Concerning the Renewal of Anthroposophy

rediscovering the true meaning of the New Mysteries

by Joel A. Wendt

The nature of intuition is such that it is always of the present.  This means that it is living, and as a living connection to the world-thoughts it is free of the past.  There is no need to frame matters in terms of what has been said or thought before, because the living spirit is ever new.  When such intuitions are reported to us, we should hear things we have not heard before, or things we have heard before and ignored.  The living spirit is always calling to us out of the future, free of the past.  Yet it always speaks to our present need, if we but acknowledge that need.

One day recently, I had an interesting insight.   It was as if a pattern always there in certain phenomena was for the first time perceived.  It had always been there, but I had not yet been inwardly ripe enough to see it.  As regards this insight, I am not offering it as the truth, but only as a beginning example of some phenomena that can be observed inwardly as an aspect of disciplined introspection.  As this essay develops, the significance of approaching the matter this way will be made more clear.

In addition, while the insight occurred of a moment and in later reflecting on it I fleshed it out with certain obvious details as clearly belonged to the original thinking-perception, the reality is that these details could only be added during this process of later reflection.

Starting with the Burning of the Goetheanum in late 1923, and then ending with the death of Rudolf Steiner in the early spring of 1925, something rather remarkable happened.  In order to appreciate this, we need to first remind ourselves of the two and third years of Christ's Incarnation, for the pattern established there appears to have been repeated in this the last phase of Rudolf Steiner's life.

Christ's Incarnation begins with the Descent of the Dove, at the Baptism at the Jordan.  The Incarnation's highlight is the Sermon on the Mount, the most profound moral teaching ever received by humanity.  The culmination of the Incarnation is the Week of the Passion (Christ's full descent into the human), ending with His Death on the Cross and His subsequent Resurrection.

In the case of the last two and a third years of Rudolf Steiner's life, we have not the appearance of the Christ, but most likely must deal rather with the appearance of the Divine Sophia Herself, who during that period united Her Being with (came to stand along side) that of Rudolf Steiner.  We know, for example, all the unique treasures which he was only able to bestow in the years following (1923-24).

We need to keep in mind that just as Love is a being with a name - Christ, so is Wisdom a being with a name - Sophia.

This uniting began with the Burning of the Goetheanum, which was a Rite of Sacrifice, in much the same way that the Zarathustra ego made way for the Christ prior to the Baptism at the Jordan.  Such an connection between the Divine Sophia, and an earthly personality, may not be possible without such a Rite of Sacrifice.  Steiner even knew in some fashion that this was coming, for in Wachsmith's biography of Steiner, Marie Steiner is reported to have remarked that upon Steiner's waking the day after walking all the hills and caves of Dornach (while considering whether it would be a suitable site for the original Goetheanum), Steiner was more disturbed that Marie Steiner had ever before, or after, seen him.  We can only imagine what it must have meant to him, to realize in some way that the great artistic effort, which was to take form in Dornach during the terrible years of the First Great War, would have to be sacrificed.

Yet, what else could happen given that the Library at Alexandria, certainly a repository of the vast ancient wisdom of Sophia, was itself at some point destroyed (historians do not agree on who or why, but only that it clearly disappeared).  Thus, it came to pass with the Burning of the Goetheanum, that a special relationship between the Divine Sophia and Steiner might have been able to arise.

[It will perhaps add to this picture to consider the possibility that the Burning was not just an event destroying a physical structure, but rather was a sacrificial Cleansing Rite in which the whole Society was invited to participate.]

Then, as a parallel with the Sermon on the Mount, we have the Christmas Conference and the first renderings of the Foundation Stone Meditation, which certainly might have been the high point of the Divine Sophia's offerings to earthly, and heavenly, humanity.  As a great deal has already been said and written about this, I feel no need to offer more.

Finally, with Steiner's last days which appear to end in great tragedy with his death, we have the final moments - the Passion of Sophia/Steiner.   But, like a great deal that Sophia and Steiner apparently had to bear, this mostly went unnoticed (just as with Christ, it was unnoticed by history and only of significance to those with the deepest relationships).  Consider this brief moment.  Either Marie Steiner, or Ita Wegman, entered Steiner's room, the day before he died, to once more ask him to decide some issue the Vorstand was itself unable to resolve.  In response to the question put to him - yet another question preying on what was left of his life forces, he could only turn his back.

So with his death came great mourning, but who among those involved in the Society at that time, realized that all that had happened was that Steiner had crossed the threshold into the spiritual world, were he would remain available to any and all who dared the work necessary to meet him there.  How many slept during his last hours, and how many since have essentially denied him and the Sophia in how they practiced anthroposophy?  How many doubting Thomases where (and are) there among the members and friends, who could only conceive (erroneously) that Steiner was dead in the sense of no longer existing as a resource, and therefore everything of a living spiritual relationship died as well, so that all we had left was to worship what Steiner had said and wrote in the past?

