W - X - Y - Z

[A]  [B]  [C-Ch]  [Ci-Cu]  [D]  [E-El]  [Em-Ey]  [F]  [G]  [H]  [I]  [J-L]  [M-Me]  [Mi-My]  [N-O]  [P-Q]  [R]  [S-Sn]  [So-Sy]  [T-V]  [W-Z]

- W -

Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory (Waldorf-Astoria-Zigarettenfabrik) — also see Molt, Emil; Waldorf School, the first

A tobacco company, founded by Emil Molt and two partners in 1906.  The name of the company honored the Astor dynasty and the homeplace of the plutocrat John Jakob Astor: Walldorf, in Baden. Molt prevailed on Rudolf Steiner to lead a school for the children of the factory's workers. This became the first Waldorf school, which opened in 1919. Molt sold his factory in 1924.

Waldorf charter schools - also see the Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf education: core principles; Waldorf schools; Waldorf-inspired schools

These are schools that implement the Waldorf model but that are financed by the government. In the UK, such schools are called "free schools".

Charter schools fall somewhere between traditional private schools and traditional public schools. They are private in that they largely pursue their own curriculum using their own methods, but they are public in that they receive public moneys and are held (to some extent) to government-established standards. Waldorf charter schools range from those that adhere very closely to the Waldorf model, to those that are more nearly conventional public schools seeking to attain traditional academic excellence. The latter may no longer be, in the strictest sense, real Waldorf schools.

Waldorf communities - also see Anthroposophy; Camphill; Christian Community; threefolding; Waldorf schools

These are social groupings built around Waldorf education. [1] Waldorf schools often become centers for countercultural communities. "Teachers and parents alike are urged to increasingly restrict their social circle to people affiliated with the school and/or local Anthroposophical people. [2] The notion is that other influences will be bad for the children; neighborhood kids will want to do terrible things like watch TV and play soccer and have houses and yards full of plastic junk. You can best avoid these conflicts if you just don't associate with people outside the school." — D. Winters. [3]

[1] See the entries, below, for "Waldorf curriculum" and "Waldorf schools".

[2] Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement — an occult religion — founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[3] See "Nutshell".

Waldorf critics, waldorfcritics - also see Anthroposophy; critical thought; PLANS


"Waldorf Critics" is an online discussion site associated with People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools (PLANS). [1] "A free-speech public forum operated by PLANS, Inc., as an information resource for anyone interested in Waldorf education [2] who wants to hear views from outside the cult of Rudolf Steiner. [3] Subscription is open to the public, and postings are not reviewed in advance. Not for the overly sensitive. Typical contents include: the Waldorf curriculum. [4] The role of Anthroposophy [5] in Waldorf. Real science and medicine vs. Anthroposophical quack science and medicine. [6] Sharing of Waldorf horror stories. [7] Anthroposophists 'defending the faith' against PLANS philosophy warriors. News and articles about Waldorf controversies worldwide. [8]" [http://waldorfcritics.org/active/critics.html]

In a larger sense, of course, the term "Waldorf critic" can be applied to anyone who is critical of Waldorf schools. In this sense, the author of the Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia might be labeled a Waldorf critic. He is not, however, a member of PLANS.

[1] See, e.g., "Nuts".

[2] See the entries, below, for "Waldorf curriculum" and "Waldorf schools".

[3] See "What a Guy" and "Guru".

[4] See "The Waldorf Curriculum". Also see "Core Principles".

[5] Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement — an occult religion — founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[6] See "Science" and "Steiner's Quackery".

[7] See, e.g., "Cautionary Tales".

[8] See, e.g., the "News Archive".

Waldorf curriculum - also see arithmetic; arts; arts-intensive curriculum; astronomy; biology; botany; chemistry; crafts; declamation; English; eurythmy; foreign languages; form drawing; THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE; geography; geology; geometry; history; holistic education; imagination; incarnation; lesson books; literature; main lesson; mathematics; memory; music; myths; Norse myths; painting; physics; play; progressive education; reading; religion; rhythm; science curriculum; seven-year stages; spiral; spiritualistic agenda; textbooks; Waldorf schools; zoology

Waldorf schools generally refrain from teaching their students Anthroposophical doctrines, per se [1]; however, such doctrines infuse most Waldorf classes and, at a minimum, induce students to adopt an occult perspective. [2]

Waldorf schools usually follow a fixed sequence of studies, keyed to the evolution of humanity and the constitution of the human being, as described by Rudolf Steiner. [3] The curriculum is also built around the seven-year-long periods during which, according to Waldorf belief, various invisible bodies incarnate. [4] Usually no academic instruction (such as reading and arithmetic) is given before the children reach age seven. Prior to that, it is believed, children retain ties to the spirit realm where they lived before birth, and maintaing such ties is considered a sacred obligation. [5] Waldorf teachers immerse their students in myths and fairy tales, both during this most susceptible stage of the children's development, and — to a lesser extent — during later stages. Such stories are meant to convey truths about the spirit realm, since according to Anthroposophical belief true clairvoyant visions are contained in such narratives. Stories from around the world and from many historical periods are presented, but Norse myths — the mythology of Germany and northern Europe — are especially emphasized. [6] 

Even after academic instruction begins, a mood of implicit spirituality is maintained; emphasis is given to arts, play, and handcrafts, while myths, religious stories, folk tales, and legends continue to fill much class time. Teachers attempt to present all subjects artistically and with inner feeling; Steiner taught that all classes at a Waldorf school should be beautiful and include a "religious element." [7] Children in the lower and middle grades are not considered capable of forming their own opinions, so class work largely consists of copying material written, drawn, or voiced by the teachers — the students compile such material in handwritten lesson books, also called block books or class books. [8] Few textbooks are used, in part because Waldorf teachers generally reject much modern knowledge and scholarship; many Waldorf teachers are Anthroposophists. [9]

After the students reach age 14, they are believed to develop the capacity for rational thought. Thereafter, the curriculum becomes a bit more conventional, some textbooks may be used, and students are given more leeway to formulate their own ideas. Still, Anthroposophy remains the basis of virtually all instruction, and Anthroposophical beliefs find their way into most subjects, if only covertly. [10]

[1] Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement — an occult religion — founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] See, e.g., "Spiritual Agenda", "Soul School", and "Sneaking It In".

[3] See "The Waldorf Curriculum", "Core Principles", and "Oh Humanity - The Key to Waldorf".

[4] See "Incarnation" and "Most Significant".

[5] See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".

[6] See "Oh My Word" and "The Gods".

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

[8] See "Lesson Books".

[9] See "Here's the Answer", "Materialism U.", and "Teacher Training".

[10] See the entries for "Waldorf education: goals", "Waldorf schools," and "Waldorf teachers", below. For an overview of Waldorf methods, see "Methods".

Waldorf Early Education Association of North America (WECAN) - also see Association of Waldorf Schools of North America; early-childhood education; European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education; Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship 

Headquartered in Spring Valley, New York, this body was originally called the Waldorf Kindergarten of North America. Allied with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America [1], WECAN focuses on the earliest periods of childhood, promoting Steiner educational approaches for the rearing of very young children. From the WECAN website [2]: "WECAN’s mission is to foster a new cultural impulse for the work with the young child from pre-birth to age seven. Based on an anthroposophical understanding of human development, WECAN is committed to protecting and nurturing childhood as a foundation for renewing human culture." [Downloaded 12/7/15.]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA)".
[2] Steiner's followers generally abhor modern technology [see, e.g., "Spiders, Foxes and Dragons"], but they make gingerly use of the Internet to promote their movement.

Waldorf education: core principles - also see Anthroposophy; Archetypes; authority (of the teacher); clairvoyance; class teachers; human beings; human constitution; incarnation; looping; seven-year stages; Waldorf teachers; whole child

The Pedagogical Section Council of North America, a group of leading Waldorf educators, has compiled a list of seven central principles of Waldorf education (derived, directly and indirectly, from the teachings of Rudolf Steiner). These principles are:

◊ Waldorf educators should be guided by the description of human nature provided by Rudolf Steiner. [1] Reduced to it simplest components, this description indicates that 

the human being is essentially a being of spirit, soul, and body. [2] 

◊ Children develop through a series of seven-year long periods [3]; during each period, the child comes to express the archetype for that period.

◊ The Waldorf curriculum supports each stage of childhood development. Until age 7, children want to imitate; from 7 to 14, children want to follow guidance; from 14 to 21, children are idealistic and develop a capacity for independent judgment.

◊ Waldorf teachers should be free from outside interference as they work to meet the needs of their students. [4]

◊ Waldorf teachers should generally follow established Waldorf methodologies, which are different for different student age groups. [5]

◊ Forming deep and lasting bonds between teachers and students is essential. [6]

◊ Waldorf teachers should develop their inner spiritual lives, which includes striving to develop "spiritual perception". [7] 

For more on these matters, see THE SEVEN CORE PRINCIPLES OF WALDORF EDUCATION (Waldorf Publications, 2017). [8]

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

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

[3] See "Most Significant".

[4] Students' parents, outside educational authorities, and even Waldorf colleagues should not abridge the freedom of the individual teacher. [See, e.g., "Faculty Meetings" and "Threefolding"]

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

[6] This may be facilitated by the Waldorf practice of having teachers stay with their students for multiple years, for instance taking a class from first grade through fifth grade. The emotional bond established may, however, sometimes create problems. [See, e.g., "Mistreating Kids Lovingly".]

[7] This form of perception is, essentially, clairvoyance. [See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".]

[8] See "Core Principles".

Waldorf education: goals - also see Anthroposophy; clairvoyance; curative education; divine cosmic plan; education; festivals; freedom; gods; "head, heart, and hands"; holistic education; imagination; incarnation; karma; knowledge; life force; messianism; nonphysical bodies; prayers; rite; soul; spirit; spiritualistic agenda; Sun God; Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf schools; whole child; worship in Waldorf schools

Conveying knowledge to children, and preparing children for productive lives in the real world, are low on the list of Waldorf goals. Instead, Waldorf schools have occult, spiritual purposes. These can be described in various ways. Here are a few such descriptions, all coming from within the Waldorf movement: 

◊ “One question that is often asked is: ‘Is a Waldorf school a religious school?’ ... It is not a religious school in the way that we commonly think of religion ... And yet, in a broad and universal way, the Waldorf school is essentially religious.” — Waldorf teacher J. Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION  (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 134.

◊ “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We...are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods ... [W]e are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

◊ “Waldorf education strives to create a place in which the highest beings [i.e., the gods], including the Christ, can find their home.” — Anthroposophist J. Almon, WHAT IS A WALDORF KINDERGARTEN? (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 53.

◊ "It is possible to introduce a religious element into every subject, even into math lessons. Anyone who has some knowledge of Waldorf teaching will know that this statement is true." — R. Steiner, THE CHILD's CHANGING CONSCIOUSNESS AS THE BASIS OF PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 94.

◊ “A Waldorf school is...an organization that seeks to allow the spiritual impulses of our time to manifest on earth in order to transform society ... [I]t strives to bring the soul-spiritual [i.e., the combined effects of soul and spirit] into the realm of human life.” — Waldorf teacher R. Trostli, “On Earth as It Is in Heaven”, Research Bulletin, Vol. 16 (Waldorf Research Institute), Fall 2011, pp. 21-24.

◊ “[Waldorf] education is essentially grounded on the recognition of the child as a spiritual being, with a varying number of incarnations behind him ... [I]t is [the faculty's] task to help the child to make use of his body, to help his soul-spiritual forces to find expression through it, rather than regarding it as their duty to cram him with information.” — Anthroposophist S. C. Easton, MAN AND WORLD IN THE LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 1989), pp. 388-389. 

◊ “The success of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner [said], can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — Anthroposophist P. Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30.

◊ "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — Waldorf teacher R. Trostl, Introduction to RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 4-5.

◊ “[F]rom a spiritual-scientific [i.e., Anthroposophical] point of view child education consists mainly in integrating the soul-spiritual members with the corporeal members [i.e., integrating the invisible bodies with the physical body].” — Waldorf teacher G. Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1998), p. 68.

◊ "[T]he role of [Waldorf] teachers [is] to take primary responsibility for the incarnation of the child.” — Robert Schiappacasse, essay in ADMINISTRATIVE EXPLORATIONS (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2000), p. 7. 

◊ “This is precisely the task of school. If it is a true school, it should bring to unfoldment [i.e., incarnation and development]...what [the child] has brought with him from spiritual worlds into this physical life on earth.” — R. Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS , Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 5, GA 235.

◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

◊ "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy." — Waldorf teacher K. Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii.

◊ "[The] special contribution, the unique substance, mission, and intention of the independent Waldorf School, is the spiritual-scientific view of human nature [i.e., Anthroposophy].” — Anthroposophist P. Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 4.

◊ "The reason many [Waldorf] schools exist is because of Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world ... Educating children is secondary in these schools." — Former Waldorf teacher "Baandje". [See "Ex-Teacher 7".]

