“Among the faculty, we must certainly
carry within us the knowledge that...
we are actually carrying out the intentions
of the gods....”
— Rudolf Steiner
Imagine a polytheistic universe.
Now go a step further: Imagine a polytheistic universe in which a vast host of gods is arrayed in ranks, extending from a lowly group just slightly higher than mankind, upward through rank upon rank of deities each more spiritual and powerful than the last.
Now imagine a spiritualistic system consisting of prayers, meditations, and mental/spiritual exercises, a system that enables human beings to gain objective knowledge of the gods, their ranks, and their abodes.
One more step: Imagine that the spiritualistic system enables us not only to know about the gods but also to commune with them and gain the blessings they can bestow.
Any reasonable person would, I submit, consider such a system to be a religion.
Of course, what I have just described is Anthroposophy.
In most of my expositions of Anthroposophy, I’ve relied primarily on quotations from Rudolf Steiner, the father of Anthroposophy. I’ll take a different tack, now — quoting an Anthroposophist who is much closer to us in time than Steiner. This way, we can get a clearer conception of Anthroposophy as it is practiced nowadays.
I’ll put my main reliance on Roy Wilkinson, an Anthroposophist with more than 60 years experience within the Waldorf school system, first as a student, later as a teacher, and finally as a consultant to Waldorf schools worldwide. Wilkinson died in 2007, but he was active in the Waldorf movement until the end; I think we can accept him as fairly representative of Anthroposophy and Waldorf schools as they exist today.
In one of his books , Wilkinson describes Anthroposophy in these words:
“To complement natural science, to unlock the secrets of existence, another form of knowledge is required, which is only directly attainable by those persons who have developed a special faculty of extended consciousness. This gives access to knowledge of higher worlds, and this knowledge is termed ‘spiritual science’. It has social, ethical and religious implications.” 
The “special faculty of extended consciousness” Wilkinson mentions is clairvoyance, although in his book he studiously avoids this word. He apparently does not want to spook a general audience.
A quick aside: Another modern Anthroposophist, even more our contemporary than Wilkinson, is Eugene Schwartz. Early in his book WALDORF EDUCATION: Schools for the Twenty-First Century, Schwartz asks “Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way?”  Most people outside Waldorf schools would consider this an astonishing question, utterly preposterous. But within Waldorf schools it is par for the course.
Schwartz’s answer to his own question is that clairvoyance is indeed needed, although he suggests that Waldorf teachers may start out simply by using common, everyday clairvoyance, of a kind Schwartz claims everyone possesses: “‘clairvoyant’ faculties that we are already using without being aware that we possess them.”  Schwartz adds that Waldorf teachers may develop higher levels of clairvoyance later on. This returns us to Wilkinson.
Wilkinson discusses the higher form of clairvoyance Waldorf teachers should cultivate, and he outlines the techniques they can use for this purpose.
“Reference has been made throughout this book to what has been variously termed spiritual perception, enhanced consciousness or knowledge of higher worlds. There follows a short summary here on the path which can be taken to attain such experience.” 
The “path” Wilkinson mentions is the one Steiner set out in such works as KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT (which is also available, in a different translation, under the title HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS).  Notice that Wilkinson employs some of Steiner’s terminology, as in his reference to “higher worlds.” The book in which Wilkinson outlines the path is titled THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, which carries the subtitle “The Waldorf School Approach”. The most pertinent chapter is titled “Esoteric Development and the Teacher”. Please pause and let the significance of these titles sink in.
Wilkinson effectively replies “Yes” to Schwartz’s question. Teachers, specifically Waldorf school teachers, should use clairvoyance in their work, and to do their work really well, they should develop high levels of clairvoyance.
“[T]his is the same path that should be followed by every teacher who takes his vocation seriously.” 
Wilkinson describes some clairvoyance-building exercises, à la Steiner, but he starts by asserting an important proviso:
“A first essential is a study of what has been given by the masters as spiritual knowledge, and this must be undertaken without preconceptions and misapprehensions.” 
