General Renewal
– or Illusion –
of the Anthroposophical Society

by Harald Giersch

A lecture held in the Rudolf Steiner School, Villingen – Schwenningen on 19.01.2005
giving “the reasons why I left the Anthroposophical Society”.
© Achamoth Verlag
Willi Seiss
Reproduced with the kind permission* of Harald Giersch and Willi Seiss
Translated by Graham Rickett

*This was sent to me (Joel Wendt) by a third party (Martin Wacey), and given the nature of the material, I have set this within my website
without gaining any more direct permission than its presence in my e-mail box in January of 2010.

Two Introductory Quotations from Ludwig Polzer–Hoditz (1869-1945)

“When Rudolf Steiner saw that the Society could only continue to exist if he makes the sacrifice of taking over the leadership himself, which he did at the Christmas Conference 1923/24, he connected his earthly destiny with the destiny of an earthly Society. When, shortly after this, a continuation of his activity on the Earth was made impossible, he died. In the spiritual world he cannot remain connected with an earthly organization, and so it became clear that the Anthroposophical movement has to be carried through the catastrophe by individual pupils of his. He can reach through to these individual human souls, he can help them, he can guide them if they are filled with the good will to work in harmony with his impulse. Communities on the earth will only be able to form with difficulty, slowly and in accordance with individual karma. His activity on earth will be kept alive in many different groups and perhaps continue further in the near future, until forces again begin to work which are able to unite the groups once more on a universal basis. An immediate continuation of what only he was able to hold together in a unity must be recognized to be logically impossible. All the lamenting over this impossibility has damaged the cause of Anthroposophy in the world at large. To come to terms with the fact of the great Teacher’s death and draw the consequences from it would have been necessary, and would have caused less harm to his life’s work than to obdurate refusal to accept and the expectation that some miracle will happen”

(From “Recollections of Rudolf Steiner”, Dornach 1985).

“The movement is indestructible, “The Society upon Earth is not (…..) “He (Rudolf Steiner) will, from now on, only guide individual human
beings”. (L. Polzer-Hoditz: “Pictures of Destiny from my time as a Spiritual Pupil. Thirteen scenes published posthumously”, edited and introduced by Thomas Meyer, Basel 2000.)

Lecturer’s Introduction

In order to explain the necessity and the urgency of my lecture I would like to precede it with an imaginary conversation between someone with a critical attitude towards the present Anthroposophical Society and someone who is a member of this Society, which might go as follows:  The critic points to failings and weaknesses of the Society, which he has observed in the behaviour of members and of the Vorstand or which he has heard reports of. The defender of the Society replies somewhat as follows: “I refuse to listen any longer to all this old nonsense. I feel personally connected with Rudolf Steiner and the spiritual Goetheanum. The things the people do in Dornach at the Goetheanum, the earthly centre of the Anthroposophical Society, are of little concern to me. The main thing is that I remain faithful to the impulse of the Christmas Conference 1923/24, when the Anthroposophical Society was newly founded, as a spiritual fact, because it was the will of Rudolf Steiner to hold this Christmas Conference. All the quarrelling between the karmic streams ought finally to be consigned to the past and to the process of “decomposition”. We have more important things to do at the present time than to worry about the constitutional question of the juristic existence or non-existence of the Christmas Conference Society. Let us leave all this to the eternal mischief-makers who, from dust-laden writing desks, import their own gall problem into the Anthroposophical  Society”.

An attitude of this kind in defence of the Anthroposophical Society is possible, it is even universally present among the members, otherwise the “pseudo-Christmas Conference” of 2002 would not have been able to take its course in the way it did. And I am also quite sure that here in this hall there is a majority of Society members whose heartfelt conviction is echoed in the worlds of our imaginary defender of the Anthroposophical Society. This was how I myself spoke two years ago. I fully realize, therefore, that with this subject I am reaching into not just a wasps’ nest, but at least into a hornet’s nest.

But let us recall the fact that two years ago, at this pseudo-Christmas Conference, there were four plaintiff groups, who prevented the intentions of the Vorstand from sailing through unchallenged. I do not wish to express a judgement on this, as I am not one of the plaintiffs but in February 2004 a Swiss court of law pronounced in favour of these plaintiff groups against the Vorstand according to Swiss law of association. The Vorstand must now pay at least 60,000 Swiss Francs, because it appealed against the verdict. And now we ask the following question to the members who defend the Christmas Conference of 2002 by referring to the “cosmic mystery of the eternal Christmas Conference” of 1923, with which they feel connected, together with Rudolf Steiner – with whom they feel themselves in the best of company: Could it be that, despite my firm conviction that all is well up there in Heaven, things down here on the earth have unfortunately not gone in the way they should?  Could it be that the Vorstand’s mistaken view in matters of association law, now exposed in court, needs to be examined in a quite different way than is possible for a secular court of law in relation to a Society which understands itself to be esoteric in nature? For now in the appeal procedure the Vorstand is citing its “responsibility towards the spiritual
world”. * According to the Members’ Supplement of Das Goetheanum of 5.5.2006 the costs from 2003 to 2005 amounted to SFr.821,315.

And now one would need to inquire whether, in the words of Goethe, it is the spirit of the ladies and gentlemen in question or whether we really have to do with the spirit of truth, which is the spirit of Anthroposophy. But here the four plaintiff groups are open to scrutiny just as much as anyone who dares to approach this subject. My aim, therefore, is not to engage in monkish wrangling and dissension, but to address certain facts which are completely ignored and evaded, and are even obscured, by the litigating parties in Dornach.

For how would you respond if it were established as a fact that Rudolf Steiner himself had declared the Christmas Conference a failure? If it turned out that the object of contention, namely the Christmas Conference, had long ago evaporated into thin air?  If it turned out that, in place of the facts, a Christmas Conference ideology has been propagated, which may well provide my soul with a soft pillow of repose, but which has not more than the name in common with the Anthroposophy intended by Rudolf Steiner (as little as the C in CDU – Christian Democratic Union – has in common with Christianity)? If the teeth, so to speak, had been extracted from Anthroposophy, and it had been turned into a drawing-room Anthroposophy which benumbs my sense for reality and truthfulness and makes impossible for me certain thoughts and deeds? (see lecture of 18.03.1916).

If it should turn out that the cause of Anthroposophy since Steiner’s death has fallen into the wrong hands, continuously right up to the present day? – For according to a statement of Rudolf Steiner: “……..the possibility exists that those exalted powers which stand at the beginning of the Anthroposophical movement, are falsely represented. For it is a normal occurrence in occultism that powers wishing to pursue their own special interests assume the form of those which previously gave the actual impulses” (11.4.1912).

And suppose it were to be discovered that the Heavenly things whose striving it has always been to be fought out on Earth, and only on Earth, had been diverted by a comfortable and illusory conception of the Earth, into an other-worldly consolation provided by the eternal Christmas Conference and the heavenly Goetheanum? Just as the social question of the fair sharing of goods between rich and poor demands a solution on the Earth, and to console the poor with the prospect of Heaven must be dismissed as hypocritical.  With regard to the situation of the Society today is it not a highly revealing phenomenon that very many Society members explicitly declined to concern themselves, even on an elementary level, with the Constitution question and, uninformed as they were and are, swore a blind oath of support for the Vorstand’s plans for a socalled new constitution?

Supposing it were established that my personal need for harmony and my personal good will do not suffice as arguments where questions of truthfulness here on the Earth are concerned. What have my need for harmony and my red and blue cards to do with the sword which Michael would wish to place in my hand, or rather my brow, and the sharpness of which consists in the demand that I should be truthful? Truthful also in the way I perceive the history of the Society to which I belong. Rudolf Steiner stressed repeatedly that the cause of Anthroposophy stands or falls with truthfulness.

To avoid any misunderstanding I would emphasise that I feel committed to the cause of Anthroposophy more than ever.

I ask the reader to look upon what follows as an admission of the mistaken view I have held hitherto with regard to the Anthropophical Society. In what I say I will try to be guided only by the facts. These facts are, in part, completely unknown and also very unpleasant. Only in the last two years have they dawned for me with such clarity. It would have been dishonest of me not to draw the logical conclusion from my insights  and withdraw from a Society whose necessity I can no longer acknowledge. I maintain no less than the following: Even if the Dornach Vorstand had won the case in a Swiss court of law, or should do so in the future, it would nevertheless be in the wrong from the standpoint of the spiritual world. I hope to justify this unheard-of claim in the pages that follow.

One can very quickly correct errors on the physical plane by referring to the real world. If one wishes to establish proofs on the level of thought, then one is advised by Steiner to ensure that the thoughts support one another. My lecture is corroborated by very many sources, and I will mention these as I speak. With my statements firmly anchored in this way, you will surely recognize that I am not just speaking out of the top of my head.  And another possible misunderstanding: My intention is not to start off a senseless argument. My sometimes sharp-edged formulations arise from the deep inner concern that I feel, but can also be justified in terms of the immense importance of the matter under discussion. To understand what I mean, everyone should answer for himself the following question: How can an infected wound over which a skin has formed be healed? Is not the only way, to open up the source of infection so that it can be cleansed? And this generally requires the use of a sharp knife.

General Renewal – or Illusion – of the Anthroposophical Society

I. What were Rudolf Steiner’s intentions with the Christmas Conference?
II. The Failure of the Christmas Conference
III. The Meaninglessness of the New Constitution
IV. The Consequences
V. A comment regarding the Free High School for Spiritual Science in Dornach.

I. What were Rudolf Steiner’s Intentions with the Christmas Conference?

To understand this it is advisable to take a closer look at Steiner’s opening lecture of the Christmas Conference. This lecture was held on December 24th 1923 starting at 11.15 a.m., in the hall of the carpentry shop, as the Goetheanum had burnt down a year before, through an act of arson. In this lecture Rudolf Steiner speaks of the Anthroposophical movement and the Anthroposophical Society as separate entities.  Steiner would wish now to bring these two distinct phenomena to a new unity under his own personal leadership: “The Anthroposophical movement is to have as its sheath the Anthroposophical Society”.

