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Tao - also see Atlantis; signs; symbols

In Chinese philosophy: the ultimate principle underlying the universe. According to Steiner, the occult sign of the Tao harkens back to Atlantis. [1] "[T]he Tao — the sign that is a reminder of the conception of the Divine held by our early forefathers; it comes from the word: TAO. Before Europe, Asia and Africa were scenes of human civilisation, these early forefathers of ours lived on the continent of Atlantis which was finally submerged by mighty floods. In the Germanic sagas [2] of Nifelheim or Nebelheim [3], the memory of Atlantis still lives. For Atlantis was not surrounded by pure air. Vast cloud-masses moved over the land, like those to be seen to-day clustering around the peaks of high mountains. The sun and moon did not shine clearly in the heavens — they were surrounded by rainbows — by the sacred Iris. [4] At that time man understood the language of nature. To-day he no longer understands what speaks to him in the rippling of waves, in the noise of winds, in the rustling of leaves, in the rolling of thunder — but in old Atlantis he understood it. He felt it all as a reality. And within these voices of clouds and waters and leaves and winds a sound rang forth: TAO — That am I. [5] The man of Atlantis heard and understood it, feeling that Tao pervaded the whole universe." — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), “Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival”, p. 42.

In the arrangement of Christmas symbols outlined by Rudolf Steiner — and sometimes seen on Christmas trees in Waldorf schools — the Tao is hung above the Tarok. [6]

[1] Steiner taught that Atlantis really existed. [See "Atlantis".]

[2] I.e., Norse myths (which are emphasized in Waldorf schools). Steiner said Norse myths are essentially true, and they convey an accurate vision of human evolution. [See "The Gods".]

[3] In Norse myths, Nifelheim — a land of fog — is the world of the dead.

[4] I.e., the spectrum-effect of rainbows. Steiner associated it with seeing the Sun at midnight. [See the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.] "[R]ing upon ring, rainbow colours appeared around the earth-disc [i.e., a darkened disc observed by occult students] and those who saw it knew: This is the radiant Iris. At midnight, in the place of the black earth-disc, a violet-reddish orb gradually became visible ... Those who gazed at it knew: It is the sun which appears at the midnight hour ... The pupils were now told that they had experienced what was known in the Mysteries as 'seeing the sun at midnight.'" — R. Steiner, "Christmas", THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, I, CHRISTMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), GA 96.

[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "I" and "I Am The I Am."

[6] See "Signs" and the entries for "Christmas" and "Tarok" in this encyclopedia.

Tarok - also see Egypto-Chaldean Age; signs; symbols

According to Steiner: an emblem of ancient Egyptian occult knowledge. “Those who were initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries [1] knew how to interpret this sign. They knew too, how to read the Book of Thoth [2], consisting of 78 leaves on which were inscribed all happenings in the world from the beginning to the end, from Alpha to Omega [3] and which could be read if the signs were rightly put together. These pictures gave expression to the life that dies and then springs again to new life. Whoever could combine the right numbers with the right pictures, were able to read the Book. This wisdom of numbers and of pictures had been taught from time immemorial. In the Middle Ages it was still in the foreground although little of it survives today.” [4] — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), “Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival”, pp. 41-42.

In the arrangement of Christmas symbols outlined by Rudolf Steiner — and sometimes seen on Christmas trees in Waldorf schools — the Tarok is hung between the signs for Alpha and Omega, and below the Tao. [5]

Tarok. [See R. Steiner,


(Anthroposophic Press, 1967), lecture 3, GA 96;

color added]

[1] I.e., Egyptian occult wisdom. [See the entries for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] "Thoth, (Greek), Egyptian Djhuty, in Egyptian religion, a god of the moon, of reckoning, of learning, and of writing. He was held to be the inventor of writing, the creator of languages, the scribe, interpreter, and adviser of the gods, and the representative of the sun god, Re." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 2, 2015. The "Book of Thoth" is a term given to numerous ancient Egyptian texts supposedly written by Thoth.

[3] I.e., from start to finish. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; omega is the last.

[4] Steiner generally taught that ancient peoples were wiser than modern humans. [See, e.g., "The Ancients".]

[5] See "Signs" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "Christmas" and "Tao".

taste, sense of - also see senses

One of the twelve senses enumerated by Steiner. [1] "[E]ating [which entails tasting] is really a sacred affair ... [It] is the fertilization of man by the world ... The fructification of man by the world goes way beyond the ingestion of food ... [I]n ancient Egypt, a single word meant 'boat', 'life experience', and 'taste'. This is amazing — the same word for the boat on the Nile, the taste on the tongue, and the life experiences one meets through one's destiny. [2] This destiny, in fact, is the highest form of fructification for man ... This is what I wanted to say about taste. And you will understand that with respect to taste we have to do with the zodiacal sign of the Fishes (Pisces). [3]" — A. Soeman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), pp. 78-79.

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

[2] In Anthroposophical teachings, destiny is karma. [See "Karma".]

[3] Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophical and Waldorf belief. [See "Astrology" and "Waldorf Astrology".]

Taurus - also see astrology; constellations; Venus; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (April 21-May 21); Element — earth ... Ruling planet — Venus. Qualities — Strongly independent, forceful, enjoy the good things of life; are warm, friendly, affectionate, and comfortable with domesticity; extraordinarily receptive and able to assimilate the thoughts of others; and have great memories. On the adverse side, they are inflexible and stubborn; intense despisers of enemies, moody in their response to others; too lavish in their spending, and often overloaded with carrying the burdens of others." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 298. ◊ "Taurus is...a soul-source of power. Here is a magazine [1] of mighty powers ... Occult forces [2] are held here in storage [3], kept latent against the time, or the life, when they will be needed and become active for other earthly expressions of the Christed Ego [4] ... the sign of the mighty reservoir for all the faculties man has gained [5] through his various lives on earth [6] ... Here, in this sign of latent power, we see and understand the great strength inherent in the British people, the forces of the British Empire. [7]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS OF THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 42-43.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Taurus. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Taurus. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Brighten, oh glory of being,/Reach into the power of becoming,/And weave the thread of life/Through worlds imbued with being,/In mindful revelation,/Into radiant life-awareness./Oh glory of being, appear!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.


Steiner reimagined the signs of the zodiac. This is his version of the sign for Taurus. [R.R. copy, 2010, based on image in CALENDAR 1912-1913 (SteinerBooks, 2003; facsimile edition).]

[1] I.e., an armory.

[2] See "Occultism".

[3] I.e., they are held within this sign.

[4] I.e., the spiritual ego that has received the Christ impulse. [See the entries for "I", "ego", and "Christ Impulse" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] I.e., the heightened forms of consciousness ("the faculties") attained through spiritual evolution. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "evolution of consciousness".]

[6] Steiner taught that we live many lives on Earth, interspersed with lives in the spirit realm. We evolve through the process of reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".]

[7] Steiner taught that each nation and race has its own mission. [See the entry for "mission" in this encyclopedia.] Great Britain, like Germany, has special significance in the present, Steiner taught. In Anthroposophy, the current cultural epoch is often labeled the Anglo-Germanic Age. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] We might note that the British Empire no longer exists.

teachers, at Waldorf schools - see Waldorf teachers

technology - also see Ahriman; America; computers; demons; machines; mechanization; media policies; science; television

Steiner's followers generally deprecate modern technology, seeing it as demonic. Specifically, they associate it with the dreadful demon Ahriman. [1] In Waldorf schools, use of computers is minimized and students are urged to avoid TV and other electronic media. [2] Steiner himself often criticized modern technology much as he criticized modern science, but he also said that his followers should develop the fortitude to live with these things so that they may spread their spiritual influence in the modern world. ◊ “[W]ithout new spiritual impulses, technology would not only dominate outer life, but would overpower and numb us ... [M]en would turn into something like living automata. [3]” — R. Steiner, quoted in THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND: From the Work of Rudolf Steiner (Temple Lodge Publishing, 1993), p. 9. [See "Millennium".] ◊ “[W]e are involved in all that modern life has produced around us in the way of the stress and noise of modern technology. During the night it is more our life of thought and feeling that becomes submerged in the noise and stress, during the day it is more our life of feeling and will. [paragraph break] Now in the course of human evolution what we call modern life has not always existed. It came on the scene essentially at the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch [4] ... [T]he characteristic nature of modern technology arose as a result of man acquiring knowledge of natural laws and then proceeding to use the material world to fashion his machines according to these natural laws ... Thus we see that it is the modern age that has established real natural science and the resultant mastery over nature and its forces. [paragraph break] You often hear people speaking like this. [5] However if we speak like this we are speaking Ahriman's language for this is using the language of Ahriman ... It would be the worst possible mistake to say that we should resist what technology has brought into modern life, that we should protect ourselves from Ahriman by cutting ourselves off from modern life. In a certain sense this would be spiritual cowardice. The real remedy for this is not to let the forces of the modern soul weaken and cut themselves off from modern life, but to make the forces of the soul strong so that they can stand up to modern life. A courageous approach to modern life is necessitated by world karma [6], and that is why true spiritual science [7] possesses the characteristic of requiring an effort of the soul, a really hard effort.” — R. Steiner, ART AS SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF MYSTERY WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1984), lecture 1, GA 275.

Despite urging his followers to find a way to live with modern technology, Steiner more typically warned of the terrible dangers presented by technology. Thus, for instance: ◊ “When we build steam-engines, we provide the opportunity for the incarnation of demons ... In the steam-engine, Ahrimanic demons are actually brought to the point of physical embodiment.” — R. Steiner, “The Relation of Man to the Hierarchies” (ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, Vol. V, Nos. 14-15, 1928). Steiner's followers generally take such warnings to heart. ◊ "[W]hat has been said here about the steam engine applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time ... [T]elevision, for example. The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides ... It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings [8] and demons are constantly on the increase." — G. Unger, “On ‘Mechanical Occultism’” (Mitteilungen aus der Anthroposophischen Arbeit in Deutschland nos. 68–69, 1964).

[1] See "Ahriman".

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

[3] I.e., flesh-and-blood robots, having no real minds or souls. Steiner often warned of the danger of being turned into an automaton. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "automatons (automata)".]

[4] I.e., the fifth cultural epoch since Atlantis sank, the modern age. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anglo-Germanic Age".]

[5] I.e., speaking about "mastery over nature and its forces." Steiner preached against involving oneself too deeply in the material/physical/natural world; he emphasized the sovereign importance of the "higher" spiritual worlds and submission to the will of the gods.

[6] I.e., the destiny of the Earth.

[7] I.e., Anthroposophy. [See "Everything" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[8] I.e., nature spirits. [See "Neutered Nature".]

teeth - also see baby teeth; etheric body; knitting; seven-year stages; thinking

The Waldorf curriculum for the early grades is built, in large part, on the belief that the "etheric body" (an envelope of formative life forces) incarnates at about age seven. [See "Incarnation".] This event is believed to be signaled by the loss of baby teeth and the development of adult teeth (a process referred to in Anthroposophical texts as the "change of teeth" or "second dentition"). Instruction in reading and arithmetic is generally delayed until at least age seven. "Waldorf education delays the start of formal learning until age six-seven, seeing the change of teeth as critical for this." — H. v. Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 121.

According to Steiner, teeth are important in surprising ways. "It will seem strange that in discussing man as a spiritual being, I speak first of the teeth ... [A] truly spiritual understanding of the human being shows us [that] the child develops teeth not only for the sake of eating and speaking, but for quite a different purpose as well. Strange as it sounds to-day, the child develops teeth for the purpose of thinking. Modern science little knows that the teeth are the most important of all organs of thought. For the child, up to the time of the second dentition, these teeth constitute the organ of thought ... The forces that press the teeth out from the jaw are the same forces that [in the young child] bring thought to the surface from the dim, sleeping and dreaming life of childhood. With the same degree of intensity as it teethes, the child learns to think." — R. Steiner, EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), lecture 4, GA 307.

Various portions of the Waldorf curriculum, especially those involving handwork such as knitting, are involved with teeth — again, in surprising ways. “Go into our needlework classes and handicraft classes at the Waldorf School, and you will find the boys knit and crochet as well as the girls ... This is not the result of any fad or whim, but happens deliberately in order to...permeate the fingers with soul. And to drive the soul into the fingers means to promote all the forces that go to build up sound teeth.” — R. Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 10.

Anthroposophical teachings about teeth reflect the occult nature of Steiner's doctrines, which underpin Waldorf education. Such teachings present a distinct challenge to outsiders, and may indeed serve as warning signals. If you cannot accept such teachings, Anthroposophy and Waldorf are probably wrong for you.

telekinesis - also see clairvoyance; telepathy; teleplasty; will

The supposed ability to move physical objects using only the powers of one's mind. "[T]elekinesis [consists] of certain forces proceeding from the human being which manifest themselves simply through influences at a distance, without the physical intermediary of the human being [1], so that it appears as if it were possible to unfold will-power and to transmit it into space without the medium of the body ... In telekinesis certain forces producing changes in the physical body through nutrition or through other physical substances, are stimulated to action in space without a physical intermediary. The human being only consists of about 10 per cent of solid substance; he is a liquid column in regard to the remaining 90 per cent. But he also consists of finer materials, extending to the etheric. [2] In a pathological condition, when an organ is diseased, so that the soul-spiritual part dives down too deeply into the animalic part [3], it is possible to impart thoughts with the aid of these finer substances which are rayed out in a certain way. [4]" — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 2, GA 79. Despite much careful scientific investigation, there is no evidence for the actual existence of telekinesis. "Experimental results, as with other parapsychological phenomena, have been [at best] inconclusive." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, downloaded 1/6/16.

[1] I.e., without the intercession of the physical human body.

[2] I.e., the etheric realm. Steiner taught that human beings have etheric bodies consisting of finer materials such as he mentions here. [See the entries for "etheric realm", "etheric body", and "etheric man" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] Steiner taught that human beings have both souls and spirits; he often spoke of them in conjunction with one another, as here, "the soul-spiritual part." The "animalic part" is the physical organism, the physical body.

[4] Steiner often indicated that certain psychic powers of a low nature can result from diseases or other "pathologies." He distinguished these lowly powers with the high, "exact" form of clairvoyance he claimed to possess. [See "Exactly".]

telepathy - also see clairvoyance; extrasensory perception; thought projection

The supposed ability to communicate thoughts to others, or to receive thoughts from them, without using the ordinary senses. "[I]t is possible to perceive certain thoughts of certain people under conditions of time and of space which must undoubtedly be designated as abnormal. These cases are now being discussed quite seriously by modern scientists. [1] Telepathy is a phenomenon of this kind. During certain psychic conditions, thoughts can be perceived through telepathy without the ordinary instrument of the senses; indeed these thoughts can even be perceived at a distance ... Telepathy etheric [2] transmission of thoughts with the exclusion of the senses." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 2, GA 79. Despite much careful scientific investigation, there is no evidence for the actual existence of telepathy. "Scores [i.e., test results] significantly above chance are extremely rare, particularly as testing methods have become more rigorous." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, downloaded 1/6/16. [3]

[1] Steiner was speaking in 1921. Scientists have indeed seriously studied psychic phenomena such as telepathy, and their conclusions have been almost uniformly negative: They have found little or no evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[2] I.e., it occurs in the "ether." [See the entries for "ether" and "etheric realm" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] Also see "ESP".

teleplasty - also see mediums; seances

The supposed production of supernatural substances or beings by and around a psychic. Mediums reportedly display teleplastic powers during some seances. "[E]xperiments falling under the category of teleplastic [have been conducted] in which phantoms and apparently physical forms appear in connection with a person, or in his close proximity. It is clearly evident that these forms consist of a fine substance, of an etheric substance [1], and that plastically they are permeated by something rooted as plastic force [2] in human thinking, by something existing in human thought." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 2, GA 79. Despite much careful scientific investigation, there is no evidence for the actual existence of teleplastic powers or substances. "[T]he probability of some ectoplasm being real material from the spirit world is near zero." — R. T. Carroll, THE SKEPTIC'S DICTIONARY (John Wiley & Sons, 2003), p. 116.

[1] I.e., a "substance" normally confined to the etheric realm. [See the entries for "etheric forces" and "etheric realm" in this encyclopedia.] The substance is sometimes referred to as ectoplasm. "Ectoplasm, in occultism, a mysterious, usually light-coloured, viscous substance that is said to exude from the body of a spiritualist medium in trance and may then take the shape of a face, a hand, or a complete body. It is normally visible only in the darkened atmosphere of a séance. Ectoplasm is said to be the substance involved in the materialization of spiritual bodies, and the levitation of material objects is commonly explained by the gradual buildup of columns of ectoplasm underneath the objects. At the end of a séance the ectoplasm disappears, allegedly by returning to the medium’s body." — "ectoplasm". ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, May 12, 2015.

