That Lurks Behind
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Potatoes and Karma
It might prove helpful to post, now and again, statements made by Rudolf Steiner and his followers. We might call them samples of Anthroposophical wisdom (that is, they are mystical insights, the fruits of clairvoyance, expositions of Anthroposophical belief and practice). Given that Anthroposophical “wisdom” underlies Waldorf education, even the most outlandish Anthro quotations may provide food for critical thought.
We might start, for instance, with this:
"People who eat too many potatoes...tend to be weak in the head ... It is actually due to the fact that potatoes have come to be widely eaten in recent times that materialism has developed...." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM ELEPHANTS TO EINSTEIN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1998), p. 44.
— Till next time, Roger Rawlings
The potato posting, above, doesn’t seem to be immediately helpful in our efforts to evaluate Waldorf education. (But don’t be too hasty. Think it over.) From time to time, certainly, we should consider quotes that go more directly to the point. Like this, perhaps:
“[T]he purpose of [Waldorf] education is to help the individual fulfill his karma.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 52.
Till next time…
Anthroposophists (that is, devout followers of Rudolf Steiner) think they can communicate with the dead. And Waldorf teachers who subscribe to Anthroposophy  think they should encourage their young students to serve the dead. 
Let's take this one step at a time. First, communicating with the dead:
"Steiner explained that to communicate with the dead we need a common language, a spiritual language ... This must be a language of spiritual thoughts ... [T]he dead...want to continue to work on earth. But mostly they find only egotistic, materialistic thoughts and feelings [among the living]. The dead seek us, and find no one there. Thus, for the most part, we impede their progress and their karma...." — Christopher Bamford, Introduction to OUR DEAD (Steiner Books, 2011), pp. xxxviii-xxxix.
There are many breathtaking concepts in this quotation, but let's stay focused on our first main point: Anthroposophists think they can communicate with the dead.
Christopher Bamford is Editor-in-Chief of SteinerBooks. Here's a statement he made in an earlier Anthroposophical tome about communicating with the dead:
"We can all communicate with the dead ... I must say that living and working with the concepts and exercises contained in these talks and meditations [by Rudolf Steiner] has changed my life. This is a most practical book. Do what it recommends and you will experience the presence of the dead in your lives." — Christopher Bamford, Introduction to STAYING CONNECTED - How to Continue Your Relationships with Those Who Have Died (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), pp. 21-23.
Steiner himself claimed to communicate with the dead. In particular, he claimed to receive messages from the military chief who commanded the German invasions of France during World War I. Arguably, this chief was a war criminal, but Steiner defended him — especially after the chief died, when Steiner received postmortem communiqués from him. 
Now let's move along to our second main point. Anthroposophists working in Waldorf schools think their young students should serve the dead. Don't believe me? Check out the book WORKING WITH THE DEAD, published by the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (2003). This concise book was issued for use by Waldorf teachers. On the second page, which is titled "Dear Teachers!", Helmut von Kügelgen asks,
"Should we foster ways to serve the dead with small children?" 
His answer? Yes. Young Waldorf students should be taught to celebrate people's birthdays and also their death days.
"Yes, celebrate the death day like an earthly birthday, with joy and gratitude that this person was with us once, and now has returned to the [spiritual] world which is also our homeland ... Children who become accustomed to celebrating from a very early age the birthdays and death days of people who are part of their social life , learn to accept the spiritual world...as real. Thus they gain a basis for religious experience." — Von Kügelgen, p. 2.
This, then, is part of the religious purpose Waldorf teachers aim to achieve in their work. They try to help children to "accept the spiritual world as real;" they try to provide children with "a basis for religious experience." After all, Steiner said that Waldorf teachers should function as priests.  When Waldorf teachers do as Steiner directed, their students receive Anthroposophical religious training. Part of this training involves serving the dead. 
Gnomes and Friends
If you visit a Waldorf school, you may see images and/or figurines — dolls or little statues — of gnomes. They are cute. But don't let this cuteness mislead you. According to Waldorf belief, gnomes are not mere creatures of fantasy, fun little imaginary friends. Steiner taught that gnomes actually exist. And, sadly, they are not precisely our pals. Other names for "gnome" include "goblin" and "troll."
Here's a quick survey of Anthroposophical teachings about gnomes:
◊ “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 ... What one calls moral responsibility in man is entirely lacking in them ... Their nature prompts them to play all sorts of tricks on man....” — Rudolf Steiner, NATURE SPIRITS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1995), pp. 62-63.
◊ “A gnome is only visible to someone who can see on the astral plane, but miners frequently possess such an astral vision [i.e., clairvoyance]; they know that gnomes are realities.” — Rudolf Steiner, FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 27, GA 93a.
◊ “The names of the [nature] spirits are gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders respectively.  To be aware of them, the special faculty of spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance] is necessary.” — Waldorf teacher Roy Wilkinson, THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF STEINER EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1996), p. 90.