How terrible then the Tomb in which so many place Steiner/Sophia, by relying too heavily on the dead thoughts of what Steiner wrote and lectured about 100 years ago?  Does this work not await our active participation in its true Resurrection, in conscious acts of our own intuition?  Is it not within our power to complete the Passion of Steiner/Sophia, through the act of Resurrecting, in a living way in the present, the same world-thoughts?  Not what Steiner said as appears in dead written form, but what he thought, which if we truly understand him can yet be thought again today, by us, as original intuitions.

No one should be surprised that such a pattern as that which was set into World Events with the Incarnation, should repeat itself in the last years of Steiner's life and in particular with his relationship to the Divine Sophia.

This then was what I intuitively perceived and then later fleshed out during reflection.  We are right to wonder whether it is the truth.  It is clear to my own introspection that while it may be the truth, it is not yet knowledge, and therefore has to be placed in my soul in that category where at best one can say of it: I think (as in believe) this might be true, but I do not know.

Why is it not yet knowledge?  Where is the problem?

Thinking produces all manner of content, but the essential question is whether this content is, in any specific instance, knowledge - a question which has concerned many and which Rudolf Steiner solved in his epistemological works.  He showed there how thinking could achieve knowledge of the True and the Good.  I believe it is a legitimate question to wonder how well this striving for knowledge is practiced today in the Anthroposophical Movement and Society.  To try to answer that question, in as wide a context as possible, is the purpose of this essay.

[A small aside: a friend, who reviewed this work, offered the insight that the Movement and the Society are not a unity, with the Movement being the continuous supersensible counterpart of the incarnate and discontinuous Society.  The Movement is more heavenly, while the Society is more Earthly.  I will not stress that insight in what follows, leaving us with the more conventional idea that the Society and Movement became joined at the Christmas Conference (and therefore remain that way today).  I only point to this here, so that there it will be in the mind of the reader as an important question: What is the true relationship and nature of the Society and Movement?]

There are other equally important questions.

Where stands the Anthroposophical Society and Movement today, in the face of such monumental questions as regards the relationship in the present of the Divine Sophia, and of Rudolf Steiner to this same Society and Movement?  Does, for example, either the Divine Sophia or Rudolf Steiner truly live in our works, or have we become too hardened and too earthly, for such deep and profound spiritual connections to arise?

As near as I can observe (with all the normal human limitations), there is no true spiritual connection between our work, as a Society and Movement, and the world of spirit, except those rare instances where individuals have succeeded in bringing about a personal connection.  But as to the Society and Movement, these have become mostly lamed earthly social forms, not unlike the institutional structures of the Catholic Church.

This does not have to remain this way, nor should we feel that anything other than karma has brought about this undesirable condition.  It apparently could not have happened in any other way, for such is the expected fate of all spiritual movements - they have their original truth while the teacher lives, and then upon the death of the teacher everything falls apart, which is precisely what happened in Dornach all those many years ago.  Rudolf Steiner died, and the Vorstand collapsed into conflict.

The question is, in these the early days of the new millennium, what can be done by those who would seek to carry Rudolf Steiner's legacy further, such that the Society and Movement begin to rise from their all too earthly prison, to once again strive to found centers for the New Mysteries?

Now in order to understand how to answer this question, we have to have as much clarity as possible as to the real nature of the New Mysteries.  It is just here, where we have become confused over what this means, that we flounder and fail.  At the same time, Rudolf Steiner's life gives us all the answers we need.

First we need to renew our relationship to the three founding epistemological works: Truth and Knowledge; The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception; and especially, The Philosophy of Freedom.  It was on this foundation that all the later works of Steiner depend, and any renewal of the Society and Movement must root itself in this same secure place - wherein we come to an exact understanding of how, in a practical sense, do we know?

Few of those now incarnate appreciate that most of his students did not make a connection to the epistemological works.   This incapacity, while understandable, then led to the necessity to publish Knowledge of Higher Worlds, which is not the primer on thinking upon which Spiritual Science was founded.  Knowledge of Higher Worlds is the fall back position, a recipe collection of initiation wisdom that had to leave aside Steiner's primary accomplishment, which had been to show how to achieve authentic spiritual insight (knowledge of the Good and the True) through elevating the nature of thinking itself.

As a consequence, even though a small few were achieving success with Knowledge of Higher Worlds, the principle result of Steiner's life work was lost (again there are exceptions, but these personalities have not been able to work closely within the Society, something quite understandable if you think about it carefully).  And, it is this transformation of thinking which is at the heart of the New Mysteries.   All the same, we should not be troubled by the fact that it has taken us a century to realize how far astray we have gone.  Our biographies teach us exactly this, as many know.   We fail and fall on the path to true learning.   There is no other way we can travel. and the biography of the Society and Movement must endure the same kinds of trials as does the biography of any individual.

Most of the problems that can be found in the Society and Movement today come about because there is no pragmatic understanding of the either the mystery nature or practical social significance of The Philosophy of Freedom.  Let me expand on this so as to illuminate the situation.

The Philosophy of Freedom leads us to a careful and scientific introspective life.  We learn through this activity to distinguish certain inner processes and activities one from the other.  Over time, we come to an understanding, in practice, of the Consciousness Soul, which, according to Theosophy, lives in the soul when she attains the capacity to unite herself with the True and the Good - that is with the Eternal.