[2] I.e., the power to form or shape.

television, the Waldorf view - also see Ahriman; computers; media policies; technology

Waldorf schools generally deplore TV, believing it to be demonic. [See "Clues".] "[W]hat has been said here [against] the steam engine [1] applies in a much greater degree to the technology of our time. Many years ago I said repeatedly, in conjunction with a Swiss friend, Dr. Marti, who had spent a long time in America, that many cubic metros of vacuum are to be found in our cities wherever electricity is at work — not only in countless small radio valves, but on a much larger scale in mercury-vapour rectifiers and in other modern apparatus of many kinds — television, for example. [2] The result is that the demon magic spoken of by Rudolf Steiner is spreading more and more intensively on all sides. The vacuum is only one example. It is very necessary that anyone who aspires towards the spiritual should realise clearly how the most varied opportunities for a virtual incarnation of elemental beings and demons [3] are constantly on the increase." — G. Unger, "On 'Mechanical Occultism'" (MITTEILUNGEN AUS DER ANTHROPOSOPHISCHEN ARBEIT IN DEUTSCHLAND, nos. 68–69, 1964).

When they do not invoke the dangers of demons, Waldorf spokespeople often argue that television turns us into mere passive viewers. Thus, they may argue that the great wasteland of TV bombards us with brainless entertainment that is essentially materialistic (TV shows in the USA and many other countries largely serve the interests of commercial enterprises, the "sponsors" of the shows). Perhaps the worst effect of TV, from the Waldorf perspective, is that it may weaken our powers of imagination (we receive images from the shows, we do not devise them ourselves), which may weaken our potential for becoming clairvoyant. [4]

For more on the Waldorf view of TV and other electronic media, see the entry in this encyclopedia for "media policies at Waldorf schools".

[1] Steiner taught that steam engines enable the incarnation of demons. [See the entry for "technology", above.]

[2] At the time Unger wrote, electronic devices typically included vacuum tubes — electronic tubes from which air had been evacuated, so that electric current passed readily. According to Anthroposophical belief, vacuums are generally antithetical to spirit. [See the entry for "vacuum", below.] Vacuum tubes are now essentially obsolete, but the aversion to television persists among Anthroposophists and in Waldorf schools. The "vacuum" that troubles them most is spiritual.

[3] See "Beings" and "Evil Ones".

[4] See the entries for "imagination" and "clairvoyance" in this encyclopedia.

temperaments - also see humors; incarnation; choleric; melancholic; phlegmatic; sanguine

According to an ancient concept revived by Steiner, there are four primary psychological types to be found among human beings: phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, and melancholic. [1] These four temperaments are supposedly associated with bodily fluids or humours as conceived by ancient physicians: phlegm, yellow bile (or choler), blood, and black bile. Moreover, the temperaments are expressed in four basic bodily types. In Waldorf belief, phlegmatic individuals are dull, slow, deliberate, and objective, and they tend to be fat; choleric individuals have short tempers, they are abrupt and enthusiastic, and they tend to be short and bull-necked; sanguine individuals are sunny and physically attractive, but they also are often shallow and flighty; melancholic individuals are sad and moody much of the time, they are loners but empathetic, and they tend to be big-boned.

Waldorf teachers often classify and segregate students according to these four categories. “Following the principle of ‘like cures like’, the children should be seated according to their temperaments. It will be found, for instance, that the phlegmatics get so bored with one another that they wake up; the cholerics will calm one another down since no-one [sic] will be allowed to be the leader.” — R. Wilkinson, THE TEMPERAMENTS IN EDUCATION (Roy Wilkinson, 1983), p. 9. So, seating arrangements should be made by separating the students on the basis of the four temperaments. Likewise, class work and even extracurricular activities may be geared to the four temperaments, with children assigned various activities based on temperament and/or body type. [2]

Like the nonphysical bodies that supposedly incarnate during childhood [3], the four temperaments are fundamental to the Waldorf view of human nature. Indeed, such concepts are interlinked in Waldorf belief: "The 'four temperaments'...may be understood as a solution to the challenge of integrating the etheric body [4] with its physical counterpart. [5] … [For instance] ‘Where the etheric…body predominates, we speak of the phlegmatic temperament.’” — E. Schwartz, MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 185; Schwartz quotes Steiner.

Here are a few other characteristics of the four temperaments, according to various Anthroposophical sources. Phlegmatics: dark coloring, wispy hair, sleepy eyes; they dress conservatively; they need carefully defined assignments with clear paths to solution; in math, they are adept at addition; they are good stewards; they make good pianists; the pictures they draw are often bland and apparently unfinished; they should sit near windows or in the back of the classroom; if they need punishment, it should be meted out immediately; their auras are often green. Cholerics: husky, upright, with darting eyes; they prefer unusual, individualized costumes; they need challenging assignments; they are good at division; they are natural leaders; they have a feeling for percussion instruments; the pictures they create often depict crises such as volcanic eruptions; they should often sit near the door; if they need punishment, it should be postponed until their anger has subsided; their auras are often red. Sanguines: well-proportioned, slender, with dancing eyes; their dress is colorful and stylish; they need varied, quickly completed assignments; they are adept at multiplication; they are typified by movie stars; they are attracted to brass and reed instruments; the pictures they draw are bright and full of movement; they can sit anywhere, but the center of the room is often appropriate; they rarely need punishment — a word of caution may be sufficient; their auras are often yellow. Melancholics: thin, stooped, with mournful eyes; they dress in drab and dark colors; they should be given assignments that are sorrowful but, in the end, encouraging; they are good at subtraction; they have an affinity for stringed instruments; they may become thinkers or philosophers; the pictures they draw are bold but too busy; they should sit apart, in quiet corners; if they need punishment, it should be administered sympathetically but firmly; their auras tend to be blue.

There are not countless human variations, according to standard Waldorf belief. We all fit into a few tight little boxes. Among these boxes are the four temperaments. Steiner indicated that we may not always fit neatly into the boxes. A person may be primarily sanguine, for instance, but s/he might also have some traces of the other temperaments. In this sense, s/he may be a unique individual. Undercutting this, however, is the Waldorf practice of dividing students into the four categories, a practice that effectively sweeps aside individual variation. We don’t truly honor human individuality if we pin false labels on people, no matter how much we refine, moderate, and sort the false labels. [For more, see "Humouresque" and "Temperaments".]


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1944.]

Anthroposophists believe that the truth about the four human temperaments (like the truth about most things) is bound up in occult mysteries that can be truly penetrated only through the use of clairvoyance. Ultimately this means — as the image above suggests — divining and heeding the will of the gods. The god depicted here is angelic and protective but also stern and commanding. Note that the "mystery of the human temperaments" is presented as fundamental to Waldorf education, i.e., Steiner pedagogy.

[1] See "Humouresque".

[2] See "Temperaments" and, e.g., the entry for "Olympics" in this encyclopedia.

[3] See "Incarnation".

[4] This is the first and lowest of the nonphysical bodies. Steiner taught that it incarnates around age seven. [See the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] I.e., the physical body.

temperature sense - see warmth sense

temporal body - see etheric body

Tenth Hierarchy - also see evolution; gods; hierarchies; human beings

According to Anthroposophical belief, humanity is evolving toward becoming gods. We will rise to join the nine existing ranks of gods; we will become the tenth rank or "tenth hierarchy." [1] This development lies largely in the future, but it is beginning to take shape today. “[W]hen we meditate, we begin to fulfil our human vocation as the ‘tenth hierarchy,’ collaborators with the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels [2], as well as the whole exalted company of beings in the spiritual world that includes all saints and masters, gods and goddesses. [3]” — C. Bamford, introduction to START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), a collection of Steiner texts, pp. 17-18.

Initially, the "tenth hierarchy" will represent the lowest echelon of divinity. But at least by some interpretations, Steiner foresaw a far more exalted role of humanity after it joins the godly ranks. "After the Vulcan-existence [4]...the actual creators of the new solar system will enter, and they will be the human beings. [sic] ... In that time mankind will have turned itself into the tenth hierarchy which Rudolf Steiner characterized as the Hierarchy of Freedom and Love. This hierarchy will then create a solar system, the foundation of which for the first time in all of world evolution [5] will be the power of the Christ, of Love, and the power of the Holy Spirit, the Light of Wisdom...." — Sergei O. Prokofieff, THE FOUNDATION STONE MEDITATION (Temple Lodge Publishing), pp. 16-17.

Creating a new solar system essentially means creating a new condition of consciousness. [6] We will take over the role of the gods who created all the prior conditions of consciousness. Thus, we will assume control over the course of cosmic evolution. We will become, in essence, the Creator — God the Father. [See "Tenth Hierarchy".] Note that judged by mainstream Christian teachings — as well as the teachings of most other great faiths — this Anthroposophical vision is heretical.

[1] In Anthroposophy, the word "hierarchy" is sometimes used as a synonym for "gods." More correctly, however, a "hierarchy" is one of the three subdivisions of gods identified by Steiner; there are nine ranks of gods, he said, and they form three groupings or "hierarchies". [See "Polytheism".]

[2] I.e., members of the nine hierarchies. Bamford has listed them in declining order: Seraphim highest, Angels lowest. [See the entry for "hierarchies" in this encyclopedia.] Note that Steiner generally preferred alternate names for the gods of the various ranks.

[3] The "gods and goddesses" generally belong to the nine ranks Bamford has identified. "Saints and masters" are, generally, exalted humans or super humans.

[4] I.e., after the seventh incarnation of the solar system, called Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages".]

[5] I.e., cosmic evolution, including — centrally — the Earth.

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

textbooks - also see knowledge; libraries; cf. lesson books

Use of ordinary textbooks is minimized in Waldorf schools — such books contain information inconsistent with the Anthroposophical worldview. Instead, students often create "lesson books" consisting, principally, of material copied from their teachers' presentations on chalkboards. [See "Lesson Books".] Because standard textbooks are generally absent from Waldorf schools, the students are denied much real-world information and they are generally not exposed to varying points of view. Instead, the students are chiefly and repeatedly exposed only to Anthroposophical concepts and beliefs, which they are meant to gradually absorb. Waldorf schools usually deny that they teach Anthroposophy to the students, and in a limited sense this may be true — the doctrines of Anthroposophy are rarely laid out as explicit lessons to be memorized. However, the students are generally immersed in the Anthroposophical perspective in virtually all their classes and activities, and thus a process of quiet indoctrination often occurs. [See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda" and "Indoctrination".] The presence of standard textbooks would interfere with this process.

Steiner set the Waldorf attitude toward textbooks early on when he told teachers at the first Waldorf school, “I have nothing against using a textbook, but all of them are bad.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 284. So, Steiner admitted the possibility of using textbooks, but then he immediately condemned every last textbook in existence, without exception. "All of them are bad." After hearing that, the teachers in his school were understandably loathe to bring any such books into the classroom, and their aversion has generally persisted down to the present throughout the Waldorf movement. The sole exception would be if Waldorf teachers created their own Anthroposophical textbooks. "It would be a good idea if the Waldorf teachers would work on creating decent textbooks that reflect our pedagogical principles." — R. Steiner, ibid., p. 440. A few of these have been produced, and occasionally they are used, but judged from an outside perspective they suffer from the same shortcomings found in Waldorf lesson books: They exclude most information that is inconsistent with Anthroposophy, and they consequently deepen the immersion of Waldorf students in the single acceptable worldview within the Waldorf movement: the mysticism that is Anthroposophy. [See, e.g., "Here's the Answer" and "Soul School".]

theory - see scientific theory

Theosophy - also see Anthroposophy; Besant, Annie; Blavatsky, Helena; gnosticism; spiritual science; Steiner, Rudolf

This is the esoteric system on which Anthroposophy is largely based. [1] (The other main system underlying Anthroposophy is Christian gnosticism. [2]) The term "Theosophy" means knowledge ("sophy") of God or the gods ("theo"). The fundamental tenet of Theosophy is that direct knowledge of the divine can be attained through personal intuition or similar individual discernments. The emphasis is on knowledge, as opposed to belief or faith — one does not need to accept unproven doctrines, one can know spiritual realities and truths. "Theosophy, occult movement originating in the 19th century with roots that can be traced to ancient Gnosticism and Neoplatonism ... The various forms of theosophical speculation have certain common characteristics. The first is an emphasis on mystical experience. Theosophical writers hold that there is a deeper spiritual reality and that direct contact with that reality can be established through intuition, meditation, revelation, or some other state transcending normal human consciousness." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 3, 2015.

As is true of Anthroposophy, Theosophy consists of the amalgamation and elaboration of multiple theologies from around the world and from previous historical periods, along with intuitive/clairvoyant additions produced by leaders of the movement. Theosophy draws especially from Hinduism, and Anthroposophy draws extensively from Theosophy. Consequently, traces (sometimes wide and deep traces) of Hinduism and other "world religions" are present in Anthroposophy and Waldorf education.

Rudolf Steiner began his spiritualistic career as a Theosophist; he became head of the German branch of Theosophy. One of his books, THEOSOPHY, is still used by his followers as an introduction to his teachings. But even before breaking away from Theosophy to found Anthroposophy, Steiner contradicted the teachings of many other Theosophists (he began calling his own visions "Anthroposophy" while still nominally a Theosophist), and many Theosophists today find much to criticize in Steiner's books and lectures.

Steiner was particularly influenced by Theosophical cofounder Helena Blavatsky, whose magnum opus is titled THE SECRET DOCTRINE. [3] Steiner's own central text, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE [4], may be seen as a counterpart to Blavatsky's work. Anthroposophical teachings are dense and complex, but in fact Steiner simplified and clarified various Theosophical doctrines; his work is relatively accessible, compared to much of Theosophy. (The lectures Steiner delivered while still a Theosophist tend to be more tightly organized, and denser, than his later, more impromptu Anthroposophical lectures. Steiner employed much Theosophical terminology in his early lectures, including many Sanskrit terms as used in Theosophy; later, he dropped much of this terminology, although the essence of his teachings remained more or less unchanged. He frequently revised some of his early occult writings, such as AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE, seeking to clarify, defend, and — slightly — amend his doctrines.) [4]

Theosophy is not a tightly organized movement — indeed, various philosophies may lay claim to the title "theosophy" — but it has generally been centered in the "Theosophical Society. Organization founded in New York by Mrs. [Helena Petrovna] Blavatsky and Colonel [Henry Steel] Olcott in 1875, to derive from ancient wisdom and from the insights of evolution a world ethical code. In 1882, it moved its headquarters to India, and became the Adyar Theosophical Society. Although intended to be eclectic, it drew increasingly on Hindu resources." — THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 970.

Although it has been a small and generally unrecognized movement, Theosophy has had a wide impact. "Despite its relatively small membership, the Theosophical Society has been very influential. The society not only pioneered the promotion of Eastern thought in the West but also inspired the creation of more than 100 esoteric religious movements, including the Alice Bailey movement (Arcane School), the I Am movement, the Church Universal and Triumphant, and the Liberal Catholic Church." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, May 3, 2019.

[1] See "Basics" and, e.g., "Kamaloka".

[2] See "Gnosis".

[3] See the entry for "Blavatsky, Helena" in this encyclopedia.

[4] One central tenet in both Anthroposophy and Theosophy involves planetary stages of evolution. To sample Anthroposophical as opposed to Theosophical expositions, see, e.g., "Stages".

therapeutic eurythmy - see curative eurythmy

thinking - also see brain; clairvoyance; consciousness; critical thought; emotion; feelings; imagination; inspiration; intellect; intuition; knowledge; living thoughts; logic; organs of clairvoyance; pictorial thinking; rationalism

According to Steiner, real thinking (the acquisition and comprehension of knowledge) does not occur in the brain but in "organs of clairvoyance." ◊ "Within the brain there is absolutely no thought." — R. Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 119. ◊ ”[T]he brain and nerve system have nothing at all to do with actual cognition; they are only the expression of cognition in the physical system.” — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (SteinerBooks, 1996), p. 60. ◊ "[T]he psycho-spiritual body [1] becomes equipped with higher senses and organs of activity in the same way that natural forces have fitted the physical body with organs built out of indeterminate living matter ... [J]ust as the eyes and ears of the physical body are built by natural forces out of living matter, so will the organs of clairvoyance build themselves...." — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), pp. 37-39.

Waldorf schools emphasize three types of thinking that Steiner said become forms of clairvoyance when developed properly: imagination, inspiration, and intuition. [2] It is only through clairvoyance, Steiner taught, that we can apprehend the important truths, which is to say truths about the spirit realm. "Clairvoyance is the necessary pre-requisite for the discovery of a spiritual truth...." — R. Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 1, GA 99. According to Steiner, the "thinking" we do here on Earth, where we inhabit physical bodies, applies only at the physical level of existence and thus should not really be deemed thought at all, in the highest sense. Some of this "thinking" may involve the brain, Steiner said, but much of it occurs in parts of our body other than the brain. ◊ "Strange as it sounds to-day, the child develops teeth for the purpose of thinking. Modern science little knows that the teeth are the most important of all organs of thought." — R. Steiner, EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), lecture 4, GA 307. ◊ “As soon as we begin to think with our fingers — and one can think with one's fingers and toes much more brightly, once one makes the effort, than with the nerves of the head — as soon as we begin to think with that part of us which has not entirely become matter, when we think with the lower part of our being, then our thoughts are the thoughts of our karma." — R. Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 126.

