◊ “Now, if we are working as teachers 
— as artists in education — 
on human beings, we must enter into relation 
with their supersensible [i.e., supernatural], 
creative principle...the supersensible [soul] 
that lives in the human being’s self. 
The anthroposophical method of research 
[exact clairvoyance] makes this possible 
and so provides the basis for 
an art of teaching and education."
◊ "Not every Waldorf teacher 
has the gift of clairvoyance, 
but every one of them 
has accepted wholeheartedly 
and with full understanding 
the results of spiritual-scientific investigation 
[i.e., the use of exact clairvoyance]. 
And each Waldorf teacher applies 
this knowledge with heart and soul...."

◊ “[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, 
the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, 
if I may so express it. This is only possible, 
however, when in the field of education 
we come to an actual experience 
of the spiritual." 
— Rudolf Steiner


The Waldorf Method,
The Anthroposophical Method:
Exact Clairvoyance

Amazing as it may seem, many Waldorf teachers think they need to be clairvoyant — or, at a minimum, they need to accept the guidance of self-designated clairvoyants — in order to succeed as educators. Even more amazing: Many Waldorf teachers think they are clairvoyant. 

If Waldorf faculty members want to believe in clairvoyance, it’s their own affair, of course. Except for one thing: They have a significant degree of control over the children who are sent to them for an education. Can delusional individuals be good teachers? Do you want them to “educate” your child?

If you are unsure whether clairvoyance is possible, see "Clairvoyance". In sum, no, clairvoyance is not possible. No one is clairvoyant. People who think they are clairvoyant are deceiving themselves. The question is whether we should allow them to deceive us.

The following sections of this page consist of words spoken and written by Anthroposophists and Waldorf educators — primarily Rudolf Steiner himself — on the subject of clairvoyance. Some of these statements deal specifically with the use of clairvoyance by Waldorf teachers. Others include statements made to Waldorf teachers about clairvoyance, statements the teachers evidently accepted without qualm. (Note the titles of the books quoted; they include THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION, and so on. Many of these books come from the series called "Foundations of Waldorf Education" put out by the Anthroposophic Press.)

Clairvoyance is not absolutely necessary to begin a career as a Waldorf teacher, Steiner said. But it is the goal. You can become a really good Waldorf teacher only if you follow the Waldorf method: which means seeking "exact clairvoyance" — the modern, precise form of clairvoyance that Steiner claimed to possess and that he said his adherents could attain by following his instructions. [See "Exactly" and "Knowing the Worlds".]

Please read the epigraphs, above, and then read through as many of the following quotations as you can bear. The epigraphs come from passages that I present in full later on this page. (When you can't bear any more, please skip ahead to the little passage about gullibility: "Just how gullible are Steiner's followers?")

“[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, if I may so express it. This is only possible, however, when in the field of education we come to an actual experience of the spiritual. Such an experience of the spiritual is difficult to attain for modern humanity. We must realize that we really need something quite specific, something that is hardly present anywhere else in the world, if we are to be capable of mastering the task of the Waldorf school ... [We need] what humanity has lost in this respect, has lost just in the last three or four centuries. It is this that we must find again.” — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p. 21. 

Steiner taught that modern people do not have the natural clairvoyance possessed by the ancients, and thus we no longer have easy, direct experience of the spirit realm. But he added that by following his directions we can attain a new, higher form of clairvoyance — and here he explicitly tells Waldorf teachers that they should do so.

Steiner's followers generally accept the propositions that clairvoyance is possible and indeed clairvoyance was, in olden times, ubiquitous. Common clairvoyance died out when the modern, materialistic age took hold — or so Steiner told them.

"European influence spread around the world and fathered the present materialistic culture. Through these successive civilizations we can trace a change of consciousness. In the older cultures men had a certain clairvoyant vision [which has since been lost]." — Waldorf educator Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, The Waldorf School Approach (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 65.

"Rudolf Steiner...shows the stages of humanity in the course of the history of civilizations, passing from [ancient] 'dream-like clairvoyant' visions to a [modern] conscious perception of the surrounding world." — Michaela Strauss, UNDERSTANDING CHILDREN'S DRAWINGS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2007), p. 18.

Steiner repeatedly stressed that Waldorf teachers need a vibrant, inner, spiritual life.

“[W]e must realize, my dear friends, that we should neglect no single opportunity of quickening the inner life of soul and spirit. Otherwise, we cannot teach.” — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p.17. 

Direct experience of the spirit realm — attainable only through exact clairvoyance or the Waldorf teacher's consciousness, producing a "quickening of the inner life of soul and spirit" — is required. "Otherwise, we cannot teach."

How can the necessary inner life and wisdom be attained? What is the key to spiritual and educational excellence?

"[P]hilosophy does not suffice, only pedagogical principles and methods do: exact clairvoyance." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 208. [1]

Long after he died, Steiner's followers continue to accept his teachings about clairvoyance, just as they accept his claim that he himself was clairvoyant.

"Modern exact clairvoyance, as developed by him [i.e., Rudolf Steiner], reveals spiritual facts to spiritual vision as clearly as men's ordinary senses reveal to the intellect the facts of the physical world.” — Floyd McKnight, RUDOLF STEINER AND ANTHROPOSOPHY (Anthroposophical Society in America, 1977), p. 4.

“How do we educate the child in accordance with principles that ask us to honor and work with the soul and spiritual nature of the youngster? Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? Clairvoyance is needed, but at first we need only the 'clairvoyant' faculties that we are already using without being aware that we possess them. For example, a mother can always tell when her child is not feeling well; with some experience, she can usually tell in what way the child is not feeling well. This faculty I would term 'care-voyance' ... And every teacher knows the 'glow' radiated by a child who is healthy and, as we say, 'full of life.' The teacher’s faculty I would term 'aware-voyance,' since it does not arise as naturally as its equivalent faculty in the mother, but must be cultivated and brought to a stage of conscious awareness on the part of the teacher. All of these judgments are based on perceptions of activities of the child’s etheric body [one of the three invisible bodies Waldorf teachers believe in], whether we know it or not.” — Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz, THE MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), pp. 157-158. [2]

"Clairvoyance is needed," Schwartz says. He then tries to differentiate between various types of clairvoyance. But the essence of his statement is simple and plain: "Clairvoyance is needed."

“We live in a material world, the world to which our physical body belongs and the world which provides for our physical needs. But the material world is only a part of reality just as the physical body is only a part of the whole human being. The other part is the spiritual world, inhabited by higher beings and by human souls after leaving and before entering the physical plane. For the most part modern man has no direct contact with this other world but in the past it was not so. Ages ago the human being could perceive spiritual worlds and we refer to this faculty here as spiritual vision. (The term 'clairvoyance' could be used but as this is connected with the dubious practices of so-called spiritualism we avoid it.) Spiritual vision must be understood as a general term to cover perception of the spiritual world, e.g. to include spiritual hearing.” — Waldorf educator Roy Wilkinson, RUDOLF STEINER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2001), p. 67. [3]

“Reference has been made throughout this book to what has been variously termed spiritual perception, enhanced consciousness or knowledge of higher worlds [i.e., clairvoyance]. There follows a short summary here on the path which can be taken to attain such experience ... [T]his is the same path that should be followed by every teacher who takes his vocation seriously." — Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, The Waldorf School Approach, p. 115.

Belief in clairvoyance is widespread among Waldorf faculties, and at least some Waldorf teachers are prepared to spread this belief to their students. (Here Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson unhesitatingly uses the word he shied from, above: "clairvoyance.")

"The History curriculum for fifth and sixth grades in a Waldorf school follows the thread of development of cultures through Ancient India, Persia, Egypt and Chaldea, Greece, and Rome. This provides a picture of the changing human consciousness from ancient clairvoyance to the loss of spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance]...." — Roy Wilkinson, TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2000).

Some of the beliefs embraced by Anthroposophists are almost impossible for rational people to take seriously. When reading the following, bear in mind that the author is an eminent Waldorf educator whose book is intended to explain the spiritual underpinnings of Waldorf schools. The author describes four types of beings who appear in fairy tales; so far, so good. But he then makes clear that Anthroposophists believe such beings really exist and can be seen with clairvoyance or "spiritual vision": 

"Although there may be fairies or nature spirits assigned to this or that special feature using a variety of names, the usual classification is to consider four types, corresponding to the four elements — earth, water, air and fire. The names of the spirits are gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders. To be aware of them, the special faculty of spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance] is necessary; otherwise we must accept the information given to us by one who has this faculty." — Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION, The Waldorf School Approachp. 90. [See "Neutered Nature".]

