The Fruits of Clairvoyance
Anyone who wishes to believe Rudolf Steiner faces a serious problem. How should s/he deal with Steiner’s many demonstrable — sometimes hilarious, often deplorable — blunders? Let’s review a few of them. Steiner was either sincerely wrong in the following statements, or else he was lying — that is, intentionally misleading his eager followers.
A brief preface: Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to disprove a statement. If, for example, Steiner said anything as wacky as that fire-breathing beasts once roamed the Earth, or that goblins are present on the Earth today, most of us would be pretty sure he was wrong, but we would have a hard time proving it. Proving a negative (as in “There are no goblins”) is tough. But what does this mean, in practice? Simply that anything that anybody ever imagines may, just barely possibly, exist somewhere, somehow: unicorns, ghosts, little green men... The chance that any of these things actually exists is minuscule, but we can’t absolutely rule out such possibilities. We can, however, insist that people who make weird claims must give us supporting evidence. The burden of proof, in other words, is on them: You say that goblins exist? Show us. Convince us. Prove it.
Other sorts of claims are easier to refute. Let’s imagine, for example, that Steiner said that the heart doesn’t pump blood or that the Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun. Science has clearly demonstrated that the heart is a muscular pump that sends blood coursing through our veins, and it has shown quite conclusively that the Earth (like all other planets in our solar system) orbits the Sun. One can challenge these findings, but they are extremely well established, so any challenge needs to be bolstered by very powerful evidence. Steiner almost never gave evidence for his claims. He just made his claims, blew some people’s minds, and went his mystic way.
OK. So what did Steiner claim? Here are a few examples:
Steiner said that fire-breathing beasts once roamed the Earth  and that goblins exist.  His evidence? None. He did elaborate a bit on his belief in goblins. He said that goblins (sometimes called gnomes, he said) huddle together deep underground. Concerning the underground itself, he said that it consists of many layers (quite true) some of which are conscious, emotional, and given to crying if stepped upon (not so true).  He also taught that islands such as Great Britain are not attached to the Earth. They float in the sea and are held in place by the power of the stars. 
Steiner’s medical teachings do indeed include the preposterous idea that the heart is not responsible for circulating blood. Blood circulates of its own accord, he taught.  The heart, you see, is a sense organ, not a pump.  Likewise, the brain is different from what you may have been taught. Thinking does not occur in the brain  — except among materialists, who are incapable of real cognition (aka clairvoyance). 
Other medical truths, according to Steiner:
◊ Cancer can be treated with mistletoe. 
◊ People have twelve senses. 
◊ People exhibit four “temperaments” (and, therefore, students of differing temperaments should be segregated and taught differently — they can be in the same classroom, but in separate parts of that room). 
◊ Real human beings are equipped with nonphysical bodies  (but this is not so true for “people” who are not really human, Steiner clarified ).
◊ If real people are very very wise, they can develop organs of clairvoyance. 
And what about non-medical subjects, beyond the ones we have already sampled? Steiner taught that Atlantis existed.  Before Atlantis, he lectured, there was another doomed human habitation: Lemuria. Problem for Anthroposophists: There is no shred of evidence that either such place ever existed.  Folklore and fables do not constitute evidence.
According to Steiner, the Aryan race arose from people who had lived on Atlantis. Problem: The Aryan race does not and never did exist.  Belief in Aryanism is only one doctrine in Steiner’s catalogue of racist teachings, many of which are — as you might expect — hateful. Different races and peoples have different mentalities and spiritual abilities, according to Steiner. Some races are moving upward evolutionarily, creating new spiritual realities as they progress; others are, deservedly, nose-diving, he taught. 
Steiner interwove his racist and other doctrines with tidbits of astrology. Not to be confused with the science of astronomy, astrology is the baseless, outmoded belief that the position of various heavenly bodies, as seen from the Earth, causes profound effects for everything upon the Earth. This is bunk — or, to be more diplomatic, it is a proposition that has not yet been confirmed by documented substantiation. 
Here are a few more blunders Steiner made concerning heavenly orbs:
◊ He taught that the Sun and other “planets” were once part of the Earth. 
◊ He said that Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter do not orbit the Sun. 
◊ And he taught that ancestors of humans migrated to various planets (Mars, Saturn, Jupiter...) long, long ago. 
Coming back down to Earth, Steiner advocated “biodynamic” agriculture. This is a form of organic agriculture that may, in fact, have some virtues. But (leaving reality again) Steiner taught that farmers and gardeners should plant their crops in accordance with astrological conditions, especially the phases of the Moon.  To prepare fields for planting, they should use magic. They should bury cow dung in a cow horn for a specified period of time (determined astrologically), then dig up the horn, empty the dollop of decayed dung into a bucket, add water, and stir vigorously, reversing the direction of the stirring every so often in order to maximize the magical effects. Then they should squirt the resulting cupfuls of liquid onto their fields (if they have no better way to spend their time). 
Steiner explained that evolution is not at all what Darwin and subsequent scientists have shown. Steiner taught that the first living beings on Earth were humans (in a very different shape than we now enjoy). Thus, humans did not evolve from lower forms of life; just the opposite: Animals evolved (or devolved, or involved) from humans. 
At least some of Steiner’s blunders resulted from the limitations imposed on him by the period in which he lived. He was largely confined by hypotheses current in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. He was a victim, in other words, of various notions that science has subsequently discarded.
◊ His ignorance of the outer reaches of the solar system was natural for a man of his time, before space probes and giant telescopes gave us new data.
◊ He subscribed to belief in the “ether,” an impalpable substance that was once thought to pervade the universe, providing a medium for the propagation of light waves. 
◊ He accepted, with modifications, the Theosophical belief in Vulcan , an imaginary planet that scientists once thought accounted for perturbations in the orbit of Mercury.
◊ He accepted the notion, popular in his day, that Mars has surface features resembling canals. He denied that the Martian lines are canals, but he asserted that the lines exist. (Demonstrating his ignorance of gasses as well as his ignorance of astronomy, he claimed that the lines are actually Martian winds.)
◊ Moreover, he taught that Mars is primarily a liquid body — an error no educated individual in our own time could possibly make. He was wrong about the features resembling canals, and he was wrong about the surface conditions on Mars.  Indeed, he was wrong on all the matters I've listed just now.
The canal-like lines on Mars vanished in the 1960s when our first Mars probes sent back photos of the planet's surface. (And later probes, including landers, showed that Mars is dry and rocky, with a very thin atmosphere and no confirmed signs — as yet — of life.) For the retirement of Vulcan and the ether we can thank Einstein. He showed that the oddness of Mercury's orbit is caused by the Sun's mass, and he showed that light can be considered a stream of particles that do not require an etheric medium. Crucially, in the years since Einstein published his theories, scientists have tested those theories over and over, and confirmed them over and over. (Anthroposophists sometimes jump on the term “theory,” as if it means that science is shaky. But in science, “theory” does not signify deep uncertainty; rather, a scientific theory is a testable, systematic explanation of phenomena. All scientific theories may eventually be supplanted by later, more advanced theories, but all stand on solid evidence. An Anthroposophist can test the “theory of gravity,” for instance, by jumping out of a high window. ) Scientific evidence for Steiner's doctrines, on the other hand, has been woefully lacking. Steiner's "truths" are actually nothing more than theories in the pejorative sense: They are empty speculations, they are fantasies.
To completely avoid his errors about Mercury, Mars, ether, and so forth, Steiner would have required information that did not become available until after his death. But this does not acquit him. He should have understood, for instance, that the universe operates more or less as the theories of Einstein indicate. These theories were published during Steiner's lifetime. Moreover, Steiner should have known that contemporary science — incomplete as it was in his day, and as it remains in our day — points toward the truth. He should have placed his reliance on factual knowledge, not mystical reveries. (Science is always incomplete. We are always learning more. This is the essence of science: We are always learning more.)
◊ Einstein published his seminal paper on the nature of light in 1905. During that same year, he published his special theory of relativity, which he followed in 1916 with the general theory of relativity. Steiner died in 1925, two decades after Einstein’s first breakthroughs.  He had plenty of time to educate himself about Einstein's work; he had plenty of opportunity to stay abreast of scientific advances, if only by following accounts in the popular press.
