THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER

ENCYCLOPEDIA

> So - SP <

- S (cont.) -


social therapy - also see Camphill; curative education; curative eurythmy; special needs

This term is commonly applied to two wholly separate therapeutic undertakings:

a) A form of group therapy developed by Fred Newman and practiced at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy in New York.

b) A form of Anthroposophical therapy practiced in Camphill communities. [1] "Disabilities are not treated as illnesses [2], but as part of each individual's overall spectrum of potential [3] ... Residents [i.e., patients] engage in all sorts of work...and social gatherings, festivals and cultural activities." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 111. Therapeutic practices include "curative eurythmy". [4]

[1] These are Anthroposophical enclaves where, among other activities, "therapy" is provided for individuals having developmental difficulties. [See the section titled "Camphill Summer" in "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".]

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

[3] In Anthroposophical belief, one's "spectrum of potential" is largely determined by karma. [See "Karma".] Also crucial, from an Anthroposophical perspective, are such attributes as nationality and race. [See "Differences", "Races", and "Embedded Racism".]

[4] See "Eurythmy" and "Steiner's Quackery".




social threefolding - see threefolding




Sol - also see Apollo; Baldur; Christ; Hu; Sun

The ancient Roman Sun god — a pagan comprehension of Christ, Steiner said. [See "Was He Christian?"] Anthroposophists conceive the Sun (Sol) to be masculine, whereas the Moon (Luna) is feminine. “In previous times people generally knew more about these things ... People used to know more about these matters and said that the sun has masculine qualities [1] ... [S]ol, the sun, is masculine, while luna, the moon, is feminine. [2] Sol, the sun quality, fertilizes luna, the feminine element.” — R. Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 125.

[1] Steiner often indicated that the ancients were wiser than modern humans in many ways. [See "The Ancients".]

[2] Ancient teachings about gender are woven into Anthroposophy. [See "Gender".]




Solar Pitris - also see Christ; Lunar Pitris; Pitris; Sun God

Gods on or of the Sun; the highest of them is Christ, Steiner said. "[A] Sun God had to come [1] ... There still existed what are known as the Solar Pitris. The most exalted among these is Christ." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 26, GA 93a. [See "Christ Events".] In a more general sense, Steiner taught, "Pitris" are forebears of humanity who passed through the human level of evolution [2] soon before ourselves. Lunar Pitris became human during Old Moon [3]; Solar Pitris became human during Old Sun.[4] Both the Lunar Pitris and the Solar Pitris are now gods. Lunar Pitris are one level above humanity, they are often called Angels; Solar Pitris are two levels above humanity, they are often called Archangels. [5]

•••

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The ranks are divided into three groupings or "hierarchies." The lowest three ranks of gods comprise the Third Hierarchy. Solar Pitris stand at the eighth rank; they are members of the middle tier of the Third Hierarchy.

[1] Steiner taught that it was necessary for the Sun God to incarnate on Earth in order for human spiritual evolution to proceed properly. [See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"]

[2] See the entry for "human stage of evolution" in this encyclopedia.

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

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

[5] See "Polytheism".




solar system - also see astronomy; conditions of consciousness; Earth; historical narrative of Anthroposophy; incarnations of the solar system; Jupiter; Mars; Mercury; Moon; Neptune; planetary conditions; planetary migrations; planets; Saturn; Sun; Uranus; Venus

Steiner taught that the solar system has evolved through several incarnations [1] and will evolve through several more. [2] The solar system initially came into existence precisely so that we human beings could come into existence and then evolve toward ever higher stages of spiritual awareness. [3] The gods above us began their own evolutions in prior solar systems, in stages of evolution preceding the beginning of our own. [4]

The solar system that exists now, Steiner taught, is smaller than astronomers teach. Essentially, the Anthroposophical solar system is the ancient astrological solar system. It consists of six planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn), plus the Sun and Moon, and (perhaps) Vulcan. [5] Saturn is the outermost planet, according to this scheme. Saturn essentially presides over the entire solar system. "[I]f we take Saturn, the outermost planet of our Universe [7], we must represent him 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...in cosmic space.” — R. Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 11, GA 201. Thus, Steiner excluded Uranus and Neptune from membership in the solar system (and he displayed no knowledge of Pluto, the Kuiper belt, or the Oort cloud [8]). "Uranus and Neptune...circle much farther out and their orbits exhibit such irregularities that in reality they cannot be counted among the planets even today." — R. Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000) , p. 290.

The constricted solar system of Anthroposophical teachings is spiritually geocentric. It exists for the benefit of ourselves, humanity resident upon the Earth. Many forces reach us from the stars beyond [9], but until we evolve far higher than we are now, our place is here, in our small local "universe" (our solar system). Here, we evolve under the guidance of Saturn, and we direct much of our consciousness to the center of this system: the Sun, the original home of Christ, the Sun God. [10]

[1] See "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", and "Old Moon, Etc.", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".

[2] See "Future Stages".

[3] See "The Center" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "evolution of consciousness".

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

[6] See "Vulcan".

[7] Steiner sometimes indicated that, for practical purposes, the solar system is the only part of the universe that we need to concern ourselves with. (He was no more consistent on this question than on many others.) He acknowledged the importance of the zodiac and its constellations — his astrological teachings depend on these — but nonetheless he often indicated that nothing beyond Saturn is truly within our cosmic space.

[8] Pluto, the Kuiper belt, and the Oort cloud were not discovered until after Steiner's death, but he claimed to possess extant clairvoyant powers that should have given him accurate knowledge of the entire solar system.

[9] Astrology is key to much Anthroposophical lore. Many of the highest gods dwell in the zodiac, Steiner indicated, and their influences extend throughout the entire cosmos. [See, e.g., "Astrology".] Our consciousness will rise to those heights when we ourselves become elevated gods, but for now we can scarcely comprehend such distant vistas. Astrology as a "practical" discipline deals primarily with the motions of the solar system's planets against the backdrop of the zodiac.

[10] See "Sun God".




Solomonic Jesus - also see Buddha; Christ; Jesus; Nathanic Jesus; Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus; Zarathustra; Zoroaster

As described in the Bible, Solomon was the fourth son of King David and his wife Bathsheba; Solomon became King in his own right and ruled over Israel from ~962-922 BCE. According to Rudolf Steiner, a child descended from Solomon was one of the two Jesuses who interwove their essences to prepare a fit vessel for the incarnation of the Sun God, Christ, on Earth. [1] The two Jesus children were born to two pairs of parents named Joseph and Mary, Steiner said. The soul of Zoroaster [2] was carried by the "Solomonic" Jesus, while Buddhism flowed into the other Jesus child, who descended from the prophet Nathan. [3] The spirituality of both Zoroaster and Buddha thus helped prepare the body into which the Sun God, Christ, incarnated.

◊ "Buddhism streamed into and worked in the personality born as the child of Joseph and Mary of the Nathan line of the House of David ... Joseph and Mary of the Solomon line of the House of David resided originally in Bethlehem with their child Jesus ... This child of the Solomon line bore within him the Individuality who, as Zarathustra, or Zoroaster, had inaugurated the ancient Persian civilization." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 5, GA 114.

◊ "The Zarathustra-Ego [4] had lived in the body of the Solomon Jesus until the twelfth year. No further development in earthly existence would thereafter have been possible for this boy. [5] Because the Zarathustra-Ego had gone out of him, his development came to a standstill at the point reached at that time, although exceptional maturity had been attained owing to the presence of such a highly advanced Ego. Anyone observing the Solomon Jesus-child would have found him prematurely advanced to a conspicuous degree; but from the moment the Zarathustra-Ego left him he came to a standstill and could make no further progress. And when — comparatively soon — the mother of the Nathan Jesus died and the spiritual part of her being was translated into the spiritual world, she took with her what was of eternal value and formative power in the Solomon Jesus child. [6] This child also died — at about the same time as the mother of the Nathan Jesus." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST LUKE, lecture 7.

◊ “[T]wo Jesus children were born. One was descended from the so-called Nathan line of the House of David, the other from the Solomon line. These two children grew up side by side. In the body of the Solomon child lived the soul of Zarathustra. In the twelfth year of the child's life this soul passed over into the other Jesus child and lived in that body until its thirtieth year ... And then, only from the thirtieth year onward, there lived in this body the Being Whom we call the Christ, Who remained on earth altogether for three years. [7]” — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), p. 59.

[1] See "Was He Christian?"

[2] Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, was the founder of the religion known as Zoroastrianism. [See "Zoroastrianism".]

[3] This was one of Steiner's many "corrections" of the Bible. [See, e.g., "Genesis", "Commandments", and "Sermon".]

[4] I.e., the spiritual ego or "I" of Zarathustra. [See "Ego".]

[5] In this telling, Steiner attempts to explain why the death of the Solomonic Jesus was necessary: The ego of Zarathustra left this Jesus, so he was unable to develop any further.

[6] I.e., the mother of the Nathan Jesus took the soul of the Solomonic Jesus with her into the spirit realm. (This account is not wholly consistent with other accounts Steiner offered.)

[7] I.e., Christ the Sun God incarnated in the body of the Nathan Jesus, which contained the souls of Buddha and Zarathustra. (This account may be considered Steiner's central telling of the lives of the Jesus children and the incarnation of the Sun God on Earth.)




Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus - also see Buddha; Christ; Jesus; Koran; Nathanic Jesus; Solomonic Jesus; Sun God; Zarathustra; Zoroaster

This, according to at least some statements made by Steiner, was the combined human vessel into which the Sun God incarnated: the human being who resulted from he fusion of the Solomonic Jesus with the Nathanic Jesus. “[T]he science of the spirit [i.e., Anthroposophy] brings together three things in order to understand the Mystery of Golgotha [i.e., the Crucifixion]. First Jesus as He is incarnated as Zarathustra in the Solomon Jesus Child and how he brings through this Solomon Jesus Child that which mankind has experienced through its historical development since he himself has passed from incarnation to incarnation. I have told you about the Nathan Jesus Child who has within him that which was actually predestined for the earth but never went through this earth evolution; it was held back. I have showed you how the Nathan Jesus Child was completely described in the Koran [the Holy Book of Islam] to the point where it says that the Nathan Jesus Child actually spoke when he was born. The Christ Being incarnates in the Nathan Jesus Child with the Solomon Jesus Child, the Christ Being Who comes from beyond the super-earthly, Who draws into the personality of this Solomonic Nathanic Jesus in the 30th year so that we can recognize in Christ a union of the spiritual worlds external to the earth with that which has occurred upon the earth. And I have brought to your attention the fact that it is necessary in our time to become able to understand the concept of the immensity of the greatness of the Jesus figure, and with that the greatness of the Mystery of Golgotha, since our time has certainly developed the intellect, the intellectual thinking in its 5th post-Atlantean period. However, the spiritual comprehension of the would has to be added to this intellectual thinking. Then it will be possible to understand the Mystery of Golgotha again as it was understood many, many years ago but understood now in a very advanced way.” — R. Steiner, THINGS OF THE PAST AND PRESENT IN THE SPIRIT OF MAN (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 12, GA 167.

Note that Steiner often said that the spirit of Zarathustra left the body of the Nathanic Jesus before the Sun God incarnated in that body. The Solomonic Jesus bore the spirit of Zarathustra until about the child's twelfth birthday. The spirit of Zarathustra then transferred to the Nathanic Jesus — who might, at that point, be considered to be the "Solomonic-Nathanic Jesus." The Solomonic Jesus then died. Later, when the surviving Jesus was 30 years old, the spirit of Zarathustra left the body of the surviving Jesus, just before this Jesus was baptized — the moment when the Sun God descended into Jesus's body.




somnambulism - also see deep sleep; mediums; sleep

Sleepwalking. In occult belief, sleepwalkers may enter a trance in which the spirit leaves the body and thus attains a degree of supernatural vision. Steiner warned that, like mediumship [1], somnambulism can be dangerous and unreliable, although some occult knowledge may be gained. "Man is only in a mediumistic or somnambulistic condition when his Ego and astral body are outside his physical and etheric bodies [2]; but in this case, as I have pointed out, his Ego and astral body are possessed by an alien being [3] ... Because the physical and etheric bodies of the medium or somnambulist are deserted, the animal and terrestrial human forces work upon the medium or somnambulist [4] ... The physical and etheric bodies of the medium or somnambulist function somewhat after the fashion of automata [5] and we can work upon them because his own Ego and astral body fail to provide for [6] them. Consequently...in the medium or somnambulist there comes into being a union with the external world of nature, with the world of form and its origin, with all that is perceptible and all that is related to space and time. [7]" — R. Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 9, GA 243.

[1] Steiner indicates that during somnambulism, one enters a state essentially equivalent to the trance a medium enters during a seance. Conversely, a medium enters a state similar to somnambulism. [See "Seances".]

[2] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings have four bodies, three of which are invisible. The physical body and the etheric body are the lower two bodies. [See "Incarnation".]

[3] The astral body and the spiritual ego are the higher two bodies. Here Steiner says that during somnambulism or during a mediumistic trance, these higher bodies can be possessed by an intruding spirit.

[4] I.e., because the soul has left the physical and etheric bodies, these are subject to lowly forces coming from animalistic or purely terrestrial human levels.

[5] I.e., soulless mechanical beings, robots.

[6] I.e., protect.

[7] I.e., the lowly physical level of existence, the world of nature, physical forms, and the restrictive laws of space and time.




Sons of Fire - also see Agnishvattas; Archangels; Solar Pitris

According to Steiner: gods two levels above mankind. They stand at the middle rank in the lowest or third "hierarchy" of gods. [1] "The work of [the gods known as Primal Beginnings [2]] is succeeded around the middle of the fifth Saturn cycle [3] by that of the 'Sons of Fire,' who, at this stage, still have a dull image consciousness, similar to the Moon consciousness of man. [4] They attain the stage of humanity only on the next planet, the Sun. [5] Their work here [6] is therefore to a certain degree still unconscious and dreamlike. But it is through them that the activity of the 'sensory germs' [7] from the previous cycle [8] is enlivened. The light images produced by the 'fire spirits' [9] shine outward through these sensory germs. The ancestor of man [10] is thereby elevated to a kind of shining entity. While the life of [Old] Saturn is otherwise dark, man now shines in the general darkness." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", below.

[2] Primal Beginnings are gods one rank higher than Son of Fire. [See the chart, below.]

[3] I.e., during the fifth of seven phases of the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that occurred long, long ago.)

[4] I.e., their consciousness then was similar to the consciousness we would attain during the third incarnation of the solar system, called Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]

[5] Steiner taught that being human means reaching a certain level of evolution. The gods passed through this level before rising to higher levels. Here, Steiner says that the Sons of Fire would become human during the second incarnation of the solar system, called Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".] Incarnations of the solar system are also known as planetary conditions (hence Steiner's reference to "the next planet"). We ourselves reached the human stage only during the fourth incarnation of the solar system, called Present Earth. [See "Present Earth" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".]

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

[7] I.e., seeds of sensory consciousness. (Steiner taught that evolution is principally a matter of rising to higher states of consciousness. The "Sons of Fire" produced seeds of consciousness that shone on us, creating a sort of light or consciousness in us.)

[8] Steiner taught that the beings above us, gods, began their own evolutions during cosmic cycles that came before the first incarnation of our solar system.

[9] I.e., the Sons of Fire, Fire Spirits, or Spirits of Fire.

[10] I.e., the human being in that very ancient period, when we were still far below the human stage of evolution.

Anthroposophy describes a vast number of gods standing at nine ranks. The ranks themselves are subdivided into three "hierarchies." The lowest or third hierarchy consists of gods standing at the seventh, eighth, and ninth ranks. (The various names applied to gods of a particular rank sometimes designate identical gods and sometimes they designate somewhat different gods standing at the same level of authority, responsibility, and development.)




Sons of Life - also see Angels; Lunar Pitris; Spirits of Dusk

According to Steiner: gods one level above mankind. They stand at the bottom rank in the lowest or third "hierarchy" of gods. [1] “Within the Saturn body [2] something like sensations of taste begin to go surging to and fro. Sweet, bitter, sour, etc. are perceived at diverse places in the interior of Saturn; while in the heavenly spaces without, all this gives the impression of sound, a kind of music. And in these processes, once more, Beings find it possible to unfold their activity on Saturn. [3] These Beings may be called the ‘Sons of Twilight,’ or ‘Sons of Life’ (in Christian language they are the Angeloi or Angels.)” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", below.

[2] I.e., within the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. During that incarnation, the entire solar system was originally a single unified body, which might be called Saturn, although it was very different from the planet Saturn that we see in the sky today. [See "Old Saturn".] (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that occurred long, long ago.)

[3] I.e., certain spirits were able to be active, and to evolve, during Old Saturn.




Sons of Twilight - also see Lunar Pitris; Sons of Life; Spirits of Dusk

According to Steiner: gods one level above mankind. They stand at the bottom rank in the lowest or third "hierarchy" of gods. [1] They reside in the Moon sphere and were human [2] during Old Moon. [3] Unlike higher gods, they take direct interest in individual humans. “These beings are the ‘Sons of Twilight,’ the ‘Spirits of Dusk.’ (In theosophical writings they are called Lunar Pitris or Barhishad-Pitris.) They attain the stage of humanity only on the Moon. [4] On earth [5] they, as well as their predecessors, the Sons of Fire [6], have already grown beyond the stage of humanity. On earth they are higher beings which Christian esoteric teaching calls ‘Angels’ (Angeloi) ... These Sons of Twilight develop in the ancestor of man a kind of understanding, of which however, in his dull consciousness, he himself cannot yet make use. [7]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", below.

