultism".]

science curriculum at Waldorf schools - also see anti-scientific bias; astronomy; biology; botany; chemistry; Goethean "science"; mathematics; physics; science; zoology

Steiner's followers take a dim view of modern sciences, which do not affirm their doctrines. [1] Sciences are studied, but often in distorted form, in Waldorf schools. “The science teacher has a most difficult task. Natural science has become purely materialistic in its approach [2] and the immense discoveries and their application in technology have produced a de-spiritualised and de-humanised world.” — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION (Hawthorn Press, 1993), p. 115. The task of the Waldorf science teacher is difficult because Steiner rejected most of modern science. He called science “scientific junk” and he called scientists “scientific simpletons.” Steiner preferred “Goethean” science in which one intuits (i.e., invents and projects) spiritual essences in phenomena. [3] Ultimately, Steiner advocated his own “spiritual science” in which one uses clairvoyance to perceive (i.e., invent and project) spiritual essences in and behind the objects of observation. [4] Waldorf science classes often lead students toward such "perceptions" and may even teach mental approaches that are virtually indistinguishable from Anthroposophical meditative practices. [5] They thus downplay or even proscribe the clear-eyed, rational objectivity that real science requires.

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

[2] I.e., it focuses exclusively on the physical level of existence. (In Anthroposophy, "materialism" generally means confining one's vision to the material universe. "Materialistic thinking" is, generally, the use of the physical brain to explore that universe. [See, e.g., "Materialism U."])

[3] See "Goethe" and "Steiner's 'Science'".

[4] In addition to the pages already cited, see e.g., "Science", "Spiritual Science", and "Basement".

[5] See, e.g., the discussion of the book THE WONDERS OF WALDORF CHEMISTRY in "Steiner's 'Science'".

scientific theory - also see science

An explanatory grouping of ideas based on established facts, i.e., scientific knowledge. A scientific theory explains a phenomenon or a set of phenomena. The prevailing scientific theories of any period of time represent the best, most solid explanations available at that time, resulting from well-established information about the real world. Later theories may improve upon or overturn earlier theories, but in no case does the word "theory" mean, in this context, loose or unsubstantiated guessing. Anthroposophists often attack modern science as if the word "theory" has this latter, informal meaning, and they use this as a justification for rejecting much of science and turning to Steiner's occult, alternative worldview instead. Yet there is a vast amount of evidence supporting the prevailing scientific theories of today; there is little or none supporting Anthroposophy. [See "Steiner's Blunders".]

Scorpio - also see astrology; constellations; Mars; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (October 24-November 22). Element — water ... Ruling planet — Mars. Qualities ... The natives possess intense loyalty to their abiding interests, are highly capable, enthusiastic, courageous, ultimately successful in their endeavors, and are generous and loyal to those they trust; however, they can be relentlessly revengeful, pugnacious, arrogant, violent in their moods and too wasteful of their emotional and sexual passions." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), pp. 260-261. ◊ "Scorpio provides pronounced difficulties for the neophyte, for he who would...become a Parsifal [1] must have dealt with the ugly serpent [2] that lies in the swamps of the lower nature ... The spiritualizing power of the stellar script [3] can be properly understood only through concentration and meditation upon the informing forces of the Zodiac and the planets [4], for these are the Spiritual Hierarchies [5] ... Scorpio is the sign of the warrior and the battleground of the desires and of the soul world. [6]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS ON THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 156-158.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Scorpio. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Scorpio. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Existence consumes the being,/Yet in being, existence is held./In activity, growth disappears,/In becoming activity pauses./In worlds that prevail and punish,/In the chastening that shapes and forms,/All-being sustains the beings." — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] I.e., a devout, questing knight. [See the entry for "Parzival" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] In general, this is an image of Satan, the Devil, or demonic power offering temptations.

[3] Anthroposophists believe that great wisdom is preserved in a "stellar script" that can be read through the use of clairvoyance. [See "Akasha".]

[4] See "The Planets".

[5] I.e., the gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[6] Steiner said that the spiritual realm consists of a soul world and a spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".] Earthly desires may be carried into the soul world, where they must be purged, he said.

seals, mystic or occult - also see Apocalypse; planetary seals; signs; Sixth Epoch; symbols

Mystic emblems, often resembling mandalas. Several mystic seals are present in Anthroposophy, especially a set meant to represent the seven seals that are to be opened during the Apocalypse. Steiner foretold the opening of the Apocalyptic seals during the coming sixth great epoch. [See "Sixth Epoch".]


This is one of a set of seven Anthroposophic mystic seals. [1] According to Steiner, this seal represents the Mystery of the Holy Grail. [2] [See Rudolf Steiner, MYSTIC SEALS AND COLUMNS (Health Research, 1969); R. R. sketch, 2010.]

[1] See "Through His Eyes". In Anthroposophical teachings, the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible is often conflated with Götterdämmerung, the "twilight of the gods" described in Norse myths. [See "The Gods".] Steiner foretold a version of the Apocalypse as the looming War of All Against All. [See "All vs. All".]

[2] See "Grail".

seances - also see the dead, communicating with; mediums; spirits

These are meetings, presided over by mediums [1], in which attempts are made to contact the dead or other disembodied spirits. Steiner claimed that the dead can indeed be contacted [see "Steiner and the Warlord"], but he said that mediums usually do not see deeply into the mysteries they approach. “When mediums are possessed of the necessary faculties, they can see the Akasha Chronicle [2], although in most cases only its astral reflections. [3] Now there is something singular about the Akasha Chronicle. If we discover some person there, he behaves like a living being. [4] If we find Goethe, for example, he may not only answer [5] in the words which he actually spoke in his life but he gives answer in the Goethean sense; it may even happen that he utters in his own style and trend, verses he never actually wrote. [6] The Akasha picture is so alive that it is like a force working on in the mind of the human being. Hence the picture may be confused with the individuality himself. [7] Mediums believe that they are in contact with the dead man whose life is continuing in the spirit, whereas in reality it is only his astral Akasha-picture. The spirit of Caesar may already have reincarnated on earth and it is his Akasha picture that gives the answers in seances. It is not the individuality of Caesar but only the enduring impression which the picture of Caesar has left behind in the Akasha Chronicle. This is the basis of errors in very many spiritualist seances. We must distinguish between what remains of the human being in his Akasha-picture and what continues to evolve as the true individuality. These are matters of extreme importance.” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 4, GA 99. [See "Seances".]

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

[2] This is, according to occult tradition, a celestial storehouse of knowledge. [See "Akasha".]

[3] I.e., mediums usually cannot see the Akasha Chronicle itself, but only "reflections" of it on the astral plane. [See the entries for "astral plane" and "astral world" in this encyclopedia.] The implication is that most mediums lack true clairvoyant insight of the sort Steiner claimed to possess.

[4] I.e., if we find knowledge about a person in the Asasha Chronicle — if we "see" her/him there — the image we discover appears to actually be that person.

[5] We can interrogate the people (or images of people) we find in the Akasha Chronicle.

[6] I.e., the image will respond in the characteristic language of the person represented, making statements (or in the case of a poet, reciting verses) that the person never spoke or wrote while alive.

[7] Steiner is distinguishing between this image and the actual spirit of the person in question. The person may already have reincarnated on Earth, so the image a medium interrogates is not truly that person. The "individuality" of a person is her/his true identity, the spiritual ego or "I". [See "Ego".] This identity is carried into all of the incarnations a person experiences while undergoing the process of reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".]

seasons - also see Earth; festivals; nature

"The earth breathes like a living being. [1] The process is expressed in the four seasons [2] ... On the summer side of the planet, the earth breathes out, while on the winter side the planet breathes in ... The Christian festivals [3], often drawing on ancient pagan celebrations, are embedded in the seasonal cycle...[reflecting] the flourishing and waning of life, mirrored by an alternation in the human being between greater inwardness and enhanced awareness of outer surroundings...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 106-107.

[1] Steiner often taught that the Earth is in fact alive. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Earth".]

[2] According to Anthroposophical belief, the four seasons of the year are overseen by four Archangels: spring, Raphael; summer, Oriphiel; autumn, Michael; winter, Gabriel.

[3] The "seasonal" festivals celebrated at Waldorf schools (such as the "spring festival") are indeed essentially religious observances. They embody both Christian and pagan elements. [See "Magical Arts" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "festivals at Waldorf schools".]