◊ No matter when he lived and died, Steiner should have known what was what, at least in a general, rational way. Steiner asserted the existence of clairvoyance.  Indeed, he claimed his teachings are based on his own exact clairvoyant perceptions.  For instance, he claimed to have peered into the future: He laid out fascinating visions of things to come.  But, somehow, these visions did not include developments that have actually occurred, such as our increased comprehension of the solar system, the truth about the surface of Mars, and the many experiments that have verified Einstein's theories about light and relativity. (Anthroposophists sometimes jump on the term “relativity,” as if it means that Einstein taught that everything is relative, i.e., not really knowable. Not so. The theories of relativity show that time and space are interconnected, in which context motion, speed, and time have relative values. But Einstein was not a moral, intellectual, or spiritual relativist. He famously said that God does not play dice with the universe: The laws of the universe make sense, and we can discover them. ) If Steiner was clairvoyant, knowledge of past, present, and future should have been an open book to him, as he claimed it was — but it wasn't, and we can't acquit him of failing by his own lights.
We should linger over that point: Steiner failed by his own lights. While claiming that his doctrines are a form of “spiritual science,” Steiner advocated very different forms of thought than the rationality required by science: He beat the drum for imagination, intuition, and clairvoyance. The irony is that, without rational substantiation, these forms of thought often lead to the very uncertainty and relativism that Anthroposophists say they oppose.
Perhaps Steiner really saw the things he says he saw, clairvoyantly. We don’t know precisely how he operated or precisely what psychic experiences he had, within the confines of his consciousness: All we have is his word, i.e., the claims he made. But even if Steiner truly thought that he "saw" the marvelous things he reported, he himself couldn’t have known whether those things were real or merely products of his unconscious fancy. The visions he reported presumably came to him, one way or another (unless he was consciously making them up, of course). They may have felt right to him. He may have thought that they merited implicit belief. But how did he know that they weren’t mere figments of his imagination and thus false? He couldn’t have known, since he advocated imagination as a reliable investigative tool. Finding where to draw the line between imagination and self-deception is a great challenge, one that begs the definition of sanity. People fool themselves all the time, misinterpreting what they see and hear. When individuals develop an intense tendency to see and hear things that we can’t confirm — perhaps even things that aren’t real — we are justified in worrying about them, but we probably shouldn't want to follow their lead.
Consider the matter from the perspective of one who wishes to believe Steiner’s teachings. An Anthroposophist might well reject the argument I’m making right now because s/he intuits that Steiner was right and I am wrong. Steiner’s teachings feel right to her/him, and mine feel wrong. The obvious danger in applying such subjective standards is that no real proof is required, so one can easily end up believing fantasies or even lies. Going with one's feelings (or one's imagined visions, or the knowledge that "comes" to you internally) is the reverse of objectivity; it is the quintessence or unreliability. [See, e.g. "Why? Oh Why? Oh Why?"]
Steiner said that his psychic faculties provided objective visions, which he called “imaginations”.  But objectivity requires dispassionate reasoning, which is brainwork, which Steiner derided. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific".] The issue comes down to this: Which type of “thinking” is reliable: reasoning or clairvoyance? Unless you believe in clairvoyance — and what is more, unless you believe that Rudolf Steiner was wonderfully, majestically clairvoyant — you have little reason to accept the doctrines of Anthroposophy, which all depend on clairvoyance.
Let’s look again, very briefly, at a few of the most obviously fallacious assertions that Steiner’s clairvoyance produced.
◊ The heart doesn’t pump blood.
◊ The Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun.
◊ Islands — and, indeed, continents — float.
◊ Fire-breathing dragons existed.
◊ Astrology works.
◊ Goblins exist.
◊ Animals evolved from humans.
◊ Atlantis existed.
There is a huge amount of scientific evidence on all of these points, and all of it indicates that Steiner was wrong. This is where Steiner’s reliance on non-brain “thinking” — i.e. clairvoyance — led him. By relying on clairvoyance, Steiner was led over and over into error.  (Or course, if he was lying — if his "clairvoyant visions" were mere fabrications he whipped up in order to fool his credulous followers — then Steiner stood upon error in a different sense. In that case, he consciously chose to be wrong.)
So where does all of this lead us? Steiner’s demonstrable errors demolish his claim that he was a clairvoyant authority. Steiner “saw” marvels, but time after time when we can test these marvels, they turn out to be wrong. The form of thinking Steiner says he employed was unreliable, and the teachings he offers us as a product of that “thinking” are unreliable. Which is very good news. Rudolf Steiner was not a spiritual sage. His authority is zilch. We are led to freedom from his falsehoods.
[Waldorfish art, by R.R.]
◊ [Magic Is For Real] “The white magician would impart to other souls the spiritual life he bears within him. The black magician has the urge to kill....” — Rudolf Steiner, AN ESOTERIC COSMOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1978), lecture 9, GA 94. Steiner taught that magic is real, and magicians — employing real magic, white and black — really exist. [See "Magic" and "Magicians".]
◊ [That Old Black Magic] “The black magician...employs Moon forces that still exist on Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INITIATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, GA 243. Steiner urged his followers to fear many malefactors, including black magicians, witches (we'll get to them), demons (we'll get to them), and nasty folk generally. [See, e.g., "Evil Ones" and "Enemies".]
◊ [Alchemy Is For Real] “And what about true alchemy? That does not come from doing research in the manner of chemists today but....” — Rudolf Steiner, ALCHEMY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 18. True alchemy, forsooth.
◊ [True Alchemy] "True alchemy...makes itself independent of sensory perception in order to behold the spiritual nature of the world that is external to humanity, but is concealed by sensory perception." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SECRET STREAM (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 162. True alchemy, forsooth.
◊ [Atomic Physics Is Nonsense] “[A]toms are really tiny little caricatures of demons, and our learned scholars would not speak about them as they do unless people had grown accustomed, in education, to putting everything together out of its parts.” — Rudolf Steiner, RHYTHMS OF LEARNING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 161. When reading Steiner, you have to get used to his sarcasm directed at rational people. (And you have to resist the urge to piece things together out of their parts — that is, figure things out.)
◊ [If Not Caricatures, Atoms Are...] "[T]he atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. — The thought itself is composed of the same substance." — Rudolf Steiner, "The Work of Secret Societies in the World" (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 93. Steiner's followers share his troubled view of atoms and electricity. See, e.g., Georg Unger's ON NUCLEAR ENERGY AND THE OCCULT ATOM (Anthroposophic Press, 1982), and Richard Seddon's THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002): "Electricity drives out of the nerves everything that tends toward spirit." — Seddon, p. 31. This helps explain the Waldorf aversion to TVs and computers, among other high-tech gizmos: They are deemed demonic. See David. B. Black's THE COMPUTER AND THE INCARNATION OF AHRIMAN (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 1981. Ahriman is a dreadful demon. [See "Ahriman."]
◊ [Seances Are Serious Business] “[A] medium becomes talkative and allows his own organs of speech to articulate spiritual things....” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press 1998), p. 80. Seances represent one alternative to rationally figuring things out. Steiner generally advocated alternatives to rationally figuring things out. [See, e.g., "Steiner's Specific".]
◊ [Seances Are Serious Business II] Mediums are for real, although modern ones aren't up to the old standards: "You know, of course, that the activities of mediums have not been entirely curtailed, that they still exist, even today. But the art of training mediums to a level where their revelations could become significant has, so to speak, been withdrawn ... But the door to the spiritual world had been opened....” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 217. (If mediums no longer provide reliable information, Steiner offered himself as a substitute. He claimed to receive messages from the dead. See "Steiner and the Warlord".)
◊ [Mediums Produce Ectoplasm, Thanks to Nature Spirits] "[W]hen experiments are made with a medium, ectoplasm issues from a certain part of the body, a form that embodies a spiritual element not to be found on Earth ... Something streams out of the medium. It is [a] skin emanation ... The phenomena...are simply exudations which materialize through the skin emanations an ectoplasmic form that is activated by...elementary beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, TRUE AND FALSE PATHS IN SPIRITUAL INVESTIGATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), lecture 7, GA 243. Elementary beings, also called nature spirits, are creatures such as gnomes and sylphs. They really exist, Steiner taught. (We'll get to them.)