[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".

[3] I.e., they reached the human stage of evolution during the third incarnation of the solar system, called Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]

[4] I.e., during Old Moon.

[5] I.e., today, during Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".] (Steiner taught that the sons of Twilight became human during Old Moon, while the Sons of Fire became human during Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".] They both continued to evolve after that and became gods.)

[6] The Sons of Twilight are often known as Angels, while the Sons of Fire are often known as Archangels. Angels stand one level higher than humanity while Archangels stand two levels higher than humanity. [See "Polytheism".]

[7] I.e., the Sons of Twilight helped us to develop a primitive power of comprehension or understanding. (They did this while we were in our earliest stages of evolution; we were not yet human, so Steiner speaks of "the ancestor of man," which was ourselves long ago. We were so unevolved then that we could not, on our own, make use of the power of understanding that the Sons of Twilight helped us to develop.)




Sophia - also see Anthropo-Sophia; astral body; Holy Ghost

In Anthroposophy, this is the divine female principle. She is the wisdom imparted by the Holy Ghost; she is the mother of god. We have her, at least potentially, within ourselves; she is a part of ourselves, purified. “The cleansed, purified astral body [1], which bears within it at the moment of illumination none of the impure impressions of the physical world, but only the organs of perception of the spiritual world [2], is called the ‘pure, chaste, wise Virgin Sophia’ in esoteric Christianity. [3] By means of all that he receives during katharsis [4], the pupil cleanses and purifies his astral body so that it is transformed into the Virgin Sophia. [5]” — R. Steiner, THE GODDESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 48. [See "Goddess".]

Sophia — or the Virgin Sophia — is unspoiled spiritual enlightenment; she is initiation and its result. She is the capacity for, and the enactment of, clairvoyance. She is, then, central to the Anthroposophical vision: Anthropo-sophia. In this sense, Sophia is the god(dess) who presides over Anthroposophical gatherings and enterprises, such as Waldorf schools. When Waldorf teachers pray to the divinity who, they believe, guides and protects them, they are effectively praying to Sophia (or Anthroposophia). [6]

Sophia may be conceived as a member of the Divine Feminine Trinity [7] that is the counterpart or complement of the Holy Trinity (which is usually presented as consisting of three masculine divinities). [8] Sophia may be understood, then, as the counterpart of the Holy Spirit — she would be the Holy Soul.

"Sophia: Part of the Divine Feminine Trinity comprising the Mother (counterpart of the Father), the Daughter (counterpart of the Son), and the Holy Soul (counterpart of the Holy Spirit). [9] ... To the Egyptians, Sophia was known as Isis [10] ... In the Book of Proverbs, attributed to King Solomon, Sophia's temple has seven pillars (Proverbs 9:1) [11]. The seven pillars...represent the seven great stages of Earth evolution (from Ancient Saturn to Future Vulcan) [12]". — COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom, Vol. 1, edited by Joel Park (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 2018), p. 249. [13]

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

[2] I.e., nonphysical organs of clairvoyance. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

[3] I.e., gnostic Christian teachings. [See "Gnosis".]

[4] Catharsis or cleansing as part of the process of occult initiation. [For an overview of occult initiation, "Inside Scoop".]

[5] See the section "Sophia" in "Goddess".

[6] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthropo-Sophia".

[7] Essentially, according to Anthroposophical belief, the Divine Feminine Trinity is the often-overlooked feminine aspect of the Godhead.

[8] These "counterparts" are the inextricable female identities of three apparently male divinities.

[9] See "God" and "Trinity".

[10] Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility. [See the discussions of Isis in "Goddess".]

[11] "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." — Proverb 9:1, King James Version. (There are no further references to the pillars.)

[12] This is an Anthroposophical interpretation, alien to the Hebrew Bible. The "seven great stages of Earth evolution" are progressive incarnations of the solar system, as described by Rudolf Steiner. [See "Matters of Form".]

[13] Some of these beliefs have been advanced by modern followers of Steiner, such as Robert Powell; Steiner himself may or may not have endorsed them. See, e.g., Powell’s book THE MOST HOLY TRINOSOPHIA and the New Revelation of the Divine Feminine (SteinerBooks, 2000).




Sorat - also see Antichrist; cf. Ahriman

According to Steiner, Sorat is the Sun Demon, the Antichrist. [1] Steiner taught that Sorat has involved himself in human affairs at various times, and he returned once again during the final third of the 20th Century. [2] (Christ had already returned, but only in the etheric realm — knowledge of Christ has become available, through Anthroposophy. [3]) Here is Steiner foretelling the return of Sorat: "At the end of this century [4] the time will come when Sorat will once again raise his head most strongly out of the waves of evolution to become the adversary of that appearance of Christ which those who have been prepared for it will already experience during the first half of the twentieth century when the Etheric Chris becomes visible. [5] Only two thirds of the century will have still to run before Sorat once again raises his head most mightily." — R. Steiner, THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE WORK OF THE PRIEST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 117. Steiner. [See "Bad, Badder, Baddest".]

Note that, according to Anthroposophical teachings, the arch-demon Ahriman [6] sometimes serves as the Antichrist, but he is not truly the polar opposite of Christ. Sorat is the Great Antichrist; Ahriman is only, one occasion, one of the Lesser Antichrists. [See "Evil Ones".]

"The sign for Sorat looks like this...[with] two horns like a lamb... [and a] barb or sting.” — R. Steiner, READING THE SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE (SteinerBooks, 1993), p. 19. [R. R. copy, 2011.]

[1] See "Bad, Badder, Baddest" and "Evil Ones".

[2] See "Millennium".

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Second Coming of Christ".

[4] I.e., the twentieth. Steiner delivered this lecture in 1924.

[5] This is the Second Coming, which Steiner said would occur in the etheric level of reality. Anthroposophists generally indicate that the Second Coming occurred in or about 1930 CE, approximately five years after Steiner's death. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "etheric realm" and "historical narrative".]

[6] See "Ahriman".




sorcery - see magic




soul - also see backward souls; consciousness soul; evil souls; family soul; folk soul; good souls; group soul; intellectual soul; mind soul; planetary souls; race soul; Regions of Soul; sentient soul; soul nature; soul types; soul world; spiritual soul; substandard souls; cf. spirit; spirit-soul

a) Generally, the spiritual or immaterial element of a human being; often considered immortal.

b) According to Steiner: the personal spiritual self, renewed with each incarnation [1]; distinct from the spirit, which is higher and remains one's essence through all incarnations. [2] "Between the [physical] body and the spirit is the soul, which may be regarded as the mediator or bridge between them, and Steiner speaks of how it gathers treasures from the earthly experience to bestow on the spirit. The soul is not immortal, as the spirit is; after death it is gradually dissolved into the 'soul world.' [3] Every newly incarnated human being creates for itself a new soul with the qualities needed for the fulfillment of its new destiny. [4]" — S. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 36.

"[I]n the threefold image of the human being [5] composed of physical body, soul and spirit, the term 'soul' refers to the part of the human being where all sense impressions, feelings and subjective thoughts are inscribed ... Characteristic of the world of the soul [6] is that our personal opinion plays a role, whereas the spirit is characterized by absence of personal bias. The soul is a complex of sympathies and antipathies [7] ... [I]t is possible, and according to Steiner most necessary, to imbue the objective, spiritual faculty of thinking [8] with personal warmth of soul ... The soul, like the physical body, only exists while we are incarnated on earth. [9] It can be further subdivided into sentient soul, intellectual soul and consciousness soul [10], which represent successive evolutionary phases in the soul's development [11] from reactive feeling to more self-governed and self-aware consciousness ... As in general usage, the term 'soul' [in Anthroposophical usage] sometimes refers to a human being as a whole, for instance in the phrase 'an old soul', referring to somebody who has had many incarnations on earth." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 112-113.

For more on the soul, see the entries for "soul nature" and "soul world", below.

•••

Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution. [12] This is the simplest, and is often references by Anthroposophists: We have three parts — physical body, soul, and spirit.

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

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

[3] See "Higher Worlds". Actually, we have several souls or soul members, Steiner taught. They incarnate at different ages during our lives on Earth. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".]

[4] See "Karma".

[5] Steiner offered threefold, fourfold, sevenfold, and ninefold descriptions. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".]

[6] See the entry for "soul world", below.

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

[8] I.e., the functioning of the spirit.

[9] Actually, Steiner said we take the soul into our life after death, where it is purged. [See the entry for "soul world", below.]

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

[11] See the chart accompanying the entry for "sentient soul" in this encyclopedia.

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



soul body - see astral body




soul nature - also see ninefold nature of man; soul; soul types; would world; cf. body nature; spirit nature

a) According to Steiner, this is the highest component of body nature. That is, it is part of the transient portion of ourselves, the part that exists during only one incarnation. The physical body, the etheric body, and "soul nature," as conceived in this context, develop during one life, and then they expire as we return to the spirit realm and prepare for a new incarnation. [1] Soul nature is lower than spirit nature [2], which encompasses our immortal selves.

b) Alternatively, according to Steiner, soul nature (in a higher sense) is the second major division of the ninefold nature of man, coming between our body nature and our spirit nature. It is the world we carry within ourselves. "Man's soul nature as his own inner world is different from his bodily nature. [3] When attention is turned to even the simplest sensation, what is personally his own comes at once to the fore. Thus no one can know whether one person perceives even a simple sensation in exactly the same way as another ... We must, therefore, describe sensation as belonging to the soul. If this single fact is grasped quite clearly, we shall soon cease to regard inner experiences as mere brain processes or something similar. [4] Feeling [5] must link itself with sensation. One sensation causes us pleasure, another displeasure. These are stirrings of our inner life, our soul life. In our feelings we create a second world in addition to the one working on us from without ... The actions of man differ from the occurrences of outer nature in that they bear the impress of his inner life. Thus the soul as man's own possession stands confronting the outer world. He receives from the outer world the incitements, but he creates in response to these incitements a world of his own. The body becomes the foundation of the soul being of man. [6]" — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, GA 9.

•••

Our "soul nature" may be viewed in two ways, according to Anthroposophy. In its lower form, soul nature is part of our bodily nature. In its higher form, it is the part of us that is higher than our bodily nature but lower than our spiritual nature. [See "What We're Made Of".]

[1] See "What We're Made Of" and "Reincarnation".

[2] See the entry for "spirit nature", blow.

[3] Here, Steiner is describing three major subdivisions of human nature: bodily nature (material, physical), soul nature (centered on the immaterial self that exists during only one incarnation), and spirit nature (centered on the immaterial self that passes from incarnation to incarnation).

[4] Steiner generally disparaged the brain and its workings. [See "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".] Here he argues that sensations occur in the soul, not in the brain. (A skeptic might reply: We have inner experiences, certainly. But this does not compel us to believe in the soul. Evidence indicates that inner experiences occur in the brain.)

[5] I.e., emotion.

[6] I.e., the physical body houses the soul. (Here Steiner refers, at least tangentially, to his first description of soul nature — see above — partially reconciling it with his second.)




THE SOUL'S AWAKENING - also see THE PORTAL OF INITIATION, THE SOUL'S PROBATION, and THE GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD

One of four mystery plays by Steiner. The complete cycle of these plays is often performed at the Anthroposophical headquarters, the Goetheanum. [See "Plays".]

•••

A scene from THE SOUL'S AWAKENING

as staged at the Goetheanum.

[GOETHEANUM (Philosophical-Anthroposophical Press, 1961),

p. 23, detail, color added.]




soul-spirit - see spirit-soul




THE SOUL'S PROBATION - also see THE PORTAL OF INITIATION, THE SOUL'S AWAKENING, and THE GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD

One of four mystery plays written by Steiner. The four are THE PORTAL OF INITIATION, THE SOUL'S PROBATION, THE GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD, and THE SOUL'S AWAKENING. [See "Plays".]




soul types - also see death; planetary humans; planetary spheres; sleep; soul; soul nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




soul world - also see higher worlds; soul; cf. physical world; spiritual world

According to Steiner, this is an intermediate level of existence, found between the physical world and the spirit world; it is the level of soul existence and soul forces. [See "Higher Worlds".] "When the soul enters the soul world after death it becomes subject to the laws of that world. The laws act on it and the manner in which the soul's inclinations towards the physical are destroyed depends upon their actions. [1] The way these laws act on the soul must differ depending upon the kinds of soul substances and soul forces in whose domain it is placed at the time. [2] Each of these according to the its kind will make its purifying, cleansing influence felt. The process that takes place here is such that all antipathy is gradually overcome by the forces of sympathy. [3] This sympathy itself is brought to its highest pitch because, through this highest degree of sympathy with the rest of the soul world, the soul will, as it were, merge into and become one with it. Then will it be utterly emptied of self-seeking. It ceases to exist as a being inclined to physically sensible existence, and the spirit [which is higher than the soul] is set free by it. The soul, therefore, purifies itself through all the regions of the soul world...until, in the region of perfect sympathy, it becomes one with the general soul world. That the spirit itself is in bondage until this last moment of the liberation of its soul is due to the fact that through its life the spirit has become most intimately related to the soul. [4] This relationship is much closer than the one with the [physical] body because the spirit is only indirectly bound to the [physical] body through the soul, whereas it is bound directly to the soul. The soul is, in fact, the spirit's own life. [5] For this reason the spirit is not bound to the decaying [physical] body, although it is bound to the soul that is gradually freeing itself. On account of the immediate bond between the spirit and the soul, the spirit can feel free of the soul only when the soul has itself become one with the general soul world." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 3, GA 9.

On at least some occasions, Steiner identified the soul world with the moon sphere — the portion of the cosmos that is under the predominant influence of the Moon. ◊ "[T]he Christ Being had to descend from the Sun to carry out the Mystery of Golgotha [6] so that mankind, through the teachings of that Mystery, should be given sufficient force to make the crossing from the soul-world to spirit-land, from Moon-sphere to Sun-sphere." — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227. ◊ "[H]uman beings...have to pass after death into the Moon sphere — the soul-world." — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), lecture 9, GA 236.

[1] Steiner usually taught that there are three worlds: the physical, soul, and spirit worlds. In the soul world, our ties to physical existence (our "inclinations towards the physical") are purged, preparing us for life in the spirit world. The laws of the soul world determine how this preparation occurs.

[2] I.e., there are various sections or subdivisions of the soul world; as a soul passes through these, the laws of the soul world are act upon it in various ways.

[3] Steiner taught that the spiritual forces of sympathy (affinity, rapport) and antipathy (aversion, disinclination) influence us to differing degrees in different parts of our existence. In the soul world, during the purging and cleansing process, our souls are increasingly influenced by the spirit of sympathy as our inclination toward antipathy is reduced.

[4] Steiner taught that the spirit is higher than the soul. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] Here he says that the spirit cannot be liberated, and thus able to rise into the spirit world, until the soul (which with it has been closely linked during incarnation) is cleansed.

[5] I.e., the soul is the enactment of the spirit in life.

[6] I.e., the mysterious spiritual import of the Crucifixion.




sound ether - also see air ether; cosmic ether; ether; harmony of the spheres; number ether; states of elementary existence; cf. chemical ether; life ether; light ether; thought ether; warmth ether; world ether

Sound ether, as described by Steiner, can be considered a subdivision of the universal ether. [1] As such, it is one of the states of elementary (i.e., physical) existence. "[T]here are seven states of elementary existence. The first, the most rarefied state [is the life ether], which constitutes and brings about life; then what we call number, or sound-ether; then light-ether; then warmth-ether [2]; then we have air, or the gaseous element, the watery element and finally the earthy or solid. [3]" — R. Steiner, GENESIS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1959), lecture 7, GA 122.

"Sound ether" can also be considered an alternate term for the harmony of the spheres. "Sound-ether is known to clairvoyant perception as the harmony of the spheres [4], the etheric tone which lives within and permeates all space. It is something much more spiritual, more etheric, than ordinary sound." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1946), lecture 3, GA 123.

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

[2] See the entries for these various forms of ether in this encyclopedia.

[3] Steiner taught that, as the ancients affirmed, there are four real "elements": earth, air, fire, and water. [See "Neutered Nature".] Here he says that elementary existence consists of four ethers and three elements. (He combines fire with warmth ether.)

[4] See the entry for "harmony of the spheres" in this encyclopedia.




special needs, children with - also see Camphill; childhood; curative education; curative eurythmy; karma; social therapy

Steiner taught that most characteristics or personality traits, including disabilities, are largely the result of karma and must be handled cautiously; interfering in karma is a serious business. [1] Then, too, extreme deficiencies may show that a person is not really human; dealing with demons in human form is an extremely serious business. [2]

Precisely what constitutes a special need or disability is, to some degree, a matter of perspective. Steiner taught that children generally fall into four categories: the four ancient temperaments. [3] Each temperament has virtues and drawbacks; the latter may sometimes need to be corrected. Then, too, certain irregularities — such as left-handedness — may be judged disabilities that, from an Anthroposophical perspective, need correction. [4]

Steiner advocated the curative use of eurythmy and horoscopes, among other approaches, when a real human being has an affliction. [5] However, it is often necessary to allow afflictions to run their course, he said, since these may be necessary fulfillments of karma. The most extended presentation of Steiner's teachings about students with special needs can be found in EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998).