Second Coming of Christ, The - also see Christ; Christ, Second Coming of; etheric Christ; Sun God

a) In Christian theology, Christ is expected to return to Earth at the Last Judgment. This prophesied event lies in the future.

b) In Anthroposophical belief, Christ the Sun God lived on Earth for three years in the body of Jesus. [1] In at least a mystical sense, Christ united with the Earth. [2] He then departed, but later he returned to a region close to the Earth — the etheric world. [3] Anthroposophists believe that the Second Coming is essentially the revelation of Christ’s true nature, which is provided by Anthroposophy. The Second Coming and the practice of Anthroposophy are thus, Anthroposophists believe, inextricably bound up in each other. Anthroposophists usually date Christ's return as occurring — or at least beginning — in or about the year 1930 CE, a few years after Steiner's death. [4] "[T]he Second Coming of Christ has already taken place with his increased activity within the etheric world ... Since about 1930...the Christ has begun to manifest himself in the world next to man, the etheric world." — S. C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 165 & 178.

Steiner said the orthodox Christian belief that Christ will return bodily to the Earth is mistaken. The reality, Steiner said, is that Christ’s true being — his “ether form” — is perceptible only to those who use clairvoyance properly (i.e., in accordance with Steiner's teachings). This perception of Christ is “like” the Christian expectation of Christ’s bodily return. ◊ “The will of man must be fired by divine wisdom, and the most powerful impulse for this will be if the sublime ether-form [5] of Christ Jesus becomes perceptible to those who have truly prepared themselves. To a person in whom natural clairvoyance [6] has developed this will be like a Second Coming of Christ Jesus. [7]” — R. Steiner, RELIGION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 186. [See "Was He Christian?".] ◊ “Christ will appear again inasmuch as with their etheric sight [8] men will raise themselves to Him. When this is understood, Spiritual Science [9] is disclosed as the means of preparing men to recognise the return of Christ, in order that it shall not be their misfortune to overlook this event but that they shall be mature enough to grasp the great happening of the Second Coming of Christ. Men will become capable of seeing etheric bodies and among them, too, the etheric body of Christ; that is to say, they will grow into a world where Christ will be revealed to their newly awakened faculties.” — R. Steiner, THE TRUE NATURE OF THE SECOND COMING (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), lecture 1, GA 118.

[1] See "Was He Christian?" and "Avatars".

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

[3] I.e, the Second Coming has occurred in a level of existence higher than the physical world. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "etheric world".]

[4] See the entry for "historical narrative" in this encyclopedia. (As on most points, there is some disagreement among Anthroposophists about the date of Christ's return. Some Anthroposophists say it still lies in the future.)

[5] Essentially, this means Christ's etheric body. [See "Incarnation" and the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] Usually, Steiner indicated that mankind has lost its power of "natural" or "atavistic" clairvoyance, and today we must cultivate new, higher powers of clairvoyance.

[7] Steiner was speaking before the Second Coming was to occur, hence his use of the future tense.

[8] I.e., clairvoyance, enabling us to perceive events in the higher worlds. [See "Higher Worlds" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[9] I.e., Anthroposophy — Steiner's own teachings. Steiner taught that we can attain new powers of clairvoyance by practicing Anthroposophy.

second dentition - see teeth

second elementary kingdom - see elemental kingdoms; Second Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life

Second Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life - also see conditions of life; elemental kingdoms; First Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life; Third

Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life

According to Anthroposophical belief: During our evolution, we have passed through three elementary conditions of life prior to our present, mineral condition of life. [1] The elementary conditions prepared the bases for incarnation in the mineral (densely physical, material) condition, which itself prepares for — and yields to — subsequent conditions that rise into spiritualized existence. [2] Each elementary condition is, in effect, the enactment of an elementary kingdom or level of nature. The second elementary condition expresses the second such kingdom; it also recapitulates Old Sun [3] in modified form, and it lays the foundation for the etheric body. [4] "In the second Condition of Life the second elementary kingdom emerges ... The earth is then a very beautifully formed sphere containing the various forces woven by the world-ether thoughts [5] ... This includes the craftsmen of plant growth...gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders [6], and also the [nonphysical] beings that bring about crystallization [on the physical plane]. The human etheric body and the germ of the glandular system are prepared here. [7] This [condition] repeats the Sun evolution [8] twice modified. [9]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), p. 103.


During each condition of consciousness [10], we evolve through seven conditions of life (or conditions analogous to conditions of life — things differ greatly among the various conditions of consciousness). During the 1st Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Saturn; during the 2nd Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Sun; during the 3rd Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Moon. [11] Evolving from the 1st Elementary Kingdom to the Mineral Kingdom is, in a sense, a descent; but thereafter, we reascend as we evolve upward to the Human Kingdom. [12]

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

[2] See the chart accompanying the entry for "rounds" in this encyclopedia. "Rounds" is the Theosophical term for conditions of life. [See "Basics".]

[3] This was the second incarnation of the solar system, Steiner taught. [See "Old Sun".]

[4] This is the first of three invisible bodies that, Steiner taught, a fully incarnated human being possesses. [See "Incarnation".]

[5] I.e., divine thoughts (the intentions of the gods) that infuse the ethers. [See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] I.e., nature spirits — invisible beings that dwell within the forces of nature. [See "Neutered Nature".]

[7] I.e., during the Second Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life.

[8] I.e., Old Sun.

[9] Steiner taught that as we evolve, we continually recapitulate former stages in higher or modified forms.

[10] Conditions of consciousness are incarnations of the solar system: They are the major stages of our evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness".]

[11] These were the first three incarnations of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", and "Old Moon, Etc."]

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

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

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. These ranks are subdivided into three hierarchies or classes. [1] The Second Hierarchy comprises the three middle ranks of gods: gods of the fourth, fifth, and sixth ranks. Above the Second Hierarchy is the First Hierarchy; below is the Third Hierarchy. Descriptions of the gods comprising these Hierarchies can be found on various pages in this encyclopedia. Humanity stands below the nine ranks of gods and may be considered, in a sense, the tenth rank. [2] Thus, gods of the sixth rank (the lowest rank of the Second Hierarchy) stand four levels higher than humanity; gods of the fifth rank stand five levels higher than humanity; and gods of the fourth rank stand six levels higher than humanity. [3]

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The middle three ranks comprise the Second Hierarchy. The gods of each rank are known by various names. Steiner preferred some of the less familiar names, which he indicated more truly represent these gods.

[1] Sometimes Steiner used the term "hierarchies" for ranks rather than subdivisions of ranks. In that case, there are nine hierarchies of gods. (Anthroposophists thus sometimes say that the "hierarchies" do thus and so, meaning the gods do thus and so.) However, Steiner usually used the term "hierarchies" as indicated here: It applies to the three subdivisions of the gods.

[2] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

[3] Dominions, etc., are gods of the fourth rank; Mights, etc., are gods of the fifth rank; Powers, etc., are gods of the sixth rank.

second sight - see clairvoyance

secrecy, secrets in and around Waldorf education - also see denial; gnosis; initiation; occult; secret brotherhoods; spiritualistic agenda; Waldorf schools

Secrecy has been built into the Anthroposophical movement from its inception. Rudolf Steiner claimed to possess “occult” — i.e., hidden or secret — spiritual wisdom. His most important book is titled AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. In that volume — as well as in other books and lectures — Steiner revealed much of his claimed secret wisdom. But he also kept much hidden from the uninitiated. He expressed his somewhat conflicted views on secrecy in another of his central texts: "It is a natural law among all initiates [1] to withhold from no man the knowledge that is due him but there is an equally natural law which lays down that no word of esoteric knowledge [2] shall be imparted to anyone not qualified to receive it. And the more strictly he observes these laws, the more perfect is an initiate. The bond of union embracing all initiates is spiritual and not external, but the two laws here mentioned form, as it were, strong clasps by which the component parts of this bond are held together. You may live in intimate friendship with an initiate, and yet a gap severs you from his essential self, so long as you have not become an initiate yourself. [3] You may enjoy in the fullest sense the heart, the love of an initiate, yet he will only confide his knowledge to you when you are ripe for it. You may flatter him; you may torture him; nothing can induce him to betray anything to you as long as you, at the present stage of your evolution [4], are not competent to receive it into your soul in the right way. [5]" — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), chapter 1, GA 10.

For Steiner's followers today, there is a continuing debate about how much to reveal and how much to conceal. Over time, the Anthroposophical veil of secrecy has gradually lifted, but evidently not all the way. (We on the outside cannot know for sure how many secrets are still kept hidden by Anthroposophical insiders. But Anthroposophy's long history of secrecy and deceit suggests that much may still be hidden.) Anthroposophists are often tightlipped, even today, and although Anthroposophical publications have proliferated, learning what Anthroposophists actually believe and do can still require detective work. Unfortunately, Anthroposophical secrecy seems densest around Waldorf schools, where the faculties' ties to Anthroposophy, their devotion to Steiner, and spiritual/evolutionary goals of the Waldorf program are still often denied or misrepresented. [See, e.g., "Secrets" and "Sneaking It In".]