◊ “In the child we have before us a being who has only recently left the divine world. In due course, still at a tender age, he comes to school and it is the teacher’s task to help guide him into earthly existence. The teacher is therefore performing a priestly office.” — R. Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 23.

◊ "I think we owe it to our [students'] parents to let them know that the child is going to go through one religious experience after another ... [W]hen we deny that Waldorf schools are giving children religious experiences, we are denying the whole basis of Waldorf education." — Waldorf teacher E. Schwartz, "Waldorf Education - For Our Times Or Against Them?" (transcript of talk given at Sunbridge College, 1999).

◊ "Waldorf teachers must be anthroposophists first and teachers second." — Waldorf teacher G. Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1991), p. 166.

◊ "We certainly may not go to the...extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.

Waldorf schools are on a messianic mission in service to their religion, Anthroposophy. This — not conveying information about the real world to their students — is their chief purpose. [See "Mission".] The schools attempt to cooperate with the gods, seeking to apply Anthroposophy so that the students can incarnate properly and fulfill their karmas. Educating the students in any normal sense is, at best, a secondary goal.

Waldorf education - potential harm - see harm potentially caused by Waldorf schools

Waldorf (or Steiner) free schools - see Waldorf charter schools

Waldorf-inspired schools - also see Anthroposophy; Waldorf charter schools; Waldorf movement; Waldorf schools; Waldorf teachers

In some cases, these are schools that emulate the Waldorf approach in various ways without subscribing to Rudolf Steiner's occult teachings. In other instances, they are schools that aspire to become full-fledged Waldorf schools (basing their work on Steiner's occult teachings) but have not yet reached that level.

Taking "inspiration" from the Waldorf educational model may leave a school free to range far afield, diverging considerably from the Waldorf approach. [1] More typically, however, schools that refer to themselves as "Waldorf-inspired" are deeply (if, often, covertly) invested in Anthroposophy; they call themselves "Waldorf-inspired" because a) they are not yet recognized by Anthroposophical authorities as thoroughly vetted Waldorf (or Steiner, or Waldorf-Steiner) schools, or b) they find indentifying themselves as deeply committed Waldorf schools inconvenient or imprudent. [2]

Outsiders may have difficulty ascertaining the real nature of a Waldorf or "Waldorf-inspired" school. There is considerable secrecy in Anthroposophy. The word "occult," as Steiner used it, means "hidden" or "secret." [3] Parents and others have often reported that Waldorf schools have been secretive or deceptive with them. [4] The problem may be aggravated at some "Waldorf-inspired" schools. [5]

Some Waldorf-inspired schools are private institutions. Others are Waldorf charter schools.

[1] See "The Waldorf Curriculum", "Core Principles", and "Methods".
[2] There is considerable variation among Waldorf schools, even those that openly profess a commitment to Rudolf Steiner. [See, e.g., "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs".]

[3] See "Occultism" and "Secrets".

[4] See, e.g., "Our Experience".[5] For guidance in efforts to assess a Waldorf school, see "Clues".

Waldorf parents - also see harm potentially caused by Waldorf schools; indoctrination; parents of students at Waldorf schools; secrecy (by teachers); Waldorf communities; Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf education: goals; Waldorf schools; Waldorf students; Waldorf teachers

Waldorf faculties often treat the students' parents as outsiders, concealing much from them. [1] On the other hand, parents are often urged or even required to make substantial contributions to Waldorf schools — they are asked to perform volunteer work and to provide financial support over and above specified tuition payments. According to the principles of threefolding [2], Waldorf faculties should be allowed to work without outside interference, including interference from parents. The chief role of parents, generally, is to provide the monetary wherewithal for the teachers to do their work unimpeded.

Waldorf schools often serve as centers for Anthroposophical communities, and efforts are made to entice susceptible families into Anthroposophy. [3] Festivals, evening classes, lectures, and other activities are used to attract new families and also to cultivate and deepen the allegiance of parents who have chosen Waldorf for their children. The efforts to recruit and "educate" families thus become crucial. But parents deemed not susceptible will be held at arm's length. It is not uncommon for parents to spend years in or near a Waldorf community without receiving a clear account of Anthroposophical beliefs. [4] Ultimately, the children of parents who resist Anthroposophy may be expelled.

Waldorf parents are often highly enthusiastic, at least at first. Sometimes, however, disillusionment follows. The depth of the disillusionment can be proportional to the heights of the enthusiasm. Some parents, of course, remain enthusiastic and happy with the schools. Turnover, however, can be high, with many families leaving, usually one at a time but sometimes en masse. [5]

One of the main issues for Waldorf parents is deciding whether they are willing to allow Waldorf teachers to supplant them as the most important adults in their children's lives. Rudolf Steiner said Waldorf teachers should supersede parents in this manner. Addressing Waldorf faculty, he said "You will have to take over children for their education and instruction — children who will have received already (as you must remember) the education, or mis-education, given them by their parents." — R. Steiner, THE STUDY OF MAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), p. 16. He added, "[I]t might almost be preferable from a moral viewpoint if children could be taken into one's care soon after birth." — R. Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 69. Waldorf teachers often think that their karmic ties to their students [6] are more important than the biological ties between parents and children. Thus, for instance, a leading Anthroposophist has written “A school class is a destiny community ... A class is not a group of children who have been thrown together arbitrarily.” — P. Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 45. The proposition is that Waldorf students and their teachers have been brought together by their shared destiny or karma, under the supervision of the gods.

[1] See "Faculty Meetings" and "Secrets".
[2] Steiner urged that society be reorganized into three distinct sectors; see "Threefolding".
[3] See "Indoctrination".
[4] See, e.g., "Secrets", "Magical Arts" (especially the section on festivals), "Advice for Parents", and "Clues".
[5] See, e.g., "Our Experience", "Coming Undone", "Moms", "Pops", "Who Gets Hurt", "Complaints", and "Scandal".
[6] Belief in karma is central to Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".]

Waldorf School
, the first - also see Molt, Emil; Steiner, Rudolf; Waldorf school movement; Waldorf schools

The first Steiner school was founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. It was named for the business owned by the school's financial sponsor: the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory. Transcripts of faculty meetings and discussions held by Steiner and the faculty at that school are often studied during Waldorf teacher training today, and they offer important insights into the nature and purposes of Waldorf education down to the present day. [See "Faculty Meetings", "Discussions", "Advice", "Foundations", "Underpinnings", "Basement", and "Teacher Training".]


This is the original Waldorf School, in Stuttgart, Germany. The owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory, Emil Molt, prevailed on Rudolf Steiner to create the school for the children of the factory's workers. Steiner spent a considerable portion of his time, during the final years of his life, directing the school's faculty. Virtually all of the students were German, and Steiner designed the Waldorf curriculum to aid such children in fulfilling the German "national mission" as he conceived it. [See "The Good Wars".]

Waldorf school movement - also see Anthroposophy; Waldorf education: goals; Waldorf schools

Anthroposophists claim that theirs is the fastest-growing "independent" school movement today. Having begun in Germany, the movement now has schools on all continents except Antarctica. Many of the schools are extremely small, and some fail, but the general trend has been toward proliferation. The claim is sometimes made that there are 1,000 Waldorf schools today, but sometimes larger totals are claimed, and sometimes the tabulation is smaller. [See "Waldorf Now".]

Waldorf schools
, Steiner schools - also see academic standards; alternative education; Anthroposophy; anti-intellectualism; anti-scientific bias; astrology; block teaching; certificates; early-childhood education; education; FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER; THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE; holistic education; karma; knowledge; media policies; nonphysical bodies; life force; progressive education; rhythm; secrecy; spiritualistic agenda; thinking; Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf education: goals; Waldorf parents; Waldorf students; Waldorf teachers; Waldorf-inspired schools; whole child; wisdom; worship in Waldorf schools

Broadly speaking, Waldorf schools are institutions that, to one degree or another, are run in compliance with the ideology of Rudolf Steiner. [1] They typically identify themselves as Waldorf schools, Steiner schools, or Steiner Waldorf schools, but in some instances they use wholly different names. Efforts are made to protect the Waldorf trademark, so that only genuine Waldorf schools can call themselves such, but on the other hand some Waldorf authorities argue that their movement is so amorphous as to defy definition. See, e.g., the rhetorical argument made by a Waldorf faculty chairperson: "'Waldorf education' does not exist" [2] — the point being that Waldorf schools vary greatly. [3] Still, Waldorf education certainly does exist as a distinct phenomenon that can be defined with considerable precision.

Generally, Waldorf schools follow a set curriculum that derives from the program established by Rudolf Steiner and his colleagues at the first Waldorf school, although variations can be found. [4] The common curriculum is geared toward the incarnation of three invisible, nonphysical bodies: the etheric body, astral body, and "I." [5] Each child's presumed karma and temperament are deemed crucially important, and the faculty's beliefs about these help steer the educational process. [6] There is heavy emphasis on myths, fairy tales, legends, and other spiritualistic stories, especially in the early grades. [7] Art is emphasized for its supposed spiritual effects. [8] Emphasis is placed on beauty, and there is usually an anti-intellectual, antiscientific ethos as promoted by Rudolf Steiner. [9] Subjects are taught at the "correct" time or developmental stage in children's lives: The students are thought to recapitulate human spiritual development, so that fourth graders, for instance, stand at about the level of ancient Egyptians, fifth graders at the level of ancient Greeks, sixth graders at the level of ancient Romans, and so on. [10] Studies are planned so that the children understand the world essentially as it was understood in the relevant ancient period.

Subjects are often taught using the "block" system: A subject will be taken up, studied for a few weeks, then set aside for many weeks or months. The most important class of the day is usually the "main lesson" — a long class focusing on the subject constituting the "block" of the moment. The main lesson usually comes at the beginning of the school day. Other classes and activities during the day are often keyed to the main lesson. Usually, main lessons are taught by "class teachers" — that is, teachers who take primary responsibility for a group of children and stay with them for several years, first grade through fifth, for example, or first grade through eighth, etc. This means each class teacher must present a great number of subjects at a great number of grade levels as the students pass from grade to grade. [11]

The schools do not, as a rule, explicitly teach students the tenets of Steiner's occult system, Anthroposophy. But there are numerous exceptions to this rule, and the schools subtly steer students toward an Anthroposophical perception of reality. [12] Students are encouraged to feel about things as their teachers feel about them, while factual knowledge about the world is minimized — emotion is a truer path than thought, Steiner said. According to Steiner, Waldorf teachers should be devoted Anthroposophists and Waldorf classes should reflect Anthroposophical teachings when the subjects being studied call for this. [13]

The key truth about Waldorf schools is that they are disguised religious institutions, whose purpose is to enact Anthroposophy in the world and thus spread Anthroposophy. [14] The Waldorf approach is built on the occult doctrines of Rudolf Steiner, especially his mystical conception of human nature. [15] Steiner's religious teachings find their way into many classes as well as such activities as festivals that are, at root, religious observances. [16] Teachers and students usually begin each day by reciting, in unison, prayers written by Rudolf Steiner (these invocations are usually disguised as "morning verses"). [17]

This brief summary cannot do full justice to the subject of Waldorf schools. In effect, all of Waldorf Watch is devoted to producing a complete answer to the question, What are Waldorf schools? To dig further into the answer, see, e.g., "Soul School", "Academic Standards at Waldorf", "Foundations", "Clues", "Waldorf Now", "Teacher Training", "Today", "Report Card", etc. Also see the entries for "Waldorf curriculum", "Waldorf education: goals", "Waldorf students", "Waldorf teachers", etc., in this encyclopedia.


The truth about Waldorf schools is often hidden; but sometimes it surfaces plainly, as in these books. [R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION - The Waldorf School Approach (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996); R. M. Querido, THE ESOTERIC BACKGROUND OF WALDORF EDUCATION: The Cosmic Christ Impulse (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1995).]

[1] The ideology is Anthroposophy, an occult religion founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] S. K. Sagarin, THE STORY OF WALDORF EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES (SteinerBooks, 2011), p. 147.

[3] See, e.g., "Non-Waldorf Waldorfs".

[4] See "The Waldorf Curriculum".

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

[6] See "Karma" and "Temperaments".

[7] See, e.g., "The Gods" and "Sneaking It In".

[8] See "Magical Arts".

[9] See "Steiner's 'Science'", "Science", and "Steiner's Specific".

[10] See, e.g., "Oh My Stars".

[11] For an overview of Waldorf methodology, see "Methods".

[12] See "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", and "Sneaking It In".

[13] "We certainly may not go to the...extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 495.

[14] See "Here’s the Answer".

[15] See "Oh Humanity".

[16] See "Magical Arts".

[17] See "Prayers".

