Occultism





Rudolf Steiner's central text is AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (also published as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE). 

"Occult science." "Occult." "Occultism." These are key terms in the Anthroposophical vocabulary. 

Steiner wrote and spoke of his occultism often. Here is a quotation from one of his many other occult/esoteric works:

“That we stand within such a stream as our spiritual scientific movement must be seen as grace bestowed by spiritual powers: for this movement is a necessity of the future, and it has been granted to us to be the first to stand within this current that must flow into humanity’s future evolution if it is not to grow arid and wither away.  As an occultist one can see that such fertilization is absolutely necessary. Let us look on it as a grace and blessing that we may feel duty bound to offer a helping hand in this fertilizing process."  — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 275.

Note that by "spiritual science," Steiner meant his own form of Theosophy or, later, Anthroposophy. By "spiritual powers," he meant gods. If you are not a polytheistic occultist, you will probably disagree with Steiner — and the philosophy that underlies Waldorf education — on many points.











Rudolf Steiner's works are studded with repeated references to the "occult." In English-language editions of Steiner's books, the word "occult" appears over and over, along with its more abstract extension, "occultism." Steiner was a professed "occultist." Or so it seems, in English translation. But have we misunderstood? Are these terms merely bad translations? No. The German word for “occult” is “Okkult” and the German word for “occultism” is “Okkultismus.” Steiner’s works, in the original German, resound with these words along with others conveying similar meanings — referring to dark, mysterious, esoteric knowledge and practices. Here are the German titles of a few of Steiner’s books:




OKKULTE UNTERSUCHUNGEN ÜBER DAS LEBEN ZWISCHEN TOD UND NEUER GEBURT 

{OCCULT INVESTIGATIONS ON THE LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH}


OKKULTE GESCHICHTE 

{OCCULT HISTORY}

 

EINE OKKULTE PHYSIOLOGIE 

{AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY}


BILDER OKKULTER SIEGEL UND SÄULEN 

{PICTURES OF OCCULT SEALS AND COLUMNS}


MYTHEN UND SAGEN

OKKULTE ZEICHEN UND SYMBOLE

{MYTHS AND LEGENDS

OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS}


WELCHE BEDEUTUNG HAT DIE OKKULTE ENTWICKLUNG DES MENSCHEN FÜR SEINE HÜLLEN 

— PHYSICHER LEIB, ÄTHERLEIB, ASTRALLEIB — UND SEIN SELBST? 

{WHAT IS THE OCCULT MEANING OF HUMAN BODIES 

— THE PHYSICAL BODY, THE ETHER BODY, THE ASTRAL BODY — FOR ONESELF?}


DIE OKKULTE BEWEGUNG IM NEUNZEHNTEN JAHRHUNDERT UND IHRE BEZIEHUNG ZUR WELTKULTUR 

{THE OCCULT MOVEMENT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WORLD CULTURE}


OKKULTE WISSENSCHAFT UND OKKULTE ENTWICKLUNG 

{OCCULT SCIENCE AND OCCULT DEVELOPMENT}








OKKULTE GESCHICHTE

{OCCULT HISTORY}

Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1993.






EINE OKKULTE PHYSIOLOGIE

{AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY}

Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1996.





MYTHEN UND SAGEN

OKKULTE ZEICHEN UND SYMBOLE

{MYTHS AND LEGENDS

OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS}

Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2002.




“Okkult” has fewer weird/evil/bizarre connotations for German speakers than “occult” does for us in the English-speaking world. Steiner himself explained that “occult” means veiled or dark. Thus, an "occultist" does not necessarily worship the Devil. Take whatever comfort you can from this.


Steiner did not worship the powers of darkness. He was not a necromancer. He merely conjured up a veiled, mysterious universe of good and evil forces, gods and demons, white magicians and black magicians, sylphs and goblins, spiritual ascent and spiritual regression, high races and low races, leagues of benevolence and malignant secret brotherhoods, wondrous clairvoyance and materialistic blindness, superb gurus and soulless automatons...