This motif of the drawing together of such contrasting phenomena as are embodied in the Anthroposophical movement and a sheath that might be appropriate for it, is one that extends throughout Steiner’s biography from the very beginning. The process of the drawing together of movement and Society, very problematic from the beginning, is described by Steiner in the lecture cycle held in 1923 with the title “The History and Conditions of the Anthroposophical movement in relation to the Anthroposophical Society”, and also in many lectures held in 1923.  Rudolf Steiner as representative of the Anthroposophical movement, which has its origin in heavenly realms, tests a number of forms that are already in existence and have an earthly rigidity of structure, to see whether they are able to receive the new revelation that wishes, through him, to descend from heaven to earth. Steiner’s activity embraces philosophy, Theosophy and Freemasonry. (The latter cannot be discussed here owing to lack of time.) The following is a passage from the inaugural address of the Christmas Conference:
“There has opened up for humanity a revelation of a spiritual reality. And it is not out of the arbitrariness of earthly will, but in a beholding of the majestic pictures that have arisen from the spiritual world as contemporary revelations for the spiritual life of mankind; it is out of this that the impulse for the Anthroposophical movement has flowed. This Anthroposophical movement is not an earthly service; it is in its totality and in all its single aspects a Divine service, a service of the Gods. And we find the right mood for it when we look upon it in its entirety as a Divine service of this kind. And as such we would receive it into our hearts at the beginning of our Conference; we would inscribe it deep into our hearts, so that this Anthroposophical movement may unite the soul of each individual who dedicates himself to it with the primal source, in the spiritual world, of all that is human, so that this Anthroposophical movement may lead the human being to that latest illumination, which can provide him with satisfaction for the present period in the development of humanity and which, regarding the revelation that has begun, can clothe itself in the words: “Yes, that am I as a human being, as a God-willed human being on Earth, as a God-willed human being in the cosmos …..” (GA260 24.12.1923. Dornach)

With these worlds Rudolf Steiner is referring to the Michael School experienced before birth, which he described somewhat later in the 1924 Karma lectures, and to which all belong, who later seek Anthroposophy during their life on Earth. The first earthly form, in which Rudolf Steiner as representative of the heavenly movement clothes Anthroposophy, is philosophy. According to an autobiographical communication of Rudolf Steiner, he was assigned the task (in about 1880) by an anonymous master, of clothing Anthroposophy in the garment of “German Idealism”. In the course of this work there arose the early epistemological writings, which finally led to the “Philosophie der Freiheit” in Weimar in 1894.

The next sheath into which the Anthroposophical movement was brought by Rudolf Steiner was the Theosophical Society, whose German Section he entered in 1902, although he had previously criticized it very radically as being out of keeping with the present age. As late as 1897, in his “Magazin Für Literatur”, in an article entitled “Theosophists”, he had characterized them in the following terms: “….. nothing but empty formulations…. without a trace of content…. hypocrisy …… empty phrases….. knowledge they do not possess ….. no idea whatsoever….. obscure chatter…..” (GA32)

When Steiner nevertheless entered this Society, his friends questioned his sanity. Yet Steiner knew what he was doing, in accordance with the Master’s instructions. In essence, what he had said to him was the following: “If you wish to engage the enemy in battle, you must first understand him. You can only conquer the dragon by clothing yourself in his skin. One must take the bull by the horns. In the greatest misfortune you will find your weapons and your fellow-warriors. I have shown you who you are; now go and remain true to yourself”.

Rudolf Steiner was thus faced with the dual task on the one hand of working his way conceptually into the outer, materialistically coloured activity of contemporary culture and science, and engage within it. This he did through newspaper articles, lectures and work as a teacher in the Berlin School for the education of workers, with its communist leanings.  On the other hand he took on the task, in the Theosophical Society, of transforming the esoteric terminology with an Indian character stemming from the British colonial tradition, into one that was appropriate for the western consciousness. In addition to this it was necessary to set over against Anglo-Indian Theosophy which had remained untouched by Christianity: (Quote R, Steiner) “The spirituality of Western Civilization with the mystery of Golgotha as its central point”. (GA257. 06.02.1923. Stuttgart) 

Here an important role was played by Marie von Sievers – later to become Steiner’s wife – as his fellow fighter for the cause and companion on his life’s path, when, at the right moment she asked a question during a tea-party held at Graf Brockdorff’s home in Berlin in 1901, thus setting in motion Steiner’s public activity for Christian-Rosicrucian esotericism. Rudolf Steiner’s inner connection with Marie von Sievers to the very end came to expression in a letter from him to Marie on 27.02.25: “Only with you can I experience a shared feeling and thinking in the act of judgement”. (GA262)

Considering Steiner’s esoteric calling, the Anthroposophical movement represented by him was a “Cuckoo’s egg” within the tradition-bound Theosophical Society. And it was only a matter of time before the one would no longer be able to tolerate the other, because their strivings were in conflict with one another. This moment arrived when in 1909, within the Theosophical Society under the leadership of Annie Besant, the Indian boy Krishnamurti was proclaimed to be the reborn Christ. Steiner’s criticism of this impossible claim was used as a pretext for expelling Steiner and his followers from the Theosophical Society.

On the 2nd and 3rd February 1913 what was now the Anthroposophical Society constituted itself anew in Berlin. But Steiner himself was not a member or functionary of this Society. He remained outside it as a spiritual adviser and teacher from out of the Anthroposophical movement. As a result of this the Society developed an independence of its own, albeit with negative consequences. The hopes which Steiner attached to an independent Society were not fulfilled. What he called the “inner opposition” within the Anthroposophical Society became ever more tangibly a paralysing obstruction for the Anthroposophical movement, and thus for Steiner himself. Despite the growth in numbers of members of the Anthroposophical Society, a hollowing-out of the esoteric core within the Society was apparent.

The burning down of the Goetheanum in 1922, the Stuttgart state of affairs, socalled, the splitting of the German National Society into young members and conservatives, the general state of inner passivity of the Society members, characterize the picture of a Society that had been a failure right up to 1923. There are damming characterizations of the Society in the letters to Edith Maryon, an English sculptress who had helped with the work on the first Goetheanum. Here are a few outstanding examples: Stuttgart 25.03.23: “As to the Society I have actually no more to say than that I would prefer to have nothing to do with it any longer. I am repelled by everything its executive Councils do”. Stuttgart 11.05.23: “…. The Anthroposophical Society remains asleep. It refuses to be woken up…..” Vienna 30.09.23: “Otherwise, everything went well, leaving aside the albeit significant fact that our Viennese members are also asleep…. The Hague 16.11.23: “……here, too, the Society is in a parlous state, disunity, inadequacy etc….”

In autumn 1923 Rudolf Steiner was faced with the difficult question whether he should sever his connection with the Anthroposophical Society altogether, or completely unite himself with it. On Nov. 17th, in an internal circle in Holland, Steiner considers whether he should withdraw with a few followers who understand him, into a community something like an Order – Ita Wegman and Marie Steiner tried to dissuade him from retreating in this way.

Steiner himself describes in retrospect the seriousness of the decision confronting him: “But I would like, also in the circle of our dear English friends, to stress quite emphatically something that definitely needs to be stressed in connection with the decision to take on the Presidency of the Anthroposophical Society. With respect to the movement as a whole it was a deed that was fraught with risk, because by acting in this way one faced a quite definite eventuality. For the Anthroposophical movement rests upon the fact that there flows down from the spiritual world real revelations concerning the content of spiritual cognition. If one wishes to do the work of the Anthroposophical movement, one cannot do human work alone. One must be open for that which flows down out of the spiritual worlds. The laws of the spiritual world are very exact and they are inviolable. They have to be strictly observed. And it is  difficult to contrive all that an outer function requires in our time, be it even that of President of the Anthroposophical Society, with the occult duties towards the revelations of the spiritual world. So that one had at that time to place before one’s soul the question: Will the spiritual powers who have, up to now, given as a gift of grace to the Anthroposophical Society all that can flow down from them, will these spiritual powers continue to bestow their gifts upon the Anthroposophical movement in this way?” (GA240. 12.08.24. Torquay)

Rudolf Steiner did decide to unite his destiny as representative of the movement with the destiny of the administrative Society, but he attached quite definite conditions to this union. Were these conditions not to be fulfilled, the impulse of the Christmas Conference would fail; that is to say, the union of esoteric movement and exoteric administrative association would have to separate again.  One condition was the forming of an esoteric Council, which was to be responsible to the spiritual powers for what it does.  The other condition was that the consumer attitude towards the communications from the spiritual world, which was generally typical of Society members in the year 1923, would have to stop. An “esoteric trend” would need to take  hold among Society members. From now on, Anthroposophy would have to be done. For the cause of Anthroposophy is not just a personal matter for private indulgence. It is a concern for mankind as a whole, and for the Gods.

As the opening lecture of the Christmas Conference is addressed to the members, it has to do with the conditions attached to this new beginning, which the members must, from now on, be careful to fulfil. In Steiner’s words:    “Only if, in this way, we can make the Anthroposophical movement into the deepest concern of the heart, within our own being, only then will the Anthroposophical Society continue. If we can not do this, it will not continue. For the most important thing of all that has to be done in the days ahead, must be done in the hearts of each and every one of you, my dear friends. What we say and what we hear, will only be made by us in the right way into the starting-point for the development of the cause of Anthroposophy if our hearts’ blood can beat for it. And it is actually for this reason, my dear friends, that we have called you here, so that in a truly anthroposophical sense a harmony of hearts may be awakened. And we cherish the hope that it will be possible for this appeal to be understood in the right way”. (GA260)

Steiner’s wish is that (quote): “The spiritual-esoteric must form the basis for all our activity”.  This means: “Truth that unfolds to the full, divine and spiritual life that unfolds to the full, in our inner being. Anthroposophy must live out in daily life all that is recognized as truth within it”.

And further on in this opening lecture Steiner describes how, before the Christmas Conference, when young people wanted to join this Anthroposophical Society, they always shrank back from the dogmatic demands made of them by the old Anthroposophists who had belonged to the Theosophical Society. Young people were always taught to feel that it was necessary to make a declaration of faith in a dogmatic way. Of this, Steiner says: “This is something that has absolutely no place any longer within the fundamental disposition of human souls in our time”. Human souls today feel “an aversion to everything of a sectarian nature”. “And it cannot be denied that it is difficult to eliminate these sectarian qualities from the Anthroposophical Society. But they must be eliminated. And not the slightest trace of them must remain in future, within the new Anthroposophical Society that is about to be founded. It must be a genuine World-Society….” “Whoever joins it must have the feeling: Yes, here I find something that really stirs me. The older person must have the feeling: Here I find something that, throughout my life, I have striven for in association with other people. The young person must feel: Here I find something that comes to meet me as a young person”.