Waldorf students - also see academic standards; authority; bullying; childhood; constitutional types; critical thought; crossing the Rubicon; discipline; early childhood education; festivals; harm potentially caused by Waldorf schools; imagination; imitation; incarnation; indoctrination; karma; lesson books; nonphysical bodies; outdoor play; play at Waldorf schools; reverence; seven-year stages; special needs; teeth; temperaments; Waldorf curriculum; Waldorf schools; Waldorf teachers; whole child; will; worship at Waldorf schools

For the Waldorf system to work as planned, students should enter a Waldorf school in kindergarten, or even earlier, and remain through the end of their high school years. During this lengthy period (14 years or more), the students should receive instruction from a small group of devoted Anthroposophists serving as teachers [1], and they should be largely shielded from the outside world. Because this plan is often unfulfilled (some students leave, other students enter far later than nursery school, there is often some turnover among the faculty, etc.), only a minority of students are likely to emerge from a Waldorf high school with their feet firmly set on the Anthroposophical path. But most students will have been nudged toward Anthroposophy to one degree or another. [2]

[1] Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement — an occult religion — founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[2] See, e.g., “Soul School”, "Indoctrination", "Who Gets Hurt", "Spiritual Agenda", "Failure", "I Went to Waldorf", and "Beat".

Waldorf teachers - also see authority; block teaching; clairvoyance; class teachers; college of teachers; denial; discipline; "doing" Anthroposophy; FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER; indoctrination; initiate; karma; looping; pedagogical law; priestly office; secrecy; subject teachers; Waldorf communities; Waldorf school movement; Waldorf schools; Waldorf students

Ideally, according to Rudolf Steiner, all Waldorf teachers should be devoted Anthroposophists. [1] Non-Anthroposophists are, as a rule, hired to teach in Waldorf schools only when more suitable candidates (i.e., Anthroposophists) are unavailable. The training of Waldorf teachers usually includes broad exposure to Steiner's occult doctrines, and such training may constitute the entire postsecondary education received by some trainees. Waldorf teachers generally aim to develop a special form of clairvoyance, the "Waldorf teacher's consciousness", and they usually continue their study of Steiner's doctrines throughout their careers. [2] The ultimate purpose for true-believing Waldorf teachers is the messianic practice of Anthroposophy [3]; the teachers generally see themselves as serving a priestly function. [4]

Some Waldorf teachers, called "subject teachers", specialize in specific subjects (math, French, history, etc.). But other Waldorf teachers have a much broader mandate. These "class teachers" take primary responsibility for a group of children and remain with that group for many years. Typically, a class teacher begins with a group of entering first graders and takes that group through fifth or even eighth grade. In extreme cases, a teacher may stay with a group from the earliest years all the way through high school. Along the way, the class teacher instructs the students in most of the major subjects studied at all of the successive grade levels. Whether any teacher is truly qualified to do this, and whether the students can receive a good education under this system, become pertinent questions. [5]

At many Waldorf schools, all faculty members are presumed to have more or less equal say in the running of the school; they are meant to work together collegially, with little formal administrative structure. At some Waldorf schools, however, there are principals or headmasters as well as other officers of various ranks and functions. [6] Typically, whatever the formal organization of a Waldorf school, much of the real power is held by the "college of teachers," an inner group primarily composed of committed Anthroposophists. Meetings of the entire faculty are typically held on Thursday afternoons; meetings of subsets of the faculty are scattered throughout the week. Brief reviews of Anthroposophical principles occur during many of these meetings, along with short readings from Steiner' works, recitation of prayers written by Steiner, etc. Meetings of the "college" may be held in the evenings or on weekends; they can be intense and prolonged, and they often entail in-depth study of Steiner's lectures and books. (The ideal of collegiality may be more nearly attained within the college of teachers than within the faculty as a whole. But even within the college, individuals who are particularly articulate, charismatic, or well-versed in Anthroposophy may rise to de facto leadership positions; these individuals may even be looked up to as gurus by other members of the college. [7])


Training for new Waldorf or Steiner teachers typically takes place in special institutions. This image shows a class at the Rudolf Steiner College in California, USA. The photos on the wall depict Rudolf Steiner and the Anthroposophical headquarters. The image on the blackboard includes the 12 signs of the zodiac (astrology is basic to the Waldorf belief system). The book on the student's desk (center, bottom) is Steiner's OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (original title: OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE) — Steiner's main exposition of his esoteric or occult teachings. [Downloaded Sept. 25, 2011; Rudolf Steiner College, http://www.steinercollege.edu/]

Sometimes teachers having no knowledge of, or devotion to, the doctrines of Anthroposophy take jobs in Waldorf schools. It may even happen that such teachers constitute the majority of a Waldorf faculty. However, if these teachers hope to keep their jobs and perhaps earn promotions, they generally need to enter the Anthroposophical camp. Indeed, Waldorf schools often put their non-Anthroposophical faculty members through a process of indoctrination. Here is how one former Waldorf teacher has described this process: 

"The indoctrination of teachers...begins with the obligation to participate in many educational meetings per week (unpaid) where the talk is supposed to serve the students' welfare, but in which many portions are designed to evoke the Anthroposophical foundations of Waldorf pedagogy. Of course, these meetings begin with the reading or recitation of prayers or words of Rudolf Steiner intended for the teaching profession. [The teachers] must also attend conferences that open educational meetings, where esoteric themes are discussed ... A [Waldorf] conference is not just a simple means for communicating ideas — it is an act of sacramental communion ... Each teacher is also encouraged to take an interest in some aspect of the doctrine of Rudolf Steiner ... The class teacher will, in turn, be urged to attend the Teacher Training Institute (often at his own expense). However, during this 'training,' the talk gradually shifts to the esoteric ideas of Rudolf Steiner; the group begins to practice mediation or prayer ... Teachers are also encouraged to participate in study groups from the Anthroposophical Society to cultivate the foundations of their discipline or their teaching skills ... Meanwhile, teachers are asked to participate in various tasks of school life: monitoring the canteen, preparing various gatherings, helping with educational exhibitions, helping with open houses, gardening the school's green spaces, cleaning classrooms, doing small maintenance, undertaking administrative tasks, etc. ... Household and kitchen work are no exception ... Waldorf teachers only become more submissive to an institution to which they eventually sacrifice their lives and energy ... The teacher finds compensation, a kind of new family, in the school itself." — G. Perra. [8]

[1] Anthroposophy is the spiritual movement — an occult religion — founded by Rudolf Steiner, who also founded Waldorf education. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Anthroposophy"; also see "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?”]
[2] See “The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness”, "Teacher Training", and "Faculty Meetings”. Whether or not a Waldorf teacher has graduated from a Waldorf teacher-training institution, s/he will likely enroll at such institutions periodically — generally during summers and holidays — for several years after being hired at a Waldorf school.
[3] Thus, for instance: ◊ “Among the faculty, we must certainly carry within us the knowledge that we are not here for our own sakes but to carry out the divine cosmic plan. We...are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods ... [W]e are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” — R. Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55. ◊ "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy." — K. Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii. ◊ "The reason many [Waldorf] schools exist is because of Anthroposophy, period. It's not because of the children. It's because a group of Anthroposophists have it in their minds to promote Anthroposophy in the world ... Educating children is secondary in these schools." — "Baandje". [See "Ex-Teacher 7”.]
[4] See "Schools as Churches”.
[5] See, e.g., "Academic Standards at Waldorf", "Methods", and "October, 2011”. The qualifications of Waldorf class teachers is especially open to question when those teachers have received most or all of their "higher education" in Anthroposophical training programs. They may then be far better informed about Anthroposophy than about the subjects they are required to teach. Their knowledge of teaching methods and materials may also be sharply limited, being drawn almost entirely from within the Waldorf/Anthroposophical community.
[6] For inside accounts of Waldorf teaching experiences, see "My Life Among the Anthroposophists" and the reports that follow it. For guidance given by senior Waldorf teachers to their more junior colleagues, see, e.g., "Old Testament", "Methods", "Temperaments", "Fairy Tales", "Mystic Math", and "Oh My Stars”.
[7] Gurus are important in Anthroposophy. The ultimate guru for Anthroposophists is Rudolf Steiner himself. [See "Guru".]
[8] See "He Went to Waldorf”.

walls, colors of, in Waldorf schools - see lazure

War of All Against All - also see All Against All; Apocalypse; epochs; race war; Ragnarök; Twilight of the Gods

a) According to Hobbes: the primitive state of mankind.

b) According to Steiner: the coming apocalyptic cataclysm. Reminiscent of Ragnarök [1], the War of All Against All will produce general devastation and end our current stage of evolution. ◊ “[O]ur epoch will come to an end through...a mighty increase of egoism in human nature, and, on account of this, through the war of all against all. [paragraph break] Only those who turn to a spiritual life will survive the catastrophe, which, in this case, means the war of all against all, just as only a small group of people escaped from the catastrophes of Lemuria and Atlantis. [2] The war of all against all will be still more terrible for those involved in it than were those of fire and water [3], however terrible we may picture them to have been. Those who are now turning towards a spiritual life should feel it their duty to do all that is possible to rescue the good seed of our age and carry it over into the sixth age [4], which will follow the present one. This age [5] is made up of great subdivisions [6]; the ancient Indian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Greco-Latin, and the present one, which will be followed by the sixth and the seventh right on to the time of the war of all against all.” — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Collison, 1931), lecture 10, GA 105.  ◊ “At the end of our fifth great epoch, the post-Atlantean, there will be catastrophes that will work in a way similar to those at the close of the Atlantean epoch. Through the War of All Against All, the seventh culture [7] of the fifth epoch will find its conclusion” — R. Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 2, GA 106. [See "All v. All".]


According to Steiner, our current great epoch, the Post-Atlantean Epoch, consists of seven cultural epochs or ages. The Post-Atlantean great epoch began with the cataclysm that destroyed Atlantis, and it will end with the cataclysm of the War of All Against All. [Detail from a diagram accompanying THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958), lecture 3, GA 104 — a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner.]

[1] In Norse myths: the world-ending battle between gods and giants. [See "The Gods".]
[2] Steiner taught that both continents, Lemuria and Atlantis, were destroyed by cataclysms caused by human evil. [See "Lemuria" and "Atlantis".]
[3] According to Steiner, Lemuria was destroyed in firestorms, Atlantis was destroyed in immense rainstorms and flooding.
[4] I.e., the sixth great epoch. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "great epochs".]
[5] i.e., the current great epoch, the fifth. It is often referred to as the Post-Altantean Epoch, the great epoch following the destruction of Atlantis. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".]
[6] The subdivisions of the Post-Atlantean Epoch are often called cultural epochs or ages. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "cultural epochs".]
[7] I.e., the final cultural epoch, the seventh age of civilization.

warmth, sense of - also see senses

One of the twelve human senses enumerated by Steiner. [See "What We're Made Of".] This sense, Anthroposophists believe, extends beyond the detection of physical warmth. "It enables us to know both the actual temperature of our surroundings and the warmth of soul that other people emanate." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 128. Warmth sense (also called temperature sense) falls under the aegis of Leo. [See, e.g., A. Soesman, OUR TWELVE SENSES (Hawthorn Press, 1990), p. 142.]

warmth ether - also see chemical ether; ether; fire ether; life ether; light ether; quintessence

According to Steiner, this is the first of four subdivisions of ether. [1] "The first element which is finer than the air [2] is the one which causes it to expand, which always increases its spatial content. What expands the air in this way is warmth; it is really a fine etheric substance, the first grade of ether, the Warmth Ether." — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 93a.


 • Life Ether • 
 • Chemical Ether • 
 • Light Ether • 
 • Warmth Ether • 
Steiner taught that the "four elements" (earth, air, fire, water) [3] are accompanied by a "fifth element" — ether or quintessence. [4] In turn, he said, there are four forms of ether. Warmth ether is the first of the four.

[1] See the entry for "ether" in this encyclopedia.
[2] Steiner affirmed the ancient belief that there are basically four "elements": earth, air, fire, and water. [See "Neutered Nature".] Here he indicates that warmth ether is a fifth element. (More typically, in Anthroposophical teachings, ether in general — not warmth ether in particular — is called the fifth element. [See, e.g., the entry in this encyclopedia for "quintessence".])
[3] See the entry for "elements" in this encyclopedia; also see "Neutered Nature".
[4] See the entries for "ether" and "quintessence" in this encyclopedia.

water - also see elements; mermaids; undine; water ether

In ancient belief and in Anthroposophical doctrine, this is one of the four "elements," the home of the nature spirits called undines. [1] ◊ Anthroposophy recognizes "the 'four elements', the archetypal activities of earth, water, air and fire, which were once dynamic qualities in the medieval cosmos and are now Anthroposophical." — G. Ahern, THE SUN AT MIDNIGHT (James Clarke & Co., 2009), p. 92.  ◊ "Each of the four elements is home to the corresponding type of elemental beings [i.e., nature spirits]." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 36.

