Services in the Schools
Rudolf Steiner said that Waldorf teachers serve as priests for their students. Most of the activities conducted in Waldorf schools have spiritual purposes, and many can be deemed religious ceremonies. [See "Schools as Churches" and "Soul School".] On some occasions, formal religious services are held in the schools, including services that stem directly from Rudolf Steiner's occult teachings. We can find such services described in the volume THE WORSHIP SERVICES OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND THE WORSHIP SERVICES OF THE FREE WALDORF SCHOOL, by Hischam A. Hapatsch. (In the original German, the title is DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN DER CHRISTENGEMEINSCHAFT UND DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN IN DER FREIEN WALDORFSCHULE.)
The Christian Community is an overtly religious offshoot of Anthroposophy. [See "Christian Community".] In general, the forms of worship used in Waldorf schools closely parallel the services of the Christian Community. Usually three priests or officiants lead such services. At Waldorf schools, ordained ministers of the Christian Community may be brought in to preside, or other Anthroposophists may assume the leading roles, and members of the faculty may take various positions before or at the altar.
Hapatsch's book is difficult to find. Generally, officials of the Anthroposophical and Waldorf movements hold the book closely, keeping it from prying eyes. I am grateful to Grégoire Perra for locating a copy and bringing it to my attention. Perra is a former Anthroposophist and Waldorf teacher. [See "My Life Among the Anthroposophists".] He was able to unearth the book by working through his own private channels, which reach into Anthroposophical networks. (You can confirm the existence of the book by using this link: Google Books. You will not be able to examine its contents, however; no "preview" is allowed, as of this writing.)
We should begin with a bit of background.
Steiner said that working as a Waldorf teacher is tantamount to being a priest. Here are some of his statements to this effect (I have highlighted certain key terms):
◊ "The position of teacher becomes a kind of priestly office, a ritual performed at the altar of universal human life ... Our task is to ferry into earthly life the aspect of the child that came from the divine spiritual world." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ESSENTIALS OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XVIII (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 24.
◊ "[T]eachers must reach a point where all their work becomes moral activity, and they regard the lessons themselves as a kind of divine office." — Rudolf Steiner, A MODERN ART OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XVII (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 169.
◊ "[A] teacher’s calling becomes a priestly calling, since an educator becomes a steward who accomplishes the will of the gods in a human being." — Rudolf Steiner, HUMAN VALUES IN EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XX (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 9.
◊ "In our teaching and educating we should really become priests, because what we meet in children reveals to us, in the form of outer reality and in the strongest, grandest, and most intense ways, the divine-spiritual world order that is at the foundation of outer physical, material existence ... We have been placed next to children in order that spirit [i.e., the influence of spiritual powers] properly germinates, grows, and bears fruit. This attitude of reverence must underlie every [instructional] method." — Rudolf Steiner, WALDORF EDUCATION AND ANTHROPOSOPHY - Foundations of Waldorf Education XIV, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1996), pp. 225-226.
Likewise, Steiner indicated that, on occasion, Waldorf schools should offer overtly religious instruction and services for the students:
◊ "At the Waldorf school in Stuttgart we have been able to pursue an art of education based on anthroposophy ... [C]hildren whose parents specifically request it receive religion lessons involving a freer religious instruction based on anthroposophy ... Our goal...is to enable every teacher to bring the fruits of anthroposophy to their work, no matter where they may be teaching or the nature of the subject matter." — Rudolf Steiner, THE ROOTS OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XIX (Anthroposophic Press, 1997), p. 18.
◊ "[E]very Sunday we have a special form of service for those [students] who attend the free religion lessons. A service is performed and forms of worship are provided for children of different ages. What is done at these services has shown its results in practical life during the course of the years; it contributes in a very special way to the deepening of religious feeling, and awakens a mood of great devotion in the hearts of the children." — Rudolf Steiner, THE KINGDOM OF CHILDHOOD - Foundations of Waldorf Education XXI (Anthroposophic Press, 1995), p. 138.
◊ "[T]his is how our free, nondenominational, religion lessons came about. These were given by our own teachers, just as the other religious lessons were given by ministers. The teachers were recognized by us as religious teachers in the Waldorf curriculum. Thus, anthroposophic religious lessons were introduced in our school. These lessons have come to mean a great deal to many of our students." — Rudolf Steiner, THE SPIRITUAL GROUND OF EDUCATION - Foundations of Waldorf Education XV (Anthroposophic Press, 2004), p. 115.