Steiner taught that we carry the truest thoughts within ourselves, having received them during life before birth — these are "living thoughts" imparted to us by the gods. Such thoughts are woven into the ethereal fabric of the universe, Steiner said: “The cosmic ether [3], which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth.” — R. Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 37.

Steiner held that true thinking has magical, spiritual effects. The gods create realities by thinking them into existence; when gods speak, expressing their thoughts, the cosmos is altered. To some degree, Steiner said, we share this power now — our thoughts and speech mold reality, to some degree [4] — but we will attain this power to a far higher degree in the future. Then, indeed, our organs of speech, expressing our thoughts, will replace the womb as the organ of reproduction: "[A] time must come in human evolution when the larynx will be completely transformed, when it will be of such a nature that whereas now man only utters the word, he will one day give birth to man. The larynx is the future organ of birth, the future organ of procreation." — R. Steiner, THE WORLD OF THE SENSES AND THE WORLD OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 2, GA 134.

Anthroposophy and Waldorf education are deeply anti-intellectual and, indeed, they are averse to rational or critical thought in most areas of life. Steiner taught that the thinking we most need was done by us and for us in the spirit realm before birth. Therefore, thinking should not be emphasized now, among children, here on Earth. Here is Steiner addressing Waldorf teachers: “If you particularly emphasize the development of thinking, you actually direct the entire human being back to prenatal life. You will injure children if you educate them rationally because you will then utilize their will in something they have already completed — namely, life before birth." — R. Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 61. We must ask whether schooling that devalues thought and the use of the brain can truly benefit children. Can it, in fact, be considered a real form of education at all? Perhaps the greatest harm inflicted by Waldorf schools is the suppression of rational, intellectual thought — the effect is to weaken a child's capacity to grasp reality. Waldorf schools aim to "develop" intellect only in the upper grades, and then only as a subordinate faculty under the guidance of the "higher," non-rational forms of thought. In the Waldorf approach, thus, intellect is hampered and channeled; it becomes a form of rationalization, used in the service of mystical belief, rather than a tool for the rational comprehension of reality. [5]

[1] This is the combined etheric and astral bodies. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.

[2] See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia. Steiner taught that humanity as a whole will attain heightened (i.e., clairvoyant) imagination during Future Jupiter, heightened inspiration during Future Venus, and heightened intuition during Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages".]

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

[4] This lesson is taken to heart by Anthroposophists. See, e.g., "If Only It Were So".

[5] For more on these matters, see, e.g., "Thinking", "Thinking Cap", and "Steiner's Specific".

thinking-feeling-willing - also see threefold nature of man; threefolding; head, hearts, and hands; nerve-senses system; rhythmic-circulatory system; metabolic-limb system

According to one of Steiner's descriptions of the human constitution, we consist of three major parts. Centered in the head, the chest, and the abdomen, the three parts are the so-called nerve-senses system, rhythmic-circulatory system, and metabolic-limb system [1]. These three parts, in turn, are the seats of three major conditions: thinking [2], feeling [3], and willing [4]. "One of the basic concepts of the teaching of Anthroposophy and subsequently of Waldorf Education is the threefold human being. This threefoldness is being expressed in the human being itself in its distinction or separation of three aspects: The head and nervous system, the trunk and the rhythmic system, and thirdly the limbs and the metabolic system. In activity this threefoldness is expressed in thinking, feeling and willing, and the well-known motto known to many who encounter Waldorf Education namely 'Head, Hearts and Hands' stems from this distinction or threefold approach to learning." —Sophia Institute, Jan. 31, 2018. This tripartite conception of human nature is reflected in Steiner'd tripartite prescription for the organization of society: threefolding.

[1] Modern science would deny that at least two of these "systems" are misconceptions. So, for instance, the "metabolic-limb system" combines functions that are quite separate: the workings of the metabolism (e.g., digestive processes) and the functions of the arms/hands and legs/feet (manipulation of objects and locomotion). Similarly, the "rhythmic-circulatory system" combines two distinctly separate systems, one that circulates the blood (centered in the heart), the other that controls breathing (centered in the lungs).

[2] Steiner generally denied that real cognition or thinking occurs in the brain, but he said that lower (mundane, physical) thinking does occur within the head — partly in the teeth. [See the entry for "thinking", above.

[3] Steiner taught that we attain more knowledge of spiritual realities through feelings than through thought. [See "feelings" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] Steiner affirmed the proposition that the will is a distinct human faculty. [See "Will".]

third elementary kingdom - see elemental kingdoms; Third Elementary Kingdom Condition of Life

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

Steiner taught that during our evolution in the Present Earth condition of consciousness [1], we have passed through three elementary conditions of life prior to our present, mineral condition of life. [2] The elementary conditions prepared the bases for incarnation in the mineral (densely physical, material) condition, which itself prepares for — and yields to — subsequent conditions that will rise into spiritualized existence. Each elementary condition is, in effect, the enactment of an elementary kingdom or level of nature. The third elementary condition expresses the third such kingdom; it also recapitulates Old Moon [3] in modified form, and it lays the foundation for the astral body. [4] "In the third Condition of Life the third elementary kingdom emerges ... It is composed of fleeting sensations, feelings and impulses, [which are] soul-beings [5] flying hither and thither that express beautiful forms shining from within ... The human astral body and the germ [i.e., seed] of the nervous system are here prepared ... This [condition] is a modified repetition of the Moon evolution. [6]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), p. 103.


During each condition of consciousness, we evolve through seven conditions of life (or conditions analogous to conditions of life — things differ greatly among the various conditions of consciousness). During the 1st Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Saturn; during the 2nd Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Sun; during the 3rd Elementary Kingdom, we recapitulated Old Moon. [7] Evolving from the 1st Elementary Kingdom to the Mineral Kingdom is, in a sense, a descent; but thereafter, we reascend as we evolve upward to the Human Kingdom. [8]

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

[2] See the entry for in this encyclopedia for "conditions of life".

[3] This was the third incarnation of the solar system, during which we attained our third condition of consciousness. [See "Old Moon, Etc." and the entry in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system".]

[4] The astral body is the second of the three invisible bodies that, Steiner said, a fully incarnated human being possesses. [See "Incarnation".]

[5] In Anthroposophical belief, sensations, feelings, impulses, and thoughts are spiritual beings or (existing within the soul) "soul-beings."

[6] I.e., Old Moon.

[7] These are the first three incarnations of the solar system. [See the entries for "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", and "Old Moon" in this encyclopedia.]

[8] We are not yet fully human, Steiner taught. [See the entry for "Human Kingdom Condition of Life" in this encyclopedia; also see the entry for "human stage of evolution".] We will increasingly realize our human potential as we evolve toward the seventh condition of life, the Human Kingdom.

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

Steiner taught that there are nine ranks of gods. These ranks are subdivided into three hierarchies or classes. The Third Hierarchy consists of the three lowest ranks of gods. In general, gods of the Third Hierarchy focus tightly on humanity, while gods of the Second and First Hierarchies — while still intensely interested in us — have broader concerns. Angels attend to individual human beings, while Archangels attend to human groups such as families, nations, and races. Archai supervise the cultural epochs of human evolution. [1]


There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief; they are subdivided into three groupings called "hierarchies." [2] The lowest three ranks comprise the lowest grouping, the Third Hierarchy. The gods of each rank are known by various names. Archai, e.g., are among the seventh rank (counting downward from the top), Archangels are among the eighth rank, and Angels are among the ninth rank. [3] Steiner preferred some of the less familiar names for gods of various ranks, names that he indicated more truly represent these gods. (Note that in Anthroposophy the word "hierarchies," used loosely, is often applied to the gods in general, as when saying that the hierarchies do thus and so (i.e., the gods do thus and so). Also, "hierarchy" is sometimes used as a synonym for "rank," as when it is said that human beings will become the "tenth hierarchy". [4])

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Angels", "Archangels", and "Archai".

[2] For descriptions of the gods comprising the three Hierarchies, see the relevant entries ("Spirits of Personality," "Fire Spirits", etc.) in this encyclopedia.

[3] If we count upward from the bottom, then we can say that Angels stand one level higher than humanity, Archangels stand two levels higher than humanity, and Archai stand three levels higher than humanity.

[4] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

Thor - also see gods; I; Norse myths

a) In Norse mythology: the god of thunder and lightning, son of Odin, brother of Baldur; god of common men.

b) According to Steiner: an Angel who renounced further evolution to help mankind. Steiner taught that, like other Norse gods, Thor was known to Germanic/Nordic man, and he had a particular role in helping humans to develop our I's (that is, our individual, divine identities, our spiritual egos, that make us human [1]). “German-Nordic man has an interest in an Angel-being who is endowed with special power ... And that Being is Thor ... [Thor is] a Being who could have risen to far higher rank had he followed the normal course of evolution, but who renounced advancement comparatively early and remained at the stage of a [sic] Angel ... Thor plays an active part in the implanting of the individual ego [in human beings] ... [T]he pulsation of the blood [in the human body] corresponds to the thunder and lightning ... Germanic-Nordic man sees this clairvoyantly [2]....” — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 234-235. [See "The Gods".]



[Johannes Gehrts]

[1] See "Ego".

[2] Most of Steiner's teachings, including the doctrines that underlie Waldorf education, depend on clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance".] Steiner taught that ancient peoples had natural powers of clairvoyance, which have mainly been lost by moderns. He claimed to show his followers how to develop new, higher clairvoyant powers, such as he said he himself possessed. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

thought ether - also see ether; sound ether

Steiner sometimes indicated that there are five types of ether [1]: "We're always surrounded by five ether streams in the world around us on earth. They're called earth, water, fire, air and thought ethers." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), 12/1/1906, GA 266.

Here are the five ethers Steiner sometimes described. This table shows the symbol for each ether, along with that ether's spiritual color and taste; the portion of the human organism directly affected by each ether is also identified. [R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES; color added.]

The first four of these ethers are rarefied, elevated variants of the "four elements". [2] The fifth, thought ether, is rather different — it is the medium for creative ideas and conceptions, "living thoughts." [3] As such, it may almost be taken for ether per se, the universal or cosmic ether. “The cosmic ether, which is common to all, carries within it the thoughts; there they are within it, those living thoughts of which I have repeatedly spoken in our anthroposophical lectures, telling you how the human being participates in them in pre-earthly life before he comes down to Earth. [4] There, in the cosmic ether, are contained all the living thoughts there are.” — R. Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 37.

On other occasions, however, Steiner said there are four ethers, not five, and he offered different designations for three of them. The four ethers, he then said, are life ether, light ether, sound ether, and fire ether. [5] These ethers carry or facilitate various powers of consciousness. Sound ether (otherwise called tone ether) facilitates thinking. [6] Here is a diagram Steiner created, followed by his commentary, on an occasion when he said there are four ethers [7]:

"In the Lemurian epoch [8], after the onset of the Luciferic influence [9], of these four forms of ether only the two lower (light-ether and fire-ether) were left at the free, arbitrary disposal of man; the two higher kinds of ether were withdrawn from him [10] ... [T]he power freely and arbitrarily to penetrate the thought-ether [11] and the sense-ether (‘meaning’-ether) was withdrawn from them." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 7, GA 114. [Color added to diagram.]

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

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

[3] These are divine thoughts — the thoughts of the gods. Living thoughts may be deemed spiritual beings in their own right; they are alive. [See "Thinking".][4] I.e., before birth, before a new incarnation on Earth.

[5] Anthroposophists usually agree that there are four ethers: "Ether - in general, shapeless and invisible life force ... [There are] four kinds of ether...warmth ether, light ether, sound ether, life ether [sic]." — H. von Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 37. In general, we may say that the five-ether schema comes from Steiner's early occult teachings, and the four-ether schema comes from his later occult teachings. Note that fire ether may be called, in the four-ether schema, warmth ether.

[6] This ether is, then, a form of "thought ether" as represented in this four-ether schema.

[7] Much as thought ether has been subsumed by sound ether, so air, water, and earth ethers are here subsumed by fire ether.

[8] I.e., while humans lived on the lost continent of Lemuria. [See "Lemuria".]

[9] I.e., after Lucifer tempted mankind. [See "Lucifer".]

[10] When some ethers were withdrawn from humanity's free use, our consciousness became proportionately restricted. (To offset such limitations, Steiner generally indicated, we need to heed his wisdom and accept his guidance.)

[11] Steiner here identified sound ether as thought ether. In effect, the concept of thought ether has been folded into the concept of sound ether.

thought projection - also see masters; sleep; telepathy

The ability to send thoughts to another being through supersensory (supernatural, spiritual) means. Steiner taught that spiritual masters have this power. "When man is in a sleeping condition, any being having the power to send out thoughts [1], can gain an influence over him. He can therefore be influenced by higher individualities, such as those we call Masters. [2] They can send thoughts into the etheric body [3] of the sleeper. Someone can therefore receive into his etheric body pure and lofty thoughts when the Masters consciously wish to make this their concern ... Thus in the morning there are to be found in the etheric body, firstly thoughts which have approached it from the environment [4] and secondly thoughts also which the Masters or other individualities have implanted into it." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 20, GA 93a.

[1] I.e., projecting thoughts, implanting them in others. Some mystics associate this power with remote viewing, extrasensory perception, or mental telepathy.

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

[3] The etheric body is the lowest of the three invisible bodies that a true human being comes to possess, according to Steiner. [See "Incarnation".]

[4] I.e., thoughts carried within the spiritual environment in which we all exist. (Steiner spoke of "living thoughts" that are essentially spirits; they come to us from the higher worlds of the gods, which are coextensive with the physical world. Living thoughts are carried in the "cosmic ether," Steiner said. [See "Thinking".]) Here, Steiner says that while asleep we receive thoughts from the spiritual environment and also from "Masters or other individualities" (i.e., conscious beings, beneficent or otherwise). Hence, at least some of the thoughts we "receive" while asleep are true and reliable.

thought sense - also see language sense; senses

◊ "[O]ne of the 12 senses [enumerated by Steiner]. Also called Concept sense. With this sense we can understand the message clothed in language [1] ... We can 'look through' the [words] to arrive at the soundless concept [conveyed by the words]...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 121. ◊ "With this [thought sense or concept sense], Rudolf Steiner meant to indicate that there is something further beyond hearing language [2] ... This is the ability to understand, to comprehend, to picture what is said ... Ideas live in a silent world [beyond language] ... You only understand someone when you...erase what is said [and attend to the silent ideas behind language]". — A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), pp. 124-125. According to Anthroposophical belief, thought sense falls under the influence of Taurus. — Ibid., p. 142.

[1] I.e., any message expressed through the medium of words.

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

thought transference - see thought projection

threefold human being - see threefold nature of man

threefold nature of man - also see fourfold, sevenfold, and ninefold natures of man; soul; spirit; threefolding; trichotomy

Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution. Sometimes he said we are constituted of three parts, sometimes four parts, sometimes seven, sometimes nine. [See "What We're Made Of".] Conceived as a threefold being, Steiner said, a human being has a body, a soul, and a spirit. [1] "When we examine the human being we therefore find him consisting of three parts, a bodily, a soul, and a spiritual part, which broadly speaking make up the threefold being of man. If we now look up from man to the higher beings [2] of whom we have just spoken we may say that they differ from man by not having developed the coarse body. [3] Those beings, for instance, whom we call Lunar Pitris, or Angels [3] in Christian esotericism, possess no coarse bodily nature perceptible to the senses. They passed through the stage of humanity on the Moon [5] and have now ascended higher. [6] Such a coarse corporeal nature as man's cannot be attributed to them. On the other hand they have already developed the higher members of the spirit not yet possessed by man [7], so that we can say that they are spirit and soul, in contrast to man, who is a three-membered being — spirit, soul, body." — R. Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 8, GA 102.


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

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

[3] I.e., they do not have physical bodies.

[4] These are members of the lowest rank of gods, Steiner taught: They stand one level higher than humanity. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Angels" and "Lunar Pitris".]

[5] I.e., they developed their I's (their spiritual egos) during Old Moon. [See "Ego", "Old Moon, Etc.", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution").

[6] I.e., they were human during Old Moon, and now they have ascended to become gods.

[7] I.e., they have spiritual components that we presently lack or that we possess in only germinal form. [See, e.g., "What We're Made Of".]

threefolding - also see Camphill; democracy; threefold nature of man; Waldorf schools

Steiner's plan for the organization of society, separating three spheres of action (economics, politics, and culture) from one another, is usually referred to as "threefolding." The three spheres — which would approximately embody the threefold nature of man [1] — would be established on independent bases, and no authority in one sphere would be allowed to interfere in the workings of the other spheres. One benefit of Steiner's plan would be that no one outside the field of education (which Steiner assigned to the sphere of culture) would be able to interfere in education. Hence, Waldorf schools would be largely free to go their own way. "[T]he threefold social order strives for the complete disassociation of the educational system from government and industry. The place and function of educators within society should depend solely upon the authority of those engaged in this activity. The administration of the educational institutions, the organization of courses of instruction and their goals should be entirely in the hands of persons who themselves are simultaneously either teaching or otherwise productively engaged in cultural life. In each case, such persons would divide their time between actual teaching (or some other form of cultural productivity) and the administrative control of the educational system. It will be evident to anyone who can bring himself to an unbiased examination of cultural life that the peculiar vitality and energy of soul required for organizing and directing educational institutions will be called forth only in someone actively engaged in teaching or in some sort of cultural creativity." — R. Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF THE SOCIAL ORGANISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1985), article 4, GA 24. [See "Threefolding".]

