"[We] must strive actually to replace 

treatment with vaccine with 

that of bathing."

— Rudolf Steiner


The Dangers of

“Anthroposophical Medicine”

A different version of this essay is accessible at




Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian-German mystic and self-proclaimed clairvoyant who founded the religion known as Anthroposophy. In addition to his acute interest in spiritualism, Steiner also turned his attention to many earthly matters. One was education: Steiner founded the Waldorf school movement, which now includes nearly 1000 schools worldwide. Another area of interest for Steiner was medicine. Today practitioners of “Anthroposophical medicine” can be found in many communities in North America, Europe, and elsewhere.

The underlying principle of Anthroposophical medicine is that everything physical is infused with, and manifests, spirit. The causes of illness, then, are not primarily physical but instead they reflect spiritual conditions. For human beings, good health is achieved when the physical organism is properly aligned with the nonphysical bodies that, Steiner taught, manifest during a human’s lifetime: the “etheric body” (a set of life forces), the “astral body” (higher soul forces), and the “I” (a spark of divine selfhood or ego that separates true humans from animals and subhumans). [1] Bad health, on the other hand, often reflects the working out of one’s karmic destiny, especially sins committed in past lives (reincarnation is a central Steiner/Waldorf belief). [2] If one enters Earthly life carrying spiritual impurities resulting from sins or errors committed in previous lives, disease can serve as a rite of passage, purging evils from one’s bodily/spiritual system. Thus, medical intervention is often a bad idea: A doctor who cures a patient may be blocking the patient’s karmic self-healing process.

One consequence of Steiner’s medical doctrines is that Anthroposophical doctors generally avoid giving inoculations. Steiner taught that because a disease may result from karma, interfering with the illness may simply postpone the inevitable: The patient will be forced to compensate, by having the same or a similar illness, in a future life. Addressing a group of doctors, Steiner said:

“If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.” [3] 

If karma is not fulfilled in one life, it must be fulfilled in another. Moreover, Steiner warned, there are conspiracies afoot that seek to trick people into taking medicines that destroy the soul. Black magicians and other evildoers work to create medicines that deaden people to all things spiritual: 

“Endeavors to achieve this will be made by bringing out remedies to be administered by inoculation ... [T]hese inoculations will influence the human body in a way that will make it refuse to give a home to the spiritual inclinations of the soul. People will be inoculated against the inclination to entertain spiritual ideas. Endeavors in this direction will be made; inoculations will be tested that already in childhood will make people lose any urge for a spiritual life.” [4] 

Although they are loath to administer inoculations or, more generally, to interfere with karmic destiny, Anthroposophical doctors do not completely refrain from providing some forms of genuine medical treatment. They are MDs, having gone through conventional medical schools. After receiving their licenses, they may opt to employ conventional curative treatments on some occasions, but they will also resort to alternative therapies when they deem these best. A website devoted to promoting Steiner has displayed this statement: 

“[A]nthroposophical doctors reject nothing in the toolbox of conventional medicine a priori. Every option is considered for its appropriateness in a specific instance. Antibiotics are used when necessary, but so are homeopathic remedies. Physical therapy is prescribed, but so is curative eurythmy (movement exercise to balance the forces within the body).” [5]

Herbal compounds and teas are often prescribed. For instance, a compound called Rescue Remedy may be used to treat injuries. The ingredients include star of Bethlehem (for shock), clematis (to counteract any tendency to lose consciousness), cherry plum (to maintain mental stability), impatiens (for tension), and rock rose (to prevent panic). [6] Even the most severe illnesses may be attacked with simple natural substances, although they are often prepared in special ways. For the treatment of cancer, Steiner recommended mistletoe therapy. [7]

The efficacy, if any, of Anthroposophical remedies is roughly proportional to the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of Steiner’s description of the human anatomy. Steiner’s antiscientific descriptions of various bodily organs and their functions differ markedly from those found in medical textbooks. The heart, for instance, is not a pump, Steiner declared: 

“[Science] sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this, for the heart has nothing to do with pumping the blood.” [8] 

Blood circulates of its own accord, thanks to the vital force it embodies. Likewise, Steiner taught that the brain is not involved in cognition. [9] True cognition, for Steiner, is the exercise of paranormal powers made possible when individuals develop incorporeal “organs of clairvoyance.” [10]

Reportedly, Anthroposophical physicians do not conduct double-blind controlled experiments [11], so it is almost impossible to fully evaluate Anthroposophical treatments. Instead, we chiefly have anecdotal reports and claims, which are by their nature inconclusive. All doctors, including conventional MDs, witness mysterious declines as well as mysterious recoveries. Believers in Anthroposophical medicine may relate tales of highly successful treatments, but whether the cures in these cases resulted from the treatments, or chance, or some other cause, cannot be known. Likewise, anecdotal evidence can be arrayed on the other side. These reports must be treated with equal caution, of course.

Let's consider a few anecdotes that suggest the need to be wary of Anthroposophical tenets as applied to medical care. In an essay at the anti-Steiner website waldorfcritics.org, Robert Smith-Hald tells a harrowing tale of being raised by Anthroposophists. 

“They believe that sickness is the soul incarnating, and also that it has to do with karma. They don’t believe in inoculations, so I had all the child diseases going around, some twice.” 

Smith-Hald reports that he was constantly ill throughout his childhood and that the primary treatment he received consisted of 

“little white sugar pills called infludo, and...buckets and buckets of horsetail [tea], and also chamomile tea.” 

Certain foods made him sick, so he was required to eat great quantities of these very foods. 

“[T]he feeling my parents had was that I should eat more of it, as I obviously needed to incarnate through the food. So I grew up being [force-fed] food that was making me sick.” 

As an adult, having broken away from Anthroposophy, Smith-Hald was examined by a conventional doctor who correctly diagnosed his wheat intolerance. He has been improving ever since. [12]

At the same website, Sharon Lombard relates a similar story, but from a parent’s vantage point. Lombard enrolled her daughter in a Waldorf school. When the child became sick, an Anthroposophical doctor treated her: 

“The Anthroposophic doctor made a diagnosis: my child had lost the will to live. He announced one of the potential cures ... [W]e were to give our daughter red, yellow, and orange crayons to color with! I looked at my husband in disbelief. When the doctor instructed us to make the sign of a flame out of Aurum cream over my child’s heart at bedtime, I was dumbfounded ... He told us to apply the gold cream from below the heart upwards, towards the sky....” 

The girl ultimately had to be hospitalized, after which conventional medicine produced a gradual cure. [13] 

As I indicated above, such stories do not constitute scientific proof. But that is precisely the point. True, conventional medicine — basing its findings on careful research and proven facts — is still limited: It cannot explain the causes of some illnesses, and it offers no cures for some. But true medicine has an extremely potent weapon in its arsenal, something that no alternative medicines have: the scientific method. This is the best tool mankind possesses for discovering truth. It is responsible for the great strides that true, conventional medicine has made, and it will account for the greater strides to come.



Let's look a little more deeply into the question of vaccination. The benefits of vaccination are well established; so are the dangers of withholding vaccination.

Rudolf Steiner's followers do not absolutely oppose vaccination in all cases, but they believe that vaccination poses serious dangers. As we have seen, Anthroposophy associates disease with karma. Steiner's followers fear that vaccination can thwart karma, a very serious matter. If, in this life, you don’t contract the disease your karma needs, you may have to contract it — or something like it — in a future life. In this sense, vaccination is extremely harmful, thwarting your spiritual evolution.

The dangers of vaccination can be offset if a patient receives “spiritual education” — by which Steiner and his followers mean education in the occult doctrines of Anthroposophy. Such an “education” is the ultimate cure for all human ills, Anthroposophists believe.

Let’s take this a step at a time. In this life, you should want to suffer the diseases your karma requires. Even if a disease can be fatal, you should want it, in order to fulfill your karma. 

“[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.

Behind each disease lie spiritual errors that must be corrected. Consider the error of unlovingness. This error finds physical expression in the disease known as smallpox, Steiner taught. You need to deal with any tendency toward unlovingness on the spiritual level, attaining a true cure. Smallpox vaccine is a physical cure that destroys the "organ" of unlovingness without producing a true remedy on the spiritual level. Indeed, by eliminating the "organ of unlovingness," vaccination prevents you from adequately addressing the issue of unlovingness in your soul. This being the case, your karma will be unfulfilled in this life and you will need to cycle back to deal with this portion of your karma in a future life. 

The organ of unlovingess is killed in the most complete sense — in the outer physical sense — through smallpox vaccination ... [But] we are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will somehow have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation when he has the smallpox poison within him ... If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, pp. 165-166.

The real cure for smallpox — as for every other ill — is learning to accept Rudolf Steiner’s occult doctrines. If you do so, even vaccination won’t harm you.

“Vaccination will not be harmful if, subsequent to vaccination, the person receives a spiritual education.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, p. 166. 

Note that vaccination will be harmful if it is not followed by “a spiritual education.” What sort of schooling did Steiner mean? He meant the education he himself was dispensing, Anthroposophical education. That is where one may find truth. 

“Spiritual scientific research [i.e., Steiner’s own teachings]* has shown, for example, that smallpox developed during a time when the general inclination towards egotism and unlovingness reached a particular climax. That is when smallpox emerged in the outer organism [i.e., the physical body]. This is a fact. In anthroposophy it is our duty to speak truthfully.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA, p. 165. 

Anthroposophists essentially argue that people need either to 1) endure illnesses such as smallpox, or 2) submit to occult indoctrination, which will mean spending the rest of one's days in the dark corridors of superstition and fallacy. They express this choice in somewhat different language, of course.

A child who is raised in the culture of Anthroposophy may receive vaccines without being damaged; but all others will likely call into the clutches of the terrible demon Ahriman. [14]

"[W]hen you vaccinate someone and you are an anthroposophist, bringing him up in the anthroposophical way, it will do no harm. It will harm only those who grow up with materialistic ideas. Then vaccination becomes a kind of ahrimanic power...." — Rudolf Steiner, PHYSIOLOGY AND HEALING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), p. 238.

* Adopting the terminology from Theosophy, Steiner referred to his own teachings, Anthroposophy, as "spiritual science." But there is nothing scientific about it. [See "Steiner's 'Science'".] Anthroposophy is a mystical belief system — it is a religion, not a science of any description. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"] Many of the nearly limitless confusions found in Anthroposophy arise from precisely this, the systematic corruption of language, insisting that things be called precisely the reverse of what they really are. The very term "Anthroposophical medicine" is an oxymoronic inversion. Anthroposophical doctors may occasionally practice a little actual medicine, but they do this only when they set Anthroposophy to the side. "Anthroposophical medicine" is medicine only when it is not Anthroposophical; and it is Anthroposophical precisely when it is not real medicine.



A special category of diseases merits special attention: childhood diseases.

In Anthroposophical belief, children need to undergo certain diseases. The illnesses that are generally associated with childhood play a special role in a young person's development, Anthroposophists believe. Children endure particular diseases as they attempt, unconsciously, to overcome the deleterious genetic characteristics they have received from their parents. Children need to gain mastery over these traces of inheritance so that their unique spiritual egos (their "I's") can gain proper expression. Thus, youngsters should be allowed to undergo childhood illnesses — and vaccination should generally be rejected, since it can hamper this process.

"Childhood diseases...result from a necessary developmental process in which the human being tries to overcome influences from the inherited physical body. The child must bring inherited substances into line with his own 'I' ... The intensity of this process depends on the degree of conformity between the physical body and the 'I'. The bigger the difference, the more intense the harmonization process expressed in these types of disease will have to be. This basic concept of the origin of childhood diseases has been complicated by new forms of medication that suppress symptoms (vaccination) ... [T]he harmonization process is partly blocked by their use." — Henk Van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), p. 20. (The parenthetical reference to vaccination occurs in the text; I did not add it.)

Humans come to this world with a potentially ideal human form, but various vicissitudes — such as the inheritance of physical flaws from one's parents — interfere. Illness, then, is at least in part a rebellion of the bodily system against the flaws imposed on it. To cure disease means restoring the possibility that one may realize her/his ideal form. Seen in this light, illness is a blessing — it brings us closer to perfection. Anthroposophical doctor and Waldorf teacher L.F.C. Mees makes just this point in his book BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998):

"I believe that most doctors striving for elimination of childhood illnesses are convinced that they do a great service ... [But] childhood illnesses should be treated in the proper way, by supporting the illness in its effort to restore the [ideal] form, not fighting the illness ... [W]e should consider [childhood illnesses] as the greatest blessings, because through them man is able to strengthen his personal form by conquering [an inherited] predisposition, [thus] enabling him to incarnate better." — L.F.C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS, p. 192.

Mees acknowledges that, in the present medical climate, 

"vaccination will, for most people, be the only way out. [But] my intention is to show the possibility of a new approach...." — Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS, p. 192. 

That new approach entails allowing children to undergo the illnesses they need, unhampered by vaccination, so that they may reap the benefits of these illnesses. We should support the child by "supporting the illness." 

Thus, the bizarre — and cruel — inversions of Anthroposophy would lead us to withhold medical care from children. Let the young ones be sick. It is good for them.



Anthroposophical doctors are wary of all modern technological medical approaches, whether these involve manufactured fluids injected into the body, fancy new drugs taken by mouth, the use of computers (deemed demonic) in the process of diagnosis, the use of imaging technologies such as CAT scans, or virtually any other modern approach to the improvement of human health. The greatest danger in medical intervention is that it may destroy the human soul, according to Steiner. Yes, the physical body may get "better," but at what price? Enemies of human spirituality will devise vaccines that destroy the human impulse to seek spirituality, but they will not stop there. "Materialistic doctors" (i.e., doctors who are not mystics) will use many techniques to ruin humanity.

◊ “The two philosophies of life will be in complete opposition. One movement will need to reflect how concepts and ideas may be developed to meet the reality of soul and spirit. The others [sic], the heirs of modern materialism, will look for the vaccine to make the body ‘healthy’, that is, makes its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a 'sound' view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry and let planets and suns arise from nebulae in the cosmos. Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993), p. 85.