Anthroposophy is generally backward, accepting teachings that science has long since discarded. Science today recognizes more than one hundred elements, and water is not one of them. (Nor are air, earth, or fire now categorized as elements.) Water is a liquid compound consisting of hydrogen and oxygen. [2]

[1] See "Neutered Nature".
[2] "Aristotle considered water to be one of four fundamental elements, in addition to earth, air, and fire. The belief that water was a fundamental substance persisted for more than 2,000 years until experiments in the second half of the 18th century showed that water is a compound made up of the elements hydrogen and oxygen." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, July 9, 2015.

water ether - also see elements; ether; water

Steiner affirmed the ancient belief that there are four fundamental "elements": air, earth, fire, and water. [1] Early in his career as an occultist, he said that there is an "ether" associated with each element. Water ether is the rarefied, more elevated variant of the element called water. The symbol for water ether, Steiner said, is the crescent Moon (specifically the crescent of the fifth day of the month), and its color is white. Water ether functions in the human digestive system, and its taste is tart. [2]

In his early teaching, Steiner also indicated that there is a fifth ether, "thought ether". [3] He later generally taught that in fact there are four ethers: life ether, light ether, sound ether, and warmth ether. [4] (In this later scheme. the fifth ether — thought ether — was folded into sound ether.)

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

[2] See R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), 12/1/1906, GA 266.

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

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

Wegman, Ita (1876-1943)

One of Rudolf Steiner's colleagues; a medical doctor credited with co-founding Anthroposophical medicine alongside Steiner. She is sometimes described as having been Steiner's lover.

Weleda - also see Anthroposophical medicine

A firm producing Anthroposophical medicinal and cosmetic products. (The name is derived from that of Valeda, a seeress in an ancient German tribe, the Bructeri.)

The company describes itself in these words: "Weleda believes that when we are in balance, our energy, vitality and beauty shine. We craft each product with plant and flower-sourced ingredients orchestrated to realize nature’s restorative effects. In Switzerland 1921, one of the first female doctors, Dr. Ita Wegman co-founded Weleda with Dr. Rudolph [sic] Steiner, a philosopher and scientist [sic], on the belief that people are part of nature ... [T]hey carefully orchestrated formulas that work with the body’s rhythms to awaken skin’s natural functions ... Imagine a brand so in tune with nature, it harvests its ingredients in alignment with the moon and stars. Imagine a brand that has studied plants for nearly 100 years ... Weleda is a people-and-planet over profits brand ... We still strive to make the best non-toxic, cruelty-free, paraben-free, GMO-free, phthalates-free and synthetic fragrance-free products available in the marketplace." [April 20, 2020, https://www.weleda.com/about-us/our-story.]

Werbeck singing - also see eurythmy; music

Named for the Swedish singer Valborg Werbeck-Svardstrom, this is a form of vocal production that seeks to express the inner, spiritual significance of song. Somewhat analogous to the dance form eurythmy [1], it is an art form practiced by Anthroposophists in accordance with certain indications given by Rudolf Steiner. In particular, Steiner gave Werbeck-Svardstrom a "Singer's Meditation": "May God's protecting ray of blessing pervade my ever-growing soul that it may everywhere lay hold of strength-bestowing forces. My soul shall vow to waken in itself life-giving might of love. To see thus God's strength along life's path, and with all it owns to work God's will." Werbeck-Svardstrom outlines Werbeck singing, and provides vocal exercises, in her book UNCOVERING THE VOICE. [2]

[1] See "Eurythmy".

[2] See, e.g., UNCOVERING THE VOICE: The Cleansing Power of Song, Revised Edition (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008).

wet-on-wet painting - also see arts; colors; painting; veil painting

A watercoloring technique emphasized in Waldorf schools: the use of wet brushes to spread watery colors across wet paper. In Waldorf schools, the results are meant to reflect Steiner's description of the spirit realm, a place of colors but not forms, intensities but not extensions. “You see, when the soul arrives on earth in order to enter its body [1], it has come down from spirit-soul worlds [2] in which there are no spatial forms. Thus the soul knows spatial forms only after its bodily experience [3], only while the aftereffects of space still linger on [4] ... But though the world from which the soul descends has no spatial forms or lines, it does have color intensities, color qualities. Which is to say that the world man inhabits between death and a new birth (and which I have frequently and recently described) [5] is a soul-permeated, spirit-permeated world of light, of color, of tone; a world of qualities not quantities; a world of intensities rather than extensions.” — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), p. 23. [See "Magical Arts" and "Wet-on-Wet".]


Wet-on-wet painting by a Waldorf student.
Here, a form is discernible near the center of the picture, 
although what it represents is unclear. 
In many other instances, no form at all is depicted. 
[Courtesy of 

[1] I.e., when the soul prepares to incarnate in a physical body.
[2] See "Higher Worlds".
[3] i.e., only after physical incarnation.
[4] I.e., only during life in the physical realm or while we remember such a life.
[5] Steiner taught that we reincarnate many times. [See "Reincarnation".] Here he says that the spirit realm, where we live between earthly incarnations, is a world of color, tone, light, etc.

wheels - see lotus flowers

white - also see peach-blossom; skin color; White Brotherhood; White Lodge; white magic; white occultist; white path; white race; cf. black

According to Steiner, white is the color of virtue and truth. It is related to, but distinct from, the skin color of Caucasians; it stands in spiritual/artistic opposition to black. "If we take the flesh color of Caucasian man, which resembles spring's fresh peach-blossom color, we have the living image of the soul. [1] If we contemplate white in an artistic way, we have the soul image of the spirit [2] ... And if, as artists, we take hold of black, we have the spiritual image of death. [3]" — R. Steiner, THE ARTS AND THEIR MISSION (Anthroposophic Press, 1964), lecture 8, GA 276. [See "White-Black".]

[1] Steiner distinguished the soul from the spirit, although he taught that they are intimately linked. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "soul" and "spirit-soul".]
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "spirit".
[3] In Waldorf schools, children are often barred from using black crayons, pencils, paints, etc.

White Brotherhood - also see secret brotherhoods; White Lodge; white occultist

According to Steiner, this is the secret brotherhood of "white" or good powers. It was founded on Atlantis. [1] “Just as the members of the great WHITE Brotherhood [sic] are always in harmony with one another and with humanity, so all men will one day be one, through this wisdom. [2] Only this wisdom can establish the true idea of brotherhood. Spiritual science therefore has only one task: to bring this idea to men ... The work of the spiritual-scientific movement, is therefore to allow a gradual flowing out of wisdom of the great white brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis. [3]” — R. Steiner, “The Adept-School of the Past”, ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET 31/32 (General Anthroposophical Society, 1941), GA 97.

[1] See, e.g., "Altogether". [Steiner taught that Atlantis really existed. See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Atlantis."]

[2] I.e., spiritual science, occult wisdom, or Anthroposophy. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.]

[3] Although Steiner gave other indications on other occasions, this is a concise summary of his conception of Anthroposophy's mission.

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

A council of masters, adepts, and gods who guide evolution, according to Steiner. [1] “You all know that the earth is guided in a particular way by the so-called [2] White Lodge in which highly developed human individualities and individualities of a still higher kind [3] are combined. What do they do there? They work; they lead [4] the evolution of the earth [5]; while leading this evolution, they are devising a quite specific plan. It is really the case that during the evolution of each planet [6] a specific plan is worked out by the guiding powers. While the earth is evolving, plans for the atom [7] for the evolution of Jupiter [8] — which succeeds the earth [9] — are drawn up in the so-called White Lodge of the Earth. The plan is worked out in full detail. Therein lies the blessing and salvation of progress....” — R. Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND AND THE GOLDEN LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 190. [See "The White Lodge".] 

[1] See the entries for "masters", "adept", and "gods" in this encyclopedia.
[2] Steiner often hedged his statements with phrases like "so-called" and "as it were." He did not mean that there should be doubts about the truth of his teachings, only that these truths are almost too deep for human language to express and/or that previous seers chose terminology that he himself might not have selected.
[3] I.e., the White Lodge includes spiritually enlightened humans ("highly developed human individualities") and beings higher than humans, essentially gods ("individualities of a still higher kind"). The latter may not yet be full members of the nine-rank panoply of gods [see "Polytheism"], but they have risen to divine status. (Buddha and Christian Rosenkreutz are often cited as examples. [See the entries for them in this encyclopedia.]  Anthroposophists often consider Steiner himself to be similarly elevated. [Also see "Supermen".])
[4] I.e., supervise, direct.
[5] And its inhabitants, chiefly human beings.
[6] I.e., each planetary condition: an incarnation of the solar system, during which humanity attains a new condition of consciousness. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.]
[7] I.e., 
seed or kernel.
[8] I.e., Future Jupiter, the next incarnation of the solar system. [See "Future Stages".] 
[9] I.e., Future Jupiter will follow the present incarnation of the solar system, called Present Earth. [See "Present Earth".]


white magic - also see ideal magic; magic; cf. black magic

Good magic — and it is perfectly real, Steiner said. "Now the basic principle of all white magic is that no power can be gained without selfless devotion. When through such devotion power is gained, it flows from the common life force [1] of the universe. If however we take its life-energy from some particular being, we steal this life-energy. Because it belonged to a separate being it densifies and strengthens the element of separateness in the person who has appropriated it, and this intensification of separateness makes him suited to becoming the pupil of those who are engaged in conflict with the good powers. [2]” — R. Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), lecture 20, GA 93a. [See "Magic".]

[1] See the entry for "life force" in this encyclopedia.
[2] I.e., such an individual uses, or strives to use, black magic. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "black magic".]

white occultist - also see initiate; leader; white magic; white path

This is a spiritual aspirant who delves into occult matters with good intentions; one who walks the white path, according to Steiner.[1]  "It does not follow that, when called upon to decide, anyone will naturally follow the white path [2] ... No one therefore should expect the occultists of the white path to give him instruction for the development of his own egotistical self [3] ... [N]o one merely seeking an advantage for himself will ever obtain assistance from the white occultists." — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1994), pp. 152-153. [See "White-Black".]

[1] See the entry for "white path", below.
[2] Abnormal or evil spirits may choose to follow the black path, Steiner taught. [See the entry for "black path" in this encyclopedia.]
[2] I.e., white occultists will not aid anyone whose motives are selfish or egotistical. (These would be motivations leading to the black path.)

white path - also see white; white occultist; cf. black path; path(s) of perdition

According to Steiner, this is the path of spiritual truth. When we seek to enter the spirit realm, we will be confronted by a spirit [1] who will say to us, "[I]f thou dost refuse to apply thy powers in this world, others will come who will not refuse; and a higher supersensible world [2] will receive all the fruits of the sense-world [3], while thou wilt lose from under thy feet the very ground in which thou wert rooted. The purified world will develop above and beyond thee, and thou shalt be excluded from it. Thus thou wouldst tread the black path, while the others from whom thou didst sever thyself tread the white path. [4]” — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947), chapter 10, GA 10. [See "Guardians".]

It is worth noting that while Anthroposophists often praise Steiner for advocating freedom, Steiner actually indicated that there are essentially just two paths, only one of which leads to elevation into the spirit realm. One may "freely" reject the white path, but the penalties are severe. [5] In practice, for Steiner and his followers, electing the "white path" means electing Anthroposophy itself. Anthroposophy, Steiner and his followers believe, is the truth (the word "Anthroposophy" means "human wisdom"). To find spiritual truth, to walk the white path, means affirming, embracing, and enacting Anthroposophy. [6]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Guardian(s) of the Threshold".
[2] I.e., a world that cannot be apprehended through the use of our ordinary senses.
[3] I.e., all the benefits of the life one led in the physical realm.
[4] Sic; emphasis by Steiner.
[5] See "Freedom".
[6] See the entry for "Anthroposophy" in this encyclopedia.

"white race" - also see Aryans; Caucasians; Europeans; cf Africans; Asians; Native Americans

According to Steiner, this is the most highly evolved race, the one that is spiritually creative. Steiner taught that whites stand at a higher level of spiritual evolution than other races. Whites are more civilized and more intelligent. “On one side we find the black race, which is earthly at most. [1] If it moves to the West [2], it becomes extinct. We also have the yellow race, which is in the middle between earth and the cosmos. [3] If it moves to the East, it becomes brown, attaches itself too much to the cosmos, and becomes extinct. The white race is the future, the race that is spiritually creative. [4]” — R. Steiner, VOM LEBEN DES MENSCHEN UND DER ERDE - ÜBER DAS WESEN DES CHRISTENTUMS (Verlag Der Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, 1961), GA 349, p. 52. [See "Steiner's Racism", "White Guys", and "Races".]


This is a copy of a sketch by Rudolf Steiner comparing three races; the labels have been translated from the original German. (Compare to the original sketch, below.) The white race, on the right, is characterized by use of the forebrain, and it leads a thinking life. The yellow race, center, is characterized by use of the middle brain, and it leads an emotional life. If this race moves from its proper place on Earth, it turns brown and tends to die out. The black race, on the left, is characterized by use of the rear brain, and it leads an impulsive life. If this race moves from it proper place on Earth, it turns copper red and tends to die out. [5]

[1] I.e., the black race is oriented to the physical plane of existence, according to Steiner.