Anthroposophists hope, ultimately, to reshape all human institutions in conformity with Anthroposophy. In part, this would mean realigning all institutions according to the principle of threefolding. Waldorf schools and Camphill communities [2] often attempt to enact the threefold paradigm when undertaking their institutional activities. It is worth noting that according to Steiner's directives, neither the cultural/educational sphere not the economic sphere should be run democratically. Democracy, which Steiner viewed askance, would be confined to the political sphere. [3]


[Anthroposophic Press, 1972.]

[1] See the entry for "threefold nature of man", above.

[2] For an overview of Camphhill communities, see "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".

[3] For Steiner's views on democracy, see "Democracy".

threshold - also see death; Guardians of the Threshold; higher worlds; veils

"[B]oundary between the physical and the supersensible [i.e., spiritual] worlds. We can pass beyond this threshold in earthly life through the kind of training that anthroposophy can offer, as well as passing it inevitably at death." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 121.

Passing the "threshold" is, indeed, a central endeavor in Anthroposophy or "spiritual science." [1] According to Anthroposophical belief, the threshold is monitored by a pair of "Guardians of the Threshold" whose requirements must be met before entree to the spiritual realm can be granted. [2] Peering beyond the threshold — piercing the veil, as it were [3] — is suggested in a characteristic form of Anthroposophical art, called veil painting, which is taught in Waldorf schools. [4]

The "training that anthroposophy can offer" centers on the purported development of clairvoyance. [5] It is through the supposed use of clairvoyance that Anthroposophists seek to peer beyond the merely physical level of existence. Steiner claimed to possess a high, reliable, "exact" form of clairvoyance [6], and his followers seek to develop similar powers. Steiner said that Waldorf teachers in particular should work to develop such clairvoyance, or they should at least accept the guidance of their colleagues who possess it. [7]

[1] See "Higher Worlds" and "Everything".

[2] See "Guardians".

[3] See the entry, below, for "veils".

[4] See the entry, below, for "veil painting".

[4] See "Clairvoyance" and "Knowing the Worlds".

[5] See "Exactly".

[6] See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".

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

a) In Christianity, high-ranking angels.

b) According to Steiner: gods seven levels above humanity, also known as Spirits of Will. “The Beings who find Their blessedness in pouring out Will at the beginning of Saturn [1] may be called ‘Spirits of Will.’ (In Christian esoteric science they are called the Thrones.) ... On Saturn [2] it is the Spirits of Will who regulate this unison [3], with the result that man appears like an impress of the Saturn life itself [4] ... Inwardly — within Saturn — this dull human will manifests itself to the faculty of supersensible perception by effects which may be compared to ‘smells’. [5] 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. [6] It is the Spirits of Will who regulate it ... [P]ure inward being [7] is connected with the first outpouring of the Spirits of Will.” — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), chapter 4, part 3, GA 13. [See “Polytheism”.]


There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. The highest three ranks comprise the First Hierarchy. Thrones are members of the lowest rank within the First Hierarchy.

[1] I.e., at the beginning stages of the first incarnation of the solar system, called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".] (In Anthroposophy, will is considered a distinct faculty. [See "Will".] The Thrones or Spirits of Will fulfill their mission — they "find their Blessedness" — by pouring out the divine benefits of will.)

[2] I.e., during Old Saturn. (Steiner uses the present tense, here, although he is describing events that happened very long ago.)

[3] I.e., between external reality and one's inward consciousness.

[4] i.e., because of the beneficent actions of the Thrones, proto-humans (mankind at the beginning of our evolution) reflected the nature of the life that infused all of the solar system during Old Saturn.

[5] I.e., the dull will possessed by proto-humans during Old Saturn reveals itself to clairvoyance ("the faculty of supersensible perception") in a form comparable to odors within the central substance of Old Saturn ("within Saturn").

[6] I.e., the proto-humans radiated an impression of personality outward to the surrounding spiritual regions ("out into the heavenly spaces"), but they did not yet have "I"s (spiritual egos — see "Ego"), so their personality was regulated by forces outside themselves. (Specifically, as Steiner goes on to say, it was regulated by the Thrones.)

[7] I.e., the nascent inner selfhood of the proto-humans.

Time Archangels - also see Archangels; Fire Spirits; cf. Time Spirits

According to Steiner: During life on the planet Earth during our current stage of form, we evolve through seven great epochs (Polarian, Hyperborean, etc.). [1] We are currently in the Post-Atlantean Epoch. Likewise, during each great epoch, we evolve through seven shorter cycles. During the current great epoch, these shorter cycles are called cultural epochs or ages (Indian, Persian, Egypto-Chaldean, etc.); they last about 2,160 years each. [2] Within these cultural epochs are shorter, 350-year periods (these are not perfectly coordinated with cultural epochs: they may overlap the beginning and end of various cultural epochs). The 350-year periods are presided over by Time Archangels or Fire Spirits, who undertake this work on a rotating basis, guiding human evolution during their designated terms of office. Seven archangels participate in this rotation: Aniel, Gabriel, Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samuel, and Zachariel. [3] "[The] Anglo-Germanic age began in 1413 ... Samael, the Archangel of Mars, was nearing the end of his quarrelsome rule as Time Archangel when the age began ... Around 1471, spiritual rulership passed to Gabriel...." — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge, 2002), pp. 16-18. [4]

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

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

[3] See, e.g., "Oriphiel" and "Michael". Cf. Time Spirits, who oversee cultural epochs.

[4] The precise dates of Time Archangels' terms of office are open to question. Here is one summary: "550-200 BCE Michael (Sun); 200 BCE-150 CE Oriphiel (Saturn); 150-500 Anael (Venus); 500-850 Zachariel (Jupiter); 850-1190 Raphael (Mercury); 1190-1510 Samael (Mars); 1510-1879 Gabriel (Moon); 1879-2230 Michael (Sun)." — Appendix in ASTRONOMY AND ASTROLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), a collection of Steiner lectures, p. 234.

Time Rulers (Amshaspands) - see Time Spirits

Time Spirits - also see Amshaspands; cultural epochs; Gabriel; Michael; Samael; Spirits of an Age; cf. Time Archangels

In Anthroposophy, these are the presiding gods during cultural epochs [1]; they are Zeitgeists or Spirits of an Age. They stand three levels above humanity. [2] "[T]he various peoples have understood one another in various ages, because in every age there is something that extends beyond the Folk-soul [3] ... It is what is called the ‘Zeitgeist’ or ‘Time Spirit’ or ‘Spirit of the Age’ ... [F]or every [cultural] epoch we can find the ‘Spirit of the Age’, and that is something which intertwines itself into the activity of the Folk-spirits [4] ... To the materialistic man of to-day, the Spirit of the Age is something quite abstract, without any reality; it would be still more difficult for him to see a real being in the Spirit of the Age. Nevertheless behind the word Zeitgeist, or ‘Spirit of the Age’, there is concealed a real being, and indeed none other than one three stages above the stage of humanity. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1929), lecture 1, GA 121.

Note the difference between Time Spirits and Time Archangels. Time Spirits preside over far longer evolutionary stages than do Time Archangels. (Cultural epochs, presided over by Time Spirits, normally last about 2,160 years; within these are 350-year-long periods, presided over by Time Archangels.) However, on rare occasions, a god may simultaneously serve as both a Time Spirit and a Time Archangel, for a while. Thus, for example, "By the start of the twenty-third century, when Michael's [period] as Time Archangel ends (though he continues as Spirit of the Age for more than a millennium), great changes will obviously have taken place. [6]" — R. Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publications, 2002), p. 26.


According to Anthroposophical belief, there are nine ranks of gods. These ranks are divided into three groupings or "hierarchies." Time Spirits are members of the seventh rank, the highest rank in the lowest or third hierarchy.

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

[2] See "Polytheism".

[3] I.e., the soul shared by all members of a group such as a people, nation, or race. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "folk soul".]

[4] i.e., folk souls.

[5] According to Anthroposophy, being human means standing at a certain evolutionary level, one stage lower than the lowest gods. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "human stage of evolution".]

[6] Michael is the Archangel of the Sun. [See "Michael".]

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

The second sub-race [1] that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis. [2] “[T]he second subrace [consisted of] the so-called Tlavatli peoples. The men of this race began to feel their own personal value. [3] Ambition, a quality unknown to the Rmoahals [4], made itself felt among them. Memory was in a sense transferred to the conception of communal life. [5] He who could look back upon certain deeds demanded recognition of them from his fellow-men ... Based upon this memory of deeds, a group of men who belonged together elected one as leader. A kind of regal rank developed. This recognition was even preserved beyond death. The memory, the remembrance of the ancestors or of those who had acquired merit in life, developed. From this there emerged among some tribes [6] a kind of religious veneration of the deceased, an ancestor cult ... Only the second subrace considered the personal character of a man to the point where it took his past life into account in the evaluation of this character.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.

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

[1] A sub-race is a division of the intended racial form — the root race — of an evolutionary period. [See the entries for "sub-races" and "root races" in this encyclopedia.]

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] I.e., unlike their predecessors, they began to feel self-esteem.

[4] The Rmoahals were the first sub-race of Atlantis.

[5] I.e., memory became valued, "in a sense," because of the prestige that an individual's remembered exploits could create within the society.

[6] As Steiner uses the term here, a tribe was a specific family, band, or clan within a sub-race.

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

The third sub-race [1] that, according to occult teachings, arose on Atlantis. [2] “[A] powerful personality recruited a number of people for a joint undertaking, and the memory of this joint action formed a social group. [paragraph break] This kind of social communal life became fully developed only among the third subrace, the Toltec. It was therefore the men of this race who first founded what is a state. The leadership, the government of these communities, was transmitted from one generation to the next. The father now gave over to the son [3] what previously survived only in the memory of contemporaries. The deeds of the ancestors were not to be forgotten by their whole line of descent. What an ancestor had done was esteemed by his descendants. However, one must realize that in those times men actually had the power to transmit their gifts to their descendants. Education, after all, was calculated to mold life through vivid images. The effectiveness of this education had its foundation in the personal power which emanated from the educator — He did not sharpen the power of thought, but in fact, developed those gifts which were of a more instinctive kind. [4] Through such a system of education the capacities of the father were generally transmitted to the son.” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 3, GA 11.

[1] A sub-race is a division of the intended racial form — the root race — of an evolutionary period. [See the entries for "sub-races" and "root races" in this encyclopedia; also see the diagram accompanying the entry for "Tlavatlis", above.]

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] I.e., taught or conveyed to the son. (Steiner goes on to say that not only information, but actual skills or "gifts" were handed down.)

[4] This description is akin to Waldorf education. Emphasis was not placed on "the power of thought" but on supposedly deeper levels of apprehension ("gifts which were more of an instinctive kind"), and education was conveyed through imagination ("through vivid images"). [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "imagination" and "Imaginations".]

tone ether - see sound ether

touch, sense of - also see antipathy; I; senses; sympathy

One of the twelve human senses enumerated by Steiner. [See "What We're Made Of".] Through the sense of touch, the human (who is essentially a spiritual being) comes to recognize her/his physical existence. The sense of touch also enacts our desire to reconnect with the cosmos. ◊ "Every touch experience anchors the 'I' [1] within the physical body." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 122. ◊ "The sense of touch has a quite definite task for the human being. We are released from divine totality [2], and simultaneously the desire arises to return to it. We have a continually deep longing to touch things [and thus reconnect with what is outside ourselves]." — A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), p. 15. Anthroposophists believe that the sense of touch falls under the sign of Libra. — Ibid., p. 142.

[1] This is the spiritual ego, one's divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

[2] That is, union with the gods, our place in the spirit realm.

transcendentalism - also see American transcendentalists; philosophy; romanticism; world outlooks

a) A system developed by Kant, aimed at comprehension of reality through comprehension of the process of reasoning.

b) An idealistic philosophical system akin to romanticism, originating in New England, rejecting authority and emphasizing individual spiritual insight and conscience.

c) According to Steiner, one of the seven world outlooks, which he said function under the influence of the seven astrological "planets." "[T]he soul may be so attuned that it cannot become aware of what may arise from within itself and appear as the real inner solution of the riddle of the universe [1] ... In this mood, a person presupposes that outside his soul, and beyond anything his soul can experience, the essential being of things lies hidden; but he does not suppose that this essential nature of things can flow into his soul, as does the Mystic. [2] A person who takes this standpoint is a Transcendentalist ... He accepts that the essence of a thing is transcendent, but that it does not enter into the soul — hence Transcendentalism.” — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 48. Steiner associated transcendentalism with the planet Mercury. [See “Philosophy”.]

American Anthroposophists often claim that there are deep connections between Anthroposophy and American Transcendentalism, despite the great differences between the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and those of leading transcendentalists. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "American Transcendentalists".]

[1] I.e., such a soul does not look inward (as Steiner said we should): It assumes that truth lies beyond the self, not within the self. (In Anthroposophy, the self is a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic universe, and thus everything that is outside the self can also be found within the self. [See "The Center".])

[2] I.e., the mystic looks inward for truth while the transcendentalist looks outward for truth.

transmigration - also see reincarnation

Transmigration of souls is the re-implantation of souls in different bodies after death. Broadly speaking, it is the same as reincarnation. [1] Steiner sometimes used the term "transmigration," but he generally disavowed it, associating it with the proposition that human souls might be re-implanted in animal bodies, a possibility he usually denied. Transmigration occurs only in a limited sense, he said: We may assume animal-like forms in Kamaloka or Purgatory. [2] “In the astral world, in kamaloka [3], we approximate the nature of animals through our passions. This fact is the source of a common misunderstanding with regard to the doctrine of transmigration of souls ... This doctrine, which teaches that we should live in ways that do not cause us to incarnate as animals, does not apply to physical life but only to higher life [4] ... For example, one who cultivates the character of a cat during earthly life appears in the form of a cat in kamaloka." — R. Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 24.

[1] See "Reincarnation".

[2] In effect, kamaloka is purgatory. [See "Kamaloka".]

[3] The "astral world" is the soul world, the lower of two "higher worlds." [See "Higher Worlds".] Although Steiner here seems to identify kamaloka with the soul world, he more commonly drew a distinction. Kamaloka may be viewed as a waiting room at the portal of the soul world — a place where one abides, purging desires, before entry into the soul world.

[4] I.e., we will not reincarnate as animals on the physical plane of existence (reincarnation on Earth), but we may do so in kamaloka.

Treta Yuga - also see Dvapara Yuga; Kali Yuga; Krita Yuga; yugas

In Theosophy (drawing from Hinduism), this is the Silver Age, the second of four world ages. [1] Steiner used the term "Treta Yuga" during his Theosophical period, but he did so less after founding Anthroposophy. The following is from the synopsis of Steiner's first lecture in THE TRUE NATURE OF THE SECOND COMING (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), GA 118: "Fundamental changes in the life of the human soul since Atlantis. [2] Man was obliged to exchange his dim clairvoyant consciousness of the spiritual world [3] for the ego-consciousness that is now his [4], but in future time clairvoyance will function while ego-consciousness is maintained intact; this is possible to-day only for one who has trodden the path of Initiation. [5] Krita Yuga (the Golden Age), Treta Yuga (the Silver Age), Dvapara Yuga (the Bronze Age), Kali Yuga (the Dark Age). Progressive loss of vision of the spiritual world. [6]"

In Hindu and Theosophical texts, Treta Yuga — like all the yugas — is described as being immensely long. The span usually assigned to Treta Yuga is 1,296,000 mortal or Earthly years. [7] Steiner acknowledged this, but he also identified far briefer periods that could be labelled yugas. By some calculations, a "brief" Treta Yuga lasts 15,000 years:


(Health Research, 1969), p. 14.

[Colors added.]

[1] In Theosophy and Hinduism, a world age is termed a "yuga." [See the entry for "yuga" in this encyclopedia.] "Yuga(s) (Sanskrit) Yuga Age; an age of the world, of which there are four ... The group of four yugas is first computed by the divine years or years of the gods — each such year being equal to 360 years of mortal men." — ENCYCLOPEDIC THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY (Theosophical University Press, 1999). Treta yuga is said to last 3,600 divine years.

[2] See "Atlantis".

[3] Steiner taught that ancient peoples had innate, primordial clairvoyant powers. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".]

[4] I.e., the ordinary consciousness we possess now as beings who recognize themselves as separate individuals. [See "Ego" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "ego consciousness".]

[5] See "Inside Scoop".

[6] I.e., our gradual loss of primordial clairvoyance, through which we apprehended the spirit realm.