After Steiner's death, some of his followers, led by Karl König, established Camphill communities where, among other activities, efforts are made to use Anthroposophical approaches to assist individuals having special needs. [6] Some individual with personal experience in Waldorf schools say that the school are helpful to students with special needs; others strenuously state the opposite. [7]

[1] See "Karma" and "Steiner's Quackery".

[2] E.g., “That little girl L.K. in the first grade must have something really very wrong inside. There is not much we can do. Such cases are increasing in which children are born with a human form, but are not really human beings in relation to their highest I [the spiritual ego, a human’s spiritual self]; instead, they are filled with beings that do not belong to the human class. Quite a number of people have been born since the nineties [i.e., the 1890s] without an I, that is, they are not reincarnated, but are human forms filled with a sort of natural demon. There are quite a large number of older people going around who are actually not human beings, but are only natural; they are human beings only in regard to their form. We cannot, however, create a school for demons.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 649. [See "Compassion and Its Absence" and "Faculty Meetings".]

[3] See "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".

[4] "[C]hildren will become idiotic through lefthandedness [sic]." — R. Steiner, quoted by Gerda Hueck in THE PROBLEM OF LEFTHANDEDNESS (St. George Publications, 1978), p. 15.

[5] See "Eurythmy" and "Horoscopes". Whether Anthroposophy provides any techniques that can be usefully employed in therapy is questionable. Some firsthand accounts are discouraging. E.g., "My name is Sarah ... I attended a Waldorf school from first grade to the beginning of sixth grade ... I have ADD [attention deficit disorder] ... Waldorf is totally in the dark about ADD-related disorders and other types of disabilities...." [See "Cautionary Tales".]

[6] See the section titled "Camphill Summer" in "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".

[7] See, e.g., "Complaints".




specters, spectres - also see evil; ghosts; nature spirits; phantoms

According to Steiner, these are subordinate nature spirits [1] embodying evil: ghosts. They may be deemed wraiths or monstrous apparitions. We bring them to Earth through our evil actions and thoughts, Steiner taught. [2] The effects of evil accumulate in us and cause specters to detach from the spirit world and enter the physical plane of existence. “The accumulation in the etheric body [3] caused through [wicked] experiences of the soul...brings about detachments from the beings working in the spiritual worlds [4] and these...are now to be found in our environment — they are the ‘specters’ or ‘ghosts.’” — R. Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 84.

Steiner also indicated that failure to understand Moon beings [5] may cause humans to become, in a somewhat different sense, specters. “When human beings cling too strongly to earthly things it may be difficult for them to find their bearings in the sphere of the Moon Beings ... The moon-influences are not really active below the roots of plants [6] ... The moon-influences, rising like mist from this shallow layer [7], may cause human beings who have to pass after death into the Moon sphere — the soul-world [8] — but are unable to understand the Moon Beings, to be trapped by this shallow stratum of moon-influences and they can actually be seen by sensible-supersensible perception [9] wandering about as ghosts, as spectral shades. [10]” — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 150-151. [See "Lunacy".]

[1] Nature spirits, also called elemental beings, are incorporeal beings dwelling within the forces of nature. There are four major types, Steiner taught: gnomes, sylphs, undines, and fire spirits or salamanders. [See "Neutered Nature".] There are also secondary of subordinate types, such as specters, Steiner said.

[2] See, e.g., "Evil" and "Sin".

[3] I.e., our lowest nonphysical body. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] See "Higher Worlds".

[5] See the entry for "Moon beings" in this encyclopedia.

[6] I.e., the astrological influences of the Moon penetrate only a short distance below the surface of the Earth: They are found only in a shallow layer of the soil.

[7] The influences of the Moon, having penetrated only a short distance into the Earth, rise again from the soil as a sort of mist.

[8] During sleep and after death, Steiner said, we rise through various planetary spheres (including the Moon sphere) on our ascent into the higher worlds. [See "Higher Worlds".] The soul world is the lower of the two higher worlds; above it is the spirit world. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[9] I.e., humans who — heavily affected by the Moon influences rising from the Earth — cannot understand the Moon Beings, may become trapped in the shallow layer of the Earth where the Moon influences are concentrated; thereafter, they will be ghosts or specters. (Steiner's prescription for avoiding all such dangers is to accept his teachings, Anthroposophy, which provide a correct understanding of virtually all things, including Moon Beings.)

[10] I.e., ordinary vision supplemented by clairvoyance.




speech - also see declamation; eurythmy; larynx; speech formation; speech sense; thinking

Steiner held that speech can have magical, spiritual effects; like the gods, we can create realities by speaking them into existence. He also taught that prayers and other important texts should be declaimed rather than merely spoken. He prayed so loudly that he could be heard in the next room. The art of proper speaking, with its spiritually creative powers, is greatly important, he taught, and it is often promoted in Waldorf education. "If the art of speech is to be resuscitated — preferably more in the form of a narrative style, or as the kind of poetry developed by the ancient Greeks — and to revise also the art of declamation, which the older German poetry is based on, it is necessary to do something about speech formation. This is the point." — R. Steiner , THE CHILD'S CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 199. [See, e.g., "Magical Arts".]

Speeches delivered on stage can create beings that have real existence in the spirit realm, Anthroposophists believe. Waldorf teachers should be mindful of the spiritual powers of speech when directing students in, for instance, a Shakespeare play. “When you make Shakespearean characters living [1]...you can raise them into the supersensible [2] world where they remain living. Of course, they do not do in the higher worlds [3] what they do on the physical plane, but they remain alive, nevertheless, and they act [4] there.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 336.

We can create both good and evil beings and realities through our thoughts and speech, Steiner taught. Danger, of course, lies in our production of evil, which obviously we should avoid. If we evolve properly, avoiding evil, we will attain such powers of creation-through-speech that the larynx will become our new organ of reproduction. [5]

[1] I.e., bring them to life.

[2] I.e., supernatural: beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.

[3] See "Higher Worlds".

[4] I.e., they are active, alive.

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




speech formation - also see declamation; speech; speech sense

According to Waldorf belief, language was created by the gods. Language embodies the will of the gods, it is the creative force of the gods, and indeed it contains the gods themselves. Thus, properly formed speech conveys creative, curative powers. "Speech formation — an art of speech and recitation ... It aspires to a deeper awareness of the powers inherent in language and speech, aiming to bring these formative forces, and the beings [1] at work in them, to listener's [sic] awareness. Speech formed in this way also has healing potency. [2]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 113.

[1] I.e., beneficent spirits, gods.

[2] I.e., properly formulated speech has curative powers.




speech sense - also see senses; speech

This is one of the twelve senses that Steiner said human beings possess. [1] Speech sense — also sometimes called language sense — enables us to discern the meaning in the streams of sound (talking, speech) we hear others producing, and it enables us to grasp grammatical structures. [See "What We're Made Of".] Language is created by the gods, so our sense of the meaning of language connects us with the gods. Speech sense is the counterpart of the sense of movement: We open ourselves to the actions (speech, communication, intention) of others. Speech sense falls under the aegis of Gemini. [2]

[1] See "Oh Humanity" and the entry for "senses" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See, e.g., A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), pp. 118-124, and H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 68.




sphere - also see gods; higher worlds; music of the spheres; planetary spheres; planets

a) A round, three-dimensional form having every point on its surface equidistant from the point at the form's center.

b) A planet or other celestial, spherical body.

c) A physical, intellectual, political, cultural, or spiritual area.

d) In Theosophy: a manifestation of the spiritual All.

e) In Anthroposophy: the region under the spiritual influence of particular planetary gods. A sphere in this sense is the portion of the solar system or universe bounded by the orbit of a "planet" around the Sun (except that Steiner sometimes said that planets do not move in orbits). [1] Thus, the spheres of some planets enclose the spheres of other planets: The sphere of a planet far from the Sun, such as Jupiter, contains the spheres of all the planets that are nearer to the Sun. [2] The sphere of a planet near the Sun, such as Mercury, is nested within all the spheres of planets that are farther from the Sun.

Particular gods have particular authority in various planetary spheres. Steiner said that the Moon sphere [3] is inhabited by the Sons of Twilight; the Mercury sphere by the Fire Spirits; the Venus sphere by the Archai; the Sun Sphere [3] by the Spirits of Form; the Mars sphere by Spirits of Movement; Jupiter Sphere by the Spirits of Wisdom; and the Saturn sphere by the Spirits of Will. [4]

•••

Planetary spheres are nested within one another. The spheres usually identified in Anthroposophy are, from the smallest to the largest, the Moon (occultly filling the role of Vulcan), Mercury, Venus, the Sun (occultly filling the role of Earth), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Steiner taught that Saturn is the outermost planet; Uranus and Neptune are not true members of the solar system, he said. [5] [R.R. sketch, 2010.]

[1] See "Deception".

[2] See "Higher Worlds".

[3] In accordance with astrological beliefs, Anthroposophy speaks of a Moon sphere and a Sun sphere, even though the Moon and Sun are not planets. The Moon sphere is what otherwise would be the Vulcan sphere (if Vulcan existed) and the Sun sphere is what otherwise would be the Earth sphere.

[4] These "sons" and "spirits" are gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[5] Pluto and the other minor or dwarf planets are also unrepresented.




spider beings, spider forces - also see Ahriman; American Age; intellect; materialism

According to Steiner: monstrosities of intellect that will spread across the earth. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".] “[T]he earth...will be covered as if by a network or web of ghastly spiders possessing tremendous wisdom ... [T]hey will imitate everything human beings have thought up with their shadowy intellect [1], which did not allow itself to be stimulated by what is to come through new Imagination [2] and through spiritual science [3] in general ... To the extent that human beings have not enlivened their shadowy, intellectual concepts, they will have to unite their being...with these ghastly mineral-plant-like spidery creatures. They will have to dwell together with these spiders ... However great the resistance in hostile quarters [4], these things must be said; for, as I have stated again and again, the acceptance or rejection of spiritual scientific knowledge is a serious matter facing mankind ... [W]e are dealing with something that definitely affects the whole configuration of the cosmos." — R. Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204.

Some Anthroposophists today associate the web of these monstrous spiders with the Internet or World Wide Web, and they identify the spiders with the search algorithms used by Internet search services. [5] However, Steiner was speaking of events in the distant future, after the end of our present cultural epoch, and largely after the end of our present great epoch. [6] [See "Sixth Epoch".]

[1] Steiner generally deprecated intellect. [See, e.g., "Thinking" and "Steiner's Specific".]

[2] I.e., clairvoyance. [See the entry for "imagination" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., Anthroposophy.

[4] I.e., however much opposition Anthroposophists endure.

[5] Anthroposophists generally fear computers and the Internet, associating them with powers. [See, e.g., D.B. Black's booklet THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981).]

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




spiral - also see Advent; recapitulation; Spiral of Light; spiral walk; Waldorf curriculum

Spirals are sometimes thought to have spiritual significance, such as by representing the soul’s journey. Neopagans perform spiral dances in their ceremonies. [See, e.g., THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OCCULT (copyright 2003, John Michael Greer), p. 447.] Students at Waldorf schools are sometimes led through spiral paths by their teachers, particularly during Advent observances. [1] Steiner's own teachings on spirals include the following: ◊ “[W]e must expand through seven turns of a spiral, each time moving through all twelve signs [of the zodiac], thus passing a total of seven times through twelve points. Imagine gradually expanding into the cosmos along a spiral path. Having circled through twelve signs for the seventh time, we arrive at divine spirit.” — R. Steiner, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 92. ◊ “In occultism [2] what we have now described is again called a spiral (Wirbel), something that builds from outside inwards and unites with what builds up from within. Physical body, etheric and astral bodies [3] have built up the human being. Then the ego [4] makes itself felt and this builds from within outwards.” — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM, lecture 12, GA 93a. ◊ “It is in a spiral, screw-like path that the earth follows the sun, boring its way, as it were, into cosmic space.” — R. Steiner, MYSTERY OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 81. [5]

The Waldorf curriculum is designed to have a spiral form — subjects are presented in a pattern that imitates of the upward swirl of the soul ascending. The enactment of education at Waldorf is thus meant to embody the spiral form of spiritual and astronomical movement, and thereby to be therapeutic to the soul. So a subject is studied, briefly, then set aside. Months later, the subject recurs, at a somewhat higher level. [6] This pattern is repeated throughout a student's years at Waldorf. "The Waldorf curriculum from grades one to twelve moves like a spiral, similar themes reappearing at different levels." — M. C. Richards, TOWARD WHOLENESS: Rudolf Steiner Education in America (Wesleyan University Press, 1980), p. 117.

[1] See the entries for "Advent" and "Spiral of Light" in this encyclopedia.

[2] See "Occultism".

[3] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, these are three of our four bodies, two of them nonphysical. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] I.e., our highest nonphysical body, [See "Ego".]

[5] Steiner sometimes said that the planets orbit the Sun, but sometimes he denied it, saying that the planets follow the Sun along a "spiral, screw-like path." [See "Deception".]

[6] See "Waldorf Curriculum" and "Methods"; also the entries in this encyclopedia for "block teaching" and "main lesson."




Spiral of Light - also see Advent; spiral; spiral walk

In Waldorf schools: a spiral walk conducted during Advent observances. "[A]n Advent spiral of fir branches is laid out on the floor. [1] Accompanied by lyre music, each child in turn walks through this spiral and lights a candle from the big candle in the centre of the spiral. The burning candles are placed in the spiral thus creating a beautiful, luminous spiral on the floor." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 3.

•••

"Every year, all the students have the opportunity to participate in the Advent Spiral: a quiet, dark evergreen labyrinth through which they walk with a candle held in an apple. The labyrinth is walked in darkness until they reach the large candle in the middle, when their own candle can be lit and carried outwards and placed into the landscape of the labyrinth. The Advent Spiral prepares us to walk courageously into the darkest time of the year." [2] — Waldorf School of Lexington, December 2, 2011.

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

[2] In Waldorf belief, the darkest season — winter — is redeemed with the vernal reascent of the Sun, the orb of Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]




spiral walk in Waldorf schools - also see spiral; Spiral of Light

A ceremony often held at Waldorf schools, during which students walk a spiral path, often in darkened spaces, often carrying candles. [1] Like the pattern of main lessons followed at most Waldorf schools [2], spiral walks are meant to emulate the soul's journey toward spiritual enlightenment. Waldorf spiral walks are often associated with Advent observances [3], but thy may also occur in other seasons, and sometimes they are held outdoors in broad daylight. Despite the strong elements of Christian worship in such activities, there are also often elements of paganism, including astrology. [See "Soul School".]

•••

Students of the Yallingup Steiner School being led along a spiral walk on a beach. [See Waldorf Watch Annex, September, 2011.] In mysticism, such spiral walks often signify the movement toward inner esoteric enlightenment. The spiral can go inward or outward. "Imagine gradually expanding into the cosmos along a spiral path. Having circled through the twelve signs [of the zodiac] [4] for the seventh time, we arrive in divine spirit." — R. Steiner, ACCORDING TO MATTHEW (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 92.

[1] See the entry for "Spiral of Light", above.

[2] See the entry for "spiral", above.

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

[4] See "Astrology".




spirit - also see life spirit; spirit body; spirit man; spirit nature; spirit realm; spirit self; spirit sheath; spirit world(s); Spirit-land; spirit-soul; Spiritland; spirits; cf. soul

a) Generally, the nonphysical element of a person; synonymous with soul.

b) According to Steiner: the transcendent, undying spiritual self; distinct from soul. [1] Unlike the soul, which is exchanged or revised after each incarnation — in a sense, it perishes — the spirit is immortal, Steiner taught. It belongs to the spirit world, the higher of the "higher worlds." It is the true self, carrying us through the entire journey of our evolution toward divinity. [See "What We're Made Of" and "Our Parts".]

"[W]hat needs to be recognized is the existence of body, soul, and spirit [sic], of which the spirit (or ego) [2] is immortal and passes from one incarnation to another." — S. Easton, MAN AND THE WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), p. 198.

Whereas the soul is subjective, containing personal preferences and biases, the spirit is objective, it partakes of and perceives supernal truth. "In human beings, the spirit is embodied in the fourth member, the 'I' [3] ... Spirit, as distinct from soul, is objective and holds sway in all phenomena and beings: a realm [4] to which human subjectivity can gradually elevate itself." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 114.

"As the [physical] body, through its sense organs, perceives the physical, and as sensations arise in the soul so there must be something within the human being which comprehends [objective] laws [of existence], something which is the equivalent of body and soul — this is the spirit. As the physical body belongs to the physical world, so the spirit belongs to the spiritual, the world of the eternal." — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER: An Introduction to his Spiritual World-View, Anthroposophy (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2005), p. 30.

For more on the spirit, see the entries for "spirit body", "spirit man", "spirit nature", and "spirit realm", below.

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

[2] See "Ego".