◊ [Curing Mediums (with 'Baccy)] "It is very difficult to cure mediums by physical means. They could only be cured by injections of highly potentized tobacco in some part of a sense organ ... A psychic healing requires that the healer have a stronger will than the medium outside of the trance condition...." — Rudolf Steiner, COURSE FOR YOUNG DOCTORS (Mercury Press, 1994), Appendix, answer to question #10.
◊ [Age of the Earth] “The Earth was not in existence twenty million years ago....” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 6 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1989) p. 16. Actually, the Earth is approximately 4.6 billions years old, more than 230 times older than Steiner said. Check, e.g., THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA (bearing in mind that Steiner and his followers pooh-pooh such resources).
◊ [Future of the Earth] “The physicists today calculate the changes that will occur in various substances in twenty million years ... [O]nly the earth will no longer be in existence [then] as a physical cosmic body.” — Rudolf Steiner, MICHAELMAS AND THE SOUL-FORCES OF MAN (SteinerBooks, 1982), p. 57. Note that Steiner isn’t guessing or predicting — he knows the future. (Not.)
◊ [25,815] “When you come back after 25,815 years the earth will have dissolved in the meantime.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 130. Note that Steiner isn’t guessing or predicting — he knows. So, not only will the Earth no longer exist in twenty million years, it will no longer exists in just a bit less than twenty-six thousand years. (25,815 years, by the way, is the period it will take you to be reincarnated 11 or 12 times. [FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER, p. 128.] This is roughly equal to the period of the precession of the equinoxes — the length of time required for the Earth to work its way through one cycle of the zodiac.)
◊ [Guys and Gals: Different Lineages] “Human beings in whom the physical, astral, and ego predominated, are the physical ancestors of males today, while those in whom the etheric, astral, and ego predominated, are the physical ancestors of females of today.” — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1979), p. 110. Etheric, astral, and ego, in Steinerspeak, refer to nonphysical human bodies and capacities. (“Ego” is not the same as that found in psychology.) We are our own ancestors, in Anthroposophical belief, because we return to Earth many, many times through the process of reincarnation. [See "Incarnation", "Reincarnation", and "Karma".] But Steiner's central point here is that males and females have different "physical ancestors" — we come from different lines.
◊ [Ghosts] “When human beings cling too strongly to earthly things it may be difficult for them to find their bearings in the sphere of the Moon Beings ... The moon-influences are not really active below the roots of plants ... The moon-influences, rising like mist from this shallow layer, may cause human beings who have to pass after death into the Moon sphere — the soul-world — but are unable to understand the Moon Beings, to be trapped by this shallow stratum of moon-influences and they can actually be seen by sensible-supersensible perception [i.e., clairvoyance] wandering about as ghosts, as spectral shades.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), pp. 150-151. Steiner had severe problems trying to express himself. I’ll translate: The Moon sphere is the soul-world; it is occupied by Moon Beings; the influence of the Moon extends only a short distance below the surface of the Earth; people who can’t understand the Moon Beings may, upon death, get trapped in the shallow parts of the Earth that are under the influence of the Moon; thereafter, these poor dead people will become what are commonly called ghosts.
◊ [Moon Beings] They exist. The Moon is occupied. See, e.g., the foregoing revelation.
◊ [Giants and Dwarfs] “Everything that refers to ‘giants’ in legends is absolutely based on knowledge of the truth. If, therefore, a real memory of these times is preserved in the Germanic myths [i.e., Norse myths, so important in Waldorf schooling], we feel it to be absolutely correct, from the spiritual scientific point of view, that the giants are stupid and the dwarfs very clever.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), p. 117. The giants and dwarfs of legend are, "from the spiritual scientific point of view," for real. [For more about this, and Norse myths, see "The Gods".] If you dream up something that doesn't exist, Steiner will probably tell you that it does exist — or did:
◊ [Nymphs, Etc.] “Imagine what the people of ancient times perceived, entrancing them, pouring through their heads, till they exclaimed, 'Ah, the nymphs! Ah, the gnomes! How the nymphs whirl in my head, how the gnomes hammer....' That no longer exists for us. Today the hammering, surging, and whirling are eclipsed and overwhelmed by what comes from actual seeing or hearing.” — Rudolf Steiner, ISIS MARY SOPHIA (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 230. Steiner acknowledged the existence of actual perception, but he preferred clairvoyance, which he called actual "cognition." [See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.] Steiner preferred the fantasies of the past to the scientific truths of the present — indeed, he mistook the fantasies for reality. He taught that gnomes, fairies, etc., actually exist. [See "Beings".]
◊ [Gravity - Loony] "Anyone going about the physical Earth, or even when lying down, is always subject to the laws of gravity. If he were to escape from them for a few minutes, the opposing force, counter-gravity, comes into play. He then experiences within himself a force dragging him away from the Earth, instead of chaining him to it. This is the same force that comes from the Moon." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), chapter 7, GA 227.
◊ [Gravity, Locally] “Gravity is...perceived only by those beings that live on a solid planet ... Beings who could live on a fluid planet would know nothing of gravity ... And beings who live on a gaseous planet would regard as normal something that would be the opposite of gravity ... [B]eings dwelling on a gaseous planet instead of seeing bodies falling towards the planet would see them always flying off ... Gravity begins when we find ourselves on a solid planet.” — Rudolf Steiner, SCIENCE (Rudolf Steiner Press 2003), pp. 136-137. No cigar. Gravity exists everywhere, including on gaseous/fluid planets such as Jupiter — where gravity is far greater than on any solid planet in the solar system.
◊ [Oops — Gravity, Generally] “The best would be if you considered gravity only as a word.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 29. Steiner explained that gravity doesn't really exist, but Waldorf teachers should pretend that it does so that Waldorf schools will not look bad: “Over there is a bench and on it is, let us say, a ball ... [T]he ball falls to the ground ... Saying that the ball is subject to the force of gravity is really meaningless ... But we cannot avoid speaking of gravity ... Just imagine if a fifteen-year-old boy knew nothing of gravity; there would be a terrible fuss.” — Rudolf Steiner, PRACTICAL ADVICE TO TEACHERS (Anthroposophical Press, 2000), pp. 116-117. Note the title of the book. Steiner gave good, practical advice, indeed, to Waldorf teachers. Here the advice is not to cause a stink by teachings kids the truth: that gravity is only a word.
◊ [Our Bodies] “As we appear physically, we are clearly divided into the head system, the chest system, and the abdominal system, including the limbs....” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press. 1996), p. 59. This explains why your stomach has arms. Steiner distorted the function of our actual bodily systems, such as the nervous system (unconnected to real thinking), the cardiovascular system (the heart isn't a pump), the immune system (diseases are linked to the stars), the reproductive system (the Moon is paramount), and so on.
◊ [Animal Bodies] An organ in a human “may have an entirely different task from that of the corresponding organ in the animal world ... That which is said...with reference to the essential nature of the organs in the case of the human being, cannot be said in the same way with regard to the animals.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OCCULT PHYSIOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 14. There is no scientific basis for this claim. None. Gal bladders, hearts, kidneys, etc., work much they same in all species. (It is even possible, in some cases, to transplant animal organs into humans.)
◊ [Animal Minds] Steiner argued that animals do not have memories. “To attribute memory to animals is an error ... [T]he animal's behaviour implies the absence of all memory.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 46-47. Wrong. Many animals seem to have better memories than humans. Birds who learn extremely long migratory routes have astonishing memories, as do animals who memorize the locations of food stores they create for the winter. [See, e.g., Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, ANIMALS IN TRANSLATION (Scribner, 2005), p. 285ff. “Some bird and mammal species that have to remember where they've hidden their food are memory specialists and have extra large brain areas devoted to visual memory. The Clark's nutcracker, a type of crow, buries as many as thirty thousand pine seeds in the fall in a two-hundred-square-mile area, then finds over 90 percent of them during the winter.” — Grandin and Johnson, p. 263.]
◊ [Blond Minds] “If the blonds and blue-eyed people die out, the human race will become increasingly dense ... Blond hair actually bestows intelligence. In the case of fair people, less nourishment is driven into the eyes and hair; it remains instead in the brain and endows it with intelligence. Brown and dark-haired people drive the substances into their eyes and hair that the fair people retain in their brains.” — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), pp. 85-86. This is, of course, pure balderdash. And it is trembles on the verge of racism.