[2] I.e., if the black race moves west from the place where it belongs.

[3] I.e., the yellow race is partially oriented to the physical plane and partially oriented to the spiritual realm.

[4] I.e., the white race is the vanguard of humanity's spiritual evolution, according to Steiner.

[5] Please note that all of these assertions are Steiner's; the author of this encyclopedia agrees with none of them.

Whitehead, Alan

Australian Waldorf teacher and former head of a Waldorf teacher-training center; he advocates explicit, open presentation of Anthroposophical concepts in Waldorf classes. His published works include an extensive series of Waldorf teachers' guides outlining the Waldorf "spiritual syllabus" as he sees is. [See "Spiritual Syllabus".]

Whitsun - also see festivals; Holy Ghost; I; speech

"Whitsun — or Pentecost. The Christian festival commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit ... [In Anthroposophy] this festival heralds individualized and independent connection with the spiritual world, and emphasizes the power of human utterance to speak spiritual truths ... [Accordingly,] inspiration from the higher 'I' [1] can guide us in life...." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 129. Whitsun is often celebrated in Waldorf schools. [2]

[1] I.e., the part of the I that remains in the spirit realm. [See the entry for "higher I" in this encyclopedia.] Van Oort explains that the Whitsun festival, as celebrated in Waldorf schools, celebrates the portion of the human being that remains in the spirit realm, inspiring our continued connection to that realm and our ability to express the truths of that realm.
[2] See, e.g., February, 2011 at the Waldorf Watch Annex.

whole child - also see childhood; "head, heart, and hands"; holistic education; human constitution

Waldorf schools aim to educate the "whole child," which in practice means de-emphasizing brainwork and intellect while stressing other capacities. The whole child, in Anthroposophy, is a reincarnated being who has three invisible bodies, twelve senses, both a soul and a spirit, an aura, a "temperament," a karma, an astrological sign, a spiritually significant racial identity, etc. The Waldorf conception of the "whole child" is deeply occult. [1] The goals of Waldorf education entail assisting children to incarnate and develop their various spiritual/physical members and capacities [2], many of which are not recognized by modern science or medicine. [See "Holistic Education" and the entry for "Waldorf education: goals," above.] 

The Waldorf view of the child is conditioned by the Anthroposophical description of human nature. Steiner variously taught that human beings consist of three, four, seven, or nine main component parts. [3] In the simplest of these descriptions, a human being is said to consist of a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. The most complex of the descriptions posits three subdivisions of each of these three primary parts (there are three subdivisions of the physical body, three subdivisions of the soul, and three subdivisions of the spirit). Waldorf schools base their approach on Steiner's teachings about these matters. [4] Crucially, the Anthroposophical view does not consider the brain or mind to be one of the main human components. Indeed, Steiner generally disparaged the brain, saying that it does not produce thoughts and is not the true locus of knowledge. [5] The Waldorf approach is, consequently, largely anti-intellectual. [6] Waldorf education may be said to focus on an amorphous "life force" [7] rather than actual knowledge or mental development. “The success of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner [said], can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — P. Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30. One result is that Waldorf schools often have low academic standards. [8] Whether Waldorf education nourishes parts of the child aside from the brain is a matter of debate. The attempt is made principally through emphasis on arts and crafts. [9] But if various subjects of central concern to Waldorf education are illusory (life force, karma, invisible bodies, etc.), then little real benefit may be conferred on children, and indeed harm may result instead.

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for such terms as "bodies", "senses", "soul", "spirit", etc. (In addition to being occult, the Anthroposophical view of the whole child may be deemed, by some, outmoded and prejudiced.)

[2] E.g., ◊ "Waldorf education is based upon the recognition that the four bodies of the human being [the physical, etheric, astral, and ego bodies] develop and mature at different times.” — R. Trostl, Introduction to RHYTHMS OF LEARNING: What Waldorf Education Offers Children, Parents & Teachers (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 4-5. ◊ “[F]rom a spiritual-scientific [i.e., Anthroposophical] point of view child education consists mainly in integrating the soul-spiritual members with the corporeal members [i.e., integrating the invisible bodies with the physical body].” — G. Childs, STEINER EDUCATION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE (Floris Books, 1998), p. 68. ◊ “[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — R. Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.

[3] See the entries in this encyclopedia for "threefold nature of man", "fourfold nature of man", "sevenfold nature of man", and "ninefold nature of man."

[4] See "Oh Humanity".

[5] See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific" and "Thinking".

[6] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "anti-intellectualism in Anthroposophy".

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

[8] See "Academic Standards at Waldorf".

[9] See "Magical Arts", "My Life Among the Anthroposophists", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "crafts".


Wilkinson, Roy (1917-2007)

A Waldorf educator and prolific Anthroposophical writer. His published works include RUDOLF STEINER: An Introduction to his Spiritual World-view Anthroposophy, RUDOLF STEINER ON EDUCATION, and THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION: The Waldorf School Approach. His booklets on Waldorf education (including "The Interpretation of Fairy Tales”, “The Human Being and the Animal World”, and “The Temperaments in Education”) are standard reference works for Waldorf teachers worldwide. [See, e.g., "Common Sense".]

will, willpower - also see childhood; deep sleep; "doing" Anthroposophy; self-deception; will man

In Waldorf belief, will or willpower is a separate human faculty, and it predominates in childhood. [See "Will".] The gods implant will in children before birth, and children under the age of seven are largely creatures of will. "[W]ill is embodied in the metabolic system and limbs. [1] The processes at this pole occur largely at an unconscious level ... When growing up, the child experiences a metamorphosis of will impulses into thinking processes ... Thinking is the metamorphosis of will." — H. v. Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 130. 

Throughout life, when humans fall into deep sleep, the will is renewed by the gods. Fostered by divine spirits, will is thus a highly reliable guide for our actions. It enables us to focus our awareness and thus attain higher consciousness. [2] "[I]t is necessary that the student [3] should control and dominate everything that seeks to influence him from outside. He should reach the point of really receiving no impressions beyond those he wishes to receive. [4] This can only be achieved by the development of a powerful inner life; by an effort of the will he only allows such things to impress him to which his attention is directed, and he actually evades all impressions to which he does not voluntarily respond. If he sees something it is because he wills to see it, and if he does not voluntarily take notice of something it is actually non-existent for him." — R. Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1944), p. 94.

In essence, Steiner's followers will themselves to believe Steiner's doctrines. While of course they do not think of the matter in these terms, they must exert willpower in the process of self-deception. A true Anthroposophist sees only what s/he wants to see ("
receiving no impressions beyond those he wishes to receive"); everything else is, or should be, nonexistent for her or him ("he actually evades all impressions to which he does not voluntarily respond ... [Anything else] is actually non-existent for him."). [See "Fooling (Ourselves)" and "Why? Oh Why?"]

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "metabolic-limb system".
[2] Seeking higher consciousness is central to Anthroposophy. [See "Knowing the Worlds" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "evolution of consciousness".] Essentially, higher consciousness — in Anthroposophical belief — is clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance" and "Exactly".]
[3] I
.e., candidate for initiation. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[4] From a critical perspective, this amounts to closing one's eyes and mind, deflecting anything that is not wholly consistent with one's preconceived ideas. You see and think and believe only what you will yourself to see and think and believe. From an Anthroposophical perspective, this is all to the good since the gods have implanted in you the will to see and think and believe the divine truth.

will man - also see limb man; metabolic-limb system; will

In Anthroposophical belief: This is an inner human being, carried by the limb man [1]; will man conveys the forces of will. [2] There is a deep connection between the limbs, the will, and sleep, Steiner said. The limb man — bearing the will man — is almost always asleep. Our conscious, waking minds are often unaware of the gods and their intentions, but the sleeping limb man is aware of the divine, and he transmits his awareness to the will man. "[T]he ‘Limb-man’ as carrier of the ‘Will-man’, is in a permanent state of sleep ... [T]o comprehend human nature, it is necessary to fix our attention upon the fact of the extension of the limb-nature [3] into the interior of man. All the processes that are ultimately connected with the abdominal region, everything connected with assimilation, digestion, as also with the secretion of milk in females, and so forth, all these processes are a continuation of the limb nature, directed inwards. So that in speaking of the will-nature or metabolic-nature, we do not mean only the outer limbs, but the continuation inwards too of this limb activity. In respect to all this, intimately connected as it is with the will-nature, man is continuously asleep ... [A] portion of man...sleeps even while he is awake ... [T]he starting-point of the lower limbs is [unconsciously] under the rulership of the Moon, while the region of the larynx, which we may consider as the meeting-point of the higher limbs, is associated with Mars. [4]" — R. Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 9, GA 201.

The will man is informed by the unconscious wisdom of the limb man. Our will, far more than our waking consciousness, leads us to the gods, Steiner taught. Indeed, the will becomes the consciousness we possess after death. “[I]t is not thought or reflection, but first and foremost the faculty of will that man possesses after death. Will becomes itself perception, becomes man's whole world of life.” — R. Steiner, SUPERSENSIBLE MAN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), p. 55. This is the legacy of the will man.

[1] This is the inner man who conveys the forces of the metabolic-limb system, Steiner said. Limb man is often sometimes referred to as the metabolic-limb man. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "limb man", "metabolic-limb man", and "metabolic-limb system".]
[2] See "Will". 
[3] I.e., our metabolic-limb nature. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "metabolic-limb man" and "metabolic-limb system".]
[4] Astrological influences are stressed throughout Anthroposophical teachings. [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power"; also see "Planets".]

willpower - see will

Winterfest (Winter Festival, Carnival) - also see Christmas; circus arts; festivals; King Winter; temperaments

Often occurring in late January or in February, this is one of the festivals punctuating the Waldorf school year. [1] In the northern hemisphere, Winterfest may provide relief from the long dreary weeks toward the end of winter, and — with its emphasis on celebratory entertainment — it points toward the renewal of life in the coming springtime.

At many Waldorf schools, Winterfest — also known as Winter Festival or Carnival — entails role-playing by the students, who may or may not wear costumes for the occasion. The frolics of Winterfest or Carnival are comparable to the capers enacted at Waldorf schools that teach circus arts. [2] During the festival, each child is asked to spend the day in the guise of a character having a personality opposite to the child's real personality. (Teachers may assign students to impersonate someone having a different temperament, for instance. [3] A sanguine child may be told to impersonate a choleric character, for instance.) This presumably helps students to understand themselves better (they must know who they really are in order to play the opposite), while at the same time it loosens the bonds confining the children to ordinary reality (which can be beneficial in the Waldorf effort to lead students to embrace the otherworldly vision of Anthroposophy). [4] Critics allege that the students are thereby trained, in effect, to remake themselves in accordance with their teachers' directives.

At some Waldorf schools, Winterfest may substitute for overt Christmas celebrations (in which case it may be scheduled for December). [5] The ceremonies then may center on the rotation of the yearly cycle, with the cold and apparent lifelessness of deep winter eventually giving way to rebirth and burgeoning life in the coming spring. When Christ [6] is not explicitly revered in festival observances, King Winter may occupy the spotlight. [7] 

Winterfest may also be designed as a showcase for students to display their artistic talents and achievements. Like other Waldorf festivals when open to the public, Winterfest may be at least partly a public relations exercise enticing new families into the Waldorf community. 

[1] See "Festivals" on the page "Magical Arts".

[2] See "circus arts" in this encyclopedia.

[3] See "Temperaments".

[4] Concerning this and other purposes of Waldorf education, see, e.g., "Here's the Answer".

[5] See "Christmas".

[6] See "Sun God".

[7] See "King Christmas" in this encyclopedia.

wisdom - also see Anthroposophy; clairvoyance; education; knowledge; occult science; science; spiritual science; truth

For Rudolf Steiner's followers, wisdom essentially consists of Anthroposophy (the word "Anthroposophy," derived from Greek roots, means knowledge or wisdom of the human being). [1] Considered from slightly different angles, this wisdom is the substance of spiritual science or occult science. [2] The chief "truths" or essential "knowledge" propounded by Steiner can be found in the central texts of Anthroposophy: AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE [3] and KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. [4] In an important sense, for Anthroposophists, "wisdom" is embodied in Steiner's teachings, and no other sources generally need be consulted. Anthroposophists often seek to attain wisdom directly, through their own efforts to "do" Anthroposophy (i.e., employ the methods of spiritual or occult science, as outlined by Steiner) [5], but rarely if ever do they move far beyond Steiner's teachings or find any flaw in them. Steiner professed to employ "exact clairvoyance" to acquire his wisdom, and this form of clairvoyance is by definition essentially unchallengeable (such clairvoyance presumably produces exact or absolute spiritual knowledge). [6] The use of clairvoyance is, indeed, fundamental to Anthroposophy; if, as critics contend, clairvoyance is an illusion, then the entire edifice of Anthroposophy collapses and its "wisdom" is revealed to be null. [7]

Waldorf education is meant to convey Anthroposophical "wisdom" to the students, [8] although the process is often indirect and covert. [9] Waldorf teachers rarely lay out Anthropsophical doctrines explicitly in class; rather, they strive to envelope the students in an atmosphere of Anthroposophical attitudes and inclinations, generally below the level of intellectual thought. [10] However, there are many exceptions, based largely on the individual choices made by Waldorf faculty members, so that in some cases Anthroposophy is openly advocated and taught. [11]

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

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

[3] See "Everything".