[1] I.e., those who possess occult knowledge — those who are privy to secret spiritual wisdom. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[2] In this context, "esoteric" (meaning intended for or understood by only a small group) can be taken as essentially synonymous with "occult." (An alternate title for AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, used in one edition, is AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE).

[3] Teachers at Waldorf schools often consider themselves to be occult initiates. Hence, they keep many secrets from those parents, etc., who have not been initiated. [See "Secrets".]

[4] Steiner taught that individuals — like entire races — stand at different evolutionary levels. [See, e.g., "Evolution, Anyone?"] Here he says that unevolved individuals are not qualified to receive occult secrets.

[5] Note how ironclad this secrecy is meant to be: An initiate will not divulge occult secrets even when tortured.

secret brotherhoods - also see Lodge of Twelve; occult lodges; secret temple; White Brotherhood; White Lodge

These are clandestine groups or societies, some with evil aims. According to Steiner, both good and evil secret brotherhoods — consisting of initiates [1], often having magical powers [2] — really exist. “Knowledge about real spirits who are outside the scope of human consciousness...was always regarded as the secret possession of certain brotherhoods who...were always honestly of the opinion that the majority of human beings were insufficiently mature to possess this knowledge. [3] And this was to a large extent indeed the case. But many other brotherhoods, those we call brotherhoods of the left-hand path [4], endeavoured to keep this knowledge to themselves also because when such knowledge is possessed by a small group it gives that group power over others.” — R. Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS and the Mystery of the Human Double (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 130. [See, e.g., "Double Trouble".]

[1] See "Inside Scoop".

[2] See "Magic".

[3] See the entry for "secrecy", above; also see the entries for "occult" and "mystery knowledge".

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

secret temple - see gnosis; initiation; mystery; occult; secret brotherhoods

A temple devoted to or containing mystery knowledge, secret wisdom, gnosis. [1] Often, secret rituals are enacted in secret temples. Steiner said that some of the practices formally found in secret temples need to be renewed in the modern world. Thus, for example, "What was established in ancient times in secret temple procedures by prominent somnambulists [2] must now be again established by human beings developing spiritual perception [3] in themselves.” — R. Steiner, PASTORAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), lecture 9, GA 318.

[1] These terms are largely synonymous, referring to occult knowledge or secrets. [See the entries for such terms in this encyclopedia.]

[2] I.e., clairvoyants moving in a sleep state. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "somnambulism"]

[3] I.e., clairvoyance. (Steiner taught that significant spiritual wisdom can be found in the sleep state or in dreams. [See, e.g., "Dreams".]

Seddon, Richard

British Anthroposophist and author of works about Rudolf Steiner's teachings. He served on the council of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain. His published works include THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER, EUROPA: A Spiritual Biography, and THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM. (He should not be confused with the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, who had the same name.)

self-deception - also see denial

Arguably the basis of Anthroposophical beliefs and practices. [1] Most Anthroposophists aspire to clairvoyance, and many — including many Waldorf teachers — believe that they are in fact clairvoyant. But in this they almost certainly deceive themselves, since there is no solid evidence that clairvoyance is possible. [2] Anthroposophical self-deception is often prominent in Waldorf schools. [3]

[1] See. e.g., "Fooling (Ourselves)".

[2] See "Clairvoyance".

[3] See, e.g., "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".

self-movement, sense of - see movement, sense of

Semites - see Hebrews; Jews; Primal Semites

sensationalism - also see philosophy; senses; world conceptions

One of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions, according to Steiner. “[One] can say: 'The world of phenomena we certainly have around us, but all that we believe we have in these phenomena is what we have ourselves added to them, what we have thought into them. Our own sense-impressions are all we can rightly accept. Anyone who says this — mark it well! — is not an adherent of Phenomenalism. [1] He peels off from the phenomena everything which he thinks comes only from the understanding and the reason, and he allows validity only to sense-impressions, regarding them as some kind of message from reality.' This outlook may be called Sensationalism.” — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 38. Steiner associated sensationalism with Leo. [See “Philosophy”.]

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

sense of I - see I, sense of

senses (human) - also see balance, sense of; ego sense; etheric senses; eyesight; hearing; I, sense of; life sense; movement, sense of; nerve-senses system; smell, sense of; speech sense; taste, sense of; thought sense; touch, sense of; warmth, sense of; cf. supersensible; supersensory

Faculties by which we perceive the world. In general usage, there are said to be five: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Scientists have greatly refined our understanding of sensory perception, telling of additional senses such as proprioception (internal awareness of bodily position) and echolocation (finding one's location by echo). But Steiner's teachings about the senses are almost wholly without scientific foundation. Linking his teachings as he often did to astrology, Steiner taught that we have twelve senses. The physical senses, he said, are: touch, life, movement, and balance. The soul senses are: smell, taste, vision, and temperature. The spirit senses are: hearing, speech, thought, and ego sense. These twelve senses are associated with the astrological influences of Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Virgo, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Taurus, and Aries, in that order. [See "What We're Made Of".]

According to Anthroposophical belief, humans have 12 senses corresponding to the 12 signs of the zodiac. Four of the senses are centered in the physical body, four in the soul, and four in the spirit.

sensitive crystallization - also see biodynamic gardening and farming; medicine; cf. science

An esoteric analytical technique used in biodynamic agriculture [1] and Anthroposophical medicine [2]: reading crystal patterns formed in a salt solution. See, for instance, the books SENSITIVE CRYSTALLIZATION PROCESSES (Anthroposophic Press, 1975) and SENSITIVE CRYSTALLIZATION: Visualizing the Qualities of Wines (Floris Books, 2011). Concerning the latter, the publisher says "Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who introduced biodynamics into North America, developed a method in the 1930s to visually demonstrate the presence of formative forces — that is, forces acting on living organisms which emanate from the Earth, the Sun and other planets. [3] He arrived at the sensitive crystallization method using copper chloride crystals mixed with samples of the particular plant. Sensitive crystallization is of great consequence to winemaking and winemakers."

According to critics, sensitive crystallization has little or no actual value — it reveals essentially nothing. [See the the Afterward to "Biodynamics".]

[1] See "Biodynamics".

[2] See "Steiner's Quackery".

[3] Astrology underlies many Anthroposophical beliefs. [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".]

sentient body - also see astral body

The sentient body is sometimes said to be the astral body [see "Our Parts"], and at other times it is said to be a portion of the astral body. [1] ◊ "Man, as we know...consists of physical body, etheric body, astral or sentient body and ‘I’ or Ego. [2]" — G. A. Kaufmann, SOULS OF THE NATIONS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1938), lecture 1. ◊ "Sentient body - the part of the astral body that enables us to gather sense impressions from, and respond to, the surrounding world." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 107.

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

[2] These are the four bodies human beings come to possess, according to Steiner. The "I" or "Ego" is the highest of the four; it conveys divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

sentient soul - also see consciousness soul; intellectual soul; mind soul; soul; soul nature; soul types; spiritual soul

According to Steiner, our souls have three parts. The first part is the sentient soul, which forms feelings and concepts. The sentient soul then passes these to the next level, the mind soul which mulls them over. (The mind soul is also called the intellectual soul, although Steiner taught that intellect is unreliable. The "intellect" he affirmed is heavily modified by emotion and clairvoyance.) The upper level of the soul is the consciousness soul which finds links and applications between one's inner consciousness and the objective, outer world. [See "Our Parts".]

The three parts of the soul may be called separate souls, and they are arrayed from low to high. The development of each soul is a process of maturation and spiritual improvement. Steiner taught that the sentient soul usually incarnates around age 28, the mind soul at about age 35, and the consciousness soul at around age 42. He said that humanity as a whole has passed through the same process of development (the individual human recapitulates the history of mankind in general). Likewise, each soul is particularly influenced by the powers of a particular planet or celestial sphere. The sentient soul is influenced by the Moon, the mind soul by Mars, and the consciousness soul by Mercury. [See "What We're Made Of".]