◊ “Today, bodies are vaccinated against one thing and another; in future, children will be vaccinated with a substance which it will certainly be possible to produce, and this will make them immune, so that they do not develop foolish inclinations connected with spiritual life — ‘foolish’ here, of course, in the eyes of materialists ... The whole trend goes in a direction where a way will finally be found to vaccinate bodies so that these bodies will not allow the inclination towards spiritual ideas to develop and all their lives people will believe only in the physical world they perceive with the senses. Out of impulses which the medical profession gained from presumption — oh, I beg your pardon, from the consumption they themselves suffered — people are now vaccinated against consumption, and in the same way they will be vaccinated against any inclination towards spirituality. This is merely to give you a particularly striking example of many things which will come in the near and more distant future in this field — the aim being to bring confusion into the impulses which want to stream down to earth [from above].” — Ibid., p. 200.



Rudolf Steiner had much to say about the root causes of illness. Among his indications are the following.

According to Steiner, the demons Ahriman and Lucifer aim to derail human evolution. But they work in opposition to one another. Ahriman tries to sever humanity completely from the spirit realm, while Lucifer tries to lure us into false forms of spirituality. The conflict between Ahriman and Lucifer is reflected in the diseases that beset humanity. 

"Let us suppose for a moment that the Ahrimanic powers [Ahriman and his minions] were victorious in the physical body of some person, victorious, that is, over the Luciferic powers ... The result would be that the person would succumb to illnesses producing tumours or carcinoma, or else to illnesses of the metabolism ... Whenever an illness of this description shows itself in a man's physical nature, it means that Ahriman has won a victory over Lucifer ... If on the other hand Lucifer gains a victory in a man's physical nature over the Ahrimanic powers...then the person concerned succumbs to illnesses of a catarrhal nature, or else to insanity." — Rudolf Steiner, PLANETARY SPHERES AND THEIR INFLUENCE OF MAN'S LIFE ON EARTH AND IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 5, GA 218.

Neither Ahriman nor Lucifer can attain ultimate victory, Steiner taught. But they will persist in their efforts, which means they will continue inflicting illness of human bodies, souls, and spirits. Thus Steiner imagines humanity addressing the Ahrimanic and Luciferic spirits in these words:

“Ye creatures of Lucifer and Ahriman...the disappointment and great frustration that you meet with, time and again, are due to evils of your own making, evils that are bound to arise on Earth in consequence of your own partial victories. And that must go on; for you will not cease from making people sick and ill and obsessed, nor from turning people into liars and self-seekers and ego-less dreamers. And so you have no choice but to continue this restless alternation between triumphant joy and the grief of acute disappointment.” — Rudolf Steiner, ibid.

Steiner was not always so optimistic that Ahriman and Lucifer will fail in their devilish schemes, but on this occasion he was.

To summarize: In order to rid ourselves of disease, we must rise above the endless, evil struggles of Ahriman and Lucifer. We must free ourselves of demonic interference.

[For more on these issues, see "Ahriman", "Lucifer", "Evil", and "Evil Ones".]


Here is a sampling of additional comments Steiner made about medicine, health, and the human anatomy. My own comments are based on standard encyclopedias and medical texts such as THE MERCK MANUAL and THE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS COMPLETE HOME MEDICAL GUIDE. Bear in mind, I am just a layman. To some degree, what you will find below is one medical nincompoop criticizing another. But at least I rely on authoritative texts, whereas Steiner was a fantasist or, not to put too fine a point on it, a quack. I would never pretend to be able to cure your cancer. Steiner would and did pretend to offer cures for cancer and many other ailments. How many lives he damaged as a result is probably incalculable.

◊ “We must ask ourselves: In what constellation were we living when in the nineties [i.e., 1890s] the present influenza epidemic appeared in its benign form? In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present moment? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today?" [15] 

Consulting the stars to understand diseases is obviously fallacious — and dangerous for the patient, who needs real care, not astrological hokum.

◊ “In a healthy human organism, a kind of organic combustion must always be active when substances are being transformed [i.e., broken down, digested, etc.] ... Organic combustion occurs with every movement we make, including inner movements ... When the forces needed to restrain organic combustion are not present, either in the entire organism or in a single organ system, various forms of tuberculosis develop ... If we administer phosphorus, we support the ability to curb organic combustion processes.” [16] 

Tuberculosis is a bacterial disease, usually of the lungs. Combustion does not occur within the body — we “burn” calories only in a metaphoric sense. Phosphorus is a combustible poison — instead of “curb,” Steiner should mean “enhance” or “support.” For “inner movements,” read “internal processes including mental activity.” Steiner would also include spiritual activity involving the body.

◊ Concerning “the internal structure of an organ such as the esophagus ... In the organ itself, the antimonizing force is at work in the human being. The human being is antimony if we exclude from consideration everything that is introduced from outside. The human being is antimony.” [17] 

The esophagus is the gullet, connecting the throat to the stomach. “Antimonizing” means producing antimony, a brittle element used in metallic alloys. “The human being is antimony” has no practical meaning — no real medical treatment can result from such a statement.

◊ “When a person becomes afflicted with shrunken kidneys, which can occur when the kidneys' activity is deficient, you can see an indentation here on the head ... You can see in every person who has kidney disease this indentation in the head. Beneath it lies the optic nerves. When the indentation occurs, the optic nerves become inactive ...[T]he patient begins to see unclearly.” [18] 

The kidneys purify blood and excrete urine. Failing eyesight is not associated with kidney problems. Searching for indentations on the head — as in phrenology — is junk science.

◊ “Physiologists believe that they are onto something when they speak of sensory and motor nerves, but they are actually only playing with words ... They say that someone cannot walk because the nerves that set the legs in motion, the motor nerves, are paralyzed. In truth, that person cannot walk because he or she cannot perceive his or her own legs [i.e., someone with higher spiritual consciousness would not be paralyzed].” [19] 

Paralysis results from nerve damage. Steiner himself is “playing with words,” offering senseless diagnoses and treatments. He taught that there are really no such things as sensory and motor nerves.

◊ “[I]t would be incorrect to allow children to eat too much fattening food. If [we] do so, since the fat blocks the spirit-soul [the combined human spirit and soul], the head separates from the spirit-soul and becomes empty.” [20] 

Many of Steiner’s “medical” statements depend on the existence of spiritual components that are conveniently impossible to detect by any ordinary means. Steiner depended on clairvoyance, which almost certainly is fraudulent. [See "Clairvoyance".] Steiner’s erroneous approach can sometimes lead to useful advice — e.g., don’t give kids too many fattening foods — but this is almost a random occurrence. An infinite number of psychics typing on an infinite number or typewriters will eventually produce at least some sensible sentences.

◊ “As we appear physically, we are clearly divided into the head system, the chest system, and the abdominal system, including the limbs....” [21] 

For Steiner, the really important systems are spiritual and hence invisible; the three physical systems represent only how “we appear” to physical sight. But even if we concede this point, his three-system summary is simplistic and false. Steiner lumps body parts together based on proximity (e.g., everything in the chest is one system), but he also pairs parts that are essentially dissimilar (abdomen and limbs). Think a bit about the “abdominal system, including the limbs.” Clearly, not everything in the abdominal region is part of a single system. The abdominal region contains digestive organs, but it is also the site of sexual organs, and in women it is the site of the womb. The legs are near the abdomen, but they are not part of the digestive system or the reproductive system. The arms are attached to the chest — they are not, in any rational sense, part of the "abdominal system." Note that some real systems — the nerve system, the vascular system — are diffused throughout the entire body, bridging the divisions between Steiner’s three bodily “systems.” Steiner sometimes referred to “systems” in this more accurate way, although often he generally did so inaccurately, as we will see.

◊ There is “constant tension in the human being between the upper and lower parts of the body. The primary goal of all our searching in the field of medicine should be to master this tension, which is expressed in the forces concentrated in two organs, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland, or hypophysis. All of the forces of the upper body are expressed in the pineal gland, and a state of tension exists between them and the forces of the pituitary, or hypophysis cerebri, which are lower forces.” [22] 

The notions that the body is constantly at odds with itself, and that understanding this is central to medical research, have little basis in medical science. A healthy organism is internally harmonious (albeit complex and imperfect — consider the appendix). The pineal gland is a small organ inside the brain; it excretes melatonin and is associated with seasonal bodily cycles. The pituitary gland lies under the brain; it excretes various hormones that control functions in various parts of the body, upper and lower.

◊ “First, we have the four senses of touch, life, movement and balance ... The next group of senses, namely smell, taste, sight and temperature are primarily senses of feeling ... I need to add that the sense of I [a high human nonphysical body] and the senses of thought, hearing and speech are....” [23] 

Steiner's account of our senses has little basis in reality. He spoke of twelve senses because he believed in the influences of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Moreover, he divided the twelve into three subsets because he generally said that human beings consist of three major parts (physical, soul, and spirit). His schema is neat but unreal. [For more on this, see "What We're Made Of".] People generally speak of five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), and for most purposes this works well enough. Science has changed this ancient paradigm considerably, but not in ways that support Steiner. Indeed, the more science progresses, the less plausible Steiner's teachings become. "[T]he modern sensory catalog now includes receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joints, which give rise to the kinesthetic sense (that is, the sense of motion), and receptors in the vestibular organs in the inner ear, which give rise to the sense of balance. Within the circulatory system, sensory receptors are found that are sensitive to carbon dioxide in the blood or to changes in blood pressure or heart rate, and there are receptors in the digestive tract that appear to mediate such experiences as hunger and thirst. Some brain cells may also participate as hunger receptors. This is especially true of cells in the lower parts of the brain (such as the hypothalamus) where some cells have been found to be sensitive to changes in blood chemistry (water and other products of digestion) and even to changes in temperature within the brain itself." — "human sensory reception." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 04 Nov. 2012.

◊ “With pneumonia, the cause is always in the astral body [a nonphysical body]; pneumonia can occur in no other way.” [24] 

Attributing any disease to a spiritual agency removes it from the purview of medical science. The clear danger is that “spiritual” measures may be tried while actual physical cures are ignored. Locating the cause of disease in an incorporeal body likewise removes it from the realm of real medicine. The disease Steiner speaks of here, pneumonia, is real. Some people are stricken with it. But the body Steiner speaks of, the astral body, is imaginary. No one has one.

◊ “[T]here may be a child of a strongly melancholic temperament. One recognizes that this disposition is connected with the secretion of the liver, and this in turn is related to the sugar consumption. In meeting with the parents, every possibility is offered to reach an agreement [between teachers and parents] to increase the sugar intake by sweetening the child’s foods.” [25] 

That people exhibit four “temperaments” is an ancient Greek concept. [See “Humouresque”.] Modern science has rejected it. Moreover, there can be no connection between any “temperament” and any organ (e.g., the liver) or substance (e.g., sugar), since the temperaments (as conceived in ancient Greece and now in Anthroposophy) do not exist. (In a more general sense, of course, a vast range of temperaments are real — but Steiner explicitly meant the ancient four-temperament model, updated only slightly.) No child is melancholic, in the ancient Greek or modern Anthroposophical sense, and none needs a special diet in response to this condition. (Some kids are sad, at least sometimes, but none has an overall spiritual/physical condition called melancholia.) If a Waldorf teacher, obedient to Steiner, tells a student's parents that their child is melancholic (or choleric, or phlegmatic, or sanguine) — and especially if the teacher then recommends a remedial strategy — the best course for the parents to take is plain: Leave.

◊ “[T]he predisposition to diabetes occurs if the I [a high human nonphysical body] excludes itself from internal processes ... All of this secretion, which as you know is an oscillating and circulating activity, is neglected while the I is focusing its chief activity on the brain.” [26] 

Again, linking a disease to a spiritual cause is doubtful, at best — and it is even more doubtful if the reference is to an incorporeal organ, body, or power.

◊ “Extreme flatulence arises from the fact that the astral body [a nonphysical body] is not completely membered into the bowels....” [27] 

Again, Steiner gives a spiritual cause for a physical phenomenon. It is fantasy. “Membered” means “joined to” or “integrated with.”

◊ “Diabetes is today more prevalent among Jews. Certainly others also have diabetes, but it occurs with particular frequency today among Jews. These people have a tendency to diabetes. The Jew has more difficulty absorbing sugar, yet on the other hand he requires it ... Pork makes the assimilation of sugar extremely difficult — pork aggravates diabetes unusually in the human being — so the prohibition of pork was calculated particularly to prevent diabetes.” [28]

Diabetes does not occur more frequently among Jews. About 6% of the people in the world have diabetes. Among Jews, the figure is 7%. In the USA, among all population groups, the average is 8%. (For non-Hispanic whites, it’s about 10%; for non-Hispanic blacks, about 25%.) In Europe, it’s 9%. In Jordan and other Muslim countries, the figure may be as high as 15%. As for whether “the” Jew (as if all Jews are alike) has special trouble absorbing sugar, the answer is no, Steiner’s racism notwithstanding. [29]

◊ "[In kidney disease] the disease process can be counterbalanced by giving the patient a combination of sulfur and silica.” [30] 

Relying on homeopathic or other alternative remedies clearly presents dangers. Sulfur is a combustible nonmetal. Silica is the unreactive mineral known as quartz. What are the real remedies generally used by real doctors to address kidney disease? "High blood pressure makes chronic kidney disease more likely ... So your doctor may prescribe one of [several] types of blood-pressure medicines ... Along with controlling blood pressure, these medicines may lower the amount of protein in your urine. That could help your kidneys over time. You might also need to take a medicine to help your body make erythropoietin, which is a chemical that prompts your body to make red blood cells. So you might get a prescription for darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) or erythropoietin (Procrit, Epogen) to curb anemia." WebMD, March 29, 2017.

◊ “The ashes that a thought leaves strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly.” [31]

Good grief.

◊ “If you notice that a person has a problem with the liver, or specifically the intestines, and formic acid doesn't help at all, then you'll have to dispense oxalic acid.” [32] 

Steiner is often unclear. This statement seems to say that the intestines are a specific part of the liver, which is nonsense. If we interpret the sentence to mean that formic acid and oxalic acid can be helpful both to the liver and, even more, to the intestines, it is moot at best. Formic acid is an irritant catalyzed from steam and carbon monoxide. Oxalic acid is a poison used in bleaching and cleaning. 