Quite consistently through the further course of this opening lecture the word “General”, which precedes Anthroposophical Society, is interpreted to mean: “universally human”. On this basis there is no need for guardians of the true teaching, so-called “dependable people”, who in practical terms would be snoopers who keep Dornach informed of whatever is going on. National Societies should regard themselves as independent. (Quote) “But then these national societies will be really autonomous. Then every group that forms within this Anthroposophical Society will be really autonomous”.  In this connection Steiner points out that everything of a bureaucratic or dogmatic nature and all clinging to abstract principles is out of place in this Society, because everything is based on the “purely human”. And then Steiner speaks about two difficulties that have to be overcome:

1. No more secrecy internally or externally. Unrestricted availability of the teaching of Anthroposophy. This must be accompanied by the capacity to form sound judgements in Anthroposophical questions. In another connection Steiner says what amounts to the following: So long as a person still clings to Anthroposophical terminology, he has not yet found the essential nature of Anthroposophy.
2. The other difficulty to be overcome is: cowardly denial of Anthroposophy where one ought actually to step forward in open acknowledgement of it. Also, the spiritual traditions that are flourishing everywhere although they belong to the past should not be indiscriminately mixed up with what Anthroposophy brings, which is essentially new. Elsewhere Steiner says: “Courage where Anthroposophy is concerned is learnt quickly or not at all”. At this point I will break off my reference to the opening lecture. Steiner begins then to discuss very carefully the Statutes of the new Society.

From this brief summary of the opening lecture of the Christmas Conference one can recognize two basic features of action in the spirit of Anthroposophy, that is to say, of an attitude that is universally human and in keeping with the demands of the present age. They are: unconditional love of the truth inwardly, in relation to oneself; and unconditional love of tolerance outwardly, in relation to one’s fellow human beings. Love inwardly and outwardly needs to be developed, from the heart, by everyone who wishes to belong. Truthfulness inwards and tolerance outwards, borne by the capacity for love, are the fundamental demands of the contemporary, universal human consciousness, and hence of the consciousness-soul age. Whoever stays behind has (or will soon run into) problems. He should ask himself whether he is in the right place in this universal human society if he does not want to be someone who is striving towards these ideals. That this striving is bound up with inner work, of this there is no doubt. Thus Steiner explains: Simple membership of the Society (pink card) places one under no further obligation than to wish to become familiar with Anthroposophy.

Elsewhere he says: “to wish to be a decent human being”. Membership of the High School for Spiritual Science (blue card) requires that one should wish to be a representative of the cause of Anthroposophy before the world.  Instead one can and could observe, then as now, how many members of all descriptions have lain down upon what Steiner calls “the snug couch of spiritual science“ and “the snug couch of confident belief”. This attitude stems from the feeling that, just because one thinks one has found what is right, one is better than others. Instead of feeding one’s lower ego, this is where the work of the heart should surely begin.

II. The Failure of the Christmas Conference.

All the statements made by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 after the Christmas Conference on the subject of the Christmas Conference are filled with hope and with deep concern as to whether the Christmas Conference impulse was being taken up by the members of the Society. Thus, even in the opening address the following is said: “Only if, in this way, we can make the Anthroposophical movement into the deepest concern of the heart, within our own being, only then will the Anthroposophical Society continue – If we cannot do this, it will not continue”.

Soon after this, on the 18th January 1924, he says: “If this Christmas Conference is taken in the way people were so inclined to take earlier Conferences, then it will gradually evaporate, it will lose its content and it would be better if we had not met together”.  A similar statement is made in Stuttgart on 06.02.1924: “This Council, which was formed in Dornach at Christmas, rests upon a kind of hypothetical judgement. If the Society is willing to take up what it does, then it will be the Council; if the Society is not willing to take it up, it will be nothing at all. But it will also be possible to take it, so one might say, as the centre of a living activity. With this I can only indicate (…..) that the attempt has indeed been made to introduce a new spirit into the Society by way of the Christmas Conference. But it is essential that one should understand what is the nature of this new spirit: that it is a spirit of living activity as opposed to a spirit of abstraction, that it is a spirit that would speak, not to the head, but to human hearts. The consequence of this is that, for the cause of Anthroposophy, this Christmas Conference is actually either nothing or everything. It will be nothing if it finds no continuation, if it was a festive gathering that brought a little joy and satisfaction; then afterwards one forgets the whole thing and life continues as before, in the same old fashion. Then it has no content, nothing radiates back towards it. It can only receive its content from the life in the different areas of the Society; it is only a reality through what happens through it, what happens continually in the life of the Anthroposophical Society through it. The Christmas Conference only becomes real through that which develops out of it. To turn one’s gaze to the Christmas Conference gives rise in the soul to a certain responsibility to make it real, which otherwise it will withdraw from earthly existence. Whether as the Christmas Conference it will prove effective for life depends upon whether it is continued further…. Formally speaking, we have brought it to a close, but actually this Christmas Conference should never come to an end, but should always live on in the life of the Anthroposophical Society…..”

Even when Steiner reports positively on the Christmas Conference, he never says it has been accomplished, completed or has succeeded. He always points to the conditions that need to be fulfilled, the programme of inner work that ought to be carried out.

On 23.05.24 R.St. points to Ahrimanic demons that are beginning to make their influence felt. On 24.08.24 Steiner also makes a remark about the inertia of the Council, “Which so far has only made half a step forward….” And Steiner asks patience of himself and his listeners. The Christmas Conference is a process that is in danger because, in spite of the Christmas Conference, the members are continuing on in their old lethargy. Even in Steiner’s remarks on the Christmas Conference on 05.09.24, the positive statement to the effect that through the Christmas Conference an “esoteric impulse” had entered the GAS is followed by the qualifying remark that the Christmas Conference will only continue “if human beings find in their hearts the strength to remain faithful to it”. The Christmas Conference is active only “where this more esoteric trend is present”. Even at the end of his final address on 28.09.24, which he had to break off because of illness, there is a sevenfold repetition (“only then …..provided that”) of the conditions which must be fulfilled if the Christmas Conference is to succeed. Also in his final word of greeting to the members from his sick-bed at the beginning of 1925 Steiner writes the following: “in the fervent hope that the Christmas Conference will have received a new impetus in the hearts (of members).”

None of this sounds like a proclamation of victory, as it later came to be spoken of and implanted itself firmly in the minds of members – as though the Christmas Conference could be treated as a finished product. To these expressions of Steiner’s deep concern and hope in his lectures to members we will now add some less well known communications from the circle close to Steiner. According to the priest Rudolf Meyer the following statement was made by Rudolf Steiner long before his illness: “The Christmas Conference is not being taken up. There is still time. But if it is not taken up by the autumn, the Ahrimanic powers will launch their attack”. The Stuttgart state attorney Dr. Bruno Kruger has testified that as early as June 1924 Rudolf Steiner said to him personally with firm insistence: “This impulse has failed. Come back to Dornach in October. Then everything will be arranged differently – including the situation in Stuttgart”. A member who wishes to remain anonymous received from Rudolf Steiner, in response to a question about the Christmas Conference and its effects within the Society, the answer: the spiritual world allows nine months to see whether an echo comes from the members. If no echo comes, the impulses of the Christmas Conference have come to an end. When the nine months had passed, this member asked Rudolf Steiner about it again. He replied: “No echo has come. The Society has not taken up the Christmas Conference”.

The eurythmist Ina Schuurman testifies to having received personally from Rudolf Steiner the following statement, which she reports thus: “It was during a eurythmy dress rehearsal in the course of the Christmas Conference…. That Rudolf Steiner was walking past on his way from the auditorium, stopped in front of me and said: ‘Now let us hope that things can continue in this way for ten years’. In September 1924 there was again a dress rehearsal in Dornach…. When Rudolf Steiner came by and stopped in front of me. He said with great emphasis: ‘the Christmas Conference has failed’, and walked on into the auditorium. There is also a communication said to have been received by Countess Keyserlingk after Rudolf Steiner’s death. Countess Keyserlingk had attained certain degrees in occult training. She writes as follows: “It was on the morning of Rudolf Steiner’s cremation, which I did not attend. The earthly body of the great Teacher was still laid out near to where I stood in the room of the carpentry shop, when close to me the aura of the beloved Teacher appeared. From this aura the instruction came that I should write. I took paper and pencil and from his presence came the following words – Often I could not write quickly enough, then he stopped and waited until I had caught up with writing, as Rudolf Steiner had done on earlier occasions when he was dictating something to me: ‘My mission is ended. What I was able to give human beings at their present level of maturity, I have given them. I go away, because I found no ears able to hear the spirit-word behind the word. I go away, because I found no eyes able to behold the spirit-pictures behind the earthly pictures – I go away, because I found no human beings able to bring my will to realization. The Mysteries remain veiled or hidden until I come again. I will come again and unveil the Mysteries when I have succeeded in establishing in spirit-worlds an altar, a place of worship, for human souls. Then I will come again, then I will continue to reveal the Mysteries. Responsibility for my death is borne by those who have suppressed the culture of the heart. If human beings had gone through their hearts and penetrated into the depths they would have found the strength to fulfil the tasks of the present age’.

Ita Wegman had asked Rudolf Steiner some time after the Christmas Conference what would happen if it were not to succeed. Steiner had replied: “Then Karma will prevail”. Anti-Michael demons would become active if the Michael impulses, which had entered so powerfully, are unable to achieve a breakthrough. From January 1925 onwards Steiner no longer spoke to Ita Wegman of exhaustion, but, instead, of the effects of Karma.

Dr. Ita Wegman who, together with Dr. Noll, gave Steiner medical care until the very end, reports as follows: “In full consciousness, but without saying anything about the future, without leaving behind any instruction or message for this or that personality, the Master has left us. And a direct question put to him on these matters was consciously answered in the negative. Why was this?” Somewhat later, Dr. Noll told Johanna Mücke: “Shortly before his passing, Frau Wegman asked Dr. Steiner whether there was any arrangement he wished to make in connection with the Society – he looked very intently at her and then turned away!