So the first step is to study what the “masters” have revealed. This is indistinguishable from ordinary religious study — poring over holy books and so forth — and it skews everything that follows. Studying previous spiritualistic “knowledge” will steer a seeker’s own “clairvoyant insights” in previously established directions, thereby creating the very preconceptions Wilkinson warns against. Presumably a seeker can later use clairvoyance to confirm or reject the doctrines accepted at the start, but this would obviously be difficult, since her/his own insights have been heavily influenced by the unquestioned authorities.
The entire enterprise is thus called into question. But Steiner lays down the same requirement.
◊ "Only within his own soul can a man find the means to unseal the lips of an Initiate [i.e., a spiritual master] ... He must begin with a fundamental attitude of the soul. In Spiritual Science this fundamental attitude is called the path of veneration." 
◊ "[A]nd veneration is always due when it flows from the depths of the heart." 
Seekers must accept the teachings of the “masters” in a reverent, uncritical attitude.
"Have you ever paused outside the door of some venerated person, and have you, on this your first visit, felt a religious awe as you pressed on the handle to enter the room which for you is a holy place?" 
To enter, one must be willing to accept, unquestioningly, the teachings of the master within.
This is faith, religious faith. More, it is blind faith, harboring no “thoughts of criticism or opposition." This certainly is not a scientific attitude, despite the claims Anthroposophists make for their “spiritual science.” No scientist bows in reverence to another — more typically, each scientist would love to overthrow the theories of other scientists in order to establish his/her own theories. The attitude Steiner and Wilkinson prescribe is uncritical belief — or, in Steiner’s words, “religious awe.”
Wilkinson and Steiner both want to send Waldorf teachers down the path toward a religion, a religion that goes by the name “Anthroposophy.”
Having begun by accepting a preexisting body of doctrines, how can Waldorf teachers sharpen their clairvoyant wits? The exercises Wilkinson describes will be familiar to anyone who has received spiritual guidance from within the Waldorf school movement or any other Anthroposophical operation. I was assigned such exercises when, as a Waldorf student, I had annual checkups given by an Anthroposophical doctor. 
Wilkinson relays exercises that Steiner prescribed for toning up the imagination, schooling one’s emotions, and ultimately developing elevated psychic abilities. A few quick examples:
◊ Observe “the characteristics of flowers. Why is a red rose the symbol of love? What is the significance behind the name of the dandelion (lion’s tooth). [sic: no question mark] All plants have a gesture, and the search for this increases the imaginative faculty.”  We should note that Anthroposophical tenets peek out from behind these questions. Steiner taught that imagination is, or can become, a reliable “faculty.” By using this faculty, one can observe the "etheric bodies" of plants, and/or their auras. Plants truly exhibit "gestures," their colors truly reflect inner (spiritual) qualities. And, indeed, the names of plants have mystic significance.
◊ “[O]bserve human beings and, for instance, deduce their temperament from their gait. A light, springy step reveals the sanguine; a measured plod, the phlegmatic.”  Again, Anthroposophical tenets arise here: The classical temperaments (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, melancholic) are categories into which Waldorf teachers shoehorn their students. Steiner associated the temperaments with astrological signs: “In sanguines (Virgo) ... in melancholics (Leo) ... in phlegmatics (Cancer)....”  Even more significant, note that appearances reveal underlying spiritual realities — this is a basic Anthroposophical concept: Everything is infused with spiritual forces that we can detect through heightened consciousness. Physical realities reflect spiritual realities.
◊ The exercises seek to discipline various mental capacities. “The student [i.e., spiritual aspirant] is recommended to practice concentration, to take (for example) a simple everyday object like a pencil and to keep his mind on it. Thought is added to thought about the object without letting the mind wander.”  This is the first exercise I was assigned by my Anthroposophical doctor. It is somewhat akin to Buddhist meditation, requiring unswerving concentration, although the Buddhist tries to empty the mind rather than piling conscious thought upon thought. (Steiner also advocated empty-mindedness, in somewhat different circumstances. “The Science of the Spirit teaches us the art of forgetting, which, after all, is only the other side of digesting what one has taken in. This is part of the self-education demanded by spiritual science ... All memorized matter should disappear from the mind to make room for an actively receptive spirit.” )
◊ Wilkinson continues: “An exercise of the will is to perform a small act regularly at a particular time of the day.”  I was assigned this exercise, too. The purpose is developing self-discipline, taming unschooled impulses. Monks in monasteries use such practices. (I’m no monk. But as a teenager, back in Waldorf, almost...)