[7] "Treta-yuga. The second of the four yugas, or divisions of time, in Hinduism. It lasts 1,296,000 years: sacrifice begins, but righteousness declines; it is the yuga during which Rama appears as avatara (incarnation)." — THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Oxford Universiry Press, 1997), p. 988.

triangle - also see signs; life spirit; spirit man; spirit self; symbols; cf. square

a) According to Steiner, this is the symbol for the three spiritual parts of man. "The triangle is the symbol for Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man. [1]" — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), “Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival”, p. 41. [See "Signs".] Spirit self is the lowest of our spiritual parts, life spirit is higher, and spirit man is highest. [2]

b) Steiner also indicated, on occasion, that the equilateral triangle is the sign of fire ether. [3]

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

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

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

trichotomy - also see physical body; soul; spirit; threefold nature of man

Whereas human nature is often described in terms of dichotomy — body and soul — Anthroposophy posits a threefold division or trichotomy: body, soul, and spirit. (The differentiation of soul and spirit was common in early Christianity but was later revised. [1]) Steiner taught that our three parts reflect the three levels of the universe. "[W]e must study the tripartite division of the cosmos and man in the light of the three principles of body, soul and spirit. It is most important to be aware of this fact at the present time, especially in the field of Anthroposophy. I should like to remind you that this idea of trichotomy forms the central theme of my book, THEOSOPHY. [2] No doubt you have all read this book and will know that this idea forms the nucleus of the whole book. I quote the relevant passage: 'The spirit is eternal; the body is subject to life and death in accordance with the laws of the physical world; the soul-life which is subject to destiny [3] mediates between these two (body and spirit) during life on Earth.'” — R. Steiner, BUILDING STONES FOR AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE MYSTERY OF GOLGOTHA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 175.

In Anthroposophical cosmology, there are three worlds corresponding to the three main part of human nature: the physical world, the spirit world, and the soul world. (The cosmology is elaborate, with many other planes and regions, but these are the three chief realms.) [See "Higher Worlds".]

[1] For the Anthroposophical concepts of soul and spirit, see the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.

[2] This book, despite its title, is usually accepted by Steiner's followers as a primer on Anthrosophical teachings.

[3] See "Karma".

Trinity, trinities - also see God; Godhead; gods; polytheism

This is unity comprised of three members; often, as used in Western cultures, the term applies specifically the Christian triune God (The Trinity). In Anthroposophy, the Godhead may be considered a variant of the Christian Trinity [see "God"], but Steiner taught that the deities Christians think of as persons of a single God are actually separate gods. The Father God presides over Saturn; Christ came to Earth from the Sun, where he was the highest Sun god; the Holy Spirit presided over the Old Moon stage of evolution. “The highest Ruler of Saturn, the Ego Spirit, appears to us as the Father God, and the highest Ruler of Sun, the Sun-God, as the Christ. Similarly the Ruler of the Moon stage of Earth appears to us as the Holy Spirit with his hosts known in Christian esotericism as the Messengers of the Godhead, the angels.” — R. Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN WISDOM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 100. [1]

Steiner also sometimes identified the Christian Trinity with the Hindu Trinity. [2] ”Beyond the Seraphim we have to see that highest Divinity of which we find mention by almost all nations as the threefold Divinity — as Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, as Father, Word, and Holy Ghost.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 5, GA 110. [3]

"[T]rinities confront us everywhere [4], and fundamentally these represent the clairvoyant perception [5] of what lies behind coming into being, passing away, and renewal. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF MARK (Anthroposophic Press, 1986), lecture 6, GA 139.

[1] See “Polytheism”, "The Father", and "God".

[2] "Trimurti, ( Sanskrit: 'three forms') in Hinduism, triad of the three gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The concept was known at least by the time of Kalidasa’s poem Kumarasambhava (“Birth of the War God”; c. 4th–5th century ce)." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA, "Trimurti", 1/10/16.

[3] See "Trinity". (Steiner identifies the Son, Christ, with the "Word". [See "Logos".])

[4] I.e., they are present in many religions and spiritual traditions.

[5] In Steiner's teachings, spiritual truths are attainable through the use of clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance".]

[6] I.e., trinities manifest the spiritual forces of carnation (birth), death, and reincarnation — creation, dissolution, and rebirth.

trumpets of doom - also see Apocalypse; seals; Seventh Epoch

These are horns sounded to announce the end of the world, as foretold especially in the biblical Book of Revelation. [1] “Viewing the last epoch [2], that of the sounding trumpets, with spiritual vision [3], you would see that people consist of delicate spiritualized bodies [4]; and that those who have hardened and compacted the material principle have preserved within themselves the most substantial constituents of matter [5]; and that this will fall as husks to compose the material globe which will remain after the epoch represented by the sounding of the trumpets. [6]” — R. Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 200. [See "Lucky Seventh".]

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

[2] I.e., the seventh great epoch, the final epoch in our current stage of form. [See the entries for "epochs", "great epochs", and "stages of form" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., clairvoyance.

[4] I.e., true human beings will no longer have physical bodies such as we know now; they will have "delicate spiritualized bodies."

[5] I.e., abnormal or retrograde people, not spiritualized, will have given themselves too fully to material existence.

[6] I.e., the physical substance found in the bodies of the overly materialized people will form the planet or globe that will remain after the trumpets of doom sound.

trunk man - see chest man

truth - also see Anthroposophy; clairvoyance; knowledge; living thoughts; occult science; science; spiritual science; thinking; wisdom

a) According to rationality and science: verifiable knowledge.

b) According to Steiner: accurate clairvoyant findings. [1] Steiner called his teachings "spiritual science." [2] He laid out procedures for his adherents to follow, so that they might develop reliable clairvoyance like his and thus become able to apprehend truth. [3] There is a problem, however. Steiner's teachings, which undergird Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, depend fundamentally on clairvoyance. If there is no such power as clairvoyance, there is no basis for Anthroposophy or Waldorf education. Steiner's teaching would be unable to produce truth. And this seems to be the case. Most scholars and studies indicate that there is no such power as clairvoyance. [4]

The specific avenues toward truth emphasized in Waldorf belief (imagination, feelings, dreams...) are essentially deemed precursors to, or stages of, clairvoyance. [5] It seems more than likely that belief systems such as Anthroposophy are founded not on truth but on fantasy and self-deception. [6]

[1] See "Truth".

[2] In this, he followed the precedent of Theosophy, which also refers to itself as spiritual science. [See "Basics".]

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

[4] See "Clairvoyance".

[5] See the entries for "imagination", inspiration", and "intuition" in this encyclopedia. Also see, e.g., "Thinking Cap", "Dreams", and "Horoscopes".

[6] See, e.g., "Fooling (Ourselves)", "Why? Oh Why?", and "If Only It Were So".

Turanians - see Primal Turanians

Turning Point of Time - also see Christ; Christ Event; Christ Impulse; Sun God; Prototype

In Anthroposophical belief, the most important event in human history — altering the very course of human evolution — was the manifestation on Earth of the Sun God, Christ, in a human body. Christ gave us the impulse and direction for our proper future development, which should lead us to supreme divinity. Steiner memorialized this crucial event in the following "Christmas meditation":

"At the turning-point of time,

The Spirit-Light of the World

Entered the stream of Earthly Evolution.

Darkness of Night had held its sway;

Day-radiant Light poured into the souls of men,

Light that gave warmth to simple shepherds' hearts,

Light that enlightened the wise heads of kings.

O Light Divine! O Sun of Christ!...."


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 13-14.


This diagram shows the seven cultural epochs of the Post-Atlantean Epoch (the Indian Age, which began after the destruction of Atlantis, extending through the American Age, which will lead to the War of All Against All). The Turning Point of Time came in the middle of the Greco-Roman Age, when Christ the Sun God incarnated on Earth. [R.R., 2015. Diagram based on one in Robert McDermott's THE ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, 2007), p. 173; I have adjusted terms to be consistent with usage in this encyclopedia.]

twelvefold human body - also see fourfold nature of man; human constitution; physical body; sevenfold nature of man; threefold nature of man; zodiac

In Anthroposophical belief, the physical human body has twelve major components, each of which is subject to the astrological influence of one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. ◊ "There are 12 signs of the zodiac [1] and 12 corresponding parts of the human organism [2] ... [T]he forces of the zodiac correspond to the human physical structure...." — R. Wilkinson THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 47. ◊ "[T]he whole human body [is divided] among the twelve signs of the zodiac so that the head is given to the Ram, the throat to the Bull, and so on ... [This is] the twelve-fold order of the body." — R. Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 13, GA 170. ◊ "[A]strology [3] assigns the human head to the sign of the Ram, the throat and larynx to the Bull, the part of the body where the arms are attached and also what the arms and hands express to the Twins, the circumference of the chest to the Crab, everything to do with the heart to the Lion, the activities contained by the abdomen to the Virgin, the lumbar region to the Scales, the sexual region to the Scorpion, the thighs to the Hunter, the knees to the Sea-Goat, the calves to the Waterman, and the feet to the Fishes." — R. Steiner, ibid.


"Each region of the zodiac can be looked upon as the home of particular spiritual beings and a centre of forces. There are 12 signs of the zodiac and 12 corresponding parts of the human organism ... While the forces of the zodiac correspond to the human physical structure, the planets and their forces are mirrored in the internal organs ... Thus for example: Sun: Heart : Aurum (gold); Moon: Genitals: argenum (silver); Mercury: Lungs: Cinnabar (mercury)." — R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 47. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on sketch on p. 48.]

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

[2] See diagrams accompanying "What We're Made Of".

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

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

In Norse mythology, this is the end-time battle of gods and giants in which all are destroyed. But afterwards, the myths say, a new beginning will be made. [See "The Gods".] According to Steiner, Norse myths accurately reflect the course of cosmic evolution; the gods of Norse myths really exist, and their world will become manifest in the future. The twilight of the gods will occur, and the hope of a new beginning will be revealed. Having lost our old clairvoyant powers, we will gain new, higher clairvoyant powers. "In that which has come down to us as the ‘Twilight of the Gods’ there is contained a significant vision of the future, and herewith I come to a chapter the starting-point of which I have already indicated. I have told you that when a community of people have so lately left their clairvoyant past behind them, that then a clairvoyant sense is also developed in their guiding Folk-spirit [1], by means of which the things we now find clairvoyantly can again be understood. Now if a people experiences the new age with new human capacities, on the very ground on which bloomed the Germanic Scandinavian mythology [2], it ought then to understand that what was formerly the old clairvoyance must take a different form after man has gone through his development on the physical plane. Here, for a while, that which spoke out of the old clairvoyance remained silent; then the world of Odin and Thor, of Balder and Hoeder, of Freyr and Freya [3] withdrew for a while into the background, away from human vision. But that world will return after a period when other forces have meanwhile been at work upon the human soul. [4]" — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 11, GA 121.

[1] This is the god who is a people's shared soul. Here Steiner says that when a people lose their clairvoyant powers, such powers are developed and preserved in their Folk Spirit.

[2] I.e., Norse mythology.

[3] These are some of the Norse gods. [See "The Gods".]

[4] I.e., according to Anthroposophical belief, the world of the gods has withdrawn from our comprehension for a while (that is to say, we have lost our ancient powers of clairvoyance), but it will become perceptible to us again (that is to say, through Anthroposophy, we will gain new, higher powers of clairvoyance).

- U -

understanding soul - see sentient soul

undines - also see fire spirits; gnomes; mermaids; nature spirits; sylphs

Elemental beings or nature spirits that live inside water. [1] Steiner said that such beings really exist. “Our forefathers spoke of gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders, [2], but to see any reality in such ideas is regarded to-day as sheer superstition. It doesn't matter much, in themselves, what theories people hold; it only begins to be serious when the theories tempt people not to see the truth. [paragraph break] When people say that their ancestors' belief in gnomes, undines, sylphs, salamanders [3] and the like was all nonsense, one would like to make a rather grotesque reply, and say: ‘Well, go and ask the bees. [4] They could inform you: the sylphs are no superstition to us; we know well enough what we owe to the sylphs.’ ... Mankind will land itself in a blind alley if it fails to acquire a spiritual understanding of these things. As with the gnomes [5], so with the beings we may call undines; they are found where the plants come into contact with the mineral kingdom. They are bound up with the element of water, they incorporate themselves where water and plant and stone come together.” — R. Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, Vol. 3 (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958), lecture 5, GA 98.


Traditional conception of an undine.


(H. S. Crocker Co., 1928), p. 296; color added.]

[1] See "Neutered Nature".

[2] These are, respectively, elemental beings that live in the earth, water, air, and fire. ("Salamanders," in the sense meant here, are invisible beings — fire spirits — not common amphibians.)

[3] Here Steiner refers to fire spirits — nature spirits that dwell in fire. They are sometimes called salamanders, because of ancient teachings that the amphibians known as salamanders are fireproof. But a distinction should be drawn between the amphibians known as salamanders (which really exist) and the the nature spirits sometimes called salamanders (which, according to modern science, do not exist).

[4] In Anthroposophy and other mystical systems, remarkable powers are imputed to bees. [See "Bees".] Here, Steiner asserts that the bees have true knowledge of sylphs.

[5] See "Gnomes". Here, Steiner says that undines are fully as real as gnomes, whom he claimed are entirely real.

universal ether - see ether

universal human - also see evolution; Future Jupiter; races

According to Steiner, this is the coming form of humanity, when all people will be spiritually unified through the Sun God (Christ). When we reach that stage, such differences as race will fall behind us, Steiner said — we will all be alike, embodying human qualities at a higher, purer, and more attractive level. Anthroposophists often point to this doctrine as a demonstration that Steiner was not, in fact, a racist. "Rudolf Steiner stood for the ‘universal human’ ...for the overcoming of racism and the concept of race.” — editorial note in FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 559. Critics interpret Steiner's teaching differently, asking why racial equality is not accepted in Anthroposophy — why must racial difference (or "the concept of race") disappear before we can accept one another as fully equal here and now? [See "Love and the Universal Human" and "Universal".]

Universal I - also see Christ; Godhead; I; higher I; highest I; Holy Ghost; Logos; tenth hierarchy

According to Steiner: This is the "I" of the universe [1]; in effect, it is the Godhead (or the extension of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, or the embodiment of Logos, Christ). Just as the individual soul is, in a sense, an offshoot of one's various group souls [2], the individual I is descended from the universal I. In Anthroposophy, one does not — at present — seek to submerge the individual in the universal. Instead, one seeks to perfect the individual "I" so that, ultimately, it will arise to the fulfillment of the tenth hierarchy. [3] "It has become clear to us that this 'I' of man has developed from a group-soul nature, from a kind of all-inclusive universal 'I' out of which it has been differentiated. It would be wrong if man were to crave to go down again with his 'I' into some sort of universal consciousness, into some sort of common consciousness. Everything which causes a man to strive to lose his 'I' and dissolve it into a universal consciousness, is the result of weakness. He alone understands the 'I' who knows that...above all man must strive for the strength (if he understands the mission of the world) to make this 'I' more and more inward, more and more divine." — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958), lecture 8, GA 104.

Nonetheless, Steiner taught, in the distant future, the individual will merge more and more with the perfected state of humanity, which will be coterminous with universal divinity at the highest level. We can achieve something of this self-abnegation now in religious or spiritual experiences, but only as we reach the pinnacle of evolution will we achieve it fully. “[W]e shall have gradually achieved the transformation of our own being into what is called in Christianity ‘the Father.’” — R. Steiner, THE LORD’S PRAYER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 17. Steiner taught that as we evolve, we become more and more individual and unique up to a point. But then we will begin to merge again, as differences such as race and sex are transcended. [4] In this process, we will join with the gods, we will merge into the spiritual hierarchies and, eventually, take our shared position at the apex. Our "I"s will become "We," the Father. Steiner taught that the reintegration of the individual self into the larger Self will begin to be apparent during a future incarnation of the solar system. [5] In that more highly evolved period, human society will come to resemble the communal organization of a beehive. “The group soul [6] of a beehive is a very high level being ... It is of such a high development that you might almost say it is cosmically precocious. [7] It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach in the Venus cycle [8], which follows the completion of the present Earth cycle. [9]" — R. Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176

[1] The "I" is the spiritual ego that confers divine individuality. [See "Ego".] The universal "I" is the divine individuality of the entire cosmos. It is sometimes referred to as the Divine I or the Cosmic I. (Distinctions may sometimes be drawn between these.)

[2] Group souls are souls shared by all members of a population, family, nation, race, etc.

[3] See "Tenth Hierarchy".

[4] See, e.g., the entry for "universal human", above.

[5] See "Future Stages".

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

[7] I.e., it foreshadows a future stage of cosmic evolution.

[8] I.e., Future Venus. [See the entry for "Future Venus" term in this encyclopedia; also see the entry for "Venus consciousness", below.]

[9] To be more precise: Steiner taught that the Present Earth incarnation of the solar system will be followed by Future Jupiter, which in turn will be followed by Future Venus. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

unredeemable moon - see irreclaimable moon

Uranus - also see astrology; astronomy; Neptune; planets; solar system

a) The seventh planet from the Sun.

b) According to Steiner: a celestial object, but not a real member of the solar system; hence, not truly a planet. “Then come Uranus and Neptune ... [T]hey 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, 2001), p. 290. [See "Steiner's Blunders".] Steiner generally taught that Saturn is the outermost planet in the solar system. [See "Higher Worlds".]