Implicit in all of this is an admission of several crucial points that Waldorf representatives usually deny: Waldorf schools are religious institutions. Their teachers work as priests. And the religion they serve is Anthroposophy. Steiner himself said as much (evidently inadvertently) when he said this:
"[T]he Anthroposophical Society...provides religious instruction just as other religious groups do." — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER - Foundations of Waldorf Education VIII/2, Vol. 2 (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 706.
Steiner insisted that the religious instruction and services provided by Anthroposophists in Waldorf schools are "free" — no one is compelled to attend (only students whose parents request such services are expected to be present). Such assurances may or may not prove to be true today; Waldorf schools use many methods to extend their "priestly" efforts to all students. [See, e.g., "Sneaking It In".] In any case, our focus for the moment should be directed to the "special form of service" conducted for at least some Waldorf students. In general, these services appear to be Christian — they center on the figure of Christ. We should recognize, however, that the Christ revered by Anthroposophists is quite different from the Son of God worshipped in mainstream Christian denominations. According to Anthroposophical belief, Christ is the Sun God, the same god worshipped in various pagan religions under such names as Wu or Baldur. Anthroposophy recognizes the Sun God as a member of the Holy Trinity, but it also affirms His existence as a separate god, distinct from the Father God — the god of Saturn — and the Holy Spirit — the god of the Old Moon stage of evolution. [See "Sun God".] Christianity is one of the great monotheistic religions of mankind; Anthroposophy, by contrast, is polytheistic. [See "Polytheism"].
The "free" religious services performed for Waldorf students have various Christian trappings, but they are actually quite distinct from mainstream Christian practice — they are conducted in accordance with Anthroposophy's unique, polytheistic theology. Indeed, the freedom of the "Free Waldorf School" — which is what the first Waldorf school was called — largely consisted of the school's ability to enact teachings that lie outside mainstream belief and practice. Rudolf Steiner advocated freedom; but at Waldorf schools, this largely amounts to freedom for the schools to operate outside normal bounds, not freedom for students or even faculty members to think or act independently except within narrow limits. Anthroposophy is held to be the Truth, and individuals are "free" to accept it or reject it. In practice, this means individuals may choose the right path and its rewards, or the wrong path and its penalties. The right path, of course, is Anthroposophy; the wrong path is anything that diverges significantly from Anthroposophy. Your "freedom," then, consists of your ability to choose the one true course in life; failing that, you will lose your soul. [See "Freedom".]
All that having been being said, let's turn our attention to the instructions provided by Rudolf Steiner and relayed by Hischam A. Hapatsch concerning the Anthroposophical religious services intended to be performed in Waldorf schools. (Hischam A. Hapatsch, DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN DER CHRISTENGEMEINSCHAFT UND DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN IN DER FREIEN WALDORFSCHULE (Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Religions- und Weltanschauungsfragen, 1996), p. 99.)
Having prescribed the arrangements for the altar, Hapatsch briefly explains how the services are performed (DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN DER CHRISTENGEMEINSCHAFT UND DIE KULTUSHANDLUNGEN IN DER FREIEN WALDORFSCHULE, pp. 99-100).
Those are the preliminaries, as outlined in Hapatsch's invaluable book. Let's look, now, at three services as detailed by Hapatsch. In preparing these translations, I have worked directly from the book, accepting its German text as authoritative although it evidently contains some typos, which of course complicates matters somewhat. Note that the services are intended explicitly for children, and they are crafted to make a deep emotional impact on the youngsters. This is precisely what an organization would aim for when seeking to indoctrinate young, impressionable souls. [For more on Waldorf indoctrination, see Perra's "The Anthroposophical Indoctrination of Students in Steiner-Waldorf Schools". You will also find a summary at "Indoctrination".] Various other details, such as mystic hand gestures, may also pique your interest. Considerable stage management is apparent in the services.
o o 0 o o
Sunday Service for Children
[For students in grades 1-8]
Young People's Service
Through me was the Word
that reveals you, becoming known in the souls of men
who came to me through you.
You being in them, through you they came to me,
(The speech may continue until the officiant has said all he intends to convey to the children.)
Use this link to go to the second part of