The processes by which this uniting occurs is different for the True from what it is for the Good.  In a certain sense they are the opposite of each other.

The Good arrives in our consciousness as an individualized intuition.  How we do this is described in the Philosophy, so I won't elaborate that here, except to say that one must, in any case, actually practice moral imagination (consciously framing the moral dilemma), moral intuition (perceiving the answer with the thinking), and moral technique (applying the answer to the actual situation of life) in order to truly know, through experience, what this is about.  Merely reading about it is only of the most minimal practical use.

The True, on the other hand, arrives in our consciousness as a universalized intuition.  To achieve universal intuitions is not something we do on our own however, but rather requires that we work together, or as Tomberg describes it: take council together.  The True and the universal is found through uniting - through community, while the Good, in its particular and real form, is only found alone, via our individuality.  Those who might wonder then about the spiritual experience of the initiate here, need only to recognize that the community in which the True is sought need not in all instances be incarnate.

Now in addition to these problems, the Society and Movement do not understand in practice the significance of the distinctions that Steiner makes in the Philosophy between mental pictures, generalized concepts, pure (abstract) concepts and ideas.  In general, we individualize mental pictures and generalized concepts, which basically makes them tend to be at the very least largely false and limited, and it is only when we rise away from our individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts, through conversation, that we start to live in the world of pure concepts and ideas such as will then lead us to the True.

To put the matter bluntly: individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts are generally nothing more than mere opinions, and do not constitute knowledge.

So there are, in effect, two aspects to the New Mysteries.  One aspect is found in the acts of the individual, whereby the Good is apprehended by thinking, when the I sacrifices antipathies and sympathies in order to make room in the soul for moral intuition; and, the other aspect is found in acts of community, whereby the True is apprehended by another sacrifice of the I, this time of its individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts in the shared search for pure concepts and ideas.

What this means, in our having failed to appreciate in practice the mystery nature and practical social wisdom of the Philosophy, is that when we have our meetings, we tend to fail to distinguish the moral and the Good, which necessarily must be individualized, from the True, which needs to be universal.  In addition, we assume that our individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts are sufficiently true such that in much that we do we come into conflict with each other.  Discussion after discussion in our meetings fails because we do not appreciate the social significance of how we stand as individual thinkers and what are the consequences for our mutual activities, of remaining in either our antipathies or sympathies (which hide the Good), or of remaining in our individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts (which hide the True).

Now this failure does not always appear in outright conflict (although in the right circumstances it frequently does).  On the contrary, as it is often a group failure, what this failure most commonly means is that we have created a semi-consciously shared view - a kind of atavistic group-soul thought content.  This group-soul content has more to do with vague beliefs, than it has to do with knowledge.  We fail at reaching for the True, by first failing to live out the Good, and end up with semi-conscious (easily warped by the Doubles - that is these views are driven in either an ahrimanic or luciferic direction because of the lack of consciousness) shared views that are more like religious views than they are like well grounded and exact views as exemplified by science.  We thereby most frequently tend to become anthroposophical theologians (adept at combining and re-combining the dead thoughts from Steiner lectures), and not spiritual scientists (adept at the perceiving-thinking with true intuitive insight).

Yes we strive, but we have not received from above, in the leadership of our institutional forms, this clear understanding, precisely because these prominent individuals did not themselves possess it.  Like Yeats saw at the beginning of the Century: "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold;...".  In spite of there being a Vorstand (and various Councils), the New Mysteries have been and presently are unable to incarnate into their nature, or more worrisome, the nature of Branch and Group work.

What this has over the years devolved into is many instances of infighting among groups, who lacking the individual insight necessary to appreciate what the Good is in any given moment, and how to distinguish it from the True, end up living in flawed and individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts about which there can be no agreement, thus Steiner's pointing out to us that thinking (in its ordinary, or untransformed, sense) is anti-social.  He constantly pointed us in the right directions, but without our doing the real introspective work, we can only end up in conflict, or in so homogenizing our individual thinking into an atavistic group-soul thought content that nothing of the Good or the True can live there.

In addition to the failure to properly seat the activity of the Society and Movement in the mystery nature and social teachings living in The Philosophy of Freedom, we took another wrong turn not to long after the sacrificial Cleansing Rite of the Burning of the Goetheanum.  Recall that following the Burning, the Divine Sophia may have been in some way united with the earthly personality of Steiner, so that the very first lectures, handed down to us as Awakening to Community, were of quite special significance.

I will only cover the most salient point, although there is much in the whole to which we would do well to pay careful attention.

Steiner advises in these lectures that the Christian Community is a grave, if not the gravest, danger to the Society.  He explains this as follows:

When a true Rite is enacted on the earthly plane, the participants become united across the threshold, for that is the consequence of the Rite - a crossing of the threshold of the group brought about by the descent of aspects of the spiritual world into the group during the Rite.  This uniting then has as a consequence a profound fellow feeling among the participants in the Rite, and without doubt, the Act of Consecration of Man would be such a Rite.