◊ "Very far back in time all human beings were what we should today call ‘clairvoyant’, that is to say, it was possible for them actually to perceive spiritual beings who are invisible to most of us today. Until quite recently this faculty was common enough, and even now it has not entirely disappeared in some remote areas. It was possible, for example, to see various elemental beings which have been called gnomes, trolls, sylphs, naiads, elves, fairies, and the like. Such beings certainly exist even if the ordinary person can no longer see them." — Anthroposophical leader Stewart C. Easton, THE WAY OF ANTHROPOSOPHY (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1985), p. 37.
◊ “Elemental beings ... Among these beings are creatures such as dwarves (earth) [i.e., gnomes, which exist within the soil], undines (water), sylphs (air) and salamanders (fire). Our visible physical world is a modification of these invisible elemental beings ... The elemental beings are invisible to the untrained eye [clairvoyance is required].” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Rudolf Steiner Press, Sophia Books, 2011), p. 36.
◊ “The predecessors of our Earth-gnomes, the Moon-gnomes, gathered together their Moon-experiences and from them fashioned this structure, this firm structure of the solid fabric of the Earth, so that our solid Earth-structure actually arose from the experiences of the gnomes of the old Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, MAN AS SYMPHONY OF THE CREATIVE WORD (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1970), lecture 9, GA 230.
Anthroposophy is a farrago of loony beliefs. And bear in mind, Waldorf education is built on the foundation of Anthroposophy.  Many Waldorf teachers encourage their students to believe that we live in a haunted world, surrounded by invisible beings such as dead humans (see the previous installment of Waldorf Wisdom ) and subhuman apparitions including gnomes, or goblins, or trolls. Such beliefs lead children away from, not toward, reality. The effect can mess up a kid for years, or decades, or a lifetime. 
"You will injure children if you educate them rationally.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), p. 61.
Steiner tended to be long-winded, circuitous, vague, and self-contradictory. We can do him a favor by trimming his statements to reach their pithy cores. But this raises the question of context. We might misrepresent Steiner if we leave out too many of his words. The quotation, above, is a pithy extract from a longer statement. Here is a fuller version:
"[T]here is a tremendous difference between the development of will and that of thinking. If you particularly emphasize the development of thinking, you actually direct the entire human being back to prenatal life. You will injure children if you educate them rationally because you will then utilize their will in something they have already completed — namely, life before birth." — Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, p. 61.
Ask yourself, is this better? Is it more sensible? Is it truer? Or, by quoting Steiner at greater length, have we simply exposed his looniness at greater length?
Getting back to the pithy core: Do you think educating kids rationally is bad?
Let's go a step further. Do you think teaching kids factual information is bad?
Waldorf education is often deficient both in rationality and in facts — it often goes very light on what we would normally call knowledge. Thus, for instance, in his book UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION, Waldorf teacher Jack Petrash argues against "fact-based education."
When he was a child, Petrash was taught “about the benefits of asbestos.” After Petrash grew up, asbestos was identified as a carcinogen. On this basis, Petrash argues that schools should not place too much emphasis on teaching kids facts.
“This [e.g., society’s changed understanding of asbestos] is the obvious flaw in fact-based education. Whether we were taught about the solar system, the Soviet Union, or computers, much of what we had to learn in school is now outdated.” — Jack Petrash, UNDERSTANDING WALDORF EDUCATION (Nova Institute, 2002), p. 26.
Petrash is right. Almost. Information changes, and memorizing "facts" is not the end-all and be-all of education. So Petrash is correct, up to a point. But only up to a point. Genuine education must be based on factual information. Kids need to be taught what is what. But Waldorf schools promote an occult perspective that is deeply at odds with factual reality. Steering children away from a rational perception of the real world does them a grave disservice.
Sure, information changes. New discoveries are made, new insights replace old, errors are found and corrected. But the way to deal with this the ebb and flow of knowledge is not to downplay facts, it is to remain abreast of the latest discoveries, replacing outdated information with new information. Children need to be told the truth and equipped with the rational skills needed to perceive the truth. But Waldorf schools tend to nudge kids in a very different direction. Waldorf education is certainly not based on facts; it is based on fantasies.
A quick reprise of irrational, fact-free fantasies we saw in previous installments of "Waldorf Wisdom": Potatoes cause materialism. The purpose of education is to help kids with their karmas. We can communicate with the dead. Young children should be taught to serve the dead. The dead need help with their own karmas. Gnomes and other invisible "nature spirits" throng around us. Earth gnomes are the successors to Moon gnomes. To see gnomes (and sylphs and undines and fire-spirits, etc.), you need to become clairvoyant. Because, you see, clairvoyance is real.*
Do you want your child to attend a school that is built on fantasies, a school where rationality and factual knowledge are frowned upon?
Let's let another follower of Rudolf Steiner pitch in.
“The success of Waldorf Education...can be measured in the life force attained. Not acquisition of knowledge and qualifications, but the life force is the ultimate goal of this school.” — Anthroposophist Peter Selg, THE ESSENCE OF WALDORF EDUCATION (SteinerBooks, 2010)‚ p. 30. 
Not knowledge. Not qualifications. Not rationality. Not facts. But "life force." The problem is that life force does not exist, it is a 19th century fallacy.  Life force is no more real than karma or clairvoyance; it is one of the fantasies at the core of Waldorf education. It is one of the falsehoods that make Waldorf education hollow, one of the errors that make Waldorf education empty.