We have already seen most of the major points that should be grasped. Steiner and his followers believe in clairvoyance. They claim to employ a special, precise form of clairvoyance: exact clairvoyance. Those who do not have clairvoyance are expected to accept the "clairvoyant" reports given to them by those who claim to possess it. Steiner taught that mankind used to possess an innate, simple form of clairvoyance that has subsequently faded away. Today, special training is usually needed to become truly clairvoyant. This is a central goal of Anthroposophy, and pursuit of this goal is embedded in Waldorf schooling. Waldorf teachers think they are clairvoyant or should be, and they seek to guide their students using the findings of clairvoyance. Indeed, in stressing imagination and related "faculties," Waldorf teachers seek to stimulate clairvoyant powers in the students. 

This is the crux of Waldorf schooling, and it explains why arts (painting, music, etc.) are emphasized in Waldorf schools: The arts are meant to imaginatively/clairvoyantly pierce the veil between the physical and spiritual realms. Bear in mind that such words as "imagination" have uncommon meanings for Anthroposophists. Steiner taught that imagination is the first level of spiritual insight; it is a serious faculty, not mere whimsy or fancy. [See "Magical Arts". If you need help disentangling Anthroposophical jargon, see The Semi-Steiner Dictionary.]

Likewise, Waldorf schools coddle young students, keeping them as young as possible for as long as possible, because Waldorf teachers generally believe that young children are born with a form of the ancient clairvoyance that Steiner said all humans once possessed. Thus, young children have a special tie to the spirit realm that should be preserved as long as may be. 

“Childhood is commonly regarded as a time of steadily expanding consciousness ... Yet in Steiner’s view, the very opposite is the case: childhood is a time of contracting consciousness.... [The child] loses his dream-like perception of the creative world of spiritual powers ... This awareness fades quickly in early childhood, but fragments of it live on in the child for a much longer time than most people imagine ... [I]n a Waldorf school, therefore, one of the tasks of the teachers is to keep the children young." — Waldorf educator A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16. [See "Thinking Cap".]

The following quotations will expand on and clarify the points I have sketched just now.

Waldorf education is rooted in delusion, and delusions manifest themselves everywhere within it. As you read the following quotation — a statement Steiner made to Waldorf faculty members — bear in mind that as far as we know no teacher stood and cried "This is insane! Let me out of here!" No, the teachers obediently took in this priceless pearl of occult wisdom: 

“The feelings, passions, and emotions of people pass with them into sleep, but once they are there, those feelings have the appearance of plants. What we have invisible within the soul, our hidden qualities — flirtatiousness, for example — become visible in plants. We don’t see this in a person who is awake, but it can be observed clairvoyantly in people who are sleeping. Flirtation, for example, looks like a carnation. A flirt continually produces carnations from the nose! A tedious, boring person produces gigantic leaves from the whole body, if you could see them.” — Rudolf Steiner, DISCUSSIONS WITH TEACHERS (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 128. 

The following collection of additional quotations is long. To ease your passage through it, I have placed certain key terms in bold type. Read as many of the quotations as you choose, then please scroll down the page to the concluding material.

"You know that the human being does not consist of only the physical body; the human being also consists of an etheric body, which forms the basis of the physical and has a similar shape, and an astral body, which for the clairvoyant appears similar to a cloud, and in which the first two bodies are embedded." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 42.

"The spiritual investigator’s research is not based on speculation, but on what is discovered through the higher sense of clairvoyant sight. This reveals the ether body as the second member of a person’s being." — Rudolf Steiner, THE EDUCATION OF THE CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 51-52.

"I would never intend to try to make people into clairvoyants. We should only inform them about the clairvoyant path so that they understand how it is possible to arrive at those truths." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 54.

"You must have no illusion. It is easy to criticize. You do not need to avoid criticizing, but you should allow the criticism to result in something positive. It is important to use these things we learn clairvoyantly to illuminate these things that approach us from outside." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 591.

"The ether body cannot be understood intellectually, but only through the imagery of intuitive perception. [5] It would have great significance if teachers could come to understand the ether body. One should not use the excuse that teachers cannot all be expected to develop clairvoyance to describe the ether body." — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 94.

“The method applied in Dornach [at the Anthroposophical Society headquarters, the Goetheanum] can be designated as 'exact clairvoyance.' It is not clairvoyance in the usual sense. What we understand by such clairvoyance does not arise pathologically from unknown depths of human nature but is developed and applied with scientific conscientiousness — a conscientiousness no less disciplined than what a scientist of external nature must cultivate in his or her scientific thought. To attain such 'exact clairvoyance' and exercise it demands no less application of the human soul than is demanded of a mathematician or a practicing natural scientist. It is a clairvoyance that we apply consciously in matters of everyday life, a clairvoyance that awakens genuine faculties of knowledge and perception in the human soul. By these faculties, one becomes able to see beyond the things of the external world that have set their stamp on the civilization of the last three or four centuries. One becomes able to perceive the supersensible reality underlying the whole universe, all creation, and, above all, human nature.

“Acquiring this kind of exact clairvoyance by a strictly methodical process, we become able to recognize and know what lives within us as a spiritual, supersensible reality between birth and death. When we are born into the world as little children, we appear to be only a physical organism. In reality — modern science might dispute it but this can become an absolute certainty by means of exact clairvoyance — a supersensible organism permeates the physical organism. It is an organism of forces. I have called it in my writings the 'organism of formative forces.' It consists simply of a configuration of forces — forces, however, that work inwardly.

“This is the first supersensible reality to be seen and observed through exact clairvoyance. It is in no way connected with the old, unscientific concept of a life or vital force. Rather, it is something that enters the sphere of supersensible perception with the same clarity as colors and sounds do within the sphere of the ordinary sense perceptions of seeing and hearing. 

Exact clairvoyance of the organism of formative forces is, however, only the first stage in supersensible cognition attained by a person who sees the supersensible inner human being at work in the physical organism between birth and death. A further stage leads to perception of the supersensible member of the human being that is present before the person descends from the spiritual world to unite with a physical body through birth. This is the supersensible human organism that passes again into the spiritual world at death, when the physical body and the body of formative forces, named above, both succumb to decay. 

“By the power of such spiritual seership, exact clairvoyance unites what otherwise is taken purely intellectually with a view of what is spiritual or supersensible in human beings. That is to say, it unites science and religion. On the other hand, it is also able to give a new impulse to the artistic element in life. For we cannot without it explain, in terms of such ordinary natural laws as we are accustomed to use in our treatment of external nature, the manner in which the supersensible organism — the body of formative forces — works on human beings between birth and death. This must be grasped and understood artistically. It is only by clairvoyantly raising the customary method of science to an artistic perception of the world that we can grasp how the forces that a person brings to earth and takes up into the spiritual world again organize him or her from birth until death. 

“Now, if we are working as teachers — as artists in education — on human beings, we must enter into relation with their supersensible, creative principle. For it is upon this principle that the teacher and educator works. External works of art can be created by fantasy and imagination. But, as an educator, one can be an artist only if one is able to enter into connection with the supersensible creative element, the supersensible that lives in the human being’s self. The anthroposophical method of research [clairvoyance] makes this possible and so provides the basis for an art of teaching and education. 

“If we imagine a sculptor working at a figure that, when it is finished, comes to life and walks away, we can understand why the artist will count on his creation remaining as he or she leaves it. But, as parents and teachers, we are working on a child who not only lives on but grows and continues to evolve. When educators have completed their work upon the child, they are in the position of an artist whose work continues to evolve. For this, philosophy does not suffice, only pedagogical principles and methods do: exact clairvoyance. I would like to sum up in a picture how we must work in such artistic education — for artistic education is, finally, the great principle of our Waldorf method. We know that a child’s head, arms and legs continue growing and developing. The whole organism develops. Likewise, we must realize that the child before us is only in a childlike stage and that whatever we bring to the child — all that a child acquires through our education — goes on growing with the child throughout its life. 

“Waldorf education, which we at the Goetheanum are endeavoring to cultivate and carry into the world, sows in the child something that can grow and thrive from early childhood into old age. There are men and women who have a wonderful power in old age; they need only speak and the very tone of their voices, the inner quality of their speech, works as a blessing. Why, we might ask ourselves, can some people raise their hands and have an influence of real blessing? Our educational insight tells us that only those can do so who in childhood have learned to pray, to look up in reverence to another human being. To sum it up in one sentence, we can say that all children who rightly learn to fold their hands in prayer will be able to lift their hands in blessing in old age. 