[3] This is the "ego" of which Easton spoke, it is the fourth human body, as it were. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] See "Higher Worlds".




spirit body - also see ego; ego body; "I"; spirit man

Steiner sometimes used this term to designate, in broad terms, the spiritual vessel housing one's higher inner self, the spirit. (The astral body [1] or soul body houses the lower inner self, the soul.) The spirit body is the ego body or ego or "I" [2]; Steiner also used the term "spirit body" as a synonym for "spirit man." [3] ◊ "The spiritual world [4] ...with its spiritual substances, and spiritual forces, builds a spirit body in which the 'I' can live and, through intuitions [5], perceive the spiritual [realm] ... Within the physical world each human body is built up as a separate being, and within the spirit world the spirit body is also built up separately ... Man takes in the materials of the physical world around him and assimilates them in his physical body, and he also takes up the spiritual from the spiritual environment and makes it into his own." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, GA 9. ◊ "[I]t becomes apparent that there is a third spiritual part of the human being. This may be called the spirit body ... (In Eastern wisdom this spirit body is called atma.) [6] ... The spiritual elements [of the human being] are the spirit self, the life spirit, and the spirit body. [7]" — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 56.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "astral body", also see "Incarnation".

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

[3] See the entry for "spirit man", below.

[4] This term sometimes applies to all of the spiritual levels above the physical level of existence; more specifically, it applies to the higher of the two "higher worlds," usually called the spirit world. [See "Higher Worlds".]

[5] According to Anthroposophy, true intuition is a form of clairvoyance. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "intuition".]

[6] See the entry for "spirit man", below.

[7] See the entries of these terms in this encyclopedia; also see "What We Are".




spiritism - also see philosophy; spirit; spiritualism; world conceptions

In general usage, spiritism is spiritualism: the doctrine that spirit exists separate from matter, and/or that spirit is the only reality. According to Steiner, "spiritism" is one of the twelve justified or defended world conceptions. "[T]here are people who, owing to a certain inwardness, are naturally predisposed to see in all that is material only the revelation of the spiritual ... Such persons may take no particular interest in the material world and its laws. As all their ideas of the spiritual come to them through their own inner activity, they may go through the world with the consciousness that the true, the lofty, in which one ought to interest oneself — all genuine reality — is found only in the Spirit; that matter is only illusion, only external phantasmagoria ... Let us call their conception of the universe: Spiritism." — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), pp. 30-31. Steiner associated spiritism with Capricorn. [See "Philosophy".]




Spiritland (spirit-land) - also see Higher Spiritland; Lower Spiritland; spirit world; Spirit-land

In Theosophy: the spirit realm, entered after death; roughly equivalent to Devachan, the mental plane. [1] Steiner adopted and developed the concept. In his teachings, the term "Spirit-land" [2] is sometimes used in the Theosophical sense, as a term for the spirit realm in general. But Steiner also taught that "Spiritland" is a subdivision of the general spirit realm: It is the spirit world, the higher of the two "higher worlds." [3] Steiner sometimes identified this world or land with the Sun sphere, the region of the cosmos under the direct, predominant influence of the Sun. "[I]n my book, THEOSOPHY, I called spirit-land, the spiritual realm of the Sun ... [We cross] from the soul-world to spirit-land, from Moon-sphere to Sun-sphere." — R. Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227.

Lying beyond the physical and soul worlds (or the physical and astral planes), Spiritland is the world of intuition. [4] We ascend to it through our process of out-of-body spiritual education and evolution. Hence, Spiritland may be considered both a place and a stage of evolution. More accurately, there are lower and higher spiritlands that may be considered levels or periods. As the latter, they are reflected in the first two of the seven stages of form [5], and they recur in more perfect form as the two final stages of form. [See "Matters of Form".]

Steiner's terminology is fluid. In part, this can be attributed to his departure from Theosophy to establish his own system, Anthroposophy. But in part it reflects the fluid nature of the spirit realm as he described it, a realm where there are no harsh, straight lines separating various realities. In either case, the conditions Steiner describes in and around spiritland are supernal. Steiner offered such descriptions during his Theosophical period and again after his departure to found Anthroposophy. "[T]he soul passes into cosmic-spiritual life and finds its place in the Mars region. [6] This region corresponds with what is described in [my book] THEOSOPHY as the first sphere of the ‘Spiritland’. This description portrays the inner aspect of the fact that the soul is spiritual to the extent of being able to behold as something external to itself the ‘archetype’, as it were [7], of the physical bodily organisation and of physical conditions on the Earth in general. The archetypes of physical life on Earth appear as a kind of ‘continental’ mass of the Spiritland. The external configurations of a man's different incarnations are inscribed in this ‘continental’ region. There we have a picture of what, in terms of cosmic existence, the human soul has to experience in the Mars region. It might seem strange that this Mars region which has repeatedly been described in these lectures as a region of strife, of aggressive impulses until the beginning of the seventeenth century, should be said to be the first region of Devachan, of the true Spiritland. Nevertheless this is the case." — R. Steiner, BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1975), lecture 10, GA 141.

[1] See "Higher Worlds".

[2] See the entry for "Spirit-land". Terms such as "Spiritland," "Spirit land," and "S/spirit-land" (capitalized or lower case) interweave in English translations of Steiner's works. Sometimes the referents differ, subtly or signifiicantly, but sometimes the terms apply to the same conditions or locations.

[3] Steiner generally taught that there are three worlds: the physical, soul, and spirit worlds. [See the entries for "soul world" and "spirit world(s)" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] See the entries for "astral plane", "soul world", and "intuition" in this encyclopedia.

[5] Stages of form are evolutionary phases, subdivisions of conditions of life. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[6] I.e., the portion of the cosmos under the astrological/spiritual influence of Mars. (Many of Steiner's teaching about Mars are remarkable. [See "Mars".])

[7] Archetypes are ideal spiritual patterns of models; they are spirits, gods. [See the entry for "archetypes" in this encyclopedia.]




Spirit-land (Spirit land) - also see higher worlds; Spiritland (spirit-land)

Terms such as "Spiritland," "Spirit land," and "S/spirit-land" (capitalized or lower case) interweave in English translations of Steiner's works. Sometimes the referents differ, subtly or signifiicantly, but sometimes the terms apply to the same conditions or locations. [1] In OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE, Steiner uses the term "Spirit-land" to refer to the spiritual region that exists beyond the physical level of existence. He said that Spirit-land consists, principally, of various realms that are associated with the spiritual equivalents of the "four elements" of the physical world: earth, water, air, and fire (or warmth). [2] A fifth realm, a source of illumination, stands above these four. The lowest realm corresponds to ground or earth in the physical plane and consists of those forces needed to bring the physical plane into existence. The second realm corresponds to water on the physical level, and it consists of those spiritual forces needed for life. The third realm corresponds to air in the physical world, and it consists of forces that produce feeling. The fourth realm corresponds, more or less, to warmth, and it consists of living thoughts [3], the power of true thinking. The fifth realm consists of spiritual beings, gods, who inform and guide all of creation. Beyond the fifth realm lie still higher realms.

"Three distinct regions of Spirit-land — the land of Spirits — are apparent to supersensible consciousness. [4] We may compare them with three domains of sense-perceptible Nature. [5] The first is as it were the 'solid land' of the spiritual world; the second the 'region of oceans and rivers;' the third the 'air' or 'atmosphere' ... While feelings and passions occasioned by the external world belong to the third region of Spirit-land, all that can come to life in the soul of man so that he becomes creative, acting on his environment in such a way as to transform and fertilize it, is manifested in its archetypal being [6] in the fourth region of the spiritual world. The prevailing element of the fifth region may be likened to the light of the physical world. It is none other than Wisdom, manifested in its pristine, archetypal form. Beings [7] belong to that region who pour Wisdom into their environment, even as the Sun sheds light upon physical creatures." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 83-86.

[1] Cf. the entry for "Spiritland (spirit-land)".

[2] See "Neutered Nature".

[3] See "Thinking".

[4] I.e., clairvoyance. (Steiner here uses the term "Spirit-land" as a more or less all-encompassing label for the spiritual or supersensible realm in all its parts.)

[5] I.e., portions of "nature" that lie beyond the reach of ordinary perception (clairvoyance is required).

[6] I.e., a formative spirit or god.

[7] i.e., spirits or gods.




spirit man - also see atma; I; life spirit; spirit nature; spirit self

According to Steiner (drawing on Theosophy), this is the third spiritual human component: atma(n). [1] Spirit man is the transformed physical body — our physical envelope elevated and spiritualized, having been infused by the "I" (our spark of divinity). [2] In a somewhat different usage, spirit man is the highest human consciousness. It is the Godhead [3] as reflected in man, hence the God within. It is the highest division of spirit nature (by one definition): the independent human spiritual being. [See "What We're Made Of" and the chart accompanying the entry for "spirit self", below.]

Steiner taught that each of our three spirits — spirit self, life spirit, and spirit man [4] — is a transformation of one of our bodies: "'Spirit-self' arises when the astral body [5] is transmuted to a higher state [by the I]. 'Life-spirit' is the similar transformation of the etheric nature. [6] 'Spirit-man' is the conscious penetration and complete transmutation of the physical organism itself [by the I]. [7] These spiritual states are considered to belong generally to the future, but [they are] anticipated in the Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition [8] of the path of knowledge." — G. Ahern, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), p. 107.

We have not yet truly fulfilled our spiritual capacity, Steiner taught; in this sense, spirit man — like other spiritual components of perfected humanity — is only a distant goal. ”[W]hat is spiritual in modern human beings exists only as a tendency ... What we call Spirit Self is present only as a tendency ... Then there is a second highest aspect of the human being that we call Life Spirit. The Life Spirit is barely perceptible in modern human beings. It is something very spiritual that will develop in the distant future. The highest part of the human being is something that presently exists only as a barely perceptible tendency, the actual Human Spirit [i.e., spirit man].” — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE: Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 80-81.

[1] In Theosophy — from which Steiner drew heavily — atma(n) is the soul, while Atma(n) is the universal or cosmic soul. (The original Sanskrit word, atman, means self.)

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

[3] See "God" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Godhead".

[4] See "What We Are".

[5] This is the second of our invisible bodies. [See "Incarnation".]

[6] I.e., the etheric body, the first of our invisible bodies.

[7] The "I" or ego is, in a sense, the third of our invisible bodies. [See "Ego".]

[8] I.e., the three stages of clairvoyance. (We will not fully realize our spiritual and clairvoyant potential until we reach future stages of evolution, Steiner taught, but we can attain preliminary forms of these states now by attending to him, he said. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "imagination", "inspiration", and "intuition".])




spirit nature - also see life spirit; spirit man; spirit self; cf. soul nature

According to Steiner, this is the highest major division of the ninefold nature of man. [See "What We're Made Of".] ◊ "Within the confines of life between birth and death, the human being belongs to the three worlds [1] of bodily nature, soul nature, and spirit nature." — R. Steiner, A WESTERN APPROACH TO REINCARNATION AND KARMA (SteinerBooks, 1997), p. 126. Realizing one's spirit nature requires rising above, and to some degree separating from, one's physical nature. • "Nature [2] subjects man to the laws of changing matter [3], but he subjects himself to the laws of thought. [4] By this means he makes himself a member of a higher order than the one to which he belongs through his [physical] body. This order is the spiritual. The spiritual is as different from the soul as the soul is from the body. [5]" — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, GA 9. ◊ "Renunciation of the fruits of action for his personality, renunciation of all self-will: these are the stern laws that [the spiritual aspirant] must prescribe for himself. Then he treads the paths of the spiritual world, his whole being is penetrated by these laws. He becomes free from all compulsion from the world of the senses [6]; his spirit-nature raises itself out of the material sheath. Thus he makes actual progress on the path towards the spiritual and spiritualises his own nature. [7]" — Ibid., chapter 4.

Despite the differences between soul nature and spirit nature, Steiner often spoke of them in conjunction with one another, and in these statements — which were sometimes rather informal — he occasionally overlooked the difference between the mortal soul and the immortal spirit. "We learn to know the being in man which does not act through the outer [i.e., physical] body, which is of a soul and spirit nature, which will continue to exist after death, which existed also before birth, or, let us say, before conception. We learn to know the eternal essence of man in this way, through having separated it, as it were, out of the ordinary mortal human being, just as we can separate oxygen out of water by a chemical process." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND OF ITS BUILDING AT DORNACH, SWITZERLAND (H. J. Heywood-Smith, 1917), GA 45.

•••

Our spirit nature, Steiner taught, is the highest of our three natures; it stands above our soul nature and our body nature. Spirit nature, in turn, consists of three parts: the spirit self, the life spirit, and spirit man. [8]

[1] According to Anthroposophical teachings, there are two "higher worlds" above the physical world: the soul world and the spirit world. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia; also see "Higher Worlds".] The three worlds are coterminous, although the higher worlds can be perceived only through clairvoyance, Steiner taught.

[2] I.e., the natural world, physical reality.

[3] I.e., inconstant physical existence.

[4] I.e., we rise to what is sometimes called the mental plane. As thinking creatures, we become superior to merely physical existence. The realm of thought is essentially the realm of spirit, Steiner taught. True thinking (following "the laws of thought") essentially means developing clairvoyant powers. [See "Thinking".]

[5] Steiner taught that the spirit is one's immortal spiritual essence; it is higher than the soul, which lasts for only one incarnation, after which a new soul is assumed. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit" and "soul".]

[6] I.e., the physical world, perceptible with our ordinary senses.

[7] Steiner taught that the soul is subjective while the spirit is objective. Thus, in rising above "self-will" we rise, in a sense, from not just our physical nature but also our soul nature.

[8] See "What We're Made Of"; also see the entries in this encyclopedia for "spirit self", "life spirit", and "spirit man".




spirit realm - also see Devachan; higher worlds; soul world; spirit world(s); Spirit-land; Spiritland

In general, the term "spirit realm" is used in Anthroposophy much as it is elsewhere: It designates the incorporeal, higher reaches of the cosmos, the home of spirits or gods. A dichotomy is postulated, usually indicating that physical life occurs in a lower region whereas spiritual life occurs in a higher region, the spirit realm. Bear in mind, however, that according to Steiner the spirit realm is coextensive with the physical realm: Spirit infuses everything and is present everywhere, although it may be invisible to most observers. Also remember that Anthroposophy specifies various regions, planes, and/or worlds in the spirit realm. [See "Higher Worlds".]

Here are a few sample Steiner statements about the spirit realm: ◊ "What constitutes the firm ground of the spirit realm, are the archetypal images of the physical world. [1] For everything physical has its archetype, even man. The clairvoyant seer perceives these archetypal images as a kind of negative, that is to say, he sees space as a kind of shadow-form, and round about it radiant light." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY AND ROSICRUCIANISM (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 4, GA 100. ◊ "Body, soul and spirit — how they unite, how they mutually react — that is the lesson Faust must learn [2] ... [H]e [must] become ripe so that he is worthy to truly penetrate into the spirit realm. For this purpose he had to learn that this immortality comes to man only when he can be re-embodied repeatedly within physical existence. [3]" — R. Steiner, "Goethe's Faust from the Point of View of Spiritual Science" (transcript, Los Angeles Steiner Library), GA 272. ◊ "We have seen how necessary it is — in order to cross the threshold rightly and enter the spiritual world [4] with clairvoyant consciousness — to leave behind us all the perceptions of the physical world as well as everything we ordinarily think, feel, and will in this world. We have to be prepared to confront beings and happenings [5] whose characteristics bear no relation at all to what can be perceived in the sense world [6] ... [But] when we cross the threshold into the spirit realm, we must take something with us ... [W]hatever is not an image of the sense world and has no significance for it...must be carried up into super-sensible worlds. [7]" — R. Steiner, SECRETS OF THE THRESHOLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), lecture 6, GA 147.

[1] I.e., the spirit realm contains the spiritual essence, as it were the blueprints or archetypes, of everything that becomes manifest or incarnate in the physical realm. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "archetypes".]

[2] Faust, a German magician, is the subject of many literary works, including a play Steiner admired greatly: FAUST, by Goethe. [See "Goethe".] Steiner distinguished between souls and spirits. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "soul" and "spirit".]

[3] See "Reincarnation".

[4] Steiner identified the spirit world as the higher of two higher worlds. [see "Higher Worlds".] However, he also sometimes spoke of the spirit world or spiritual world more informally, equating it with the spirit realm generally.

[5] I.e., predominantly, gods and their actions.

[6] I.e., the world accessible to our senses: the physical world.

[7] I.e., worlds that lie beyond the reach of our senses: the higher worlds. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]




spirits - also see the dead, communicating with; gods; spirit; Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of an Age; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Dusk; Spirits of Fire; Spirits of Form; Spirits of Freedom; Spirits of Harmony; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Light; Spirits of Love; Spirits of Movement; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Personality; Spirits of Temptation; Spirits of the Harmonies; Spirits of the Rotation of Time; Spirits of Will; Spirits of Wisdom

Anthroposophy tends toward dualism, in that it draws a significant distinction between the spiritual and physical realms of existence. However, Anthroposophy also indicates that spirit (conceived broadly — supernal, divine essence) suffuses all things, and with few exceptions all things are alive. Thus, generally, Anthroposophy teaches that everything (again with a few exceptions) is or possesses a "spirit." [1] Every living being may thus be considered essentially a spirit.

When a distinction is drawn between the spiritual and physical realms, spirits are generally thought of as the denizens of the former. As is the case in many other belief systems, spirits are then considered disembodied beings, often invisible, often divine. In Anthroposophy, the chief beings who are typically designated as spirits are the gods — evolving discarnate beings who are more highly developed than human beings, at least for now. [2] (When humans evolve further, we will become gods, and eventually very high gods, Steiner taught.) Disembodied human beings — the dead or unborn, or those between incarnations [3] — constitute another major category of spirits. In Anthroposophical belief, death is essentially an illusion; the spirits of the dead remain very much alive, they may be contacted [4], and they will generally return to Earth in new incarnations.