Not a real education.
Hard to Believe
The following is from a publication put out by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. (It is a little dense, but hang in there.)
“Early in the Lemurian age [i.e., while we lived on the lost continent of Lemuria], Lucifer and Ahriman [two great demons] continued their onslaught on the human being, and caused a disruption of the human senses [i.e., they inflicted damage on our eyes, ears, etc.]. This attack on the senses brought the human being under the influence of earth forces that threatened to pull the human being down and keep the human in the horizontal position of the animals … This was not, however, the end of this primordial Luciferic and Ahrimanic onslaught [i.e., the attack by Lucifer and Ahriman], and in the middle of the Atlantean age [i.e., while we lived on the lost continent of Atlantis] these adversaries strove to disrupt the proper functioning of the human vital organs. Their effort was to render the human vital organs incapable of relating correctly with the outside world, to make these organs, in Steiner’s vivid phrase, ‘selfish.’ The result was that, with the turning inward of the human organs, human speech was threatened with becoming purely subjective, capable of only subjective, animal-like emotional outbursts — cries of pain, joy, meaningless babbling.” — Waldorf teacher-trainer Douglas Sloan, “Toward Understanding the Christ and the Christ Impulse”, AND WHO SHALL TEACH THE TEACHERS? The Christ Impulse in Waldorf Education (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, 2007, reprint 2012), pp, 24-25.
At the risk of repeating myself, I want to stress that this bizarre text is from a publication put out by a Waldorf educational association. It was published for the edification of Waldorf teachers. And it was published quite recently, in the 21st century.
Let that sink in, please.
The text embodies the sort of thinking that has always provided, and continues to provide, the basis for Waldorf schooling. Such thinking is occult, esoteric, mystical. It is like thick, choking swamp gas; it seeps toward us like a dark miasma from mankind's dim, superstitious past. And here it is, today, in a recent Waldorf publication.
You may have difficulty believing that Steiner taught what he taught. But he did.
You may have difficulty believing that Steiner's followers — including many Waldorf teachers — think what they think. But they do.
The source of the occult beliefs underlying Waldorf education is, of course, Rudolf Steiner. For public consumption, Waldorf spokesfolks like to describe Steiner as a scientist or philosopher. But what is their real opinion? Why are they willing to accept Steiner's bizarre pronouncements? In brief, they look on Steiner as their guru, their spiritual guide, their esoteric master. Steiner is the leader of their religion, Anthroposophy. Consider the following quotations:
◊ "Rudolf Steiner was the high priest of the new mysteries." — Bernhard Lievegoed, TOWARD THE 21st CENTURY (Steiner Book Centre, 1972), lecture 2.
◊ “[P]rofound and comprehensive truths fortunately are available for our instruction and encouragement...the powerful, extensive wisdom communicated by a high master...Rudolf Steiner...." — John Fentress Gardener, YOUTH LONGS TO KNOW (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), pp. 216-217.
◊ “Rudolf Steiner...was one of the most important spiritual figures of the twentieth century ... Steiner's direct spiritual vision [i.e., clairvoyance] enabled him to describe the invisible forces both of the outer and inner human being, the world of nature, and the cosmos." — Editors, A MAN BEFORE OTHERS - Rudolf Steiner Remembered (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993).
◊ “[V]arious hierarchical entities [i.e., gods]...spoke through Rudolf Steiner … Rudolf Steiner in his own life [manifested] the highest ideal and goal of Earth evolution.” — Sergei O. Prokoffief, MAY HUMAN BEINGS HEAR IT (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2014), p. 42.
◊ “Steiner had exceptional powers, he saw the future, he knew the truth ... [Y]ou need to study and follow Steiner. Steiner is all anyone ever needs to know.” — A Waldorf teacher, expressing the consensus of a Waldorf teacher gathering. 
◊ "I am a missionary on behalf of Rudolf Steiner." — Instructor in a Waldorf teacher-training program. 
We should circle back, briefly, to unpack Douglas Sloan's amazing paragraph (a paragraph that is actually quite representative of Anthroposophical writing).
Anthroposophists believe that humans used to live on the lost continent of Lemuria, after which we moved to the lost continent of Atlantis. There is zero evidence that either of these continents ever really existed, but Steiner said they did, and his followers today still believe they did.
Steiner described a polytheistic universe occupied by vast numbers of good and evil gods. Among the foremost evil spirits are the arch-demons Lucifer and Ahriman. These dark spirits would destroy us if not for Christ, who holds them at bay. Christ, as described by Steiner, is not the Son of God as worshipped in mainstream Christian churches — according to Steiner, Christ is the Sun God, the same god previously known by such names as Hu and Apollo and Ahura Mazda. Note that Sloan's paragraph comes from a text titled “Toward Understanding the Christ and the Christ Impulse”. The Christ impulse, according to Anthroposophical belief, is the impetus given to human evolution by the Sun God when he came down from the Sun to the Earth, where he incarnated in the body of a man named Jesus.