In Anthroposophical teachings, the history of mankind is the history of our evolution through the acquisition of higher and higher members of our being. "In an individual human life the soul passes through successive stages of development ... The stages are the same for individual men as they have been in history and will be in the future. We pass through in our own lives the age of the sentient soul, the intellectual soul, and the consciousness soul...." — S. C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 38. Before incarnating our souls, we incarnated our bodies. The following chart indicates some important developments on the planet Earth as it has existed recently, according to Anthroposophical teachings; the development of various bodies and souls is indicated:


Seraphim - also see Spirits of Love

a) According to Judeo-Christian esotericism: the highest order of angels.

b) According to Steiner: gods nine levels above mankind. [1] They reside in the upper sphere of the zodiac [2], where they labor to harmonize the solar system with the rest of the cosmos. [3] The Seraphim — whom Steiner designated Spirits of Love — are the highest of the three types of gods in the highest hierarchy [4] of gods, the First Hierarchy; below the Seraphim in the First Hierarchy are the Cherubim and Thrones. [5] Like the other gods, the Seraphim evolved to their current lofty station from much lower conditions in the past. Indeed, their evolution began long before our solar system existed. "Before a system of Thrones, Cherubim, Seraphim can be evolved, it must have been a solar system at an earlier stage [6]; which means, that when the Sun has got so far as to be reunited with its planets, it becomes itself a circle — a Zodiacal circle. [7] That which we have come to know in the Zodiac, those great, sublime Beings [8], are the results that have come over to us from an earlier solar system." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 5, GA 110.


There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The highest three ranks comprise the First Hierarchy. Seraphim, according to Steiner, are gods of the first or highest rank.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] See "Zodiac".

[3] See "Higher Worlds".

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

[5] The former are also called Spirits of Harmony; the latter are also called Spirits of Will. (The terms Radiating Live and Radiating Flames are also used for gods of this rank.)

[6] I.e., these gods come from an older solar system ("a solar system at an earlier stage", not our solar system at an earlier stage).

[7] I.e., a solar system completes its history when its sun, having spun off the planets of that solar system, pulls those planets back inward and reunites with them; this completes the "Zodiacal circle" (i.e., a circuit around the zodiac) for that sun.

[8] I.e., the gods in question, those of the First Hierarchy.

Sermon on the Mount, The - also see Christ; Christianity; fifth gospel

A sermon, preached by Jesus, which included the Lord's Prayer and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5-7). Steiner reworked the meaning of this essential Christian text, as he did most religious texts he incorporated in his belief system. Thus, for example, he explained the first Beatitude (blessed are the poor in spirit) this way: “All the members of [man’s] being — the physical and etheric bodies, the sentient, rational and consciousness souls, the ego, and even the higher soul members [1] — receive new life through the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. These teachings are in complete accord with the teachings of primeval wisdom. [2] In order for an individual to enter the spiritual world in earlier times, the etheric body [3] had to be slightly separated from the physical body, which was thus formed in a special way. Christ Jesus therefore said in regard to the physical body, ‘Blessed are the beggars, the poor in spirit, for if they develop their ego-ruled bodies [4] in the right way, they will find the Kingdom of Heaven.’” — R. Steiner, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 2, GA 107. [See "Sermon".]

[1] See "What We Are Made Of" and "Our Parts".

[2] I.e., ancient occult insights.

[3] This is the first and lowest of the invisible bodies that fully incarnated human beings possess, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] I.e., bodies ruled by the "I" or spiritual ego. [See "Ego".] Steiner taught that the "I" is itself, in a sense, a body. He sometimes used the term "ego-body." Here he speaks of bodies controlled directly by the ego. (It is, perhaps, unnecessary to point out that no such terms or distinctions are present in the Biblical text of the Sermon on the Mount.)

serpent - also see dragons; Lucifer; Satan; snake

In many esoteric and mythic traditions, serpents symbolize evil in various forms. In the Biblical books of Genesis and Revelations, the serpent symbolizes Satan. [1] In Anthroposophy, the serpent represents a stage of human evolution when humanity was at its most sinful. "The animal form which recalls the lowest stage of earthly devilment, the time when man plunged most deeply into passions and when his astral body [2] was susceptible to the worst external influences, is that of the serpent, a creature in which is preserved the shameful depths of our evolution on this planet, although what we see now has degenerated still further. The symbol of the serpent is also derived from evolution; it has not been thought out [3], but is rooted in the depth of things." — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Harry Collison, 1931), chapter 7, GA 105.

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

[2] See "Incarnation" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "astral body".

[3] I.e., invented or deduced intellectually.

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

At various times, and using varying terminology, Steiner taught that the human constitution consists of seven major parts. [1] When one has four bodies and three soul/spirit members, one is a sevenfold human being. "[W]e consist of seven members ... These are: physical body, ether body, astral body, 'I', spirit self, life spirit, and spirit man." — H. v. Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 108. We might call this the standard Anthroposophical account, or sevenfold account A. Looked at somewhat differently (Steiner offered various perspectives), sevenfold human nature is a contraction of the ninefold nature of man. In this account, which we might call account B, the third of our major parts, astral nature, incorporates both our lower soul nature and our sentient soul. Likewise, our fifth major part, our higher spirit self, incorporates both our lower spirit self and our spiritual soul. [2]

Both accounts of our sevenfold nature are related to — but vary somewhat from — Steiner's description of human incarnation. By the end of childhood, Steiner taught, a real human being has four bodies: the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies. [3] These have incarnated on a seven-year cycle. [4] The process of incarnation continues after childhood, as additional portions of our constitution develop. We become creatures possessing various bodies and soul/spiritual parts, allowing us to function on varying levels of cosmic reality. The two highest levels of our constitution, as indicated in the sevenfold descriptions, are life spirit and spirit man. Life spirit (also called Budhi or Buddhi) is the transformed or elevated etheric body; it is, as it were, the etheric body when it is permeated by the "I," our spark of divinity. [5] Spirit man (also called Atma or Atman) is the transformed physical body: our physical envelope elevated and spiritualized by the "I." It is, in a sense, the highest human consciousness, the reflection of the internalized Godhead. [6] Full attainment of the higher portions of our constitution are rare, Steiner taught; for most people, such attainment lies in the future, during incarnations yet to come.


Anthroposophy teaches that human beings consist, variously, of three, four, seven, or nine major parts. Likewise, there are two somewhat different versions of our sevenfold nature. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".]

[1] See "What We're Made Of". Note that at other times, Steiner indicated that we have three, four, or nine major parts. Also see the entries in this encyclopedia for "threefold nature of man", "fourfold nature of man", and "ninefold nature of man". (Note, too, that some apparent variations in Steiner's terminology result simply from differing translations.)

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for the various parts of our constitution as designated in the varying Anthroposophical descriptions.

[3] See "Incarnation".

[4] See the entry for "seven-year stages", above.

[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "life spirit", "etheric body", and "I".

[6] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit man" and "Godhead".

Seventh Epoch (Trumpets) - also see epochs; Sixth Epoch; stages of form; trumpets of doom

According to Steiner, this will be the final great epoch in our current stage of form, the physical stage. [1] This Seventh Epoch — the epoch of trumpets — will, in effect, conclude with the physical destruction of the Earth and indeed our entire universe. [2] Physical reality will end through our own actions: We will, in a sense, ingest it all. “This epoch completes the physical condition of form of the earth [3], which must then be entirely transmuted into astral form. But only in human beings is matter annihilated. So it must all be absorbed by us.” — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), p. 83. The "trumpets" that will sound are those foretold in the Book of Revelation. [4] Following the end the Physical Stage of Form, there will be a brief rest period (pralaya), then we will evolve to the Perfected Astral Stage of Form. [5]


According to Steiner, drawing heavily from Theosophy, these are the seven major evolutionary periods of humanity's existence on the physical planet Earth (that is, our existence during the Physical Stage of Form within the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life within the Present Earth Condition of Consciousness). [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.] We currently live in the fifth great epoch, the Post-Atlantean (that is, the great epoch following the destruction of Atlantis). [6] The seventh great epoch, during which the trumpets of doom will sound, will bring the Physical Stage of Form to a violent conclusion.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "great epochs", "stages of form", and "Physical Stage of Form".

[2] See "Matters of Form" and "Lucky Seventh".

[3] I.e., the physical existence of the Earth.

[4] "I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets ... And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters...." — Revelation 8:2-10.

[5] See the entry for "perfected astral stage" in this encyclopedia.

[6] See "Atlantis".

seven-year stages of growth - also see astral body; etheric body; feelings; "I"; imagination; imitation; incarnation; intellect; thinking; will

According to Steiner, we incarnate and develop through a series of seven-year-long stages. [1] The Waldorf curriculum is meant to reflect this "insight," which has been called Steiner's greatest educational contribution. “Perhaps the most original and significant component in Steiner’s educational philosophy is its conception of child development in seven-year stages.” — R. McDermott, THE ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Press, 2007 ), p. 396. [See "Most Significant".]