To sum up what we have said so far, one could state the following: In the new Anthroposophical Christmas Conference Society contrasting Karmic streams which had once been in conflict with one another were to be brought together into a new Christian movement. In order to neutralize the negative personal element – and the Karma of the different streams – the exercises had been given, in self-knowledge, character training (subsidiary exercises) and the meditations (main exercises). For a similar reason the Karma lectures had been held by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, to foster a general awareness and a better mutual understanding of the Karmic situations within the Anthroposophical Society. Because the members did not heed the Christmas Conference and thus failed to do the inner work required, taking the Christmas Conference with the same lack of commitment as they had done with earlier conferences, the Christmas Conference impulse evaporated and the karmic streams began again to gain the upper hand.  Negative astral beings used the opportunity to take possession of un-purified astral bodies and intensify weaknesses of character. On May 23rd 1924 Rudolf Steiner reported on the Christmas Conference before a lecture given in Paris, and described the situation as follows:

“It is connected with the fact that – I mean from the spiritual aspect – very powerful forces of opposition, demonic powers are attacking the
Anthroposophical movement. But we can well cherish the hope that the forces of the alliance that we were able to form with the good spiritual powers will be able in the future to defeat all those powers of opposition in spiritual realms – which make use of human beings in order to achieve their aims – to defeat all these powers of opposition”.

The spiritual background of the Christmas Conference was that Steiner, in taking on as an esoteric Master the leadership of a hitherto exoteric administrative Society, also had to stand responsible before the spiritual world, for the unredeemed Karma of the members of the Council and the Society. Thus he said: “This leading function entails the following, and I have often, particularly since the Christmas Conference, had to point out what this function of leader of the Anthroposophical Society entails. It entails that all that happens in connection with me, I am able to carry, myself, up into the spiritual world…. And you see, if you want to be actively involved in the true sense, if you want to be actively involved in that which the Anthroposophical movement has become since the Christmas Conference, you must be able to enter into the thought of what it means to stand responsible for the Anthroposophical movement before the spiritual world….. All that is represented on the Earth as something of a personal nature is, when it mixes itself into what has to happen for the cause of Anthroposophy, an element which, if it remains personal, cannot be justified before the spiritual world. And what difficulties arise for the one who has to represent something or other before the Spiritual world in a responsible way, if at times he has to bring, together with that for which he must stand responsible, all that comes out of the personal aspirations of the people involved. What consequences this has, of this you ought to be a little more aware. It results in the most terrible setbacks from the side of the spiritual world… Here is someone working with others in the Anthroposophical movement…. but he weaves into what he is actively contributing, personal ambitions, personal intentions, personal qualities. And so, there they are, these personal ambitions, these personal tendencies. Most people don’t realize that they are personal; most people regard what they do as impersonal, because they deceive themselves as to the personal and impersonal. This must then be brought along. And it results in the most appalling setbacks from the spiritual world for the one who has to carry with him into the spiritual world these things that have their source in the personalities.

These are inner difficulties, my dear friends, which arise particularly for such a movement as Anthroposophy within the Anthroposophical Society. Certainly it is terrible that we have such terrible opponents, but with respect to the inner question of how Anthroposophy has to be represented, it is far more terrible when it is necessary to carry the fruits of work that is done within the Anthroposophical movement, to carry them into the spiritual world with the encumbrance of the personal interests of this or that individual. And, actually, very little thought is given to this fact”.

The risk inherent in the initiative taken by Steiner lay in a promise made to the spiritual world, that he would unite the karmically opposed streams. Steiner’s own words: “There is also in a certain sense a promise that has been made to the spiritual world. This promise will be fulfilled with the utmost resoluteness, and one will seem that in the future things will happen as have been promised to the spiritual worlds. So that a responsibility has been placed not only upon the Anthroposophical movement, but also upon the Anthroposophical Society, towards the Council”. That is to say: In order to keep this promise Steiner depended upon the cooperation of the members. This would also explain the appeals made continually through the year 1924 to the members, that they should, at long last, take the Christmas Conference seriously. Steiner’s last attempt to rescue the Christmas Conference impulse, while bypassing the existing Council, occurs at the close of his final address, for the sake of which he summoned all his strength and left the sick-bed to which he had already been confined: “If in the near future there are at least four times twelve human beings in whom the Michael-thought becomes fully alive, in four times twelve people who can be recognized as such, not through themselves, however, but through the leadership of the Goetheanum in Dornach, if among four times twelve people of this kind there emerge leaders for a festival mood of Michael, then we can look upon that light which will spread abroad in humanity in the future, through Michael-stream and Michael-activity”.

These four times twelve human beings could not be found, however. Retrospectively Ita Wegman wrote words to the effect that it was Steiner’s sacrifice in taking upon himself the Karma of the Society that led to his death. A similar view was expressed by Marie Steiner von Sievers. How did the Council act after Steiner’s death and what were the consequences of this for the Society?

After the esoteric vessel had broken, the Council found itself in a state of bewilderment and helplessness. A general meeting of all the members ought to have been called. The perplexing situation should have been declared openly. One should have discussed with the members what further steps might be taken. Instead there began the “playing with esotericism”, which Rudolf Steiner in the 3rd letter to members had expressly characterized as a form of untrue behaviour and thus as the opposite of Anthroposophy. There he describes the two fundamental evils of pseudo-Anthroposophical behaviour: “playing with esotericism” on the one hand, and on the other the cold impulse to teach others. So now there was the wish to appear to be more than they really were. They felt themselves to be still the esoteric Council, and let the members continue to look up to them as such. Marie Steiner was the only one who was clear about the whole situation. There is a letter from her to Eugen Kolisko, in which she writes: “I have clearly recognized that our Council, as it now is, has been orphaned in the stage of infancy, and is a complete nothingness”.

She stresses that this has been written after the most painstaking reflection and that she has weighed everything up in the fullest sense of responsibility”. It is in the ideological usurpation of the Christmas Conference for reasons of vanity and the retention of power that the true motives lie for the inclination shown very soon by Marie Steiner, to withdraw from the Council after Steiner’s death. In various letters she later expresses herself very clearly regarding the spiritual decline in the heads of the Council members. By way of characterization she chooses typical concepts, well-known from the Catholic Church. She speaks, for instance, of the “dogmatizing of the Christmas Conference”, of the “Papism” of Steffen, Wachsmuth and others, of the “authority principle” basing itself on “installation” and the Petrine succession emanating from this. She tells how people who wish to live according to free spirituality are “branded heretics” in true ecclesiastical fashion. How the “infallibility dogma” of the “Steffen party” dominates the Society and how the wisdom of Rudolf Steiner, withheld in secrecy, and the First Class of the Free High School for Spiritual Science are misused as “instruments of power”, causing Marie Steiner to feel in the end that the “endless talk about the Christmas Conference” is no more than “empty chatter”.

A further example of “playing at esotericism” on the part of the remaining Council was their failure to inform the members of the Christmas Conference Society that on the 8th February 1925, in the absence of Rudolf Steiner owing to his illness, the Christmas Conference Statutes had been replaced by those of the Building Association in order, so it was claimed, to make possible, after constant postponement, the entry of the Christmas Conference Society in the Swiss trade register. At any rate, this was how Gunther Wachsmuth, who held responsibility for the decision, justified the action retrospectively in 1950. It emerged, however, from later inquiries addressed to the Confederate trade register office, that in 1924 the statutes of the Christmas Conference Society could have been entered in principle, as there were no prescriptions attached to the formulation of association statutes. From then onwards, the Christmas Conference Statutes were known as “Principles”, and no-one really knew what he had committed himself to. This is also the reason why it was possible later to bring about expulsions by means of majority voting. The Statutes of the Christmas Conference would not have allowed for this at all.

Now the Christmas Conference members, without being informed of the fact, had become members of a Building Association with exoteric administrative Statues. The fact that Rudolf Steiner had agreed, through his own signature given on his sick bed, to the transformation of the Christmas Conference Society into an exoteric administrative association with the Statutes of a Building Association is, within the whole context of events, further proof that Rudolf Steiner had abandoned the Christmas Conference of 1923 and thereby again separated the Society from the movement. Especially considering with what meticulous care he had discussed the Statutes during the Christmas Conference. Now he simply puts his signature to the statutes of the Building Association. Illusionistic wishful thinking has, to this day, obscured people’s perception of the fact of the failed Christmas Conference; and it is this, and this alone that made possible the entire constitution debate, including the pseudo-Christmas Conference of 2002 and its pointless legal processes. The pro and contra of the many painstaking and commendable investigations, and the courageous opposition of the “Gelebte Weihnachtstagung” group to the ‘two Societies’ theory, which the Goetheanum Vorstand quickly took over from the researchers into the constitution, thereby triggering the avalanche of legal battles from 2002 onwards, - all this dissolves into nothing if one learns how to think the thought that Rudolf Steiner himself, on the 8th February 1925, confirmed with his own signature the final separation of movement and Society, shortly before his death on 30th March 1925. For Building Association statutes are simply not the statutes of the Christmas Conference (Principles). And the Administration” (08.02.1925) is simply not the “Anthroposophical Society in the narrower sense” (29.06.1924), meaning the esoteric stream within the Society, in so far as it is cultivated by members, hence the movement.

To this day neither a report nor minutes have appeared of the preliminary meeting for the members of the A.S., which took place one hour before the 4th extraordinary general meeting of the Goetheanum Association on the 8th February 1925. In the meeting itself Rudolf Steiner was represented by Emil Grosheintz, who in 1912 had placed his land in Dornach at Steiner’s disposal for the building of the Goetheanum. He held several leading positions within the Society and can be regarded as a close associate of Rudolf Steiner. No message of greeting from Rudolf Steiner was read out to those assembled!