Steiner acknowledged that "physical astronomy" (which is shallow) counts Uranus and Neptune as planets, but even so, he said, these celestial objects do not really belong to our solar system. "It is to be noted that the two outermost planets now reckoned as belonging to our system by physical astronomy — Uranus and Neptune — did not originally belong to our Solar System; they came much later into the sphere of attraction of our system: they then joined company and remained within it. They cannot therefore be reckoned in the same sense as the other planets as belonging to our system from Saturn onwards [1], for they [2], so to speak, belonged to it from the beginning." — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 10, GA 136. Steiner went through these contortions because he wanted to preserve the ancient, mystical teaching that there are seven "planets" other than the Earth itself: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. [3]

b) In Greek/Roman mythology: Uranus is the oldest god, the personification of the sky, killed by his son, Cronus or Kronos (Saturn).

[1] I.e., inwards.

[2] I.e., Saturn and the planets closer to the Sun than Saturn.

[3] "Planet. In astrology and magic, a term for all celestial bodies visible from Earth that move...across the background of stars. The sun and moon are...considered planets by astrologers and occultists ... Before the invention of the telescope, seven planets were known[:] the moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter. and Saturn ... The discovery of the additional planets Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto posed a challenge to astrology, and it took decades of careful work [to adjust]." — J. M. Greer, THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE OCCULT (Llewellyn Publications, 2009), p. 375

Uriel - also see Archangels; Oriphiel; seasons

According to Steiner: the archangel of Saturn, an admonishing god who seeks to awaken human conscience. ◊ "Uriel hovers in the heights, weaving his body out of golden light in the golden radiance of the Sun ... [W]e must picture him with grave, judicial eyes ... I spoke also of Uriel's gesture as a warning gesture, indicating to men what they ought to do. It calls upon them, if they understand it rightly, to transform their faults into virtues." — R. Steiner, THE FOUR SEASONS AND THE ARCHANGELS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), lecture 5, GA 229. ◊ "Uriel is the angel connected with Saturn. He also was the leading time spirit at the time of Christ birth. He will be the leading time spirit again around the year 2300." — T. Geraets, "Uriel, the Most Unknown Archangel (, pdf, 2011). As one of the four archangels who oversee the seasons of the year, Uriel exerts particular influence in summer, Steiner taught. Uriel is also known as Oriphiel. [See "Oriphiel".]

useless human beings - also see degenerate races; Malayan race; substandard souls

Steiner identified various peoples and races as evolutionary failures. One epithet he applied, specifically to Malayans, is "useless human beings." [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Malayan race".]

- V -

vaccination - also see childhood diseases; disease; health; inoculation; karma; medicine

Steiner's followers generally oppose efforts to prevent illness through vaccination or inoculation because such efforts may interfere with karma. One's karma may require one to undergo certain illnesses, Steiner taught; but vaccines can destroy the predisposition to contract the diseases one needs. If someone fails to have a karmically required illness in one incarnation, s/he will need to discharge this portion of karma during a later incarnation. Vaccination, while preventing a physical illness, may also destroy incorporeal parts of oneself. Thus, for instance, “The organ of unlovingness [1] is killed in the most complete sense — in the outer physical sense — through smallpox vaccination ... [Through vaccination] we are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will somehow have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation when he has the smallpox poison within him [2] ... If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity. [3]” — R. Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 165-166. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

Vaccination can be especially harmful if it prevents children from undergoing childhood diseases that they need to endure in order to incarnate properly. ◊ "Childhood diseases...result from a necessary developmental process in which the human being tries to overcome influences from the inherited physical body [4] ... This basic concept of the origin of childhood diseases has been complicated by new forms of medication that suppress symptoms (vaccination)." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 20. ◊ "[W]e should consider [childhood illnesses] as the greatest blessings, because through them man is able to strengthen his personal form by conquering a predisposition [5], enabling him to incarnate better." — L.F.C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), p. 192. Hence, children should be allowed to become sick; they should not be shielded by vaccination. Steiner also warned that vaccines will be developed for the explicit, evil purpose of destroying human spirituality. ◊ "[I]f human beings are not prepared to take up impulses which can only come from spiritual knowledge [i.e., Anthroposophy], the body will be filled with demonic powers. Humanity is facing a destiny where the body may be filled with ahrimanic demonic powers ... [T]he heirs of modern materialism will look for the vaccine to make the body 'healthy', that is, make its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a 'sound' view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry ... Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity." — R., THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), pp. 84-85. ◊ Black magicians and other evildoers work to create medicines that deaden people to all things spiritual. “Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation...only these inoculations will influence the human body in a way that will make it refuse to give a home to the spiritual inclinations of the soul.” — R. Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91.

Steiner did not absolutely oppose vaccination in all cases; thus his followers today have some leeway. Steiner said that vaccination can be safe if it is accompanied by spiritual education — meaning education in Steiner's own spiritual teachings. Thus, his stand on vaccination became essentially an argument for the promotion of Anthroposophy. This might mean that vaccination should be more common in Anthroposophical circles, including Waldorf schools, than it is elsewhere. But the opposite is usually the case — Anthroposophists today respond to the tone of aversion and warning expressed in many of Steiner's remarks about vaccination. The fundamental Anthroposophical view is that vaccination in and of itself — not rescued by counteracting spiritual guidance — carries a risk of severe harm.

[1] We have many nonphysical organs, Steiner taught; they are parts of our invisible bodies. [See "Incarnation" and "Our Parts".] Dealing with undesirable organs is a matter of karma and reincarnation [See "Karma" and "Reincarnation".] If you are unloving during one life, you will develop and actuate an "organ of unlovingness" (also called an "organ of uncharitableness"). In your following lives, you will have a karmic obligation to remove or rectify this organ in the proper way, by being loving and making recompense to those whom you have harmed through unlovingness. If you remove or rectify the organ only in a superficial, physical manner — such as by receiving a vaccination — your karma will remain undischarged. You will therefore carry this karma into later lives, when discharging it will be more difficult. "[I]t is possible for a being in an earlier life to have experienced sensations, feelings and so forth that have developed in him a want of love towards his fellow-creatures ... This uncharitableness will in a later life appear as karmic result, and will develop inner forces in his organism ... With such a person we can take precautions by which these characteristics in his organism, derived from uncharitableness, will be driven out ... By these means, however, the soul will not be cleansed of all uncharitableness, but only the external organ of uncharitableness will have been expelled ... [W]e shall have accomplished only half of our task, perhaps even nothing at all. We may perhaps have helped this person physically, externally, but we shall not have given succour to his soul." — R. Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 8, GA 120.)

[2] I.e., in that life s/he will get smallpox again and will need to attain the spiritual effects of smallpox which s/he as not attained in this life.

[3] I.e., we only deal with the superficial aspects of karma, not its deep requirements; karma will not be fully discharged.

[4] According to Anthroposophical belief, we inherit characteristics from the people we have chosen to be our parents, based on our karmic needs. In this sense, inheritance is an extension or consequence of karma; we have the physical bodies our karmas require us to have. But we may inherit from our parents physical characteristics that serve no good purpose for our karmas, or that may even interfere with our karmas. Childhood illnesses can purge the effects of these characteristics.

[5] i.e., an inherited characteristic.

vacuum - also see Ahriman; demons; technology; television

Anthroposophists generally deplore vacuums (regions devoid of air), considering them to be antithetical to spirit. Indeed, vacuums are said to enable the incarnation of demons. ◊ "Wherever the external world confronts us we are in no doubt that it is both spiritual and physical; behind every physical phenomenon will be found in some form or other a spiritual agent which is the real protagonist. The spiritual cannot exist in a vacuum for the spiritual is operative at all times and actively permeates the physical at some undefined time or place. [1]" — R. Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS OF SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 1, GA 243. ◊ "Rudolf Steiner...goes very thoroughly into how it was that the technical use made of the vacuum first led to the development of the steam engine. [2] This is how Ahriman [3] is given the possibility of establishing himself as a demon in the physical realm itself when a steam engine is constructed in this way. In constructing steam engines an opportunity is thus provided for the incarnation of demons." — G. Unger, "On 'Mechanical Occultism'" (MITTEILUNGEN AUS DER ANTHROPOSOPHISCHEN ARBEIT IN DEUTSCHLAND, nos. 68–69, 1964). ◊ "The entire possibility of making steam engines rests on the creation and use of a vacuum. [4] In ancient times men spoke of the horror vacui, the horror of a vacuum. Something objective was indicated thereby. It meant that space wants always to be filled with something; that something empty could really not be produced; that nature had a certain horror of a vacuum [5] ... What really happens when man makes use of space containing little air, that is, drives air out of space? ... Ahriman gains the possibility of establishing himself as a demon...." — R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF VOCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), lecture 9, GA 172.

[1] I.e., if all physical substance (such as air) is removed from a space, then all spirit is removed as well.

[2] Some early steam engines did make use of partial vacuums, but most steam engines perform their work by using very high internal pressure, not low pressure or vacuums.

[3] See "Ahriman".

[4] This is wrong. Some steam engines make use of a vacuum, but most do not. Hence, "the entire possibility of making steam engines" does not depend on the "use of a vacuum."

[5] Actually, of course, most of nature is a vacuum or near-vacuum — the vacuum of outer space.

Valhalla - also see Norse myths; Odin; Ragnarörk; Twilight of the Gods

In Norse mythology, this is Odin’s castle; the gathering place of warriors who will participate in the final battle, Ragnarök. [See "The Gods".]

VEDA(S) - also see BHAGAVAD GITA; Brahma; epochs; Hinduism; religion; Theosophy

Hindu scripture, written in Sanskrit; it heavily influenced Theosophy and, through Theosophy, Anthroposophy. Indeed, Steiner's teachings wed gnostic Christianity to various other religions and spiritual traditions, especially Hinduism. Steiner claimed that, at root, all valid spiritual traditions are essentially one, and all of them confirm the description he gave of cosmic evolution. “All of you have heard of the holy Rishis [1], who were the original founders of the ancient holy Indian culture and had Manu [2] for their own teacher ...The forces preserved by the planets were the subject of the mysteries [3] of the seven Rishis ... [T]his primeval teaching contained approximately what we learn today as the evolution of humanity through the planetary conditions of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan [4] ... What [the occult student of that time] perceived is described in an elementary way in my book, THEOSOPHY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SUPERSENSIBLE KNOWLEDGE. The description we find again in the ancient sacred tradition of the Indians, in what was called the Veda, or the Word. [5] This is the true meaning of the Vedas, and what was later written down is only a last memory of the ancient sacred doctrine of the Word. The Word itself was only passed from mouth to mouth, for an ancient tradition is impaired by being written down. Only in the Vedas can one feel something of what flowed into this culture at that time. When the pupil experienced this in his memory, he could say to himself, 'What I experience in my soul as Brahman [6], what I have in my soul as primal Word, this was already present on ancient Saturn [7]; on Saturn resounded the first breath of the Veda-word.'” — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 4, GA 106. [See "Veda".]

[1] These are Hindu sages.

[2] Manu, according to Steiner, was a high initiate from Atlantis: Noah. [See the entry for "Manu" in this encyclopedia.]

[3] I.e., occult or hidden spiritual wisdom.

[4] In Anthroposophical teachings, these are the progressive incarnations of the solar system, or our conditions of consciousness. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "incarnations of the solar system" and "conditions of consciousness".]

[5] I.e., holy text, the Word of God, or Logos. (In Anthroposophical teachings, Christ the Sun God is the embodiment of the Word of God. [See "Logos".])

[6] In Hinduism: the supreme, all-pervading Spirit. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Brahma" and "Brahman".]

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

veil painting - also see arts; shaded drawing; veils; wet-on-wet painting

A distinctive watercolor style often used in Waldorf schools: One layer of color is applied to the page and allowed to dry before another layer is applied, overlapping but usually slightly to the side. The effect can be that of looking through a series of veils at something (implicitly the spirit world) being revealed beyond.


Sample veil painting by a Waldorf alumnus.

[R. R., 2010.]

"Veil Painting is a way of using watercolor special to Waldorf Schools, and to artists inspired by Rudolf Steiner's writing and painting. In Waldorf High Schools, Veil Painting is part of the 10th Grade curriculum ... In this method, water colors are thinned down to a very light value 7 or 8 on a photographers' scale, and wet colors are applied one at a time only over dry colors." — D. A. Dozier, "What Is Veil Painting?",]

veils - also see maya; threshold; veil painting

In various religions and esoteric traditions, it is common to speak of a "veil" (a wall of illusion, a mist, an obscuration) that separates humans on Earth from perceiving or experiencing the spirit realm. Steiner spoke of at least two such veils. "[H]uman consciousness as it is today...holds us within a domain shut off on the one side by the veil placed before us by the phenomena of nature...and on the other side, by the veil of our own life of soul, of our thinking, feeling and willing ... Hence we can say: As regards the veil of the phenomena of nature on the one side, with the objective reality behind, our consciousness is directed towards a veil which, to begin with, may not be pierced. On the other side, there are the manifestations of the life of soul, behind which lies the subjective reality. We contemplate it but we cannot immediately break through the veil. Within these frontiers, within these two parallel lines, as it were, is our present consciousness ... This is how the consciousness we have as human beings today, is organized." — R. Steiner, THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 10, GA 254.

veneration - also see religion; reverence; worship in Waldorf schools

Steiner taught that veneration is needed for spiritual growth; veneration should be shown, for instance, to one's guru(s). [1] "We will not find the inner strength to evolve to a higher level if we do not inwardly develop this profound feeling that there is something higher than ourselves. Initiates [2] found the strength to lift themselves to the heights of knowledge only because they first guided their hearts into the depths of veneration and devotion. Only a person who has passed through the gate of humility can ascend to the heights of the spirit." — R. Steiner, HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophic Press, 1994), p. 17. Note that while Anthroposophists usually deny that their system is a religion, the requirement of veneration is one key indicator of religion. [3] Waldorf schools, as covert religious institutions [4], attempt to inculcate veneration among the students. [5]

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

[2] I.e., those admitted to spiritual mysteries. [See "Inside Scoop".]

[3] See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"

[4] See, e.g., "Schools as Churches".

[5] See, e.g., "The Waldorf Curriculum".

Venus - also see astrology; astronomy; Future Venus; Malayan race; planets; Venus consciousness

a) The second planet from the Sun.

According to Steiner, Venus is associated with abnormal spirits responsible for the “Malayan Race” and it is the home of Lucifer. ◊ “We...find [in Asia] the Venus-race or the Malay race.” —R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF FOLK-SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 6, GA 121. [See “Races”.] ◊ “Lucifer himself takes part in Earth evolution with the perpetual longing within himself for his true home, for the star [sic] Venus ... [W]hat Lucifer casts off as a husk...shines down from heaven as Venus.” — R. Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 77. [See "Planets".]

Importantly, Steiner said that the planet Venus is a preview of Future Venus [see below]. “[T]he present Venus is a prophetic anticipation of the future Venus state." — R. Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), pp. 328-329.

b) In Greek/Roman mythology: Venus is the goddess of love; Aphrodite; the spirit of kitchen gardens.

c) According to Steiner, Future Venus will be the sixth incarnation of the solar system, or our sixth condition of consciousness. [1] Future Venus should not be confused with the planet Venus. [2] Future Venus will be an evolutionary stage, a period in time; the planet Venus is a physical/spiritual location in space. According to Steiner, our evolution began during Old Saturn and passed through Old Sun and Old Moon. [3] Following the Present Earth stage, we will move to Future Jupiter, then Future Venus, and finally Future Vulcan. [4] During the course of this evolution, the qualities of justice, truth, beauty, and morality are developed. Thus, for example, "The period within which truth develops stretches from [Old] Sun to [Future Jupiter]. On Jupiter [5] truth will have become thoroughly inward, and so will have become wisdom: Truth becomes wisdom! [paragraph break] Everything that belongs to the aesthetic sphere began on Old Moon. It will be completed on [Future] Venus. We could draw it in like this: From here, Moon, to completion here, Venus. This is where beauty develops. You see how it overlaps. [6]" — R. Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 5, GA 170.


In Anthroposophy, "planetary conditions" or "conditions of consciousness" are the major stages of our evolution. They bear the names of planets, but they are not the same as the planets we see in the sky today. Rather, they are developmental stages during which we acquire higher and higher forms of consciousness and, as shown here, we attain increasing spiritual/moral awareness (we increasingly comprehend justice, truth, beauty, and morality). [Illustration from THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990); color added.]

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

[2] See "Venus".

[3] See "Old Saturn", "Old Sun", and "Old Moon, Etc."

[4] See "Present Earth" and "Future Stages".

[5] I.e., during Future Jupiter.

[6] I.e., while beauty is developing (starting during Old Moon and culminating during Future Venus), other qualities are also developing (such as justice, which stared during Old Saturn and culminates during Present Earth).