◊ [Nonsense re. Senses] "Fish don't smell things." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 146. Untrue. "Fishes perceive the world around them by the usual senses of sight, smell, [etc.]." — "fish." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 28 Nov. 2011.
◊ [The Moon and Eggs] “Women discharge...human eggs every four weeks. At first they are given up to the moon’s influence for a short time and are protected. But when the female organism dispatches the human egg during the course of the monthly period, it comes under the influence of the earth and is destroyed.” — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press), 1981, p. 127. No comment. (Except this: No.)
◊ [Racial Extinction] "The forces which determine man's racial character follow this cosmic pattern. The American Indians died out, not because of European persecutions, but because they were destined to succumb to those forces which hastened their extinction." — Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF THE FOLK SOULS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 76. This is very interesting and very sad. Certainly, Native Americans were subjected to terrible injustice amounting to genocide. There's just one problem with Steiner's statement, however. Native Americans are not extinct; many Native Americans are very much alive in America (North and South) today. (We can't excuse Steiner by arguing that he was just exaggerating a smidgen. He thought Native Americans provided an example of a key portion of his racial doctrines, which is that races become extinct for good reason. See, e.g., http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/25329.)
◊ [Volcanic Ring] “[A]round the South pole in particular there are many volcanic mountains.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 184. Nope. (There are, as it happens, quite a number of volcanos in Antarctica, but they are not clustered near the South Pole. They tend to be found, buried deep under the ice, along the western shore of the continent. The South Pole itself is singularly free of volcanos, more or less.)
◊ [Fawns and Satyrs] "If the whole reality is revealed to us as we look over towards the East of Europe to-day, we see not human beings alone but an astral [i.e., supernatural] sphere which since the Middle Ages has become the Paradise of beings once known as the Fauns and Satyrs." — Rudolf Steiner, “Gnostic Doctrines and Supersensible Influences in Europe” (ANTHROPOSOPHY, No. 3, Vol. 6), GA 225. No comment. (Really, none.)
◊ [Celestial Hangouts] “[T]he moon today is like a fortress in the universe, in which there lives a population that fulfilled its human destiny over 15,000 years ago, after which it withdrew to the moon ... This is only one of the ‘cities’ in the universe, one colony, one settlement among many.” — Rudolf Steiner, RUDOLF STEINER SPEAKS TO THE BRITISH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 93. The Apollo astronauts didn't report discovering that the Moon is like a fortress, but then the Apollo moon landings may have been faked, right? Some Anthroposophists argue so, anyway. Steiner himself did not clairvoyantly foresee the Apollo program (which is odd), so he didn't weigh in on this fallacious controversy. (But for some of Steiner's forecasts that did not pan out, see "Millennium". To peek into the Anthroposophical denial that the astronauts went to the Moon, see, e.g., "Today" and "Today 3.")
◊ [More Celestial Hangouts] "[M]any planetoids [i.e., asteroids] are interspersed between Mars and Jupiter ... They make up the region which in its spiritual aspect is experienced by a man after death because he cannot yet reach Jupiter. They have the remarkable characteristic of being spiritual colonies, as it were, of beings from Jupiter and Saturn who have withdrawn there.” — Rudolf Steiner, The EVOLUTION OF CONSCIOUSNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), lecture 10, GA 227. Golly.
◊ [The “Star” Venus] “Lucifer himself takes part in Earth evolution with the perpetual longing within himself for his true home, for the star Venus ... [W]hat Lucifer casts off as a husk...as the physical body is cast off by the human soul at death, shines down from heaven as Venus.” — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 77. [For more on Lucifer, see "Lucifer". For more on Venus, et al, see "The Planets".]
◊ [Negating Newton] Newton was wrong: Prisms do not split white light apart. "Newton said to himself: 'There the white light is coming in; the prism gives me the seven colors of the rainbow ... The sun [i.e., sunlight] already has all the colours in it, we only have to draw them out.' But that is not at all the way it is." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 24-25. Standing up for his hero Goethe (who was wrong), Steiner bravely disputed Newton (who was right). Newton correctly said that white light contains all the colors, and a prism can split these apart. Steiner and Goethe incorrectly said that the splitting is an illusion, that white light cannot be split. This is brave — and totally wrong.
◊ [Deep Throat] “The larynx is the future organ of procreation and birth. At present we give birth to words through it, but in future this seed will develop the capacity to give birth to the whole human being once we have become spiritualized.” — Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 50. Anything is possible, I suppose.
◊ [Rickets] “The ashes that a thought leaves strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF THE ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. Well, not everything is possible.
◊ [Insect Souls, Human Souls] “The group soul of a beehive is a very high level being ... It has attained a level of evolutionary development that human beings will later reach....” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 176. Surprised? Confused? You should know that after the Earth and the entire solar system blink out of existence, everything will reemerge in a new form called, occultly, "Future Venus" [see "Future Stages"]. And, "Social life on Venus resembles [i.e., will resemble] a beehive, which is built of carbon created out of its own being, has a consciousness at the Imaginative level, and where work is the main concern." — Richard Seddon, THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2002), p. 125. Translation: When we evolve to the Future Venus stage [see "Future Stages"], our social lives will resemble the life of a beehive. We will create our bodies out of our own substance; our chief form of consciousness will be imaginative clairvoyance; and our chief interest will be to work and work and work. Are you eager to get there?
◊ [Doings on the Sun and Venus (bees, again)] “[Y]ou will not be able to find out what happens on the Sun or on Venus if you cannot apply this method of placing your consciousness into the life and activity of a bee community.” — Rudolf Steiner, BEES (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 170. The Sun and Venus are inhabited, or in a spiritual sense they were inhabited, or in a spiritual sense they will be inhabited. In any case, to know such things, you must developed the bees' point of view. (Why in the world did Steiner make such a fuss about bees? Funny you should ask. See "Bees".)
◊ [Foolish Astronomers] “I have spoken to you of the ingenious description of the sun given by astrophysicists. But if it were possible to journey to the sun it would be found with amazement that nothing of what is to be expected from these physical descriptions exists.” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 35. Space probes passing near the Sun have shown the opposite: They have confirmed (and, of course, improved upon) the observations made by earthbound astronomers. The astrophysicists speak truth; Steiner spoke fantasy.
◊ [Negative Suctional Space] “[M]aterialistic physicists would be immensely astonished if they went up into space expecting to find the sun as they describe it in their science. Their descriptions are nonsense. If by some convenient transport the physicists could reach the sun, they would be amazed to find no gas whatsoever. They would find hollow space, a real vacuum. This vacuum radiates light.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 143-144. The same vacuum exists in all stars, Steiner said. (There is a vacuum somewhere, certainly.) "I am always saying that if people could really travel to a star, they would be amazed to find it different from the modern ideas about it determined by their life on earth. They imagine that it contains a glowing gas. But that is not at all what is found out there. Actually, where the star is, there is empty space, empty space that would immediately suck one up. Suction forces are there. They would suck you up instantly, split you to pieces. If people would work with the same consistent research and the same unprejudiced thinking as we do here, they would also come to see with intricate spectroscopes that there are not gases out there, but negative suctional space." — Ibid., pp. 46-47.
◊ [Those Silly Physicists (cont.)] “[T]here is no such thing, my dear friends, as what the physicists call matter." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 55.
◊ [No Growth] “[T]he idea that the population of the earth increases is just superstition on the part of modern science, which always makes its calculations from data to suit itself. The truth is that even in the most ancient times there was a vast population in China, also in South America and North America. There too in those ancient times the land reached out to the Pacific Ocean. If that is taken into account the population of the earth cannot be said to have grown.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 68. Steiner had to argue that the Earth's population has remained the same (false) in order to assert that humans reincarnate (false): If there are, let's say, seven billion people alive today, they are the new incarnations of the seven billion people who were alive a few thousand years ago. (False.)
◊ [Plant Aspirations] “The desire to become treelike is actually present in every plant.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL ECOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 105. An asparagus, for instance, wishes it were an oak.