◊ “As far as today’s science and medicine are concerned, the brain is an internal organ, and so are the contents of the lower body. No one notices that this error [failing to distinguish 'internal' organs from 'external' organs] is just like saying that positive and negative electricity are the same.” [33] 

It is quite true that that brain is "internal" — it is inside the skull. The contents of the "lower body" (however we may define this) are also internal (this is what "contents" means: they are contained, inside). But, then, all other organs and or "contents" are also internal. Modern “science and medicine” are correct: the brain and all other parts of the body are parts of the body. Steiner picks a quarrel with the truth; he argues against "today’s science and medicine," as he often did. As usual, he asserts that “no one” is correct except himself. Arrogance allied with ignorance is extremely dangerous. The use of analogies hardly offsets this (the subject is the human organism, not electricity.)

◊ “In cancer, the sensory-nervous system invades the metabolic-limb system and begins to assert itself there ... An ear that develops in the right place is a normal organ, but when even a very minimal latent ear or other sense organ develops in the wrong place, we are faced with cancer, or carcinoma. To learn to counteract the body’s tendency to develop sense organs in the wrong place, we must look deep into world evolution, into the cosmic evolution that led to the human being.” [34] 

Steiner’s views on cosmic evolution are baroque and useless in practical life. [See "Everything" and the essays that follow it.] Let's focus, instead, on the specifics in Steiner's statement. ◊ There is no “metabolic-limb system” — the metabolic process is cellular activity producing material and energy for the life processes. The limbs, like all other parts of the body, receive sustenance from this activity. ◊ “Carcinoma” is not a synonym for “cancer” — there are two general types of cancers, carcinomas and sarcomas. ◊ The body’s “tendency to develop sense organs in the wrong place” is not a major problem. (A cancer is not a tiny sense organ that has grown in the wrong place.) Overall, and as per usual, Steiner's statement is devoid of information or truth.

◊ “But if you become blind inwardly, your physiological processes don't work properly, and soon that will lead to cancer of the intestine, the stomach, the pylorus....” [35] 

Despite knowing the causes of cancer as well as the proper treatment for cancer (mistletoe), Steiner is reported to have died of cancer. Anthroposophists dispute this, of course — and perhaps the point is unimportant. In any case, cancer is no more the result of inner (spiritual) blindness than it is a result of growing a tiny ear in the wrong place. To repeat myself: Good grief.

◊ “[W]ith the dying out of the worst parts of the ancient population of which I have been speaking [in Asia], the whole region gradually became filled with demonic beings ... Their influence can best be seen at the time of the Great Migrations, when large masses of people, including Attila and his hordes, came over from Asia and caused great terror among the people in Europe. This terror made the population susceptible to the influences of the demonic beings ... As a consequence of the terror produced by the hordes coming over from Asia, there gradually developed what manifested during the Middle Ages as the epidemic of leprosy.” [36] 

Many diseases come to us due to astrological influences, according to Steiner. (Remember what we were asked previously: In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present moment? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today?"Other disease are more specifically caused by demons. Consider leprosy, for instance. Leprosy spread as an epidemic in Europe because the terror caused by Attila the Hun made Europeans susceptible to demonic influences, according to Steiner. Terror = demonic influences = leprosy. Why don't most medical schools teach these facts?

◊ “You must know that each limb of a human being is a complete human being, but with the head and chest stunted, that and in the chest the head and limbs maintain balance.” [37] 

Medical schools are generally mum on these facts as well.

It's time — or past time — for me to shut up. So I will now simply list a few more of Steiner's quack medical pronouncements.

◊ "Five is the number of evil ... When, one day, medicine will make use of this, it will be able to influence beneficially the course of illness. Part of the treatment would be to study the illness in its development on the first and fifth days after its onset, on the separate days at the fifth hour past midnight, and again during the fifth week. Thus it is always the number five that determines when the physician can best intervene." [38]

◊ "What is alcohol? Wine demonstrates what alcohol actually is, because wine, which only wealthy people can afford to drink, has the most harmful effect. Beer is less harmful for the reproductive organs ... When one drinks, the reproductive organs are subjected to what has been internally absorbed in the way food is, [that is] to what should be absorbed solely by way of the sun itself, [from] the sun's shining ... Man drinks something that the sun produces outside of him. It becomes poison through this." [39]

◊ "Now, what happens in the case of diphtheria? In diphtheria, the skin suddenly becomes weak and subdued ... Because the skin activity is no longer working properly from outside, superfluous skin forms on the inside." [40]

◊ "Now, as for the flu, it really comes from a brain ailment. The lower part of the brain, located under the optic nerves, suffers a form of paralysis." [41]

◊ "What happens, however, when the liver's activity is too weak? ... If the liver isn't behaving properly, the blood rushes to the surface of the body to replenish itself there ... Smallpox is the result." [42]

◊ "[T]he part of the human organism in which the child develops, the womb, is really like a miniature earth that has remained behind and is still in an ancient comet-like state." [43]

◊ “Whatever is to be traced to ahrimanic influence [i.e., the influence of the demon Ahriman] is indirectly attributable to Lucifer; when, however, the luciferic influence has been so strong as immediately to call forth the ahrimanic influence, then this influence is the more malicious. It anchors itself not only in the transgressions of the astral body, but in those of the etheric body. It manifests itself in a consciousness lying deeper than our pain consciousness, causing damage not necessarily accompanied by pain, damage that renders useless the organ which it attacks.

“Let us suppose that in one incarnation an ahrimanic influence had been exercised on a being bringing with it certain consequences. Now the man passes through the period between death and a new birth, and reappears in a new incarnation. Then it will become manifest that some organ has been attacked by Ahriman; in other words, the etheric body has entered this organ more deeply than it should — more deeply than normal. In such a case, precisely because of this defective organ, the man is even more open to temptations of error which are the work of Ahriman upon earth. By means of the organ which owes its defect to ahrimanic influence, and into which the etheric body has too deeply penetrated, the man would, if he were to experience the whole of this process, become even more enmeshed in what Ahriman can effect, namely, ‘Maya.’ Since nothing however produced by the material world as Maya can be carried into the spiritual world, the spiritual world withdraws further from him. For in that world there is to be found only truth and no illusion. The more he becomes entangled in the illusions effected by Ahriman, the more are we impelled to enter even further into the external world of the senses, into the illusions of the physical senses, much further than would be the case without the defective organ.

“A counteracting effect comes into play, however, just as we have the effect of pain counteracting the luciferic influence. This counteracting effect will operate in such a way that the moment there is any danger of our being linked too closely with the physical world of the senses, and of our losing the forces which lead us up into the spiritual world, in that moment the organ is destroyed; it will either be paralysed or else rendered too weak to be effective. A process of destruction takes place. Thus if we see an organ approaching destruction, we must realise that we owe this to beneficial forces; the organ is taken from us so that we may find our way back into the spiritual world. When there is no alternative of escape, certain forces do in fact destroy our organs or weaken them so that we may not become too greatly entangled in Maya or illusion and may find our way back into the spiritual world.”  [44]

◊ "And so you have gained a picture of those beings which are just on the boundary of the world lying immediately beyond the threshold, and of how, if they carry their impulses to their final issue, they become the bearers of parasites, of poisons, and therewith of illnesses. Now it becomes clear how far man in health raises himself above the forces that take hold of him in illness. For illness springs from the malevolence of these beings who are necessary for the upbuilding of the whole structure of nature, but also for its fading and decay.

"These are the things which, arising from instinctive clairvoyance, underlie such intuitions as those of the Indian Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma represented the active Being in world-spheres which may legitimately approach man. Vishnu represented those world-spheres which may only approach man in so far as what has been built up must again be broken down, in so far as it must be continually transformed. Shiva represented everything connected with the forces of destruction. And in the earlier stages of the flower of Indian civilization it was said that Brahma is intimately related to all that is of the nature of the fire-beings, and the sylphs; Vishnu with all that is of the nature of sylphs and undines; Shiva with all that is of the nature of undines and gnomes. Generally speaking, when we go back to these more ancient conceptions, we find everywhere the pictorial expressions for what must be sought today as lying behind the secrets of nature." [45]

Footnotes for the Foregoing Sections
(Scroll Down to Find Further Sections)

[1] See, e.g., “Anthroposophic Medicine,” holistic.com . The complete set of human faculties and parts is long and intricate. Steiner spoke variously of our three-fold, four-fold, seven-fold, and nine-fold natures.

[2] See, e.g., “Childhood Illness: Waldorf View,” cited at openwaldorf.org .

[3] Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), p. 166.

[4] Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 90-91.

Steiner’s followers often accept his guidance concerning vaccination. From a news account in early 2009: 

“At the private Eugene [Oregon] Waldorf School on McLean Boulevard south of 28th Avenue, three of every four of its nearly 200 students lack one or more of the vaccines Oregon requires against 11 diseases. Their parents have filled out religious exemption forms....” — Anne Williams, “Medical Authorities Want to Determine Why Certain Populations Shun Vaccines,” THE REGISTER-GUARD, Jan. 10, 2009.

A similar situation arose in Colorado at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School:

"[N]early half of the 292 students at Shining Mountain have received only a few, and in some cases none, of the twenty-one childhood vaccinations mandated by Colorado state law ... The shunning of one of the vaccines, against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, has resulted in a revival of whooping cough ... The parents at Shining Mountain are influenced by the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner ... Steiner (who was not a medical doctor) believed that children's spirits benefited from being tempered in the fires of a good inflammation ... Shining Mountain's director, Robert Schiappacasse...became a little concerned, he told me, when the baby of one of the school's secretaries ‘coughed himself into a hernia’ after visiting the school during an outbreak.” — Arthur Allen, “Bucking the Herd,” THE ATLANTIC, Sept. 2002.

And the following is from California: 

“A distressing new statewide report shows that an increasing number of California parents are sending their children to school without routine vaccinations. The numbers are astounding: In the Bay Area, the highest exemption rate from kindergarten immunization was nearly 69 percent in 2008, at the Marin Waldorf School in San Rafael ... After a whooping cough outbreak at the East Bay Waldorf School (64 percent exemption rate for kindergartners) last May, [the Department of Public Health] made the difficult decision to close the school for a day and order all the parents to show proof of antibiotic prescription for their children.” — “On School Vaccinations,” THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, April 1, 2009.

Many Waldorf schools overseas also oppose vaccination: 

“Measles remains a public health problem in Europe, and there are ‘serious doubts’ that it can be eliminated by 2010 as health officials had hoped ... [V]accination rates are lower in families rated ‘hard to reach’ by the authorities and in schools that practice homeopathy and the medical philosophy of the 19th- and early-20th-century theorist Rudolf Steiner.” — Donald G. McNeil, Jr., “Eradication Goal for Measles Is Unlikely, Report Says,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, Jan. 13, 2009.

A measles outbreak at a Waldorf school in Switzerland, early in 2009, created news. 

“The Ecole Rudolf Steiner [translation: Rudolf Steiner School] near Lausanne Tuesday reported 17 cases of measles ... Dr Eric Masserrey, who heads the office responsible for overseeing epidemics, called the outbreak ‘unprecedented’ as his team moved into action to control the spread of the potentially deadly disease ... The health department is also checking to see why the students’ doctors appear not to have reported the cases promptly, as required by Swiss law. Students are allowed to attend school in Switzerland if they have not been vaccinated, but if they are found to have been exposed to the highly infectious viral disease they will be told to stay home for 21 days.” — Crissier, Vaud, Switzerland, genevalunch.com, Feb. 5, 2009. An update the next day added: “Four new schools were affected Thursday when brothers and sisters of the 17 students with measles from the Rudolf Steiner school in Crissier also fell ill.” — Crissier, Vaud, Switzerland, genevalunch.com, Feb. 6, 2009.

To summarize the Steiner position: Steiner did not absolutely forbid vaccination, but he warned against it. Vaccination is part of the modern insanity that opposes spirituality. 

"People will actually long for the time when the Spiritual is universally deemed to be insanity, craziness! Attempts will be made to achieve this end by inoculations; just as viruses have been discovered as means of protection against illnesses, so certain inoculations will be used to influence the human body in such a way that it provides no place for the spiritual proclivities of the soul. Human beings will be immunised against any predisposition for spiritual ideas ... [S]uch, at least, will be the endeavour. They will try by inoculation to bring it about that even in childhood, human beings lose the urge towards the spiritual life." — Rudolf Steiner, BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1947), lecture 1, GA 178.

Under some circumstances, vaccination serves the foul purposes of Ahriman:

"[Vaccination] will harm only those who grow up with materialistic ideas. Then vaccination becomes a kind of ahrimanic power; the individual can no longer rise above a certain materialistic way of feeling. And that is really why vaccination causes us concern, because people are 'garbed through' with a phantom." — Rudolf Steiner, PHYSIOLOGY AND HEALING (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2013), p. 238.

Curing or preventing diseases can be a grave error, interfering with karma. People need and even want to have certain illnesses, including fatal ones. 

“[P]eople may virtually be driven to places where it is possible to get an infection in order to find in this the compensating effects for certain karmic causes within them; people are even driven to what one might call fatal life events to find such compensation.” — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA  (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), p. 167.

[5] “Anthroposophically Extended Medicine,” defendingsteiner.com .

[6] “Rescue Remedy,” openwaldorf.com. (See link above.)

[7] “Treating Cancer with Misteltoe [sic]”, openwaldorf.com. (See link above.)

[8]  Rudolf Steiner, FREUD, JUNG, AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (SteinerBooks, 2001), pp. 124-125.

Cf. “[E]ach day, the average heart beats 100,000 times, pumping about 2,000 gallons (7,571 liters) of blood.” — Heart Information Center, www.texasheartinstitute.org/HIC/Anatomy/anatomy2.cfm .

[9] Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, Foundations of Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 60.

[10] Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 198.


[11] “anthroposophic medicine,” skepdic.com .

You may also want to consult http://www.ministryoftruth.me.uk/2009/07/22/pseudoscience-not-a-valid-educational-choice/

"A couple of years ago, Prof Edzard Ernst (co-author of ‘Trick or Treatment’ with Simon Singh) attempted to carry out a systematic review of all randomised clinical trials of Anthroposophical medicine as either a sole or adjunctive treatment for any illness or condition, but failed to find a single study that met the inclusion criteria after running seven separate literature searches." 

Many Web sources are unreliable, so treat them with care. These sources at least are consistent with one another and with my own research. (Disclosure: I find skepdic.com reliable, but then some of my own work is quoted there.)

[12] Robert Smith-Hald, “Growing Up Being Made Sick by Anthroposophy," http://waldorfcritics.org.