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

[6] See "Exactly".

[7] See "Clairvoyance".

[8] See "Indoctrination".

[9] See, e.g., "Secrets" and "Sneaking It In".

[10] See "Spiritual Agenda", particularly the section "We Don't Teach It".

[11] See, e.g., "Spiritual Syllabus".

witches - also see black magic; magic; mediums; wizards

Witches really exist, according to Steiner, and they possess occult secrets. In essence, witches are mediums. "What had been feared in bygone times, when the abilities of the fourth post-Atlantean period still worked in people [1], had indeed now come to pass. In those days witches were burnt, simply because those people called witches were really no more than mediums, and because their connections with the spiritual world — though of a materialistic nature — might cause knowledge to be revealed which would have been very awkward for certain people. [2] Thus, for instance it might have been very awkward for certain brotherhoods [3] if, before being burnt at the stake, a witch [sic] had revealed what lay behind them. [4] For it is true that when consciousness is lowered [5] there can be a kind of telephone connection with the spiritual world, and that by this route all sorts of secrets can come out. Those who burnt the witches did so for a very good reason: It could have been very awkward for them if the witches had revealed anything to the world, whether in a good or a bad sense, but especially in a bad sense." — R. Steiner, THE KARMA OF UNTRUTHFULNESS, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1988), lecture 11, GA 173.

[1] i.e., when people still had the clairvoyance we possessed during the fourth age following the sinking of Atlantis. (Steiner taught that we currently live in the fifth post-Atlantis age, and our ancient powers of clairvoyance have largely died.) [See "Atlantis" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Post-Atlantean Epoch".]
[2] I.e., witches were in fact mediums. They were burned at the stake because their ability to contact beings in the spirit realm could enable them to discover secrets that certain important people wanted to keep hidden. (The witches or mediums have only a low sort of clairvoyance — it was "of a materialistic nature", not truly spiritual — yet it worked. The mediums could uncover occult secrets.)
[3] I.e., secret or occult societies. [See, e.g., "Double Trouble" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "secret brotherhoods".]
[4] I.e., if the witch had revealed the spiritual powers behind that brotherhood.
[5] I.e., when a low form of clairvoyant consciousness is used.

wizards - also see black magic; magic; white magic; witches

In Anthroposophy: great magicians, especially black magicians. They actually exist or will exist, Steiner taught. "[T]here appears on our horizon, so to speak, the division of humanity in the far distant future; the chosen of Christ, who finally will be the white magicians [1], and the adversaries, the terrible wizards, the black magicians [2] who cannot escape from matter and whom the writer of the Apocalypse describes as those who make prostitution with matter. [3] Hence this whole practice of black magic, the union which takes place between man and the hardening in matter [4] is presented to him in the spiritual vision of the great Babylon, the community made up of all those who carry on black magic; in the frightful marriage, or rather, unrestrained marriage, between man and the forces of prostituted matter." — R. Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1958), lecture 11, GA 104.

[1] See "Magic", "Magicians", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "white magic". In essence, Steiner says here that those who follow the white path — defined by his own teachings — will attain magical powers. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "magic" and "white path".] They will be the "chosen of Christ" — true Christians, which in Steiner's teachings means true Anthroposophists. [See "Was He Christian?" and the entry in this encyclopedia for "Christianity".]
[2] See "Magic", "Magicians", and the entry in this encyclopedia for "black magic".
[3] I.e., those who sink too far into material existence and misuse ("prostitute") matter for immoral ends.
[4] "Hardening in matter" is descent too far into matter, so that one becomes excessively material — removed too far from the spirit realm.

Word, The - also see The Bible; Christ; fifth gospel; Logos; Veda(s)

In Western religious tradition, "The Word" often refers to the Bible (God's Word) and/or to Christ, conceived as the embodiment or fulfillment of the Bible's message. [1] ◊ "When [St. John] in his wholly characteristic manner spoke of Jesus [2], he could not do otherwise than begin with what he calls the 'Word' or the 'Logos.'" — R. Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN, lecture 1, GA 103.  ◊ "Logos ... A term prominent especially in early Christian theology as a title or description for Christ. The Christian use depends on...the Hebrew conception of God's word...as having an almost independent existence." — THE OXFORD DICTIONARY OF WORLD RELIGIONS (Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 584.

ccording to Steiner, The Word is the second member of the Godhead. “The Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones are for us the highest Hierarchy among divine Beings [3], because they have already passed through their solar system evolution [4] and have risen to mighty cosmic deeds of sacrifice. [5] Hence it is that these Beings have come into the actual direct vicinity of the highest Godhead [6] of which we can speak at all: the Trinity, the threefold Divinity. [7] 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. [8]" — R. Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL HIERARCHIES (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1928), lecture 5, GA 110. [See "Trinity".]

[1] See "Logos".
[2] Note that Steiner distinguished between Jesus, a human being, and Christ, the Sun God. [See "Was He Christian?" and "Sun God".] In Anthroposophy, the Word or Logos is Christ, not Jesus.
[3] I.e., these high-ranking gods are members of the First Hierarchy, the highest subdivision of the nine ranks of gods. [See "Polytheism".]
[4] I
.e., they have completed all their own planetary stages or conditions of consciousness.  [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] They have, in a sense, fulfilled their evolution toward divine perfection.
[5] I.e., being very highly evolved, they devote themselves to selfless actions that benefit the entire cosmos.
[6] See "God".
[7] See "Trinity".
[8] Steiner here equates the Hindu trinity with the Christian trinity, and he identifies Christ not as the "Son" but as the "Word." (Brahma is the Hindu concept of a supreme, all-pervasive Spirit; Shiva is the god of destruction; Vishnu is the divinity of creation and salvation. Perhaps awkwardly, in the formulation Steiner gives here, Christ — the Word — is not the Savior but, implicitly, the god of destruction, Shiva.)

world aroma
- also see Logoi; world light; world sound

According to Steiner, the highest of three Logoi [1] is neither seen clairvoyantly nor heard clairvoyantly, it is smelled clairvoyantly. The transcendent aroma or odor, the "world aroma," is the emanation of the highest Logos. ◊ "At the beginning of the world the first Logos began to let his being stream out; a fragrance filled world space. Let the world aroma be the first Logos. All material things originated from his body. He is the aroma of the world. Then the second Logos began to stream out and he wove pictures and forms into the world aroma. The world began to take on form; light and colors lit up. Then the third Logos sounded through the developing world. World aroma flowed in space, wonderful forms lit up, and the sounds of the third Logos surged through this shimmering, fragrant world." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES, Berlin, Dec. 18, 1906, GA 266.  ◊ "The world aroma that goes through the whole universe is the Father's [2] revelation, is the original substance. We call it odor today. Odor is something we don't become aware of much yet; taste has become disclosed to us a little bit more ... The experience of odor as world aroma leads to the Father." — R. Steiner, ibid., Basel, Nov. 23, 1907.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Logoi".
[2] I.e., the Father God, or God the Father.

world conceptions - also see philosophy; world outlooks

According to Steiner, these are the twelve justified or defended conceptions of reality; they are philosophical standpoints. [1] Steiner associated them with the twelve signs of the zodiac. [2] "Let us begin with Idealism, and let us mark it with the mental-zodiacal sign of Aries; in like manner let us mark Rationalism as Taurus, Mathematism as Gemini, Materialism as Cancer, Sensationalism as Leo, Phenomenalism as Virgo, Realism as Libra, Dynamism as Scorpio, Monadism as Sagittarius, Spiritism as Capricorn, Pneumatism as Aquarius, and Psychism as Pisces. The relations which exist spatially between the individual zodiacal signs are actually present between these shades of world-outlook in the realm of spirit." [3] — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 50. 

[1] See "Philosophy".
[2] Astrology underlies much of Anthroposophical thinking. [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".]
[3] Many of the terms (idealism, Aries, zodiac, etc.) are defined and discussed elsewhere in this encyclopedia. 

world cultures - also see American Age; Anglo-Germanic Age; Anthroposophy; civilization; cultural epochs; Egypto-Chaldean Age; Greco-Roman Age; Indian Age; myths; nations; Persian Age; races; Russian Age

There are Waldorf schools today on all continents except Antarctic. Whereas Waldorf education was originally designed for German children [1], the focus has — at least to some degree — broadened. Waldorf schooling today often exposes students to the cultures of many lands, including various artistic, mythological, and religious traditions.

Steiner taught that the races of mankind represent stages of evolution [2]. Similarly, he indicated that the cultures of the Earth's inhabitants reflect developmental stages that reached their peaks in various historical periods. He taught that world cultures stand on a hierarchical, sequential scale, extending from the ancient past to the distant future. [3]

The multiculturalism found in Waldorf schools today may be, in many cases, an effort by today's Waldorf teachers to offset the racist legacy left by Steiner. However, because many Anthroposophists — including many Waldorf teachers — look on Steiner as an almost infallible sage [4], it is difficult if not impossible for them to repudiate his teachings on any matter. The consequence is that a racial bias (leaning toward Central Europe and especially Germany) remains evident in the Anthroposophical world view [5]. 

Some Waldorf teachers today offer the proposition that the various world cultures should be accepted as essentially of equal value, but this proposition is inconsistent with basic Anthroposophical teachings. Indeed, the study of world cultures at Waldorf schools is often, in effect, an affirmation of — or an indirect introduction to — Anthroposophy. This is particularly true when this study focuses chiefly on world mythologies and religions. Anthroposophy is to a considerable extent an aggregation of concepts and beliefs drawn from diverse mythologies and religions, Eastern as well as Western. [6]

[1] See "The Good Wars".
[2] See "Steiner's Racism".
[3] See "Epochs".
[4] See "Guru".
[5] See "Embedded Racism".
[6] Anthroposophists often deny that their world view is a religion; they call it a "spiritual science." But the religious nature of Anthroposophy is patent. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

world ether - also see Earth; ether; etheric body

In Anthroposophical teachings, the Earth is usually considered to be alive [1], and as such it has various nonphysical bodies, just as humans do. [2] The "world ether" is the Earth's etheric body. [3] "World ether — the ether body [i.e., etheric body] of the earth...which sustains all living processes, along with currents in the oceans and atmosphere." — H. van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 131.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Earth".
[2] See "Incarnation".
[3] This is an immaterial constellation of formative forces. [See the entry for "etheric body" in this encyclopedia.] Steiner generally taught that there are four ethers; the total becomes five if, as Steiner sometimes did, we include world ether. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "ether" and "pentagram".]

world light
 - also see Logoi; world aroma; world sound

According to Steiner, drawing from Biblical teachings, the second of three Logoi [1] is Christ, the "light of the world."  ◊ All the lectures given [2] on the Gospel of St. John during the last three years centred around the words contained in that Gospel: 'I am the Light of the world.'" — R. Steiner, DEEPER SECRETS OF HUMAN HISTORY IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW (Anthroposophical Publishingg Co., 1957), lecture 1, GA 117.  ◊ "At the turning-point of time, [3] / The Spirit-Light of the World / Entered the stream of Earthly Evolution. [4] / 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! / Warm Thou our hearts, / Enlighten Thou our heads, / That good may become / What from our hearts we would found / And from our heads direct / With single purpose." — R. Steiner, THE CHRISTMAS CONFERENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), GA 260.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Logoi".
[2] I.e., given by Steiner himself.
[3] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Turning Point of Time".
[4] I.e., Christ, the Sun God, incarnated on Earth. [See "Sun God".] 

world moods - see world outlook moods

world of light - see light world

world of soul - see soul world

world of spirit - see spirit world(s)

world outlooks - also see philosophy; world conceptions

According to Steiner, these are seven possible soul moods one can have within the twelve justified or defended world conception  [1] Steiner associated these seven moods with the seven "planets" of astrology. [2] "[T]he relations which are entered into by the planets, as they follow their orbits [3] through the Zodiac [4], correspond to the relations which the seven world-outlook-moods enter into, so that we can feel Gnosticism as Saturn, Logicism as Jupiter, Voluntarism as Mars, Empiricism as Sun, Mysticism as Venus, Transcendentalism as Mercury, and Occultism as Moon. [5]" — R. Steiner, HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991), p. 51


All seven world outlooks can exist within each of the 12 world conceptions, Steiner said. Here the world outlooks are shown within the seven planetary spheres, while the world conceptions are shown occupying the zodiac. Anthroposophists find such neat patterns impressive and persuasive; critics find them contrived and fallacious. [Image from HUMAN AND COSMIC THOUGHT, p. 50; color added.]

