a Challenging Open Letter to

the Powers that Be in the Anthroposophical Society

Friends often have advised me against such excursions - where I go pointing angry fingers at various people, knowing (as friends do instinctively), that many will overreact, others will defend without thought, feelings will be hurt and ones message will probably get completely lost in the resulting noise. 

I’m not in this to be liked.  At age 71 (physically), although only 40 plus years into my incarnation, I basically have lately consciously cultivated a curmudgeonly demeanor, which comes out, as was said by Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind: frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn, or by Peter Finch in the movie Network: I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!, or by President Harry Truman, when he was a Senator: If you don’t like the the heat, get out of the kitchen.

People who say yes when someone comes to them and encourages them to be on the Executive or the Councils in America, or the heads of the Sections of the School of Spiritual Science, have agreed to stand out, get their egos massaged, and once in a while will have to pay a price.  The positions I’m taking here, in sharing this material at this Conference, is just me joining your club.  Very American of me - not being willing to be excluded. 

Some people believe, naively, that being spiritual is all about playing nice nice.  Check out the money changers Christ threw out of the temple, or this quote from the Gospels by Christ about hypocrites: “Woe to you canon-lawyers and Pharisees, you fakes, for being like dusty monuments that look pretty on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of corpses and all kinds of rot.”.  For the whole bit, read Matthew 23: 25-28

Of course, everyone is basically human and flawed.  Prokofieff said to me: None of us are perfect, when I challenged him, at the 2005 Ann Arbor Conference, in accord with my own reading of his works and with Gordienko’s book.  Guess that would have to include Rudolf Steiner too. And me.

So what’s the point here?

In January of 1923, after the burning of the original Goetheanum, Steiner began a series of lectures later published under the title: Awakening to Community.  He didn’t mince words, and was clear that understanding that fire included understanding that anthroposophists need to do better.  Its quite possible to take the view that we haven’t.  Many are in denial  and some of the convenient fibs we tell ourselves are clearly not justifiable.  But the ahrimanic double likes for us to be comfortable in our belief systems (such as what I label elsewhere: Steinerism).  Take a nap says Ahriman, anybody seems to rock the boat threw them in the ocean.  Better we feel good about ourselves than stop hiding from certain truths.

That’s the key you see ... placing knowledge of the truth over and above brotherly nice nice diplomatic feelings.

Seven years ago I was here in Ann Arbor and made known at the final plenum three wishes: 1) that the Vorstand give us an honest history of the Society during the 20th Century [didn’t happen]; 2) that the Councils in America give us real access to those doing research on the soul of Americans and the spirit in America [also didn’t happen]; and, 3) that regular people would they please stop saying: Steiner said [again, didn’t happen].  Nothing puts him in a prison more, and our own souls in even a worse condition, than constantly relying on Rudolf Steiner as an authority rather than our own capacities for the New Mysteries of Thinking and the New Mysteries of Community.  There is a reason we have our own thoughts - they matter!

Well, as Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly says in the later Terminator movies, when he comes through time to save the future leaders of the rebellion against the terrors of the machine intelligence seeking to rub out the human race and take over the planet: Its seven years later and I’m back!

I’m not here to lead.  Don’t want to take anyone’s job ... be on the Vorstand, a Section leader or a Council member.  Not interested.  I’m basically retired, and here on vacation doing a little fishing for men like Christ taught me.  Now a disciple of the Second Coming.  You know that one, right?

The one we don’t talk about much because we seem too scared to face down the fundamentalist Christians as if they might attack us for wandering into the territory of the Great Lie Ahriman helped them use to conquer and still moderate Christian voices.  The one where Christ comes back in the flesh, takes true believers up in  the rapture, and shoots bolts of lightening out of his eyes killing the ungodly.  If we had half a brain, and maybe an ounce of real Michaelic Courage, we’d be describing the Reality, which is  that Steiner is the John the Baptist figure of the true Second Coming of Christ - the voice crying in the wilderness of scientific materialism.  Yet, ... the fact is we are not doing that.

Face it folks.  In this Time if you want to be spiritual in a Christ Impulse Way, if you are not taking risks of some kind, you’re hiding under the Bed, afraid of the Bogeyman lurking in the dark of the Closet; or the reverse, hiding in the Closet afraid of the bogeyman lurking under the Bed.  Try to remember that Christ died (as did Rudolf Steiner) for standing out for spiritual truth in a social situation where people who spoke the truth often get killed.