Lucifer and Ahriman are our enemies (our "adversaries"). They have tried to corrupt us, dragging us down to the level of mere animals — purely physical beings that walk on all fours. (Lucifer and Ahriman "threatened to pull the human being down and keep the human in the horizontal position of the animals.”) The two demons have tried to corrupt our "vital organs." They have tried to corrupt our "senses" and even our "speech." (If they had achieved their foul ends, human language would be "capable of only subjective, animal-like emotional outbursts.”)
Fortunately, the Sun God intervened, and Steiner has told us the truth about all this, and Waldorf schools work to fulfill the Sun God's impulse as explained by Steiner. This is, in a sense, what Waldorf schools are for: They work to fulfill Steiner's esoteric vision. This is why Sloan's esoteric essay appears in a publication put out by a Waldorf educational association.
I humbly suggest that parents should think this through carefully before sending their children to Waldorf schools. And education officials should think this through carefully before approving Waldorf schools as "charter schools" or "free schools" that receive public financing. Steiner, and Sloan, and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America have let us discern the real nature of Waldorf education. Do we really want Waldorf schooling for our children?
Note that Douglas Sloan trains Waldorf teachers.
You may have difficulty believing that Waldorf education really is what it is. But it is.
Here is the sixth installment of our periodic series — a sort of Waldorf primer or overview — titled “Waldorf Wisdom". As always, we will focus primarily on statements reaching us from within the Waldorf universe.
So, to start with, here are two such statements:
◊ “Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? Clairvoyance is needed…." — Waldorf teacher Eugene Schwartz, THE MILLENNIAL CHILD (Anthroposophic Press, 1999), p. 157.
◊ "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy.…” — Waldorf teacher Keith Francis, THE EDUCATION OF A WALDORF TEACHER (iUniverse, 2004), p. xii.
Waldorf education is built upon the foundation provided by the "spiritual science" — Anthroposophy — created by Rudolf Steiner. The "truths" embodied in Anthroposophy represent the clairvoyant observations made by Rudolf Steiner and his followers. Everything in Anthroposophy hinges on clairvoyance. If there is no such thing as clairvoyance, then Anthroposophy — produced by clairvoyance — collapses; it is null and void. And if that is so, then there is no valid basis for Waldorf education, which is "practical Anthroposophy."
So, where do things stand, in reality? In reality, there is no such thing as clairvoyance — clairvoyance is a delusion, a fraud, a fantasy. Hence, Anthroposophy is null and void. Thus, there is no valid basis for Waldorf education.
I suppose I shouldn’t just brush off clairvoyance. How can I say there is no such thing as clairvoyance? It’s an interesting question. 
The topics of clairvoyance, ESP, telekinesis, teleportation, etc., may fascinate. But, sadly, they are essentially dead ends. There’s nothing there. To summarize as briefly as possible:
"After thousands of experiments, a reproducible ESP phenomenon has never been discovered, nor has any individual convincingly demonstrated a psychic ability." — David G. Myers, PSYCHOLOGY (Worth Publishers, 2004), p. 260 [emphasis by Myers].
No one has ever convincingly demonstrated a psychic ability — including clairvoyance. No one. Ever.
Put it this way: Unless you believe in clairvoyance — and unless you specifically believe that Rudolf Steiner’s followers, including many Waldorf teachers, are clairvoyant — then you should steer clear of Waldorf schools.
Steiner claimed that his type of clairvoyance was new and improved, far better than the old rough-and-ready clairvoyance used by the ancients. He claimed to exercise disciplined, controlled, all-but-infallible "exact clairvoyance."  And he gave instructions for his followers to follow, so that they, too, could develop exact clairvoyance. 
Steiner taught that ancient peoples had a natural but inexact form of clairvoyance. You may doubt this, just as you may doubt that Steiner developed a better, more exact form of clairvoyance. (There cannot be either an inexact form or an exact form of something that does not exist, and clairvoyance does not exist.) Still, Waldorf teachers often take Steiner’s word for such things. Thus, the following appears in promotional material for a Waldorf teacher’s guide written by a Waldorf teacher:
"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 [this] spiritual vision….” — Publisher’s description of Roy Wilkinson’s TEACHING HISTORY, Vol. 1 (Rudolf Steiner College Press, 2000).
Pity any students who are taught history in accordance with such mystical baloney.
This leads us to what Steiner called "the Waldorf teacher's consciousness" — that is, the consciousness that Waldorf teachers should cultivate and employ.
“[W]e must work to develop this consciousness, the Waldorf teacher’s consciousness, if I may so express it ... 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 [i.e., clairvoyance]. It is this that we must find again.” — Rudolf Steiner, DEEPER INSIGHTS INTO EDUCATION (Anthroposophical Press, 1983), p. 21.
Steiner may seem to be saying that Waldorf teachers need to develop the old, inexact clairvoyance, but of course he meant that they need to buy his new-and-improved model. On other occasions, Steiner indicated clearly that he had exact clairvoyance in mind.
”[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.
Steiner's followers today really do believe in this new-and-improved psychic power.
"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.
Steiner certainly promoted belief in this nonexistent power. He included it among the various fantastical requirements he laid down for his followers.