[1] A distinction must be made. According to a more specific definition given by Steiner, "spirit" is a particular, high component of human and divine nature, existing above "soul." [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] Spirit in a general sense may suffuse all things, but not all things have "spirits" in this more specific sense. Thus, for instance, elemental beings do not have spirits in the more specific sense; thus, calling them "nature spirits" can be misleading. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "elemental beings" and "nature spirits".]

[2] See "Polytheism" and "Tenth Hierarchy". In Anthroposophical teachings, there are vast numbers of gods divided into nine ranks, which in turn are subdivided into three "hierarchies". [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "gods" and "hierarchies".] Many types of gods, generally designated as "Spirits of [X]", are listed on this page. — see below.

[3] See "Reincarnation".

[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "the dead, communicating with"; also see "Steiner and the Warlord".




spirit self - also see life spirit; manas; spirit man; spirit nature

a) According to Steiner (drawing on Theosophy), this is the first spiritual human component, the first division of spirit nature [1] in the ninefold nature of man. [2] It is the transformed astral body [3], the reincarnating self. [4] It consists of a high human consciousness (but not the highest), the spirit forming and living as "I" (i.e., a distinct, human/divine individuality [5]) infusing and elevating the astral body.

Above spirit self are life spirit and spirit man [6]: higher developmental stages of our spirituality, our spirit nature. We have not yet fully attained our spirit nature. ”[W]hat is spiritual in modern human beings exists only as a tendency ... What we call Spirit Self is present only as a tendency ... Then there is a second highest aspect of the human being that we call Life Spirit. The Life Spirit is barely perceptible in modern human beings. It is something very spiritual that will develop in the distant future. The highest part of the human being is something that presently exists only as a barely perceptible tendency, the actual Human Spirit [i.e., spirit man].” — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE: Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 80-81.

b) Also according to Steiner, spirit self is the combination of spiritual soul and spirit self (by the previous definition) in the sevenfold nature of man. [7] "The higher the moral and mental development of man, the more will his 'I' have worked on the astral body, and the [clairvoyant] seer can distinguish this. Whatever part of the astral body has been thus transformed by the 'I' is called the Spirit Self (Manas). [8]" — R. Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 25.

•••

According to Steiner, we have three bodies (or four if you count the spiritual ego). Above our bodies are our three souls, and above these are our three spirits, which are transformations of our bodies. Spirit self is the astral body infused and thus elevated by the spiritual ego. The spiritual ego or "I" is our spark of divine human individuality. [Diagram from THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN, a collection of Steiner lectures (London Reference Library, 1942), lecture 5, GA 100. Read the diagram clockwise. Thus, spirit self comes before, and is lower than, life spirit and spirit man.]

[1] See the entry for "spirit nature", above.

[2] Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution; in one, he said we are comprised of nine parts. [See "What We're Made Of".] In other accounts, Steiner said that we consist of seven, four, or three major parts. (In the diagram shown above, we appear to have ten major parts.)

[3] This is the second of three invisible bodies that, Steiner taught, fully incarnated human beings possess. [See the entry for "astral body" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] See "Reincarnaton".

[5] See "Ego".

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

[7] See "What We're Made Of". (The sevenfold nature of man is a slightly contracted version of the ninefold nature of man.)

[8] In Theosophy — from which Steiner drew heavily — manas is mind. (The Sanskrit root, man, means to think.)




spirit sheath - also see spirit man; spirit nature; spirit world

This is the spiritual "skin," according to Steiner. “...The spiritual skin that separates the spirit man [1] from the unitary spirit world [2] makes him an independent being within it, living a life within himself and perceiving intuitively the spiritual content of the world. Let us call this 'spiritual skin' (auric sheath [3]) the spirit sheath ... The spirit man lives within this spirit sheath. It is built up by the spiritual life force [4] in the same way as the physical body is by the physical life force. In a similar way to that in which one speaks of an ether body [5], one must speak of an ether spirit in reference to the spirit man. Let his ether spirit be called life spirit. [6]”— R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), chapter 1, GA 9. [See "Our Parts".]

[1] See the entry for "spirit man", above.

[2] Steiner taught that the spirit world — which he often said has two major levels — is the higher of two worlds above the physical. [See "Higher Worlds".] The spirit sheath is the enveloping surface that separates the individual spirit from the surrounding environment of the spirit world.

[3] In Theosophy — from which Steiner drew heavily — the auric envelope or "egg" is the source of one's self-realizing essence, the aura. [See "Auras".]

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

[5] I.e., the first of our three invisible bodies, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

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




Spirits of Activity - see Spirits of Movement; Virtues




Spirits of Adversity - also see gods; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation

In Anthroposophical belief, these are spiritual beings — gods and their minions — who have lagged behind in evolution. ◊ “At all stages there are members of the Hierarchies [1] whose development is incomplete and man lives both under the influence of the normal beings and of those who have remained behind. [2] These were termed the Spirits of Adversity but it must be remembered that they are not evil in themselves. [3]” — R. Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER - An Introduction to His World-view [sic], Anthroposophy (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2001), p. 199. ◊ "Secret of Joan [of Arc]'s birth; nature of her death. Joan overcoming Luciferic powers of adversity. [4]" — Lecture summary, R. Steiner's THE DESTINIES OF INDIVIDUALS AND OF NATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), p. vii. ◊ "It is the power of Christ that has descended from the sun and retrieved the useful part of earthly humanity ... But he has an adversary — every such being has an adversary ... [T]he adversary is the demon of the sun ... This demon of the sun is the opponent of the Christ spirit and is called Sorat. [5]" — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), part 2, lecture 10, GA 104a.

[1] I.e., gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[2] I.e., the abnormal spiritual beings. [See the entry for "abnormal" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] Some gods remain behind, becoming abnormal, for good and selfless reasons. But in general, Steiner said, failing to evolve properly is a sin. [See "Sin".] Whether evil exists as such is a complex matter for Anthroposophists. Steiner sometimes indicated it does not, but on other occasions he clearly said it does. [See, e.g., "Evil" and "Evil Ones".]

[4] I.e., adversarial powers allied to Lucifer. Steiner also spoke of adversarial powers allied to Ahriman. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".]

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




Spirits of an Age - also see Archai; cultural epochs; Spirits of Epochs; Spirits of Personality; Time Archangels; Time Spirits; Zeitgeists

According to Steiner: gods three levels above mankind. [1] A Spirit of an Age is a god who has been transformed to undertake the guidance of humanity during a historical age or a cultural epoch. "Then we rise to those beings [2] whom we designate the Spirits of Personality, primeval beginnings, primeval forces, or Archai [3] ... [T]hey live in such a way that, on the waves of time, from epoch to epoch [4], they transform themselves at certain definite periods, they assume other spiritual bodies ... You have here to do with that which represents the meaning and the mission of an epoch of humanity [5] ... This ‘Spirit of the Age’ comprises something which reaches beyond single nations, beyond single races [6] ... That which one really calls a ‘Zeitgeist’ or Spirit of an epoch is the spiritual body of the Archai or the Primeval Beginnings or Spirits of Personality. [7]” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110. The Spirit of an Age generally serves in this capacity for a period of approximately 2,450 years (sometimes the figure of 2,160 years is given). Spirits of Ages are generally the same as Time Spirits. Cf. Time Archangels.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", below.

[2] I.e., gods.

[3] These are all gods of the same rank, three levels above mankind. (In Steiner's teachings, gods at various levels have many names, sometimes reflecting different missions, characteristics, or phases, but sometimes not. Sometimes Steiner merely reports names others have used for gods of various ranks.)

[4] See the entries for "epochs" and "cultural epochs" in this encyclopedia. Here the reference is to cultural epochs, which last roughly 2400 years. Cf. great epochs.

[5] Steiner taught that all periods of history, and all groups of entities (divine and mortal), have missions set by or actually embodied by gods. Nothing is meaningless or purposeless, unless it is sin or error.

[6] Nations and races have missions, Steiner taught, but above these are the missions of entire periods of evolutionary development.

[7] Again, these are all names for gods standing three levels above humanity. [See the listing of "Hierarchies and Ranks" farther down on this page.]




spirits of birth and death - see elemental spirits of birth and death




Spirits of Darkness - also see demons; Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation; cf. Spirits of Light

According to Steiner: adverse spirits ranking among the gods three levels above mankind. [1] The term also applies to rebellious spirits (gods and their minions) thrown out of the spirit realm. In 1879, for instance, a battle between the Archangel Michael [2] and the arch-demon Ahriman [3] resulted in many Spirits of Darkness being cast down. This is the event usually referred to in Anthroposophy as the Fall of the Spirits of Darkness. The spirits in question, and similar spirits, have been active in many stages of our evolution, even producing some benefits for us, Steiner taught. (In Anthroposophy, the activities of adverse spirits are sometimes — but not always — attributable to the divine cosmic plan [4] or at least their effects can be accommodated in the plans of the good gods.) “Then follows the activity of the ‘Spirits of Darkness.’ which are also called 'Spirits of Personality’ or of 'Self-hood’ (Egoism). [5] At this stage [6] they have [i.e., had] a consciousness similar to the present human earthly consciousness. They inhabit[ed] the formed human material body [of that period] as 'souls’ in a way similar to that in which the human soul inhabits its [physical] body today. [7] They implant[ed] a kind of sensory organs in the body, which are the germs of the sensory organs which later develop in the human body in the course of the development of earth. [8]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

•••

Steiner discoursed on Spirits of Darkness in various lectures, including those collected in THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (RudolfSteiner Press, 2008).

[1] See "Polytheism" and the listing of "Hierarchies and Ranks", below.

[2] See "Michael". [Also see the entry in this encyclopedia for "1879".]

[3] See "Ahriman".

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

[5] These are all gods three levels above humanity. The Spirits of Darkness are a subset of the Spirits of Personality; they distort the powers of personality or selfhood. (Generally, the activities of Spirits of Personality are constructive. [See the entry for "Spirits of Personality", below.])

[6] I.e., a former period described by Steiner, a time when these gods were effectively human. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".]

[7] I.e., during that ancient period, these spirits inhabited the "material body" much as human souls inhabit physical bodies today. (The use of the word "human" can be confusing. The Spirits of Darkness were "human" at that time, and later they evolved to become gods. We were subhuman then, although we are often referred to as "humans" at any stage of our evolution. We have only become truly human during Present Earth; in the future, we will evolve to become gods. [See "Present Earth", "Future Stages", and "Tenth Hierarchy".]

[8] I.e., the evolution of the planet Earth, especially during the period known as "Present Earth".




Spirits of Dusk - also see Angels; Lunar Pitris; Sons of Life; Sons of Twilight; cf. Spirits of Darkness

According to Steiner: gods one level above mankind. [1] In common usage, they are called Angels. “These beings are the ‘Sons of Twilight,’ the ‘Spirits of Dusk.’ (In theosophical writings they are called Lunar Pitris or Barhishad-Pitris.) [2] They attain the stage of humanity only on the Moon. [3] On earth [4] they, as well as their predecessors, the Sons of Fire [5], have already grown beyond the stage of humanity. [6] On earth [7] they are higher beings which Christian esoteric teaching calls ‘Angels’ (Angeloi), while for the Sons of Fire it uses the expression “Archangels” (Archangeloi). These Sons of Twilight develop in the ancestor of man [8] a kind of understanding, of which however, in his dull consciousness, he himself cannot yet make use. [9]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the listing of "Hierarchies and Ranks", below.

[2] These are all gods one level above mankind.

[3] I.e., they became "human" during Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc." and the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".] Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that happened very long ago.

[4] I.e., during Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".]

[5] I.e., Archangels — gods two levels above mankind.

[6] I.e., they evolved to levels above the human stage of evolution: They became gods.

[7] I.e., during Present Earth.

[8] The "ancestor of man" is ourselves as we were then, before we became human. We stood at a previous level of evolution; we were still subhuman.

[9] I.e., the Spirits of Dusk, Sons of Twilight, helped us to develop a low level of comprehension (they developed "in the ancestor of man a kind of understanding"), but we were so unevolved that we could not yet make use of it unassisted.




Spirits of Epochs - see Archai; Spirits of an Age; Spirits of Personality; Zeitgeists




Spirits of Fire - see Archangels; fire; Fire Spirits; Solar Pitris; Sons of Fire

According to Steiner: gods two levels above mankind. [1] They dwell in the sphere of Mercury [2] and were human during Old Sun. [3] Commonly known as Archangels, they concern themselves with groups of human beings — peoples, nations, and races. [4] “These Spirits of Fire rise to the human stage [5] by allowing their forces to surge in and out of [the] Saturn part of the human being [6], just as this was performed by the Spirits of Personality on Saturn. [7] This...happens at the central stage of the Sun evolution. [8] At that time the Saturn part of the human being is so far matured that with its help the Spirits of Fire — Archangels — are able to pass through their human stage. [9]” — R. Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), chapter 4, part 4, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the listing of "Hierarchies and Ranks", below.

[2] The "sphere" of a planet is the portion of the solar system bounded by the orbit of that planet. [See, e.g., "Higher Worlds".]

[3] See "Old Sun". (According to Steiner, Old Saturn was the first incarnation of the solar system; Old Sun was the second. [See the entry for "incarnations of the solar system" in this encyclopedia.])

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

[5] In Steiner's teachings, being "human" means reaching a certain evolutionary level. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".] The Spirits of Fire reached this level during Old Sun. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that happened very long ago.)

[6] The "Saturn part of the human being" is the portion of our development that occurred during Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] During Old Sun, the Spirits of Fire rose to the human level of evolution by infusing their spiritual forces into us as proto-humans, assisting us to evolve. (Evolution occurs, in part, due to the selfless actions of spiritual beings. The gods we know as Archangels or Spirits of Fire helped themselves by selflessly helping us.)

[7] I.e., the Spirits of Personality became human through a similar process enacted during Old Saturn.

[8] I.e., during the middle period of the Old Sun phase of evolution.

[9] I.e., the Spirits of Fire did sufficiently good, selfless work (bringing "the Saturn part of the human being" to a new level of development) that they were able to advance to "their human stage" of evolution.




Spirits of Form - also see Authorities; Elohim; Exusiai; Revelations; Spirits of Light

According to Steiner: gods four levels above mankind; they are the lowest gods in the Second Hierarchy (the second of three groupings of gods). [1] Also known as Exusiai or Powers, they dwell in the sphere of the Sun and were human in a time before Old Saturn. [2] They shape the forms of the Earth and its environs as evolution progresses. “[These are] Beings...whom we will call Spirits of Form. Their lowest member is...an astral body [3] ... [T]he astral body of the Spirits of Form (in Christian language Exusiai or Powers) works in such a way that it seems as though manifestations [4] are being hurled out into cosmic space from many single beings ... The Spirits of Form divide this life of Saturn [5] into so many separate living entities, so that eventually it appears like a conglomeration of soul-beings. [6]” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] Old Saturn was the first incarnation of our solar system and the first stage of our evolution. [See "Old Saturn".] But various gods began their own evolutions in periods (or solar systems) that predated Old Saturn. (Indeed, time as such did not exist then. The systems from which the gods emerged are virtually unimaginable to us.)

[3] I.e., the lowest part of their constitution is the astral body; they do not have physical or etheric bodies. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., forms of incarnation or manifestations: the products of the activities of these gods.

[5] I.e., the life existent during Old Saturn. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that occurred long go.)

[6] During Old Saturn, according to Steiner, virtually everything in the solar system initially existed as a single unified body, a single life. The Spirits of Form worked on this "life of Saturn" in such a way that individual forms began to develop. These forms would ultimately break away to become individual beings.








According to Anthroposophical teachings, there are nine ranks of gods below the Godhead. [1] The nine ranks are subdivided into three "hierarchies." Spirits of Form, for example, are gods of the sixth rank, the lowest rank in the Second Hierarchy. Human beings stand below the gods. We are not yet gods, but we will become gods; we constitute the developing tenth rank (often, inaccurately, called the "tenth hierarchy"). [2] Thus, counting upward from the bottom, Spirits of Form are four levels higher than humanity.

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

[2] The term "hierarchy " is sometimes used, perhaps confusingly, to apply to ranks of gods. In that case, there are nine hierachies of gods, not three. But this usage is generality informal and thus incorrect. In any event, we will rise to divine rank in the future, according to Steiner. [See "Tenth Hierarchy".]







Spirits of Freedom - also see freedom; Spirits of Love; Tenth Hierarchy

According to Steiner, these are members of the developing Tenth Hierarchy [1]: They are what we will rise to become in the future, when we become gods. “[W]e must place among the hierarchical ranks those we may call the ‘Spirits of Freedom’ or the ‘Spirits of Love’ [2] ... [T]his is the Tenth Hierarchy. This Tenth Hierarchy, although still in the process of development, nevertheless belongs to the spiritual hierarchies. [3]” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 164.

[1] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

[2] Note that Steiner also used the term "Spirits of Love" for gods of the first rank in the First Hierarchy. Those gods — otherwise known as Seraphim — differ from the future Spirits of Love who are ourselves as we will be when we become extremely highly evolved. The difference is somewhat resolved by the doctrine that all gods who rise as high as the first rank in the First Hierarchy have evolved to become Spirits of Love or their equivalents.