“I would now like to speak about how we are trying to find the right pedagogy and educational practice. 

“Human life gives rise to many illusions. When speaking of the tasks of education, the greatest illusions are possible. We can proclaim wonderfully transparent ideals of education that appeal to heart and mind. We can even exercise persuasion with them — at first. But, in the real life of teaching and educating, something altogether different is needed from this faculty of knowing intellectually, or even in the goodwill of our hearts, what we wish to develop in the human beings we are educating. Imagine, for example, a teacher whose talents are not above average — for not every teacher can be a genius — and who must educate a child who will afterward become a genius. Very little of what such a teacher conceives as his or her ideals can be instilled into such a child. But a method of education founded on exact clairvoyance knows that there is an inmost core in the inner life of human beings and that the teacher or educator must simply prepare and smooth the way for this individual core. This inmost individuality always educates itself, through what it perceives in its surroundings, through what it receives by sympathy from life and from the situation into which life places it. Teachers and educators can work into this innermost individual core of the child only indirectly. What they must do is form and educate a child’s bodily and soul life in such a way that, by the very nature of the education they provide, the growing child meets the minimum of hindrances and obstacles from the teacher’s bodily nature, temperament, and emotional life." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 205-209.

“I speak here from the anthroposophical view of the world. This view I believe, does contain the great ideals of humanity. Perhaps, therefore, I may mention at this point a significant experience that explains fully — by means of ‘artistic seership’ — something that was first known through feeling. I have already had occasion to speak about the way in which ‘exact clairvoyance’ is being cultivated at the Goetheanum, the school of spiritual science in Dornach, Switzerland. I have described the paths to this exact clairvoyance in the books translated into English as HOW TO KNOW HIGHER WORLDS, THEOSOPHY, and AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE. By means of certain exercises, carried out no less precisely than in the learning of mathematics, we can strengthen our soul faculties. Gradually, we can so develop our powers of thought, feeling, and will that we are able to live with our souls consciously — not in the unconsciousness of sleep or in dreams — outside the body. We become able to leave behind the physical body with its intellectualistic thought — for this remains with the physical body — in full consciousness. [8] Then we have ‘imaginations,’ by which I do not mean such fanciful imaginings as are justified in artistic work, but I mean true imaginations, true pictures of the spiritual world surrounding us. Through what I have called ‘imagination,’ ‘inspiration,’ and ‘intuition,’ we learn to perceive in the spiritual world. Just as we consciously perceive this physical world and, through our senses, learn to build an understanding of it as a totality from the single sensory impressions of sound and color, so from the spiritual perceptions of exact clairvoyance we learn to build up an understanding of the spiritual world as a totality. Exact clairvoyance has nothing to do with hallucinations and illusions that enter a human being pathologically, always clouding and decreasing consciousness. In exact clairvoyance, we come to know the spiritual world in full consciousness, as clearly and as exactly as when we do mathematical work. Transferring ourselves into high spiritual regions, we experience pictures comparable, not with what are ordinarily known as visions, but rather with memory pictures. But these are pictures of an absolutely real spiritual world. 

“All of the original ideals of humanity in science, art, and religion were derived from the spiritual world. That is why the old ideals have a greater, more impelling power than modern intellectual ideals. The old ideals were seen in the spiritual world through clairvoyance, a clairvoyance that was at that time more instinctive and dreamlike. They were derived and taken from a spiritual source. By all means let us recognize quite clearly that certain contents of religious faith are no longer suited to our time. They have been handed down from ancient times. We need once more wide-open doors to look into the spiritual world and to take thence, not such abstract ideals as are spoken of on every side, but the power to follow the ideal and the spiritual in science, in art, and in religion. 

"If we approach Shakespeare with such powers of seeing into the spiritual world, we shall experience something quite specific, and it is of this that I wish to speak. Shakespeare can be understood with true and artistic feeling; exact clairvoyance is, of course, not necessary to have a full experience of his power. But exact clairvoyance can show us something most significant, which will explain why it is that Shakespeare can never let us feel he has left us, why it is that he is forever giving us fresh force and impulse. It is this: whoever has attained exact clairvoyance by developing the powers of thought, feeling, and will can carry over into the spiritual world what we have experienced here of Shakespeare. This is possible. What we have experienced here in the physical body — let us say that we have been entering deeply into the character of Hamlet or Macbeth — we can take this experience over into the spiritual world.” — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 220-222.

"Let us come back to the unification of art, science, and religion. This is our aim at the Goetheanum in Dornach. By the development of exact clairvoyance, we come to understand what was at work in the ancient mysteries." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 1 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 229.

"Ancient clairvoyant perception revealed to humankind in images the spirit in every creature and natural process...." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 12.

"These things can, of course, be truly observed only when we press forward to the mode of cognition I described previously as the first stage of exact clairvoyance, imaginative knowledge. The abstract, intellectual knowledge of the human being that is common today does not lead to this other knowledge. Thought must come to life from within, and become imaginative, so that through thought as such, one can really understand. Nothing can be truly understood through intellectual thinking; its objects all remain external. One looks at them and forms mental images of what is seen. But thinking can be reinforced inwardly and made active. Then imaginative pictures fill the soul, replacing abstract intellectuality. At the first stage of exact clairvoyance (as I described it), one can perceive how, besides the forces of the physical body, a suprasensory body is working in us — if you will forgive the paradoxical expression. This is the first suprasensory member of the human being. 

"Now, what are the characteristics of the physical body? It can be weighed; it tends in the direction of gravity. This is its outstanding characteristic. If through imagination we become aware of the suprasensory body, which I call the ether body, or body of formative forces, we find that it cannot be weighed. It weighs nothing; on the contrary, it tends away from the earth in every direction toward cosmic space. It contains forces opposed to gravity, and works perpetually against gravity. Ordinary physical knowledge teaches us about the physical body; likewise, imaginative cognition, the first stage of precise clairvoyance, teaches us about the ether body, which is always striving away from earthly gravity. Just as we gradually learn to relate the physical body to its environment, we also learn to relate the ether body to its environment. When studying the physical body, we look out into nature for the substances of its composition. We realize that everything within us that is subject to gravity — our weight — has weight in outer nature as well. It enters us when we assimilate nourishment. Thus, we gain a natural concept of the human organism, insofar as the organism is physical. 

"Similarly, through imagination, we gain a concept of the relationship between our self-enclosed ether body and the surrounding world. In spring, the force that drives the plants out of the soil toward the cosmos in all directions, and against gravity — the force that organizes plants, brings them into relation to the upward tending stream of light and works in the chemistry of the plant as it strives upward — all this is related to the ether body, just as foods like salt, cabbage, turnips, and meat are related to the physical body. Thus, in the first stage of exact clairvoyance, this thinking that forms a unity and is self-sufficient is related to the ether body." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. 60-61.

"The artistic element, then, begins to be the guide to the first stage of exact clairvoyance — that of imagination. This is where we begin to understand the true human being. Otherwise, a human being is merely an abstraction in our thinking. 

"When it comes to education, we find ourselves confronted by real human beings. They stand there before us, but there is an abyss between us, because we are there with our abstract spirit, and we must cross that abyss. First we must know how we can cross it. Our knowledge of human beings today is limited to being able to put on a cap. We do not know how to put spirit into the whole human being, and we must learn to do this — how to clothe human beings spiritually, just as we learned how to clothe ourselves externally. We must learn to treat spirit as we treat the outer garments. When we approach people in this way, we achieve a living educational method.

"The period of life beginning at around seven is significant because of all the facts I described. There is another point in earthly life that is equally significant because of the symptoms that arise in life. These seven-year periods are approximate, of course, occurring earlier or later in different people. Around fifteen, when puberty is reached, is another time of extraordinary importance in earthly existence. But the emergence of sexual life is only the most outer indication of a complete inner transformation taking place between seven and fourteen. We have to look at the formative forces of the teeth in the head for the physical origin of thinking, which frees itself at around seven to become a soul function. Similarly, we must look for the activity of the second soul force, feeling, in other parts of the human organism. 

