Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner.

Rudolf Steiner was born in 1861 in Austria, and even at an early age he was inclined towards the mystical, the psychic and the occult, including contact with the dead (necromancy). An intelligent and well-educated man, he was attracted to the ideas of German poet, novelist and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. His interest in the occult, coupled with the influence of Goethe, and Spinoza’s pantheism (all is divine), helped prepare him for a leadership position in the Theosophical Society in 1902. In 1913 Steiner withdrew to form his own group, the Anthroposophical Society (from anthropos, “mankind,” plus sophia, “wisdom,” meaning “the wisdom of man”).

Anthroposophy is an eclectic blend of esoteric philosophy and mysticism forming a complex religious system which Steiner often referred to as “spiritual science.” … Steiner taught that humanity was created by a host of spiritual beings. Because of a loss of the knowledge of our true identity and the spiritual worlds, humanity experienced a “fall.” Overcoming the result of the “fall” by gaining awareness of, and even access to, the spiritual worlds is possible through meditation. In fact, according to Anthroposophical teaching, one only becomes fully human through the use of Anthroposophical meditation techniques over a succession of many lifetimes (reincarnation). These techniques are supposed to enable the individual to experience the “supersensible” perception of spiritual worlds, or occult realities (Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, 1904, pp. 5-6).

Steiner’s Anthroposophy taught that a capacity for conscious spiritual perception of these occult realities lies dormant within every human being, and can be awakened through exercises in concentration and meditation. The first step of this awakening is to intensify thinking, through disciplined inner intuitive and meditative processes (Ibid., p. 35; Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: Saints, Sinners, and Madmen: A Study of Gurus, pp. 75-76). This teaching, coupled with Anthroposophy’s acceptance of reincarnation, are important in light of Steiner’s educational theories, wherein children advance through various spiritual stages. According to Steiner, the reincarnated spirit inhabiting the body of the child requires unique educational methods to properly prepare for the coming of the astral body through the child’s spiritual evolution (Steiner, The Universal Human: Four Lectures Given between 1909 & 1916 in Munich and Berlin, 1990, p. 45).

Consistent with his Anthroposophical system, Steiner designed an educational method which its advocates claim is “responsive to the developmental phases in childhood and [the] nurturing of children’s imaginations”
– Source: John Morehead, Waldorf Charter School Controversy, Watchman Fellowship, 1997

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First published (or major update) on Sunday, May 2, 2010.
Last updated on November 11, 2016.

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