He trafficked, in other words, in mystical — veiled, mysterious — imaginings. And he tried to lure the gullible — including innocent children — into his veiled, mysterious delusions


Here are a few of his statements about the occult. Some may initially seem fine, if we don’t think about them too much; some definitely do not seem fine, no matter how little or how much we think about them. 


(For clarity, I have highlighted some key terms.)







”If from the new standpoint of spiritual investigation we meditate upon the old legends and myths, allowing those grand and powerful pictures which have come down from primeval times to work upon our minds, we shall find, if we have been equipped for our task by the methods of occult science, that these legends and myths are the expressions of a most profound and ancient wisdom.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD (Health Research, 1972), pp. 6-7.





“[T]he Christ Impulse works on below the surface — works, at first, as occult, i.e., hidden, reality. [paragraph break] My dear friends, allow me at this point to confess to you that when in my occult researches I tried to follow this stream, I often lost trace of it; I had to search for places where it reappeared.” — Rudolf Steiner, CHRIST AND THE SPIRITUAL WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008) p. 97.





“Recently in my occult research the following question arose. What is the relationship between the visionary worlds that one can find through initiation...and the realm in which one dwells between death and a new birth?” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), pp. 5-6.





“The occultist bases his thinking on facts. Hence, it is not important to him to be ingenious, but truthful! As an occultist one must give up lawless thinking; one must not draw arbitrary conclusions and pass judgments. Step by step, with the help of spiritual facts, correct thinking must be developed.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), lecture 1, GA 101.





“When you express your thoughts in the physical world, for example, as a lecturer, you will find it easier to give a talk for the thirtieth time than you did the first time. If, however, you speak as an occultist, thoughts always have to approach you and then depart again. Just as someone paying you the thirtieth visit had to make his way to you thirty times, the living thought we express for the thirtieth time has to come to us thirty times as it did the first time; our memory is of absolutely no use here.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE PRESENCE OF THE DEAD ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH (Anthroposophic Press, 1990), lecture 4, GA 154.





“How can one, as an occultist, now know anything about the atom? Now just imagine it to be possible to make an atom grow continually bigger and bigger until it was as big as the earth; one would then discover a very complicated world ... Only the occultist is in a position to enlarge the atom so much and to contemplate its interior.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 185.





What every person does instinctively when confronted by any being possessed of a soul, is what the occultist, or spiritual scientist, does in respect of the entire world ... Occult investigation shows decisively that all the things which surround us in this world — the mineral foundation, the vegetable covering, and the animal world — should be regarded as the physiognomical expression, or the ‘below,’ of an ‘above’ or spirit life lying behind them ... And for this reason we will today apply our minds to a study of that which lies concealed behind the phenomenon of the blood, that which shaped for itself in the blood its physiognomical expression in the world of sense. When once you understand this ‘spiritual background’ of blood, you will be able to realize how the knowledge of such matters is bound to react upon our whole mental outlook on life.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE OCCULT SIGNIFICANCE OF BLOOD., pp. 9-12.





“If you study an animal, you will always be able to point to something in it that is of like nature in the human organism. In order to understand this rightly it is, of course, necessary to consider the development of the world from the occult standpoint. The occultist knows, for example, that men would not have the kind of hearts they have today if the lion did not exist out there in nature.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS, lecture 4.





“You know that astronomy describes an orbit of Saturn which it interprets as the path of Saturn round the Sun ... [But] the occultist knows, occult vision teaches him that, as a matter of fact, a sort of accumulation exists which extends from the Sun to the orbit of Saturn. So that if with occult vision we regard this orbit of Saturn, we have a sort of etheric filling in of the whole space.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE (Steiner Book Centre, 1981), lecture 6, GA 136.





“[T]he human being seems as if he had grown out of the first kingdom that surrounds us, that of the minerals. What immediately catches our eye when a man is standing in front of us, is the most tangible part of all, namely, his physical body. But the occultist knows that this is only one member of his constitution.” — Rudolf Steiner, ROSICRUCIAN ESOTERICISM (Anthroposophic Press, 1978), lecture 3, GA 109.





“What the astronomer ascertains through calculation about the rotation of the earth on its axis, is perceptible to occult vision, because the occultist knows that these spirits are distributed over the whole earth, and are actually the bearers of the forces which rotate the earth on its axis.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL BEINGS IN THE HEAVENLY BODIES AND IN THE KINGDOMS OF NATURE, lecture 2.