Now I don’t mean we should be standing on a street corner making a nuisance of ourselves.  We can trust to karma and our own intuitions to lead us to those conversations where the choice will arise in our souls to speak the true and do the good, or not.  We don’t need an aggressive program, although we do need very much to let the winds of an entirely different conversation among ourselves come forth.  The AS has plenty of work to do within itself first, if it truly believes it has something spiritual (besides our adoration of Steiner) to offer the world.

Starting a little over 40 years ago, I came in, found a world filled with many riddles I couldn’t answer, and begin a long long path trying to answer them.  Meet Rudolf Steiner, Goethean scientists, Owen Barfield et.al. and began the best self-education money can’t buy.  Trusted life and it trained me to be me, and graced me with a gift for thinking and speaking not seen very often.

I don’t want to be famous, by the way.  But I do want to serve the truth, you know the one connected to this I-am statement: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  I’ve been hanging out with that Guy, and He’s given me some skills that can serve the truth and the Anthroposophical Society as well.

 I actually know where to find the money all our institutions need.  I know a course that people can travel to survive the Third Millennium.  I know the secrets of the Consciousness Soul Age, because when I incarnated I turned my life over to the Big Guy and said, okay Lord, take me where to go to do good stuff.  He said yup, but don’t expect to like it.  By the way, I’m not better than anyone, just a bit different and perhaps even weirder than most.  Who wouldn’t be if they had my biography?

 Who teaches the teachers?

 In America there is a profound Rights question being played out, due to the aggressive use of domestic spying by our intelligence apparatus.  The National Security Agency monitors more and more of our electronic intercourse, which in the age of the Internet is now considerable and more or less ubiquitous.  Those who seek to protect our Civil Rights often asks the question: Who watches the watchers?  We justifiably have a related question in the Anthroposophical Society.  On what basis are certain individuals put forward as capable of lecturing and teaching others?  And, more precisely, just who is it that makes the relevant judgments putting these people forward? 

We generally know who is taking on “teaching” roles.  What we don’t really know is precisely how they are selected.  We are often told “stories” and an effort is made to explain to us these processes, but an even deeper question remains, and can here take the form: Who selects the selectors?

As a student of the social, observing the outer details of the AS for decades, but also well aware of common human approaches to such questions, it appears to me that what we do in the AS is not unlike what goes on in academia.  A fact to take account of is that many individuals who rise to “teaching” positions in the AS are themselves holders of degrees from various institutions of higher education.  We would be surprised if a janitor in a Waldorf School was to become the head of the Section on pedagogical matters, although we ought to recall that one teacher of Steiner was an apparently simple man from the countryside, who came to town to sell herbs.

Who the spiritual world favors is frequently not a function of human values.  We have the cliche’: What is wisdom in the eyes of God is often foolish in the eyes of men.  Yes, Steiner was a Ph.D., and I have a J.D. and a B.A. and Elizabeth has an M.A. and a B.S.  But none of that reveals our relationship to the world of spirit.  If someone wants to know that, they have to inquire after other matters, and often dig deeper.  Keep in mind that while we adore Steiner, most of the rest of the world does not easily take that point of view.  Against conventional “wisdom” a lot of our ideas really appear goofy (two Jesus children etc.).

At one point, after Steiner crossed over, Valentin Tomberg was put forward by some as Steiner’s successor, a question concerning which Steiner had himself not offered an “indication”.  During the recent years of the Constitutional Question (part of the hidden history of the AS) it became apparent that Steiner in his last days actually changed the members of the Executive, who after his death were not allowed by others to carry those offices, and the old Executive, in a kind of coup, prevailed through not exactly legal shenanigans that took the Building Corporation, and turned it into the General Anthroposophical Society.  Our present Executive has actually lost, in the Swiss courts, all cases on these very old questions; and, narrowly,  through recent processes of infighting among groups loyal to Prokofieff, and groups loyal to von Halle, survived an effort to run them out of office.

This is so much like the infighting among academics at universities over the control of various departments to be not only amusing, but very very human.  Keep in mind, however, what is at stake.  Not only do we grant to some of our “teachers” a kind of tenure and salary, but we also adorn them with the garment of spiritual insight.  When you read the obituaries of members who have recently died, no one is ever spoken of in a negative (and honest) fashion.  If a person seeking spiritual development fell into the habit of rewriting his own history all the time like we do, he’d make no progress on his character at all.

Consider now some questions on the development of spiritual research on America.  I’ll have to necessarily be very brief ...

Around 1977, at a meeting of the Faust Branch in Fair Oaks California, Carl Steggman, the author of The Other America: the West in the Light of Spiritual Science,  stood up and proposed the creation of an institution, which would have two parts.  One part would be dedicated to furthering spiritual research on America, hoping to draw Americans to that work, and the other part would be a foundational year for introducing people to Anthroposophy.  People were inspired by Carl, and went to work in various ways, some with the practical matters of finding land and building buildings, and others getting prepared to take part in the two different kinds of work.