The problem comes about when and if anthroposophists attend the Christian Community, and thereby experience this uniting and its fellow feeling consequence, such that then their hunger for community is satisfied, after which they then will not bring that hunger to the Branch and Group meetings of the Anthroposophical Society.  Without that hunger, then the Society will not develop the ability to engender the needed fellow feeling.  The meetings, as many experience them today, will be lacking in the same social warmth that can often be found in the Christian Community (making the CC even more socially attractive).

The antidote to this problem is in what Steiner described as the Reverse Cultus, which is a Rite in which, instead of the spiritual world descending, the group itself ascends into the spiritual world.  Without the Reverse Cultus, and this ascent, the Branch and Group meetings will not produce the fellow feeling (or warmth of heart) necessary for a true Society to be born in which the meeting of true I to true I was to be fostered.

Granted that during the control of National Socialism over Germany, anthroposophists, having lost the Society and Waldorf Schools (they being closed by the Nazis) could only meet for a time in the Christian Community (it was closed much later than the other two) the fact remains that the Priest Course, and its teachers, knew precisely what had been said in the Awakening to Community lectures, and still allowed the Christian Community to become the so-called church of far too many anthroposophists, without clearly warning them of the consequences for the wider Society.

Of course, it is in the Reverse Cultus, which itself is rooted in a moral act (the Good) of sacrifice of personal opinion, that the needed group work of seeking the True, as an universal intuition, was to arise.  Here we also see clearly where the New Mysteries were to be practiced, namely in the Branch and Group work, which Steiner clearly pointed to in his writings on the Life, Nature and Cultivation of Anthroposophy.

Why is this important?  Because for the New Mysteries to actually incarnate there must be activity on the Earth in which the threshold is consciously crossed.  There is no Mystery without contact with the living spirit, and the New Mysteries were to be based upon the developing of the newly born inherent mystery potential of thinking, coupled with an appropriate group work (the Reverse Cultus), so that Centers (Groups and Branches) would arise where living spiritual realities where apprehended by groups of human beings on a regular (rhythmic) and ongoing basis.

This, unfortunately, could not be done, and thus the laming of the mystery potential of the Society and Movement was complete - no real understanding of the mystery nature and practical social implications of the Philosophy and no real appreciation of the mystery nature and social meaning (shared heart warmth) aspects of the Reverse Cultus.

All this before the Second Great War.  A tragedy true, but also a karmic necessity.

In the years following this Second Great War, the then fractured Society was reunited on the physical plane, but not on the spiritual.  This reunification was essentially political in nature, and not based upon a wise understanding of the spiritual work that would be necessary to set right the failures of the past.

As a consequence, further unbalanced elements arose within the structure of the Society, and while I will next mention a few that need our attention, let me first end this section with a cautionary note.

Some will think that the study of the Philosophy of Freedom is hard.  It might be better said that the work that seems to be hard is not the book itself, but the act of brutally self honest introspection that is required.  The book is merely a map to a territory, and we only learn from the territory, never the book.

The territory (our own inner life) does confront us with the most difficult questions that come before any student of Spiritual Science.  For example, to fully come to terms with learning, in practice, how to produce intuitions of the Good, we have to face the possible fact of how often we fail to act from our true moral center.  In a sense, at the threshold of truly honest introspection, we run into our own fears regarding facing ourselves with equanimity and (as the recipe wisdom in Knowledge of Higher World's describes it) as a stranger.

What we really run into at this threshold of true self exploration and knowledge is nothing but the first raw intimations of the complex of the Doubles.  It is the ahrimanic voice of this Double complex that suggests to us that we should fear this examination, and that we will find ourselves wanting if we do dare serious introspection.  The truth is that true introspection is an adventure, perhaps the most wondrous adventure that awaits us, and the reality is that for every bit of darkness we find inside, there is an equal portion of light.  Moreover, the darkness is not there to shame us (although shame and remorse are often how we can choose to feel concerning our inner actions), but to teach us.

Seeking to intuit the Good, via the process of moral imagination, moral intuition and moral technique, is like learning to ride a bicycle.  We fall down a lot, and often hurt ourselves, but eventually we become skilled, and learn after time to see moral action as an art.

At the center of the fear is the ahrimanic Double's whispering that we will have to love (that is that moral action finds its deepest roots in love), and certainly (according to this being) love is the most risky and terrifying act of all.  To love is to step into the unknown, for if we follow our impulse to love (the center of our heart), then who knows where that might lead?  We could get emotionally hurt, we might have to give up our life style, or share with others that which we hold dear, or all sorts of other actions that take from us what we do not want to give.

Do you not know that this whispering is a lie?

Yes, to open ourselves to love is to stand on an abyss, but the ahrimanic Double makes of this profoundly moral  act such a heavy and costly task, that we turn from it again and again.  Even so, Steiner (again in Knowledge of Higher Worlds) points us in the right direction when he says that for every step in inner development leading to higher knowledge, we must take three steps in moral development.