“Suppose that at first this was quite a small idea concerned with some scientific or artistic fact. Will an occultist who knows the laws put such an entirely strange idea at once before the world? We are assuming that the idea is quite a small one. The occultist knows that it appears first in the life of the astral body. This can be observed even outwardly through the fact that enthusiasm dwells in the soul. It is pre-eminently a force of the astral body. It is as a rule harmful when people do not allow the idea at this stage to rest quietly and not set it at once before the world; for the idea has first to follow a clearly defined course.” — Rudolf Steiner, EXCURSUS ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MARK (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1937), lecture 6, GA 124.





If we inquire where is there a truer image of what runs through the whole evolution of mankind than can be found in sense perception or in human intellect, we must turn to occult science and ask what is that which is to be discovered in the spiritual world, and which moves more or less as a continuous spiritual stream through all these seven civilisations.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1940), lecture 9, GA 113.





“How do the feelings become fruitful so that they are accurately represented for the world of Inspiration? If one wishes to understand what occult science has to offer in answer to this question, acquaintance is necessary with the fact that man's soul life has always a certain treasure of feeling over and above those stimulated by sense perceptions.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE STAGES OF HIGHER KNOWLEDGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1967), chapter 3, GA 12.





“The fact that I have entitled this book OCCULT SCIENCE has immediately called forth misunderstandings. From many sides was heard, ‘What claims to be science must not be secret, occult.’ How little thought was exercised in making such an objection! As though someone who reveals a subject matter would want to be secretive about it. This entire book shows that it was not the intention to designate anything ‘occult,’ but to bring everything into a form that renders it as understandable as any science. Or do we not wish to say when we employ the term ‘natural science’ that we are dealing with the knowledge of ‘nature’? Occult science is the science of what occurs occultly insofar as it is not perceived in external nature, but in that region toward which the soul turns when it directs its inner being toward the spirit. Occult Science is the antithesis of Natural Science.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), preface to editions 16-20, GA 13.





“When the human being is awake, he is awake in thought, not in will. But occult science teaches us that when we sleep, everything is reversed. Then the will is awake and is very active, and thought is inactive. This cannot be known by the human being in a normal state of consciousness, for the simple reason that he knows things only by means of his thoughts and these are asleep.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1984), lecture 2, GA 130.





Occultism shows that Christ is a Sun Being who can lead us back to the Sun. Now comes what may cause a shock. It is imperative not only to understand our relationship to the Christ. We must grasp something further. The time now comes that we confront, and need to understand, the being known as Lucifer. The sensation in the Sun is not one of being surrounded by streaming physical light, but of dwelling in the pure light of the spirit. From this moment onward, one experiences Lucifer no longer as an antagonistic being. On the contrary, he appears more and more to be fully justified in the world. One now senses the urge, in the further course of the life after death, to recognize Christ and Lucifer side by side as equally justifiable powers. However strange the equal importance of Christ and Lucifer may appear, this insight is reached from this stage onward and one comes to see these two powers more or less as brothers.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (Anthroposophic Press, 1968), lecture 2, GA 140.





“Milk is a product of the first form of human food. When the physical constitution of man was nearer to the divine he sucked milk out of his surroundings. Occultists know how man is connected with Nature.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 30, GA 93a.





Occultists know that a fixed star need not always have been a fixed star; the Sun only became a fixed star after having been a planet.” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), p. 79.





"Mars has given iron to the Earth and the Mercury influence manifests on the Earth in such a way that it makes the human soul more and more free, more and more independent. In occultism therefore, we speak of the Mars half of Earth evolution and of the Mercury half. Whereas the other names describe a whole planet, Earth evolution is spoken of as 'Mars-Mercury.' Used in this connection the names do not designate the planets we know today but the influences at work during the first and second halves of Earth evolution. — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., p. 80.