◊ [The Accuracy of Dreams] Changes “occur in our dreams when we undertake the ascent to higher knowledge. Our dreams lose their meaningless, disorganized, and disconnected character and begin to form an increasingly regular, lawful, and coherent world.” — Rudolf Steiner, HOW TO KNOW THE HIGHER WORLDS (Anthroposophical Press, 1994), p. 163. Various other religious say something similar. Science, on the other hand, has shown that dreams are essentially meaningless. Some dreams, indeed, lap over into delusion and hallucination.
◊ [The Shape of the Earth] “[T]he earth stands in the universe, curiously, as a rounded tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid. That, gentlemen, is actually still the form of the earth!” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 185. Sigh.
◊ [Beware the Witches] “It might have been very awkward for certain brotherhoods if, before being burned at the stake, a witch had revealed what lay behind them. For it is true that...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 burned the witches did so for a very good reason: It would have been very awkward for them if the witches had revealed anything to the world....” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, AND THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 217. Witches, in sum, are for real.
◊ [Not Really Planets?] “Then come Uranus and Neptune ... [T]hey circle much farther out and their orbits exhibit such irregularities that in reality they cannot be counted among the planets even today.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 290. When speaking in public and wanting to seem reasonable, Steiner often hid the occult teachings that he shared privately with his followers. Here’s one example of Steiner referring to orbits, although unfortunately he did it in the context of denying that two real planets do not count as planets “even today.” When he spoke more candidly, in private meetings with his followers, he derided the scientific knowledge of his time, relying on his claimed clairvoyance instead. (His faithful followers kept careful notes, for which we must thank them.) To accept Uranus and Neptune as members of the solar system would have upset his mystical, astrological, numerological depiction of the Sun and its six attendant planets, so he rejected the outermost planets.
◊ [The Outermost Planet (Said He)] The same blunder that led Steiner to discount Uranus and Neptune caused him to designate Saturn as the outermost planet: “To the modern materialistic view of the cosmos, Saturn is observed merely as a body moving about in cosmic space; and the same with the other planets. This is not the case; for if we take [i.e., consider] Saturn, the outermost planet of our Universe [sic], we must represent him as the leader of our planetary system in cosmic space. He directs our system in space.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN - HIEROGLYPH OF THE UNIVERSE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 10, GA 201. Note that Steiner here confuses the solar system with the entire universe or, at least, "our" universe.
◊ [Earth Was Alive; Hard Rocks] “The hardest rocks in the mountains are residues of early plants. The whole of our earth was once alive. It was first a plant, then an animal.” — Rudolf Steiner's FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), editors’ synopsis, p. vii. “[T]he hardest mountains have arisen from plant nature, and the whole earth was a kind of plant ... But the whole earth did once live, and we find a remnant of what once was living earth in the hardest mountain rocks ... [T]he whole earth was in plant form, because the sun’s position was very different, and later on in animal form.” — Rudolf Steiner, ibid., pp. 8-14. *!*
◊ [Oops: Earth IS Alive] Remember what we just learned: "The whole of our earth was once alive." Now learn this: “For the earth is really a living being....” — Rudolf Steiner, AGRICULTURE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003, p. 67. Contradictions pockmark Steiner’s statements. Is the Earth alive? Steiner both says that a) the Earth once lived but has since died, and b) the Earth is alive now. (The Gaia hypothesis suggests that the Earth may be considered a single organism. But Steiner meant something far more specific, occult, and silly. Remember, for instance, that the Earth contains a layer that would cry out if stepped upon):
◊ [Just Think] “Just think, children, our Earth feels and experiences everything that happens within it ... [I]t has feelings like you have, and can be angry or happy like you.” — Rudolf Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 132. But I promised silly:
◊ [Tonsorial] “[T]he whole earth is a living being ... [I]t bears the plants as a man bears his hair.” — Rudolf Steiner, ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1926), p. 64.
◊ [Oops Again; Dead Again] "[T]he earth is a huge human head, indeed, a huge, dead human head." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002, p. 149.
◊ [Stone-Cold Alive; Living Rocks] "The maha-para-nirvana plane is [where] the solid stone has its life." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 93a. [Concerning the maha-para-nirvana plane: You could ignore this and lose nothing as a result, or you could consult the entry for "maha-para-nirvana plane" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.]
◊ [Crying Rocks] “The Fire Earth [a subterranean layer of the Earth]...is sensitive to pain and would cry out if stepped upon.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 31. But I already told you this. Let's move on:
◊ [Here Comes the Moon] “[C]onventional textbooks do not mention that the Moon comes closer to the Earth each year. Because this fact is not in the textbooks, most people are unaware of it. It is true nevertheless.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 57. Why oh why isn't this important information in the textbooks? Forget about the textbooks of Steiner's time. This crucial info is left out of today's textbooks, too. Are you worried about it? Don't be. The Moon is actually receding from the Earth, gradually but distinctly. [See, e.g., THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA.]
◊ [Horny and Glassy] "[T]he moon, which has around it what we have in the interior of the earth, produced a thickish, horny mass on the outside. This is what we see when we look up. It is not like our mineral kingdom, but it is as if our mineral kingdom had become horn-like and turned into glass. It is extraordinarily hard, harder than anything horn-like that we have on earth, but it is not quite mineral. Hence the peculiar shape of the moon mountains; they actually all look like horns that have been fastened on.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), GA 354, p. 26. Steiner was able to peddle astonishing nonsense about the Moon because, in his day, no one had been there (contrary to what he said). Our Moon probes and manned landings have shown that the Moon is nothing at all like Steiner described. (Although his followers today often argue that the moon landings never occurred. One reason they take this line is that, if they were to accept the findings of the astronomers and astronauts, they would have to confess that much of what Steiner said about the Moon is flat wrong.)
◊ [Moon Men, Moon Air] “The animal man of the Moon [did] not yet have firm bones ... [T]he Moon of that time did not have a thin, airy atmosphere ... [I]ts envelope was considerably thicker, even denser than the water of today.” — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987), pp. 193-194. Whether the Moon ever had an atmosphere thicker than water is, shall we say, unproven. And as for "the animal man of the Moon," his existence may possibly be speculative. All of this is complicated by Steiner's weird cosmology. When he spoke of the Moon, he often meant Old Moon, which was not the natural satellite of the Earth (i.e., a place) but an ancient phase of evolution (i.e., a time). [See "Old Moon".] The "animal man of the Moon" was us as we existed at that time. Fortunately for Steiner, when Old Moon ended the entire solar system was transmuted to a totally different form ("Present Earth"), so don't bother to look for physical evidence from Old Moon. There is none. (Surprised?)
◊ [Moon God: Jehovah] “Yahweh [i.e., Jehovah] resides on the Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, SLEEP AND DREAMS (SteinerBooks, 2003), p. 43. Maybe yes, maybe no. (No.)
◊ [Christ: Son? Sun] “[A]t a certain point in the earth's evolution, a sublime Sun being, the Christ, did not remain on the sun but came down from the sun to the earth....” — Rudolf Steiner, REVERSE RITUAL (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 170. Just as most Jews, Muslims, and Christians (and Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, agnostics, and atheists — among others) are likely to doubt that Jehovah lives on the Moon, most Christians (and Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, agnostics, and atheists — among others) are likely to doubt that Christ is the Sun God and/or that he came to Earth from the Sun. Indeed, the only people likely to accept this teaching are Steiner's faithful adherents. Maybe they are right, of course. But would you like to bet? [See "Sun God".] In Anthroposophy, the incarnation of the Sun God on Earth is deemed a crucial event bearing on human evolution. “Had Christ not appeared on the earth, had He remained the Sun-God only, humanity on the earth would have fallen into decay.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1958), “World-Pentecost; The Message of Anthroposophy”, GA 226.
◊ [Arthur and Atlantis] "After Atlantis sank, great initiates led two main streams of people from west to east, one through Africa, the other through Europe. The one that came through Africa toward Asia produced, in the course of incarnations and evolution, the individuality could could take up the Christ light. Meanwhile, in the northern stream initiates raised a strong, powerful stock of people who not only knew how to spite their enemies but were also physically a match for demonic influences. At various locations in Europe there were mystery centers, the existence of which is reported in many old sagas. For example, behind the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table is hidden a report of such a secret school. King Arthur was a high initiate who made known the wisdom of the mysteries to his pupils." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007) p. 427. This is quite interesting. But the import of Steiner's teachings is weakened by two flaws. 1) Atlantis never existed. 2) King Arthur never existed. (THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, for one, calls him a "legendary king of Britain".)