[13] Sharon Lombard, “Spotlight on Anthroposophy,” http://waldorfcritics.org.

Aurum cream was to be applied over the heart and oxalis cream over the stomach. Concerning the latter, Lombard writes 

"Linked to the doctor's instructions to apply ‘Oxalis cream over abdomen' is Steiner's concept that human beings make formic acid from oxalic acid ... The doctor was attempting to heal my daughter's Anthroposophic spiritual bodies. By rubbing Oxalis cream on her abdomen, she would develop formic acid within and have life. [Steiner taught] ‘It's the formic acid that attracts and mobilizes soul and spirit, otherwise the spirit will go away.’" — "Spotlight on Anthroposophy". 

[14] See "Ahriman" and "Ahrimanic beings, Ahrimanic powers" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia.

[15] Rudolf Steiner, FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1976), p. 89.

[16] Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), pp. 11-12.

[17] Rudolf Steiner, INTRODUCING ANTHROPOSOPHICAL MEDICINE (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 265.

[18] Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 241.

[19] Rudolf Steiner, POLARITIES IN THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND, (Steiner Books, 1987), p. 58.

[20] Ibid., p. 196.




[24] Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 60.

[25] Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN QUESTIONS AND COSMIC ANSWERS (Anthroposophical Pub. Co., 1960), p. 38.


[27] Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION FOR SPECIAL NEEDS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), p. 131. Steiner’s full wording is “bowels organization.”


[29] American Diabetes AssociationMendosa.com EUobserverEncyclopedia Britannica, etc.

[30] Rudolf Steiner, THE HEALING PROCESS (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 73.

[31] Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENT OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266, 3-14-08. 

Another translation says 

“Rickets in children can be improved through appropriate geometric study." — ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 291.

[32] Rudolf Steiner, BEES: Lectures (SteinerBooks, 1998), p. 147.


[34] THE HEALING PROCESS, pp. 141-142.

[35] Rudolf Steiner, FROM CRYSTAL TO CROCODILES (Rudolf Steiner, 2002), p. 62.

[36] Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION OF MORALITY (SteinerBooks, 1995), p. 31.


[38] Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 42.


[40] Ibid., p. 240.

[41] Ibid., p. 244.

[42] Ibid., p. 254.

[43] Ibid., p. 266.

[44] Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 7, “Forces of Nature, Volcanic Eruptions, Earthquakes and Epidemics in Relation to Karma”, GA 120.

[45] Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 8, GA 230.

Skeletal/anatomical images from www.fromoldbooks.org.

For an account of Anthroposophical medicine contending 

with the outbreak of a particular disease — the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 — 

see the news items for March, 2020.and the succeeded months.

Also see "Steiner & Covid".

From the Waldorf Watch News:

July 19, 2020

◊ Backgrounder ◊


Many people today are eager for scientists to produce a vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic. But anti-vaxx protestors are raising an alarm, warning that such a vaccine may have severe consequences. Proponents of Waldorf education have been prominent in the protests [1]. 

Waldorf views on vaccines have long been controversial. Here are excerpts from VACCINE, a 2007 book that devotes some attention to Waldorf. The author, Arthur Allen, is not an expert on Waldorf education or the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. He gets some details wrong when discussing these subjects. But, overall, he presents an informative overview [2].

VACCINE - The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver
[W. W. Norton & Co.]

The Waldorf movement was the creation of the Austrian mystic philosopher Rudolf Steiner [3], who founded his first school in 1919 [4] ... The colors inside Waldorf schools [5] lean heavily to pastels, and the instructors discourage television [6] and reading matter of any kind for children under age 7 [7] because such media are thought to interfere with the child's natural inclinations [8] and unfolding imagination [9]. The bundling of children is another tenet of Waldorf education handed down by Steiner, who believed that physical and spiritual warmth were related. Waldorf kids are instructed to dress warmly year-round in wool hats and layers of cotton sweaters [10].

...Another, less advertised Waldorf belief, one that comes as a surprise to many parents, is that children need to become quite ill with infectious diseases in order to develop into spiritually whole beings [11] ... [The Waldorf worldview] prefers the natural trajectory of strong fevers, coughing, vomiting, and (hopefully) recovery to the sterile efficiency of antibiotics and other medications [12]. As a result...[students in] Waldorf schools around the world are disproportionately unvaccinated [13], and these schools have often been the epicenters to vaccine-preventable illnesses [14]...

— Arthur Allen, VACCINE - The Controversial Story of Medicine's Greatest Lifesaver (W. W. Norton & Co., 2007), pp. 327-328.

The principles of health that influence Waldorf schools and communities are vestiges — like Christian Science, Rosicrucianism, and Swedenborgianism [15] — of spiritual philosophies that view the body as a temple, the blood as a divine fluid [16], and vaccines are spiritual pollution ... [E]ach of these postindustrial religious sects [17] arose at a time when society was visibly mucking up nature and humankind. They were millenarian responses to the despoilation of traditional life [18]. And although arguably our air, water, and food are less polluted than they were 50 years ago, the belief that we have defiled ourselves with pollutants and toxins remains just as intense if not more so. Spiritual holists [believe] we are a fallen civilization.

— Ibid., pp. 333-334.

When it came to disease, Steiner had a hailing familiarity with the emerging discipline of bacteriology, but he endowed germs with a spiritual significance ... [H]e stated that overfeeding infants caused measles and scarlet fever [19], that smallpox resulted from heavy breathing or sweating [20], and that excessive bathing caused diphtheria [21]. Influenza was contagious not through viruses but as a result of the garlic-and-onion odor emanating from people with flu [22] ... Diseases of childhood were the result of spiritual impurity [23]...

[V]accination might prevent epidemics but at the cost of leaving spiritual work undone: "If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox [through vaccination] we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity." Since "man cannot escape his karma" and smallpox was the "organ of unlovingness [24]," vaccination might prevent the disease but the "cause of unlovingness would still remain, and souls in question would then be forced to seek another way for karmic compensation either in this or another incarnation [25]."

...Vaccination, like reading and writing, was an extraneous influence that disrupted the mother's spiritual dominance over her child [26]. Steiner warned of a day when medicine would create a vaccine "which will be injected into the human organism in earliest infancy, if possible immediately after birth, to ensure that this human body never has the idea that a soul and a spirit exist [27]," a day when "materialistic doctors will be entrusted with the task of driving souls out of human beings [28]."

— Ibid., pp. 344-345.

Footnotes for this Item

[1] See, e.g., "Anthroposophists Among the Pandemic Protestors", May 26, 2020, and "Opposition to a Vaccine That Does Not Exist Yet", July 3, 2020. [Steiner's teachings are identified, collectively, as "Anthroposophy". See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).]

[2] For a review of the book, see "Preventive Medicine", New York Times, February 4, 2007 [https://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/books/review/Oshinsky.t.html].

[3] See "What a Guy". 

Steiner's followers like to refer to him as a philosopher or scientist or educational reformer, etc., but he often identified himself as an occultist. [See "Occultism".]

[4] This was the first Waldorf school, opened in Stuttgart, Germany, for children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory.

[5] See "Mystical Colors".

[6] Steiner's followers are leery of electronic devices of many sorts, including televisions and computers — such devices, they fear, may be demonic. [See "Spiders, Dragons and Foxes".]

[7] In Waldorf belief, children younger than seven years old have not yet fully received their "etheric bodies," the first of three invisible bodies that incarnate during the first 21 years of life. [See "Incarnation".] The kids are not ready for basic academic instruction until this first invisible body incarnates.

[8] In Waldorf belief, children arrive on earth with predispositions resulting from their former lives and their prenatal experiences in the spirit realm. [See "Reincarnation"]

[99 Imagination is stressed in Waldorf education. It is deemed a precursor to, or an early stage of, clairvoyance. [See "imagination" in the BWSE.]

Waldorf students do not all, always, wear woolen hats and cotton sweaters — especially not in summer. But Steiner taught his followers to prefer natural materials such as wool and cotton, and he indicated that physical warmth may sometimes convey the restorative powers of spiritual warmth. Here's a statement made by a Steiner follower who took Waldorf teacher training: "Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, really saw the connection between these two types of warmth. Steiner would talk about how the physical warmth that a child receives in the younger years (before age 7) would impact positively not only their physical health in years to come but also a child’s capacity for emotional warmth as an adult ... Steiner wasn't ho-hum about warmth for growing kids. He placed a very high importance on providing physical warmth. Actually, it was one of the top three things he wanted every parent [and teacher?] to know about." — Monika Herwig, "Waldorf and Warmth", January 14, 2018 [https://www.opentowellness.ca/blog/2018/1/14/warmth-waldorf-steiners-wisdom-the-unexpected-benefits-for-our-children].

[11] Waldorf faculties often conceal at least some of their beliefs from outsiders — in this sense, they have "unadvertised" tenets. [See "Secrets".] Parents of Waldorf students are often surprised when they learn what Waldorf teachers actually believe. [See, e.g., "Coming Undone".]

Just as they believe in reincarnation, Steiner's followers believe in karma. [See "Karma".] Accordingly, there is a belief that children are destined to have certain diseases. Undergoing these illnesses discharges karmic obligations. Moreover, the fever accompanying infectious diseases can burn away injurious genetic characteristics, Steiner indicated.

The Steiner/Waldorf view of diseases is reflected in such publications as the book BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Steinerbooks/Anthroposophic Press, 1998), by L.F.C. Mees.

[12] Modern medicine is viewed askance, as another extension of potentially demonic modern technology. [For an overview of the sort of medical care advocated by Steiner, see "Steiner's Quackery".]

[13] Waldorf schools rarely have official policies opposing vaccination, but they nonetheless are often centers of anti-vaccination belief and practice. [See "vaccination" in the BWSE.]

[14] For an instance in the USA, see "Chickenpox in Asheville". There have reportedly also been infectious disease outbreaks among Steiner's followers in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. [See "Under-vaccinated groups in Europe and their beliefs, attitudes and reasons for non-vaccination; two systematic reviews", BMC Public Health [https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-018-5103-8].

[15] See, e.g., "Choosing".

[16] See "blood" in the BWSE. Steiner stated many of his views about blood in the lecture "The Occult Significance of Blood".

[17] Steiner called Anthroposophy a "spiritual science," but in reality it is a religion or, in Allen's words, a religious sect. [See "Is Anthroposophy a Religion?"]

[18] Like the other movements mentioned, Anthroposophy is essentially backward-looking. [See, e.g., "The Ancients".]

"Children know their limits, as a rule, through their own inherent wisdom and instinct. If the mother produces too much milk, however, and it is fed to the child, its instinct will become uncertain through eating too much. Now, if too much food is absorbed by the system, the head cannot keep up; it cannot handle too large an amount and will try to eliminate the surplus. The food has already been absorbed into the blood through the intestines, however, so the head cannot eliminate the surplus in the normal way. What does it do then? It discharges the superfluous substances through the skin. Measles and scarlet fever are the result." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1981), lecture 2, GA 348.

[20] "If the air that enters through the breathing process does not make contact with the blood in the correct way...smallpox results. What is smallpox? Smallpox is really the result of the development of too much respiratory activity on the body's surface or in the lungs. A person becomes too active on his surface area, and this activity causes inflammation everywhere." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 7, GA 348.

[21] The relationship between diphtheria and bathing, as described by Steiner, is intricate. "Treatment with modified virus vaccine is effective in the case of diphtheria...but it has unfavorable aftereffects. Particularly if a child is treated with vaccine, it will later suffer a hardening of its organization [i.e., its constitution]. One therefore must strive actually to replace treatment with vaccine with that of bathing, especially in the case of diphtheria ... [D]iphtheria is more frequent now than in former times ... [Nowadays] people who have money bathe a lot ... [I]t is...wrong for a person to cause too strong an activity of the skin by superfluous bathing. At any rate, in the case of diphtheria, one must try above all to bring about a proper activity of the skin." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2, lecture 6.

[22] "Now, when a man has influenza refuse [the physical consequences of flu] within his body, the same substances are dissolved in his fluid organization that had to be added to the ground in order to produce the finest onion and garlic plants, and before long, the sick person begins to smell like these plants ... This odour is always like that of onions or garlic and can be detected by one with a sensitive nose. Just as we tune in on and imitate a shrill and rasping voice, so do we join in with what an ill person evaporates. As a consequence, our own astral body, our own activity, becomes disorganized. This disorder causes a chemical basis that in turn makes us contract the flu." — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 1, lecture 9.

[23] I.e., childhood illnesses reflect errors committed in past lives, errors that must be discharged through the operations of karma. Steiner connected illness and karma is such statements as this: "Spiritual investigation shows us that in the form of a human body which enters into existence by birth, we are able to see approximately what deeds a person did in a previous life ... [O]ur deeds in one life can work over into our conditions of health in the next life ... [I]n our state of health we have often to seek a karmic effect of deeds of a previous life." — Rudolf Steiner, MANIFESTATIONS OF KARMA (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969), lecture 3, GA 120.

[24] I.e., smallpox is the manifestation of unlovingness (failure to love) during past lives.

[25] I.e., if someone having the karma to endure smallpox is prevented from contracting this disease, s/he will have to endure a similar ordeal (an illness or other karmic compensation) later in this life or in a future life.

[26] Another problem with vaccination, according to Steiner, is that it weakens the child's dependence on parents or teachers (especially Waldorf teachers). These adults would presumably guide a child through an illness, but such guidance becomes unnecessary if the illness is prevented.

[27] Steiner taught that humans have both souls and spirits. [See the entries for these terms in the BWSE.] But Steiner warned that evildoers will create vaccines that prevent humans from recognizing the existence of their souls and spirits.

[28] I.e., these vaccines will effectively destroy people's souls.

— R.R.

"A human being can fall ill. He gets pleurisy. What does it mean when we say he gets pleurisy? It means there is too much of the luciferic element in him [i.e., he is too much under the influence of Lucifer] ... [T]he luciferic element is too powerful and the ahrimanic too weak [i.e., he is too much under the influence of Lucifer and too little under the influence of the Zoroastrian demon, Ahriman]. I have to add something ahrimanic to balance it out ... Birch wood [sic] grows actively in the spring ... [T]he bark has excellent powers of growth. I kill these by making the birch wood into charcoal ... I made it into birch charcoal, something ahrimanic. And I then make the birch charcoal into a powder and give this to the person who has too much of the luciferic element in him with his pleurisy." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM LIMESTONE TO LUCIFER (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1999), pp. 203-204. 