“Now you must not think that the Saturn mass was as firm and solid as the physical bodies of to-day; even water and air do not give you an idea of Saturn's fundamental substance. When speaking of bodies in occultism, we speak of solid, liquid and gaseous bodies ... The Saturn mass was not even condensed to the state of air it consisted of purified heat, and its activity resembled that of the heat contained in your blood, for it was connected with inner life-processes. The physical processes upon Saturn were real life-processes. Saturn consisted of heat-substance, of an immensely fine volume which may be designated as neutral, if compared with our present substances.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Earth's Passage Through Its Former Planetary Conditions” (ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET 33-34, Aug. 23, 1942), GA 100.





[I]n occultism we call the Moon the ‘Cosmos of Wisdom’ and the Earth the ‘Cosmos of Love.’ As we today, standing on the Earth, wonder at the wisdom embedded in it, so one day the beings of Jupiter will stand before beings from which love will stream forth to them in fragrance.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL BEINGS ON MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1961), lecture 6, GA 102.





“Following an exchange of ideas with the Essenes, the Buddha appeared to Jesus of Nazareth, and we may say that a spiritual conversation took place between them. It is one of my occult obligations to tell you this, for today we can, and indeed must, touch on these important secrets in human evolution.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FIFTH GOSPEL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 56.





“There is no other means of bringing about a universal human brotherhood than the spreading of occult knowledge through the world." — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1953), p. 143.





That we stand within such a stream as our spiritual scientific movement must be seen as grace bestowed by spiritual powers [i.e., the gods]: for this movement is a necessity of the future, and it has been granted to us to be the first to stand within this current that must flow into humanity’s future evolution if it is not to grow arid and wither away.  As an occultist one can see that such fertilization is absolutely necessary. Let us look on it as a grace and blessing that we may feel duty bound to offer a helping hand in this fertilizing process." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 275. 





To repeat a key point: By "spiritual science," Steiner means his own form of Theosophy or, later, Anthroposophy. He tells how "an occultist" looks upon what the gods have done and how an occultist thinks about what human beings must do. Moreover, in discussing these things, Steiner indicates the motivation behind Waldorf schools and other Anthroposophical enterprises. Steiner tells his followers that they are "the first" to possess the new spiritual wisdom that humanity must acquire in order to evolve properly. The "spiritual powers," the gods, have given Anthroposophists a holy mission "as a grace and a blessing" — Anthroposophists are "duty bound" to make sure that "humanity’s future evolution" goes as it should. If Anthroposophists do not discharge this mission, humanity will "grow arid and wither away," a truly terrible prospect. This is the ultimate reason that Waldorf schools are relatively uninterested in giving students a regular education. Anthroposophists think they are doing something far, far more important.







OKKULTE UNTERSUCHUNGEN ÜBER DAS LEBEN ZWISCHEN TOD UND NEUER GEBURT
{OCCULT INVESTIGATIONS ON THE LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH}
Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 2003.

















The following is from the Waldorf Watch
"Quotes of the Day" page:




“In occultism, we learn to grasp life more earnestly, we learn to perceive that the things which are not palpable, which cannot be observed by the senses, are still a reality.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 249.


Rudolf Steiner freely identified himself and his followers as occultists. He was not confessing to devil worship or the practice of black magic. He meant that Anthroposophists possess secret, hidden spiritual knowledge. This claim is certainly questionable. But beyond that, we should recognize that many of the malign characteristics that people generally associate with occultism do indeed show up in Steiner’s doctrines.


While Anthroposophy is generally upbeat, foreseeing a wonderful future for humanity [see “Tenth Hierarchy”], it also includes doctrines about ghosts and phantoms [see "Neutered Nature"], demons [see “Evil Ones”], secret esoteric brotherhoods [see “Double Trouble”], spiritual degeneration [see "Evolution, Anyone?"], astrology [see “Star Power”], white and black magic [see “Magicians”], infernal regions [see “Sphere 8”], goblins [see “Gnomes”], and the like. To the rational mind, Anthroposophy is an elaborate patchwork of superstition and ignorance, essentially medieval in nature, and marked by many nightmarish concepts.