◊ “A particular exercise to strengthen the power of the mind is to review the events of the day in backward sequence, even reversing the order of procedure.”  I was assigned this, too. One consequence of mentally reversing the order of events is to loosen one's commitment to reality. Don't think of things as they actually happened, think of them as they did not actually happen. Learning to consistently overthrow reality is a fine way to prepare yourself to accept utter unreality — i.e., Anthroposophy. (It is also preparation for a process that, according to Steiner, occurs after we die. We review our lives in reverse order, precisely so that we can loosen our ties to our lives and move upward to the afterlife.)
Various benefits as well as liabilities might flow from such exercises. What benefits, specifically, do Anthroposophists hope to receive? Wilkinson states,
“Such exercises as the above develop the organs with which the spiritual world can be perceived.” 
The “organs” Wilkinson means are nonphysical, invisible, spiritual structures. They are what Steiner called organ of clairvoyance:
“[J]ust as natural forces build out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will organs of clairvoyance build themselves....” 
Such organs are not physical, and they cannot be perceived by our ordinary senses. They are immaterial, gossamer, ethereal; they are not of this world. They can be perceived only through the use of themselves (a nice tautology: In order to perceive an organ of clairvoyance, you must use an organ of clairvoyance). But if organs of clairvoyance don't exist...
Organs of clairvoyance, forsooth. One might well conclude that such organs are not merely invisible and immaterial. They are imaginary. They are phantasms.
This is another good spot for us to pause and reflect. These are the kind of things Waldorf teachers believe. Clairvoyance. And organs of clairvoyance.
Wilkinson and Steiner describe a system of religious training. It is certainly not scientific training. Each individual moving along the prescribed Anthroposophical path is looking inward, experiencing subjective states that cannot be shared with, or checked by, anyone else — and such checking is the essential requirement of any true science.  To quote Wilkinson:
“Inner activity means esoteric development, and esoteric development provides a revitalizing force which permeates the human being and his work.” 
Inner activity. Esoteric development. Anthroposophists call their belief system a science, but it is anything but.
The results Wilkinson and Steiner promise Waldorf teachers are stupendous. After speaking of “a revitalizing force which permeates the human being and his work,” Wilkinson continues:
“Esoteric development will also attract the interest of the Hierarchies [i.e., gods] immediately above man.” 
In other words, Waldorf teachers will not simply be revitalized, attaining augmented psychic powers.  They won’t simply gain new knowledge of the higher worlds. They will actually attract the notice of the gods — specifically the most immediate gods, the ones “immediately above man” — and thus they receive the benefits of the gods’ notice.
“In particular it is the Third Hierarchy [the gods closest to us] which has concerned itself with mankind in the past, but to attract its attention again the human being has to work on his own soul content. Then the Hierarchy will be in his thoughts and feelings.” 
In these passages, Wilkinson has begun to describe Anthroposophical theology. There are three Hierarchies. [See "Polytheism".] The members of the lowest Hierarchy involve themselves deeply in our affairs, although they have recently begun losing interest in us (their “interest in mankind...is waning” ). But we can contact them, reawakening their interest in us. We can do this by working on our "soul content," the spiritual wisdom that will fill our souls if we become clairvoyant like Steiner. The soul content we need is knowledge of the higher worlds and the denizens of those worlds. This knowledge is, in a word, theology, knowledge of the gods. It is the mystical belief system of Anthroposophy, the system underlying Waldorf education.