Venus consciousness - also see Jupiter consciousness; clairvoyance; inspiration; Venus; Vulcan consciousness

According to Steiner, this is the consciousness we will attain on/during our Future Venus stage of evolution [1]; perfected inspiration. During Future Jupiter [2], we will perfect imagination; during Future Venus [3], we will perfect inspiration; and during Future Vulcan, we will perfect intuition. These are the stages of clairvoyant development. "[T]he ‘Venus consciousness’ [will] appear during the sixth cycle of Venus. [4]” — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1981), pp. 162-163. [See "Thinking".]

Strangely enough, bees possess the Venus consciousness now. "Through transferring one's consciousness into the beehive, through taking on the Venus consciousness, one learns something entirely different from anything else on earth...." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 4, GA 93a. In this sense, bees are more highly evolved than humans, although they are less evolved than corals, Steiner taught. [5]

Steiner taught that, generally, there are three levels of "higher knowledge": imagination (the first level), inspiration (the second), and intuition (the third). Rising from one level to the next brings us closer to the goal of precise, "exact" clairvoyance. [6] In preliminary form (not yet deemed real clairvoyance), such types of thought are stressed in Waldorf schools. At a higher form, as practiced by initiated Anthroposophists, the three stages are deemed genuine levels of clairvoyance. In perfected form, the three stages will be attained by all human beings who evolve to the coming "conditions of consciousness" [7]: Future Jupiter, then Future Venus, and later still Future Vulcan.

[1] See "Future Stages" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Future Venus".

[2] See "Future Stages" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Future Jupiter".

[3] See "Future Stages" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Future Vulcan".

[4] Steiner taught that each incarnation of the solar system, such as Future Venus, consists of seven major phases or "cycles." Here he says that "Venus consciousness" will appear during the sixth phase of Future Venus.

[5] See "Bees"; also see the entry for "universal I", above.

[6] See "Exactly" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness". Also see the entry for "exact clairvoyance" in this encyclopedia.

[7] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness". Essentially, these are the types of consciousness we attain during the successive major stages of evolution, the successive incarnations of the solar system, also called "plenary conditions": Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan.

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

According to Steiner's teachings, these are variously humans who migrated to Venus, or their descendants on Earth, or humans on Earth who are under the astrological influences of Venus, or humans as we will become during the Future Venus stage of evolution. [1] ◊ "The Individuality who became the Buddha had been sent from the hosts of Christ on the Sun to the 'Venus men' before they came to the Earth [2] … This Individuality came to the Earth with the 'Venus men' [3] and had thus reached such an advanced stage of development that...he was able to attain to the rank of Buddhahood before the coming of Christ. - R. Steiner, EARTHLY AND COSMIC MAN (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1948), lecture 9, GA 133. ◊ " the seat of the 'Venus race' or the Malayan race." — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), chapter 6, Ga 121. ◊ "The man of the limb-system [4], arising as he does under the influence of the Earth, cannot come to completion; he can do nothing for the head. During Earth-evolution [5] he is incapable of what he will be able to do during the Venus-evolution. [6] Just as the stag casts his antlers, the human being will then dispense with his head, and out of the rest of himself develop a different one — certainly an enviable lot for the Venus-man! But this is what actually appears to spiritual vision as the future condition of the human being." — R. Steiner, "The Shaping of the Human Form out of Cosmic and Earthly Forces", ANTHROPOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 17, No. 1, Spring 1972, GA 202.

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

[2] I.e., these are human souls that fled to Venus during the Lemurian Epoch. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "planetary migrations".]

[3] I.e., Buddha traveled from the Sun to Venus, then he came to Earth along with the returning human souls that had migrated to Venus.

[4] I.e., the Earthly human who has a limb or metabolic-limb system. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "limb system" and "metabolic-limb system".]

[5] See "Present Earth".

[6] I.e., Future Venus. [See "Future Stages".]

Venus supermen - see supermen

verses - also see hymns; meditations in Anthroposophy; prayers

Verses are used in Anthroposophical meditation — see, e.g., R. Steiner, VERSES AND MEDITATIONS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004). [1] Often, the verses were written by Steiner himself. Many of these compositions are, in reality, prayers. The "morning verses" recited by students and teachers in Waldorf schools are distinctly prayers; they are called verses largely to conceal their true nature. [2] Thus, Steiner said to Waldorf faculty members, “We also need to speak about a prayer. I ask only one thing of you. You see, in such things everything depends upon the external appearances. Never call a verse a prayer, call it an opening verse before school. Avoid allowing anyone to hear you, as a faculty member, using the word ‘prayer.’” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 20.

Here is the "morning verse" Steiner wrote for the upper classes in Waldorf schools. Note the line "I turn myself in prayer."

“I look into the world;

In which the Sun shines,

In which the stars sparkle,

In which the stones lie,

The living plants are growing,

The animals are feeling,

In which the soul of man

Gives dwelling for the spirit;

I look into the soul

Which lives within myself.

God’s spirit weaves in light

Of Sun and human soul,

In world of space, without,

In depths of soul, within.

God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee

I turn myself in prayer,

That strength and blessing grow

In me, to learn and work.”


(Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 47.

Waldorf teachers often write personalized verses or poems addressed to their students. [3] This creates a sense of intimacy that may prove to be illusory. "It is extremely gratifying when someone takes the trouble to write a poem about you ... Who normally writes such poems, except distraught lovers? This explains the nostalgic feeling that alumni of these schools often express. They feel that they were recognized there as they have never been recognized again anywhere else. Because the teachers in these schools do not only ask the students to physically strip down, as they do in kindergarten, but they ask for psychological nakedness as well ... But later students fall out of the clouds when they realize that their teachers have not really understood them but have only pretended to see deeply inside. This can create a terrible disillusionment at the core! When some students eventually realize that their teachers didn’t really care about what they could become, and didn’t really understand who they were, they begin to realize the falsehood of what they lived through." — G. Perra, "Nearly Undetectable Influence and Indoctrination". [4]

[1] See "Power Words" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "meditations in Anthroposophy".

[2] See "Prayers".

[3] See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "certificates".

[4] See "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".

Vidar - also see Norse myths; Odin; Ragnarök; Vidar stream

In Norse myths: One of the sons of Odin, Vidar is the god of silence and vengeance. According to some accounts, he is primarily responsible for avenging the death of his father during Ragnarök. In Anthroposophical belief, Odin, Vidar, and the other Norse gods really exist; they are members of various ranks of gods. [1] But their influence must be supplanted by new, higher influences coming through the Sun God, Christ. "The power given by the old Archangel Odin [2], the old clairvoyant powers [3], cannot save man; something very different must come in. And what that is, is, however, known to Germanic Norse mythology — it is well aware of its existence ... [The] Fenris Wolf [4] represents nothing but the backward clairvoyance [that must be supplanted]. Vidar, who has kept silence all the time, will overcome the Fenris Wolf ... Anyone who recognizes the importance of Vidar and feels him in his soul, will find that in the twentieth century the capacity can again be given to man with which to see Christ. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1929), lecture 11, GA 121.

[1] See "The Gods" and "Polytheism".

[2] Here Steiner identifies Odin as a god two levels above humanity; a fairly low-ranking god. In Norse myths originally, Odin was the highest god, the king of the gods. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Archangels" and "Odin".]

[3] Steiner taught that humans used to possess innate clairvoyance, which has been largely lost. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "atavistic clairvoyance".]

[4] This is a monstrous beast that devours Odin during Ragnarök, the final battle between gods and giants. [See "The Gods"]

[5] I.e., Steiner says that Norse myths foretold the arrival of Anthroposophy in the twentieth century. It is through Anthroposophy (i.e., largely through his own teachings) that, Steiner says, mankind can acquire new, higher powers of clairvoyance. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] This clairvoyance enables humanity "to see Christ" — whom Steiner identified as the Sun God. [See "Sun God".] Christ's real nature was largely hidden, Steiner said — we generally couldn't "see Christ" accurately — until the development of Anthroposophy.

Vidar stream - see mystery streams; Norse myths; Vidar

According to Anthroposophical belief: This is the northern mystery stream [1], named for Vidar, son of the Norse god Odin. Steiner's followers say that Anthroposophy draws from four mystery streams, i.e. four occult traditions, one from each of the four cardinal directions: north, east, south, and west. The Vidar stream includes the invaluable Norse myths, which Steiner said paint a true vision of spiritual evolution. The other streams are the Arthurian Stream (west), the Grail Stream (east), and the Rosicrucian Stream (south).

"The Vidar stream originated in northern Europe and was embodied in the pantheon of Ancient Germanic gods ... Vidar eventually conquers the ahrimanic Fenris wolf [2], in a story which closely parallels that of the Archangel Michael in conquering the dragon. [3] When Michael becomes the spirit of the age in 1879 [4], a new type of supersensible perception [5] became possible, as elaborated by anthroposophy." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 126.

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

[2] In Norse myths, the terrible Fenris Wolf devours the king of the gods, Odin, during the world-ending battle of Ragnarok. [See "The Gods".] Odin's son Vidar kills the Fenris Wolf. [See the entry for "Vidar", above.] Here, van Oort identified the Wolf with the arch-demon Ahriman. [See "Ahriman".]

[3] Steiner taught that the Archangel of the Sun, Michael, fought and defeated "the dragon," Ahriman, in 1879. [See "Michael".]

[4] After his battle with Ahriman, Michael assumed authority over human evolution for the next 350 years, according to Steiner. [See the entries for "1879" and "Time Archangels" in this encyclopedia.]

[5] I.e., a heightened form of clairvoyance. [See, e.g., "Exactly".]

Virgo - also see astrology; constellations; Mercury; zodiac

◊ "Astrological sign (August 24-September 23); Element — Earth ... Ruling planet — Mercury. Qualities — Excellent conversationalists, very logical, discriminating, enormously persistent; interested in social welfare; altogether, a sign of intelligence, possessing loyalty, frankness, acumen, and integrity ... [C]an however be overly critical, hypersensitive, overly conservative, too slow in making decisions; they can sometimes be too self-centered, and too proud....." — G. Riland, THE NEW STEINERBOOKS DICTIONARY OF THE PARANORMAL (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1980), p. 331. ◊ "Virgo signifies the sublimation of our physical experiences and their transformation into heightened self-consciousness, developing the Ego [1] in its purity and bringing it to ultimate perfection. [2] To achieve this sublimation of true selfhood, one must work for purity on all planes of body and soul [2] ... The Virgo soul colors its thoughts with psychic feelings [3] ... This is the way of truth that lead to initiation. [4]" — J. Jocelyn, MEDITATIONS OF THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (SteinerBooks, 2006), pp. 116-117.

Astrological lore of this sort receives serious attention from Anthroposophists. Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophy, including Waldorf education. [See "Astrology" and "Star Power".] Steiner himself designed new representations for the twelve signs of the zodiac, including Virgo. [See "Waldorf Astrology".] Here is a mystic verse Steiner wrote, expressing the "mood" of Virgo. (He wrote similar verses for all the other signs of the zodiac.) "Behold the worlds, oh soul!/Let the soul take hold of worlds,/Let the spirit lay hold of being,/Work out of powers of life,/Upon will-experience, build,/In blossoming worlds, put trust./Oh soul, comprehend the beings!" — R. Steiner, TWELVE MOODS (Mercury Press, 1984), GA 40.

[1] I.e., the spiritual ego. [See "Ego".]

[2] This summarizes the goal of Anthroposophy: raising one's spiritual consciousness to higher and higher levels. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "evolution of consciousness".]

[3] I.e., clairvoyant intuitions. Steiner taught that truth comes more through feelings than through thinking. [See "Thinking".]

[4] I.e., occult initiation. [See "Inside Scoop".]

virtue - see morality

Virtues - also see Dynamis; Mights; Principalities; Spirits of Motion

According to Steiner, these are gods five levels above humanity. [1] “We must now make a certain disclosure about the Cosmic position of these Beings. In spiritual science [2], in that which it is desired to continue to-day in Anthroposophy, and which is at bottom [of] the Wisdom of the Mysteries [3], these different Beings of the heavenly Hierarchies [4] have always been spoken of as we have spoken of them to-day ... [T]he present Saturn [5] represents the limit up to which reached the action of the Thrones or Spirits of Will [in promoting our evolution]; Jupiter [6], the limit up to which the Dominions, Spirits of Wisdom, acted; and Mars [7], the boundary line up to which reached the influence of the Mights, Dynamis or Virtues, or Spirits of Motion.” — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES AND THE PHYSICAL WORLD (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 6, GA 110. Virtues are thus lower gods than Spirits of Will (who stand seven levels above mankind) and Spirits of Wisdom (who stand six levels above mankind): Virtues preside over a smaller portion of the solar system than those higher gods preside over, and indeed the Virtues' portion lies within the spheres presided over by the higher gods. [8]

There are nine ranks of gods, according to Anthroposophical belief. They are subdivided into three groupings or "hierarchies." The middle three ranks comprise the middle grouping, the Second Hierarchy. Virtues are gods of the fifth rank, the middle rank of the Second Hierarchy. Humanity stands below the gods, effectively at the level of a tenth rank. Counting upward from humanity's level, we find Virtues five levels higher than humanity.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] As Steiner generally used this term, it applies to Anthroposophy. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy".] More generally, it may indicate any "scientific" approach to spiritual knowledge.

[3] I.e., that which is at the root of occult spiritual mysteries. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "mystery" and "mystery knowledge".]

[4] I.e., gods. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "hierarchies".]

[5] I.e., the sphere of the planet Saturn: the portion of the solar system bounded by the orbit of Saturn. [See "Higher Worlds".] The orbit of Saturn defines the extent of the influence of the Spirits of Will.

[6] I.e., the portion of the solar system bounded by the orbit of Jupiter. (The sphere of Jupiter is smaller than the sphere of Saturn and indeed lies within it.) The orbit of Jupiter defines the extent of the influence of the Spirits of Wisdom.

[7] I.e., the portion of the solar system bounded by the orbit of Mars. (The sphere of Mars lies within the spheres of Saturn and Jupiter.) The orbit of Mars defines the extent of the influence of the Spirits of Motion or Virtues.

[8] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "sphere".

Vishnu - also see Hinduism; Godhead; gods; Holy Ghost; Krishna; trinity

a) A Hindu god, originally minor, later conceived as creator and savior.

b) According to Steiner, the third member of the Godhead, equivalent to the Holy Ghost. [1] "[T]rinities confront us everywhere [2], and fundamentally these represent the clairvoyant perception of what lies behind coming into being, passing away, and renewal. Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu, this trinity of creative forces is the foundation of all things. [3] In the time preceding Krishna's revelation [4] it was recognized as a trinity that could be perceived through clairvoyance, and it was seen as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The image of this trinity exists wherever time is seen only as the successive recurrence of the same. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF MARK (Anthroposophic Press, 1986), lecture 6, GA 139.

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

[2] I.e., they are present in many religions and spiritual traditions.

[3] In Hinduism, Brahma(n) is the supreme, all-pervasive Spirit. Shiva or Siva is the god of destruction.

[4] Krishna is the incarnation (the "revelation") of Vishnu.

[5] i.e., where there is no recognition of progressive evolution.

Vishva Karman, Vishakarman - also see Christ; Rishis

a) In Hinduism: the god of architects and artisans; the principle architect of the created universe.

b) According to Steiner, "Vishva Karman" is the name by which Hindu saints have known Christ. "It is...quite correct to speak of the twelve Bodhisattvas [1] in the great Spirit-Lodge [2] grouped around One [3] who is their Centre; they are wrapt in contemplation of the sublime Being from whom there streams what they have then to inculcate into Earth evolution in fulfilment of their missions. Thus there streams from the Thirteenth what the others have to teach. They are the ‘Teachers’, the ‘Inspirers’; the Thirteenth is himself the Being of whom the others teach, whom they proclaim from epoch to epoch. This Thirteenth is He whom the ancient Rishis [4] called Vishva Karman, whom Zarathustra [5] called Ahura Mazdao [6], whom we call the Christ. He is the Leader and Guide of the great Lodge of the Bodhisattvas. Hence the content of the proclamation made through the whole choir of the Bodhisattvas is the teaching concerning Christ, once called Vishva Karman. The Bodhisattva who became Buddha [7] five to six centuries before our era was endowed with the powers of Vishva Karman. The Nathan Jesus [8] who received the Christ into himself was not merely ‘endowed’ but ‘anointed’ — that is to say, permeated through and through by Vishva Karman, by Christ." — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. LUKE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1964), lecture 7, GA 114. [See "God".]

[1] I.e., enlightened beings, buddhas. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Bodhisattvas" and "Buddha, buddha".]

[2] See the entries for "Lodge of Twelve" and "lodges" in this encyclopedia.

[3] I.e., Christ, the Sun God [see "Sun God"]. Steiner taught that Christ has been known by various names in various spiritual traditions.

[4] I.e., Hindu saints.

[5] I.e., the founder of the Persian religion called Zoroastrianism. (Zoroaster is an alternate name for Zarathustra).

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

[7] I.e., Siddhartha Gaudama, founder of Buddhism. (The term "buddha" is a title. When the title is capitalized, it generally applies to the first and greatest buddha, who laid down the precepts of Buddhism.)