Now moral development only takes place in life.  There are no exercises we can do by ourselves.  We can meditate all we want and study the dying and becoming of nature all we want, but until we face the nature of our own participation in moral intuition, we don't do the most essential work.  That by the way is one of the secrets - participation.  Intuitions of the Good are not announcements from a distant Father God demanding of us great sacrifices, but are rather gentle and tender presentments from our own heart of what the right thing to do is in a particular circumstance that is entirely individual to us.

While the ahrimanic Double makes us fear love, the luciferic Double gives us images of love in its most grandiose forms.  According to the latter Double, we have to save the world, invite all the homeless to live with us, and sacrifice everything in order to love.  So the one makes us fear love, as too costly, and the other creates images of love as if we had to become some kind of super being.  In combination they steer us away from real and ordinary human love, until we ourselves learn to surrender to what lives already in our own hearts as an impulse to do the Good.

We would do well to remember that Christ went to the Cross as a human being, not as a God.  His teachings on love are for human beings, not for divine beings, otherwise what would be the point.

Christ lays this out for us clearly, in Matthew 11: 28-30: "Come here to me, all you drudges and overburdened ones, and I will give you a rest.  Put my yoke on  and learn from me: I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls, because my yoke is kindly and my load is light."

The act (or yoke) of love found in the individual search for intuitions of the Good is a far far lighter load than we imagine.  It really only comes down to finding the courage to risk the unknown in an inner questing for guidance to outer and inner actions, whose essential core turns out to be just the ordinary moral sensibilities of our own heart.  It is really only in our most ordinary human interactions that we are called to bear our portion of this yoke of love, and it is here just in these same actions that we are graced with the capacity to know the Good.  It is also here, where we do ask ourselves what is the Good, and let ourselves answer, that we take the first awake steps into the Consciousness Soul.

In a sense, we mistake the real teachings of Spiritual Science if we believe it means that the Society and Movement are all about producing initiates, spiritual research and a hierarchy of truths to which we are bound.  Spiritual Science is about fostering the New Mysteries, and to deepen our appreciation of the true nature of such work, this essay must now turn to that effort which requires the strongest self honesty about our mutual efforts as a community - namely to love ourselves and forgive ourselves, while we seek to understand all those errors in the past that have led us (quite wisely) to where we stand today.


Preliminary to this let me remind the reader that there is no attempt in the following to criticize various personalities in either the Society or Movement.  What we are exploring below is micro social consequences of the karmic failure to be able to become fully awake to the mystery potential latent in The Philosophy of Freedom and the Reverse Cultus.  This failure had consequences, and we are next examining these consequences.

In addition, I would also like the reader to keep in mind that nothing here is meant to suggest that fine work is not being done in many places.  All manner of impulses are filled with spiritual insight and deep goodness, whether it is the work of doctors, teachers, Goethean scientists, or just mothers and fathers struggling to raise their children in new ways amidst a fallen, and still falling, culture.  We are here looking at a very narrow question: What is the Nature of the New Mysteries; and what is the effect upon our shared social life, as aspirants to the practice of Spiritual Science, of the fact that we have not yet been able to incarnate these Mysteries into our community life on a healthy rhythmic basis?

The first micro social consequence, with which we must concern ourselves, is the confusion concerning their real significance by a certain group which calls itself in America: The Circle (it has some other names elsewhere, such as the Youth Circle and so forth).    The history here is fairly simple, since it was not at all intended to produce the grave consequences that were later to arise.  A small group, that had received the Lectures to Youth, wanted to work together in service to the spiritual world and asked Steiner for verses and/or meditations in support of their work, which he then gave.  This is certainly a fine motive, and had the social implications of the failures regarding the Philosophy and the Reverse Cultus been understood, there would have been no problem

The group took the course that it would develop itself (or grow) only when someone who was known to its members expressed in some way a similar desire to work with the spiritual world.  They might then, having in this way identified themselves, be invited to join the work of the Circle.  The Circle would not otherwise have a public face, and not make itself open to volunteers.  Its meetings would not be advertised in anthroposophical publications, large or small, and its membership would be essentially private in support of the deep group work which was sought.

What could be wrong with any of this?

Part of what was intended for the Society and Movement is that it be a free association, open to any, regardless of their religious or spiritual convictions.  All that was really asked was that those who joined the Society would recognize the need for such an institution as the School for Spiritual Science (by the way, being in support of such a School really only means acknowledging the existence of a Science of the Spirit, and being in support of centers of spiritual research - it does not mean merely supporting just any institutional (and probably not living) social form which might call itself a Center for Spiritual Research, but which really is far too often only a center for propagating a theology of Steiner-thought.  Those who might wonder here how this can be said about the School today, only have to ask themselves why, for example, Georg Kuhlewind and Jesaiah Ben-Aharon are not currently heads of sections in the School).    If the Anthroposophical Society and Movement were to found New Mystery Centers, then the need for openness and freedom had to be consciously understood and appreciated in all its real inner implications.

By basically hiding itself, and by only drawing to itself members who those within pre-qualified, then the Circle could socially only be a secret group, with a hidden agenda, regardless of how harmless seeming was the purpose.   We should know by now that whatever our good purposes (intentions), if we fail in the means - in how we go about what we do - that will pollute the ends.