"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 [by] charlatans ... [A]s spiritual researchers [i.e., Anthroposophists] we must carry out exercises of the will in a very systematic way to achieve ideal magic along with exact clairvoyance." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), pp. 18-19.
Magic, forsooth. This takes us a little off the track. (By "ideal magic," Steiner essentially meant white magic, by which he essentially meant using Anthroposophy to enter the spirit realm. ) The main point for us here is that Steiner said that his followers need to work up their powers of clairvoyance. And in particular, he said that Waldorf teachers should develop and employ clairvoyance in their work. This is why Waldorf educator Eugene Schwartz could write, “Must teachers be clairvoyant in order to be certain that they are teaching in the proper way? Clairvoyance is needed.” 
You may think nothing could be more impractical than requiring teachers to develop and use a totally imaginary psychic power. Such a requirement would be unthinkable in most educational systems. But this requirement is considered entirely practical in the mystical, Anthroposophical Waldorf universe. Remember, "Waldorf education is a form of practical anthroposophy.”
Supermen, Planets, & Islands
"[N]ow [i.e., nowadays, today] Vulcan Beings [i.e., spirits from Vulcan] are actually coming into the realm of earthly existence [i.e., they are descending to Earth]. Super-earthly Beings are already here, and the fact that we are able to have a connected body of Spiritual Science at all today is due to the circumstance that Beings from beyond the earth are bringing the messages from the spiritual world down into earth-existence ... These Beings of whom I have spoken will gradually come down to the earth. Vulcan Beings, ‘Supermen’ of Vulcan, ‘Supermen’ of Venus, of Mercury, of the Sun, will unite with this earth-existence. But if human beings persist in...opposition to them, earth-existence will pass over into chaos in the course of the next few thousand years." — Rudolf Steiner, “A Picture of Earth Evolution in the Future”, THE GOLDEN BLADE, 1960, GA 204.
When Steiner speaks of "Spiritual Science," he essentially means his own teachings, Anthroposophy. So, here he tells us that Anthroposophy exists only because supermen from other worlds, including supermen from Vulcan, bring wondrous messages to us from the great beyond. 
This puts a whole new slant on things, wouldn't you agree? Remember that Waldorf education is Anthroposophy put into practice. So, Waldorf education exists thanks to the ministrations of supermen from other worlds, including supermen from Vulcan, who bring wondrous messages to us from the great beyond.
This is eye-opening. Of course we need to welcome the supermen from other worlds, and we must embrace their messages. Otherwise, a terrible doom will overtake us. "[I]f human beings persist in...opposition to them, earth-existence [i.e., life on Earth] will pass over into chaos."
Our options are plain. We can side with Steiner and the supermen, or we can watch everything go to pot.
You may be surprised to learn that Vulcan exists. Because, in fact, it does not. (Scientists once speculated that a planet orbits very close to the Sun, closer than Mercury. They called the planet Vulcan. But they tossed out this speculation long ago.)
Vulcan does not exist. Yet we find Steiner talking about Vulcan and the supermen who live there.
You see, the solar system described in Anthroposophy is not at all the real place described by astronomers today. Anthroposophists believe in a fantasy universe. Their solar system belongs more to mythology than reality. Here's a fairly recent overview:
"Steiner...pointed out that every planet has its own spirits of the form...and spirits of movement [i.e., gods four and five levels higher than humanity]. The individual planets were created because the different spiritual beings [i.e., gods] created places to live which corresponded with their developmental stage. Thus Venus and Mercury were formed because the spirits of the form...were looking for a dwelling place with a finer substance than the Earth and a coarser one than the Sun. Mars is a repetition of the Old Moon [the third incarnation of our solar system] ... The other planets are a dwelling place for higher ethereal life forms than those we know on Earth. Jupiter is a repetition of the Old Sun [the second incarnation of our solar system], and Saturn of Old Saturn [the first incarnation] ... Jehovah is the ruler of the Moon ... The solar system is an ethereal world, full of life, in which the Sun and the Earth are central poles for the development of man ... Saturn and Jupiter form the solar system's ethereal nervous and sensory system, Mars and the Sun form the ethereal respiratory and circulatory system, while Mercury, Venus and the Earth represent the digestive system and the limbs." — Kees Zoeteman, GAIASOPHY (Lindisfarne, Anthroposophic Press, 1991), pp. 137-138. 
Even when it comes to our home planet, the planet Earth, the Anthroposophical view is severely detached from reality. Here is a statement I have quoted once or twice before. Please bear with me as I quote it again:
“[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside ... However, we need to avoid [telling] such things. We cannot tell them to the students because...we would acquire a terrible name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in geography." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 607-608.
Oh, dear. Islands like Great Britain swim in the sea. They do not sit on foundations. They swim in the sea and are held in place by the stars.
You might think I am quoting from a comedy routine, but in fact I am quoting from a faculty meeting conducted by Rudolf Steiner at the first Waldorf school. Steiner said such things to Waldorf teachers. And the teachers did not rebel. They did not resign in protest. They did not insist that Steiner resign. They sat quietly and absorbed the great man's occult wisdom.
“[A]n island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars."