Darkening of consciousnesses appears to have occurred; confusion in a number of matters seems to have arisen. On the evening of Sunday 8th February, from 9 – 11 p.m. to 0-11 a.m. an astronomical partial eclipse of the moon occurred. [Footnote: Marie Steiner also had no precise memory of what happened at the meeting.] Although because of illness, Rudolf Steiner was not present at the meeting on the 8th February 1925 and he only received the document for signing afterwards, there is no doubt whatever that he knew what he was doing. On the contrary, the following is an account of all his activities right up to three days before his death: “Rudolf Steiner was weakened physically, but fully awake and alert and still full of amazing energy for work. Every week until his death excerpts from his “Autobiography” appeared in the “Wochenschrift”, and the essays for members, with the “Leading Thoughts”, in the newssheet. Everything was written by hand and then the proofs were corrected. Until three days before his death the applications for membership of the class were read by him and responded to with written comments… At the same time, until close to the end of March, Rudolf Steiner was correcting the proofs of the book “Extension of the Art of Healing”. In addition to this there were letters, the signing of residence permits, visits from Council members. A photocopy of the last letter to members, “From Nature to Sub-Nature”, shows the clear, conscious and steady handwriting of Rudolf Steiner… It is also quite unthinkable that anyone should have tried to hide something from him, because everyone, Rudolf Steiner included, was hoping for a speedy recovery.” (Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, Newssheet 04.05.1997).

As to the possibility that on 8th February 1925 a conscious act of deception was carried out behind the back of Rudolf Steiner, extending as far as manipulations with Steiner’s signature, I would stress quite clearly that according to my research into the ways in which the Councils from then until now have acted, there is no evidence of any deliberately corrupt behaviour. What we are dealing with is “only” the result of an unconscious calculation related to vanity and power, flattering itself that it stands in the centre of world-evolution and has the very best at heart. Again, the error lies “only” in a lack of truthfulness with regard to oneself and the facts.

Rudolf Steiner could have intervened, himself, when he saw the decisions of the 8th February published in the Newssheet, if he had not been in agreement with the content. It seems to have dawned on Albert Steffen when, in his diary on 9th February, he noted with regard to the curtailment of the powers of the existing Council: “Now every member has a vote. The Society can now say: No building! No clinic! A different Council etc.” Instead, Rudolf Steiner now tried bypassing the restricted Council to rescue the movement by writing a letter on 19th March (eleven days before his death) to seven personalities of the Free High School for Spiritual Science, appointing them as leaders of the “Administration of the Goetheanum Building”. At the head of this group of seven new administrators we again find Emil Grosheintz, appointed by Rudolf Steiner as Chairman of the group. The letter bears the official stamp of the Free High School for Spiritual Science, and the signatures of Rudolf Steiner as President and Ita Wegman as Recorder. It is an appointment and not an open request, as the dethroned Council later declared it to have been. As the appointment was made by the esoteric High School, it has to do with the continuation of the Goetheanum building in the spirit of the Christmas Conference as a permanent spiritual “construction project”.

However, after Rudolf Steiner’s death on 30th March 1925, the Council that Steiner had himself curtailed, rejected the collaboration, as equals, of the seven administrators appointed by Steiner on 19th March 1925. Through this action the dethroned Council of the Christmas Conference of 1923 demonstrated that it had understood nothing of the things in which it was involved and which were of concern to Rudolf Steiner. To this day, all the Councils at the Goetheanum have been similarly unaware of their situation. That is to say: there is no consciousness of the fact that movement and Society were condemned, from that point onwards, through a decision of the spiritual initiators, to go their separate ways again. In this connection, the situation of the “Gelebte Weihnachtstagung” group must be viewed as a tragedy: On the one hand it has prompted, thanks to its grandiose stubbornness, the present Goetheanum Council and the dreaming Society members to take a new look at themselves and try to understand their position. This is highly commendable! On the other hand, they have also succumbed to the illusion that the Christmas Conference Society of 1923, after all that has happened, still has some meaning today.

Immediately after Steiner’s cremation, the karmic streams come into irreconcilable collision with one another. The crowning points of this unworthy culture of conflict in the history of Council and Society, which has gone on for years and continues into the present, can be quickly enumerated. Those wishing to know the details should read the “Rückblick” of Fred Poepping, in which he describes from his own experience the events in the Anthroposophical Society from 1923 to 1963.

The events described are a complete mockery of the heart culture striven for by Steiner. The first to happen, directly after Steiner’s cremation, was the conflict over the urn between the women on the Council, who could not agree on where the urn should be placed for the members to pay their final respects. If you read Fred Poepping’s description you can see how a relatively trivial misunderstanding causes the various emotions to flare up with explosive force. Here, as in all subsequent cases of conflict, what was lacking were the subsidiary exercises of the path of inner development, which control and transform the astral body. The distressing thing about this and all the conflicts that followed is that they had to do with shortcomings of the representatives of the cause of Anthroposophy, who upheld at the same time their lofty claim to be leaders, vis-à-vis the Society and humanity as a whole.

Through this fundamentally untruthful and sectarian mode of behaviour of individual Council members, the disintegration of the Council was only a matter of time. In 1935 Ita Wegman and Elisabeth Vreede were expelled from the Council. Together with the expulsion of other leading personalities, the English and Dutch Societies seceded from the control of Dornach. Following closely upon the first conflict over the literary estate came the second, in which Herr Steffen and Herr Wachsmuth wished to challenge the testamentary rights of the widow of Rudolf Steiner. Interestingly enough, they tried to justify their legal position on the grounds that after the Christmas Conference everything was different and even earlier testaments should no longer be regarded as valid. The conflict came to an end when in 1952 a Swiss court declared Marie Steiner, who had died in 1948, to be in the right.

As a result of this conflict the books of the complete edition (Gesamtausgabe – GA) of Steiner’s lectures and written works, published by the Nachlassverein (Literary Estate Association) which had been founded in Marie Steiner’s lifetime, were no longer sold in the bookshop of the Goetheanum. The whole atmosphere within the Anthroposophical Society was marked by dogmatic disenfranchisement of the members by the residual Council, servility of the members, and by conflict between the most varied interest groups, which gathered in party-political style around the most varied personalities. It should be realized that all this was going on while, all around, the Second World War, the Holocaust, the dropping of atomic bombs was throwing the world into chaos. What was meant to bring healing to the world had itself become a prey of the counter-forces.

In the post-war period from the sixties onward, voices were raised for the first time, pointing to a discrepancy between the statutes of the Building Association and those of the Christmas Conference. In full consistency with the Dornach policy of retention of power, these critical inquirers were branded immediately as opponents. Fred Poepping, as a witness over a long period, cites the Parable of the Ring from Lessing’s drama “Nathan the Wise” as proof and as a touchstone for the failure or success of the Christmas Conference. According to this parable, only he has the true ring, who also manifests the virtues of the true ring. If we sum up all the impressions from 1923 up to and including the events connected with the so-called new constitution of 2002, we must regretfully conclude that the Council of this Society, at any rate, despite widespread illusions to the contrary, was no longer in possession of the ring after 1925.

III The Meaninglessness of the New Constitution

We will now discuss an aspect of the Christmas Conference which has so far not been taken account of in the entire constitution debate and which will show up this debate in whatever shape or form as a complete waste of time. It proves those members to have been right all along, who felt that this debate was unnecessary. But what follows we will be dealing, not merely with vague intimations, but with facts. And it is also to be hoped that this will remove, for all time, the basis of the Christmas Conference ideology which is so widespread in the Anthroposophical Society today.

In the above-quoted address of Steiner to open the Christmas Conference 1923, words are spoken which one can pay insufficient attention to in reading: and it is …. “ not out of the arbitrariness of earthly will, but in response to the call that has sounded from out of the spiritual world….” that the Christmas Conference is taking place. Now there exists a hitherto unpublished report written down by the stenographer Helene Finkh (who was employed at the Goetheanum at that time). Copies of this report are in circulation among many members of the Society. It is said not to be traceable in the archives, where the claim is made that no such document has ever existed. It contains notes of a discussion held by Rudolf Steiner with the esoteric Council which was about to be formed, on Sunday 23rd December 1923 at 6.00 p.m., that is, on the evening before the beginning of the Christmas Conference. In it, words are recorded that were spoken by Rudolf Steiner to the future Council. I quote: “Thus, with this third and final attempt, the question is again asked of human beings, whether there is a group willing to come together to form a new spiritual leadership, where the impulse proceeds not from an earthly community, with the wish to “found” something, but where from out of the spiritual world a ‘Stiftung’ (Foundation) is inaugurated, which one may propose to join in full responsibility.

This act of joining a ‘Stiftung’ inaugurated from out of the spiritual world can be something of great significance for humanity as a whole, but it will bring calamity if later those who make such a resolve for earthly evolution break faith with their decision”. So here the reference is to a “third and final attempt” to form a “Stiftung from out of the spiritual world”. In order to grasp what this means, we must cite the explanatory words spoken by Rudolf Steiner, as they have been passed down to us by Marie Steiner in connection with the “second Stiftung”, Berlin 15.12.1911. Marie Steiner describes the phenomenon of the ’Stiftung’ as follows: “It has to do, as it were, with a direct communication from the spiritual world. It is said (by R.St. – Trans) to be like a call that goes out to humanity; and then (the spiritual world) wants to see what echo it receives. Such a call generally sounds three times. If the call goes unheard for a third time, it is taken back again into the spiritual world for a long time. This call has already gone out to humanity once.

Unfortunately, it found no echo. This is the second time. It is purely spiritual things that are involved here. Each time a call goes out in vain, the conditions and circumstances to be confronted grow more difficult”. It becomes clear from the report of 1911 that the three calls are identified with three ‘Stiftungen’, whereby a ‘Stiftung’ is not a human creation, but an initiative from the spiritual world which is hoping that human beings will decide to adopt a certain way of working. Rudolf Steiner said in 1911:  “It is therefore to be announced to you that, among those human beings who will come together for this purpose in a corresponding manner, a way of working is to be inaugurated (gestiftet) which, through the way in which the ‘Stiftung’ comes about, has as its direct starting-point that individuality whom for ages past in the Western World we have called by the name Christian Rosenkreutz”. Just as this second ‘Stiftung’ impulse, inaugurating a ‘Stiftung of a Society for Theosophical Style and Art (Art und Kunst)” in 1911 failed owing to human inadequacy, so the first ‘Stiftung’ impulse in 1905 had also failed. What was intended with the first ‘Stiftung’ impulse becomes apparent from a lecture held by Rudolf Steiner on the occasion of the general meeting of what was still the Theosophical Society, in Berlin on the 22nd October 1905. He said: “If, however, the Theosophical Society were to forget that there is the pulsing of this blood within it [Steiner had previously admonished his listeners to cultivate “occult teachings and occult living”], then it may well be an interesting Society, but that which is intended with it by the exalted powers who presided over its beginnings, it will not succeed in accomplishing”.

