“Modern exact clairvoyance, 

as developed by him [i.e., Rudolf Steiner],

reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision 

as clearly as men's ordinary senses

reveal to the intellect the facts 

of the physical world.”

— Floyd McKnight


(More or Less)

Steiner claimed to possess "exact clairvoyance," 

which made his doctrines nearly unquestionable.

Here are some statements of the claim 

as well as some wonderful indications

of the wisdom obtainable through  

the use of "exact clairvoyance."

(Steiner is hard to read. Aiming at clarity, 

I have appended paraphrasings

and I have added some explanatory endnotes.)

“There is no need for me here to explain first the methods by which one comes to know these things; I assume from the outset that you receive what I say as coming from the exact clairvoyance which you will remember I described in my lectures here in London, a few months ago.” — Rudolf Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON MANS LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 4, GA 218.

Paraphrase: I don't need to begin by explaining the methods I employ to acquire occult knowledge. [1] I assume you remember what I said about exact clairvoyance during my last visit to London.

“I have described in my [PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM] how the intellectual is further developed into conscious, exact clairvoyance. It then lives in a free inner constitution of the soul. Only then can man know himself and his relation to the other parts of his being, outside his pure thinking and his free will. Through such a higher consciousness — imaginative, inspired and intuitive consciousness — man may reach in self-knowledge beyond his intellect and know himself as part of the supersensible world. And then it will be clear to him that although he is fully human, as has become clear to him in his self-knowledge, full humanity requires of him that he perfect it ever more and more.” — Rudolf Steiner, “Self Knowledge and the Christ Experience” (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1988), a lecture, GA 221.

Paraphrase: In my book THE PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM, I describe how intellectual powers can be heightened, leading to the development of exact clairvoyance. Such clairvoyance then exists as a free inner power of the soul. Only after gaining this power can we understand the other components of our being, aside from our powers of pure thought and free will. Through exact clairvoyance (which involves imaginative, inspired, and intuitive consciousness, and goes beyond the limits of the intellect), we attain true self-knowledge and we realize that our true home is the spirit realm. Then we understand that to be fully human, we must develop our exact clairvoyance more and more. [2]

“[O]nly those who know such things as they are here communicated can undertake in full consciousness the exercises that lead to knowledge of the higher worlds. Without the latter no genuine esoteric training is possible, for it must be understood that all groping in the dark is discouraged, and that failure to pursue this training with open eyes may lead to mediumship, but not to exact clairvoyance in the sense of spiritual science.” — Rudolf Steiner, KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (Anthroposophic Press, 1947),  chapter 6, “Some Results of Initiation”, GA 10.

Only those who understand my teachings can, with their eyes wide open, perform the exercises that lead to true knowledge of the spirit realm. Real esoteric training depends on the exercises I have prescribed. You must understand that groping blindly will get you nowhere — you may develop the ability to function as a medium, but you will not develop exact clairvoyance. [3]

“Anthroposophy seeks for what may be called exact clairvoyance, again to borrow a term from scientific usage; that is to say it seeks to develop a knowledge and perception of the spiritual worlds which is no less exact, no less conscientious in the sense of exact science, than is the best tendency and striving of our natural scientific age ... Now with the development of a higher science, the science of initiation, according to modern requirements and to Anthroposophy, it is necessary to train, develop and evolve by our own conscious activity both the conceptual thinking-life and the will-life, and it is thus that we can trace what has been called an exact clairvoyance, a modern science of initiation.” — Rudolf Steiner,  KNOWLEDGE AND INITIATION (Steiner Book Centre, 1983), GA 211.

Anthroposophy seeks to help its adherents to attain exact clairvoyance. (Scientists use the term "clairvoyance," so we will use it here.) [4] In other words, we seek to gain knowledge of the spirit realm that is no less exact and precise than the knowledge scientists acquire of the physical realm ... We work to develop a higher science [5] — this requires us to consciously sharpen and develop our powers of thought and will, so that we can attain exact clairvoyance.

“The student of the world of the senses directs his science to outward things, to results; but the student of the spirit pursues science as a preparation of vision. And when vision begins, science must already have fulfilled its mission. If you like to call your vision ‘clairvoyance’ it is at any rate, an ‘exact clairvoyance’. The science of the spirit begins where that? of the senses ends. Above all, the research student of the spirit must have based his whole method of thought for the newer Science on the one he applied to the world of the senses.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMOLOGY, RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), chapter 1, GA 25.