Now, granted, Steiner told the teachers not to divulge this wonderful information to their students. Telling the kids that Great Britain floats in the sea would give the school a dreadful black eye; it would damage the school's reputation. "[W]e would acquire a terrible name."
So, hush! Don't tell the kids.
Except, this is the Truth. This is how the Earth really functions, under the influence of the stars. Withholding the Truth from the kids would be wrong, surely. So, somehow, somehow, Waldorf teachers should slip the Truth across. Somehow. "We cannot tell [these things] to the students .... Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve."
Would any Waldorf geography teacher today tell students the Truth about Great Britain and all the other floating islands? Surely not.
And yet... 
It's a dilemma. Or it may seem like a dilemma to a Waldorf teacher. Teachers at other sorts of schools don't face this issue. They are not tempted to tell (or imply, or hint) that Great Britain swims in the sea. But Waldorf teachers — inclined to believe Steiner's wacko pronouncements — are challenged.
The teachers at the first Waldorf school did not rebel against Steiner's wacko pronouncements.
How about you?
Connect the Dots
Let's continue our survey of the astonishments to be found in Anthroposophical discourse. Bear in mind, this is the thinking that forms the basis for Waldorf education. I'll leave it for you to connect the dots between the various statements I quote in this installment of "Waldorf Wisdom". See what you make of it all.
Rudolf Steiner taught that children are born four times. Human beings have four bodies, you see, and these incarnate at different times. A person is "born," and then "born" again, and again, and again, as these bodies develop. The bodies are the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body, and the ego body (or "I"). The physical body incarnates at the moment of physical birth; the etheric body incarnates around age seven; the astral body arrives around age 14; and the ego body emerges at about age 21. 
Everything I've just explained is bunk, of course. Yet Waldorf authorities today continue to espouse Steiner's teachings on these — and related — matters. Thus, we get stuff such as the following. Our possession of four bodies means (and this may come as a surprise to you) that sex is a sort of illusion.
“[E]ven in our earliest physiological beginnings we are both female and male, and as one gender develops in the physical or material body, the other gender develops in what [Steiner] calls the life or etheric body. From the perspective of our sexual nature, then, we are — and remain — ‘whole’ human beings to the degree we think of ourselves as being endowed with both physical and etheric bodies. Only when we focus on one body at the expense of the other do we arrive at a one-sided picture of male or female. Indeed, once we get beyond physical and etheric bodies and speak of the human soul (or astral body) and self (or eternal ‘I’), according to Steiner, we are dealing with aspects of the human being that transcend gender altogether, even though they inhabit gender-specific physical and etheric bodies and hence are influenced by them.” — Waldorf teacher and teacher-trainer Douglas Gerwin, “Being Fully Human: An Introduction”, RESEARCH BULLETIN, Research Institute for Waldorf Education, Spring 2014, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 61-62.*
Ask yourself if you want your children (who "inhabit gender-specific physical and etheric bodies") to be taught by people who believe such things. (And ask yourself if you will find a sexism-free environment in a Waldorf school, given Steiner's explanation that each of us is both male and female, in a way, sort of. )
Waldorf schools are sometimes called progressive. But this is a severe misrepresentation. The thinking that informs Waldorf education — Anthroposophy — is in fact extremely backward. We might almost call it medieval.
With that in mind, we might mull over the following. Homemakers perform many important spiritual tasks. One of these tasks is releasing elemental beings from inside vegetables. (Steiner taught that there are just four real elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Each of these elements is inhabited by invisible "elemental beings" of a specific sort. Earth is inhabited by gnomes, air is inhabited by sylphs, fire is inhabited by fire spirits, and water is inhabited by undines.  How's that for progressive thinking?)
From THE SPIRITUAL TASKS OF THE HOMEMAKER, in which a man tells women a thing or two:
"[F]or centuries elemental beings have been receiving less and less [from humanity] … Human beings [today] neglect them [i.e., the elemental beings] with the consequence that they turn to another world, the realm of death ruled by [the demon] Ahriman ... Human beings [must] once again give them what they need. Then they will be able to help human beings again. This fact is of such importance that Rudolf Steiner spoke of it ... [Homemaking is] especially well suited to what the elemental beings seek ... Cleaning vegetables is not exactly a popular activity. Yet just this leads one directly into the elemental world. If a carrot is scraped and rubbed, a potato peeled or washed, elemental beings are freed.” — Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, THE SPIRITUAL TASKS OF THE HOMEMAKER (Temple Lodge Publishing, 2008), pp. 37-39.
Schmidt-Brabant, now deceased, was an estimable figure among Steiner's followers. According to SteinerBooks: "In 1975 he became a member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum [the Anthroposophical headquarters] in Dornach, Switzerland, and served as Chair of the Council from 1984 until his death in 2001."
One of the less progressive features of Waldorf education is that children are generally not taught to read until at least age seven. There are several surprising (we might almost say medieval) reasons for this. One is that Waldorf schools try to prevent young children from maturing too soon — they try to keep the kids infantile. You see, kids arrive on Earth with memories of their past lives in the spirit realm. These memories should be preserved as long as possible.