Immediately the judgments being made as to who to invite, because of their highly subjective nature (absent the True and the Good) began to socially corrode the work from within.  Within itself, it was possibly healthy, but as something within a greater whole, it could only cause imbalances.  Like a cancer it closed itself off from the whole organism, and it has metastasized far beyond any useful purpose today.

Precisely because its work is hidden, we do not see its influence clearly.  But the reader can be certain that many highly placed functionaries in the Society and Movement are members, and that their deliberations, and activities with respect to the greater whole, are not open, nor are we free to join, or to judge and consider how their deliberations effect the rest of us.

In addition, to the extent that the mystery nature and social meaning of The Philosophy of Freedom and the Reverse Cultus does not live in the meetings and actions of the Circle, then that group too will live in antipathies and sympathies, as well as individualized mental pictures and generalized concepts - that is: anti-social thinking and some form of an atavistic group-soul thought content.

This kind of social arrangement has no value in the New Mysteries, especially if the basis of those New Mysteries is to be a true Science of Knowing, which Steiner created in the epistemological works.


Next, in point of difficulty as a cause of micro social problems for the Society and Movement, is the failure to appreciate the truths, which Steiner pointed toward again and again, as regards the differences within the soul life of Peoples in various places in the World - what he often spoke of as the threefold nature of the world into East, Center and West.  Again, much of this is karmic and necessary, but that doesn't mean it was desirable, or that we should continue to be asleep as to these realities.

Horrible consequences have resulted socially in America (the true West), for example (this is true in the East as well, but only someone of the East should speak to this), due to the failure to consciously consider how European (Center) and American (West) soul forces needed to work together in America.  These soul characteristics are fundamentally different, and all manner of problems have resulted from not taking account of these differences.

For example, we do far too much lecturing in America.  We have copied this from our European brothers and sisters, but it really ignores our American nature to use what is essentially a sun (speaker) moon (reflecting listener) social structure.  We basically violate the best in us with this endless dependence upon lecturing.  For reasons that will be hinted at later in this essay, our gatherings should mostly take the social form of a circle (sun-sun, instead of sun-moon).  Now this does not mean that in all cases we should not hear long or short stories from each other, but the practice of laying out a series of Ideal thought-forms, as if that communicated spiritual reality, is flawed.  Stories nurture and nourish our instincts for the Good, but the True cannot be brought to us by lectures.   All the same, the root of the problem goes much deeper.

Let's start with the Earth forces in America.  Steiner pointed out that the invisible spiritual forces rising from deep within the Earth in America were quite different (and far stronger) from those in other places in the world; and, in addition, that the soul configuration, especially with regard to the Doubles, was different in America precisely in order to seat the individual properly within these powerful rising earth forces.

The Doubles of the Americans is far stronger that the Doubles of Europeans.  What are the consequences then of this fact, when Europeans move to America (in order to try to carry out their preconceived European ideal of anthroposophical work here), where these unusually strong earth forces exist?

In general, what this means to Imaginative vision - coupled with reflection, is that European personalities are pushed up off the earth in the Americas in their soul life - that is their astrality is essentially shifted in a luciferic direction as against the general soul conditions of the Americas, because the spiritual density of the European Doubles is insufficient to ground them here effectively.

What often, unfortunately, follows after this, is that if an American personality models their inner life on a European leading personality living here, they will be sucked up as well in a luciferic direction, by filling their soul with impulses of imitation, instead of grounding it in their own natural insights and soul characteristics.

It is possible for a European personality to so deepen their soul characteristics with a love of things American, that it can come to a kind of grounded rest (I have seen examples), yet even in these circumstances the will is sterile - nothing truly socially living can result.

If we add to this Steiner's admonition, that Central Europeans should not teach others matters of spirit (see some of the lectures on the East and the West), given that they lacked completely the capacity to enter into the inner life of another people, we can begin to see how it is that the Society and Movement in America has taken the disastrous course that it has here, such that so few Americans can find any connection at all to Spiritual Science in spite of being a deeply spiritual people, described by Steiner as natural anthroposophists, who being English speakers are instinctively in the consciousness soul in their life of rights.

Think on this again, for it bears repeating.   Americans are natural anthroposophists and are instinctively in the consciousness soul in their life of rights, so we must ask ourselves why so few join with the Society here.  The reason Americans do not flock to anthroposophy in America is because it is presented in a far too European way (that is as something foreign), has failed to come to ground (to rest on the Earth) here (too luciferic), and for reasons passing understanding fails to appreciate that this land still has living Mystery practices - the Saturn Mysteries are alive and well (more or less) in the Americas (something of which hundreds of thousands of spiritually striving Americans are instinctively aware.  We have to face the truth of why, in a Nation and a People who exploded with spiritual striving in the 1960's and 1970's, so few came to Spiritual Science.