People who study the physical realm (the world that is accessible to our senses) study outward things, physical causes and effects; but people who want to know the spirit realm consider ordinary science to be a preparation for spiritual vision. When we attain such vision, we no longer need ordinary science. We can call spiritual vision "clairvoyance" or, more precisely, "exact clairvoyance." Spiritual science begins where ordinary science ends. Above all, we must apply the same scientific rigor to our study of the spirit realm as we applied to our study of the physical realm. [6]

“What is necessary in order to return to a Philosophy, a Cosmology and a Religion that embrace all man, is to enter upon the province of an exact clairvoyance in Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition; and this consciously — that is in contradistinction to the old dreamlike clairvoyance. Man attains to his full consciousness in the province of a life of abstract presentations. It remains to him, in the further advance of humanity, to bring this full consciousness of the spiritual world to bear on his daily life.” — Ibid., chapter 2.

Modern philosophy, cosmology, and religion no longer truly reflect a full understanding of human nature. To correct this, we need to develop exact clairvoyance and its components (imagination, inspiration, and intuition). This means developing a truly conscious clairvoyance, unlike the dreamlike clairvoyance that people used to possess. [7] Human consciousness today is largely dominated by abstract concepts. To evolve to higher stages, we must apply full spiritual consciousness to the daily realities of our lives. [8]

“One looks up with comprehension to what is accomplished outside when the cosmic spirit-forces send the iron arrows into the animalised desire-world of the cosmos; one feels oneself entirely bound up with the cosmos and surrendered to it. Precisely in these particular phenomena, one feels entirely surrendered to the cosmos ... [W]hen the soul has risen to exact clairvoyance, it is not possible for it to do otherwise, when it experiences such things as this — when its feeling turns inwardly towards its own meteoric process, and when looking outward it beholds in the cosmic meteor-process that rich fullness of life which is thus revealed — than to bring it all together in a comprehensive, inwardly saturated picture form, an Imagination in which is displayed how the human being, the Microcosm, and the Macrocosm are grown together. This does not mean that such an Imagination is merely built up out of fantasy; rather is it a real and true expression of a living process permeating the world and the human being.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, IV, MICHAELMAS (Anthroposophical Publishing Co., 1957), “The Michael Inspiration”, GA 229.

Under the influence of Ahriman [9] we are in danger of descending to a level of animalistic desires; but the gods send us a countervailing force in the form of meteors ("iron arrows") that reconnect us to the wider cosmos. [10] Exact clairvoyance sees this with undeniable clarity. The gods' influences pour down inside us just as they pour down in the outer world (we have our own internal "meteoric process"). Exact clairvoyance reveals this in true mental images — "imaginations" that are not fantasies but accurate depictions of reality. We see that what happens in the cosmos, the Macrocosm, also happens within us, the Microcosms. [11]

“Oriental cultures lay nearer to the Torrid Zone, where such things were more readily accessible to the ancient elementary clairvoyance. Today, however, it is possible to come to these things in the Temperate Zone through free, exact clairvoyance ... Yet people want to go back to the ancient cultures!” — Rudolf Steiner, THE CYCLE OF THE YEAR AS BREATHING-PROCESS OF THE EARTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1984) lecture 3, GA 223.

Ancient cultures, such as oriental cultures located near the equator, had spiritual knowledge based on their peoples' elementary clairvoyance. Today we, in the temperate latitudes, can acquire higher knowledge through higher, exact clairvoyance ... It is foolish to want to revert to ancient ways. [12]

“The moment a man enters the realm of Moon-evolution, he behaves as though he did not live in the physical realm of the Earth at all, but in the astral world, though the astral enters into the physical and makes use of the physical body. And that which the astral develops physically in this way was at one time Moon-evolution. We are reminded that astral activity in the physical was once world-evolution — Moon-evolution — and will be so again. But then a man will be able in full consciousness to walk up steeply sloping surfaces, as flies can do today. This is an indication of what will come about in the future during the Jupiter-evolution. Thus, if we rightly understand the somnambulist, we can study the physical picture he presents, as if nature herself were giving us a demonstration of what we experienced during our Moon-existence — not, certainly, in a physical body of flesh, but in an infinitely finer substance — and of what we shall experience again when we learn to master physical substance quite consciously, during the Jupiter-evolution. So this sleep-walking state points both to the past and to the future in the evolution of the world.