“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 [i.e., the spirit realm] which is hidden behind the phenomena of the senses. This is...the world of creative archetypes and spiritual hierarchies [i.e., ranks of gods] ... This awareness [of the spirit realm and the gods] 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." — A. C. Harwood, PORTRAIT OF A WALDORF SCHOOL (The Myrin Institute Inc., 1956), pp. 15-16. 
Teaching young kids to read would damage their dreamy, spiritual memories. Waldorf teachers generally do not teach their students to read until the kids loose their baby teeth, which is a signal that the etheric body has incarnated. (I kid you not.)
"The timing of [the Waldorf] proscription against reading corresponds with the 'cutting of the teeth,' which Steiner indicated as a developmental milestone, with the incarnation of the etheric body in children. Steiner says early reading will hinder the later spiritual development of children." — Open Waldorf, a website that essentially defends Waldorf schooling.
The "cutting of the teeth" (i.e., the arrival of adult teeth) or the "change of teeth" (the replacement of baby teeth by adult teeth) is given great significance in Waldorfworld. Indeed, teeth in general are said to have amazing importance.
”It will seem strange that in discussing man as a spiritual being, I speak first of the teeth ... [A] truly spiritual understanding of the human being shows us [that] the child develops teeth not only for the sake of eating and speaking, but for quite a different purpose as well. Strange as it sounds to-day, the child develops teeth for the purpose of thinking. Modern science little knows that the teeth are the most important of all organs of thought." — Rudolf Steiner, EDUCATION (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co., 1943), lecture 4, GA 307.
Teeth are so important, Waldorf schools teach kids to practice various arts and crafts in order to promote the development of good teeth. Knitting and crocheting, for instance.
“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 ... [T]o drive the soul into the fingers means to promote all the forces that go to build up sound teeth.” — Rudolf Steiner, SPIRITUAL SCIENCE AND MEDICINE (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1948), lecture 17, GA 312.
So, don't teach kids to read too soon. But teach them to knit and crochet. Why? For the sake of their teeth.
How's that for progressive thinking?
Or would you call it magical thinking?
Or would you call it medieval — something from out of the Dark Ages?
* Disclosure statement: Douglas Gerwin and I attended the same Waldorf school. I was a few years ahead of him, however; as far as I can recall, we did not actually know each other.
You and Your Race
Some previous installments of “Waldorf Wisdom” have had a semi-humorous tone. Today’s installment will be quite different.
Here is a passage from a play written for Waldorf students to perform. Three Archangels address Noah’s three sons after the Flood has subsided:
The play is for Waldorf third graders to perform. The scene quoted here comes at the climax of the action, after Noah and his family have survived the Flood. Archangels speak to Noah's sons, and they do so in terms of race. Humanity is being divided into races: Shem, Japheth, and Ham will each become the progenitor of a racial line. “You and your race… You and your race… You and your race…”
The Archangels specify where each race should dwell (in the North and West, in the East, and in the South), and they assign each race a distinct mission (knowing, doing, and loving).
Using euphemisms, the play subtly introduces children to Steiner’s racial teachings. Steiner taught that white-skinned people, living in the North and West (i.e., Europe), lead “thinking lives.” He said that yellow-skinned people, living in the East (i.e., Asia), lead “emotional lives.” And he said that black-skinned people, living in the South (i.e., Africa), lead “impulsive lives.”
Steiner taught that the differences between races are much more than merely skin-deep: They are profound. The different races belong in different parts of the Earth (the races should not mix), Steiner said, and the races have different talents or characters. Moreover, as we will see, Steiner taught that the races use different parts of their brains (or they actually have differently formed brains), and they have different kinds of blood. Perhaps most important, Steiner taught that the different races exist under the aegis of different gods, different Archangels. Racial divisions, in other words, reflect significant physical, mental, and even spiritual differences.
Ultimately, Steiner taught, all moral humans evolve upward through the various racial forms. All properly developing humans evolve from lowly, black incarnations to high, white incarnations. In this sense, we ultimately are all alike. Moreover, we will eventually evolve beyond race — someday racial differences will cease to exist. None of this, however, alters the implications for racial divisions as they exist here and now, according to Steiner. Black Africans are lower than Asians, who in turn are lower than white Europeans, Steiner taught. Blacks can barely control their impulses, while Asians are driven by their emotions. Only white Europeans are truly thoughtful or rational. Or so Steiner said. And, clearly, what Steiner said is racist. 
Schwartz’s play is not explicit about all of these racist concepts, but it reflects some of them while at least implying others. And, bear in mind, this is a play written for third graders to perform. Euphemisms notwithstanding, this is horrifying. If there was any justification for Steiner’s racist teachings in Steiner’s own time, there is absolutely none now.
Schwartz wrote "Noah and the Flood" many years ago. It appeared in The Waldorf Clearing House Newsletter in the autumn of 1984.  Does this excuse Schwartz?
Today, July 1, 2017, I purchased the play from Schwartz's website, MillennialChild.com.  The text still uses the language I have quoted: “You and your race… You and your race… You and your race…” In addition, as of today, the play is still available in its original form at the Online Waldorf Library.  The text there also still presents the original language.