◊ [Planetary Hanky-Panky] If you trace your genealogy back far enough, you'll be in for some surprises. You may come upon “human beings who had their origins in the interbreeding of Earth offspring with humans who...moved to Jupiter.” — Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 238. Wanna bet?
◊ [Saturn, Saturn Man, and the Planet Sun] “Even on the planet Saturn man was present. Saturn...gradually vanished away, was for a long time invisible, and then shone out as the Sun. The planet Sun passed through the same process ... Saturn man was very different from the human being of today....” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDING A SCIENCE OF THE SPIRIT (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 73. Passages like this are breathtaking in their nuttiness. Can I prove that Steiner was wrong about all this? I can at least point out that there is no scintilla of evidence supporting Steiner. (Note that, as in the case of "Moon," the words "Saturn" and "Sun" often mean something different, in Steinerspeak, from what they mean in real-world-speak. Here, Steiner is talking about stages of evolution, again. Old Saturn came first, then Old Sun, then Old Moon. [See, e.g., "Matters of Form".])
◊ [They’re Alive!] “When you make Shakespearean characters living [i.e., “bring them to life”]...you can raise them into the supersensible world [i.e., the spirit realm] where they remain living. Of course, they do not do in the higher worlds what they do on the physical plane, but they remain alive, nevertheless, and they act there.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998, p. 336. Let’s hope Caliban behaves himself.
◊ [Numerology, As It Were] "[A] certain relation between the numbers seven and twelve, and that this relation has something to do with time and space ... By starting with the incarnation of a man of the present day and looking back at his three former incarnations it is possible to draw certain conclusions concerning his next three incarnations. The three former and the present incarnations, plus the three following make seven again. Seven is a clue for everything that happens in time." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EAST IN THE LIGHT OF THE WEST (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1940), chapter 9, GA 114.
◊ [Numerology, As It Were II] "[N]umbers and numerical proportions have a certain meaning for the cosmos and the world. It is in numbers, we might say, that the harmony that wells through space is expressed ... [N]umbers can give you a clue to what is called meditation if you have the key to plunge deeply enough." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 31-32.
◊ [Handy Horoscopes] “Now let us turn to the horoscope of the younger child. Again, here are Venus and Uranus and Mars near together ... [W]hen we examine more nearly [i.e., more closely] the position of Mars, we find it is not, as before, in complete opposition to the moon. It is however very nearly so. Although the younger child does not come in for a complete opposition, there is an approximation of opposition.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 196. As I point out in an endnote (#19), using astrology to guide the treatment of children with special needs is clearly a recipe for ineffective treatment — and perhaps for disaster. (We will return to the subject of horoscopes in a "news" item, below.)
◊ [In The Palm of His Hand] “Palmistry...requires a special, a very special facility which maybe one or two people possess in order to investigate the lines of the hand... [W]e can see a person’s whole karma in his left hand ... In the right hand we see the personal capability which that person has obtained in this life ... There is more to all these things than people think but it is exceptionally dangerous to speak about them in public....” — Rudolf Steiner, UNDERSTANDING HEALING: Meditative Reflections on Deepening Medicine Through Spiritual Science (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), pp. 88-89.
◊ [Speaking of Hands...] "[C]hildren will become idiotic through lefthandedness." — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Gerda Hueck in THE PROBLEM OF LEFTHANDEDNESS (St. George Publications, 1978), p. 15.
◊ [So, On This Hand...] “We should always correct left-handedness. However, in this connection [i.e., learning to play the piano], we should also take the child’s temperament into account so that melancholics give the right hand preference. You can easily find a tendency with them to play with the left hand. We should emphasize the left hand with the cholerics. With the phlegmatics you should see to it that they use both hands in balance, and the same is true for sanguines." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETING WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 345-346.
◊ [The Stars and Us] Steiner taught that children can be classified according to the ancient, fallacious concept of the four temperaments. [See endnote #11 and, also, "Temperaments".] These temperaments are associated with astrological powers, Steiner taught. “In cholerics [Libra], you will generally find ... In sanguines (Virgo) ... in melancholics (Leo) ... in phlegmatics (Cancer)....” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 91. All of this is bunk, of course. It is bunk compounded by bunk: belief in the four classical temperaments [see "Humouresque"] and belief in astrology [see "Astrology".]
◊ [Lightning] "Modern science holds a strange view ... It says that it is electricity that causes the lightning to flash out of the clouds. Now you probably know that electricity is explained to children at school by rubbing a glass rod with a piece of cloth smeared with some kind of amalgam; after it has been rubbed for some time, the rod begins to attract little scraps of paper, and after still more rubbing, sparks are emitted, and so on. Such experiments with electricity are made in school, but care has to be taken that everything has been thoroughly wiped beforehand, because the objects that are to become electric must not even be moist, let alone wet; they must be absolutely dry, even warm and dry, for otherwise nothing will be got out of the glass rod or the stick of sealing-wax. From this you can gather that electricity is conducted away by water and fluids. Everyone knows this, and naturally the scientists know it, for it is they who make the experiments. In spite of this, however, they declare that the lightning comes out of the clouds — and clouds are certainly wet! ... This shows you what kind of nonsense is taught nowadays ... Lightning is the heat generated in the air itself that makes its way to where there is a kind of hole in the surrounding air ... Lightning is not caused by electricity, but by the fact that the air is getting rid of, emptying away, its own heat." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 183-184. Baloney. (It is worth noting, in passing, that Steiner here sets himself up in direct opposition to science — i.e., real knowledge. He often did this, despite claiming to be a kind of scientist and claiming that science would confirm his clairvoyant "discoveries." It hasn't.)
◊ [Electricity, Magnetism] We peeked into Steiner's teachings about electricity and atoms, previously, and he has set us straight about lightning. Let's peek further. “What is light? Light decays and the decaying light is electricity [sic] ... And the chemical force that undergoes a transformation in the process of earth evolution is magnetism [sic].” — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY AND THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005), p. 84. Light and magnetism are actually variants of the same force, electromagnetism. Light does not decay to become electricity, and magnetism is not a chemical process. Otherwise, this statement checks out wonderfully.
◊ [Or...] "Electricity is light in the sub-material state. Light is there compressed to the utmost degree. An inward quality too must be ascribed to light; light is itself at every point in space. Warmth will expand in the three dimensions of space. In light there is a fourth; it is of fourfold extension — it has the quality of inwardness as a fourth dimension." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ETHERISATION OF THE BLOOD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1971), GA 130. Even if we discount the double-talk, this is nonsense.
◊ [Er...] "The greatest contrast to electricity is LIGHT. If we look upon light as electricity we confuse good and evil. We lose sight of the true conception of evil in the order of Nature, if we do not realize that through the electrification of the atoms we transform them into carriers of evil ... For electric atoms are little demons of Evil ... The modern explanation of Nature set out along a path that really unites it with Evil ... [W]hen we listen to a modern physicist blandly explaining that Nature consists of electrons, we merely listen to him explaining that Nature really consists of little demons of Evil! And if we acknowledge Nature in this form, we raise Evil to the rank of the ruling world-divinity." — Rudolf Steiner, "Concerning Electricity", ANTHROPOSOPHIC NEWS SHEET, No. 23/24, June 9, 1940. It's hard to know how long to stick with any of Steiner's constellations of blunders. Maybe this is enough on his cluelessness about electricity. So, moving on:
◊ [Telepathy and -kinesis] “[I]f a person falls victim to encroaching age too early...[l]ower forms of clairvoyance, such as telepathy, telekinesis and so on...occur abnormally ... [They] are simply the result of this premature aging....” — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul, and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 132. Don't mature too fast, lest you develop only low forms of clairvoyance. (We might note, tangentially or not, that Waldorf schools take care to retard the maturation of their students. [See. e.g., "Thinking Cap".])