"Feeling releases itself from the physical constitution much later than does thinking. Between seven and fourteen, a child’s feeling life is still inwardly connected to the physical organism. Thinking has been freed, but feeling is still inwardly connected to the body. All the feelings of joy, sorrow, and pain that a child expresses maintain a strong physical correlation with organic secretions and with the acceleration or slowing of a child’s breathing. If our perception is sharp enough, when the outer symptoms of the change appear, we can see in these phenomena the great transformation taking place in the feelings. Just as the appearance of the second teeth indicates one climax of growth, speech expresses the end of the next phase — when feeling is gradually released from its connection with the body to become a soul function. We see this most clearly in boys with the change of voice. The head reveals the change that lifts thinking out of the physical organism, and the breathing system — the seat of organic rhythmic activity — expresses the liberation of feeling, which detaches itself from the physical organism and becomes an independent function of soul. We know how this is expressed in a boy. The larynx changes, and the voice becomes deeper. In girls, different phenomena appear in physical development, but this is only external. 

"Anyone who has reached the first stage of exact clairvoyance, imaginative perception, knows, because it is perceived; the larynx of a boy transforms at about fourteen. The same thing happens in girls to the ether body. The change withdraws to the ether body of the female and assumes a form exactly like the physical body of the male. And the ether body of a boy of fourteen assumes a form resembling the physical body of a female. However extraordinary it may seem to a mode of cognition that clings to the physical, it is nevertheless true that, from this very important phase onward, a man carries etherically a woman, and the woman carries etherically a man. This is expressed in different ways in males and females. 

"If one goes beyond imagination and reaches the second stage of exact clairvoyance (described in greater detail in my books), one attains inspiration — perception of independent spirit, no longer connected to the physical body. One then becomes aware how, during this important period around fourteen and fifteen, the third human member reaches a state of independence. In my books I have called this third aspect the astral body, according to an older tradition. This astral body is more essentially soul than is the ether body; indeed, the astral body is soul and spirit. It is the third member and second suprasensory member of the human being." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. 64-66.

"When human beings still gazed up to the soul and spirit, which were experienced directly by instinctive clairvoyance, they knew that, once the chains of earthly existence fall away, they would no longer belong to the earth." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. 209.

"We want each teacher to be so permeated with understanding that even when standing before a large class, he can represent this type of education. Each teacher should be permeated by a living comprehension of the human being so that he understands that the heart does not simply pump the blood through the organism, but that the human being is living, and the movements of fluids and the heart result from that aliveness. When a teacher has absorbed this way of thinking, particular forces within him become active in regard to the development of children. This activity can result in significant insights, even in regard to a child who is part of a large class and with whom we have worked for only a few months. If you have trained your spirit in this way, and thus created a strong contact with it, your spirit can look somewhat clairvoyantly at the individual child. It is not so important that we know that the heart is not the cause of the circulation of the blood." — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 2001), p. 86.

"Describe Leonardo’s Last Supper and what he wanted to achieve with that picture — it is actually there only in a sense, there are only some little specks of color left in Milan. Today, unless you can see clairvoyantly, you cannot understand what he wanted to achieve, but the thought of the picture still exists." — Rudolf Steiner, THE RENEWAL OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 2001), p. 204.

"Now, if a person falls victim to encroaching age too early, this animal-like instinctive experience of the surroundings begins to develop, though in a sublimated form because it is lifted into the human sphere. Lower forms of clairvoyance, such as telepathy, telekinesis and so on — described correctly or wrongly — occur abnormally in human life and are simply the result of this premature aging in the central period of life. When this process of aging occurs at the proper time, people experience it in a healthy way, whereas if it appears in the twenties, a person gains clairvoyance of a low order. The symptoms of premature aging represent an abnormality in life that does not manifest outwardly but in a more hidden way. If these forms of lower clairvoyance were studied from the aspect of premature aging, a people would gain far deeper insight into these phenomena. This is possible, however, only when people observe life in a more realistic way. It is not good enough to investigate what we see with our eyes at the present moment. People must learn to recognize indications in these symptoms of a time shift from later to earlier stages of life." — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), pp. 53-54.

"We can clearly see what is happening inside the human body once we have reached the stage of clairvoyant imagination. In objective seeing such as this, every stroke of a typewriter key becomes a flash of lightning. And during the state of imagination, what one sees as the human heart is constantly struck and pierced by those lightning flashes." — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 146. 

"I will need to use the insights of clairvoyant consciousness to give you a clear description of what happens in young children at this stage of life...." — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), p. 214. 

"St. Augustine (354–430), the medieval writer, tried to approach the human astral body in yet another way. I wish to point out that, in his writings, we find a description of the invisible members of the human being that agrees with the one spiritual science provides. His findings, however, were the outcome of an instinctive clairvoyance, once the common heritage of all humankind, and not the result of conscious investigation into the spiritual realm, as practiced in anthroposophy." — Rudolf Steiner, SOUL ECONOMY: Body, Soul and Spirit in Waldorf Education (Anthroposophic Press, 2003), pp. 231-232. 

"Along with exact clairvoyance, you must also achieve something I refer to as ideal magic. This is a kind of magic that must be differentiated from the false magic practiced externally, and associated with many charlatans. You must certainly differentiate that from what I mean by ideal magic. 

"What I mean by ideal magic is the following: when someone looks back over life with ordinary consciousness, one will see how, from year to year and from decade to decade, one has changed in a certain sense. Such a person would see that habits have changed, however slowly. One gains certain capacities while others disappear. If one looks honestly at the capacities that exist during earthly life, one would have to say that, over time, one becomes someone else. Life causes that to happen. We are completely devoted to life and life educates us, trains us and forms the soul. 

"If, however, people want to enter the spiritual world — in other words, want to attain ideal magic — they must not only intensify inner thinking so that they recognize a second level of existence, as I previously described, but they must also free their will from its connection to the physical body. Ordinarily, we can activate the will only by using the physical body — the legs, arms, or the organs of speech. The physical body is the basis for our will. However, we can do the following: as spiritual researchers we must carry out exercises of the will in a very systematic way to achieve ideal magic along with exact clairvoyance. Such a person must, for example, develop the will so strongly that, at a particular point in life, one recognizes that a specific habit must be broken and replaced with another in the soul." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 18-19.

"Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientific investigation concerning the human being. And each Waldorf teacher applies this knowledge with heart and soul, because the child is the greatest teacher, and while one cares for the child, witnessing the wonderful development daily, weekly, and yearly, nothing can awaken the teacher more to the needs of education. In educating the child, in the daily lessons, and in the daily social life at school, the teachers find the confirmation for what spiritual science can tell them about practical teaching. Every day they grow into their tasks with increasing inner clarity. In this way, education and teaching in the Waldorf school are life itself. The school is an organism, and the teaching faculty is its soul, which, in the classrooms, in regular common study, and in the daily cooperative life within the school organism, radiates care for the individual lives of the students in all the classes." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 224-225.

"We must organize, but we must be conscious that although we want to organize, people must live in this organization. People must live in this organization and have the opportunity to teach what the inner source of human nature is, what is hidden after people have grown, what we can again bring out of the sleeping powers of their human nature. Not everyone needs to be a clairvoyant [4] and experience what can be experienced through the awakened powers of human nature, but everyone can be interested in what humanity can achieve through these living human forces." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRIT OF THE WALDORF SCHOOL (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 93.

"If you understand language in this inward way, then you will see how the I-organization [i.e., one's spiritual ego] works. There are some districts [in Germany] where lightning is not called Blitz but Himmlitzer. This is because the people there do not think of the single flashes of lightning so much as the snakelike form. People who say Blitz picture the single flash and those who say Himmlitzer picture the zig-zag form. This then is how humans really live in language as far as their I is concerned, although in the current civilization, they have lost connection with their language, which has consequently become something abstract. I do not mean to say that if you have this understanding of language you will already have attained inward clairvoyant consciousness, whereby you will be able to behold beings like the human I. But you will be on the way to such a perception if you accompany your speaking with inner understanding." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 46.