[R.R. sketch, 2009, based on Fig. 28, p. 204. 
The scales show the need to balance Lucifer's influence with Ahriman's influence.]

Here you see, in schematic form, the beginning of the Archangel Michael's reign. The horizontal line represents the division between the astral plane (above) and the physical world (below). The arc from the left represents the reign of the Archangel Gabriel, which ended in 1879. The arc to the right is Michael's reign, beginning in that year. Trouble, though: Mammon poked his snout in at about the same time.

"[I]n November of the year 1879 there occurred on the astral plane something very similar to a birth ... The rulership of Gabriel was replaced by another archangel, under whose leadership we now stand, the archangel Michael. He is the radiant sun that esoteric wisdom lets shine forth on a small band of people ... The radiant leadership of Michael will again be replaced by a dark, horrible age that will begin around the year 2400. Already today simultaneously with Michael a dark god has entered into his rulership: the god Mammon.

"For esotericism, Mammon is not only the god of money. He is much more the leader of all vile black powers. And his hordes attack not only human souls, but also the physical bodies of humans in order to gnaw away at them and ruin them. People speak of bacteria a lot more today not because they know more about them, but because bacteria have taken on a very special form today. And in the future they will get the upper hand in a terrifying way. When that black age approaches, then fraternal war will rage in a gruesome way, and poor human bodies will waste away, terribly afflicted by diseases and plagues. The stigma of sin will be impressed on human bodies visible to everyone." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (Steiner Books, 2007), pp. 232-233. 

[R.R. sketch, 2009, 
based on b&w image on p. 232.] 

In case the forgoing left any doubt, here's a clarification on one point: 

"Mammon, the spirit of hindrances and darkness, has countless helpers who incarnate as bacteria." — Ibid., p. 208.

The small band to whom Michael radiates esoteric wisdom is, of course, the small group to whom Steiner delivered "esoteric lessons": initiated Anthroposophists.

[For more on bacteria, Michael, and Ahriman, see "Michael".]

It's hard to top what we've already seen. Still, here is an interesting passage. During one of his lectures, Steiner brought a boy with learning disabilities onto the lecture platform; he used the boy to illustrate some of his medical concepts. Steiner focused particularly on the shape of the boy's head. He said the boy could have been helped by eurythmy, a form of dance Steiner himself invented:

"And now, if you will begin to observe the child for yourselves — (to the boy) Come here a minute! — you will find many things to notice. Let me draw your attention, first of all, to the strongly developed lower half of the face. Look at the shape of the nose and the mouth. The mouth is always a little open. With this symptom is connected also the peculiar formation of the teeth. It is important to note these things, for they are unquestionably bound up with the whole soul-and-spirit constitution of the child ... The formation you see here in the jaws — the jaws belong, of course, to the limb system — should be completely taken into the head system. But in this case the head system is not strong enough to bring the limb system fully into itself; consequently, external forces work too powerfully upon this limb-system. Look at a well-formed human being, where the lower part of the head is in harmony with the rest of the head ... In the child before us...the arms, and also the legs, have not the proportions they would have if they were brought into right relation with the upper part of the body, but have grown too big ...

"Observe now how the head is narrow here (in front) on both sides, and pressed back; so we have in this boy the symptom of narrow-headedness, a sign that the intellectual system is but little permeated with will [i.e., will power]This part (at the back) expresses strong permeation by the will. The front part of the head is accessible only to external influences that come via sense-perception, whereas the back part of the head is accessible to all manner of influences from without [i.e., from the outside]. You have therefore here a beginning of what manifests so strikingly in the arms and legs; the brain enlarges and spreads out at the back of the head ...

"Here (in the front) as we remarked, the head is pressed together. In all probability this points back to a purely mechanical injury, either at birth or during pregnancy, a mechanical injury in which we can see nothing else than a working of karma, for it can have no connection with the forces of heredity ... 

"The entire system of the breath is very little under control, and breathing tends to become disturbed and uneasy. This is connected with the whole way in which the lower jaw is formed ... Consequently, the boy is unable to develop within him the right and necessary quantity of carbonic acid; he is deficient in carbonic acid ... What ought to happen is that gradually, in the course of life, the whole system of movement in man should become a servant of the intellectual system. (To the boy) Stand still a minute! And now come here to me and do this(Dr. Steiner makes a movement with his arm as if to take hold of something; the boy does not make the movement.)Never mind! We mustn't force him. Do you see? It is difficult for him to do anything; he has not the power to exercise the right control over his metabolism-and-limbs system ...

"What would have been the right educational treatment for this child in very early years? Obviously a special effort should have been made to begin with Curative Eurythmy even before he was able to walk, simply moving his limbs oneself in eurythmic movements. If this had been done, then the movements carried out in this way in the limbs would have been reflected in the nerves-and-senses organism, and since at that early age everything, is still supple in the child, the form of the head could actually have grown wider ...." — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 6, GA 317. I have excerpted from a long passage. You can find the entire text at http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19240701p01.html

As perhaps should be obvious, Dr. Steiner had no medical degree; his doctorate was in philosophy. (And the wonder is that it wasn't revoked.)

— Roger Rawlings

[Health Research, 1972.]

When, on the lecture stage, Steiner propounded 

his weird medical teachings,

he sometimes drew blackboard illustrations —

but they added little.

He drew an image like this

when saying the following:

"The intake of breath that goes down into the body 

from the head wants to shape itself into a mummy. 

And it is only because the body works against

this and brings about exhalation that 

this mummy is changed back again."

— Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 

(Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 71.

[My sketch of Steiner's sketch, 2009.]

From OpenWaldorf, dealing with "health and safety" at Waldorf schools:

Strong Anti-Immunization Preference

While there may not be an official position on immunization at Waldorf, there does seem to be a strong cultural anti-immunization preference among thought-leaders in the Waldorf community. This preference can be traced back to Steiner himself, who believed that immunization interferes with karmic development and the cycles of reincarnation. Steiner says:

We also understand why, among the best minds of our period, there exists a kind of aversion to vaccination... This would constitute the indispensable counterpart without which we are performing only half our task. We are merely accomplishing something to which the person in question will himself have to produce a counterpart in a later incarnation. If we destroy the susceptibility to smallpox, we are concentrating only on the external side of karmic activity.

Many respected Waldorf leaders share this view today. For example, in the article "Childhood Illness: Waldorf View," childhood disease is described as a "rite of passage" of childhood. The article suggests that when a child endures measles it is "as though he or she has had a form of ritual experience."

"At the higher emotional and mental levels, negative forces such as greed and selfishness have also been expelled. So a child who has measles is afterwards less self-centered and more openhearted, and often more able to express his or her individuality. The personality becomes rounder and fuller, and more joyful and contented, as a step towards maturity and adulthood."

So, if you are concerned about a self-centered or restless child, perhaps you might consider exposing them to measles. Complications may arise, but it suggests that:

Serious complications in childhood illness which produce permanent damage or even death are probably deeply founded in the destiny of the person concerned.

So, don't be alarmed if your child dies from a preventable disease because he/she is not immunized, it was probably their destiny. It clearly wasn't their destiny to be immunized.

[downloaded 9-15-2017  http://www.openwaldorf.com/health.html]

Here are items from the Waldorf Watch News:


Currently available from Waldorf Books


Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer

Prevention, Treatment and Healing

Dr. Johannes Wilkens, Gert Böhm

Translated by Peter Clemm

[Floris Books, 2010]



"...Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer presents, for the first time, an important reference for practitioners on the characteristics of each type of mistletoe and the kinds of cancers they are best suited to treat. Thirteen host trees are described, covering aspects from mythology and botany to homeopathy and flower essences. The authors pull the various characteristics together, providing a unique guide to the different types of mistletoe and which patients might benefit most from the individual varieties. The results will be useful not only in treating cancer, but also in prevention."

Also available from the same source:

Iscador: Mistletoe and Cancer Therapy

Christine Murphy, Editor

[Lantern Books, 2001]



"Iscador has been known for its therapeutic benefits for over eighty years. As early as 1917, Rudolf Steiner suggested using injections of mistletoe extract for the treatment of cancer ... In Iscador - Mistletoe and [sic] Cancer Therapy, Christine Murphy gathers together some of the work of doctors and clinicians who have been using Iscador today ... This is the first and only book to date that really explores this topic. It does so in a thorough yet easy-to-understand way that is truly empowering. Highly recommended!"

◊ ••• ◊

Waldorf Watch Response:

Woe betide.

Rudolf Steiner made enormous claims for mistletoe, including the claim that it is a cure for cancer. Most of the responsibility for the use (or misuse) of mistletoe in cancer treatment rests with him. [See QuackWatch.] 

Steiner’s interest in mistletoe derived, in part, from his conviction that the plant is not of this Earth. 

“[M]istletoe does not belong to our earth, it is alien.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 99. 

In Norse myths, mistletoe is used to kill Baldur, the God of Light. [See “The Gods”.] From this, Steiner extrapolated the notion that mistletoe can kill cancer. Anthroposophical doctors today often prescribe a concoction called Iscador for cancer patients — it consists largely of mistletoe.

Scientists try to keep open minds, and thus there are ongoing efforts to verify the claims made for mistletoe in cancer treatment. For the most part, however, the results have been nil. The American Cancer Society, for instance, concludes this:

“Available evidence from well-designed clinical trials does not support claims that mistletoe can improve length or quality of life.” [American Cancer Society.]

Turning to "Anthroposophical medicine," as is often done in and around Waldorf schools, can be a life-threatening error.


◊ “[Science] sees the heart as a pump that pumps blood through the body. Now there is nothing more absurd than believing this....” — Rudolf Steiner, PSYCHOANALYSIS AND SPIRITUAL PSYCHOLOGY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), p. 126. 

◊ “[T]he heart is indeed a sense organ for perceiving the blood’s movement, not a pump as physicists [sic] claim; the coursing of blood is brought about by our spirituality and vitality.” — Rudolf Steiner, AT HOME IN THE UNIVERSE (SteinerBooks, 2000), p. 84.

◊ ••• ◊

Waldorf Watch Response:

Rudolf Steiner made a great many absurd statements. These rank among the most absurd. Yet today Waldorf teachers and their representatives still try to justify Steiner’s absurdities — which they embrace as profound wisdom. 

In 2002, The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America published THE DYNAMIC HEART AND CIRCULATION. The editor, Craig Holdrege, says he “conceived the book from a teacher’s perspective.” [p. vi] What he means, clearly, is a Waldorf teacher’s perspective. And what sorts of statements speak to the Waldorf teacher’s perspective? Statements such as this: 

“The prevailing view in conventional science and medicine is that the heart serves as a pump ... But this model cannot explain many phenomena ... The function of the heart, with regard to the blood returning in the veins, is to regulate resistance ... [T]he force that drives the blood into the heart is not the force of the heart’s pumping action....” [pp. 74-75] 

The book offers ingenious arguments to counter “the prevailing view in conventional science and medicine,” and there are shreds of truth on many of the book’s pages. But the overall project is irretrievably mistaken. The book’s goal is to contrive arguments, by hook and by crook, to show that Steiner was right and science is wrong. Consider this carefully, parents. Ask yourself whether you want Steiner’s fervent followers — people who reject reality and who rationalize mystical nonsense — to “educate” your children. Into what dim vistas might they lead your young ones?

(The arguments made in the book are subtle and complex. To some degree, they change Steiner’s meaning in the process of trying to defend that meaning, a dubious approach at best. Essentially, the authors share Steiner’s revulsion at a simple, mechanistic description of the human constitution, and in this they have a point. The heart is not a simple mechanical pump; it is unlike, say, a bicycle pump. The circulation of the blood is affected by various internal biological factors, including the intricacies of the vascular system. In the end, however, the authors are led astray by their determination to affirm an esoteric vision. Calling the heart a pump may be, at some level, merely a metaphor. But calling the heart the seat of love and wisdom is an even more misleading metaphor — a common one, but a mistaken one. The truth, ultimately, is that the heart does pump blood, and no amount of obfuscation and argumentation can change this. A central characteristic of mystical thought is the refusal to face facts squarely. Mystics prefer their fantasies to reality; they feel ennobled and elevated by their presumed possession of superior, secret knowledge. They feel a warm glow in the very woolliness of their thinking. As a result, they wander into — and get lost within — the fogs that they themselves generate.)


JANUARY 25, 2020


"I believe that most doctors striving for elimination of childhood illnesses are convinced that they do a great service ... 
[But] childhood illnesses should be treated in the proper way, by supporting the illness...not fighting the illness ... 
We should consider [childhood illnesses] as the greatest blessings, because through them 
man is able to strengthen his personal form...enabling him to incarnate better." 
— Waldorf teacher and doctor L.F.C. Mees, BLESSED BY ILLNESS (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 192.

Anthroposophical medicine — a form of alternative medicine [1] — is often practiced in and around Waldorf schools [2]. Stemming from Rudolf Steiner's occult preachments, Anthroposophic medicine often veers from good practice and, indeed, good sense [3].

Here are a few samples of Steiner's medical wisdom:

◊ Imaginary bodies: “With pneumonia, the cause is always in the astral body [a nonphysical body that incarnates at the time of puberty]; pneumonia can occur in no other way.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE TEMPLE LEGEND (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 60.

◊ Astrological influences: “We must ask ourselves: In what constellation were we living when in the nineties [i.e., 1890s] the present influenza epidemic appeared in its benign form? In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present moment? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today?" — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SYMPTOM TO REALITY IN MODERN HISTORY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1976), p. 89.

◊ Numerology: "Five is the number of evil ... When, one day, medicine will make use of this, it will be able to influence beneficially the course of illness. Part of the treatment would be to study the illness in its development on the first and fifth days after its onset, on the separate days at the fifth hour past midnight, and again during the fifth week. Thus it is always the number five that determines when the physician can best intervene." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1974), p. 42.

◊ Phrenology: “When a person becomes afflicted with shrunken kidneys, which can occur when the kidneys' activity is deficient, you can see an indentation here on the head ... You can see in every person who has kidney disease this indentation in the head." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 241.