◊ [Only Off By a Million] “When we took around us in Europe we can really say: Ten, twelve or fifteen thousand years ago the earth, the ground, became sufficiently firm for men to dwell upon it. Before that, only marine animals were there which developed out of the sea.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 66. Actually, the ground in Europe was sufficiently firm for humans and pre-humans to live there starting about a million years ago. So, roughly speaking, Steiner was wrong by, oh, let’s call it a million years (minus ten, twelve or fifteen thousand). ”By 1,000,000 years ago hominins were widely distributed in Africa and Asia, and some finds in Europe may be that early. The earliest securely dated material is from Isernia la Pineta in southern Italy, where stone tools and animal bones were dated to about 730,000 bce. Thereafter the evidence becomes more plentiful, and by 375,000 bce most areas except Scandinavia, the Alps, and northern Eurasia had been colonized ... From the beginning of the last major Pleistocene glaciation about 120,000 bce, the hominin fossils belong to the Neanderthals, who have been found throughout Europe and western Asia, including the glacial environments of central Europe ... From about 35,000 bce, anatomically modern humans — Homo sapiens sapiens, the ancestor of modern populations — were found throughout Europe." — "history of Europe." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 19 Nov. 2011.
◊ [Ghosts] We've seen that Steiner believed in ghosts. Let's see it again. “One day he [Steiner when a boy] was sitting in one of his favorite hiding places, the railway waiting room. He saw the door open and a woman enter who was unknown to him but nonetheless resembled a member of his family. She walked to the middle of the room and, gesturing, said in effect, 'Help me as much as you can.' ... Then she went over to the stove and disappeared into it. Later, he heard that a distant relative had committed suicide and he understood that it was her soul that had visited him....” — Christopher Bamford, introduction to START NOW! (SteinerBooks, 2004), a collection of Steiner's works, p. 25. “Beginning with this experience, a new soul life began in [me]....” — Rudolf Steiner, A WAY OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE (SteinerBooks, 2006), p. 155. Apparently this was when Steiner began to veer severely from reality.
◊ [Bulls’ Eyes] “When the bull confronts red he simply says, ‘Dash it all, all the blood in my head is being destroyed! I must defend myself!’ So he goes wild....” — Rudolf Steiner, COLOUR (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1992), p. 132. Despite folklore, bulls have little or no ability to see red, and they are not particularly bothered by red cloth. But Steiner fell for folklore just as he fell for fairy tales and myths, mistaking fantasy for reality.
◊ [Pachyderm Peculiarity I] “When death approaches — this is the peculiar thing with pachyderms — these animals feel this particularly strongly ... Their instinct then makes them go into caves. People tend not to look for them in those earth caves. If they were to look for them there they would find more dead elephants in the regions where elephants are. They are not found in the open.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), pp. 4-5. Steiner accepts the myth that elephants have special graveyards, adding the nice twist that the graveyards are inside caves. But there's a good reason why people don't look for elephant bones inside caves. Can you guess what it is? As for the whole idea of elephant graveyards, the benighted ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA says "Evidence does not substantiate the existence of so-called 'elephant graveyards,' where elephants supposedly gather to die." — "elephant." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 27 Jan. 2009.
◊ [Pachyderm Peculiarity II] By the way, Anthroposophists accept the myth that elephants have extraordinary memories (even though this is contradicts Steiner's general statement about animal memory): "The elephant's mind, able to remember everything...." — Synopsis of Steiner's first lecture in FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. vii. (Bear in mind that Steiner taught that animals do not have memories. “To attribute memory to animals is an error ... [T]he animal's behaviour implies the absence of all memory.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), pp. 46-47.
◊ [Phlogiston] Discussing why things burn, Steiner referred to the old theory (phlogiston) and the new (oxygen). He went with the old, at least in principle. “Phlogiston is the invisible principle that disperses ... Oxygen is a substance you can weigh ... Materialism arose because people began to believe only in the things that could be weighed.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 3. Phlogiston is a discarded scientific concept. Phlogiston is "fire stuff" — the nonexistent "element" that was thought to exist in all flammable material. Sometimes Steiner suggested phlogiston doesn't exist, but sometimes... Steiner's eagerness to embrace antiscientific, anti-materialistic concepts often led him to embrace nonsense.
◊ [Heady Thoughts] “Although there will always be a great deal to be said against the charlatan phrenology that is commonly practised, a genuine phrenology really should be studied by anyone who wants to form his conclusions correctly about moral defects. For it is indeed most interesting to see how moral defects which are connected with karma are forces of such strength that they manifest themselves quite inevitably in deformations of the physical organism.” — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 68. "Genuine phrenology," forsooth.
◊ [Doggone] “It is well known that if dogs are removed from conditions where they are in contact with human beings to places where they have no such contact, they forget how to bark....” — Rudolf Steiner, RELIGION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 170. I wish barking feral dogs knew this. But perhaps they believe wildlife experts, not Steiner: "[F]eral dogs are a problem throughout California ... Feral dogs growl and bark." — http://www.sbcounty.gov/Uploads/CAO/Brochures/Archives/49.pdf.
◊ [Solar Silliness] “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. Where to start? ◊ Despite what occultists "know," there are no fixed stars. All stars are in motion. ◊ The Sun is not a fixed star, since there are no such things. ◊ The Sun was never a planet. ◊ Steiner was an occultist, by his own admission, which (although he didn't know this) means that he "knew" almost nothing. At least, his occult visions brought him no real information about the actual universe. [For Steiner's affirmation of occultism, see "Occultism".]
◊ [Stellar Silliness] "The fixed stars work in the human being, the moving planets work in the human being...." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 84. Basically, this is Steiner affirming another fallacy, astrology. He says that both stars and planets have mystical effects on humans. But the "fixed stars" (of which the universe contains zero) do not "work in the human being" any more than the planets do. Astrology is flapdoodle. [See "Astrology".] (By the bye, Steiner differentiated "fixed stars" from "planetary stars." But there are no "planetary stars" anywhere in the universe. The correct term is "planets." Stars and planets are different types of celestial objects. But Steiner's grasp of modern astronomy was extremely weak. See, e.g., Steiner's THIRD SCIENTIFIC LECTURE COURSE: Astronomy (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), lecture 12, GA 323.)
◊ [A Surprise for Buddhists] “The Buddha wandered away from earthly affairs to the realm of Mars.” — Rudolf Steiner, LIFE BETWEEN DEATH AND REBIRTH (SteinerBooks, 1985), p. 207. Zowie. Lucifer and Venus, Jehovah and the Moon, Christ and the Sun, Buddha and Mars... [See "Mars".]
◊ [A Surprise for Everyone] “Mars is not densely solid in the sense in which today the earth is solid ... [T]he earth too was once in a condition when mineral, solid matter took shape for the first time ... [T]here were then gigantic animals which, however, had as yet no solid bones. Mars today is in a condition similar to that of the earth in that earlier epoch and therefore also has upon it those living beings, those animal beings which the earth had upon it at that time. And ‘human beings’ on Mars are as they were on the earth at that time — still without bones ... These things can be known. They cannot become known by the means employed in modern science for acquiring knowledge; nevertheless it is possible to know these things.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1987), GA 354, lecture 10, Sept. 9, 1924. Actually, Rudolf...
◊ [The Sun's Stomach, Etc.]
“So, we find the meteorites: they are the remains of shattered comets. But the comets are something quite different; they are alive! The sun, too, is alive, has a stomach, and not only consumes comets but eats exactly as we do ... If the comets consisted merely of iron, and then fell into the sun, you would see how quickly all of it would be excreted again ... Now think back to the time when the sun was inside the earth ... As long as the sun was in the earth, the latter was able to get nourishment from the cosmos with the help of the sun ... Yes, the earth was well provided for while the sun was in it. You must of course also visualize at this point that the sun is far larger than our planet so that the sun was actually not inside the earth, but the earth was inside the sun. We must imagine that the sun contained the earth, which in turn had the moon in it." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTALS TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 152-153. [My sketch is based on the one in the book. The sun's stomach is the small pink sphere.]