[3] I.e., it belongs among the ranks of the gods. Steiner taught that there are currently nine ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".] In the future, we will become the tenth such rank, and thereafter we will continue ascending, ultimately reaching almost inconceivable heights, indeed surpassing the gods of all other ranks. (Because of our exposure to evil, we will develop unprecedented freedom, able to choose between good and evil; and because of our resultant virtue, we will be Spirits of Love — and beyond that we will become God the Father. [For an overview of the Anthroposophical take on freedom and love, see "Freedom" and "Love and the Universal Human". Also see the entry in this encyclopedia for "Father, God the".])



Spirits of Harmony - also see Cherubim; Spirits of the Harmonies

According to Steiner: gods eight levels above mankind; also called Cherubim, they are the middle gods of the First Hierarchy (the highest of three groupings of gods). [1] They dwell beyond the solar system, within the zodiac. They harmonize the Earth with the other planets, and they assist other, lower gods to evolve. During Old Sun "[t]he Sons of Life [2] attain the dim picture-consciousness [3] which the Fire Spirits [4] reached on Saturn. [5] The Spirits of Harmony (Cherubim) are their helpers in this. They behold in spirit what is now taking its course in Sun evolution [6]; but they deny themselves all the fruits of this their contemplation, all feeling of the Wisdom-filled pictures that arise there, and pour them like wondrous magic scenes into the dream-consciousness of the Sons of Life. [7]" — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 4, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

[2] I.e., Angels — gods one level higher than mankind.

[3] I.e., clairvoyant power, the ability to form true mental pictures or images. (Steiner uses the present tense here — "attain" — although he is describing events that happened long ago.)

[4] I.e., Archangels — gods two levels higher than mankind.

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

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

[7] I.e., they selflessly give the "fruits of their contemplation" to the lower gods whom they are helping, in this instance the Sons of Life. (The Sons of Life still have a very low level of consciousness at this stage: "dream-consciousness". Their consciousness will rise thanks to the efforts of the Spirits of Harmony.)




Spirits of Hindrance - also see Ahriman; Mammon; Mephistopheles; Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation

In Anthroposophical teachings, these are evil spirits, essentially the same as Spirits of Obstruction or Spirits of Darkness; they are Mephistopheles or Mammon (that is, Ahriman) and his minions [1]: ◊ "There are...terrible and corrupt demonic beings. All demons that are born of lying [2] work in such a way as to throw man back in his development [3]; and because owing to the lies of eminent figures in world-history demons who grow into very powerful beings are all the time being created, we hear of the 'Spirits of Hindrance', 'Spirits of Obstruction.' In this sense Faust [4] says to Mephistopheles: 'Thou art the Father of all hindrances!'” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 6, GA 99. ◊ "All the materialistic thought of our time comes from the Spirits who hinder, who hold progress back ... [Such thinking] comes from these Spirits of Hindrance ... It deflects men from their upward course towards the vision of the spiritual. [5]" — R. Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 4, GA 129. ◊ "In November 1879 [6] Michael [7] conquered the spirit of hindrances, Mammon, on the astral plane. [8] The battle must still be fought out on the physical plane. Michael will fight with the spirit of darkness for another 400 years." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266.

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

[2] Steiner taught that spirits are created by our actions, words, and even thoughts. Here he refers to evil spirits created by the speaking of falsehoods.

[3] I.e., human evolution is impeded or even reversed.

[4] A German magician and astronomer, who died around 1540 CE. A drama about Faust, written by Goethe, is revered by Anthroposophists. [See "Goethe".]

[5] I.e., human evolution to higher and higher forms of consciousness and the apprehensions of the divine they enable.

[6] See the entry for "1879" in this encyclopedia.

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

[8] See the entry for "astral plane" in this encyclopedia. Loosely speaking, the astral plane is the spirit realm or, more specifically, the soul world. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]




Spirits of Lies - see Spirits of Untruth




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




Spirits of Light - also see Authorities; Elohim; Exusiai; Revelations; Spirits of Form; also see light, spirits of; cf. Spirits of Darkness

According to Steiner: gods four levels above mankind. [1] “The Spirits of Light belong to the order of the Powers or Revelations. We know that Yahve [2] had six companions who separated off the sun. Yahve himself went with the moon which reflected the sun's light to the earth, but he is a companion of the other Elohim [3] ... The whole structure in which man is embedded, the guidance of the planet and what occurs on it is the affair of the Revelations or Powers. [4] For the whole present evolution of humanity could not have gone on without, on the one hand, the accelerating sun forces, and, on the other, the hindering moon forces. [5]” — R. Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 7, GA 102. In a larger sense, all good gods may be deemed, in general, spirits of light.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

[2] I.e., Jehovah. [See "Genesis".]

[3] Spirits of Light, Powers, Revelations, and Elohim are all gods of the same rank. Steiner taught that Jehovah, one of the Elohim, established himself on the Moon, from which orb he ruled over the Hebrews. [See "Lunacy".] The other Elohim are connected with the Sun, Steiner taught. (The Sun sends light directly to the Earth; the Moon sends light indirectly to the Earth, through reflection.)

[4] I.e., these gods have overseen Earthly evolution.

[5] I.e., the forces of the Sun and the gods associated with the Sun tend to advance Earthly evolution; the forces of the Moon and the spirits of the Moon tend to hinder it. Both types of forces and their effects have been needed, Steiner taught.




Spirits of Love - also see love; Revelations; Spirits of Form; Spirits of Freedom; Spirits of Light; Spirits of the Harmonies

a) According to Steiner: gods four levels above mankind. [1] Steiner sometimes applied the term "Spirits of Love" to the Spirits of Form [2], but usually he did not, suggesting that there are subtle differences.

b) According to Steiner, the same term — "Spirits of Love" — applies to gods nine levels above mankind. As the highest gods in the First Hierarchy — commonly called Seraphim — they reside in the upper reaches of the zodiac. They harmonize the solar system with the rest of the universe. “’Spirits of Love’...work upon the human etheric body (or life-body) [3] in co-operation with the Spirits of Personality. [4] The combined activity of these Beings enables the life-body to take a further step on its path of evolution ... Observation of the human being during the middle epoch of Sun evolution [5] reveals it to be divided into a physical body and a life-body. [6] The latter is the scene of activity for the more advanced Spirits of Personality, in unison with the Spirits of Love ... [I]n that which is accomplished by the Spirits of Personality in union with the Spirits of Love (the Seraphim,) we have to perceive the first beginnings of man's present glandular organs.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 4, GA 13.

c) The term "spirits of love" also applies to ourselves as we will be when we are perfected. ◊ “Dr. Steiner speaks of future humanity as of the tenth Hierarchy [7], Beings of spiritual Freedom, Spirits of Love.” — G. A. Kaufmann, SOULS OF THE NATIONS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1938), lecture 5. ◊ “[W]e must place among the hierarchical ranks those we may call the ‘Spirits of Freedom’ or the ‘Spirits of Love' ... [T]his is the Tenth Hierarchy. This Tenth Hierarchy, although still in the process of development, nevertheless belongs to the spiritual hierarchies.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 164.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] See the entry for "Spirits of Form", above.

[3] This is the lowest of our invisible bodies, Steiner taught. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] These are gods three levels above mankind. [See the entry for "Spirits of Personality", below.]

[5] I.e., during the middle period of the second incarnation of the solar system. That incarnation is called Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".]

[6] I.e., clairvoyant observation reveals that human beings then had early forms of both physical and etheric bodies.

[7] Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods; sometimes these ranks are referred to as "hierarchies." We are evolving to be the tenth rank of gods, the tenth "hierarchy." [See "Tenth Hierarchy".]




Spirits of Motion - see Spirits of Movement




Spirits of Movement - also see Dynamis; Mahat; Mights; Spirits of Activity; Virtues

According to Steiner: gods five levels above mankind; they stand at the middle rank of the intermediate grouping of gods, Second Hierarchy. [1] They reside in the sphere of Mars. Their task is to guide the motions of spiritual energy within the forms of evolution. “The third kind of spirits with the self-conscious (supra-psychic) object consciousness [2] is called ‘Spirits of Motion’ or of ‘Activity.’ In Christian mystery science [3] they are called ‘Principalities’ (Dynamis). (In theosophical literature, the expression Mahat [4] is to be found for them.) From the middle of the second Saturn cycle onward [5] they combine with the progress of their own development, the further elaboration of the human material body [6], in which they implant the capacity of movement and of forceful activity. This task comes to a conclusion around the middle of the third Saturn cycle.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 14, GA 11.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

[2] I.e., an extremely high level of consciousness, which we will approach during the seventh incarnation of the solar system, Future Vulcan. Such consciousness is wholly self-aware and objective, freed of the limitations of subjective bias. [See "Future Stages" and the entry for "evolution of consciousness" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., Christian esotericism or occultism. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] In general Theosophical usage, a "Mahat" is a great one, an elevated spirit. The term may also be applied, at a higher level, to the cosmic mind. "Eternal in its essence and periodical in its manifestations, mahat combines the ideal plans and prototypes of all beings and things in the manifested objective and subjective world. In another sense it is the entire aggregate of the dhyani-chohanic host, and therefore the source of the active organic cosmic intelligence controlling and directing the operations of fohat; it is likewise the direct source of the manasaputras, a class of the dhyani-chohanic host." — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999).

[5] I.e., starting in the second period ("cycle") of the first incarnation of the solar system. That incarnation is called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] Steiner taught that there are seven periods or cycles during each incarnation of the solar system. (Steiner uses the present tense here, but he is discussing events that occurred long ago.)

[6] I.e., in addition to working on their own evolution, they contributed to the development of the physical human body. (That body then was extremely different from the human physical body of today; it was so different that the terms "physical" and "material" must be taken as largely metaphoric.)




Spirits of Obstruction - also see Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation

These are evil spirits, born of lies, who work to derail the proper course of evolution, according to Steiner. "[L]ies kill the astral forms [1] which have arisen and must arise, and in this way they obstruct or paralyse a part of evolution. Everyone who tells the truth actually promotes the evolution of humanity and everyone who lies, obstructs it ... All demons [2] that are born of lying work in such a way as to throw man back in his development; and because owing to the lies of eminent figures in world-history demons who grow into very powerful beings are all the time being created, we hear of the 'Spirits of Hindrance', 'Spirits of Obstruction.'” — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 6, GA 99.

[1] i.e., entities on the astral plane or in the soul world. [See the entries for "astral plane" and "soul world" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] See "Evil Ones".




Spirits of Opposition - also see Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Temptation

According to Steiner, these are Spirits of Darkness [1], in particular those who oppose the revelation of spiritual truth, as through Anthroposophy. "[I]t is so necessary for thoughts that are fitting for our age to be spread about. Thought will have to be recognized as a real soul force rather than the pitiable abstraction which modern times have turned it into [2] ... [N]ow the time has come when what is conscious [3] must come more and more to the fore as a real force, and that is why in our time the spirits of opposition, the spirits of darkness are rushing to the attack.... [4]" — R. Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS AND THE MYSTERY OF THE HUMAN DOUBLE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 113.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] The "thoughts that are fitting for our age," the sort of thinking that is a "real soul force," are Anthroposophy, according to Steiner. The "pitiable abstractions" of modern times are essentially rational or intellectual thought, which Steiner generally deprecated. Steiner advocated "living thoughts" that are themselves creative spirits. [See "Thinking".]

[3] I.e., what is known through Anthroposophy.

[4] Steiner taught his followers that they are surrounded by enemies of many kind. [See "Enemies".] The "spirits of opposition, the spirits of darkness" that Steiner refers to here may include the superhuman (gods) and the human.



Spirits of Personality - also see Archai; Spirits of an Age; Zeitgeists

According to Steiner: gods three levels above mankind; they rank among the highest gods in the lowest grouping of gods, the Third Hierarchy. [1] They dwell in the sphere of Venus and were human during Old Saturn. [2] Their task is to oversee the epochs of human evolution, giving each period its character or personality. They are sometimes called Time Spirits or Zeitgeists, among other names. “Then we rise to those beings whom we designate the Spirits of Personality, primeval beginnings, primeval forces, or Archai ... [T]hey live in such a way that, on the waves of time, from epoch to epoch [3], they transform themselves at certain definite periods, they assume other spiritual bodies [4] ... You have here to do with that which represents the meaning and the mission [5] of an epoch of humanity ... This ‘Spirit of the Age’ comprises something which reaches beyond single nations, beyond single races ... That which one really calls a ‘Zeitgeist’ or Spirit of an epoch is the spiritual body of the Archai or the Primeval Beginnings or Spirits of Personality." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above. Designations for gods of this rank include Archai, Spirits of Personality, Archai, First Beginnings, Principalities, Original Forces, Spirits of an Age, Spirits of Epochs, Primeval Beginnings, Primeval Forces, Zeitgeists, Time Spirits, Spirits of Darkness, and Spirits of Selfhood.

[2] See "Old Saturn".

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

[4] I.e., they reconfigure their spiritual constitutions, affecting various epochs differently.

[5] Steiner taught that virtually everything overseen by beneficent gods has a "mission" or purpose assigned to it as part of the gods' divine plan. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "missions" and "divine cosmic plan".]




Spirits of Selfhood - see Archai; Spirits of an Age; Spirits of Epochs; Spirits of Personality; Zeitgeists




Spirits of Temptation - also see evil; sin; Spirits of Adversity; Spirits of Darkness; Spirits of Hindrance; Spirits of Obstruction; Spirits of Opposition; Spirits of Temptation

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

[1] I.e., they are "abnormal". [See "Abnormal" and the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.]

[2] See "Sin".




Spirits of the Harmonies - also see Cherubim; Spirits of Harmony

According to Steiner: gods eight levels above mankind; they are the middle gods of the highest grouping of gods, the First Hierarchy. [1] They dwell beyond the solar system, within the zodiac. The harmonize the Earth with the other planets, and they assist other, lower gods to evolve. “Let them be called the ‘Spirits of the Harmonies’ (in Christian terminology called the Cherubim). These Beings transmit to the Sons of Life [2] a kind of dim consciousness of man today. [3] It is like the consciousness that belongs to man in dreamless sleep ... It differs from [our] day-consciousness in kind as well as in degree [4] ... It affords no perceptions of an outer world in the human sense of the word, but it regulates the life-processes and brings them into harmony with those in the outer Universe. [5] At the Saturn stage with which we are here dealing [6], the Sons of Life cannot perceive the regulations; but the Spirits of the Harmonies perceive it [sic]. They therefore are the real regulators.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

[2] These are gods one level above humanity, otherwise sometimes called Angels. (Steiner is here describing events that occurred during the first incarnation of the solar system, which is called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".])

[3] I.e., the Spirits of the Harmonies enabled the Sons of Life to attain a form of consciousness similar to one that we humans sometimes experience in our current stage of evolution. (Specifically, we experience it in dreamless sleep.)

[4] I.e., the consciousness of the Sons of Life then (which is like our consciousness now when we are in dreamless sleep) was very different from our waking consciousness today.

[5] I.e., the Sons of Life were effectively asleep, but they were brought unconsciously into harmony with the cosmos. (Something similar happens to us today when we sleep, Steiner taught.)

[6] I.e., Old Saturn.




Spirits of the Rotation of Time - also see astral body; nature; planets; rhythm; cf. Time Archangels; Time Spirits

According to Steiner, these are offspring of the First Hierarchy of gods [1], spirits that manifest as natural laws. "Everything...which takes place in the kingdom of nature rhythmically and in recapitulation, such as day and night, alternations of the year, the four seasons of the year, everything which thus depends upon repeated happenings, is regulated by the Spirits of the Rotation of Time, the offspring of the beings [i.e., gods] of the First Hierarchy." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Center, 1981), lecture 5, GA 136. Standing higher than nature spirits and lower than planetary spirits [2], these spirits participate in the administration or regulation of a planet. A Spirit of the Rotation of Time for any given planet is, as it were, the astral body [3] of that planet. Like a human being, a planet has four bodies, and different beings are the embodiments or forms of these bodies.

•••

[Diagram from

THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES

AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE

(Steiner Book Center, 1981), lecture 2;

color added.]

"The nature-spirits of water and air can be observed; we may say they are in the environment; but we cannot say of these spiritual beings of which we are now speaking, that they are in our environment; [yet] we are in fact always actually united with them, as if poured into them, when we perceive them ... [I]n this category of spirits we see beings already resembling the human soul ... [A]ll sorts of regulations in time, of divisions in the relations of time and space, are also connected with these beings. An old expression has therefore been preserved in occultism for these beings, which in their totality we recognize as the astral body of the earth, and this in English would be, 'Spirits of the Rotation of Time.'” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Center, 1981), lecture 2, GA 136.

[1] The First Hierarchy is the highest grouping of gods, consisting of the three highest ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".] Just as the First Hierarchy has "offspring," so do the Second and Third Hierarchies. "[T]he offspring of the Third Hierarchy are the nature-spirits, while the offspring of the Second Hierarchy are the Group-souls." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE, lecture 5. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "nature spirits" and "group souls".]

[2] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "planetary gods" and "planetary spirits".