We would need to accept Anthroposophy's nightmares along with its the optimistic doctrines, if they represented truth. But they do not. Steiner claimed that all of his teachings were based on his personal spiritual investigations. By this, he meant his use of “exact clairvoyance" [see “Exactly”]. But there is no such thing as clairvoyance, exact or otherwise [see “Clairvoyance”]. Nothing based on clairvoyance is real or true. In presenting his purported clairvoyant visions, Steiner was either hallucinating or fibbing. In either case, his teachings have no merit. And the implications of this for Waldorf schooling should be clear, since Waldorf schools — otherwise known, significantly, as Steiner schools — base their practices on Steiner’s teachings.`


















The following is from the 

Waldorf Watch "news" page:




"Like Montessori, a Waldorf education's curriculum follows a pedagogical model of child development. Steiner's model divides childhood into seven-year developmental stages rather than three-year ones, each having its own learning requirements. Waldorf education subscribes to the Aristotelian notion of educating the whole child and emphasizes education that inspires creative and imaginative development in addition to the analytic development that most contemporary schools prefer. Waldorf aims to integrate practical, artistic, and intellectual approaches into the teaching of all subjects." 




• ◊ •


Waldorf Watch Response:

When writing about Waldorf schools, reporters often omit the essential element in Waldorf thinking: occultism. The reason is easy to understand — the very idea that occultism could lurk within a widespread educational movement seems preposterous. And yet it is so. (If you find the word "occult" too strong, use "esoteric" or "hidden" or "mystery" instead. Steiner used all these terms.)

Here is a quotation from THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, by Roy Wilkinson. An Anthroposophist and Waldorf teacher, Wilkinson explains that Steiner arranged for Waldorf faculties to commune with certain gods who would give them the powers they need to perform their tasks. 

"To foster the connection between [Waldorf] teachers and the Third Hierarchy [of gods] Rudolf Steiner gave information which could be considered a kind of prayer or meditation. The actual words are available only to the college members [i.e., members of a Waldorf school's inner circle, the 'college of teachers,' who are often self-identified occult initiates] ... When united in common striving, the archai [gods three levels above man], in particular the Spirit of the Times (Michael), gives to the group the light of wisdom and the creative forces of intuition [which they need in their work]." — Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION — The Waldorf School Approach (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), pp. 122-123.

Steiner was an occultist. His thinking was occult. And out of his occult thinking came Waldorf education. Waldorf education is essentially mystical; the devout members of the faculty think they serve the gods. Addressing a Waldorf faculty, Steiner said: 

“[A]s we begin this work today, we first reflect on the connection we wish to create from the very beginning between our activity and the spiritual worlds ... Thus, we wish to begin our preparation by first reflecting upon how we connect with the spiritual powers in whose service and in whose name each one of us must work.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 33-34.

Steiner also said this to the same Waldorf teachers: 

"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 should always remember that when we do something, we are actually carrying out the intentions of the gods....” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 55.

The things Waldorf teachers "know" because of their mysterious connection with various hidden gods are, by definition, occult — stripped of it scary overtones, the word simply means "hidden." So Waldorf teachers follow a divine cosmic plan unknown to most of us, and they do this in the service of multiple gods and/or "spiritual powers" that you and I know little or nothing about. At a Waldorf school, the inner circle of the faculty — the college of teachers — possesses the most occult secrets (or they think they do). These teachers are deeply committed Waldorf Anthroposophists who have a special form of consciousness (they think they are highly clairvoyant). This is why Steiner said that 

"the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness [is] hardly present anywhere else in the world." — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), p. 21.

Reporters working against deadlines sometimes miss most of this. But if you are thinking about a Waldorf school for your child, you must not miss it. Weigh it carefully when making a decision that may profoundly affect your child's future.














Gallery:


English-Language Texts







AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE
Anthroposophical Literature Concern, 1922.
This is Steiner's key text, which has been
issued over and over, bearing various closely related titles.






OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE
Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969.







 AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE

Anthroposophic Press, 1972.







AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE

Anthroposophic Press, 1974.







AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE

Anthroposophic Press, 1997.

This is the same book as AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE

or OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE

with a slightly toned-down title.







OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE
Rudolf Steiner Press, 2009.
This is the same book as

AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE.

Here the older terminology is reaffirmed:

"Occult Science."








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