"One can argue that, as teachers, we cannot immediately become clairvoyant. We cannot train in such methods. How can we manage teaching if we are first confronted with this complicated method of reaching spirit? [6]

"There is another way of making spiritual things fruitful and using them, however ... This teacher can be effective, even without clairvoyant vision of the spirit. Spirit is active there [in the imaginative pictures a good teacher presents in class]. You are working in active spirit when you believe in your own pictures. If you do not believe in your image, but make up an image only through intelligence and intellectuality, you remain outside reality with your intellect and mind, with only a mirror image. Mirror images do not act; they are merely passive. Spirit is productive and creative. And it is essential to become creative and to be at home in creating if we wish to be active in spirit." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. 25-27. [7]

"[W]e must approach clairvoyance through soul-spiritual methods, without damaging our bodily fitness through ascetic practices." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), pp. 30-31. [9]

"On that early step of human development when the gender of words was being formed, there still existed a primitive clairvoyance; a living, spiritual quality was perceived within things. Der Sonne ‘sun’, masculine and die Mond ‘moon’, feminine which later were reversed to die Sonne and der Mond [in modern German "sun" is feminine, "moon" is masculine] could never have come about in the older Indo-European languages had the elemental beings living in the sun and moon not been experienced as brothers and sisters. In antiquity the sun was felt to be the brother, the moon the sister. Today in German it has been turned around. The day was perceived as the son and the night as the daughter of the giant Norwi. This definitely originates from primitive clairvoyant vision." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GENIUS OF LANGUAGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 77.

"At first human beings lived more fully outside themselves in their surroundings. Only gradually did they become inward beings. To begin with, they lived in the outer world, closely connected to the things around them, especially in the very ancient times when an original, primitive clairvoyance still existed." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GENIUS OF LANGUAGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 82.

"As you know, lively mental images were the source of the consonantal forming of language in earlier times, and much of what was felt in the soul of ancient peoples flowed into this language forming; it can still be studied in what has been retained in primitive minds and feelings today. These perceptions, filled with an immense vitality at that time, were not only alive to the outer world through the senses but were also completely bound up with a kind of primitive clairvoyance. Otherwise there would not be all our sturdy, image-filled words that are happily still in existence. Here is an example: A person still living within the sphere of atavistic clairvoyance — no matter how weak — and possessing the ancient kind of perception was certainly able to perceive that the physical body of an ordinary human being contained something we call today the etheric body. Such a primitive person perceived the head [this and the following were illustrated on the blackboard] and, projecting beyond it, a second, etheric head. He felt that the head was the expression of thinking. Thus we can say that primitive human beings with their original clairvoyance named the human being from the standpoint of thinking — with a word very much related to ours — by the word Manas, for Mensch ‘human being, Man, person’. Mensch is the same as manas, of course, this is the human being we usually come across. But that early, atavistically clairvoyant person knew that it’s also possible to encounter other, somewhat different, people — here I’m joking about something one ought not to make too trivial — who do not have the supersensible ‘person’ closely connected to the physical person so snugly and prosaically." — Rudolf Steiner, THE GENIUS OF LANGUAGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 91-92.

"Since modern educated Orientals have a higher degree of atavistic clairvoyance, they recognize that everything people put into machines as work has a very particular characteristic. When someone plows the field with a horse and plow, working with the horse, the work with the horse still contains some natural forces and some significance beyond the present; that work has a universal significance. When a wasp builds a nest, this structure has cosmic meaning. If someone starts a fire by striking flint against a stone, causing sparks to fly that then ignite the tinder, that person exists in unity with nature, and the act has cosmic significance. We have lost our connection to cosmic purpose through modern industrialism." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997) p. 33.

"If, through inner concentration, you separate your head with all its component parts from the remainder of the organism, so that it is uninfluenced by the other aspects of human nature, it is dead and lives no more. It is impossible to separate clairvoyantly the head from the remainder of the human organism without perceiving it as a corpse". — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION AS A FORCE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (Anthroposophic Press, 1997) p. 66.

— Compilation and commentary by Roger Rawlings

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

[1] Here Steiner affirms clairvoyance and, indeed, "exact" clairvoyance. We will see more examples.

Steiner often contradicted himself. He said different things to his followers than he said to outsiders. Allow me to offer a quotation in which Steiner denies what he clearly affirmed in other statements. Context: He was in Holland, speaking before a non-Anthroposophical audience: 

"I realize that many people will say that if the human being, in addition to a physical body, consists of suprasensory members — ether, astral, and I organizations — it follows that teachers must be clairvoyant and able to perceive those suprasensory aspects of human nature. This, however, is not the case. Everything perceived through imagination, inspiration, and intuition (as described in my books) can be examined and assessed by simply observing the physical organization of a child, because it is always expressed in the physical body." — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 94.

Steiner's denials, intended to deceive outsiders, should confuse nobody. Steiner often, and repeatedly, affirmed the importance and reality of clairvoyance, he claimed to possess extraordinary clairvoyant powers himself, and he directed Waldorf teachers to attain clairvoyance or at least accept the clairvoyant reports of their colleagues.

[2] Note Schwartz's fundamental misunderstanding. Mothers may become highly attuned to the needs of their children, but there is nothing mystical about this, nor do mothers fully know the inner states of their children. No one fully knows the inner state of anyone else — this is one of the deep sorrows of life, but it is so. Consider. Has no mother ever thought a baby's cry was merely a minor, bad-tempered bleat that could be ignored — only to have the child die of a serious, treatable ailment or injury soon thereafter? Has no mother ever berated herself for ignoring signs, clear in retrospect, of an important medical problem in her child? These are sad truths, but we must face up to the truth.

(I said that no one fully knows the inner state of anyone else. Indeed, this is a basic Anthroposophical tenet. No one but you can truly know your "I" or "ego," your innermost divine identity. "I am an I only to myself; to every other being I am a you.” — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1979), p. 49.)

[3] In this quotation, Wilkinson shies away from the term "clairvoyance" — although this is what he is talking about and affirming. In other statements, he was less coy. I provide some examples.

[4] According to Steiner/Waldorf belief, not everyone needs to be clairvoyant, but some people do need to be. And those who aren't clairvoyant should believe those who are. Thus, in a typical Waldorf school, the initiates who stand at the school's the center preside over the school at large, issuing clairvoyant wisdom to the less enlightened folks in the outer circles. [For a description of the organization of a typical Waldorf school, see the Appendix to "Faculty Meetings".]

[5] Here Steiner implicitly contradicts the denial quoted earlier. "[I]ntuitive perception" is essentially a form of clairvoyance or a precursor to it. Ordinary thinking fails on such matters as the etheric body, according to Steiner. What is needed is "intuitive perception" — a psychic power. Steiner says that not all teachers need to develop full-blown clairvoyant perception, but all should develop intuitive perception — and, implicitly, in some cases this may blossom into full-blown clairvoyance.

[6] Steiner bows to the reality that he cannot start a new school with a full staff of clairvoyants; he has to work with the teachers on hand, not waiting for them to develop their full psychic consciousness or "exact clairvoyance."

[7] The second method is essentially belief in one's own imaginative or intuitive comprehension. If you aren't yet fully clairvoyant, you can at least have faith. (Remember that Waldorf education is, at heart, a religious enterprise. [See "Faith".])

Note Steiner's derogation of intellect. While he sometimes affirmed the need for intellect at our present stage of evolution, he more typically dismissed intellect (and the brain, and the use of the brain) as inferior — and even antithetical — to true cognition: clairvoyance.

[8] Here, again, Steiner disparages intellect: It is a lowly faculty, tied to the physical body. Clairvoyance, on the other hand, is seated in nonphysical organs of clairvoyance. 

◊ "[T]he moment has come when we must try to form spiritual organs of clairvoyance in us and develop ourselves for spiritual knowledge, so that these organs don't dry up and waste away." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM THE CONTENTS OF ESOTERIC CLASSES, Stuttgart (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive), GA 266. 

 "[J]ust as natural forces evolve out of living matter the eyes and ears of the physical body, so will the organs of clairvoyance evolve themselves from...feelings." — Rudolf Steiner, THE WAY OF INITIATION (Harper & Row, 1960), "Probation", GA 10.

◊ "The actual organs of clairvoyance must be developed from within." — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND MEDICINE (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1948), lecture 14, GA 312.

[9] There are better and worse ways to approach clairvoyance, but Steiner's point is that his followers must make the approach. Their goal is clairvoyance.

[R. R., 2011.]

Just how gullible are Steiner's followers?

"He [Rudolf Steiner] was never at any time afraid of anything he perceived through his clairvoyance, taking it entirely for granted. What he perceived [clairvoyantly] was, if anything, more real to him than anything he saw in the material world. For example, when he was eight years old a woman appeared to him as he was sitting in a waiting room. Indeed he saw her open the door and come toward him, and heard her ask him 'to do everything he could for her now and later.' At the same time he was well aware that she was not present in her earthly body. By this time he had learned not to speak to anyone about such experiences. But he was neither surprised nor frightened when he learned later that a near relative of his parents had committed suicide on the day the woman appeared to him.