It is difficult to catalogue all the blunders contained in this one Steiner passage. Here are a few corrections: ◊ Meteorites are not broken-off bits of comets1. ◊ Comets are mainly made largely of ice and dust; they generally contain little iron. ◊ Comets are not alive. ◊ The Sun is not alive. ◊ The Sun does not have a stomach. ◊ The Sun does not excrete material in a digestive sense. ◊ The Sun was never inside the Earth. ◊ The Earth was never inside the Sun (unless by "Sun" you mean the primordial solar disc). ◊ The Moon was never inside the Earth, although parts of it were part of the Earth.2
1 Bits of space debris that hit the Earth's atmosphere and burn up there are called meteors. Meteorites are meteors that survive the plunge through the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface. In some rare cases, some meteorites may have come from comets; in this very partial sense, Steiner was correct. But Steiner's generalization — that all meteorites are bits of comets — is wrong. Whereas comets are mainly ice, meteorites are almost always rock, nickel, or iron, or a combination of these, and they are usually produced by the collisions of asteroids or other rocky/metallic bodies. Asteroids generally originate in the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. Comets generally originate much farther away, in the Oort cloud, far beyond Pluto.
2 According to modern astronomy, the Earth was formed within the gaseous cloud swirling around the condensing Sun. The Moon was formed much later, when a huge asteroid or planet smashed into the Earth, nearly shattering it. The Moon consists of material left over from the collision — some portions came from the Earth and some came from the object that nearly destroyed the Earth. The fragments, hurtling in chaotic orbits around the Earth, were drawn together by mutual gravitational attraction and ultimately formed the solid body that is now the Earth's natural satellite. (A more recent refinement of this account, not yet widely accepted, is that the present Earth and Moon were both formed by the collision of two planetary bodies, which were of almost equal size.)
Have I missed any of Steiner's blunders? Probably. Or, rather, certainly. There are too many to keep tabs on them all. But you get the idea. Steiner was a fountainhead of misinformation. Taking his word for almost anything is hazardous to your mental clarity. Accepting Steiner as a great authority, on anything, is an enormous leap of faith — a leap for which there is no rational justification; a leap into mystical darkness.
— Roger Rawlings
"[T]he earth stands in the universe, curiously, as a rounded tetrahedron, as a kind of pyramid." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), p. 185.
In the sketch above we see one panel of the tetrahedron: It extends from a volcano in Mexico to the volcanos in Antarctica to the volcanic mountains in the Caucasus. Problem: The three spots Steiner selected are not major volcanic centers. There are volcanos in most parts of the world, meaning we could arbitrarily choose any of them and draw arbitrary lines every which way across the globe, proving nothing. But let's not quibble about volcanos. The main point is that the Earth is not a tetrahedron, rounded or otherwise.
[I've added a touch of color in my version of the book's b&w sketch, and I've omitted Antarctica because the book's sketch omits it — even though the point of the sketch depends on the mythicalvolcanos way down there.]
[R.R. copy, image from the book.]
Here are two items from the Waldorf Watch News:
Bad news for astrology buffs, including numerous Waldorf teachers: The star charts you have been using are wrong. Due to precession — the gradual realignment of the Earth's axis — the constellations have shifted over time, so you probably were not born under the sign you think. Moreover, there really should be 13 constellations, not 12.
(Waldorf teachers: Among other things, this means that any astrological conclusions you have drawn about your students are wrong — not wrong merely because they are based on astrology, which is nonsense, but doubly wrong because they are based on a faulty comprehension of the zodiac.)
To quote the new "news":
“The zodiac signs we associate with our birthdates may not be the correct ones ... Parke Kunkle, board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, says that the moon's gravitational pull has caused the Earth to slowly wobble on its axis, shifting the stars' alignment by about a month. So for the faithful Aquarian out there, this may mean you've just been bumped into the Capricorn constellation.
“Our astrological signs correspond to the position of the sun within the constellations as they appeared more than 2,000 years ago...
“The [newly updated] list [of constellations] now includes Ophiuchus, a constellation the ancient Babylonians dropped because they wanted 12 star signs instead of 13, one for each month of the year.”
Waldorf Watch Response:
How can this possibly be of concern to Rudolf Steiner’s followers? Well, for one thing, Steiner advocated the use of horoscopes (based on a faulty 12-constellation conception of the zodiac), including horoscopes that Anthroposophists could use to guide their treatment of the children under their care. [See “Horoscopes”.] More generally, astrology is a big deal in Anthroposophy because Steiner's followers believe it reveals the actions and influences of the gods. [See “Astrology” and “Star Power”.]
Let’s hear from Steiner on the significance of the 12 constellations:
“We relate the heavenly bodies of our solar system to the twelve constellations of the Zodiac, and we can find our bearings in the World of Spirit only by viewing it in such a way as to be able to assert that spiritual Beings and events are realities; we compare the facts with the courses of the planets but the spiritual Beings with the twelve constellations of the Zodiac.” — Rudolf Steiner, MACROCOSM AND MICROCOSM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 108. [Emphases by Steiner.]Wrong again, Rudolf. The constellations reveal nothing about spiritual realities. The constellations do not exist. There are not 12 constellations, nor 13. There are none (zero: 0). The constellations are illusory patterns we subjectively piece together in our minds. The “stars” — some of which may be galaxies or nebulas — that we think constitute a constellation are nowhere near one another nor are they connected with one another. We piece various "stars" together because they are bright and because they appear to be near one another in the sky. But their apparent proximity is an illusion. If we were to move far enough away from the Earth, the constellations would disappear — the illusory patterns would break apart because we would be viewing the stars, galaxies, and nebulas from a very different perspective.
As to the number 12: Steiner loved to lump phenomena together in groupings of 12, since he considered 12 to be one of the sacred numbers (along with 3, 4, 7, etc.). This was part of his version of numerology. [See “Magic Numbers”.] He was superstitious, not sensible. His groupings were arbitrary, false patterns imposed in the same way that we impose the false patterns of the "constellations" when we gaze at the sky.
Deluding ourselves by "seeing" things that don't really exist is what comes from the sort of thinking advocated in Waldorf schools. By directing our thoughts with emotion and will, Steiner taught, we can can gain greater clarity and, indeed, penetrate to spiritual realities. In fact, however, all that we do by using such "thinking" is to create subjective fantasies, things that we want to perceive but that, as far as such "thinking" can reveal, do not objectively exist at all. Some spiritual beings and states may be quite real, of course. But we cannot find them by using subjective, self-deluding forms of perception. [See, e.g., "Thinking Cap".]
* Parke Kunkle is receiving a lot of attention over his "revelations" about the zodiac. But, actually, astronomers have known about these matters for a long, long time. a) Precession happens. b) Astrology is bunk. c) Due to precession, astrology is doubly bunk.
"While it receives no light from this side, Venus is illuminated from the other side by the sun, and it eats up the sun's light, so to say. Then, when you see it on a dark night, it is throwing off the light, it becomes phosphorescent. In days when people had better eyes than they have now, they saw the phosphorescence of Venus. Their eyes were really better in those days; it was in the 16th century that spectacles first began to be used, and they would certainly have come earlier if people had needed them! Inventions and discoveries always come when they are needed by human beings." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EVOLUTION OF THE EARTH AND MAN AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS (Anthroposophic Press, 1987), p. 181.
Waldorf Watch Response:
Rudolf Steiner’s followers are awed by his nearly encyclopedic knowledge of almost all subjects. But they overlook a serious problem: Most of what Steiner "knew" is wrong. Thus, for instance, Venus is generally not visible on dark nights — it is always close to the Sun, from our perspective on the Earth, and thus Venus sets soon after the Sun sets. In other words, Venus is visible in our sky only when our sky is still moderately bright — from our perspective, Venus always presents itself in daylit skies or twilight skies, not dark skies.
Moreover, if we define phosphorescence strictly (radiation similar to fluorescence but on a longer timescale), Venus is not phosphorescent. Venus shines by reflecting sunlight, just as all other planets and moons do.
As for eyesight and spectacles, we have no evidence that people's eyes were better in the past, and spectacles were invented long before the 16th century. "In 1268 Roger Bacon made the earliest recorded comment on the use of lenses for optical purposes, but magnifying lenses inserted in frames were used for reading both in Europe and China at this time...." — ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, Feb. 5, 2012.
That a system of education — Waldorf schools or Steiner schools — is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner almost beggars belief. Few people have ever been more wrong about more subjects than Steiner was.