[1] See "Philosophy" and the entry for "world outlooks", below.
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "planets".
[3] Steiner sometimes said that the planets orbit the Sun; at other times, he said they don't. [See "Deception".]
[4] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "zodiac". Astrology is central to Anthroposophy.  [See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".]
[5] See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.

world sound - also see Logoi; world aroma; world light

According to Steiner, the third of three Logoi [1] is heard clairvoyantly, or through clairaudience. [2] The transcendent sound, the "world sound," is the emanation of the third Logos. ◊ "World sound, the sound that reverberates and weaves through the world, is the revelation of the Spirit, the form." — R. Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES, Basel, Nov. 23, 1907, GA 266.  ◊ "The creative word is the third Logos of the Trinity. [3] He's the world sound that resounds through the world." — R. Steiner, ibid.., Hamburg, Feb. 11, 1907.

[1] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Logoi"; also see "Logos".
[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "clairaudience".
[3] When considered as a member of the triune God of Christianity, the third Logos is the Holy Ghost. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Holy Ghost"; also see "Trinity".]

World-word - see Logos; The Word

worship in Waldorf schools - also see Anthroposophy; festivals; graces; hymns; prayers; religion; rite

Waldorf schools often serve as de facto churches for practicing Anthroposophists. [1] Various forms of religious observance are typically held in the schools, ranging from disguised religious festivals [2] to formal worship services. [3] Many prayers are recited by faculty and students [4], including "morning verses" at the start of most school days. These verses — which are distinctly prayers — were generally written by Rudolf Steiner himself, and include such lines as "God’s spirit, ‘tis to Thee/ I turn myself in prayer." [5] The deity or deities worshipped in Waldorf schools are not the God of monotheism, despite the terminology often used. Anthroposophy is polytheistic. [6] The "God" — of "God's spirit" — addressed in Anthroposophical prayers may be taken to be the nebulous Godhead, which is essentially disembodied divine will [7], or it may be taken as divinity as spread throughout the ranks of the gods. Anthroposophy recognizes nine ranks of gods [8], and indeed some of the prayers used by Anthroposophists address these various ranks. A key Anthroposophical belief is that one of humanity's grave errors has been to forget the many gods who have aided our evolution. An inverted revision of the Lord's Prayer used by Steiner is directed not to God but to an array of gods whom humanity has generally forsaken: "[M]an deserted your kingdom,/ And forgot your names,/ You fathers in the heavens." [9] One major goal of Anthroposophical worship is to renew the active interchanges between humans and gods.

[2] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "festivals".
[3] See "Waldorf Worship".
[4] See "Prayers".
[5] This is from the prayer Steiner wrote for students in the upper grades.
[6] See "Polytheism".
[7] See "God".
[8] See the entry in this encyclopedia for "hierarchies".

writing - see form drawing; reading

 - X, Y, Z -

Yahweh - see Jehovah

"yellow race" - see Asia, Asians; cf. Africans; Native Americans; "white race"

Yggdrasil - also see Norse myths

In Norse mythology, this is the tree of life. It is the center of the Earth, with roots extending to the land of the giants and to the land of the gods. [See "The Gods".] "The human being is like a flowing together of forces ... In Germanic mythology [1] this is portrayed by the tree, the world-ash, the symbol for threefold human nature [2] ... 'Ygg' is the ancient form for growth and evolution. [3] You will find that in the ancient forms of speech as a characterization for what has been incorporated, the world-ash is called 'Yggdrasil.' Yggdrasil means, 'the carrying I'; and the name of the god who is connected with the formation of the I [4] is also derived from it ... In old High German that [is] Odin. [5]" — R. Steiner, READING THE PICTURES OF THE APOCALYPSE (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), lecture 4, GA 104a. The derivation of "Yggdrasil" is vague, but the word apparently comes from the Old Norse words for "Odin" (Yggr) and "horse"(drasill) — see THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (Oxford University Press, 1998), Vol. 20, p. 741.

[1] I.e., Norse myths, which are emphasized in Waldorf schools. [See "The Gods".]
[2] Steiner gave varying accounts of the human constitution. One of these, identifying "threefold human nature," asserts that a full human being has a physical body, a soul, and a spirit. [See the entries for "threefold human nature", "bodies", "soul", and "spirit" in this encyclopedia.]
[3] Steiner taught that Norse myths give an essentially accurate account of human evolution. [See the entries for "evolution", "evolution of consciousness", and "Norse myths" in this encyclopedia.]
[4] I.e., our spark of divinity, the spiritual ego. [See "Ego".]
[5] Odin in the highest Norse god, the king of the gods.

yoga - also see Hinduism; cf. Rosicrucian

An ascetic Hindu spiritual discipline entailing breath control and meditation undertaken in specified physical postures. According to Steiner, yoga is one of the occult paths. It is no longer suitable for man — or at least Western man — at his present stage of evolution, Steiner said. When enumerating spiritual paths, Steiner said the first is "The Eastern way, also called Yoga. Here, an initiated man [1] living on the physical plane acts as the Guru [2] of another, who entrusts himself to his Guru completely and in all details. This method will go best if during his occult development [3] the pupil eliminates his own self entirely and hands it over to his Guru, who must even advise him on every action he may take. This absolute surrender of one's own self suits the Indian character [4]; but there is no place for it in European culture." — R. Steiner, AT THE GATES OF SPIRITUAL SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1986), lecture 12, GA 95. [See "Rosy Cross" and "Yoga".]

Despite Steiner's statement that yoga is not appropriate for modern Europeans, Anthroposophists sometimes credit him with practicing yoga as well as the other spiritual disciplines he enumerated. “Rudolf Steiner spoke of three ways: what he called the way of ‘yoga’; the ‘Christian’ or ‘Christian-Gnostic’ way [5]; and the ‘Rosicrucian’ way [6] ... Steiner himself practiced and taught all three ways.” — C. Bamford, START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), p. 188.

[1] For an overview of initiation, see "Inside Scoop".
[2] See "Guru".
[3] I.e., development on occult capabilities and consciousness, especially clairvoyance. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Clairvoyance"; also see "Occultism" and "Clairvoyance".]
[4] Steiner taught that the Indian Age was the first cultural epoch. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] Indians today still stand, to some degree, at that early evolutionary level, Steiner said. [For some of Steiner's teaching about various peoples and races, see "Races" and "Differences".]
[5] See, e.g., "Gnosis".
[6] See, e.g., "Rosy Cross".

yugas - also see Dvapara Yuga; Kalu Yuga; Krita Yuga; Treta Yuga; cf. ages

In Hinduism, history is cyclical. Humanity passes through an endless series of "great ages," each of which is 4,320,000 years long. There are four "ages" or "yugas" in each great age: a "golden age" (Krita Yuga) followed by a "silver age" (Treta Yuga) then a "bronze age" (Dvapara Yuga) and finally a "dark age" (Kali Yuga). Theosophy largely affirms this account, and it asserts that shorter yugas or ages occur within the major yugas — different races have their own, brief "racial yugas" within the long "cosmic yugas." The cosmic yugas of Hinduism and Theosophy run for the following periods: Krita Yuga: 1,728,000 years; Treta Yuga: 1,296,000 years; Dvapara Yuga: 864,000 years; Kali Yuga: 432,000 years. 

Rudolf Steiner was a Theosophist before breaking away to found Anthroposophy as a separate movement. In his teachings, Steiner emphasized brief yugas, and he indicated that they do not repeat endlessly. The brief yugas of which Steiner spoke have these terms (Steiner left the numbers somewhat vague): Krita Yuga: about 20,000 years; Treta Yuga: about 15,000 years; Dvapara Yuga: about 10,000 years; Kali Yuga: about 5,000 years. We are now in the Post-Kali period, Steiner said; it will run for about 2,500 years. (Steiner was not always consistent about these matters, and he said less about yugas after leaving Theosophy.)

"When the soul felt itself a member of the higher world [1], there spoke out of this soul a will that also sprang from the divine-spiritual world — a will of which it might rightly be said that it was inspired, because the soul was living among Gods. [paragraph break] Higher knowledge speaks of this age when man was still united with the divine-spiritual Beings [2] as the Golden Age, or Krita Yuga ... [Later, men]
 still lived in the spiritual world [3], but in this later age the realisation of its existence was not as strong as it had formerly been. This period is called the Silver Age, or Treta Yuga ... Then came the epoch of those incarnations [4] when man's vision was more and more shut off from the spiritual world, when his whole nature was directed to the outer sense-world [5] and firmly consolidated in that world; inner ego-consciousness, consciousness of manhood, became more and more definite and distinct. This is the Bronze Age, or Dvapara Yuga ... But then came another age, an age when even this degree of familiarity with the spiritual world ceased, when the doors of the spiritual world closed ... This age is called Kali Yuga, or the Dark Age ... Kali Yuga is over [6] and the souls of men are now beginning to develop new faculties. These faculties — because this is the purpose of the epoch — will of themselves draw forth from souls certain powers of clairvoyance [7] which during Kali Yuga had necessarily to be submerged in the realm of the unconscious." — R. Steiner, THE TRUE NATURE OF THE SECOND COMING (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1961), lecture 1, GA 118.



 ◊ Krita Yuga (the Golden Age) ◊ 

 ◊ Treta Yuga (the Silver Age) ◊ 

 ◊ Dvarpa Yuga (the Bronze Age) ◊ 

 ◊ Kali Yuga (the Dark Age) ◊ 

These are the world ages according to Hinduism. Theosophy has adopted a modified version of this conception, which Steiner accepted at least during his Theosophical period.

[1] I.e., when we still had an innate sense of connection to the spirit realm.
[2] I.e., gods.
[3] I.e., we retained our sense of connection to the spirit realm.
[4] We incarnate many times, Steiner taught. [See "Reincarnation".]
[5] I.e., the physical world, perceptible with our ordinary senses.
[6] In most Anthroposophical accounts, Kali Yuga ended in 1899 when Rudolf Steiner began delivering occult lectures. [See the entry for "1899" in this encyclopedia.]
[7] Developing such powers of clairvoyance is a central objective in Anthroposophy. Through Anthroposophy, Steiner taught, we will know the spirit realm again, but at an even more profound level. [See "Knowing the Worlds".]

Zachariel - also see Archangels; Jupiter

In Anthroposophical belief: the Archangel of Jupiter, who last presided over human evolution from 500-850 CE. [1] Such dates are approximate, however, and Anthroposophists sometimes attend to differing accounts, using differing systems of temporal reference. "The third ruler, Zachariel, the Angel of Jupiter, began to rule the world in the year 708 after the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the eighth month — that is, on October 26. Zachariel ruled the universe for 354 years and 4 months until the year 1060. Under Zacahriel's direction humans began to take turns usurping power. They began to hunt, to put up tents, to decorate their bodies with different kinds of clothes. The good were separated from the evil ... [T]he evil plunged into pleasures of the flesh. Under Zachariel, people began to live in society, to submit to laws imposed on them by the strongest among them ... It was under Zachariel that Adam, the first human being, died, leaving to posterity the inevitability of death." — Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516), Abbot of Sponheim, quoted as an appendix to Steiner's THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL - His Mission and Ours (SteinerBooks, 1994), p. 300.

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

Zarathustra - also see Ahura Mazda; Jesus; Solomonic Jesus; Zoroaster; Zoroastrianism

A Persian prophet, the founder of Zoroastrianism; also known as Zoroaster. (Anthroposophists often differentiate between Zarathustra and Zoroaster, asserting that Zarathustra preceded Zoroaster in earthly incarnation. Zarathustra lived and died, then he reincarnated as Zoroaster, then he reincarnated again as the Solomonic Jesus.)

According to Steiner, one of the two Jesus children [1] had the soul of Zarathustra. "[T]he writer of the Matthew Gospel [2] was concerned with one of the Jesus-children, the one born from the Solomon line. [3] Then, at almost but not quite the same time, another Jesus-child was born, from the Nathan line of the House of David. [paragraph break] The important thing is to understand clearly what kind of beings these two children were. Occult investigation shows that the individuality [4] who was in the Solomon Jesus-child was none other than Zarathustra ... [H]e [Zarathustra] had been incarnated again and again; lastly during the Babylonian-Chaldaic civilisation, and now as the Solomon Jesus-child. This Zarathustra individuality, with all the great and powerful inner forces which in the nature of things he had brought over from earlier incarnations, had to incarnate in a body descended from the Solomon side of the House of David; a body adapted for working up and further developing the great faculties of Zarathustra, in the way that human faculties, when they are already at a very high level, can be brought further on, in so far as they belong to the being who is going from incarnation to incarnation [5] ... Hence we see the Zarathustra-individuality growing up in such a way that the faculties of the child developed comparatively early. The child soon showed an extent of knowledge which would normally have been impossible at his age." — R. Steiner, FROM JESUS TO CHRIST (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), lecture 6, GA 131. 