"Such experiences are not at all uncommon with children and, as a rule, such early clairvoyance tends to disappear with puberty onward. For example, I well remember meeting a charming child of eleven, daughter of a Dutch father and a partly Mexican-Indian mother, almost all of whose female relatives were clairvoyant, and several were mediums [i.e., they could communicate with the dead]. Little Alexandrina used to prattle on about the dead, what they were doing, where they were...." — Anthroposophist Stewart Copinger Easton, RUDOLF STEINER: Herald of a New Epoch (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 17.

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

Oh, my. Did it not occur to Easton that children are imaginative in the ordinary sense: They make stuff up, they play make-pretend? Did it not occur to him that a young child who insists he saw a ghost, and who is clearly not playing a game, might need therapy? Did it not occur to him that someone like Steiner who, as an adult, claimed to be clairvoyant might invent clairvoyant episodes for his past? Did it not occur to him to look for the slightest bit of evidence supporting Steiner? Or what about all those "clairvoyant" relatives of little Alexandrina? On what basis did Easton decide to believe the claims that they were clairvoyant, even mediums?

Please. Easton's position is nonsense. What's more, it is transparent nonsense. And yet he, a leading Anthroposophist, offers it to us for our serious consideration. You might be interested to know that Easton actually served as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America. He, like Steiner himself, is what passes for a serious authority in the wild and wacky Waldorf universe.

When a Waldorf teacher uses "clairvoyance" to determine such things about a student as her/his "temperament," what is the teacher really doing? (S/he is not making a sensible judgment about temperament, because temperament — in the sense that Waldorf teachers mean — does not exist. [See "Humoresque" and "Temperaments".]) A "clairvoyant" Waldorf teacher, being a good and conscientious (albeit deluded) soul, will take the matter very seriously. S/he will sleep on it, meditate about it, pray about it — and eventually s/he will reach a conclusion. The only thing that s/he will not do is to use clairvoyance, because there is no such thing. S/he will think she uses clairvoyance, but in this s/he will be practicing self-deception. So what does s/he do, really, when s/he thinks s/he is using clairvoyance? S/he fantasizes, s/he has a hunch, s/he guesses, s/he has an intuition, s/he has a feeling, s/he consults a horoscope, s/he believes a dream, s/he imagines... S/he tricks him/herself into thinking s/he has had a clairvoyant insight, and s/he goes with it.

Think about this for a moment. There is no such thing as "temperament" as Waldorf teachers conceive it, and there is no such thing as clairvoyance, in any sense. So the Waldorf teacher uses a nonexistent faculty to slot a kid into a nonexistent category. This is nonsense squared, nonsense piled upon nonsense. It would be funny if it weren't so serious. A kid pegged as phlegmatic (or sanguine, or melancholic, or choleric), will be treated as such for months or years or decades. And it is all a fantasy, a delusion, a phantasm, a bad dream, a nightmare. The Waldorf teacher deludes him/herself, and Johnny or Susie suffers the consequences, perhaps permanently.

Now, Waldorf teachers are not idiots. So what is going on? Why do they do such idiotic things as using "clairvoyance" (which doesn't exist) to determine "temperament" (which doesn't exist)? This seems like a deep and difficult question, but really it is not. The answer is obvious. Human beings lie to themselves all the time. We believe what we want to believe; we imagine; we invent; we make leaps of faith; we go with our feelings; we have hunches; we have intuitions; we have dreams... In brief, we lie to ourselves. We do it over and over. Self-deception is far more common in human behavior than long, sustained efforts at rationality. Living rationally is hard, dauntingly so.

Being an Anthroposophist is easy. Believing Steiner (or Rev. Moon, or Mme. Blavatsky, or Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, or Jimmy Swaggart, or, or...) is easy as pie. Turn off your intellect and just do it. We all want easy, prepackaged answers, especially if they assure us that a) we will go to heaven, or at least b) we will live forever, or at least c) we are really, really, really important, or at least d) we may become a guitar hero someday (without bothering to practice the guitar), or at least e) [fill in the blank].

It is sad and it is funny. And it is terrible. Every adult who wants to be an Anthroposophist can join the cult. Go. Peace be unto you. But don't take our children with you. There is nothing more wicked than dragging children into the darkness. Stop. Just stop.

(To delve a bit more into the reasons why good, smart people might elect to live in the darkness of occultism, and why they even strive to drag children into that darkness, see "Why?" and "Fooling (Ourselves)" and "Deception" and...)

[R. R., 2011.]

Anthroposophists are very good at deceiving people. Indeed, they are good at deceiving themselves. They have to be good at deceiving themselves or they could not possibly accept the doctrines of Anthroposophy. What are these doctrines? We have four bodies, three of which are invisible. Our actions are heavily influenced by karma and the stars. We began our evolution on Saturn. Christ (the Sun God) has already returned. Gnomes or goblins really exist. The heart does not pump blood. The brain does not think. The planets do not orbit the Sun. Islands like Great Britain float in the sea and are held in place by the stars. Anthroposophists believe stuff like that. And a vast amount more. Most of it bosh.

Waldorf schools generally try to defend themselves by saying that, yes, their methods are based on Anthroposophy (i.e., the clairvoyant "insights" of Rudolf Steiner), but they do not teach Anthroposophy to the students. This is not quite true, but let's accept it as true for a moment. How reassuring is it? 

Consider this analogy. Imagine a school that says "All of our methods are based on sorcery. However, we do not teach sorcery to the children." Would you be reassured? Would you send your child to that school?

To dig further into some of these matters, see, e.g., "Advice for Parents", "Here's the Answer", "Spiritual Agenda", "Soul School", and "Steiner's Blunders". Take your time. If you are considering a Waldorf school for your child, you really should understand what you are getting her/him involved in.

"As interesting as the results of Steiner's trained clairvoyance may be...it is the clairvoyance itself which accounts for the significance and neglect of his teachings and works. For many observers, the idea of someone tracking souls, reporting on Atlantis and on the historical function of spiritual beings such as Lucifer, Ahriman, and the Archangel Michael, tends to cast a suspicious shadow over even the most effective systems of education [sic] and farming [sic]." — Anthroposophist Robert McDermott, THE ESSENTIAL STEINER (Lindisfarne Books, 2007), p. 5.

Now that you mention it...

[R. R., 2011.]

Here are items from the Waldorf Watch 

"daily quotes" page.

In each instance, I quote a text of interest, 

and then I offer a response.


From Rudolf Steiner Press:

"[T]he third set of lectures [in this book] concerns the astral-etheric beings known as elemental spirits, whose existence is rarely acknowledged today beyond the sphere of folklore. We discover how indebted we are to these beings, both benevolent and malevolent, for our continued existence. Steiner gives an account of their different levels of consciousness and, in doing so, throws light on some of the characters from traditional nursery tales. Many of us will be familiar with the wise but gruff dwarf, the water sprite or mermaid who tries to lure the human being into its own fluid consciousness-world, and the unearthly beauty of the fairy queen which would entrap men and render them powerless, as if they slept. The fact that the elemental spirits, like irresponsible children, might choose to sport with the unprotected human consciousness should not undermine the fact that these spirits 'wish man to make a move onwards with his consciousness, so that he may participate in their world.'" — Ann Druitt, introduction to HARMONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2001), a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, pp. xvii-xviii.

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

The gullibility of Steiner’s follows can be astonishing. The clearest example, perhaps, is their belief in fairy tales and the creatures described in fairy tales. Steiner taught that fairy tales are true clairvoyant accounts of the activities of invisible beings — gnomes, fairies, giants, dwarfs — who really exist. This is staggering. Yet when Druitt says that Steiner shines light on “the characters from traditional nursery tales,” she does not mean that Steiner offers a form of literary criticism, examining the import of fantastical, invented stories. No, she and other Anthroposophists accept Steiner’s assurances that 

“Fairy tales are never thought out [i.e., invented]; they are the final remains of ancient clairvoyance ... All the fairy tales in existence are...the remnants of the original clairvoyance.” — Rudolf Steiner, ON THE MYSTERY DRAMAS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1983), p. 93. 

And the strange beings who populate these tales are real, Steiner said. Thus, for instance, Steiner tells us 

“There are beings that can be seen with clairvoyant vision at many spots in the depths of the earth ... Many names have been given to them, such as goblins, gnomes and so forth.” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-3. 