After about a year Rene Querido and his wife were hired to run the foundational program, and soon thereafter, the research program on America was dropped away, and Rudolf Steiner College was born as a Waldorf teacher training center - Rene’s specialty.  There were, among some, very hard feelings.  To me it is an excellent example of the European spiritual imperialism, that is promoted by the ahrimanic hierarchies in their efforts to lame the Society’s ability to lead the coming confrontation with Ahriman during the Third Millennium.

In a later example of the same battle, in which human beings played roles somewhat caught between such spiritual Titans such as Ahriman and Michael, the Central Regional Council was given the task of setting up speakers for the conference and lectures in which the 2004 AGM in Detroit was to take place.  They choose to make the theme the Spiritual America, and put together a list of dynamic and even controversial speakers.  Material was sent out, people made plans, such as motel reservations and plane reservations, only to find out just 30 days before the event that the whole America program was canceled.  Keep in mind I am leaving out a lot of details, for I was myself planning to attend, and knew many of the speakers.

The reason given for the change of the program was (allegedly) a misjudgment on the part of the Central Regional Council in the selection of a particular speaker {why that speaker wasn’t dropped by himself, and the rest of the program retained, remains a significant curiosity}.  All the speakers were replaced, the emphasis on America fell to the side, a leading European living in America gave the opening lecture and during the course of the conference three leading American women give talks reminiscing about Rene Querido, who had in the last year crossed over.

What makes this all so inexplicable was that this AGM came the precise weekend after George W. Bush won re-election, once more via processes of political theft.  The speaker, who had been the excuse for the cancellation, was prepared to lecture on the relationship between the Ahrimanic and Luciferic hierarchies and the Republican and Democrat parties.

What broke my heart came in the final plenum, when a young woman (around 30, perhaps a Waldorf teacher or parent) asked plaintively, yet powerfully: What about America?  Aren’t we supposed to know something about America?  But America never came up at that AGM.

That is still true, sort of.  It is the Anthroposophical Society in America, and in the World, that ignores the deeper questions of America and the Americas.  This happens not because the research work has not been done, by the way, but it is because the processes, by which speakers and institutional leaders are determined, systematically excludes those personalities gifted with the relevant skills, crafts and arts.  People who won’t make waves, and who more or less conform to and agree with conventional Society culture, are the only ones selecting and selected.

 Choices now come to the fore:  In the run up to this Conference, I have been trying to arrange meetings between myself and the members of the Executive and the Councils in America that will be attending.  I’ve written to John Beck, and as well to Torin Finser, concerning the seeking of their help in the arranging of these meetings.  I’ve also, as a good social tactician  should , made alternative plans, not leaving what is to happen to the “permission” of so-called leading personalities.

What I am trying to do is avoid a war.  There is an apocryphal story that has Steiner, and George Unger (the elder), standing on a hill overlooking Dornach, with Steiner supposedly saying: We may have to come back at the end of the Century and destroy all this.

I do not want to oppose the Society, but if it does not turn itself toward the truth and spend less time playing nice nice diplomatic games with each other, there will be for me no choice at all.  At the same time, I am not an agitator, regardless of how others might want to perceive me.  I am simply for honest conversation, which evades the boxes and constraints of safe non-controversial anthroposophical traditions, seeking instead the Living Reality of the Time. 

The essence of that seeking really belongs to those attending this Conference.  I’ve offered here what help I could through trying to deepen our understanding of America and its relationship to the real world, the world of spirit.  If the conversation is to be moved significantly more toward the so far missing truth, that will depend upon those who bring their wills into the guidance of that conversation, which is not the official speakers, but those who listen and have yet not had their say.

The reality, especially in America, is that true leadership comes for the social below, what in my writings I describe as the social commons.  There the community of individuals speaks to each other of the true, out of their individual sense of the good.   From this Rite, not yet fully practiced consciously, but for which Americans have a wonderful instinct (witness the social processes of Occupy Wall Street), is to be born the true social future.  The Anthroposophical Society is meant to be led from the periphery, from the Branches and Groups, not from Centers, by Vorstands, Schools and Councils.

Here is what I wrote to a friend, who was to attend the colloquium for Branch leaders, prior  to this Conference: 

 I believe (I hope) you know instinctively that this is not Fifth Cultural Age to have a hierarchy of “leadership”.  Our tendency (not just in the AS but in Civilization in general) is to hold to pyramid-like structures, that were born in the 3rd Cultural Age, clinging to them now mostly out of habit.  Steiner had to present his work in Central Europe to people still mostly in the Intellectual Soul, and whose orientation to “knowledge” copied the University, which again is a last remnant of those social structures that involve some form of “dominion over”.