In Waldorf belief, children under the age of seven are thought to live mainly in the will [2], and they approach the world largely through a trial-and-error process of imitation. During the second seven-year period, children live mainly in their feelings [3], and they approach the world through imagination. [4] Beginning with puberty (i.e., around the age of 14), children begin to develop the capacity for independent thought, although their psyches remain fragile, and imagination remains a truer guide for them than intellect. (Indeed, in Waldorf belief, imagination is always superior to coldly rational thought.) The desire for role models remains keen even in this third stage. [5] Childhood ends at age 21, when the spiritual ego or the "I" incarnates. [6]

After the end of childhood, humans continue to develop in seven-year stages, gradually incarnating additional components of human the human constitution, Steiner taught. [7] Overall, Steiner found great occult significance in the number seven, and he frequently divided phenomena into groups of seven. [8] This raises the critique that Steiner was engaged in numerological speculation that has no basis in reality. Steiner understood such criticism, and of course he rejected it. "Seven is the number of perfection. Observation of man himself will make this clear. Today he is under the influence of the number five insofar as he can be good or evil. As a creature of the universe he lives in the number four. When he will have developed all that he holds at present as germ within him, he will become a seven-membered being, perfect in its kind. [9] The number seven rules in the world of colour, in the rainbow; in the world of tone it is found in the scale. [10] Everywhere, in all realms of life, the number seven can be observed as a kind of number of perfection. There is no superstition or magic in this." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 43-44.

[1] See "Incarnation".

[2] Steiner taught that the will is a separate human faculty. [See "Will".]

[3] According to Anthroposophical belief, feelings provide surer knowledge than does thinking. [See "Thinking".]

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

[5] For an overview of the basic curriculum followed in most Waldorf schools, see "Waldorf Curriculum." [Also see "Methods" and, for a further discussion of the seven-year stages, "Basement".]

[6] See "Ego" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "I".

[7] See "What We're Made Of".

[8] See "Magic Numbers".

[9] See the entry for "sevenfold nature of man", below.

[10] Nobel laureate Max von Laue, mocking Steiner, pointed out that it is mere convention to claim that a musical scale has seven notes and that there are just seven primary colors. Reviewing Steiner's book AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, von Laue wrote, for instance, “What prevarication! From the innumerable colours that can be perceived by the eye, human language has perhaps given especially simple names to a random seven (and these are only approximately defined), and if Steiner is ignorant of the names of any other colors we recommend that he asks any good dressmaker.” [See, e.g., "Lucky Seventh".] Von Laue disposed of the notion of seven sounds with similar swiftness.

sex, sexes, sexism - also see female; male

According to Steiner, the division into sexes was part of the process of separation and individuation that will be reversed as we evolve higher in the future. Steiner taught that male and female principles represent very different spiritual forces, although males have invisible female bodies, and vice versa. The division into sexes occurred on Lemuria. [2] Before that, people could impregnate themselves. ”We shall now describe the state of man before his division into male and female. At that time the body consisted of a soft malleable mass ... This division took place slowly and gradually. Long before its actual occurrence, human beings were already developing in such a way that one individual would be born with more male, another with more female characteristics. Each human being however also possessed the opposite sexual characteristics, so that self-impregnation was possible.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), p. 96. [3] Steiner taught that as we evolve, we become more and more individual and unique, up to a point. But in the future we will begin to merge again, as differences such as race and sex are transcended. [4]

Steiner taught that girls and boys should be educated differently. Thus, for instance, “[W]e shall...educate the girls correctly by recognizing the fact that they are more inclined to the cosmos and boys more inclined to the earth. Girls incline more to the cosmic, and this means that their ideals are heroes and heroines; we should tell girls about them, about their lives and deeds ... Boys need to hear about character, about complete human beings.” — R. Steiner, EDUCATION FOR ADOLESCENTS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 83. Arguably, by today's standards, this amounts to sexism. [5]

[1] See "Gender" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "female" and "male".

[2] See "Lemuria".

[3] See "Steiner Static".

[4] See "Universal".

[5] See "Gender" and "Clues".

shaded drawing - also see arts; arts-intensive Waldorf curriculum; painting

"[D]rawing technique taught in Waldorf schools in which the picture is built up by drawing short, slanting lines ... [It evokes] creative, dynamic forces at work in nature." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 98.

This is an example of a shaded drawing of an angel. The short parallel lines that combine to represent a figure are open to surrounding space, suggesting the interpenetration of the material and the spiritual (or the lower spiritual and the higher). [R. R., 2009, based on a work by Assia Turgenieff reproduced in ART INSPIRED BY RUDOLF STEINER (Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 187.]

Shamballa (Shambala, Shambhala) - also see atavistic clairvoyance

Some ancient Eastern teachings tell of a mystical kingdom called Shamballa. Steiner occasionally said Shamballa is the portion of the spirit realm that ancient humans were able to perceive with their natural clairvoyance. He also indicated that future humans will enter Shamballa when Anthroposophy is fulfilled. “Again and again we have heard that it was once possible for men to look with clairvoyant vision into the spiritual world … Those who are connected with the spiritual world in this way resort [i.e., allude] again and again to Shamballa — the name of this mysterious land … [In the future] in the course of two thousand five hundred years…there will arise the experience of the land of Shamballa ,,. Christ Jesus [will be] encountered [in] the mysterious land of Shamballa.” — R. Steiner, THE TRUE NATURE OF THE SECOND COMING (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), lecture 2, GA 118.

sheath - also see astral sheath; auric sheath; bodies; bodily sheaths; etheric sheath; spirit sheath

According to Anthroposophical belief: a protective covering that is sloughed off when the corresponding body (physical, etheric, astral, or ego) is incarnated. [1] Each sheath is, in effect, a womb within which a body gestates. We are born four times as our four sheaths produce our four bodies. "At physical birth man is released from the physical integument [2] of the maternal womb ... Now the fact is that for supersensible perception [3] other events of this kind are undergone in the further course of life — supersensible events, analogous to that of physical birth ... For his etheric body man is enveloped by an ethereal sheath — an etheric integument — until about the change of teeth [4], the sixth or seventh year, when the etheric integument falls away. This event represents the 'birth' of the etheric body. After it man is still enveloped by an astral sheath, which falls away at the age of puberty — between the 12th and 16th year. The astral body in its turn is 'born.' Then at an even later point of time the I is born." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 7, GA 13.

[1] See "Incarnation".

[2] I.e., a tough outer layer. (Here Steiner refers to a mother's womb as the tough outer layer of a baby's physical body.)

[3] I.e., clairvoyance. ("Supersensible" means beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.)

[4] I.e., the loss of baby teeth, replaced by adult teeth. (Anthroposophy sees great importance in this event, and a portion of the Waldorf curriculum is geared to it. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "teeth".])

Shem - also see avatars; Noah

In the Bible: a son of Noah, progenitor of the Semites. According to Steiner, Shem hosted an avatar — a god who descended to Earth. [1] "If clairvoyant perception had confronted Shem, it would have seen Shem himself, but with a second entity extending out of him like a second being, yet still united with Shem's etheric body. [2] This higher being was not Shem, but it incarnated in Shem — the human being — for a special mission. Unlike ordinary human beings, this higher being did not undergo various incarnations [3], but descended only once into a human body. Such a being is called an avatar. An avatar does not feel at home in the world as a human being would; he descends but once into this world for the sole purpose of carrying out a certain mission." — R. Steiner, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPIRITUAL ECONOMY (Anthroposophic Press, 1986) lecture 3, GA 109. [See "Avatars".]

[1] See "Avatars".

[2] This is the first and lowest of the three invisible bodies that, Steiner taught, fully incarnated human beings possess. [See the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] Steiner taught that human beings live many lives in succession, through the process of reincarnation. They descend to Earth, as it were, many times. [See "Reincarnation".] But an avatar generally descends to Earth only once.

Shepherds' Play - also see Christmas Play; King's Play; mystery plays; Paradise Play

The first in a sequence of plays often performed by faculty and/or students at Waldorf schools between Advent and Epiphany. [1] The Shepherds' Play focuses on the shepherds to whom angels announced the birth of Jesus. "In the [Waldorf] school where I teach, there is an annual production of 'The Shepherds' Play,' a medieval nativity play put on by the teachers. This play is a tradition deeply woven into the fabric of many Waldorf schools ... The play is about Christmas. But more broadly it is about the renewal of light in the depth of winter, the light of the world, the spiritual light within. [2]" — W. Ward, "Is Waldorf Education Christian?", at

[1] In the traditional Christian calendar, Advent is the first season of the church year, leading up to Christmas. Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (Matthew 2:1-12); it is observed on Jan. 6.