Steiner identified 
Zarathustra as the wisest human who lived before the incarnation of Christ, the Sun God, in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. "[I]nsight will dawn in those who understand the secret of the two Jesus boys. In the one boy there was present the power of Zarathustra, the wisest of all pre-Christian human beings. This boy represents the flower and summation of all previous stages of human evolution. The aura of the other boy was illumined by the forces of the great Buddha." — R. Steiner, CHRISTMAS (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p.135.

[1] Steiner taught that there were two boys, each named Jesus, who merged in order to become the host for the Sun God on Earth. [See "Was He Christian?"]

[2] I.e., the author of the Gospel of St. Matthew, the first book of the New Testament.

[3] Steiner taught that one Jesus child came from the line of Solomon, the other came from the line of Nathan. Here Steiner says that the Gospel of St. Matthew focuses on the Jesus from the line of Solomon.

[4] I.e., the spiritual essence. The spirit of the Solomon Jesus was the spiritual being known as Zoroaster, Steiner says.

[5] I.e., Zarathustra had to find a suitable body in which to incarnate, a body that would be compatible with his spiritual capacities and allow for his further evolution ("a body adapted for working up and further developing the great faculties of Zarathustra").

Zarathustrian - see Zoroastrianism

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

According to Steiner, these are gods three levels above mankind [1] — spirits of an age (from the German, "Zeit," time, and "Geist," ghost). ◊ "This is the Zeitgeist or Time Spirit, the Spirit of the Age [2], to use an unfortunate term which is in common usage. Each epoch [3] has its particular Zeitgeist; the Zeitgeist of the Greek epoch [4] is different from that of our own age. [5]" — R. Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 32.  ◊ "[T]hat which goes beyond the limits of a community of people — that which finds expression in the 'Spirit of the Age,' or Zeitgeist — is guided by the Archai, also called Spirits of Personality or Original Forces....[6]" — R. Steiner, UNIVERSE, EARTH AND MAN (Harry Collison, 1931), lecture 4, GA 105.



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

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

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

According to Anthroposophical belief, there are nine ranks of gods
divided into three tiers or "hierarchies."
Zeitgeists are gods of the seventh rank —
they stand in the top rank of the third or lowest hierarchy.

[1] See "Polytheism".

[2] See the entries for "Time Spirits" and "Spirits of an Age" in this encyclopedia.

[3] I.e., cultural epoch. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "epochs" and "cultural epochs".]

[4] I.e., the Greco-Roman Age. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for this term.]

[5] I.e., the Anglo-Germanic Age. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for this term.]

[6] These are all names for gods three levels above humanity. Steiner suggests, here, a sort of chain of command within a rank of gods. Archai (gods three levels above humanity) guide the Zeitgeists (also gods three levels above humanity).

Zervan Akarana - also see Amshaspands; Izeds; Zoroastrianism

The Zoroastrian god of time. According to Steiner, time is in fact the embodiment of this god. “From the point of view relevant here I should like to associate the Zarathustrian world-picture with 'Chronology'. [1] It looks beyond the two Beings, Ahura Mazdao and Ahriman [2], to the workings of Time — Zervan Akarana. [3] Not, however, the abstract Time we think of today, but Time viewed as a living, super-personal Being. From this Being proceed the rulers of Time; first of all the Amshaspands [4], the spiritual Beings who are symbolised in cosmic space by the signs of the Zodiac. Through the number six — or twelve if we reckon in their antipodes — they rule over the Izeds [5], who rank below them and are 28–31 in number. The Izeds are spirits of a lower kind, servants of the high Time Beings; they regulate the days of the month.” — R. Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD & THE SEARCH FOR THE HOLY GRAIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1963), lecture 4, GA 149. [See, e.g., "Magic Numbers".]

[1] Steiner is speaking here of his own account of time and evolution, the central narrative of Anthroposophy.
[2] Ahura Mazda is the supreme god in Zoroastrianism; Steiner identifies him with Christ, the Sun God. Ahriman is the Zoroastrian devil; Steiner identifes him as one of the two arch-demons between whom the Sun God mediates. [See the entries in this encyclopedia for "Christ", "Sun God", "Ahura Mazda", and "Ahriman".]
[3] I.e., the Zoroastrian world-picture extends beyond the two gods already named; it includes the god of Time (and thus can be compared to the Anthroposophical account of cosmic chronology).
[4] I
.e., lower gods serving under Zervan Akarana. [See the entry for "Amshaspands" in this encyclopedia.]
[5] I.e., the Amshaspands rule (through numerological powers) a lower order of gods, the Izeds.

Zeus - also see Jupiter; polytheism; Sun God

a) The supreme god in Greek mythology — called Jupiter by the Romans

b) According to Steiner, this god has been perceived in various ways. In essence, like some other gods, he is a version of the Sun God — that is, Christ as perceived (and partially misperceived) by ancient peoples. But the name "Zeus" has also been applied to other gods of other ranks, Steiner said. "Zeus is a word of uncertain meaning when used in ancient times, for it was applied to spiritual individualities [1] at very different stages of evolution. [2] But men in ancient Greece who know something of initiation [3] recognised in Zeus the ruler of the Sun spirits. [4] Zeus lives in the influences which came to the Earth from the Sun [5] ... The beneficent influences of the kingdom of Zeus [6] were sent down to the physical earth in the warmth and light of the sun. This was the gift made by Zeus to the earth. The earth covered herself with the garment of plant and animal forms, and with the forms of physical men." — R. Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1940), chapter 4, GA 113.

[1] I.e., gods.
[2] I.e., gods who have risen to different ranks. (Steiner taught that gods, like humans, evolve to higher and higher levels of spiritual consciousness.)
[3] I.e., the possession of occult wisdom. [See "Inside Scoop".]
[4] I.e., Zeus is the highest of the gods of the Sun: He is Christ, the Sun God. [See "Sun God".]
Earth receives the influences of the Sun through sunlight. But also, Steiner taught, solar influences on the Earth reached a culmination when Christ incarnated on Earth.
[6] According to Steiner's interpretation, given here, the "kingdom of Zeus" is the spiritual realm of the Sun. The beneficent forces of the Sun made life — including human life — possible on Earth.

zodiac - also see astrology; constellations; crystal heaven; Spirits of the Harmonies; Spirits of Love; stars

The belt of stars stretching along the celestial equator, punctuated by the twelve astrological constellations. Steiner taught that the zodiac is inhabited by the Spirits of the Harmonies (gods eight levels above man) and the Spirits of Love (gods nine levels above man). [1] Steiner was inconsistent about the powers of the zodiac, but in general he taught that the stars — and especially the constellations of the zodiac — exert great influences on the Earth and humanity. [2] “Even when the earth was embodied as old Saturn [3], the forces issuing from these twelve directions [4] were at work upon that ancient planet [5]; so they were later on the old Sun [6], and on the old Moon [7], and are now and will continue to be in the future. [8] Therefore they have as it were the nature of permanence, they are far more sublime than that which arises and passes away within our earth existence. [9] That which is symbolised by the twelve signs of the Zodiac is infinitely higher than that which is transformed in the evolutionary course of our planet from old Saturn to old Sun and from that to old Moon and so on. Planetary existence arises and passes away, but the Zodiac is ever there. [10] What is symbolised by the points of the Zodiac is more sublime than what upon our earth plays its part as the opposition between good and evil. [11]” — R. Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, 1940), chapter 9, GA 113. [See "Zodiac".]


Steiner devised his own representations of the signs of the zodiac. This is his representation of Scorpio. [R.R. copy, 2010, based on an image in CALENDAR 1912-1913 (SteinerBooks, 2003), facsimile edition, pp. 90ff.]

[1] See the entries in this encyclopedia for these terms.
See, e.g., "Astrology" and "Star Power".
[3] i.e., during the Old Saturn stage of evolution. This was the first incarnation of the solar system and thus may be referred to as an embodiment of the Earth, since the Earth — 
the home of incarnated humanity — is the most important part of the solar system.
[4] I.e., zodiacal (astrological) influences stream to the Earth from the twelve constellations.
[5] Each incarnation of the solar system may be referred to as a planetary condition or as a "planet," for short. The incarnations carry planetary names: Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [See the entries for these terms in this encyclopedia.] Here, Steiner speaks of the influences of the zodiac upon Old Saturn.
[6] I.e., during Old Sun.
[7] I.e., during Old Moon.
[8] I.e., the astrological forces of the zodiac continue to work upon the solar system today, and they will still do so in the future.
[9] I.e., the powers of the zodiac are greater than any merely terrestrial powers.
[10] I.e., the powers of the zodiac are greater than the forces that have produced the evolution of the solar system through its various incarnations.
[11] I.e., the powers of the zodiac are greater than the forces that we on Earth witness in the conflict between good and evil.

zoology - also see animals; biology

In Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, the study of animals is essentially an extension of the study of humankind. Animals are deemed to represent individual qualities while humans are deemed to possess all the animate qualities in combination. Humans are deemed the center of the created world [1]; animals are mere offshoots of humanity. [2] "The new zoology [3] can see in man in the central unity which holds all the animal phyla together. [paragraph break] Each phylum has given a share to be rediscovered in man. We need only to understand in a new way the elements of his complex architecture. Then we can see how the totality of man is composed of all the animals' “contributions,” some of them overlapping and almost blotting out each other, yet all persisting in a more or less subtle manner." — H. Poppelbaum, "‘MAN’ as a Compendium of the ANIMAL KINGDOM" (Rudolf Steiner Archive, 2014). This revised zoology is often taught in Waldorf schools, including such tenets as the belief that animals evolved from humans, rather than vice versa. [4]

[1] See "The Center".

[2] See "Evolution, Anyone?" and the entries in this encyclopedia for "animals" and "evolution".

[3] I.e., zoology reconceived in accordance with Anthroposophical teachings.

[4] See, e.g., "Neutered Nature".

Zoroaster - also see Solomonic Jesus; Zarathustra; Zoroastrianism

A Persian prophet, the founder of Zoroastrianism; also known as Zarathustra. "The Iranian prophet and religious reformer Zarathustra... — more widely known outside Iran as Zoroaster, the Greek form of his name — is traditionally regarded as the founder of the religion [called] Zoroastrianism." — ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA ONLINE, February 20, 2020.

Anthroposophists often differentiate between Zarathustra and Zoroaster, asserting that Zarathustra preceded Zoroaster in earthly incarnation. (Zarathustra lived and died, then he reincarnated as Zoroaster, then he reincarnated again as the Solomonic Jesus.) Thus, for instance: "Zarathustra: The great teacher of the ancient Persians in the sixth millennium BC (around 6000 BC) ... Zoroaster: An incarnation of Zarathustra ... Zoroaster lived in the sixth century BC [around 600 BC] ... Zoroaster subsequently incarnated at the Solomon Jesus". — From the glossary, COSMOLOGY REBORN - Star Wisdom Vol. 1 (Lindisfarne, Steinerbooks/Anthroposophic Press, 2018), edited by Joel Park, p. 250.

Zoroastrianism - also see Ahriman; Ahura Mazda; Amshaspands; Izeds; Zervan Akarana; Zoroaster

Dualistic Persian religion founded in the 6th century BCE; its scriptures are the Zend-Avesta. A central tenet is the cosmic struggle between Ahura Mazda (Ormazd), the spirit of light and truth [1], and Ahriman, the spirit of darkness and untruth. [2] According to Steiner, Zoroastrianism was one of the chief precursors of Christianity. "In the Gospel of St. Luke we are shown how the two great pre-Christian streams of spiritual life — Zoroastrianism and the stream which reached its pre-Christian culmination in Buddhism — united, in order to pour themselves into the great Christian stream of spiritual life on the earth." — R. Steiner, DEEPER SECRETS OF HUMAN HISTORY IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL OF ST. MATTHEW (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1957), lecture 2, GA 117. As they do with many religions and spiritual traditions, Steiner's followers often trace similarities between Zoroastrianism and Anthroposophy. [3]

[1] According to Anthroposophical belief, Ahura Mazda is Christ, the Sun God, as comprehended by ancient Persians. [See the entry in this encyclopedia for "Ahura Mazda".] 
[2] Steiner identifes Ahriman as one of the two arch-demons between whom the Sun God mediates; the other is Lucifer. [See "Ahriman" and "Lucifer"].
[3] See "Was He Christian?" and "Zoroastrianism".

 - Numerals -

666 - See entry on page S - Sn (for purposes of alphabetization, "666" is treated as if it were spelled out: "six sixty-six").


1879 - See entry on page E - Ei ("1879" is treated as if it were spelled out: "eighteen seventy-nine").

1899 - See entry on page E - Ei ("1899" is treated as if it were spelled out: "eighteen ninety-nine").

2000 - See "Millennium".

2012 - See "She Took the Training".