One should also quote here the conversation with Rudolf Steiner reported by Alexander Strakosch, the handicrafts teacher at the first Waldorf School: “In a personal conversation while we were walking together Rudolf Steiner pointed out in the most earnest way how much depends quite directly upon the way human beings respond to a call that has gone out from higher worlds. This was in 1923, when events in the Anthroposophical Society were a source of great concern for him. He asked me, ‘Do you know where the difficulties in the Society come from?’ ‘They come from the fact that there is not a sufficient number of people who have reached the levels of higher knowledge described in the book ‘How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds’. When the spiritual world had assigned me the task of writing this work, it had expected that many people would progress so far. Thus I was instructed to write a second volume’. After an interval of most solemn silence he continued by saying: ‘The expectations have not been fulfilled. Every so often, the spiritual world casts out a line. This time nothing was caught on it. But because there had been talk of a continuation I had at least to bring out the short work ‘Stages of Higher Knowledge’.” So Part II of Knowledge of Higher Worlds…. was never written.

But now, back to the Christmas Conference: If, therefore, we seriously consider the Christmas Conference of 1923 as the third attempt at a ‘Stiftung’ from the spiritual world, it should be evident from this, that the so-called “New Constitution” of the A.S. in 2002, and all activities connected with it, have nothing whatever to do with the Christmas Conference of 1923, as this “New Constitution” rests only upon human activities and wishes. In the report quoted above, the following is also said about the esoteric Council: “But we will always need to place before our souls the fact that a centre of this kind will only be able to work in the right way if each individual who is here entrusted with a task of leadership, should really feel and take on in practice the commitment towards the spiritual powers. This solemn commitment will not only place demands upon the individual, which he may be quite unable to meet, it will place them above all upon the whole Council in its entirely. If this harmony and solidarity is not renewed ever and ever again, the central Council will soon disintegrate and it would really be better if its members had never come together to undertake a solemn commitment of this kind”.

And the following is also said:  “If this attempt to connect to a ‘Stiftung’, and thus to begin a new spiritual leadership on Earth, were again to fail, then no-one in our circle will find the strength again during this earthly life to connect once more in this way to a 'Stiftung’ from the spiritual world”.

It should also be clear from these words that with Rudolf Steiner’s death, at the very latest, the Christmas Conference had finally come to an end, because from then onwards the united character of the Council as emphasized by Steiner disintegrated, not to mention the withdrawal of Marie Steiner already in 1925 and the expulsions in 1935. In the report quoted we see also how the individual Council members were placed in a relation to one another, what meditations they would need to work with in order to overcome their own weaknesses, and in what way they would stand in a special relation to the truth.

This unity or totality (Gesantheit), drawn together in a bond with Rudolf Steiner, would have been able to fulfil the function of an organ of spiritual receptivity. As to what has happened in Dornach since Steiner’s death and right up to our own time, the situation is entirely different. Here, according to a quote from Steiner, the following law applies: “Where the dissemination of the occult life is concerned, the Masters speak. Where one is only concerned with the organization of the Society…. Then error is possible, because the Masters are silent”. (GA93 22.10.1905. Berlin)

Seen against the background of the fact that the Christmas Conference was a ‘Stiftung’ out of the spiritual world, it is evident that the present Council and broad sections of the membership of the Anthroposophical Society have a connection to reality that is insufficient. In the entire “New Constitution” debate it is either not known or the fact is simply ignored, that the third call also, like all calls from the spiritual world, are limited to a certain ‘window of opportunity’. The “way of working” demanded by a ‘Stiftung’ could not be continued beyond Steiner’s death. Instead, the idea was already propagated by the First Council and all too readily believed by the Society members, that Rudolf Steiner would now lead the Goetheanum from the other side. But if we renounce all illusionistic glossing over of the facts, then the symptoms of the failure of the Christmas Conference are unmistakable:

1. The character of the Christmas Conference as a ‘Stiftung’ (third and final attempt).
2. Steiner’s words in 1924 about the failure of the Christmas Conference.
3. His signature put to the Building Association statutes, out of resignation.
4. His turning away despite explicit requests for instructions in the event of his death and concerning a successor.
5. His early death, brought about by the Karma of those involved.
6. The entire history of Council and Society right up to the present time.
7. The absence of Anthroposophy in contemporary cultural life, although Steiner had anticipated a culmination of Anthroposophy in cultural life at the turn of the millennium.

IV The Consequences for the Anthroposophical Movement Today

The result of our inquiry is, unfortunately, clear and beyond question. The new spiritual leadership of humanity intended with the Christmas Conference failed to materialise. The Anthroposophical movement, with the death of Rudolf Steiner, separated again from the Society. Since that time the Council of the Anthroposophical Society has tried to create the impression that it has the blessing of Rudolf Steiner. We of later generations, who belong to the Anthroposophical movement and who, as “homeless souls”, sought Anthroposophy on the Earth, can be overcome by sorrow, when we consider the ideals of truthfulness and tolerance cherished by us, which have clearly led us, out of ignorance and naïve trust, into a Society which, in Steiner’s words, may well be “an interesting Society”, but “which will not accomplish what was intended with it by the exalted Powers, which stood at its beginning”.

That it has not accomplished this for 80 years also comes to expression in the fact that Council member Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, shortly before his death, in the opening lecture of the Michaelmas Conference in 2000, spoke of the “occult imprisonment” of Anthroposophy, in view of its lack of influence in the world. The constitution activists in the Society and the modernized Council now thought that they could rescue the Anthroposophical Society, in the spirit of the Christmas Conference and of Rudolf Steiner, from its state of ineffectiveness by freeing it from the Building Association statutes and consciously reuniting it at last with the Christmas Conference statutes. Here, the Council, modern and self-sufficient as it was, also allowed itself to make a number of changes to the Christmas Conference statues of 1923, though this was brought to a standstill by the four plaintiff groups, who challenged the entire New Constitution process in a court of law. After its defeat, the Council avoided taking the case to the highest possible court of appeal. I will not go further into the disaster of the New Constitution, and instead refer the reader to “Die verordnete Denkpause” by Detlef Olaf Boehm, which summarizes it all in a concise and readable form.

Underlying the idea of the New Constitution are a number of illusions which anyone who cares deeply for true Anthroposophy should firmly resist. Here the illusions are listed briefly, and the reader can try to identify the points that apply to him:

1. The illusion that, by altering its statutes, one can help an association which regards itself as esoteric to achieve greater effectiveness in the wider world.
2. The illusion that the administrative association which continued to exist after Steiner’s death, is in reality the esoteric association intended by Rudolf Steiner at Christmas 1923.
3. The illusion that a ‘Stiftung’ from the spiritual world, bound to a limited timeframe and to a particular circle of people, can be brought to life again through an arbitrary human act that is the product of human wishful thinking.
4. The illusion that in staging the Christmas Conference anew one is standing in a direct line from Rudolf Steiner who, from the spiritual side, is continuing to lead the earthly Goetheanum; and that this New Constitution is something we owe to him, or alternatively that we have this “high obligation” towards the so-called spiritual world, which we conceive in a way that suits our own purposes.
5. The illusion that, with the Christmas Conference, Steiner created an entirely new esotericism, which must be distinguished from the esotericism before the Christmas Conference.

An educational drive is needed to counter these absurd pseudo- Anthroposophical ideas, which live not only in the Council, but also in the Society. There may well be people who feel quite comfortable in this undoubtedly “interesting Society”. But for anyone who feels a deeper commitment to the cause of Anthroposophy than to the eighty-year-old spectre of an administrative association with false pretentions, and who has recognized the appalling situation in which the “Living Being of Anthroposophy” finds itself; three fields of work promptly arise which in the present context can only be given in outline:-

a) Bringing clarity regarding the illusionistic Christmas Conference ideology (Free Spiritual Life in thinking).
b) A re-ordering of the relation between Anthroposophical Society and Anthroposophical movement (the Life of Rights in Responsibility, concerns the Feeling)
c) Taking initiative action on one’s own responsibility in the spirit of the ethical individualism of the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. (The meditative deed inwards, in balance with working upon the world, outwards. Both involve the will).

The Consequences

A. Bringing Clarity regarding the Illusionistic Christmas Conference Ideology

The Christmas Conference Ideology is based upon the assertion that only those are true Anthroposophists who subscribe to the following dogma, which is adhered to like an article of faith: the work of Rudolf Steiner continues, but only through the Society directed from Dornach, because the Christmas Conference succeeded in accordance with Steiner’s intentions and the Council stands in spiritual succession to Steiner. The fact is suppressed and passed over in silence, that already in Rudolf Steiner’s lifetime the Council failed in its task and thus played a decisive part in the failure of the Christmas Conference. It ought to be clear to the Council members at the very least, that with Steiner’s death the third attempt at a ‘Stiftung’ had to come to an end. Instead, the first generation of Council members (Steffen, Wachsmuth) contributed substantially to the obscuring of the facts. Thus the revealing but embarrassing fact that from the 8th February 1925 onwards the members had, with Steiner’s agreement, belonged to a Building Association with exoteric statutes, was not divulged to the members, as this would have made apparent the dethronement of the once esoteric Council. Only through the persistent archival research of individuals into constitutional questions did it become clear decades later that there is an irregularity here, which remains puzzling only so long as the character of the Christmas Conference as a ‘Stiftung’ is left out of account, or kept secret. (see Ch.III)

However, this veiling of the truth did not happen through evil intent, but through weakness of character. The deeper, unconscious reason for unwillingness to admit the failure of the Christmas Conference lies in the inability to face up to one’s own failure, working hand-in-hand with the flattering sense of having been elected to play a role of the highest importance. The two things in combination give rise to a vain belief which strives to maintain the situation unchanged for oneself and one’s close associates, ostensibly for the good of humanity. The un-purified, illusionistic life of feeling (Luciferic) opens the door to Ahrimanic intelligence, which calculates as follows: If we succeed in keeping the Anthroposophical Society after the Christmas Conference free from the stigma of failure and, instead, sanctify it still further by distinguishing it as clearly as possible from the Anthroposophical Society before the Christmas Conference, we can avoid facing up to the painful fact that with the failure of the Christmas Conference the Anthroposophical Society fell back again into the unsatisfactory state it was in, in 1923. We can thereby avoid having to apply to ourselves the sharp and unsparing criticism directed to the Anthroposophical Society by Steiner in many lectures during 1923. In reality this criticism of the Anthroposophical Society by Steiner has remained, to this day, of the utmost relevance.