In the land of Brotherhood, no New Mysteries can flourish without consciously connecting to the Mysteries already being practiced here.  In a sense, to ignore the Saturn Mysteries is to walk in a Church (the Americas) and constantly violate its present and living spiritual reality.  The Saturn Mysteries made no false distinction between the sacred and the profane as did Western Civilization,  and they need to be honored above all else, and respected, for they contain wisdom about community (the unity of all beings, visible and invisible) preserved from the deepest times.  They are part of the spiritual landscape here, and we must acknowledge them.  Anthroposophy will only truly found itself in America (come to full social incarnation), when and if it takes up a respectful relationship to the Original Peoples of the Americas.

[I recently attended for the second year, the Bioneers Conference in San Raphael, California, via satellite.   This conference is a semi-consciously emerging Michael Festival (held in the middle of October), at which the opening gesture involved two Hopi, and one Navaho, as well as two African-American practitioners of their religious traditions, offering prayers.  The ending gesture of this conference was the singing, by the group, of the words of a Hopi Elder, given in the late '90's: We are the people we have been waiting for.  In the present, the New Sun Mysteries are more vitally alive (albeit instinctively) in the Bioneers, than in the Anthroposophical Society and Movement in America.]

The Society and Movement here fail as much due to this, as any other flaw.   We are far too absorbed improperly with matters European, with the consequence that many deeply spiritually inclined Americans are right in wanting to have nothing to do with our work.  Further, we are also far too incestuous (mostly talk to ourselves) at the level of concept formation and language usage, and lack a real appreciation of how to express the social good in acts of service outside our own circles (yes, it does happen in individual instances - we kind of leak our work, but we do not, in an organized and conscious way, know how to serve the wider whole).  We mostly serve ourselves and too often think and then seek to convince others of our importance.   Here is the luciferic impulse in full flower.  It says: "We have Rudolf Steiner, we have Waldorf, we have biodynamics, we have the truth - thereby implying: aren't we great!" - all the while lamenting how it must be the opponents (and never ourselves) that keeps others at bay, and creates such opposition.

A clear consequence of this is what has happened to the Waldorf Movement here, in that the leading personalities of two principle teacher training institutions were for many years Central Europeans.  As a result, far too many Waldorf teachers here approach that work in a luciferic (prideful) fashion, and lacking a proper grounding in the social (by ignoring their natural social genius as Americans) are unable to deal with parents and outside communities in a wise way.   It is no wonder then that such virulent opposition has arisen to the Waldorf Movement in America.


A third micro social effect arises because we have failed to properly appreciate either the threefold social organism or Goetheanism.   Matters of crucial knowledge remain outside of our consciousness because of an excess of dependence upon what Steiner said, and the failure to develop in ourselves the qualitative characterizing (organic) thinking gesture (Goetheanism).  It is simply not possible, for example, to take hold of modern history and social life in America, without first changing, with conscious intention, the nature of the thinking activity which seeks to live into the events and spiritual realities unfolding here.

Let me cover this again, for it is also something well worth repeating.

Rudolf Steiner presented the Threefold Social Organism in its Ideal Form, because his listeners (in the Center) could only receive it in such an ideal form, due to the nature of their soul life.  Even so, the fact remains that a true social science, based upon the development of the capacity to think in qualitative characterizing pictures, is not only possible but has been achieved (in the West).  Yet, it remains outside the attention of the Society, because of the fixation, inside the Society, on dead Steiner-thought, and the failure to recognize that how matters need to proceed in America, must be quite different from how they proceed in Europe.

Thus, we focus in the Group and Branch work on the lectures of Steiner, without first becoming grounded in the epistemological works, which dooms our efforts to make living our encounter with Steiner.  As a consequence we absorb dead thought upon dead thought, and the soul is then unable to connect this to the living social reality in which it finds itself.  Those who could present the social reality of America (and of the whole world), in a living Goetheanistic fashion, are routinely ignored.  Yes, there are moments - and many of us experience them, but at an institutional level we flounder, and the Groups and Branches are left to wander in a spiritual desert.

Let me just give one example, keeping in mind that there are many others (such as the unresolved problems connected to the Constitution question in Europe, as well as the deeply troubling matters that arose  - and were wrongly set aside - in the debate concerning the spiritual scientific validity of S. O. Prokofieff's work, following on the publication of Irina Gordienko's: Sergei O. Prokofieff: Myth and Reality ... I leave aside these questions because so few Americans are at all sufficiently informed on these problems):

In threefolding we are pointed toward understanding the role of freedom in the Cultural Sphere.  Cultural Sphere social forms need to be based upon freedom, and need to cultivate their social form structures such that those with the most developed capacities are put in the leading positions. It will then be out of their freedom of initiative and developed capacities that the cultural social form will thrive.

We have not done this, again no doubt for reasons of karma.  But let me say it again, from a slightly different direction, so as to make as plain as possible what is happening.

Cultural life depends upon free initiative and capacities.  By capacities it is meant the ability of the individual to create intuitions of the highest order.  This is why the Ideal of Waldorf is the freedom of the teacher - it is their intuitive activity in the classroom (as against following a dead and dry formula) that brings fully human warmth and light to the education of the child.  If we don't instill the highest capacities in our cultural life social form structures, we lame these institutions.

Now there is a role for the administrator and the bureaucrat in any social form in the three spheres.  But these are functionaries, providing needed services, and not meant to be, especially in the cultural life, the source of inspiration.