[3] The astral body is the vessel containing the soul. Steiner taught that human beings have four bodies, the third of which is the astral body. [See "Incarnation" and the entry for "astral body" in this encyclopedia.] All other beings that have souls also have astral bodies.




Spirits of Untruth - also see Luciferic beings; Spirits of Temptation

These are gods that embody the essence of falsehood. Predominantly, they are Luciferic beings who rebelled during Old Moon. [1] "[Y]ou should understand that the spirits of the Third Hierarchy [2] which had this impulse, did not do what they did for the sake of lying, but in order to develop an independent life of their own; but in so doing they had to take the consequence, they had to become Spirits of Untruth — spirits which betrayed their own being — in other words, Spirits of Lies ... Now all the spiritual beings which in this way, through betraying their own nature, arose as a second category beside the spirits of the Third Hierarchy [3], are called in occultism, Luciferic Spirits." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 6, GA 136.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Luciferic rebellion" and "Old Moon".

[2] The Third Hierarchy — comprising gods of the seventh, eighth, and ninth ranks — is the lowest of three groupings of gods. [See "Polytheism".] The rebellious Luciferic beings were members of the Third Hierarchy.

[3] I.e., they separated themselves from the good gods of the Third Hierarchy, forming their own subset within that Hierarchy.




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

According to Steiner: gods seven levels above mankind; they are the lowest gods in the highest grouping of gods, the First Hierarchy. [1] Dwelling in the sphere of Saturn (the outermost sphere of the solar system), they will the Earth to move as it should, following the correct laws for its progress. "The Beings who find Their blessedness in pouring out Will at the beginning of Saturn [2] may be called ‘Spirits of Will.’ [3] (In Christian esoteric science they are called the Thrones.) ... In the...course of evolution the shapes [of proto-humans] become more definite, and sometimes even last for a while. [4] This is due to their being now permeated by the influences of the Spirits who were at work in the very beginning of Saturn evolution, namely the Spirits of Will (the Thrones). As a result, the phantom-of-man [5] appears to be endowed with the simplest, darkest form of consciousness. [6] We must conceive it as being yet more dim than that of dreamless sleep. Under present-day conditions, the minerals possess this consciousness. [7] It brings the inner nature of the object or being into unison with the physical external world. On Saturn [8] it is the Spirits of Will who regulate this unison, with the result that man appears like an impress of the Saturn life itself [9] ... Inwardly — within Saturn — this dull human will manifests itself to the faculty of supersensible perception by effects which may be compared to ‘smells.’ [10] Outwardly — out into the heavenly spaces — there is a manifestation as of personality, a personality, however, that is not guided by an inner I, but regulated from outside like a machine. [11] It is the Spirits of Will who regulate it.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

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

[3] Steiner taught that will is a distinct faculty. [See "Will".] Spirits of Will gain blessedness by using this faculty selflessly for others.

[4] Steiner is speaking here of the first stage of our own evolution, long before we became truly human. We slid in and out of the sort of physical existence, overseen to a great degree by the Spirits of Will. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that occurred very long ago.)

[5] I.e., humanity in its germinal condition.

[6] Steiner sometimes said that our consciousness then was analogous to being in a coma. Only gradually would we evolve toward the waking consciousness we possess today.

[7] Steiner taught that minerals are alive. Today they have the sort of consciousness (coma-like) that we had during Old Saturn.

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

[9] I.e., we as proto-humans were brought into harmony with the entire solar system as it existed then; we became an "impress" or image of the living cosmos. (Just as minerals are alive today, Steiner taught that the solar system of Old Saturn was alive.)

[10] I.e., clairvoyance ("supersensible perception") lets us see that the will implanted in us by the Spirits of Will manifested itself in emanations that may be likened to "smells."

[11] I.e., our emanations created a suggestion of personality, but this personality was not guided by any high consciousness within us (we did not yet have "I"s or spiritual egos; we were not yet truly human). Instead, our "personality" was a sort of mechanical effect guided from outside ourselves by the Spirits of Will. [Concerning the "I" and becoming human, see "Ego" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".]




Spirits of Wisdom - also see Dominions; Kyriotetes; wisdom

According to Steiner: gods six levels above mankind; they are the highest gods in the middle grouping of gods, the Second Hierarchy. [1] Their home is the sphere of Jupiter, from which they project a spiritual consciousness that has helped guide our evolution. “Certain sublime Beings whose life Saturn rays back [2], may be called Spirits of Wisdom. (In Christian spiritual science they bear the name Kyriotetes, i.e. Dominions.) Their activity on [Old] Saturn does not be any means begin with the middle epoch of [Old Saturn] evolution ... Indeed in a certain sense it is by then already at an end. [3] Before they could become conscious of the reflection of their own life, proceeding from the warmth-bodies of Saturn [4], they had first to make these bodies capable of bringing about such a reflection. [5] Hence their activity began soon after the commencement of Saturn evolution, at a time when the Saturn corporeality [6] was still chaotic substance which could not have reflected anything ... [From a later paragraph:] The Spirits of Wisdom have in their etheric body attained the power to do more than enjoy the reflection of Life — as on [Old] Saturn; they are now able to pour Life out of themselves, endowing other beings with it. [7]” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13.

[1] See "Polytheism" and the chart following the entry for "spirits of form", above.

[2] i.e., their influence was reflected back to them during Old Saturn. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that happened long ago. Old Saturn was the first incarnation of the solar system. [See "Old Saturn".] Steiner often described various gods as radiating their influence into the cosmos and receiving the reflection of their selflessness as a form of blessedness.)

[3] Steiner taught that each incarnation of the solar system consists of seven stages (periods or cycles). Here is says that the work of the Spirits of Wisdom did not begin in the middle stages of Old Saturn, but at the very beginning. (Their work was essentially completed by the middle stages, Steiner says.)

[4] Steiner taught that during Old Saturn the solar system consisted primarily of a sort of spiritual warmth, and the beings coming to life then (predominantly ourselves at the earliest stage of our existence) had "warmth-bodies" (bodies made out of spiritual warmth).

[5] In order to do their work (in order to consciously receive the reflection of their influence), the Spirits of Wisdom first had to make the warmth-bodies capable of reflecting their influence.

[6] i.e., the "substance" that constituted the solar system as it existed at the beginning of Old Saturn.

[7] I.e., during Old Saturn, the Spirits of Wisdom projected their living influence into the solar system and received the benefits of the reflections of this living influence. Today, the Spirits of Life have evolved to a higher level from which they are able to actually endow other beings with life itself. Thus, they have become, in a sense, creators of life. (The "etheric body" is a constellation of formative forces. Humans beings have etheric bodies, Steiner taught, and here he indicates that Spirits of Wisdom have them as well. [For an overview of the human etheric body, see the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.])




spirit-soul - also see consciousness soul; intellectual soul; life spirit; sentient soul; soul; spirit; spirit man; spirit self; cf. physical-etheric organism

This is the compound spiritual self, combining one's spirit and soul. [1] Steiner often used the term "spirit-soul"; he also reversed the terms, sometimes, and referred to the "soul-spirit." [See, e.g., "Waldorf's Purpose".] "[W]e must recognise that the human being is really composed of two members [sic]. Before the human being comes down to earth a union is entered into between the spirit and the soul — meaning by spirit what for the physical world of to-day is still entirely hidden, and what in Spiritual Science [2] we call Spirit-Man, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Self. [3] These three members [sic] of man's being are present in a certain way in the supersensible sphere [4] to which we must now work our way through. And between death and a new birth we do already stand in a certain relationship to Spirit-Man, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Self. Now the force which proceeds from this trinity permeates the Soul element in man: Consciousness Soul, Intellectual or Mind Soul, and Sentient Soul. [5] And if you were to observe the human being when, having passed through the existence between death and a new birth, he is just preparing to descend into the physical world, then you would find the spiritual which we have just described united with the soul. Man descends, as it were, as Spirit-Soul or Soul-Spirit from a higher sphere into earthly existence. He clothes himself with earthly existence." — R. Steiner, STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 1, GA 293. (Note that Steiner says that man has "two members," and then immediately refers to "three members." Some of the linguistic confusions in Anthroposophical texts result from transcription and translation errors; others result from Steiner's own thinking and/or the subtlety, complexity, and fluidity that he ascribed to the spirit realm.) [6]

[1] See the entries for these terms, above.

[2] As Steiner used this term, it generally applied to his own teachings: Anthroposophy.

[3] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. "Spirit-Man, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Self" are the three components of our spirit nature.

[4] I.e., the spirit realm — the realm that lies beyond the reach of our ordinary senses.

[5] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. "Consciousness Soul, Intellectual or Mind Soul, and Sentient Soul" are the three components of our soul nature.

[6] STUDY OF MAN, also known as THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, is the foundational text for Waldorf education. [See "Oh Humanity".]




spiritual ego - see "I"




spiritual exercises - also see exercises; initiation; mantras; meditations in Anthroposophy; prayers; supplementary exercises

Steiner specified exercises, meditations, mantras, and prayers for his followers to use. [See "Serving the Gods", "Power Words", and "Knowing the Worlds".] His most detailed exposition of spiritual exercises can be found in the book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT, which has also been released under the title HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS. Steiner laid down or conveyed "rules" for aspirants to follow. Early in the book, Steiner says, for instance, "One of the first rules may now be put into words, somewhat as follows: 'Create moments of inner peace for yourself, and in these moments learn to distinguish the essential from the inessential.'" — R. Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 26. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

The purpose of Anthroposophical spiritual exercises is to gain the ability to function as a "spiritual scientist" — that is, one who can objectively study and know the spiritual realm. The process essentially aims at the development of clairvoyance [1], and it is a form of occult initiation. [2] Steiner described stages of initiation, and he specified exercises such as this: "The stage of preparation consists in a quite definite method of cultivating our lives of feeling and thinking ... The first step is to direct the soul’s attention toward certain processes in the world around us. These processes are life, as it buds, grows, and flourishes; and, on the other hand, all phenomena connected with withering, fading, and dying away ... Whenever we perceive a quite definite form of blossoming and flourishing, we must banish all else from our souls and, for a short time, dwell on this one impression alone ... As we do so, we will soon realize that a feeling that previously only flitted through our souls has now grown and become strong and filled with energy. We must let this feeling quietly echo within us...." — Ibid., pp. 39-40.

Such exercises lead to the development of incorporeal "organs of clairvoyance," Steiner taught. "Eventually, just as the eyes and ears of our physical organism are formed by natural forces out of inanimate matter, so organs of clairvoyant 'seeing' are formed out of the feelings and thoughts that arise in relation to growing and flourishing, withering and dying." — Ibid., p. 41.

[1] See "Clairvoyance".

[2] See "Inside Scoop". (The subtitle of HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS is "A Modern PAth of Initiation".)




spiritual evolution - see evolution; evolution of consciousness




spiritual guide(s) of humanity - also see adepts; Angels; gurus; initiate; leaders; lodges

According to Steiner, humanity is guided by elevated spiritual beings; some resided on Earth and have moved to the Moon. "[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon together with the spiritual guides of humanity." — R. Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93. [1] Mankind is mainly aided by beneficent gods, Steiner taught, but superior human beings also provide guidance for humanity at large. [2] Anthroposophy teaches that errant humans may descend so low that they lose their souls and become subhuman, whereas at the other extreme highly advanced spirits may rise to a superhuman level. [3] Among these latter are the adepts or masters [4], a prime example being Rudolf Steiner himself, in the view of his followers. Humanity benefited from such leadership even before we became human. "On the Old Moon [5] the predecessors of man...went through a certain normal development. [6] But there were also Moon Adepts who hastened on in advance of the rest of mankind. At the end of the Old Moon evolution these Pitri beings [7] were much more advanced than the rest of humanity, just as the Adepts are today." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 23, GA 93a.

[1] See, e.g., "Prehistory 101".

[2] See, e.g., "The White Lodge".

[3] See "Supermen".

[4] See "Adepts".

[5] See "Old Moon, Etc.".

[6] The"predecessors of man" included ourselves as we were during that evolutionary phase, and beings somewhat more advanced than ourselves, who rose to become gods. (During Old Moon we had not yet become truly human. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".])

[7] "Lunar Pitris" are gods one level higher than mankind; "Solar Pitris" stand two levels higher than mankind. [See "Polytheism".]




spiritualism - also see mediums; seances; spirit; spiritism; cf. spiritual science

◊ "Spiritualism, in religion, [is] a movement based on the belief that departed souls can interact with the living ... Spiritualism, in philosophy, [is] a characteristic of any system of thought that affirms the existence of immaterial reality imperceptible to the senses. [1]" — ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, Mar. 14, 2016. ◊ "Spiritualism. The science, philosophy and religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communications, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), pp. 281-282. ◊ "Modern spiritualism is a way toward the spirit for such souls as would seek for the spirit in external – almost experimental – ways because they cannot any longer experience the real, the true, the genuine in a spiritual manner. It is just the sort of person who interests himself in an entirely objective manner in spiritualism, without himself having the desire to investigate something by means of it, who can see through to correct conceptions of the purpose and the errors of spiritualism. My own research moves always by a different path from that of spiritualism in any of its forms. [2]" — R. Steiner, THE STORY OF MY LIFE (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), chapter 20, GA 28.

[1] Anthroposophy and Waldorf education are spiritualistic, especially in the latter sense. [See. e.g., "Spiritualistic Agenda" and "Spiritual Syllabus".] But the former sense also applies. Numerous Anthroposophical texts deal with the subject of communicating with the dead. See, e.g., STAYING CONNECTED - How to Continue Your Relationships with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999) and WORKING WITH THE DEAD (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, 2003).

[2] Steiner here seeks to separate himself from ordinary spiritualism (mediums, seances). He goes too far, however, in repudiating "spiritualism in any [i.e., all] of its forms." Anthroposophy is in fact spiritualistic by various definitions, and Steiner himself claimed the ability to communicate with the dead. Thus, he sometimes served the function of a medium. [See, e.g., "Steiner and the Warlord".]




spiritualistic agenda of Waldorf education - also see messianism; prayers; rite; secrecy; Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf education: goals; Waldorf schools; worship in Waldorf schools

Steiner said one of the most important facts about the founding of the first Waldorf School is that it allowed Anthroposophy to become a large movement. He said Waldorf teachers should be true Anthroposophists, and he affirmed that Anthroposophy will be present in Waldorf schools. Generally, however, Waldorf faculties tend to conceal their spiritualistic intentions. [1] Nonetheless, the actual purpose of Waldorf education sometimes finds expression. In general, this purpose may be summarized as serving the gods and their divine cosmic plan. Thus, for instance: “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes, but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. [2]" — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55. ◊ “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [3], including the Christ, can find their home.” — J. Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53. ◊ "[W]hat we [Waldorf teachers] have to do in education is a continuation of what higher beings [3] have done ... [O]ur work with young people is a continuation of what higher beings have done before birth. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 37. ◊ “This is precisely the task of school. If it is a true school, it should bring to unfoldment [6]...what [the child] has brought with him from spiritual worlds into this physical life on earth.” — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS , Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 5, GA 235. ◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma. The teacher is an intermediary [7] and his task is to guide the incarnating individualities [8] into the physical world and equip them for earthly existence.” — R Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

[1] See, e.g., "Here's the Answer", "Secrets", "Schools as Churches", and "Spiritual Agenda", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Waldorf education - goals".

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

[3] I.e., the gods.

[4] I.e., the gods.

[5] I.e., what the gods did with the children before the children incarnated on Earth

[6] I.e., incarnation and development.

[7] I.e., the teacher stands between between the gods and the children. (Steiner said that Waldorf teachers take the role, effectively, of priests. [See "Schools as Churches".])

[8] I.e., the children.




spirituality - also see Anthroposophy; religion; spirit; spirit realm' spiritual science

Anthroposophists often defend their beliefs and the implementation of those beliefs — in enterprises such as Waldorf education — by asserting (openly or by implication) that they are exemplars of spirituality while their opponents are benighted secularists. Anthroposophists affirm the reality of spirt and the spirit realm, they say, and their opponents deny these. But this is a vast oversimplification. Secularists must certainly consider Anthroposophical teachings alien and even preposterous, but so must most people of faith, especially Christians. Although Anthroposophy places great importance on Christ, its conception of him [1] is heretical from the perspective of most Christian denominations, as are most of its other teachings. [2] At root, Anthroposophy teaches that salvation (which, in Anthroposophy, is evolutionary advancement [3]) comes not through faith or good works but through the possession of occult knowledge or gnosis. [4] But the great majority of Christian theologians have long deemed gnosticism a heresy. Certainly gnostic teachings in general, like the doctrines of Anthroposophy in particular, diverge far from mainstream Christian belief. Thus, for instance, "Many of the so-called gnostic groups are characterized by a mythology that distinguishes between an inferior creator of the world (a demiurge) and a more transcendent god or order of being. Another frequently encountered theme is that there is a special class or race of humans that is descended from the transcendent realm and is destined to achieve salvation and to return to its spiritual origins. Salvation is understood as a revelation that reawakens knowledge (gnosis) of the race’s divine identity; in contrast, the more 'orthodox' Christian emphasis is on redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although the myth of a demiurge and the theme of reawakened awareness of divine origins have parallels in Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean philosophy — and in fact were partly derived from those traditions — it is often asserted that in the gnostic myths there is a far sharper dualism, involving a much more negative attitude toward the inferior creator god, the material cosmos, and the human body." — "Gnosticism", ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, Oct. 29, 2015. In any event, the claim of a simple distinction between Anthroposophists as exemplars of spirituality and critics of Anthroposophy as gross (and possibly demonic) materialists [5] is clearly false. Many people of faith must oppose Anthroposophy, finding its teachings false on numerous counts.