Esoterically speaking, it is the unredeemed ‘double’ of the Society which places itself as a shield before the Council and many members. In the slumber in which they are plunged to this day, the Sleeping Beauty, in order to save them from the terrible and sobering experience of waking up to the reason for the “occult imprisonment” and their ineffectiveness in the world. The reason is the unconscious self-deception underlying the Christmas Conference ideology. This self-deception is incompatible with the fundamental principle of truthfulness, with which Anthroposophy stands or falls. Rudolf Steiner’s own words: ”Actually, nothing has greater power to tempt and mislead as than when we say that an action was done “in good faith”. For this “good faith” is the snug couch of idleness for a humanity who, in its extreme lethargy, does not feel the responsibility to first find out, before it makes a statement, whether it is true or not, whether or not it corresponds to the facts…. There needs to be a correspondence with facts in the world as a whole, not just with ourselves; otherwise what comes about in the external world as a result is forsaken by Angels, and handed over to Ahriman. And everything of an untruthful nature that is asserted “in good faith”, is what drives human beings most strongly into the Ahrimanic, is the strong rope that draws them inexorably into the Ahrimanic. And to appeal to good faith in the case of untruths is the best way, today, of delivering world civilization over to the being of Ahriman…. For it is really so, that human beings lose the assistance of the world of the Angel or when they lie down on the snug couch of good faith in the case of statements which they have not verified. And elsewhere Steiner says the following: “One must break the habit of a certain – there is no other way of putting it – dream-like longing, a certain sleepy-headedness, which so easily overcomes the person who approaches our spiritual-scientific movement and wants something soft and comforting for his soul, something that carries him through lifeenveloped in a nice warm feeling, something that you listen to and let work upon you in such a way that it warms you through and through, that you can believe in the higher calling of the human soul, all of which is quite right, but which can also be bound up with a certain lulling of the soul-life into complacency. This can be observed all too often, especially in those who let spiritual science work upon their soul and who do not strive at the same time to find, through what spiritual science can be, a clear and certain judgement regarding the events of life, regarding the complex interconnection of the facts within which each individual human being stands”.

A particularly disastrous role in the creation of the Christmas Conference ideology was played by Council member Rudolf Grosse with his book “The Christmas Conference as a Turning-Point of Time”, which first appeared in 1976 and in a short period was printed in three editions, because it was devoured uncritically by the members. But if one wishes to characterize the book and the reaction of the Society members as seen at this much later point in time, there is again no conscious bad intention, but the subtle working of the Luciferic-Ahrimanic forces which we spoke of earlier. The book came as a gift to the uninformed minds, the complacency, the lack of spiritual independence and the wishful thinking of many people. I myself recall that it provided substantial arguments – which today I can no longer accept – leading to my joining the Anthroposophical Society. Rudolf Grosse, as representative of the Society, skilfully exploited a number of publications of Steiner’s Complete Works (Gesamtausgabe – FA) which the Literary Estate Association (Nachlassverein) of Marie Steiner – formerly opposed by Grosse – had meanwhile published, and made us aware of the ideas that were now made available to all in an unprotected form, for the benefit of the then vegetating Anthroposophical Society.

In Grosse’s book the failure of the Christmas Conference is kept hidden behind a glorification of Rudolf Steiner’s death through its transformation into a sacrificial death for the sake of the continued existence of the Society. The fact that Rudolf Steiner did not appoint a successor but turned away in silence when asked about this, is interpreted to mean, entirely in the tradition of Steffen, that from then on he would lead the Goetheanum from the spiritual world. The Christmas Conference is celebrated as a triumphant victory, as a “new beginning at a world-turning-point of time”. Actually this concept comes to us from Steiner, just as does the concept of the “spiritual Goetheanum”, but the clever mixture of Steiner quotes, wishful thinking and unmentioned facts would require a more exact analysis than is possible in the present context. The people who belong to the Anthroposophical Society and are drawn to Grosse’s book imagine that they are joining the Christmas Conference Society, oblivious of the fact that the Association they are in may well be an interesting one, but is actually no more than a “Bau-verein”, whose Council also has no knowledge of this fact, as it has been since 1925 in a line of succession of “playing at esotericism”.

The book resulted in a growth in membership, because it invites anyone to receive, with no effort required, the consecration of the Christmas Conference. In the Christmas Conference ideology the element is decisive, according to which simply to be a member of the Society is a guarantee of the fact that one stands within the sacred stream of true Anthroposophy. That this basically conservative-Catholic conception of an “Institution that alone can bring salvation” is shared and defended with inner satisfaction by most members of the Anthroposophical Society, sheds light upon the “snug couch of good faith” on which many Society members are reposing. In contrast to the message of victory of the Christmas Conference as proclaimed by Rudolf Grosse, which so many Anthroposophists – myself included – fell for, it is salutary to take stock of the true situation of the Anthroposophical cause.

- The Goetheanism further developed by Steiner has not been recognized by official Goethe research.
- The ‘Philosophie der Freiheit’ has not been taken up by universities.
- The first ‘Stiftung’ out of the spiritual world was not taken up between 1905 and 1909
- The second attempt at a ‘Stiftung’, The Society for Theosophical Style and Art, 1911, was declared a failure by Steiner in autumn 1912.
- The new Freemasonry for men and women had to be discontinued by Steiner in 1914.
- The Social Threefolding movement was withdrawn by Steiner on the grounds that it had failed for the present.
- The burning down of the Goetheanum on New Year’s Eve 1922/23 was a consequence of the disintegration of the Anthroposophical Society.
- The third attempt at a ‘Stiftung’, the Christmas Conference 1923, resulted in the death of Steiner.

Anyone who would ignore all this or recast it into a victory has lost touch with reality. In the Council of the Anthroposophical Society at the beginning of the 21st century it is above all Sergei O. Prokofieff who promotes the Christmas Conference ideology in his writings, and in thick volumes transports the feeling of his readers into an illusory heaven through numerous Steiner quotations, many of which are applied in a questionable way. In addition Prokofieff, standing entirely in the Albert Steffen tradition, treats the “Foundation Stone”, given by Rudolf Steiner during the Christmas Conference, as a finished product. This is clearly in contradiction with Steiner’s intention to open up a field for individual meditative work.

As an inducement to sober reflection I would quote here a statement of Rudolf Steiner’s which is attested by Herbert Witzenmann to have been made to Guenther Wachsmuth: “It could well be that when I return I will have to fight against the Anthroposophical Society”.

If one wishes, in a constructive way, to oppose the presentation of the Christmas Conference in false colours, it must be made quite clear that the new attempt at a ‘Stiftung’ from the spiritual world in connection with Rudolf Steiner, wanted to descend from heaven to earth in order to inaugurate a new Mystery Centre on the Earth. Steiner was prevented from doing this by the Karma of those involved. And now the death of Steiner which resulted from the hindrance to his work is used in order to disseminate the legend of his continued “spiritual leadership of the Goetheanum”. To this, one must say first of all, that in this way of treating Steiner’s death a mode of thinking becomes visible for which the Council’s “playing at esotericism”, is more important than consideration of the tragic situation in which Steiner stood to the very end. And, secondly, the question arises why Steiner made such great efforts on Earth when “spiritual leadership from beyond the Threshold” would have been just as effective. Regarding the claim that an entirely new esotericism arose after the Christmas Conference, it can be shown right down to single details that Steiner’s body of Christian- Rosicrucian teaching forms a hermetic unity.

B. Re-Ordering the Relation between Anthroposophical Society and Movement

Here too we can give only a few indications. The Anthroposophical Society would not exist at all without the Anthroposophical movement. The movement is of primary importance. The only reason why Rudolf Steiner united himself with the Society at the Christmas Conference was that he hoped to provide a protective sheath for the movement which he represented. From Steiner’s death onwards, at the latest, the Council of the Anthroposophical Society instead used the movement for its own purposes. For the sake of the retention of power, the movement was, from 1925 onwards, harnessed to the wagon of the Society. Since then it has had to serve under a false guise, held fast in the grip of the dogma of the “eternal Christmas Conference” and thus turned into its opposite. It is hardly possible to imagine a more sinister and subtle way of separating Steiner from his work. During his lifetime Steiner had warned of the possibility of the separation of his name from his work.

In the light of this knowledge, the movement now has the task of freeing itself from the grip of an element that is foreign to its true nature. The Anthroposophical movement can only exist in the free atmosphere of truthfulness and tolerance. Thus the Anthroposophical Society since 1925 may well be an interesting Society that provides satisfaction to many people because it gives them what they want. The movement will always tolerate this, but has, itself, nothing to do with such a situation, because it feels committed to the cause of Anthroposophy. The Anthroposophical movement is committed to the work of Rudolf Steiner, which is published by the Association of Rudolf Steiner’s Literary Estate (R.St. Nachlassverwaltung). It is in no way my intention to open up the old battlefront between the Council of the Society and the ‘Nachlassverein’. It is a matter of looking as soberly as possible at the way things have developed.

Everyone in the Anthroposophical Society today was, to begin with, interested in the heart’s concern of the Anthroposophical cause, and thus in the movement. If Rudolf Grosse’s seductive and misleading book had not appeared, hearts would have turned, in their movement, not to the Anthroposophical Society but to the Nachlassverein, for it is there and there only that, to this day, the wellspring is to be found, of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual bequest.