In creating the College of Teachers to run Waldorf Schools, and trying to make the schools independent of each other, and as well in trying to evoke the Reverse Cultus, Steiner was seeking to inaugurate true Consciousness Soul social forms (Fifth Cultural Age), which are meant to replace “dominion over” with “communion with”.

Also in creating the Branches and the Study groups he again tried to set the course for true Fifth Age cultural social forms, which is partly why he tried to stay outside the Society as its Teacher, and not (until as a last gasp) to enter into it structurally, because this would once more give pyramidal order that was no longer appropriate.

The very idea of “leadership” contains 3rd Cultural Age overtones of “dominion over”, because it seems to place decision making power at the top of something hierarchical.

Now I know you actually don’t want to “lead” that way, but as long as the above “understanding” is not present in the Society consciously we will continue to behave toward each other as if the “institutional hierarchies” (the Executive, the “leaders” of the School, and the Councils in America) have real spiritual and social meaning.  That these institutional groups perpetuate their unconscious “dominion over” modes of thought by being allowed to choose their successors is again a major social imbalance.  Also, Dornach should not be giving the free and independent spirits of  the thinking of the membership “themes of the years”.  Having a “Center” is no longer socially viable.

If the “facilitators” (not leaders) in the Branches were to consciously resist the very idea of leadership among themselves and among the Councils and Executives etc. a great step forward could be made.  The Branches are meant to be fully free and independent, as are the local members.  Institutional structures are necessary to do “work”, i.e. facilitate (which is how I sense you see your role), but not to “lead”.  As noted above, Michaelic inspiration is actually concentrated in the Periphery now, not in the Center.

The Conference, in point of fact, fails utterly at the social level because it once more perpetuates the hierarchical structures by having “leading personalities” dominate our thinking by giving lectures all over the place. 

Now there is a place for “expertise”.  A committee doesn’t write poems or paint pictures or do heart surgery.  Experts should, however, also not be “leaders”, but perhaps “guides”.  They may have penetrated an area of knowledge yet unknown to others, and can then guide those who would also go into those territories. 

I realize these are somewhat subtle distinctions (leaders, guides and facilitators), but I also think they are descriptive (goetheanism) of modern social developments.  Occupy Wall Street, for example, strove very hard not to have leaders, but rather to practice as best they knew how: “communion with”.

 Welcome to the Age of the Consciousness Soul, where if people were perfect and got everything right the first time around, we’d always just party.  All the same, we are not perfect and we don’t get it right all the time, and maybe we should just celebrate a lot anyway.  So many choices, so little time.

Let me end this by giving the final word to Elizabeth.  We are in fact, socially, in the Age of the Consciousness Soul very much in need of being guided by women.  The divine feminine forces are returning, and while not exclusively only available to one sex (men can know them as well), it is very important to consciously seek out and cultivate a relationship to this style of inspiration.

From her book: The Shepherds’ Fire - a meditative study:


“The Holy Spirit, whenever It draws near, speaks Its name to me and Its name is Christ Mass.   This speaking is like no other speaking.   The Holy Breath is very gentle in the soul, like an infant reaching for a mother; if the soul can welcome it likewise then the following experience can happen.

“The Holy Breath, when it moves the soul produces the sound of the Angelic Choirs singing Gloria and simultaneously a deep dark night descends on the soul.   If one ponders the night and allows the angelic singing to fill the soul then a third experience dawns.   The heart suddenly becomes warm and is, as it were, on fire.   This mystical fire lights up in the deep dark night with great gentleness.   It is not a blaze.  The heavens are ablaze, not with fire, but with the singing of the angelic choirs singing both Gloria and Hosanna to God in the Highest as if the myriad stars themselves were saying Gloria, Hosanna in the Highest, for the stars spoke once to man.

“In the warmth of this fire that fills the soul is the realization of the truth that the stars are speaking; the truth is that this very night, as every night, and the night of the soul is a Holy Night.   The warmth and light of this Truth kindles the Shepherds’ Fire that keeps the sheep safe from the wolves- one’s own sheep and one’s own wolves and others’ wolves.   In this safety of the heart on fire one can ask the Breath of Holiness, what are the sticks? What is the flame and how is it lit?   For one must learn to discern very clearly if one is doomed to spiritual science, and one must learn the art of questioning as a white dove.   That is to say, one’s question must arise as a white dove just as Noah’s question arose; or as a stock dove, a blue dove, a columba, calman gorm.  ... “

Dona Nobis Pacem

grant us peace