[8] Steiner taught that there were two Jesus children, one from the line of Nathan and one from the line of Solomon. The two Jesuses merged, becoming the human host for the incarnated Sun God, Christ. [See "Was He Christian?"]

vision, sense of - see eyesight

visions - also see clairvoyance; dreams; extrasensory perception; premonition

In Anthroposophy, "visions" are usually unschooled clairvoyant imaginings. They can be true but often they are snares, false imaginings created by demons. They may also arise from the subconscious. In all instances, they are inferior to precise, schooled clairvoyance of the kind Steiner claimed to possess. ◊ "We know...that the subconscious activity is not aroused by spiritual training alone, but that it may exist as inheritance of an old, primitive atavistic state of the human mind. [1] Under these conditions there arise what we define as visions, and visions of this naive consciousness would correspond to imaginations [2] gained through training." — R. Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS (Anthroposophic Press, 1946), lecture 4, GA 143. ◊ "Lucifer [3] gives visions. One has to break through them, otherwise one doesn't break through the shell that's around every man and covers the real spiritual world. Visions and voices are around us like the shell around a chick. One might see an angel in a vision and when one presses through the vision the angel will change into a snake, Lucifer's symbol, for at the Temptation [4] he appeared as a snake. Or one might see the colour blue in one's meditation — if one breaks through it the blue can become red, and then it turns out that we saw our own passions. [5]" — R. Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS, Part 3 (transcript), 10-15-13, GA 266.

Steiner offered training in the attainment of "exact" clairvoyance, by which one can break through illusions to the truth beyond. Seeking this form of consciousness is central to the practice of Anthroposophy. [See "Exactly", "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness", and "Knowing the Worlds".]

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

[2] I.e., true clairvoyant pictures. (Steiner says that visions "correspond" to true clairvoyant pictures, but they are not the same as true clairvoyant pictures.)

[3] See "Lucifer". (Steiner says that the visions given by Lucifer are illusory, deceptive.)

[4] I.e., in the Garden of Eden, when Lucifer tempted the first humans, leading them astray.

[5] I.e., we didn't see truth but only our subjective inclinations.

vital force - also see entelechy; life force

This is an alternate term for "life force." [1] Steiner affirmed the existence of a vital or life force, although modern science has largely abandoned the concept of such a force. (Steiner mistakenly thought that modern science was developing in such a way that it would affirm the existence of the force, and thus to affirm Anthroposophy.) " is only the most rigid materialists who hold on to this denial of a life-force, or vital force. There are a number of natural scientists and thinkers who have been taught by facts of life to assume the existence of something like a vital force or life-principle. Thus modern science in its later developments is in a certain sense approaching what spiritual science [2] says...." — R. Steiner, THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 6. Actually, science has moved in the opposite direction, setting aside the concept of life force or vital force. "In the late 19th century...several philosophers and biologists began to argue that living organisms are distinguished from inert matter by their possession of a 'life force' that animates them and propels their evolution into higher forms. The notion of an entelechy [3] — a term used by Aristotle and adopted by the German biologist Hans Driesch (1867–1941) — or élan vital [4] — introduced by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941) — was widely accepted and became popular even outside academic circles. Ultimately, however, it fell out of favour, because it proved to have little direct scientific application ... [I]t did not lead to new predictions or facilitate unified explanations of phenomena formerly thought to be unrelated, as all truly important scientific concepts do." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, March, 2015.

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

[2] I.e., Anthroposophy. [See "Everything" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

[3] I.e., a principle of vitality

[4] I.e., life force.

Vitzliputzli - also see avatars; gods; initiate

a) The Aztec god of war.

b) According to Steiner: a god in human form who battled a murderous initiate. "Vitzliputzli, a supersensible being [1] but in human form, battled with every means at his disposal against the initiate [2] who had been responsible for the greatest number of murders, who had attained the greatest power, and of whom it can be said that if his aim had been realized, it would have betokened the victory of this ahrimanic post-Atlantean culture. [3]" — R. Steiner, INNER IMPULSES OF EVOLUTION (Anthroposophic Press, 1984), lecture 5, GA 171. [See "Magic".]

[1] I.e., one who cannot be detected with ordinary senses.

[2] An initiate is one who has been admitted to knowledge of occult mysteries. [See "Inside Scoop".] Many initiates, such as Anthroposophists, seek to work in harmony with the good gods. This particular initiate served evil powers.

[3] I.e., the culture inspired by the arch-demon Ahriman in our current great epoch, which began after the sinking of Atlantis. [See "Ahriman", "Atlantis", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".]

volcanos - also see catastrophes; earthquakes

According to Steiner, we choose or cause volcanic eruptions. The physical world embodies spiritual realities, so when we create a particular spiritual condition, it has its manifestation in the physical world. Catastrophes in the physical world are often the result of our own behavior, Steiner taught, and they are a mechanism by which we can fulfill our karma. [See, e.g., "Past and Future".] “[T]he fate of hundreds and thousands may be affected by an earthquake or a volcano. Does the human will have any influence on this, or is it all a matter of chance? ... What is really happening when a man is killed by [an earthly calamity]? What does the occultist say about the interior of the Earth?” — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1986), lecture 14, GA 95. Steiner says that our will does indeed influence such disasters, and we actually want these disasters to occur. "[W]e see...groups of human souls in their descent from pre-earthly into earthly existence [1] wander to regions situated, for example, in the vicinity of volcanoes ... [S]uch places are deliberately chosen by the souls thus karmically connected [2], in order that they may experience this very destiny ... [They think] 'I choose a great disaster on earth in order to become more perfect.... [3]'" — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 226-227.

[1] I.e., humans incarnating on Earth after their recent lives in the spirit realm.

[2] I.e., the people who gather around volcanos have similar karmas. [For an overview of Anthroposophical teachings about destiny or karma, see "Karma".]

[3] I.e., I choose to be involved in a great Earthly disaster in order to discharge my karma and thus improve myself.

voluntarism - also see philosophy; world outlooks

According to Steiner, this is one of the seven possible world outlooks. "Schopenhauer [1] lays hold of everything in the soul that pertains to the character of will. [2] The forces of nature, the hardness of a stone, have this character for him; the whole of reality is a manifestation of will. This arises from the particular disposition of his soul. This outlook regarded as a planet which passes through all twelve zodiacal signs. I will call this world-outlook, Voluntarism ... [M]etaphysics of the will: Voluntarism in the mental constellation of Psychism. [3]" — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 46. Steiner associated voluntarism with the planet Mars. [See “Philosophy”.]

[1] Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher (1788-1860).

[2] Anthroposophy teaches that will is a distinct human capacity. [See "Will".]

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

von Baravalle, Hermann - see Baravalle, Hermann von

von Halle, Judith - see Halle, Judith von

Vreede, Elizabeth (1879-1943)

A Dutch Anthroposophist who, Steiner reputedly said, understood Steiner's work better than anyone else. [See, e.g., "Astrology".]

Vulcan - also see conditions of consciousness; planetary conditions; planets; Future Vulcan; Vulcan consciousness; Vulcan humans

a) Scientists and others once speculated that a hidden planet, close to the Sun, was the cause of perturbations in Mercury’s orbit. This planet was frequently called Vulcan. The planet was never found, and indeed science set aside the concept of such a planet when Einstein's theory of relativity explained Mercury's unusual orbital motion.

Steiner's statements about Vulcan are a bit vague, but he occasionally seemed to affirm a belief in the planet Vulcan. Thus, for instance, he said that in the future "supermen" from Vulcan will descend to Earth. "The beings I have spoken about will descend gradually to the earth. Vulcan beings, Vulcan supermen...will unite themselves with earth existence. Yet, if human beings persist in their opposition to them, this earth existence will pass over into chaos in the course of the next few thousand years.” — R. Steiner, MATERIALISM AND THE TASK OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), lecture 14, GA 204. [See "Vulcan" and "Supermen".]

b) An Greek/Roman mythology: Vulcan is the god of fire; Hephaestus.

c) According to Steiner, the seventh condition of consciousness will be Vulcan or, more properly, Future Vulcan. [1] Future Vulcan should not be confused with the planet Vulcan (if it exists). Future Vulcan will be a period in time, a stage in the evolution of the entire solar system; the planet Vulcan (if it exists) is a physical/spiritual object in space. Here is one of Steiner's statements about the Vulcan stage of evolution: “As you already know, we built up our physical body on old Saturn [2], our etheric body on the Sun [3], and our astral body on the old Moon. [4] Our Ego [5] is the baby among the human principles, it is the youngest. Not till the Vulcan period [6], after the Jupiter and Venus evolutions [7] are completed, will the Ego be formed [8] ... Then, during the Vulcan epoch, an inconceivable knowledge of the connections of life will stream out of the Ego. [9]” — R. Steiner, THE FORMING OF DESTINY AND LIFE AFTER DEATH (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1927), lecture 3, GA 157a.


These are the seven major stages of cosmic/human evolution, as usually described in Anthroposophy. [10] We began our existence during Old Saturn, and we now exist in Present Earth. Those humans who follow Steiner's guidance and thus evolve properly will proceed to Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [11] [This is a portion of a chart from THE TEMPLE LEGEND, a collection of Steiner lectures (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009), p. 357; color added.]

[1] See "Vulcan", "Future Stages", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "conditions of consciousness."

[2] I.e., during the evolutionary stage called Old Saturn. [See "Old Saturn".]

[3] I.e., during Old Sun. [See "Old Sun".]

[4] I.e., during Old Moon. [See "Old Moon, Etc."]

[5] I.e., the "I" or spiritual ego, which confers divine individuality. [See "Ego".]

[6] I.e., Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages".]

[7] I.e., Future Jupiter and Future Venus. (Steiner taught that after our current stage of evolution, we will proceed to the Future Jupiter stage. That will be followed by the Future Venus stage and, later still, the Future Vulcan stage.)

[8] Steiner taught that, in one important sense, we have Egos now. [See "Incarnation".] Here he indicates that our Egos will not be fully developed until the Future Vulcan stage of evolution.

[9] I.e., during Future Vulcan, we will attain extraordinarily advanced knowledge, which we will beam outward. [See the entry for "Vulcan consciousness", below.]

[10] Steiner sometimes indicated that there will be five more stages following Future Vulcan.

[11] The seven stages are sometimes called "planetary conditions". [See the entry for this term in this encyclopedia.]

Vulcan consciousness - also see Jupiter consciousness; clairvoyance; Future Vulcan; intuition; Venus consciousness; Vulcan

According to Steiner, this is the consciousness we will attain during Future Vulcan: It is perfected intuition or piety (spiritual consciousness). [See "Everything".] "The seventh state of consciousness is the ‘spiritual consciousness’ or Intuition...which [man] will have in addition to all the other states of consciousness when he will have reached ‘Vulcan’.” — R. Steiner, UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN BEING, (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), pp. 30-31.

"The last planet [1] which can still be counted among the series of earthly transformations [2], and hence follows Venus [3], is called 'Vulcan' [4] by mystery science. [5] On this planet the provisional goal of the development of mankind is attained. [6] The condition of consciousness into which man enters there is called 'piety' or spiritual consciousness. Man will attain it in the seventh cycle of Vulcan [7] after a repetition of the six preceding stages. [8] Not much can be publicly communicated about the life on this planet. [9] In mystery science one speaks of it in such a way that it is said, 'No soul which, with its thinking still tied to a physical body, should reflect about Vulcan and its life.' That is, only the mystery students of the higher order, who may leave their physical body and can acquire supersensible knowledge [10] outside of it, can learn something about Vulcan." — R. Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (Rudolf Steiner Publications, 1959), chapter 13, GA 11.


Although the major stages of evolution as described by Steiner are often depicted as circles or spheres, and despite the shorthand designations often applied to them ("Jupiter," "Venus," etc.), they are not planets — they are periods of time, phases of evolution. The three shown here lie in our future; they are our fifth, sixth, and seventh planetary conditions or conditions of consciousness, properly called Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. They trace an ascending arc as we become increasingly spiritualized, rising to higher and higher levels of spiritual consciousness. All humans who evolve to Future Jupiter will attain perfected imagination; all who evolve to Future Venus will attain perfected inspiration; and all who evolved to Future Vulcan will attain perfected intuition. [Detail from a diagram in R. Steiner's THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), p. 81. Color added, published smudge removed.]

[1] I.e., the seventh planetary condition or condition of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[2] Steiner taught that each new planetary condition or condition of consciousness is a new incarnation of the entire solar system. [See the entry for "incarnations of the solar system" in this encyclopedia.] As such, it may be described as a new incarnation or transformation of the most important part of the solar system, the Earth, the home of incarnated humanity.

[3] I.e., Future Venus. [See "Future Stages".]

[4] I.e., Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages".]

[5] This term may be taken as essentially synonymous with "occult science" and even "spiritual science" (Anthroposophy). [See the entries for "mystery science" and these other terms in this encyclopedia.]

[6] I.e., mankind will reach its provisional evolutionary goal during Future Vulcan: We will be gods of very high rank, if not yet the highest rank. (Steiner sometimes indicated that there will be five more, hidden stages of evolution after Future Vulcan. Mankind's ultimate apotheosis will be attained at the end of those additional stages.)

[7] Steiner taught that each condition of consciousness is comprised of seven successive phases. Here he says we will attain Vulcan consciousness during the seventh phase of Future Vulcan.

[8] Throughout our evolution, Steiner taught, we continually recapitulate previous stages of evolution. Thus, toward the end of Future Vulcan, we will recapitulate our first six evolutionary stages before entering the seventh phase of Future Vulcan.

[9] Sic: during this condition of consciousness.

[10] "Supersensible" knowledge transcends the limits of our ordinary senses. Essentially, it requires clairvoyance, Steiner taught. Only high "mystery students" or initiates can exercise such clairvoyance and gain such knowledge. Among other things, initiation requires severing one's bonds to the physical level of existence. [For more on initiation, see "Inside Scoop" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

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

According to Steiner, these will be human beings living during Future Vulcan. [1] We will be extremely different, by then. We will be gods, really, not humans as we now use the term: We will be far more highly evolved. [2] Also, we will walk on three limbs. As he often did concerning various matters, Steiner explained some of this by reference to ancient myths, which he said embody spiritual truths. “A great service was bestowed on the human soul by the sagas [3], as long as man in earlier times could understand their truths in his feeling life. [4] An example of this is the old saga of the sphinx. [5] The sphinx propounded the riddle: In the morning it goes on four, at mid-day on two and in the evening on three. What is that? It is man. To begin with, in the morning of the earth, man in his animal state went on fours. The front limbs were at that time organs of movement. He then raised himself to the upright position ... He then went on two. In the distant future the lower organs will fall away and also the right hand. Only the left hand and the two petalled lotus flower [6] will remain. Then he goes on three. That is why the Vulcan human being limps. His legs are in retrogression; they cease to have significance. At the end of evolution, in the Vulcan metamorphosis of the Earth [7], man will be the three-membered being that the saga indicates as the ideal. [8]” — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 3, GA 93a.

[1] See "Future Stages".

[2] See the entry for "Vulcan consciousness", above.

[3] Essentially, myths, especially Norse myths. [See "The Gods".]

[4] Steiner taught that true knowledge comes much more through feelings and emotions (the "feeling life") than through thinking. [See "Thinking".]

[5] This is a Greek rather than a Norse tale; it probably should not be labeled a "saga."

[6] I.e., a chakra or organ of clairvoyance. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]

[7] I.e., during Future Vulcan. (Steiner sometimes indicated that Future Vulcan will be the final stage of evolution; on other occasions, he indicated that there will be five more stages after Future Vulcan.)

[8] I.e., in myths, the god Vulcan (the Roman god of fire) is described as limping. He had three members in the sense that he supported himself on his two legs plus a staff or crutch. This, Steiner indicates, foretells our condition during Future Vulcan. We will support ourselves on three members, as it were: one hand and the two-petalled lotus flower.

Vulcan supermen - see supermen

vulnerable passages - also see occultism; racism

Passages in Steiner's books and lectures that reflect badly on Steiner, his teachings, and the products of his teachings. "[T]oday one can find on the Internet the most awful and defamatory attacks on Steiner, anthroposophy, Waldorf schools and other institutions connected with anthroposophy ... There is no doubt that this will increase in the future, particularly with the posting of [Steiner's] collective works on the Internet and DVD because then all alleged 'vulnerable passages' in the collective works will be easily and quickly accessible." — S. Prokofieff, "The Being of the Internet" (, 2015). Anthroposophists argue that only a few of Steiner's statements are "vulnerable" in this way, and generally only if they are misinterpreted. But, in fact, virtually everything Steiner taught as an occultist is false and thus "vulnerable." [See, e.g., "Steiner's Bile", "Steiner's Blunders", "Say What?", "Steiner Static", and "Reality and Fantasy".]

(Websites that Anthroposophists say make "the most awful and defamatory attacks on Steiner, anthroposophy, Waldorf schools, [etc.]" include, of course, Waldorf Watch. Readers can make their own assessments of such sites, at least some of which endeavor simply to reveal the truth about Steiner and his works.)