As a result of the obscuring of the facts, people who were actually seeking the movement unwittingly entered a Building Association with exoteric statutes, whose Council went so far, between 1943 and 1952, as to take legal action against the source of the movement in order to obtain possession of all the documents. It would then have been possible, through selective and incomplete publication of the Steiner texts, to further perfect the “game with esotericism”. The Council of the Anthroposophical Society has always viewed with suspicion the Complete Edition, which has meanwhile become available on CD, DVD and HDD, because on the one hand it fears that revealing and therefore unwelcome facts might come to light, and on the other hand there is reflected in this suspicion the tendency of the sectarian “game of esotericism” to keep things secret.

But now also the Internet brings with it, depending on one’s point of view, the risk or the opportunity of a free Anthroposophical movement independent of Dornach. If in this connection one leaves out of account the Ahrimanic counter-school which uses for itself and distorts the original Michaelic intelligence, then one will not estimate rightly the danger to which the Anthroposophical cause is exposed. Not even full pages of quotations from Steiner can mislead one as to the danger of distortion of the facts. Steiner explains this as follows: “For it is a normal occurrence in occultism that powers wishing to pursue their own special interests assume the form of those which previously gave the actual impulses”. (GA 158 11.04.1912).

That it belongs to the essential nature of the Anthroposophical movement that a battle, such as is suggested here, could be fought over the future of the cause of Anthroposophy, of this Rudolf Steiner spoke as early as 1912: “Only those who adopt an attitude of testing, towards what is given from out of the spiritual world, can remain loyal to Christian Rosenkreutz….. In your closest circles, too, many a trial will beset you”. (GA 130 17.06.1912 Hamburg)

Steiner’s words on 19.07.1924: “What is essential now is that the Anthroposophical Society should take hold of this, its inner task; the task which consists in not allowing Michael’s right to human thinking to be challenged. Here, there is no room for fatalism. One can only say that human beings must work in collaboration with the gods. Michael fills human beings with enthusiasm for Michael himself, so that on the earth there may appear a spirituality that is equal to the individual intelligence of human beings, so that one can think and be at the same time a spiritual human being; for this is what is implied in the rulership of Michael. This must be fought for within the Anthroposophical movement….”

Thus it is a struggle that must take place within Anthroposophical circles. If now we look with undistorted vision at the situation of Anthroposophy today, we see a joining together of two unhealthy attitudes of soul in the Society: Luciferic Christmas Conference mystification and Ahrimanic dogmatism. The one makes a person flee reality and remain inactive, but be filled with conceit in an elitist sense; and the other paralyzes free activities through dogmatic adherence to principles, and makes one servile in one’s acceptance of the authority of Dornach. It is a puzzling fact that within the Society people are unaware that through acting in this way they provide direct evidence of the failure of the Christmas Conference although, amusingly enough, they believe themselves to be in possession of the Christmas Conference.

If one wishes, from the standpoint of the Anthroposophical movement, to resist these tendencies, one must find the courage to re-examine, without prejudice, the relations between Society and movement: The movement has shown, through all the years since it became manifest through Rudolf Steiner, that it can exist despite hindrances stemming from the Anthroposophical Society. Why, then, should it not be freer and more capable of action without the present ideological imprisonment, than if it is bound hand and foot by a superfluous so-called new constitution created at Christmas 2002?

Rudolf Steiner made the following observation: “On the ground provided by spiritual science people unite through differentiation, individualisation and not centralisation”. (GA 259 28.02.1923. Stuttgart)

All the many initiatives carried by individuals working together – from kindergartens to schools, agriculture, medicine, the Christian Community, the Jugendkreis, the High School, the publishing houses, banks, buildings and organizations such as national societies, working centres, branches etc. – all arose, so far as their essential nature is concerned, from out of the movement or with its help, because people became active where needed, with their intelligence, their heart-forces and their initiative. The Council in Dornach and the Society structures were not necessary for this and, seen in relation to the initiatives, resemble a superfluous hydrocephalus. All of them can carry on working as before – but now more conscious of their independence, no longer needing to keep one eye trained on Dornach, working in free responsibility towards the spiritual world and their fellow human beings.

There will be in the future many decentralized centres, held together in friendship because they feel committed to the same idea. The flow of gifts and subscriptions must be reconsidered. Maybe in future more funds will be available locally than before – I can imagine the present Council functioning as the administrative Council of a conference centre, which is what the Goetheanum building is. Whoever feels a relation to the building should be free to connect on to it.

C. The Specific Inner Work of Those Who Feel They Belong To the Anthroposophical Movement

Here we must reflect upon the ethical individualism as described in the “Philosophie der Freiheit”. Only in this way will it be possible in future for work to proceed “on the basis of geographical location and subject matter”. Words from the “Philosophie der Freiheit” are relevant here: “To live out of love for the deed, and let live out of an understanding of the will of others, is the fundamental maxim of free human beings”. (GA4)

Following the law of the attraction of like by like, the people who wish to work together will find each other. As a result of the failed attempt at a ‘Stiftung’ in 1923, the Anthroposophical movement is now returning, one hundred years later, consciously to it germinal state of 1905. Standing at the centre of individual strivings will be the first call from the spiritual world – the manual for inner training, How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds. This concerns the development of the individual’s vertical connection to the heavenly realms. It is quite obvious that neither a Pope nor any kind of Council is necessary, nor is it able to take away from me my own responsibility or make prescriptions for me in this matter. Only in this way will it be possible to retrieve the “living being of Anthroposophy” from the “condition of latency” * in which it has predominantly been since Rudolf Steiner’s death. Outwardly nothing changes at all, apart from the flow of money – inwardly, a turn of 180° takes place – either one holds fast to the Society-illusion, maintaining the situation as it has always been, or thinking is renewed in the spirit of the Anthroposophical movement – in other words: general reform. We are living today nearly 600 years after 1413. The entire consciousness-soul epoch has a duration of 2500 years. Today, therefore, one quarter of this period has passed, and all is not lost.

“Anthroposophy will certainly not be made to disappear from the world. But it could, for decades or longer, sink back into what one might call a condition of latency and then be taken up again. But this would entail a tremendous loss for the development of humanity….” (Dornach 17.06.1923.)

V A remark concerning the “Free High School for Spiritual Science in Dornach”

According to a statement of Rudolf Steiner the High School is to be regarded…. “as an institution of the spiritual world for the present time”. (GA 270. 18.04.1924) But, like the Christmas Conference Society, it too is subject to the condition that it must develop. In Steiner’s words: “this school must develop into what can be a real Mystery School in our time. It is through this, that it becomes the soul of the Anthroposophical movement”. (GA 260a. 07.07.1924. Dornach. GA240. 06.02.1924. Stuttgart) Maybe it is interesting to note that Rudolf Steiner continues, after the Christmas Conference, to make a clear distinction between movement and Society. The union of the two is conditional upon their development. This applies both to the Council which understands itself to be esoteric, and to the High School, and also to the individual members of the Society. Steiner emphasizes that it is only on the precondition that everything “becomes different” that there is any meaning for him to bring movement and Society together.

Rudolf Steiner’s aim was to let the “primal source” of the movement, the supersensible Michael School, flow into an earthly institution, the High School, in order from thence, in connection with Council and Society, to further human beings. We have already explained that the striven-for goal was not achieved or, if so, only to a very limited extent. Today, the Society together with its Council clings to the High School as its one source of hope.

However, the High School itself, owing to Steiner’s premature death, remained a fragment. And, what is more, this fragment has rigidified into a questionable tradition. However, the Christmas Conference impulse is bound up in the closest possible way with the High School, since it comes directly from the super sensible school of Michael. And we have to face up to the bitter truth: according to a number of statements of Rudolf Steiner, the Christmas Conference will evaporate if the conditions are not met. That they were not met is amply demonstrated by the conflicts, expulsions and lawsuits.

Thus the same applies to the High School as to the Society: “It will be an interesting Society, but it will not accomplish what was intended with it by the spiritual powers which stood at its very beginning”.

The First Class of the High School, which was usurped by the Council of the Society through the excommunication of Ita Wegman became, in Bondarev’s words, a “Flying Dutchman”, suggesting a phenomenon that is more appearance than substance – a ghost-ship, in other words. How far this applies also to the esoteric Jugendkreis is for those who belong to it to decide for themselves. Rudolf Steiner, at any rate, wanted to see the Jugendkreis integrated into the High School. These unpleasant facts raise the question for anyone seriously concerned about the cause of Anthroposophy: How can one find, today, the living school of Michael, which Steiner called the ‘Fundamental source’?

The answer is simple: The laws that applied then are still valid one hundred years later. The method that is of central importance was made known by Rudolf Steiner in his basic work “Die Philosophie der Freiheit”, and esoterically deepened in “How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds”. He himself makes no distinction between the book “How to Attain….” and the High School which he tried, but without success, to bring into being: “It is really so, that the esoteric deepening of which you can read so much in my book ‘How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds’ and of which so much is spoken, is now to take place through the three classes.” (GA 260a. 07.07.1924. Dornach)

As, however, the three classes did not materialize and the one class was used more for “playing at esotericism”, mystery-mongering and “sailing in cloud-cuckoo-land” (all in lecture 30.01.1924 Dornach) than for a High School activity worthy of the name, there is only one remaining option – serious individual work in esoteric striving. Plenty of material providing stimulus is available. We who feel connected with the Anthroposophical movement owe a debt of gratitude to the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, to the extent that, in the spirit of the later Marie Steiner von Sievers, they made their editorial work subject to the test of truth, although doubts about this have been raised recently. Let us hope that the Nachlassverein is not overtaken by the “Karma of Untruthfulness”.

It cannot be, that later generations, who also belong to the School of Michael, must suffer the consequences of the failure of the first generation and that the tradition of inefficacy and untruthfulness resulting from this should hinder real development. Do we not see a clear message in a declining membership and in young people’s lack of interest in joining the Anthroposophical Society? Of crucial importance from now on is the direct, vertical connection with the spiritual, which can be achieved by any individual. And working out from this basis, likeminded people can join together to carry out their various tasks. The rest is history.

Translator’s Note:
In this English version most of the 173 references (to Steiner lectures and works of other German authors) are omitted; also H. Giersch’s frequent underlining’s of words and sentences. Harald Giersch shares G. Bondarev’s conviction that nothing underhand can have taken place at the meeting of 8th Feb. 1925, which Rudolf Steiner was unable to attend owing to his illness

Commentary by Joel A. Wendt on this lecture