◊ Think your way to stronger bones: “The ashes that a thought leaves [4] strengthen bones, and so people with rickets do better if they think abstractly.” — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENT OF ESOTERIC CLASSES (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266, 3-14-08. (If that statement doesn't suit you, try this: “Rickets in children can be improved through appropriate geometric study." — Rudolf Steiner, ESOTERIC LESSONS 1904-1909 (SteinerBooks, 2007), p. 291. [5])

And so on.

◊ ••• ◊

CHARLIE HEBDO is a popular and influential French satiric magazine [6]. In its current issue, the magazine aims its satirical fire at Anthroposophic medicine. Here are extended excerpts:


Esotericism taught at Strasbourg University

By Antonio Fischetti

The University of Strasbourg provides training in Anthroposophic medicine. Based on esoteric, foggy concepts, this creed leads, among other things, to the treatment of cancer with injections of fermented mistletoe. [Such medicine is] a dangerous infiltration of occult spiritualism into what should be a temple of rational thought.

There are all sorts of weird ways to medicate yourself. Some people ingest granules derived from skunk bladder liquid; others prefer pumpkin poultices; still others prefer yogurt laced with bee sperm. We are accustomed to seeing pseudo-therapies of this kind pushed by more or less loony groups. But when such therapies are spread by public universities, the situation is much more worrisome. And yet, as part of its continuing education offerings, the University of Strasbourg offers courses in Anthroposophic medicine...

To shed some light on this dark tunnel, let's get to know Anthroposophy [7]. It is an esoteric and spiritual doctrine developed by the Austrian Rudolf Steiner at the beginning of the 20th century [8]. It claims to be a "wisdom of man" — the etymological meaning of the word — that is close to nature. But Anthroposophy is not only a theory, it also has very concrete applications, for example in education (with the famous Steiner schools, regularly singled out for their sectarian aberrations [9]) or agriculture (biodynamics, based on mysterious astrological influences [10]).

"Sickness is a blessing"

...[T]o penetrate Anthroposophical claptrap, let's listen to Grégoire Perra, one of the fiercest opponents of this movement. He knows what he's talking about, because his parents placed him in a Steiner school when he was a kid and he taught in one of these schools for a long time, before finally distancing himself from Anthroposophy. Since then, he has ferociously denounced this pseudo-wisdom (his denunciations led Anthroposophists to file several lawsuits against him, along with a smear campaign on social networks) [11]. In short, then, as reported by Grégoire Perra: "Anthroposophists say women should not cut their hair too short, as this would aggravate their aggressiveness. And freckles are a sign that you were an idiot in your previous life. And we shouldn't wash ourselves too much, since this would wear out our etheric powers [12]..."

What can Anthroposophical rantings produce in the medical field? As you might expect, conventional drugs are banned — not officially banned, but banned in practice. Patients who believe in Anthroposophical medicine often do not seek treatment, or they treat themselves. Anthroposophical doctors indeed believe in the forces of self-healing, which means disease should not be attacked in the classic sense, intervening to eliminate an illness.

In Anthroposophy, illness is seen as a divine endowment linked to karma [13]. If you fall ill, you should see the disease as a "blessing" that will help you to overcome your sins [14]. Preventing illness from expressing itself hinders the karmic process and increases your risk of having even more serious problems in a future life [15]. For Anthroposophists, continues Grégoire Perra, a disease allows "a form of improvement of one's deep being. The Anthroposophical doctor does not so much seek to cure his patient of his illnesses as to allow him a kind of salvation through the elevation of his soul."

Hence, it is not surprising that vaccination is unpopular in the Anthroposophical community. Officially, Anthroposophical doctors are not completely opposed vaccination, but Grégoire Perra pierces through this facade: "They say they are no longer opposed to vaccination, but in practice I have seen them make false vaccination certificates [16]." By the same logic, antibiotics are also banned, because they would hinder karma, and "as far as possible, surgery should also be avoided". Anthroposophical doctors, however, may practice homeopathy [17]...

Mistletoe to cure cancer

Grégoire Perra suffered from bruxism, a disorder that causes grinding of the teeth during sleep: "I went to see an Anthroposophical dentist, and he told me to massage my calves every night, because teeth are reincarnations of the feet and legs." During his years in Anthrosophy, Grégoire Perra saw all sorts of crazy prescriptions being made. For example, one doctor "told a person suffering from severe depression to eat salads specially crushed with a machine from Germany"... Or another doctor who, in order to treat a child with a severe ear infection, told him to "put fried onions in his ear".

For more serious cases, such as cancer, Anthroposophists have a miracle cure: mistletoe. To be precise, they rely on extracts of fermented white mistletoe that are injected near tumours. Why mistletoe? ... In Anthroposophical belief...the human being has a "physical body" — that's fine — but above that, an "etheric body" associated with the plant kingdom... and also "astral body" associated with the animal kingdom ... And mistletoe is both a vegetable being and an animal being...which is why it would help to fight cancer [18] ... Here we are confronted with full-out occult nonsense...

[T]he problem with this kind of therapy is that it often diverts patients from real treatments. "In addition to" quickly becomes "instead of" ... [S]ays Grégoire Perra: "When they are criticized, Anthroposophical doctors say that they only provide a complement [to conventional medicine]. But with their patients, they may suggest that Anthroposophical treatments can be enough..."

[M]edicine...must follow a rational approach based on solid evidence. The fact that a university offers courses in Anthroposophic medicine causes the line between reason and magical thinking to blur. There is no need for this, especially in the present context, when rational thinking is increasingly under attack from obscurantist delusions.

[1/25/2020    https://charliehebdo.fr/2020/01/sciences/esoterisme-enseigne-fac-strasbourg/    This article originally appeared on January 24. Translated by Roger Rawlings, leaning heavily on DeepL Translator.]

◊ ••• ◊

Footnotes for this Item

[1] Alternative medicine is often dubbed "so-called alternative medicine," a tag that yields the acronym "SCAM". [See, e.g., "2010-2019, a decade in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM)", Skeptics Amalgamated.]

[2] See, e.g., A WALDORF GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S HEALTH (Floris Books, 2018).

[4] I.e., the physical residue produced by a thought. (But here's a thought: What Steiner says here is pure bunk.)

[5] Steiner had great faith in geometry. Thus, for instance: 

 Basic geometric concepts awaken clairvoyant abilities.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOURTH DIMENSION: Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, and Mathematics (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 92.

[6] See, e.g., "Charlie Hebdo".

[7] See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE) — scroll down.

[8] See "What a Guy".

[9] See "Waldorf schools" in the BWSE. Also see, e.g., "He Went to Waldorf".

[11] See "Grégoire Perra". For Perra's life story, see "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".

[12] See "etheric force(s)", "etheric man", "etheric senses", etc., in the BWSE.

[13/ Belief in karma is integral to Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".]

[14] For Steiner's teachings on sin, see "Sin".

[15] Belief in reincarnation is integral to Anthroposophy. [See "Reincarnation".] Steiner taught that if you do not undergo a needed disease in one life, you will need to undergo it — or something similar, possibly worse — in a future life. [See "Steiner's Quackery".]

[16] I.e., when vaccinations are required, Perra alleges, Anthroposophical doctors may refuse to comply. Instead, they may issue false documentation indicating that a patient has been vaccinated when, in fact, s/he has not.

[17] Steiner affirmed homeopathy in some, but by no means all, cases. 

"Many illnesses cannot be cured homeopathically, many must be cured allopathically. Remedies must be prepared differently ... [T]he allopath works principally on the stomach, intestines, kidneys; there he is successful. Homeopathy is successful when the source of the illness is in the head, as in influenza. Many illnesses have their origin in the head." — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC WORKINGS IN EARTH AND MAN (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1952), lecture 2 [https://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0349/19230217p01.html].

In homeopathy, patients are treated with potions that are so extremely diluted that, physically, they are nothing but water. Precious few illnesses — in the head or elsewhere — can be cured with water alone.

Allopathy is essentially conventional medicine, using drugs that counteract a patient's symptoms. But, contrary to Steiner's assertions, allopathic doctors do not focus predominantly on ailments in the "stomach, intestines, kidneys." 

[18] Mistletoe's extraordinary properties may perhaps be attributed to its extraterrestrial origins.

“[M]istletoe does not belong to our earth, it is alien." — Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN (Anthroposophic Press, 1993), p. 99.

— R.R.

"The whole soul configuration of the human being is in the ear. 

In our ears we actually carry with us a tiny human being, 

for the human being has feeling, will and understanding. 

We are made up of lots of tiny human beings."

— BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924, p. 75.

[My sketch of Steiner's sketch, 2013.]

To consider some of the small or inner human beings that

Steiner said dwell within us, see entries in 


for "chest man," "head man," "limb man", etc.

The largest supplier of Anthroposophical medicines and preparations is known as Weleda [see http://www.weleda.com/]. Here's part of a groovy bit of self-description: 

"It all goes back to 1921 and something called anthroposophy. This movement, stemming from the teachings of philosopher [sic] Dr. Rudolf Steiner, encourages the individual to see his or her body, mind and spirit as intrinsically linked to our world ... Steiner, along with Dr. Ita Wegman, got together with a team of dedicated scientists and doctors to determine just how they might use this philosophy to take care of their patients’ needs ... They started by creating one of the world’s first Biodynamic®gardens to grow what they needed. The company’s new name couldn’t have been more appropriate: Weleda, after the Celtic goddess of wisdom and healing." [http://usa.weleda.com/sharing-our-story/our-history.aspx]

We should welcome illness. Illness, indeed, is a blessing. Or so Steiner had led his followers to believe. 

"Here we have a secret karmic connection between illness and further development, for in reality illness is a process of further development. In order that the soul develops the power to form an organ in the way it needs, the unsuitable organ has to be destroyed and rebuilt again by the soul forces ... Strictly speaking all our strength was acquired by the overcoming of obstacles in previous incarnations. Our present capacities are the result of our illnesses in earlier lives ... We become capable of everything that we ourselves have taken through the process of destroying and rebuilding. This has been felt to be true by all those people who, in the various religions, have connected a very exalted being with this process of destroying and rebuilding. In the religious beliefs of the Indians ‘Shiva’ represents the ruling powers that destroy and then restore things to life again." — Rudolf Steiner, THE BEING OF MAN AND HIS FUTURE EVOLUTION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1981), "Illness and Karma", GA 107. 

[R.R. sketch, 2010.]

Anthroposophical ethics, including medical ethics, are nuanced (not to say equivocal). Consider the issue of abortion. Abortion is often considered a matter of moral absolutes: A child has an absolute right to be born, or a woman has an absolute right to control her own body. Steiner said otherwise. Each case must be considered on its own merits, he taught. Just as some people may have the karma to contract fatal diseases, some embryos may have the karma to be aborted. Likewise, some women may have the karma to carry to term, while others may have the karma to undergo abortions. Indeed, according to Steiner, the people running the gravest karmic risks associated with abortions are the doctors who perform the procedures (although, by Steiner's logic, a doctor might have the karma to conduct an abortion...).

"Concerning a question about whether one is interfering with the karmas of mother and child if one saves the mother through an abortion, we can say that one can hardly speak of an intervention in their karmas, since both karmas will be directed into other channels for a short time but will soon be brought back into the right direction by the natural course of events. On the other hand, there is a strong intervention in the karma of the one who does the operation. And he has to ask himself whether he really wants to do something which brings him into karmic connections which would not have existed without the intervention. But questions of this kind depend upon the particular circumstances and cannot be answered in general, like many other things in purely psychological cultural life which constitute an intervention in karma and which can lead to serious and tragic conflicts in life." — Rudolf Steiner and Ita Wegman, COURSE FOR YOUNG DOCTORS (Mercury Press, 1994), first circular letter, answer to question 10.

But how can one learn the karma of an embryo, a pregnant woman, or a doctor? In reality, there is no way, so making case-by-case determinations as stipulated by Steiner is impossible. Anyone who chooses a course of action based on karma is operating out of delusion, not knowledge.

"Take, first of all, man's physical body (red) ... 

This is man's etheric body body (blue); 

this is the human astral body (yellow); 

[and] here we have man's ego [orange]... 

[W]e must be clear about the fact that

 the whole world actually dwells 

in man's physical, etheric, and astral bodies." 

 — Rudolf Steiner, 


(Anthroposophic Press, 1987), pp. 156-157.

[R.R.sketch, 2009, 

based on the sketch in the book.]

"Treatment with modified virus vaccine is effective in the case of diphtheria, because the body is thus given a strong impulse to become active, but it has unfavorable aftereffects. Particularly if a child is treated with vaccine, it will later suffer a hardening of its organization. One therefore must strive actually to replace treatment with vaccine with that of bathing, especially in the case of diphtheria, which is based primarily on the defective activity of the skin. One can see how skin actually must receive special consideration. It is indeed true that diphtheria is more frequent now than in former times. Of course, one must consider centuries, not decades. According to all that is known of earlier ages, however — though many diseases naturally existed then that were much worse; people were afflicted with bubonic plague and cholera — diphtheria was more rare. This is connected with the fact that, in general, the European way of life increasingly leads in a direction in which the skin's activity is no longer supported. Certainly, people who have money bathe a lot, and so forth. The point, however, is what a person bathes in. Here you can see the ill effect of civilization in the fact that bald-headed people are much more numerous today than in former days. The growth of hair is also an outer activity. Just as plants grow from the soil, so the growth of hair is affected from outside. Not enough attention is paid today to the skin's activity. Do not assume that bathing with cold water, as practiced by Englishmen nowadays, has such good effects. What counts is what a person bathes in. Of course, it is also wrong for a person to cause too strong an activity of the skin by superfluous bathing. At any rate, in the case of diphtheria, one must try above all to bring about a proper activity of the skin.

"This is also connected with a factor that affects people's offspring. Take a mother or father whose skin is too sluggish and doesn't slough off easily enough. This is most difficult to determine and takes a very sensitive insight into human peculiarities. The average layman cannot easily judge whether or not a person has callous skin, but some people do possess a much tougher skin than others. This is difficult to determine, because the skin is actually transparent. As it sloughs off, it appears to be colored differently because of what is underneath. Our skin is really transparent. If the father has a skin that is much tougher than it should be, the activity of the bones is also influenced thereby. As you know from what I have recently explained, the production of the blood depends on the activity of the bones. If the father has such callous skin that it reminds you of hippopotamus hide, he will produce white corpuscles that are too weak. This, in turn, influences his sperm, and his children will be weak from the beginning. So, one can say that if the father is a 'hippopotamus,' it is possible for his children to be born with rickets — an English illness — for the children to be born weak and to be susceptible to tuberculosis. This is how these things are related."