"[O]ur brain connects us with certain elemental beings,* namely those elemental beings that belong to the sphere of wisdom ... To etheric observation, [an aura]** hovers in the immediate vicinity of our head. The I [our spark of individual divinity] lives in it, and alongside the I are found the elemental beings of the myths and sagas. There they are called elves, fairies, and so on." — Rudolf Steiner, THE RIDDLE OF HUMANITY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1990), lecture 5. 

Steiner said that fairy tales need to be interpreted, the facts they relate are hard to convey in ordinary language; and he said that we participate in the creation of such beings as goblins and fairies. But he also firmly stated that goblins, fairies, and other elemental spirits do actually exist. He claimed to be able to see them, thanks to his "exact clairvoyance," and he said that you could see them too if you would just follow his instructions.

At one level, this is all quite silly; but at another level, it is quite important, revealing something fundamental about Anthroposophy. There is a real world and there are fantasy worlds, and Steiner’s followers get them confused — they mistake the fantasies for reality. This is a serious matter, especially when people who are deluded in this way offer to educate children. Do you want to entrust the education of your child to people who believe that fairy tales are clairvoyantly true and that goblins really exist?

* In the Waldorf belief system, Anthroposophy, "elemental beings" are also called nature spirits. The four main types are gnomes (which live in the earth), sylphs (which live in the air), undines (which live in water), and "salamanders" (which live in fire). [See "Neutered Nature".]

** "Etheric observation" is clairvoyance focused on the etheric realm, the region from which the etheric body comes. An aura is an invisible yet colored spiritual nimbus, perceptible through clairvoyance. [For more on auras as conceived in the Waldorf belief system, see "Auras".]


"Rudolf Steiner intended Waldorf education to be a preparation for life ... Education should follow human nature, should orient itself to the universal nature of the developing human being, whilst addressing the specific needs of individuals in their time and space." — Martyn Rawson, foreword to Anthroposophist Francis Edmunds’ AN INTRODUCTION TO STEINER EDUCATION (Sophia Books, 2004), p. xiii.

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf schools have high and noble purposes, and they are generally staffed by conscientious, well-meaning individuals. Good intentions, however, are not necessarily sufficient. Is the Waldorf view of the world and of human nature realistic? Is it rooted in true knowledge?

The “preparation for life” offered by Waldorf schools centers on an idea that Waldorf faculties consider fundamental but that the rest of humanity may deem nonsense. A child is properly prepared for life, according to Waldorf belief, only when his/her invisible bodies are incarnated. The etheric body generally incarnates at about age 7, the astral body at about age 14, and the “I” at about age 21. Much of what happens in Waldorf schools is predicated on this idea. Unless you consider this idea true, Waldorf education may not suit you or your child. [For information on our invisible bodies and the seven-year stages of human development, see "Incarnation" and "Most Significant".]

What is “the universal nature of the developing human being”? In part, it is what we have just seen: the incarnation of invisible bodies to supplement the physical body. But the Waldorf view of human nature is even more involuted and fantastical. [For an overview, see “Holistic Education” and "Our Parts".] Fundamentally, according to Waldorf belief, we are the central spiritual beings in the universe [see “The Center”], worshipped by the gods, evolving from Saturn to Vulcan and beyond [see “Everything”], where/when we will ultimately become God the Father. This is all quite flattering, but to believe it you must subscribe — as most Waldorf teachers do — to Rudolf Steiner’s occult doctrines.

How about “the specific needs of individuals in their time and space”? How well do Waldorf schools respect and address the students’ individual needs? According to Waldorf belief, each individual has lived many previous lives, and s/he arrives in this life with a karma that needs to be fulfilled. In addition, s/he has a “temperament” (sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric, or melancholic) that must be respected. Class assignments, seating, etc., will be based at least in part on “temperament.” [See “Temperaments”]. Moreover, each child is a member of a racial group, and this membership crucially reflects her/his level of spiritual evolution, according to Anthroposophical belief. Steiner taught that blacks are the least evolved, whites are the most evolved. [See “Races”]. To an unfortunate degree, Waldorf schools treat students not as individuals but as members of various categories, and quite often the schools' attitudes on these matters are benighted. The most unfortunate children, according to Waldorf belief, are those who are not really human beings at all but demons in disguise. Such kids are likely to be expelled, since, as Steiner said,  

"We cannot...create a school for demons." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 650.

Waldorf schools have high and noble purposes, but their view of the world and of human nature is deeply unrealistic — and this view informs everything about the schools.


"I ended up sharing a house with a Waldorf teacher ... As I was walking in with my first box of things my new housemate confronted me about my belongings.  She was upset that I had so many books and made it clear that I had to keep them locked away in my bedroom!  After that first encounter everything I did seemed to be horrible in her eyes. She didn’t like the medicine I took; it was made in a lab. I needed to go to anthroposophical doctor and use only natural medicines. She didn’t like the clothes that I wore; they weren’t all cotton and dyed with natural dyes. She didn’t like me talking on the phone even though it was in the kitchen and belonged to the house; the phone was a tool of [the devil] Ahriman ...  I was told, ‘Steiner had exceptional powers, he saw the future, he knew the truth. If you truly need to learn, you need to study and follow Steiner. Steiner is all anyone ever needs to know.’”  — A Waldorf teacher quoted by a former Waldorf teacher-in-training. [See "Ex-Teacher 5".]

• ◊ •

Waldorf Watch Response:

Waldorf teachers generally dwell within a very small mental universe. They typically get their teacher training at unaccredited institutions such as Rudolf Steiner College. While there — and subsequently in their teaching careers — they generally restrict their serious reading to the works of Rudolf Steiner and his disciples. This would be ok if Rudolf Steiner had been (as his followers often seem to believe) omniscient, able to impart all necessary knowledge and wisdom. But he was very far from that. Having been a scholar and intellectual as a young man, he did a sudden U-turn in early middle age and became an occultist. Thereafter, he rarely wrote or spoke a true word. He spun an elaborate, mystical description of the universe; compared to reality, his vision is miniature and simplistic. Yet his is the universe that most Waldorf teachers take for real; it is the fantasy that controls the beliefs and actions of most Waldorf faculties. Children inducted into Waldorf schools are in danger of being led far from rationality and reality.

Quote of Note

December 13, 2019

"Mediums [1] have their visions because they are able to extract the etheric body [2]...out of the sleeping physical body and in the sleeping physical body to perceive consciously. They are then still able to make use of the physical body; the physical body becomes clairvoyant [3] in a remarkable way...

"On future Venus [4] a complete consciousness in the etheric body will develop [5]. Then, while man sleeps, he will gain a consciousness concerning the other side of the world [6]. On Vulcan [7] the spirit is completely detached [8] ... This condition endows man with an exact knowledge of the entire world [9].

"We distinguish [10]:
On Saturn    Trance consciousness, universal consciousness [11]

On Sun    Dreamless sleep, consciousness limited to what is living [12]

On Moon    Picture consciousness [13]

On Earth    Waking consciousness [14]

On Jupiter    Astral consciousness, further extended [15]

On Venus    Etheric consciousness, still further extended [16]

On Vulcan    Universal consciousness" [17]

 — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2019), pp. 198-199.

Footnotes for this Quote of Note

[1] Mediums are spiritualists who claim to be able to communicate with the dead. Rudolf Steiner claimed to have this power. [See "Steiner and the Warlord".]

[2] This is one of three invisible, incorporeal bodies that Steiner claimed incarnate during the first 21 years of a human being's life. The etheric body is the first of the three; it incarnates around age seven, Steiner said. Much of Waldorf education centers on the supposed incarnation of the three incorporeal bodies. [See "Incarnation".]

[3] Steiner claimed to be clairvoyant, and his followers (including many Waldorf teachers) believe in clairvoyance. Generally, indeed, Steiner's followers strive to become clairvoyant themselves. [See "Clairvoyance" and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".] Steiner said that some Waldorf teachers have attained clairvoyance, and he said the rest of them accept the reports given by professed clairvoyants such as Steiner himself and other Anthroposophists:

"Not every Waldorf teacher has the gift of clairvoyance, but every one of them has accepted wholeheartedly and with full understanding the results of spiritual-scientific investigation [i.e., the use of disciplined clairvoyance: the practice of Anthroposophy] ... And each Waldorf teacher applies this knowledge with heart and soul...." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 224-225.