[2] Most of the "Christian" ceremonies, enactments, and observances found in Waldorf schools are actually pagan festivals; the religion embodied in Waldorf education is Anthroposophy, not Christianity. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"; also see the section on festivals in "Magical Arts".]

Shiva - also see Brahma; Hinduism; Vishnu

a) The Hindu god of destruction.

b) According to Steiner, a member of the Godhead. [1] “The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones [2] are for us the highest Hierarchy among divine Beings, because they have already passed through their solar system evolution [3] and have risen to mighty cosmic deeds of sacrifice. Hence it is that these Beings have come into the actual direct vicinity of the highest Godhead of which we can speak at all: the Trinity, the threefold Divinity. Beyond the Seraphim we have to see that highest Divinity of which we find mention by almost all nations as the threefold Divinity — as Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, as Father, Word, and Holy Ghost. [4] From out [of] this highest Godhead, this most exalted Trinity, stream forth the plans for a new cosmic system. [5]" — R. Steiner , THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 5, GA 110. [See "Trinity".]

[1] See "God".

[2] I.e., gods of the three highest ranks: members of the "First Hierarchy." [See "Polytheism".]

[3] Steiner taught that gods, like humans, evolve. The highest gods have evolved beyond the solar system to continue their evolution in higher precincts. [See "Higher Worlds".] (Steiner taught that the gods began their evolutions in solar systems that predated the first incarnation of our solar system.)

[4] In Christianity, God consists of three persons, but He is a single entity: The One and Only God of the Universe. Christianity is monotheistic. Steiner taught, on the contrary, that the Godhead is a sort of committee of three gods. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism".]

[5] I.e., plans for further evolution arise ultimately from the Godhead. (Steiner taught that our evolution occurs through a process of cosmic reincarnation, with solar systems passing through a long series of progressive incarnations. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".] The gods above us began their own evolutions in other solar systems, and the entire cosmos may continually evolve through progressive changes beyond the bounds of our solar system.

sickness - see childhood diseases; disease; medicine

Siegfried - also see initiation; Norse myths

a) "Siegfried, old Norse Sigurd, figure from the heroic literature of the ancient Germanic people. He appears in both German and Old Norse literature, although the versions of his stories told by these two branches of the Germanic tradition do not always agree ... In the original stories Siegfried was presented as a boy of noble lineage who grew up without parental care; this background shows through clearly, although in the full accounts in both Norse and German it is overlaid with elaborate accounts of his courtly upbringing. It is still disputed...whether the figure of Siegfried is of mythical or historical (Merovingian) origin." — "Siegfried", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, April, 2015. Richard Wagner placed Siegfried at the center of the third opera of his massive operatic cycle, THE RING OF THE NIEBELUNGEN.

b) ◊ "Siegfried is really the representative of the ancient Nordic initiation. [1]" — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (SteinerBooks, 1993), p. 30. ◊ "Siegfried was a pre-Christian initiate, who stopped short of Christian initiation. [2]" — R. Steiner, THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 259.

[1] I.e., initiation available in ancient, northern Europe. The occult wisdom of that time and place, Steiner said, was encapsulated in Norse myths, which are emphasized in Waldorf schools. [See "The Gods".] Initiation is the acquisition of occult spiritual knowledge. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[2] Steiner taught that various spiritual traditions have offered various forms of initiation. Knowledge of the spirit realm has generally increased, he taught. Christian initiation offers higher wisdom than previous forms of initiation (although previous traditions may have possessed knowledge essentially consistent, if rightly understood, with later occult knowledge [see "Altogether"]). When he differentiated between Christianity and Anthroposophy, Steiner indicated that Anthroposophy offers a still higher form of occult knowledge.

Sif - also see group soul; Norse myths; Thor

a) In Norse mythology, the wife of Thor (the Norse god of thunder and lightning). Sif had long golden hair, sometimes said to represent golden harvests of grain. Sif, then, is sometimes seen as an emblem of Earth, protected by Thor.

b) According to Steiner, the Nordic group soul. [1] "To this group-soul was given the name Sif. That is the name of the spouse of Thor ... Sif signifies the group-soul of from which the single individual grows forth. Sif is the being who unites herself with the God of the individual ‘I’ [2], with the giver of the individual ‘I’, with Thor. [3] The individual man recognized Sif and Thor as the Beings who gave him his ‘I’. The Northman still felt thus about them, at a time when to the peoples in other parts of Europe other tasks had already been given in the educating of man up to the ‘I’. [4]” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 10, GA 121. [See "The Gods".]

[1] A "group soul" is a soul shared by all members of a species, nation, race, family, etc. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "group soul".]

[2] This is one's divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

[3] Steiner indicated that Thor is instrumental in the development of our individual spiritual egos. "Thor plays an active part in the implanting of the individual ego [in human beings] ... [T]he pulsation of the blood [in the human body] corresponds to the thunder and lightning ... Germanic-Nordic man sees this clairvoyantly....” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 234-235. Here, Steiner calls Thor the "giver of the individual 'I'."

[4] I.e., other European nations had other missions, intended by the gods to help mankind evolve so as to fully embody their "I"s. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "national missions" and "divine cosmic plan".]

Sig - also see initiate; Norse myths

◊ "There was an initiate [1] in the most ancient times who was signified by the name 'Sig.' The Drotten mysteries [2], which were in Russia and Scandinavia, the Druidic mysteries in Germany all derived from an initiate with the name Sig, who was the founder of the northern mysteries. What happened in the mysteries has been preserved in the various myths and legends of the German nation and other Germanic peoples. The myths and legends are pictorial representations of what was experienced. [3]" — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), lecture 2, GA 104a. ◊ "[T]he Gods had to withdraw from the world they had themselves created. The Gods who, even as late as the Atlantean epoch [4], had descended into the bodies of the most advanced human beings [5] and had taught them important secrets in the Mysteries were obliged gradually to withdraw, and they could only come in touch with the physical world by using the more advanced human beings as their instruments or vehicles. This actually happened in the Atlantean epoch; and those who were initiated into the ancient Druidic Mysteries knew, for example, that an ancient Atlantean individuality known as Sig appeared long after the Atlantean catastrophe in many different ways in European bodies." — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (H. Collison, 1931), lecture 10, GA 105.

[1] I.e., an individual who has gained access to occult wisdom. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[2] I.e., occult wisdom, mysterious and hidden, as approached in middle and northern Europe, including by the Druids. "[T]he Celtic peoples in Middle Europe received their sun wisdom from these Drotten mysteries and called their priests, druids." — B. C. Lievegoed, MYSTERY STREAMS IN EUROPE AND THE NEW MYSTERIES (SteinerBooks, 1982), p. 39. Druids were pagan celtic priests. [See "Pagan". For more on mysteries, see the entries for "mystery", "mystery knowledge", and "mystery streams" in this encyclopedia.] Steiner here locates the Drotten mysteries in northern Europe, including Germany (they are the "northern mysteries").

[3] Steiner taught that myths, and especially Norse myths, are true accounts of clairvoyant visions. “All myths and sagas are handed down from a time when human beings could still perceive the astral world [i.e., the soul world, one of the "higher worlds"] : when they ascended to spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyant vision] they encountered Wotan, Baldur, Thor, Loki and other beings [i.e., Norse gods]...." — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 294. [See "The Gods".]

[4] I.e., the period when we lived on Atlantis. [See "Atlantis".]

[5] Steiner taught that various gods have descended in various ways to Earthly existence. [See, e.g., "Avatars".] His statements about such matters are not always consistent.

sight - see eyesight

signs, occult - also see astrology; planetary seals; seals; symbols

Steiner affirmed and explained traditional occult signs and created his own new ones, which are sometimes represented in and around Waldorf schools. A concise guide to some of these signs is OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972). [See "Signs".] Steiner's signs include his own revisions of astrological emblems for the constellations [see, e.g., CALENDAR 1912-1913 (SteinerBooks, 2003)] as well as symbols for the planets [see MYSTIC SEALS AND COLUMNS (Health Research, 1969)].


Occult sign of Venus, based on a design by R. Steiner.