Let’s inquire more deeply into the invisible beings Wilkinson has in mind. Anthroposophists pray to God or the Godhead, , and they are concerned with all gods, high and low. But in these passages, Wilkinson is specifically referring to the divine beings who, in Anthroposophical theology, are called Spirits of Personality, Fire-Spirits, and Sons of Life. These are the gods of the Third Hierarchy. Other names for them are Archai (Spirits of an Age, Zeitgeists), Archangels (Sons of Fire, Solar Pitris), and Angels (Sons of Twilight, Lunar Pitris). The Anthroposophical vision of divine hierarchies comes principally from gnostic teachings.  In Anthroposophy, the Second Hierarchy includes Spirits of Form (Powers, Exusiai), Spirits of Movement (Dynamis, Mights), and Spirits of Wisdom (Kyriotetes, Dominions); the First Hierarchy is occupied by Spirits of Will (Thrones), Cherubim, and Seraphim.  In all, Anthroposophy recognizes nine ranks of gods divided into three Hierarchies.
Remember that Wilkinson's immediate concern is the esoteric development of Waldorf school teachers. He explains that Waldorf teachers can, for instance, “establish a better connection to the angels [gods one level higher than humans].”  Many of us might find this a pleasing thought. But we should realize how unorthodox Anthroposophy is. It tries to meld concepts from numerous Western and Eastern religions, and it winds up being consistent with none of those faiths. So, for instance, while emphasizing the importance of Christ, Anthroposophy also emphasizes the concepts of reincarnation and karma.
“Ideas should be turned to pre-birth, to appreciate that this life on earth is a continuation of a previous life in the spiritual world before birth, and a life here on earth before that.” 
Wilkinson is referring to reincarnation. Christians, Jews, and Muslims will find this an alien tenet. But, at the same time, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus will find Steiner’s emphasis on Christ alien. Anyone who wants to accept the religion found in Waldorf schools is free to do so, but you should understand what that religion professes. It is not what you learned in church, synagogue, or mosque.
According to Wilkinson and Steiner, contacting Angels — and, particularly, one’s own Angel, one’s Guardian Angel — is not very difficult.
“At night, in sleep, the human being meets his angel and together they [human and angel] consult on the next day’s plans.” 
Wilkinson doesn’t mean that Waldorf teachers dream about meeting angels — Steiner taught that the human soul actually travels into the spirit realm every night.  Thus, at night, you actually go into the domain of the gods and actually meet your personal Angel there. One implication is that Waldorf teachers who wake in the morning with an idea in their heads will assume it is divinely inspired. Woe betide anyone who crosses a Waldorf teacher whose plans have been approved by celestial powers.
If consulting with your Angel is easy, contacting the Archangels — gods two levels higher than humans — calls for more effort. “To achieve inspirations from the archangels, further meditation is necessary on the human being and on a wide selection of spiritual truths, for instance, destiny, karma, spiritual evolution, and the advent of the Christ.” These are all Anthroposophical tenets. And so is the following: Proper grammar is important when dealing with Archangels:
“The archangels have a particular interest in language and are grieved when it is badly used.” 
Learning about Anthroposophy can inspire giggles — but remember that children at Waldorf schools are put in the hands of people who accept all of this as serious, indeed revealed, Truth.
Note that Waldorf teachers don’t think they are simply gathering knowledge about the higher worlds: They think they are getting guidance and strength from above, which they can use in their work. In contacting and consulting the gods, they "achieve inspirations."
"Such activities draw the Hierarchies closer and then their beneficial influence flows down into human thoughts and feelings." 
Waldorf teachers gain the “beneficial influence” of the gods, which enables them to perform their teaching duties in the proper, sanctified spirit.
Here’s how Wilkinson concludes. To understand, you should know that the inner circle of Anthroposophists at a Waldorf school is often called the “college of teachers.”