 — Rudolf Steiner, HEALTH AND ILLNESS, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1983), lecture 6, GA 348.

"Once I knew a man who had quite an unusual forehead. A Greek forehead is different. In Greek statues we find foreheads that slope backwards. This man actually had a pronounced bulge, and his forebrain was actually pushed out. I am convinced that this man, whose brain was pushed forward so much, possessed a particularly well-formed abdomen and never suffered from diarrhea or constipation ... [H]is powerful, protruding forehead never permitted disorders of the abdomen. You can see from this that a man's forehead is related in a remarkable way to his abdomen."  — Rudolf Steiner, FROM COMETS TO COCAINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000), pp. 150-151. 

[R.R. sketch, 2009, 
based on the sketch on p. 150.]

“Our brain would be a thoroughly unpractical instrument for understanding, if it were to work as physical brain alone. By means of occultism one can get an idea of how the brain would work if it had to depend on itself. In that case a man would be able to think only of what related to the inner requirements of his body. He would think, for example, 'Now I am hungry, now I am thirsty' ... Our brain however is continually infiltrated by the fine etheric streams which flow upwards from the heart. These etheric currents have direct relationship with a delicate and important organ of the brain, the so-called pineal gland. The fine, etheric currents...continually interpenetrate and lave [sic] the pineal gland, making it glow ... By way of our pineal gland, our ethertised blood system reacts directly upon the brain. You will find this subject more fully dealt with, when those lectures appear which I gave in Prague: 'Occult Physiology.'" — Rudolf Steiner, WONDERS OF THE WORLD (Kessinger; facsimile of 1929 edition), pp. 105-106.

[Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005.]

"The way in which healing processes are continuously working downwards in us calls forth a feeling of pleasure in the higher hierarchies [of spiritual beings]. It constitutes the joy of the higher hierarchies in the earthly world. They look down and continually feel illness arising out of what streams upward in man from the earthly, from what remains of the earthly attributes of the substances. And they see that the impulses of forces that work out of the earthly realm, forces that lie in the air that moves all around and so on, are continually active as processes of healing. This arouses satisfaction in the higher hierarchies." — Rudolf Steiner, HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), p. 172.

[R.R. sketch, 2009.] 

"This is altogether a remarkable connection: from the cosmic angle medicine is cosmic poetry. Indeed, many secrets of the world consist in the fact that something that is sick or that leads to sickness at one level is the highest, most perfect, is beautiful at another level." — Rudolf Steiner, BLACKBOARD DRAWINGS 1919-1924 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2003), p. 129. 

Sounds sort of nice, but...

[R. R. sketch, 2009, 
based on Steiner's.] 

“One may now ask, what is to be one’s attitude towards cancer! We have seen how the etheric body is able to develop over-strong forces from itself in some particular organ. The centrifugal forces – that is, the forces that tend outwards into the Cosmos – become too powerful; the astral body and the Ego are too weak to counteract them. Spiritual knowledge now comes to one’s aid. One can now try either to make the astral body stronger, in which case one administers something from the plant kingdom, or one must restrain the etheric body, and in that case one makes use of the animal kingdom.

"Spiritual investigation has led to the adoption of the former course – that which relates to the astral body. In order to cure cancer, the forces of the astral body must be made stronger. And it may now be admitted that the remedy has really been discovered in the plant kingdom…The tree, which is rooted directly in the earth, makes use of the forces which it absorbs from the earth. The mistletoe, growing on the tree, uses what the tree gives it; the tree is, in a sense, the earth for the mistletoe. The mistletoe, therefore, brings about artificially that which, when it is not present, results in the 'swellings' which are due to a hypertrophy of the tree’s etheric organisation. The mistletoe takes away what the tree only gives up when it has too little physical substance, so that its etheric element is excessive. The excess of the etheric passes out of the tree into the mistletoe.

"When the mistletoe is prepared in such a way that this superabundant etheric quality which it has taken from the tree is administered to a person under certain conditions, by injection (and, since we are observing all these facts in a spiritual manner), we gain the following information: that the mistletoe, as an external substance, absorbs what is manifest in the human body as the rampant etheric forces in cancer.” — Rudolf Steiner, “An Outline of Anthroposophical Medical Research: Abridged Report of Two Lectures” (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1924), authorized translation.

“And so, gentlemen, if – for instance – a child is becoming weak in his head – inattentive, hyperactive – he will usually have a corresponding symptom: worms in his intestines. Worms develop easily in the intestines if the head forces are too weak, because the head does not then work down strongly enough into the rest of the body. Worms find no lodging in a human body if the head forces are working down strongly into the intestines. You can see how magnificently the human body is arranged! – everything is related. And if one’s child has worms, one should realize the child has become weak in his head. Also – whoever wants to be a teacher has to know these things – if there are persons who at a later age are weak-minded, one can be sure they have had worms when they were young.

“And so what must one do if one observes this in the child? The simplest remedy is to give him carrots to eat for a while – with his other food, of course; naturally, one couldn’t just feed him on carrots alone. Carrots are the root of the plant. They grow down in the earth and have a large quantity of minerals. They have the forces of the earth in them, and when they are taken into the stomach, they are able to work up through the blood into the head. Only substances rich in minerals are able to reach the head. Substances rich in minerals, root substances, give strength to a human being by way of the head. That is extraordinarily important. It is through carrots that the uppermost parts of the head become strong – which is precisely what the human being needs in order to be inwardly firm and vigorous, not soft.” — Rudolf Steiner, NUTRITION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), pp. 104-105.

"In a human corpse there is a poison known as the virus of dead bodies. But in reality man has around him all the time a corpse that is producing poison. A corpse yields this particular virus and the physical body of a living man yields it too, but in the latter case the ether body, astral body and 'I' are at work. These higher members are occupied all the time with this nascent poison; they absorb it as sustenance. If the corpse did not contain poison the living human being would not, in the real sense, be man. You will realise from this that when a man dies, something must have gone away from him, namely, the super-sensible members of his being. When the super-sensible members have departed, the poison is no longer destroyed; it remains. If, therefore, people were able to think correctly about why corpse-virus arises, they would say: the physical body has always produced this poison; there is no possible reason why it should not do so, for as physical body it is the same, no matter whether the man is dead or alive. But the super-sensible man who needs the poison for sustenance, has departed, and therefore the poison remains. This indicates how the super-sensible man is incorporated in the physical, in the material man. Modern science, however, for lack of proper thinking, cannot grasp it." — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC WORKINGS IN EARTH AND MAN (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co,, 1952), lecture 6, GA 349-352.

bacilli - also see health; medicine

Disease-causing bacteria. 

According to Steiner, they are an Ahrimanic source of illness. [1] “[B]attles [between good and evil spirits] have recurred over and over again, but always on different issues. In the distant past, the crowd of ahrimanic spirits [2] were also cast down from the spiritual worlds into the earthly realm when they had lost such a battle. [3] You see, they would return to the attack again and again. After one of these battles, for example, the crowd of ahrimanic spirits populated the earth with the earthly life-forms which the medical profession now calls bacilli. Everything which has the power to act as a bacillus, everything in which bacilli are involved, is the result of crowds of ahrimanic spirits being cast down from heaven to earth at a time when the dragon [4] had been overcome. In the same way the ahrimanic, mephistophelean [5] way of thinking has spread since the late 1870s as the result of such a victory. [6] Thus we are able to say that tubercular and bacillary diseases come from a similar source as the materialism which has taken hold of human minds. [7]” — R. Steiner, 

THE FALL OF THE SPIRITS OF DARKNESS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008), p. 139

. [8]

[1] Ahriman is an arch-demon, Steiner taught. [See "Ahriman".]


I.e., minions of Ahriman; Ahriman's companion demons.

[3] I.e., at various times, after losing battles with the good gods, Ahrimanic demons have been cast out of the spirit realm down to the physical realm. [See, e.g., "Michael" and the entry for "1879" in this encyclopedia.]

[4] I.e., Ahriman.

[5] Steiner identified Ahriman with the demon Mephistopheles. [See the entry for "Mephistopheles" in this encyclopedia.]

[6] I.e., a victory by the good gods; it was a loss for the Ahrimanic demons. (The victory of the good gods expelled Ahrimanic/Mephistophelean powers from the spirit realm and inflicted them on the physical world. The spread of materialistic thinking was one consequence.)

[7] I.e., bacilli — as embodiments of Ahrimanic evil — cause illness (such as tuberculosis) in the human body as Ahrimanic spiritual influences cause illness (such as materialism) in the human mind.

[8] For more on Rudolf Steiner's medical teachings, see "Steiner's Quackery".

Here are excerpts from the essay "anthroposophic medicine"
at The Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll

Anthroposophic medicine (AM) is medicine that has been infused with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

...One kind of remedy frequently offered by AM is the homeopathic remedy, which is not surprising since classical homeopathy is rooted in vitalism, as is Steiner's philosophy. Like homeopathy, AM also features a highly individualized treatment of each patient. However, since Steiner believed in reincarnation, an AM doctor has to try to figure out "the particular state of soul and spirit" of the patient in regard to its many lives, past, present, and future.

...Steiner believed the model for the human body should be of a 3-part system: we takes things in, we put things out, and some things we keep constant by rhythm...Health is when these systems interact harmoniously. Illness is disharmony and treatment may include not only medicine but also art therapy (painting, modeling, music, singing and creative speech), eurythmy, and counseling. In addition to

...According to Steiner, a human being is "an eternal individuality." Because of the individualized nature of treatment, and for ethical reasons, AM doctors don't do double-blind controlled experiments. The fact that scientific testing of remedies is not done might explain some of the difficulty AM has in conforming to the law.

"Among the best known anthroposophic medicines are the mistletoe preparations for the treatment of cancer (Abnova viscum®, Helixor®, Iscador®, Iscucin®, Visorel®)." [William T. Jarvis,“ Anthroposophical Medicine”, 1997.[ Mistletoe was first proposed as a cancer treatment by Steiner in 1920. Steiner reasoned that since mistletoe is a botanical parasite, it would cure cancer, which he thought of as a parasite on human tissue and organs. However, despite this clever analogy, mistletoe is  listed by the American Cancer Society as a unproven cancer remedy. [Jarvis 1997].

...[A]ccording to Dr. Edzard Ernst, "some studies suggest that serious harm might be caused by mistletoe injections. Rather than suppressing cancer, mistletoe might promote tumour cell growth in some malignancies."

...[A]nthroposophic medicine is even more out of touch with modern, science-based medicine than homeopathy. AM not only thinks that the vital spirit plays a major role in health — a view it shares with homeopathy — but AM also brings into play other metaphysical entities it refers to variously as the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego. AM thinks the soul, the senses, and consciousness are beings that exist independently of the body and that such things as herbs and essential oils can bring these things into harmony with each other and with the physical body. AM is certainly in harmony with Steiner's basic approach to reality, which was to think he had special powers to see directly into occult realities without the bother of tests in experience or replication by others. When you believe you have clairvoyant powers, you don't feel the need to prove your claims the way other scientists do. Steiner approached medicine the same way he approached everything else from astrology to Atlantis to education to farming to metaphysics: He dictated his visions. Why anyone considers him a scientist is a great mystery. His notion of science as involving the explanation of how immaterial entities affect material entities is the very opposite of science.

For an exploration of karma,

please use this link: "Karma"

For Steiner's view on abnormality, 

please use this link: "Abnormal".

Quotations there also bear on quack medicine,

human freedom, the central position 

of humans in the cosmos,

and the temperaments of nations.

The following is excerpted from

"The Deadly Perils of Rejected Knowledge"

by Thomas R. DeGregori

at the American Council on Science and Health


To some, beliefs about alternative therapies may seem harmless, but there was a recent case in Germany in which two homeopathic doctors who opposed the MMR vaccine were reportedly responsible for a measles epidemic involving over 700 children, thirty of whom were hospitalized. There is fear that the rising infection rate could result in children dying needlessly.

A story in the London Times (March 6, 2002) by Alan Hall traces these practices to the Waldorf School, "which actively encourages people not to have their children vaccinated. Now we have an epidemic."

...In the United States, a Waldorf School is among those schools in Boulder, Colorado where children are not receiving their pertussis and other immunization — with fatal consequences both for those children and their younger siblings who have not yet been vaccinated. 

arents with infants who have not yet received their full complement of vaccinations might be wise to inquire of their New Age/alternative medicine friends whether their children have been immunized before allowing them to come over and visit.

The following is excerpted from 

"WHO's Strategy on Traditional and Complementary Medicine"

by T. P. C. Dorlo, W. Betz, and C. N. M. Renckens


(May/June, 2015).

[I]t remains unclear what unproven alternative therapies such as homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine, essentially "quack" therapies that have been widely criticized, can add to regular medicine. In well-designed randomized clinical trials, the efficacy of CM [complementary medicine] therapies could not be established. More importantly, their underlying theories are incompatible with current scientific ideas at large, and thus there is no rationale for these therapies. They are not always harmless; at best they only delay any effective treatment and leave the patient with an absurd concept of pathophysiology and disease ... The anti-vaccination attitude among homeopaths, anthroposophists, and chiropractors points [to the ineffectiveness of CM in preventing disease and preserving health]. If any "complementary" therapy would be effective and exhibit therapeutic value, by the rules of evidence-based medicine, it would of course have been incorporated into regular medicine and the prefix "complementary" would no longer be adequate. 

Shots Summary: 

The Anthropop View: 

Natural things (including naturally occurring childhood diseases) are good or potentially good, 
whereas unnatural things (especially products of technology, such as vaccines) are bad or potentially bad.

Vaccination may interfere with karma, which can be a serious mistake. 
(It may prevent you have having a disease you need to undergo in order to discharge your karma.)

Vaccination will harm you if it is not supplemented by spiritual instruction (i.e., Anthroposophical indoctrination).* 

Vaccination will harm you severely if it is the sort of vaccine created by black magicians (in which case it will destroy your soul).

* Thus, Steiner’s teachings on these matters become a form of Anthroposophical recruitment.

The following item from the Waldorf Watch News
contains references to additional Anthroposophical
"medical" practices.