(Mercury Arts Publications, 1987), p. 199; R.R. copy, 2010.]

silver age - see Treta Yuga

sin - also see good and evil (knowledge of); great sin; evil; cf. morality; salvation

According to Steiner, sin is the effect of evil gods, black magicians, demons in human form, and other opponents of the divine cosmic plan. [1] Sin is deviation from the plan, or opposition to the proper pattern of evolution — although the good gods can often turn evil to good account, and in this sense sin may be seen as a part of the divine plan. Steiner taught that sin is anachronism (actions appropriate in one stage of evolution become inappropriate in others). It is deeply involved with karma; sinful actions create karmic debts. ◊ "[T]hrough Karma, objective justice is fulfilled [2] ... [T]here is rightness in the fact that we are not excused a farthing of our Karma, but must pay our debts in full ... If we have, let us say, put out someone's eyes in [the] present incarnation, and then in the next incarnation we do something that makes compensation for this act, yet for the objective course of the universe the fact will remain that so many hundred years ago we put out someone's eyes." — R. Steiner, CHRIST AND THE HUMAN SOUL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 3, GA 155. ◊ To be saved, we must put aside sinfulness. (On occasion, Steiner's preachments were nearly compatible with orthodox Christianity, although their gnostic character usually emerged.) "[N]ow in this new Age of Michael [3], men will have to become aware of the way of their salvation. They must not allow their Intelligence [4] to be overcome by sinfulness; rather must they use this age of Intelligence to ascend to the spiritual life in purity of Intelligence, free from all illusion. [5]" — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 3 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1977), lecture 8, GA 237. ◊ The worst sin is opposing evolution or refusing to evolve properly. Those who do so become the worst sinners. "If the most outstanding fall and commit the 'great sin' of not advancing with evolution, then they become the very worst of all." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 9, GA 99.

[1] See the entry for "divine cosmic plan" in this encyclopedia; also see "Sin".

[2] I.e., if you sin in one life, you make amends in a future life.

[3] I.e., a period overseen by the Archangel Michael. [See "Michael".]

[4] I.e., true cognition, clairvoyant capacity and wisdom. [See "Thinking".]

[5] According to Steiner, gaining improved consciousness and acquiring occult knowledge are keys to salvation and are thus antitheses of sin. (Steiner commended both faith and moral behavior to his followers, but from an Anthroposophical perspective, these do not lead directly to salvation. In Anthroposophical belief, salvation comes primarily through occult initiation. [See "Inside Scoop" and "Gnosis".)

Sivers, Marie von (1867-1948) - also see Steiner, Marie

Rudolf Steiner's second wife. As Marie Steiner, she was influential among Anthroposophists during her husband's lifetime, and she assumed an even greater role following his death. [See "What a Guy".]


Marie von Sivers.

[Public domain photograph.]

666 - also see Ahriman; Antichrist; Sorat

This number is widely believed to be the sign of the Beast, the Antichrist. [See "Was He Christian?"] Steiner affirmed this belief. “The danger of succumbing to the realm of Ahriman [1] was at its greatest around the year 333 BC. This was the moment in time when humanity began to make use of mere intellect, mere logic. [2] Then the mystery of Golgotha [3] occurred and entered the life of humanity. And from AD 333 onwards the time began in which human beings must consciously strive to re-enter the realm of the higher hierarchies [4]...

" 333 BC

[+] 333 AD


"If you add these two numbers together you get 666. That is the 'number of the beast'.'" — R. Steiner, GUARDIAN ANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 96-97. [See "Mystic Math".]

On another occasion, Steiner explained that 666 represents a time "in the future when 6 conditions of life, 6 fundamental races, and 6 sub-races have been gone through, [then] the number 666 (six, six, six) will apply [5] ... Thus a time will come when the number 666 is the number of evolution." — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 195. That will be a perilous time, when the Antichrist will pull errant human into the Abyss. [6] "[T]here is also an opposing principle to the Lamb [Christ], there is also a Sun-Demon, the so-called Demon of the Sun, that works with the evil forces of man, thrusting back the force of the Lamb, and it works in such a way that a certain part of the human race is trust out of the evolution that leads to the sun [7] ... [They will] be thrown out of our evolution when the 666 conditions of development have passed away; they will then be finally cast into the abyss.” — R. Steiner, ibid., p. 198.

[1] Ahriman is one of the arch-demons portrayed in Anthroposophy. [See "Ahriman".] He is sometimes equated with the Antichrist, although Steiner generally taught that Sorat — the Sun Demon — is the real Antichrist. [See "Bad, Badder, Baddest".]

[2] Although he was an intellectual, Steiner warned of the dangers of intellect. [See "Steiner's Specific".]

[3] I.e., the mysterious meaning of Christ's Crucifixion. [See the entry for "mystery of Golgotha" in this encyclopedia.] Golgotha is Calvary.

[4] I.e., the higher gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[5] Translating this into terms Steiner often used, the time he refers to will come after the sixth great epoch of the sixth stage of form during the sixth condition of life during Present Earth. [See entries for these various terms in this encyclopedia. Also see the entries for "race", "root races", and "sub-races".] "Going through" conditions of life, races, and sub-races means evolving through the stages characterized by these.

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

[7] In this formulation, our evolution should lead us to the realm of Christ, the Sun; but irredeemable sinners will be cast out of the evolutionary stream leading to the Sun.

Sixth Epoch (Seals) - also see epochs; great epochs; seals

According to Steiner, this will be the next great epoch of human evolution, the great epoch that will follow our own. [1] It will come after the terrible War of All Against All. [2] The results of that conflict will allow for our further upward development. “Progressive people [will] have radiant, good features and noble benevolent expressions; those who were lukewarm or turned away [from the proper course of evolution], preserving backward forces and retarding evolution, [will] reveal their evil passions and impulses hostile to the spirit in ugly, unintelligent, evil-looking countenances ... Mankind is [i.e., will be] thus divided into two great streams, the good and the evil.” — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), p. 70. [See "Sixth Epoch".]

Steiner taught that the Sixth Epoch is associated with the opening of the seven apocalyptic seals, as indicated in the Book of Revelation. [3] The Sixth Epoch will lead to the Seventh and final great epoch of the Physical Stage of Form [4] when the trumpets of doom will sound. [5]


According to Steiner, drawing heavily from Theosophy, these are the seven major evolutionary periods of humanity's existence on the physical planet Earth (that is, our existence during the Physical Stage of Form within the Mineral Kingdom Condition of Life within the Present Earth Condition of Consciousness). [6] We currently live in the fifth great epoch, the Post-Atlantean (that is, the great epoch following the destruction of Atlantis). [7] Our great epoch will end in the mighty War of All Against All, which will prepare the way for survivors to evolve to the next great epoch. During the sixth great epoch, the apocalyptic seals [8] will be opened.

[1] See the entries for "great epochs" and "Post-Atlantean Epoch" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See "All vs. All".

[3] "And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon ... And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him...." — Revelation 5:1-3 - 6:1-8

[4] See the entry for "Physical Stage of Form" in this encyclopedia.

[5] See the entry for "Seventh Epoch", above.

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

[7] See "Atlantis".

[8] See the entry for "seals", above. [Also see "Through His Eyes".]

skeleton - also see bones; medicine; thinking

◊ "[T]he hardest part of the human body. Also, the part in which the forces of death are most apparent. This hardening process is ascribed to the influence of Ahriman. [1]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 109. ◊ “The ancients...believed that people thought with their bones [2] ... We can thank the capacity of our skeletal system for everything we have in abstract science [3] ... Our skeleton has considerable knowledge, but because we cannot reach down into the skeleton with our consciousness, our awareness of that knowledge fades...." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE: Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 75.

[1] An arch-demon. [See "Ahriman".]

[2] Often, Steiner affirmed the "wisdom" of the ancients. [See "The Ancients".] In Anthroposophy, saying that "the ancient believed" something often means that a truth is being expressed: We should reject modern scientific knowledge and embrace again the great intuitive knowledge of the ancients. Here, Steiner essentially affirms the ancient belief that, in at least a restricted sense, people indeed think with their bones.

[3] Steiner often railed against modern science and logical, abstract thought, associating them with Ahriman. [See "Science" and "Materialism U."]

skin color - also see Africans; Asians; black; Europeans; "Negro" race; peach blossom; race; white; white race

Steiner taught that the evolutionary level of one's soul is reflected in one's skin color. “One can only understand history...if one pays attention to people's racial characteristics. And one can only understand all that is spiritual...if one first examines how this spiritual element operates within people precisely through the color of their skin.” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDEE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 52. Understandably, this passage is rarely translated into English. [See "Steiner's Racism".]