“In this connection we are concerned entirely with human beings whom we can call Moon-men, who in certain moments of their life become somnambulists. But this sleep-walking behaviour, this going about in the imponderable, can be accomplished spiritually, in full consciousness, if at the same time one has sufficient strength to keep perfectly still. The somnambulist follows the impulses of the Moon-forces; he gives himself over unconsciously to them and makes every movement to which they impel him. But anyone who goes through this experience with exact, conscious clairvoyance refrains from any such movements; he keeps still. The effect is that the movements undergo a metamorphosis in him and become Intuitions. Conscious Intuition, therefore, the highest development of strict clairvoyance, actually consists in arresting the actions which a sleep-walker is instinctively compelled by the Moon-forces to perform. Anyone who brings about this metamorphosis does not give himself up to the physical forces of the Moon but holds them in check within himself. Thus he is enabled to devote himself intuitively to the relevant spirituality; that is, he attains to Intuition.

“Hence it is really very good to study in these Moon-men how, on the one hand, man is related to world-evolution, and on the other how the somnambulist and the exact clairvoyant are opposites. Whereas it is instinctive people who are the moonstruck sleep-walkers, exact clairvoyants are intuitive seers who, refraining from action, hold their own against the Moon. That is what we are shown at this point in the relation of man to the world.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 7, GA 227.

An individual who falls under the sway of the Moon enters a condition equivalent to the Old Moon stage of evolution. [13] It is as if he leaves ordinary physical reality and lives in the astral world [14] — astral influences pervade his physical reality and make use of his physical body. The effects of astral influences are then like conditions that prevailed during Old Moon. We are reminded that astral influences dominated our evolution during Old Moon and they will do so again. [15] But in the future our consciousness will be larger as will our physical abilities, so that physical forces such as gravity will have less hold on us. This is a glimpse of what life will be like during Future Jupiter. [16] Sleepwalking thus points back to a prior stage of evolution and it points forward to a future stage. [17]

People who reenter the Old Moon stage may be called Moon Men, and they sometimes walk in their sleep. They unconsciously enter the imponderable astral world, but we may enter that world in full consciousness if we attain sufficient spiritual discipline. [18] The sleepwalker behaves as the forces of the Moon impel him to do, but when we enter the astral world through the use of exact clairvoyance, we remain motionless. The result is that the motions we would otherwise make are transformed within us and become intuitions. [19] Intuitions which we possess in full consciousness — the highest form of exact clairvoyance — are the transformed movements that a sleepwalker is impelled to make by the Moon. [20] When we exercise spiritual discipline, we do not submit to the physical forces of the Moon, but we master them. We thus devote our consciousness to spirituality, attaining intuitive clairvoyance.

So studying sleepwalkers is productive; we see how cosmic evolution has affected humanity, and we see that sleepwalking and exact clairvoyance are opposite ends of a spectrum. Sleepwalkers are swayed by instinct, they surrender to the Moon forces, whereas exact clairvoyants achieve intuitive perception and, by controlling themselves, resist the Moon forces. This is what we see now concerning man's relation to the cosmos. [21]

Steiner did not claim to be omniscient — he did not claim that his "exact clairvoyance" made him wholly incapable of error. He acknowledged that he might slip up a little, here or there, now and again. But very, very rarely. He sometimes said that spiritual investigation is so difficult, anyone using exact clairvoyance will get some things wrong sometimes. He even said, sometimes, that future spiritual investigators may take "spiritual science" farther than he was able to go.

He tended to make such statements defensively, as if to cover himself, much as he sometimes argued that contradictions are inevitable in spiritual matters, since the truths of the spirit realm are not confined by narrow rules of logic. [See "Steiner's Illogic".]

Nonetheless, Steiner claimed that his teachings are extremely solid, coming as they do from the use of an extremely reliable faculty, exact clairvoyance. He generally claimed that he was right about almost everything almost always, since his insights derived from such dependable investigative procedures. And his followers have generally accepted his assurances on these matters, looking on him as a virtually unquestionable source of wisdom.

— Compilation and commentary

 by Roger Rawlings

For more on the wisdom Steiner attained 

through exact clairvoyance,

see, e.g., "Steiner's Blunders" and "Millennium".

Somehow, Steiner's extremely reliable, 

precise psychic powers led him over and over

into error, not truth.

Yet Steiner specified the need for 

Waldorf teachers to follow his lead

and develop their own powers of clairvoyance.

Failing that, he said, they should accept 

his clairvoyant word for virtually everything.

See "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".

For an overview of the cosmology Steiner 

developed through his claimed use of clairvoyance,

see "Everything".

For pointers on how to develop clairvoyance,

see "Knowing the Worlds".

Although it was not meant as such, 

this is a fairly good representation 

of Anthroposophy as it may first appear 

to anyone beginning the process of 

trying to comprehend Steiner's 

bizarre teachings.

But take heart. It is possible to work 

your way through the maze

and leave it behind.

[Dave Phillips, 


(Dover Publications, 1979.]