[1] See "Sun God".

[2] See "Was He Christian?"

[3] See, e.g., "Evolution, Anyone?" and "Matters of Form".

[4] See "Gnosis".

[5] See, e.g., "Materialism U." and "Enemies".




spiritual nature - see spirit nature




spiritual probation - see probation, spiritual




Spiritual Revolution - also see Anthroposophy; Central Europe; German Idealism; Germany; Goethe; spiritualistic agenda; Waldorf curriculum

The standard Waldorf curriculum often includes study, in eighth grade, of the "Spiritual Revolution" centered in Germany at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Study of this crucial episode in human history (as perceived by Anthroposophists) generally follows study of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution (centered in England). "The third revolution, around and after 1800, took place in middle Europe. There we find the call to freedom ringing out in the music of Beethoven, the dramas of Schiller, and the early works of Goethe [1] ... How could humanity reach the noble ideal of 'Freiheit' (although it means freedom, the German [word] includes a connotation of spiritual independence)? [2] ... [Important figures in the Spiritual Revolution include] the great representatives of German idealism, who largely functioned as the philosophers of a great renewal, Hegel, Schelling, and Fichte. [3]" — R. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995), pp. 50-51.

This segment of the Waldorf curriculum lays the groundwork for the students' eventual "free" and open embrace of Anthroposophy. According to Anthroposophical belief, the "Spiritual Revolution" culminated in the Anthroposophical movement and the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Whether this is openly stated in a Waldorf class varies from teacher to teacher and school to school. But even if the word "Anthroposophy" is never mentioned in class, the study of this "Spiritual Revolution" directs students to Rudolf Steiner's doorstep.

•••

Most people have heard of the French and Industrial Revolutions; these events are covered in standard history classes in most schools. The "Spiritual Revolution" (which may be essentially an Anthroposophical construct) [4] is far less well known; it is studied particularly in Waldorf Schools. The Waldorf curriculum is largely based in the German mystical tradition. Implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) the "Spiritual Revolution" is presented as leading directly to the great teachings of Rudolf Steiner. [Adapted from a table in THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION, p. 39.]

[1] From an Anthroposophical perspective, these great Germans expressed impulses and thoughts that reached their epitome in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Goethe is particularly revered in the Anthroposophical movement. [See "Goethe".] Steiner named the Anthroposophical headquarters after Goethe: It is the Goetheanum. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] The German conception of freedom is indeed essentially spiritual rather than a political. Steiner stressed the value of freedom, but primarily he meant inner freedom from spiritual falsehood. The freedom stressed in Anthroposophy and Waldorf education has little to do with the ability to choose among various attractive, valid paths in life. In Anthroposophy, there is really only one valid path. [See "Freedom".]

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "German idealism". (Waldorf schooling was originally designed for German students, and Germany continues to be central to the Anthroposophical worldview. [See "The Good Wars".])

[4] Non-Anthroposophical texts recount the history of German idealism, of course, but the term "Spiritual Revolution" as used by Anthroposophists appears rarely if ever outside Anthroposophy. The ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, for instance, has no entry for this term.




spiritual science - also see Anthroposophy; clairvoyance; "doing" Anthroposophy; initiation; mystery science; occult science; School of Spiritual Science; Theosophy; cf. science

In general, the term "spiritual science" has been applied to various practices that purport to yield objective, verifiable knowledge of the spirit realm. Both Theosophy and Anthroposophy refer to themselves as spiritual science. Within the Waldorf community, the term overlaps "occult science" — Rudolf Steiner used both terms, chiefly as designations for his own teachings. His key claim is that his teachings provide reliable techniques for obtaining spiritual knowledge that is fully as certain as — or, indeed more certain than — the descriptions of the physical realm produced by the natural sciences. [1]

In essence, Steiner taught that the spiritual realm can be objectively studied by those who develop "exact clairvoyance." [2] Steiner laid out directions for doing this in his book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. [3] Gaining access to the hidden wisdom contained in spiritual science is essentially the same as becoming an initiate. [4] When Steiner's followers speak of "doing" Anthroposophy, they mean employing clairvoyance in the manner described by Steiner, with the aid of meditations, prayers, mantras, etc., mostly provided by Steiner. [5] In theory, Anthroposophists can go beyond Steiner, making their own spiritual discoveries that extend spiritual knowledge beyond the bounds reached by Steiner, but few have claimed to do so. [6]

"Steiner may have broken away from the Theosophical Society, but he did not abandon the eclectic mysticism of the theosophists. Steiner thought of his Anthroposophy as a 'spiritual science.' Convinced that reality is essentially spiritual, he wanted to train people to overcome the material world and learn to comprehend the spiritual world by the higher, spiritual self. He taught that there is a kind of spiritual perception that works independently of the body and the bodily senses. Apparently, it was this special spiritual sense that provided him with information about the occult." — R. T. Carroll, THE SKEPTIC'S DICTIONARY [http://skepdic.com/steiner.html].

The idea of spiritual science is undeniably appealing. What a wonderful thing it would be, if we could know the spirit realm as well as we know the physical realm, if we could know spiritual truths as surely as we can determine physical laws. The allure of this prospect accounts for much of the attraction of Anthroposophy. The difficulty is that Steiner's "science" depends on clairvoyance, which almost certainly does not exist. [7] More precisely, Anthroposophy depends on "exact clairvoyance," for which no evidence at all seems available. This is why Steiner stressed the need for faith and gurus — things that are not needed in real sciences. [8] The line between "science," "spiritual movement," and "religion" blurs here. Most religions claim to possess firmly established spiritual knowledge, while many "scientific" spiritual systems include religious practices such as prayer. [9] To the degree that a "spiritual science" offers an account of existence while failing to be truly scientific, ultimately depending on faith, it becomes indistinguishable from a religion.

The School of Spiritual Science, founded by Steiner, is located on the campus of the Goetheanum, the worldwide Anthroposophical headquarters. [10] The Anthroposophical version of "spiritual science" — which is to say, Anthroposophy itself — provides the basis for Waldorf education. [11]

[1] See "Steiner's 'Science'" and "Science". Steiner sometimes indicated that non-Anthroposophists can, in theory, employ spiritual science in some form, if they master clairvoyance and use it in a disciplined manner. Thus, there were spiritual scientists before Theosophy and Anthroposophy were formulated. However, according to Steiner, Anthroposophy is now the highest and truest form of spiritual science, supplanting previous forms.

[2] See "Exactly" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".

[3] See "Knowing the Worlds" and the entry for "spiritual exercises", above.

[4] See "Inside Scoop".

[5] See "Serving the Gods".

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

[7] See "Clairvoyance".

[8] See "Faith" and "Guru".

[9] Other religions that claim to be, in some fashion, "scientific" include Christian Science and Scientology.

[10] See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

[11] See "Oh Humanity".




spiritual seeds - also see divine cosmic plan; faith; living thoughts; Waldorf education: goals

In Anthroposophical belief: creative, germinating kernels of spiritual power or consciousness, implanted in man or in the world by the gods in order to give rise to new, higher levels of existence. The work of good, spiritually enlightened humans — such as Anthroposophists — likewise creates and plants such seeds. Words and thoughts create new realities, Steiner taught; we make our own karma [1], as well of the karma of the Earth, by all that we do. “You will see...how spiritual seeds are unfolding within the Earth that will in the future enable another realm — in a sense, a 'new Earth' — to arise. [2]“ — R. Steiner, A WAY OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE (SteinerBooks, 1998), p. 81. Anthroposophists sometimes argue that simply by believing on Anthroposophy, they can make the ideas of Anthroposophy become true. "If these ideas are not true, they should be true. What we believe shapes the reality. If we become conscious of these ideas and hold them, they will become true." — R. Koetzsch, "Anthroposophy 101". [3] In this sense, the practice of Anthroposophy is meant to plant spiritual seeds. Likewise, Waldorf schools are generally meant to prepare the way for the future spiritual evolution of the students and humanity as a whole. [4] Anthroposophical doctrine is rarely presented explicitly to the students, but it is slipped into almost all classes and activities in subtle ways: seeds are planted. [5]

[1] See "Karma".

[2] Many of Steiner's teachings reflect conceptions found in Norse mythology. (Norse myths are emphasized in Waldorf schools for this reason.) Steiner taught that Norse myths present a particularly accurate vision of mankind's future evolution. Thus, Norse myths foretell the end of the world and the emergence of a new world thereafter. [See "The Gods".]

[3] See "If Only".

[4] See, e.g., "Here's the Answer".

[5] See, e.g., "Sneaking It In".




spiritual soul - also see sentient soul; rational soul; soul; soul nature

According to Steiner, this is the highest division of our soul nature. [1] Steiner taught that human beings have physical, soul, and spirit natures. [2] "Man is first of all a physical-corporeal being; hence he is subject to the same laws to which every body is subject. In this sense he is thus a purely elemental body. [3] The purely corporeal-physical laws combine in the organic life process ... [T]he organic raises itself to spiritlike manifestations which are not yet spirit. These are the 'astral' manifestations [4] ... Man is a sense being. [5] He combines his sensory impressions in a rational manner by means of his reason. Thus the 'rational soul' awakens in him. [6] He immerses himself in his own spiritual products; he learns to recognize the spirit as spirit. Therewith he has raised himself to the level of the 'spiritual soul.' At last he understands that in this spiritual soul he experiences the deepest stratum of the universal existence; the spiritual soul ceases to be an individual, separate one. [7]" — R. Steiner, MYSTICISM AT THE DAWN OF THE MODERN AGE (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), chapter 4, GA 7.

•••

These are the three levels of our soul nature, according to Steiner. (The soul is our subjective incorporeal self during a single incarnation, whereas the spirit is the undying incorporeal self that persists through all incarnations.) The sentient soul gathers feelings and concepts; the rational soul (also called the intellectual soul or mind soul) makes sense of these; the spiritual soul (also called the consciousness soul) apprehends spirit and connects the contents of one's soul to cosmic reality.

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

[2] Steiner distinguished between the soul and the spirit. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., a physical body.

[4] I.e., they are the soul, functioning on the astral plane or in the soul world. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[5] I.e., we have senses.

[6] This is one part of man's soul nature; it is also called the "intellectual soul".

[7] i.e., it joins itself to wider spiritual reality.

spirit vision - see clairvoyance


spiritual world - see spirit realm; spirit world(s)


spirit world(s), spiritual world(s) - also see Devachan; higher worlds; initiation; soul world; Spirit-land; Spiritland

a) Generally, spirit worlds are the various nonphysical worlds that mystics and others say exist above the physical world: hence, in Anthroposophical terminology, "higher worlds." In Anthroposophy, Theosophy, and various other spiritual traditions, there are many higher worlds, realms, and/or planes, which may or may not be coextensive or distinguishable.

b) Usually, when Steiner referred to a single "spirit world," he meant a specific spiritual region. He taught that, overall, there are three worlds in which humans spend portions of their existence: the physical world, the soul world, and the spirit world. [1] Steiner taught that the spirit world is the highest of these worlds, being the true home of the human being's highest incorporeal component, the spirit. (The soul world, lying between the spirit world and the physical world, is the true home of our lower incorporeal component, the soul. [2]) Our current existences occur primarily in the lowly physical world, but the spirit world and soul world infuse the same "space" as the physical world, and Steiner said that we ascend into the higher worlds in varying ways: while we sleep, while we evolve, and while we make the passage between incarnations. Progressively higher gods and states of consciousness are found in each succeeding stage.

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

"Devachan" is the Theosophical term (derived from Sanskrit) for the "mental plane" or the heavenly realm. [4] It is essentially equivalent to the spirit world, according to the terminology Steiner generally used after he split from Theosophy. [5] Devachan is often described as having two levels, and indeed Steiner often indicated that there are lower and higher levels in the spirit world. The matter is complex, however, and Steiner's teachings are not wholly consistent on some key points. [6] For an overview of Steiner's teachings on such matters, see "Higher Worlds". (Also see the entries for "Spirit-land" and "spiritland", below.) For Steiner's directives on attaining clairvoyance with which to study the higher worlds, see "Knowing the Worlds".

Note that Steiner sometimes indicated that there are more elevated worlds beyond the spirit world, but they are difficult if not impossible for us to comprehend at our current level of spiritual development. “Man can ascend into even higher worlds; but it becomes more and more difficult to convey any idea of these worlds. The higher the ascent, the more difficult this becomes.” — R. Steiner, MACROCOSM AND MICROCOSM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), pp. 110-111.

[1] See "Higher Worlds".

[2] See the entries for "spirit", "soul", and "soul world", above.

[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for such terms as "Devachan", "Devachanic world", and "astral world".

[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "mental plane". (Steiner generally taught that there is no heaven, as such. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "heaven".])

[5] See the chronology included in the entry for "Steiner, Rudolf", below.

[6] In most Theosophical teachings, there are planes or worlds higher than Devachan or the two levels of Devachan, Lower Devachan and Higher Devachan. Such teachings are reflected in some of Steiner's own pronouncements, although usually — as we have seen — he said that spirit land is the highest world.




sports — also see play; olympics; cf. circus arts

Rudolf Steiner had low regard for sports or athletic competitions. So, for instance, he said the following about gymnastics and sports: "That we have slowly made something senseless out of gymnastics, have made it into an activity that only exercises the body, is a side effect of the age of materialism. That we want to raise it to the level of a sport, that we want to add nonsense to it, so that it becomes even less than senseless, meaningless movements, reflects a desire to drag people down, not just to the level of materialistic thinking, but also to animalistic feeling. Excessive sport activity is Darwinism in practice. Theoretical Darwinism claims that people developed from animals. Sports are practical Darwinism, and that means setting up the goal of degenerating people back into animals." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 201.

Some parents are drawn to Waldorf schools, at least in part, because they want their children to escape the sports-obsessed culture at many public schools. But, despite Steiner's admonition, Waldorf schools often use sports much as other schools do: to encourage loyalty and pride among the students, to cement relations with alumni, and to encourage parents and alumni to make financial contributions. For Waldorf schools, sports can also serve an additional purpose: making the schools seem, superficially, normal. [1]

A particular sporting event is often held within and between Waldorf schools: a version of the ancient games of the Greek Olympics. [2] Viewed more broadly, games of various sorts should work well in Waldorf schooling, which places emphasis on the role of play as a educational activity. [3] Steiner approved of some games, including military games, if they are played "artistically". “[Steiner] ‘I certainly do not want to imply that the old games are very good simply because they come from older times. They need to be replaced. Blind Man’s Bluff or such things are the right thing. Or, A-Tisket, A-Tasket....’ “A teacher asks about marching and singing. [Steiner answered]: ‘These military or war-like games can be done in a healthy way if they are done artistically.’” — FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 579.

[1] See, e.g., "February, 2012".

[2] See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings".

[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "play at Waldorf schools".




spring festival at Waldorf schools - see Christ impulse; Easter; fall festival; festivals

Generally, this is the observance of the Anthroposophical conception of Easter. [See "Magical Arts".] The general purpose of celebrating festivals, in Anthroposophy, is to enact Steiner's conception of Christianity [1] as the religion of the Sun God (Christ) and the "impulse" Christ provided for human evolution. [2] From an Anthroposophical perspective, few people today understand the true significance of spiritual festivals such as Easter. "[W]hen we think of the numbers of people in the grip of materialism to-day [3] who have no real right to celebrate an Easter festival, it is obvious that the subject is also very relevant to the conditions of the times. A true Easter impulse needs to be inculcated into present-day Europe and indeed into the whole of the civilised world in order to counter the rapid strides now being taken in the direction of decline. It is very necessary to realise how far men are from any real understanding of the Christ Impulse and how closely this lack of understanding is connected with the symptoms of decline in evidence at the present time. These symptoms show themselves clearly to-day in statements often made by well-intentioned people." — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co.), lecture 2, GA 198.

The religious nature of Waldorf festivals is often concealed to one degree or another, and usually the character of the celebrations departs significantly from mainstream church observances. "The main festivals are: Easter, Whitsun, St John's, Michaelmas, St Martin's, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany. These festivals...reflect cyclical spiritual events that take place in the breathing process of the earth [4] ...The festivals, if we engage with them fully and connect through them with our ongoing human evolution, offer an opportunity for us to develop greater awareness of the course and aim of human life on earth. [5]" — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 45-46.

[1] Steiner sometimes drew clear distinctions between Anthroposophy and Christianity, and sometimes he blurred them. In general, he taught that "true" Christianity is gnostic; it is the worship of the gods in accordance with Anthroposophical teachings. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Waldorf Worship".]

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

[3] Materialism, as conceived in Anthroposophy, is excessive descent into the physical or material level of existence. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "materialism".]

[4] According to Anthroposophical teachings, the Earth is alive and it breathes.

[5] The evolutionary "aim" of human life on earth is Rudolf Steiner's central theme; it is the central message of Anthroposophy. Waldorf schools convey this message to their students, although often in muted or disguised form. [See, e.g., "Sneaking It In".] The festivals provide colorful opportunities for pursuing this purpose. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "festivals".]