According to Steiner, black is the color of death; white is the color of spirituality; peach-blossom (the color of Caucasian skin) is the color of spiritual health. "If we take the flesh color of a Caucasian person, which resembles spring's fresh peach-blossom colour, we have the living image of the soul. If we contemplate white in an artistic way, we have the soul image of the spirit ... And if, as artists, we take hold of black, we have the spiritual image of death." — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), pp. 93-94. [1]

Our skin color may often reflect our moral condition, Steiner taught. The color of one's skin can reveal the "color" of one's inner condition. "If a man brings his whole inner being to expression in his physiognomy and on the surface of his body, then it permeates his external being with the colour of his inner nature as it were. Now the colour of ego hood [2] is red or copper or a yellowish brown. And an overpowering feeling of ego arising from offended self-respect can even nowadays turn a man as it were yellow with rage. They are absolutely connected, these two phenomena: the red colour of those peoples that migrated to the West [3] and the yellow colour of the man whose ‘blood boils’ as we say, and whose inner nature is showing itself right into his skin. Those people, however, who had developed their ego being too little [4], and who were too exposed to the influences of the sun, were like plants: they deposited too many carbonic constituents beneath their skin and became black. This is why the Negroes are black. Thus both east of Atlantis in the black population and west of Atlantis in the red population we find survivors of the kind of people who had not developed their ego-feeling in a normal way. The human beings who had developed normally lent themselves best to progress. Therefore they were the ones chosen to infiltrate the various other regions from the place we know of in Asia. [5]” — R. Steiner, "Manifestations of the Ego in the Different Races of Man, a lecture in THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), pp. 117-119.

[1] See, e.g., "Steiner's Bile" and "Steiner's 'Science'". Steiner taught that races stand at different levels, depending on how closely they embody the human ideal. “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. In terms of appearance, the ideal is distinctly Caucasian, Steiner taught: It can be found in the statues of the ancient Greeks (a white, European people): "Let us assume the original, divine cosmic plan for the earth had been fulfilled ... In that case, a human race of Grecian beauty 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.

[2] I.e., excessive development of the ego.

[3] I.e., American Indians.

[4] I.e., insufficient development of the ego.

[5] I.e., these are the survivors of Atlantis who would eventually migrate into Europe and become the white Caucasians or Aryans of that region, according to Steiner: They developed "normally" and were best able to evolve higher ("lent themselves best to progress"). [See "Races".] Their skins did not assume the tints of excessive or insufficient ego development.

Skythianos - also see Atlantis; lodges; Rosenkreutz, Christian

According to Steiner, Skythianos was a high initiate who preserved Atlantean wisdom. "The Spirits of Jupiter [1] were specially observed in those Mysteries [2] in which...the three Individualities met together, the three spiritual Beings, Buddha, Zarathustra or Zarathas in his later incarnation, and that great leader of humanity whom we describe by the name of Skythianos. That is the Council [3] which, under the guidance of One still greater [4], set itself the task of investigating into the mysterious forces which must be developed for the evolution of humanity...." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121. [See "Lecture".]

[1] I.e., gods who dwell in or around Jupiter.

[2] I.e., occult events. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "mystery".]

[3] I.e., Lodge. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "lodges".]

[4] I.e., Christian Rosenkreutz, the putative founder of Rosicrucianism. [See "Rosy Cross".]

sleep (activities during) - also see deep sleep; dreams; higher worlds; nonphysical bodies; somnambulism

According to Steiner, our astral bodies and egos leave our physical and etheric bodies [1] during sleep and journey into spirit realms. [2] Steiner further taught that dreams and other sleep activities can be reliable sources of knowledge. [3] Sleep is an active period during which certain parts of ourselves ascend into the planetary spheres. [4] "Coming now to describe rather more in detail how we take our way after falling asleep, we find we can distinguish different spheres through which we pass. First comes the sphere where the I and the astral body — that is to say, the soul of man as it finds itself in sleep — feel united with the movements of the World [or realm] of the planets ... In the first sphere [5] with which we come in contact after falling asleep — and it will also be again the last sphere we enter before awaking — we have in us the forces of the movements of the planets ... [W]e carry within us a little picture, as it were, wherein the movements of the planets are reproduced. And this picture is different for each single human being ... We follow, as it were, with our astral body all that happens with the planets, as they move out there in the wide spaces of the Universe; we experience it all in our astral body in a sort of planetary globe. [6]" — R. Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON MANS LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 3, GA 214. [See "Dreams" and "Higher Worlds".]

[1] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible: We have physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies. The ego body is also called the ego or the I. [See "Incarnation".]

[2] See "Higher Worlds".

[3] See "Dreams" and "Knowing the Worlds".

[4] A planetary sphere is, generally, the portion of cosmic space bounded by the orbit and influence of a planet and its god. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "planetary spheres".]

[5] Steiner described many spheres, planes, and worlds above the level of ordinary, physical reality. In general, "spheres" are regions of the solar system under the sway of various planetary gods. [See "Higher Worlds" and "Planets".] Here, Steiner uses a more expansive definition, speaking of a "sphere" in which the movements (and influences) of all the planets become inwardly known,

[6] "Globe" is an elastic term as used in Theosophy or, here, by Steiner. [See the entry for "globes" in this encyclopedia.] Here, the distinction between "sphere" and "globe" seems generally inconsequential; the main point is that outer cosmic reality is experienced inward during sleep.

sleepwalking - see somnambulism

small-headed children - also see constitutional types; phrenology; cf. large-headed children

Anthroposophy generally identifies six "constitutional types" of children [1], especially "difficult" children. ◊ "In the small-headed child, the nerve-sense [sic] organization dominates the metabolic system. [2] The head pole gives a solid and hard impression. Such children may be distracted by every sense impression, are likely to have a poor imagination [3] and to be thin and pale. They are almost adult-like. There is a link here to the melancholic temperament." [4] — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 27. ◊ "This child is thin and pale. His/her head is small in relation to the body. Especially striking is the small cranium with its often-flat region. The face is quite defined. The small-headed child has poor concentration and is easily distracted. Such children show an analytic 'bloodless' imagination. The 'I' and the astral body [5] do not engage properly in the metabolic-limb system. As therapy this child should receive warm applications on the abdomen in the evening. Diet-wise these children need more sweet nutrients like dates, figs, and honey. Also leafy vegetables and teas are recommended. The choice and amount of sugar depends on the given situation. Wool is the fabric of choice in clothing." — Summary of presentation by Michaela Glöckler, Waldorf Journal Project 2: Child Observation and Study, ONLINE WALDORF LIBRARY.

[1] See "Holistic Education". Some Anthroposophists refer to just two constitutional types: large-headed and small-headed children.

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "nerve-senses system" and "metabolic-limb system"; also see "What We're Made Of".

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

[4] See "Temperaments".

[5] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia; also see "Incarnation".

smell, sense of - also see senses

One of the twelve human senses enumerated by Steiner. [See "What We Are Made Of".] "[T]he nose [the organ of smell] is very human. [1] Everyone has a characteristic nose. Nothing in man is as characteristic as the nose [2] ... Originally, we were...primarily an organ of smell. [3] Man once passed through this stage ... At present we are in a transition stage, in which the human being loses the old contact with the gods by means of odour and smell...." — A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), pp. 65-66. According to Anthroposophical belief, the sense of smell falls under the influence of Aquarius. — Ibid., p. 142.

[1] Of course, other creatures also have noses, but the Anthroposophical focus is almost always on humanity.

[2] I.e., individuals are significantly characterized (differentiated) by their noses.

[3] I.e., early in our evolution, we were primarily and wholly noses. We knew the gods primarily through our sense of smell.

snake - also see Earth; Moon; serpent

According to Steiner, this is the symbol of the Earth as it developed from Old Moon. "The occultist says that the snake is the symbol for the earth [1] as it developed itself out of the Moon. [2] The fish is the symbol for spiritual being as it has developed itself out of the Sun. [3] Our earth, as it stands before us with its solid substances [4], has its lowest being in the snake." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 25-26. [See "Signs".]

[1] I.e., Present Earth, the fourth incarnation of the solar system. [See "Present Earth".]

[2] I.e., Old Moon, the third incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Moon, Etc.".]

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

[4] I.e., the physical planet Earth as it exists during our present and recent evolutionary stages. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Earth".]

Snell, Debra - also see PLANS

As a Waldorf parent, Debra Snell was active in the operations of a Waldorf school. But later, disillusioned, she became a leading Waldorf critic. She is president of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS). "My personal experience with Waldorf was very confusing. Instead of the progressive and liberal alternative school I was led to expect by the school's promotional materials and staff, I discovered a rigid, authoritarian environment that seemed to be rooted in a medieval dogma that I did not understand. When, in an effort to make sense of things, I asked questions about this, I found Waldorf teachers to be strangely defensive. [paragraph break] I was stunned to arrive at the conclusion that the education of children — at least as I use the term 'education' — did not seem to be the school's most important focus and objective ... If the information on the PLANS Web site had been available 9 years ago, our family would have passed by Waldorf's door, knowing that its sectarian, occultist nature was not what we were looking for after all." [People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools.]