Maybe Schwartz was not originally conscious that the words he used in "Noah and the Flood" must be deemed racist. But in all the long years since he wrote the play, why did he never make a slight editorial revision? Why, in all these years, did he not change the word "race" to a more neutral alternative such as "kin" or "band" or "clan"? ("You and your kin...") The reason is almost certainly that he quite literally meant — and continues to mean — "race." The Archangels literally divide humanity into three “races.” Steiner spoke of races, so Schwartz speaks of races. Schwartz dramatizes, for children, the racial teachings of Rudolf Steiner. And this is inexcusable.
Let’s turn to Steiner.
On occasion, Steiner explicitly divided mankind into three major races, as Schwartz does in his play. He once drew a diagram, for instance, in which he contrasted black humans, yellow humans, and while humans. [See "Forbidden".] According to Steiner, these are the predominant human races today.
Blacks (Schwarz) are the lowest, Steiner said; they lead impulsive lives (Triebleben), and they use the most backward part of the brain, the "hindbrain" (Hinterhirn). If blacks move from their proper place on Earth, they turn copper red (Kupferrot) and die out.
Orientals are higher, according to Steiner. Yellow in color (Gelb), they live largely through their emotions (Gefühlsleben), and they use the intermediate portion of the brain, the “middlebrain" (Mittelhirn). If Orientals move from their proper place, they turn brown (Braun) and die out.
Whites (Weiss) are the highest, Steiner said; they lead thinking lives (Denkleben), for which they make use of the forward portion of the brain, the “forebrain" (Vorderhirn). They are not confined to any one spot upon the Earth, although they are mainly to be found in Europe.
This is, generally speaking, what Schwartz represents in his sweet little play, which is still available on Schwartz's website and at the Online Waldorf Library.
Steiner taught that Archangels are gods two levels higher than humankind. Each Archangel oversees a large human grouping such as a nation or a race. Each Archangel thus serves as the shared spirit or soul of a particular group such as a nation or race.
Here is how Archangels are described today in an Anthroposophical reference book:
“Archangel — [a high] spiritual being … An archangel can serve as a national spirit, inspiring a whole nation with all its characteristics such as language, ethics and folk customs … Expressions such as ‘folk-soul’ and ‘folk spirit’ indicate the same spiritual being.” — Waldorf teacher Henk van Oort, ANTHROPOSOPHY A-Z (Sophia Books, Rudolf Steiner Press, 2011), pp. 8-9.
When an Archangel oversees a race rather than a nation, it is not a “national spirit” but a “race spirit” or “race soul.”
“You know that what is called Folk-soul, Race-soul, has become a somewhat abstract idea today … To the occultist this is not so at all. What one calls the Folk-soul, as the German, French, Russian Folk-soul, is to him an absolutely independent entity [i.e., a real spirit] … It was the Folk-soul, the Race-soul, which guided the bloodstream down into the bodies [i.e., race souls gave the races their unique blood types] … [W]e are at the very height of this materialistic evolution which prefers to deny such beings as Folk-souls and Race-souls [i.e., in our benighted materialistic age, people deny the reality of folk souls and race souls].” — Rudolf Steiner, THEOSOPHY OF THE ROSICRUCIAN (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1966), chapter 11, GA 99.
In Anthroposophical belief, each race has its own race soul, its own spirit, its own god. So, to repeat: Racial differences are not merely a matter of skin pigmentation; they are a deep matter; they reflect significantly different developmental states, different spiritual conditions, overseen by different gods.
A few more points should be made about racial divisions as presented in "Noah and the Flood".
Note that the two races not assigned to “know” are, implicitly, consigned not to know — they, the non-European races, must be seen as comparatively ignorant.
By the same token, two of three human races are implicitly identified as being less able to “do.” They presumably lack skills, dexterity, competence. Not as individuals, mind you, but as races.
Likewise, two of three human races are implicitly tarred as being less loving. Their hearts are comparatively cold, it would seem; they are less empathetic, less kind. Not as individuals, mind you, but as races.
These are all horrid, grotesque, racist propositions. Encouraging young children to think in these ways is awful; it is wicked; it should never be done. Yet here we find such propositions surfacing at least implicitly, today, in Waldorf education. There can be no excuse for putting children on stage, today, in a play containing such concepts and such language. “You and your race… You and your race… You and your race…”
The problem was not created by Schwartz, of course. It derives from Steiner. And it will not easily be resolved; it is woven deeply into Anthroposophical beliefs, including beliefs about Archangels. As long as Anthroposophists accept Steiner’s teachings about Archangels (Folk Souls, Race Souls), racism will remain embedded in their belief system.  And for this reason, racism will threaten to surface from time to time in the educational system that is founded on Anthroposophy: Waldorf education.
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[R.R., imitating typical Waldorf art.]
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Use this link to go to
the second half of "Waldorf Wisdom".
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 For more about gnomes and their fellow elemental beings, see, e.g., "Gnomes", "Beings", and "Neutered Nature". To explore the subject of clairvoyance, see "Clairvoyance", "Exactly", and "The Waldorf Teacher's Consciousness".