“To foster the connection between teachers and the Third Hierarchy Rudolf Steiner gave information which could be considered a kind of prayer or meditation. The actual words are available only to college members [i.e., members of the college of teachers] but the following is the gist of its contents. [paragraph break] He spoke of the teacher’s guardian angel who stands behind him, giving strength and the power of imagination. As a collective body, working together, the college [of teachers] attracts the attention of the next rank, the archangels, who help unite its members and give courage and inspiration. When [the college is] united in common striving, the archai [gods three levels above humanity], in particular the Spirit of the Times (Michael), gives the group the light of wisdom and the creative forces of intuition.” 
These sentences are drenched in Anthroposophical doctrine. For instance, Steiner taught that the archangel Michael currently has special responsibility for overseeing human life. Steiner also taught that there is a hierarchy of clairvoyant powers: imagination, inspiration, and intuition, which are enabled by gods of three differing ranks (imagination, Angels; inspiration, Archangels; intuition, Archai).
It is important to understand what all of this means in practice in Waldorf schools. Waldorf teachers think they are in contact with invisible beings. They think they receive guidance from them. They think they have special spiritual awareness. They think their mission is divinely inspired. They use prayer and meditation, as prescribed by Steiner, to inform their work. They are, in other words, religious missionaries, operating within a gnostic theology.
Staffed by such individuals, Waldorf schools are religious institutions. And the people Waldorf teachers work to convert are their students. Here’s how Rudolf Steiner put it, addressing the teachers at the first Waldorf school at the beginning of its very first term:
“We can accomplish our work only if we do not see it as simply a matter of intellect or feeling, but, in the highest sense, as a moral spiritual task. Therefore, you will understand why, as 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. I ask you to understand these introductory remarks as a kind of prayer to those powers who stand behind us with Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition as we take up this work.” 
Waldorf teachers have a connection with “the spiritual worlds.” They serve the “spiritual powers.” They work in the “name” of these powers. Steiner’s words on these matters are “a kind of prayer.” In overhearing Steiner talking this way to Waldorf school teachers, we are hearing a religious leader underscoring his school’s religious purpose, fulfilling its “moral spiritual task.” There is no science in Steiner’s words. There is faith. There is messianism. There is religion (an unconventional, unorthodox religion). That’s what Waldorf schools are all about.
In addition to statements that might be “as a kind of prayer”, Steiner cited a specific prayer for teachers:
“For people in general there may be many kinds of prayers. Over and above these is this special prayer for the teacher: [paragraph break] ‘Dear God, bring it about that I — inasmuch as my personal ambitions are concerned — negate myself. And Christ make true in me the Pauline words, ‘Not I, but the Christ in me.’ [paragraph break] This prayer, addressed to God in general and to Christ in particular, continues ‘...[sic] so that the Holy Spirit may hold sway in the teacher.’” 
Anthroposophists may argue, over and over, that their ideology is a science, not a religion. And they may claim, over and over, that Waldorf schools are not religious institutions. But the truth is clearly the reverse. Anthroposophists, reverent toward their spiritual master(s), meditate and pray to gain guidance and blessing from the spirit realm.
◊ "[Waldorf teachers] must be true Anthroposophists in the deepest sense of the word in our innermost feeling.” 
◊ "[Waldorf teachers] 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.” 
◊ "[Waldorf teachers] are, in a certain sense, the means by which that streaming down from above will go out into the world.” 
The blessings from above will come down into the teachers, and flow out from them into their students, and thence out into the world. This is the Waldorf agenda. If it were based in reality, it would be marvelous. If it is based in occultism, self-deception, and blind allegiance to a deluded "clairvoyant" leader, it is frightful.
The next time you hear Waldorf school students reciting, in unison, prayers written by Rudolf Steiner ; or the next time you visit a charming Waldorf festival that happens to fall on or around a holy day ; or the next time you watch Waldorf children performing eurythmy  — step back and consider what is really happening there. You will be observing the religion of Anthroposophy enacted by children who are supervised by teachers who think they have an esoteric pipeline to the gods. If you agree that Waldorf teachers probably do have such a pipeline, fine. Go in peace. But if you doubt that Waldorf teachers possess divine, occult wisdom passed down by ranks of gods, you might want to find different kind of school for your children.