November 1, 2020


Rudolf Steiner's followers — that is to say, Anthroposophists [1] — believe that Waldorf education virtually ensures the health of its students [2]. Anthroposophists believe that students in Waldorf schools dwell within a protective, life-enhancing matrix of esoteric practices that promote the children's proper incarnation and development [3]. This is what Rudolf Steiner indicated, and Steiner's followers take his word for it.

The purportedly healthful practices found in Waldorf schools derive chiefly from Anthroposophical medicine — preventive and curative processes based on Rudolf Steiner's occult teachings [4]. The problem, however, is that Anthroposophical medicine often diverges far from established, fact-based medical procedures [5]. The value of Anthroposophical treatments for various abnormalities and illnesses is, to put the matter mildly, open to dispute.

A recent article in the French edition of Slate brings many of these issues to the fore in its discussion of the Anthroposophical approach to autism. Here are excerpts and a slew of explanatory footnotes:

Steiner's pedagogy [6] and Anthroposophy, 
an esoteric and dangerous vision of autism

[By] Laure Dasinieres

The so-called remedies are not only ineffective but also have side effects.
[Michał Parzuchowski via Unsplash]

...Out of most people's view, Steiner's pedagogy gives a distorted and esoteric vision of autism, and it promotes treatments that are as useless as they are harmful.

According to Anthroposophical doctor Michael Allen, "Autism can be seen as an atypical process of incarnation ... The ego [7] does not sufficiently engage the lower parts of the body (the metabolism) ... The disturbed relationship of the ego results in a weakened etheric current [8] in the lower constitution, blocking a healthy relationship with the forces of the soul [9]. Thus, thought, feeling and will cannot be brought together."

Grégoire Perra, a former Anthroposophist and now one of the main critics of Anthroposophy in France [10], deciphers this nebulous discourse for us: "For Anthroposophists, autism can have several causes. Primarily, the condition results from an individual's karma [11]: The child was not able to incarnate completely. Therefore, the three poles of the human being (thought, feeling, will [12]) are not properly united. So the ego could not properly take possession of the body at birth."

Anthroposophists believe this faulty incarnation expresses itself organically: The child's brain continues to grow and tends to become too large, inducing deformations [13]...

But, why would these children...become autistic?

Alleged social causes

...According to traditional Anthroposophy, the child may have chosen to incarnate in autistic form to compensate for an error committed in a previous life [14] ... By "choosing" to be autistic, the child would then discharge a karmic debt [15]...

With regard to causes arising from life prior to birth, Grégoire Perra points out: "Anthroposophists consider that on the 15th day after conception, Lucifer and Ahriman [16] can enter the embryo and introduce hereditary defects linked to the original fault."

Another cause of autism, also of a karmic nature (i.e. wanted by the gods [17]), is external to the child. This may include damage to the brain or bowel during pregnancy or, later, vaccinations [18]. "Vaccines...block the child's mechanisms of consciousness," says Emmanuel Guizzo [an Anthroposophically inspired osteopath]...

This brings us to the so-called social causes of autism. Michael Allen sees autistic people as the "sacrificial mirrors" of our societies [19] ... The materialism of our times distracts us from our spiritual development ... He draws a parallel with autistic people who are, in his view, "disabled in a way that impedes their spiritual development." He goes on: "This is a sign of our times. The purpose of autism is to balance this excessive materialism. In this way, autism can be seen as both the result and the remedy of excessive materialism [20]."

An unfavorable practice

Given these multiple causes, how does Anthroposophic medicine propose to treat autistic children? For those who are cared for in the city, the presumed remedy...is provided by the so-called traditional Anthroposophical pharmacopoeia: algae medication [21], baths [22], injectable or drinkable arsenic solutions [23], and homeopathy [24]. All this is obviously without proven efficacy and carries the danger not only of side effects, but also of delaying genuine medical treatment...

We should be even more worried about the fate of children placed in institutes of curative education [25] or centers belonging to the Camphill movement [26]. Young patients there are constantly exposed to Anthroposophical doctrine. In addition to treatment with medicaments, eurythmy — a kind of esoteric dance or "movement art" [27] — is employed as an art therapy...

According to Steiner, eurythmy "strengthens the soul by bringing it alive to the spirit realm." There are also manual activities [28], recitations intended to structure time [29], and Bothmer gymnastics [30]: "This is a kind of exercise with falls, jumps, and figures supposed to remind the practitioner of his incarnation or his excarnation to prepare him for death," explains Gregoire Perra.

Children also have to attend Anthroposophical services [31] and meetings: "It doesn't matter if they don't understand, the idea is to address their spirit-self [32]. Hearing Anthroposophy, the words would enter into communion with their astral body [33] and enable them to heal themselves in a future life." Gregoire Perra is particularly concerned about the experience of these children in these centers: "There is little or no qualified medical supervision. There is no psychological care, there is no doctor on site. We know that there have been accidents and casualties [34]."

In 2015, the report to the [French] Prime Minister from the Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Aberrations (MIVILUDES [35]) identified Steiner pedagogy as one of the practices the Mission should address, and it indicated in a footnote that Steiner pedagogy shares beliefs in astrology [36] and esotericism [37] with the New Age movement [38].

The 2017 report of the same Mission added: "With regard to schools, the connection to the philosophy of the founder [i.e., Steiner] is not always made clear, and not all parents who enroll their child in a school comprehend all the theoretical foundations that are are implicit in the teaching provided."

Today, however, institutes of curative education and Camphill communities remain off the radar.

[11/1/2020   http://www.slate.fr/story/196546/pedagogie-steiner-anthroposophie-dangereuse-enfants-autisme-mouvement-camphill    This article originally appeared on October 30. Translation by Roger Rawlings, leaning heavily of DeeplL Translator and Google Translate.]

Footnotes for this Item 

[1] See "Anthroposophy" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE) — scroll down to this entry.

[2] See, e.g., EDUCATION AS PREVENTIVE MEDICINE by Waldorf physician Michaela Glöckler (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2002).

[3] For an overview of human incarnation, including the invisible bodies that Anthroposophists believe incarnate during childhood, see "Incarnation".

[4] Steiner identified himself as an occultist — that is, one who possesses hidden (mysterious, occult) knowledge. [See "Occultism".]

[6] That is, the teaching methods and philosophy propounded by Steiner. These are found primarily in Waldorf schools, otherwise known as Steiner schools.

[7] According to Anthroposophy, the "ego" is a spiritual member. A spark of divinity, it makes us truly human. [See "Ego".]

[8] See "etheric force(s)" in the BWSE — scroll down.

[9] Steiner taught that fully incarnated human beings have both souls (ethereal identities that change with each incarnation) and spirits (transcendent identities that are carried through all the lives an individual undergoes, alternating between the spirit realm and the physical realm).

[10] Perra was educated in Waldorf schools and later became a Waldorf teacher. Eventually he broke away, becoming a critic of both Waldorf education and Anthroposophy. [See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".]

[11] Belief in karma is fundamental to Anthroposophy. [See "Karma".]

[12] See the entry for "thinking-feeling-willing" in the BWSE.

[13] Steiner drew a crucial distinction between various "constitutional types" of children based on the size of the children's heads. [See "constitutional types" in the BWSE.]

[14] Closely tied to Anthroposophical belief in karma is belief in reincarnation. [See "Reincarnation".]

[15] I.e., if one has made errors during one life, s/he must pay or compensate for these errors in the next life.

[16] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, Lucifer and Ahriman are two arch-demons. [See "Lucifer" and "Ahriman".]

[17] Anthroposophy recognizes a great many gods. [See "Polytheism".]

[18] Steiner did not completely oppose vaccination as a preventative measure, but he discouraged it in most cases. Today, there is often a strong but unofficial anti-vaccine culture in and around Waldorf schools. [See "vaccination" in the BWSE.]

[19] I.e., autists reflect the faults of society as a whole, and their condition serves as a "sacrifice" which they make in order to promote the eventual rectification of society.

[20] I.e., autism — as a sacrifice — will help cure society of its materialism. (Autism may be seen as the payment of a karmic debt on behalf of the entire materialistic modern world.)

[21] E.g., "Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in northern latitudes, frequently with aggravation from cold and wet conditions. Light and warmth ameliorate the symptoms, indicating the ether qualities which these patients need. Algae in the cold waters of those regions have a good alpha linolenic acid content which relates very much to the warmth ether and are like a counter agent. Fish feeding on the algae are able to increase the degree of warmth and hence also the number of double bonds in their metabolism, thus producing substances that have therapeutic significance for rheumatic 'diseases of coldness.'" — Anthroposophical doctor Roman Huber, "Dietary aspects to the treatment of autoimmune diseases", DER MERKURSTAB, 2005, p. 30.

[22] These are usually mineral baths or immersions in other waters mixed with "curative" chemicals. E.g., "Anthroposophic medicine offers a variety of treatments, among others the oil-dispersion bath, developed in the 1930s by Werner Junge. Based on the phenomenon that oil and water do not mix and on recommendations of Rudolf Steiner, Junge developed a vortex mechanism which churns water and essential oils into a fine mist. The oil-covered droplets empty into a tub, where the patient immerses for 15–30 minutes." — Arndt Büssing, Dirk Cysarz, et al, "The oil-dispersion bath in anthroposophic medicine – an integrative review", PMC, US National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2008.

[23] E.g., "Our chief concern must be to see that the astral body receives the right form and configuration that will enable it to fit itself into the ether and physical bodies in a harmonious manner. To achieve this end, we always give arsenic baths — that is, we use arsenic externally; and occasionally we administer arsenic internally as well. The treatment has the effect of harmonising the relationships of astral body, ether body and physical body. Then, to ensure that the externally administered arsenic shall really strike home, we reinforce it by applying mustard compresses to the feet before and after the bath, using also grated horse-radish for this purpose." — Rudolf Steiner, CURATIVE EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), lecture 9, GA 317.

[24] Homeopathy is the practice of treating diseases by administering tiny doses of substances that could cause those diseases. Anthroposophical medicine includes homeopathic treatments. [See "Steiner's Quackery".] Today, homeopathy is generally dismissed as ineffective at best, dangerous at worst.

[25] These are Anthroposophical institutions that attempt to use intensified versions of Waldorf educational practices in order to cure illnesses.

[26] These are Anthroposophical residential communities where efforts are often made to treat individuals who exhibit various disabilities.

[27] See "Eurythmy".

[28] As at Waldorf schools, such activities generally include knitting, crocheting, woodworking, and other handcrafts. Steiner taught that manual activities like these have curative effects. Concerning knitting and crocheting, for instance, he said “Go into our needlework classes and handicraft classes at the Waldorf School, and you will find the boys knit and crochet as well as the girls ... This is not the result of any fad or whim, but happens deliberately in order to...permeate the fingers with soul. And to drive the soul into the fingers means to promote all the forces that go to build up sound teeth.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), p. 10.

[29] These are often prayers or meditations written by Steiner. [See "Prayers" and "Power Words".] They presumably "structure time" by reorienting participants from ordinary existence to a focus on the eternal.

[30] Named for originator Graf von Bothmer, an Anthroposophist, Bothmer gymnastics is a non-athletic form of movement in which the practitioners "experience" the space around them. "Bothmer Gymnastics is intended to foster balance, not just physical balance but mental and spiritual balance too. It's sometimes associated with the phrase 'spatial dynamics' as it aims to help older children (and adults) explore the relationship between their body and its position in space." [http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=93199] As employed in Waldorf schools, such gymnastics are related to the practice of eurythmy. The distinction between these two disciplines is sometimes indistinct, but in general Bothmer gymnastics is a form of physical education (PE) whereas eurythmy is a form of art.

[31] These are often essentially Anthroposophical religious observances. [For the nature of such services, see, e.g., "Waldorf Worship".]

[32] Steiner taught that a completely incarnated human being has a physical nature, a soul nature, and a spirit nature. The spirit-self (or spirit self) is the first division of our spirit nature. [See "spirit self" in the BWSE.]

[33] According to Steiner, various invisible bodies incarnate during, or at the end of, childhood. The astral body is the second of these invisible bodies. [See "astral body" in the BWSE].

[34] For Perra's own experiences at a Camphill community, see the section "Camphill Summer" in the essay "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".

[35] "The MIVILUDES (a French acronym for Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires, i.e. Interministerial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Sectarian Aberrations) is a French government agency, created by Presidential decree in 2002. It is charged with observing and analyzing the phenomenon of sectarian movements (cults), coordinating the government response, informing the public about the risks arising from sectarian aberrations and facilitating the implementation of actions to aid the victims." — "MIVILUDES", WIKIPEDIA, accessed Nov. 1, 2020 [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIVILUDES].

[36] See "Astrology" and "Star Power".

[37] See "esoteric, esotericism" in the BWSE.

[38] "[The] New Age movement...spread through the occult and metaphysical religious communities in the 1970s and ʾ80s. It looked forward to a 'New Age' of love and light and offered a foretaste of the coming era through personal transformation and healing. The movement’s strongest supporters were followers of modern esotericism, a religious perspective that is based on the acquisition of mystical knowledge and that has been popular in the West since the 2nd century AD, especially in the form of Gnosticism. Ancient Gnosticism was succeeded by various esoteric movements through the centuries, including Rosicrucianism in the 17th century and Freemasonry, theosophy, and ritual magic in the 19th and 20th centuries." — "New Age movement", ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, accessed Nov. 1, 2020 [https://www.britannica.com/topic/New-Age-movement]. The BRITANNICA locates the origins of the New Age movement in Theosophy. Anthroposophy is a direct outgrowth of Theosophy. [See "Basics".]

— R.R.

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.



Steiner unconsciously making a fool of himself, over and over


Human nature as conceived by Steiner and acted upon in Waldorf schools


Macrocosms, microcosms, and fallacies

The Waldorf view of the natural world

Quack agriculture: astrology and magic

What's what, clearly

The quality of Steiner’s thoughts

Bizarre ideas about the universe: Vulcan, the Zodiac, Mars, etc.


Waldorf escapism

The formatting at Waldorf Watch aims for visual variety, 
seeking to ease the process of reading lengthy texts on a computer screen. 

Some illustrations on the various pages here at Waldorf Watch 
are closely connected to the contents of those pages; 
others are not — they provide general context. 

Because website postings are subject to change,

I should state that I visited most of the sites mentioned here during the first half of February, 2007.

As of early in October, 2008, all still seemed to be online.

[R.R., 2017.]