[4] Future Venus will be the sixth of seven incarnations of the solar system, according to standard Anthroposophical teachings. (Steiner sometimes said there will be five more such incarnations after the seventh, but they cannot be discussed.) Anthroposophists believe that humanity has evolved from a dim consciousness during the first incarnation of the solar system (called Old Saturn) to our present waking consciousness during the fourth incarnation of the solar system (called Present Earth). Ahead of us lie evolutionary stages called Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan. [See "Future Stages".]

[5] Steiner taught that during Future Jupiter, all humans (except those who have fallen out of the upward evolutionary stream) will attain a clairvoyant consciousness that may be described as perfected imagination. [See "Jupiter consciousness" in The Brief Waldorf / Steiner Encyclopedia (BWSE).] In a sense, Jupiter consciousness will be situated within the etheric body (we will no longer have physical bodies as we know these now).

Steiner identified three stages of clairvoyance: imagination, inspiration, and intuition. He used these terms in a special, very particular way, different from ordinary usage. [See the entries for "imagination", "inspiration", and "intuition" in the BWSE.] Essentially, according to Steiner, these are progressive stages of clairvoyant consciousness taking us far beyond any awareness we experienced previously.

[6] I.e., our consciousness will not be localized — it will encompass events occurring far away ("on the other side of the world," as it were).

[7] This will be the seventh incarnation of the solar system: Future Vulcan. [See "Vulcan".]

[8] That is, the human spiritual ego or "I" [see "Ego"] will be freed from limitations.

[9] I.e., our consciousness will be universal, encompassing precise knowledge of events everywhere ("exact knowledge of the entire world," as it were).

[10] Here Steiner lists the seven describable incarnations of the solar system (Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, Future Vulcan), and he indicates the evolution of consciousness that he said occurs as we pass through these incarnations. Steiner thus presents, in outline form, the central narrative of Anthroposophical belief. [See "evolution", "evolution of consciousness", and "historical narrative of Anthroposophy" in the BWSE.]

[11] Steiner indicated that our initial consciousness was equivalent to deep coma — we were virtually unconscious, except that at the deepest level, far below anything that we might today call consciousness, we were attuned to the entire cosmos (which itself was, at that earliest stage, largely undifferentiated and formless). [See "Old Saturn" in the BWSE.]

[12] I.e., we had risen to a consciousness equivalent to deep, dreamless sleep. We remained attuned (in a insensate way) to all living things, but we had evolved beyond attunement with lifeless things. [See "Old Sun" in the BWSE.]

[13] This was a consciousness equivalent to dreaming sleep. We were waking up, in a sense, and our minds now formed pictures or visions — but these were analogous to dreams rather than clear-eyed, rational reports. Our consciousness was higher than before, but it was withdrawing from innate attunement with living things beyond the self. [See "Old Moon" in the BWSE.]

[14] This is the ordinary, rational, limited consciousness we experience today upon the Earth. We wakefully perceive and know phenomena, but we have largely withdrawn from awareness of transcendent realities beyond the reach of our physical senses. [See "Present Earth" in the BWSE.] By embracing Anthroposophy, however, we can break free of the limitations of ordinary consciousness — so Steiner assured his followers, anyway. [See "Anthroposophy" in the BWSE.]

[15] This will be perfected imagination — the "Jupiter consciousness" mentioned earlier. It will be a form of clairvoyant awareness that extends beyond anything we are capable of now. We will be able to picture in our minds, with clarity and accuracy, supersensible realities (things beyond the reach of ordinary senses).

[16] This will be perfected inspiration — "Venus consciousness." Far more than anything we can experience now, this consciousness will produce — through inspiration, welling up from within — innate comprehension of supersensible realities.

[17] This will be perfected intuition — "Vulcan consciousness." Without needing to think or meditate, we will intuitively know supersensible realities extending across the entire cosmos. The insensate universal consciousness we had on Saturn will have given way to a precise, fully aware, utterly sure universal consciousness spanning — and extending beyond — all of time and space.

If this sounds good to you, all you need to do is to embrace Anthroposophy and begin on the journey to deification. And if you want to give your kids a boost toward this journey, just enroll them in Waldorf schools.

Here is a message I posted 

at the Waldorf Critics discussion page


It begins by mentioning "wedges" that Waldorf schools 

drive between students and their parents.

[See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorf-critics/message/20477.]

I have edited the message slightly for use here.

On the question of wedges: Waldorf teacher have been known to literally ban private communication between students and their parents, at least for brief periods. Here is a report from a former, alienated Waldorf teacher:

In September 2005, the high school students, teachers and some staff members went to what was called a "communication retreat" on an island setup for summer camps. 

The retreat was the creation of two staff  members who claimed to be experienced in this kind of group work. It was later discovered that they had never tried this with a large group of students.

The main activity of students (ages 14 to 19) and staff members was to sit in a large circle, 67 people in total, in the cafeteria for six hours divided by three sittings. 

All were asked to keep silent unless the individual felt moved to speak. The beginning of this activity was signaled by a chime used by a staff member.  No one could speak until they said their name each time they wanted to speak, i.e. "My name is ...". 

The stated goal of this five-day activity was to bring all members of the group to one consensus of one thought. By the end of the second day, many students were intimidated by this process and were not able to express themselves. Many students showed signs of restlessness, agitation and they were clearly uncomfortable. They were not allowed to call their parents privately. Some students called this cult indoctrination and refused to attend meetings. 

I tried many times during the first days of the retreat to share my concerns with the other staff members. I tried to convey the damaging effects of this type of imprinting. This retreat was far too intimidating for most students to communicate anything but fear and anger. Some students wanted to leave; a teacher physically threatened a student if she did not comply.

Brainwashing and indoctrination are defined 'as unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulators often to the detriment of the person being manipulated'.  

Isolated on an island, not allowed to call parents privately, sitting long hours in a circle, falls into this category. 

Thought control begins by having individuals reveal things about themselves they would not normally reveal. Some students expressed feeling inadequate for not wanting to speak. Students who refused to attend were threatened with expulsion from the school. Students who followed directives were praised effusively.     

[See "Satanic Cult?".]


The central activity of Anthroposophy is the use of "clairvoyance" to study the higher, spiritual worlds. Rudolf Steiner outlined the development of this technique in his book KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS AND ITS ATTAINMENT. [See "Knowing the Worlds".] According to Steiner and current Anthroposophists such as Eugene Schwartz, Waldorf teachers are expected to become clairvoyant or, at an absolute minimum, to accept the guidance of their clairvoyant colleagues.

Steiner claimed to use a high form of clairvoyance, "exact clairvoyance," which made his teachings virtually unquestionable — using "exact clairvoyance," he perceived the precise truth and thus should not be doubted. [See "Exactly".]

Steiner's claim of virtual omniscience is reflected, at a somewhat lower level, by all Waldorf teachers who deem themselves clairvoyant. Hence the extraordinary authority that Waldorf teachers assign to themselves.

Of course, the Steiner/Waldorf position on these matters is delusion. There is no such thing as clairvoyance. [See "Clairvoyance".] The frightening inference to be drawn is that Waldorf schools are largely manned by delusional occultists. It is primarily for this reason that I urge parents in almost all circumstances to remove their children from Waldorf schools as soon as possible. The process can be difficult, wrenching, even traumatizing. Keeping the child's welfare at the center of one's actions is of paramount importance, so switching schools may take longer than one would otherwise wish. But leaving a child under the control of people who are out of touch with reality is a dreadful prospect. The damage inflicted on the children can be severe.

- Roger

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

I often generalize about Waldorf schools. 
There are fundamental similarities among Waldorf schools; 
I describe the schools based on the evidence concerning 
their structure and operations 
in the past and — more importantly — in the present. 
But not all Waldorf schools, Waldorf charter schools, 
and Waldorf-inspired schools are wholly alike. 
To evaluate an individual school, you should carefully examine its stated purposes, 
its practices (which may or may not be consistent with its stated purposes), 
and the composition of its faculty. 

— R. R.

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



A short, direct answer to the question, "What are Waldorf schools all about?"

Best foot forward

The bright side


A pictorial overview

Waldorf's goals

Waldorf's reality

Teachers as priests

Does Waldorf Work?

How they teach it


Words of warning

The key to Waldorf


Developing our invisible bodies

Steiner, trying to make Waldorf education seem sensible

MY LIFE AMONG THE ANTHROPOSOPHISTS, Part 1Part 2Part 3Parts 4-6Charlie

The memoir of a former Waldorf student and teacher

SQUARE ONE, Part 1Part 2

From the beginning, again


Any here?


Design of the site

[R. R., 2010.]