At the same time, we need to recognize that our tradition of hierarchical social forms (Vorstands, Councils etc) is mostly due to the fact that when they were first created at the beginning of the 20th Century, we hadn't yet emerged far enough into the consciousness soul (fifth cultural) epoch to realize how it is that traditional hierarchical social forms are no longer valid (too much third cultural epoch).  Steiner made clear to us that the fifth cultural epoch (the age of the consciousness soul) was to be an involution (inside out opposite) of the third cultural epoch (the age of the sentient soul).

Steiner could only do so much in his creation of the Vorstand and the School for Spiritual Science, and had to depend upon us eventually getting how it was that cultural social forms truly needed to be organized in modern times.  We now need to consciously learn to discard what we have been doing here, and find the more socially healthy course.

The current situation, wherein anthroposophical institutional social forms propagate themselves by picking their successors, is flawed (we just had a big fight - remember what I said about how easily we devolve into conflict - about the how of the succession of the national general secretary).   An outside group needs to be formed, whose sole purpose is to assess the spiritual capacities demonstrated by members, and then to seek to place the most qualified members in the leading positions.  This group should be elected, and there should be a different such group for each different Council or Vorstand.

Let me describe an example from life.

I went to the United States Air Force Academy for three years.  We had an honor code, and those responsible for the judgment of whether any cadet had violated that code, were elected by the individual members of each squadron.  Neither the military school administrators, nor the honor council itself, selected its members.  When the cadets selected their honor representative (which was always out a certain class - i.e. seniors, but elected as juniors), they were basically choosing their own judges, should an honor question involve themselves.  Seldom was this selection either someone popular or academically or militarily advanced.  It was a decision as to who could be most trusted to carry out what was an essentially profoundly moral act.

This is what we seek in having a group consider whose spiritual development (character) will best serve a cultural social form in which freedom of initiative is to be the operative principle.  This choosing is a character judgment of the highest order, and the group doing this choosing will arrive at its work best, if it is selected from the bottom up (fifth epoch), instead of from the top down (third epoch) - that is democratically.  Also, contrary to the influence of the Circle, such actions of the choosing group need to be completely transparent (open and free).
Each Branch or Group should be able to select one of their members, for only in such intimate circumstances will reside the necessary knowledge of the character of the choosers.  This elected council of representatives, one from each Branch or Group, then meets when and only when it is necessary to replace a higher Council (or Vorstand) member who has resigned or died.

The present method, whereby the institutional form propagates itself is flawed, because it comes from the top down (although cultural social forms will create a natural hierarchy of capacities, once made living), and because through the Circle, a secret process of judgment and evaluation has been active.  Circle places itself on the Councils and keeps itself on the Councils, all without anyone being aware of this totally unjustifiable interference.   To know that this is true, all we need have happen is for the members of Circle, worldwide, to confess their membership.

In this way then, we renew the New Mysteries from the bottom up (true fifth epoch), from out of the Branch and Group work wherein The Philosophy of Freedom is the primary essential study, and the Reverse Cultus the main community practice.  Such living spiritual groups will then elect councils of selection, out of which those most respected for their inner work and character will be appointed to the leading Councils, and from which intuitions of initiative will pour out all over the whole, not just for the benefit of the Society and Movement, but for the benefit of all humanity.

[As an aside: if we had bothered to come to know more intimately how Chiefs where selected through the matriarchal processes in the Six Nations (the Iroquois Confederacy), we would already know how to do this, for the Saturn Mysteries saw clearly here.]

For it is in service to humanity that we best serve the spiritual worlds (the once true aim of the Circle) - since, while for humanity the Gods are our religion, for the Gods, humanity is their religion - thus to truly serve the spiritual world is to serve humanity.  This is the secret of Christ's admonition concerning the greatest commandment: To love God with all our mind, and all our heart and all our spirit; while the second is like unto it - to love our Neighbors as ourselves.  This is why Steiner, in The Theory of Knowledge Implicit in Goethe's World Conception wrote that:

"Man is not behaving in accordance with the purposes of the Guiding Power of the world when he investigates one or another of His commandments, but when he behaves in accordance with his own insight.  For in him the Guiding Power of the world manifests Himself.  He does not live as Will somewhere outside of man, He has renounced his own will in order that all might depend upon the will of man.   If man is to be enabled to become his own lawgiver, all thought about world-determinations outside of man must be abandoned."

And why Ben-Aharon in The Spiritual Event of the Twentieth Century has written:

"Now when they identified themselves with the situation of earthly humanity, the souls who remained true to [Archangel] Michael prefigured, in their planetary Earthly-Sun life, the great Sacrifice of Christ.  They walked again in His steps as they did in former earthly lives, only now the order of following was reversed.  They went before Him, showing Him the way, acting out of free and self-conscious human decision, and He followed in their steps only after they fully united themselves with the divided karma of Earth and humanity.  Only then could He offer His sacrifice, as the answer to the new, future question of human existence: the question concerning the mission and fate of evil."

[By the way, should those Groups and Branches seeking to incarnate the New Mysteries, look for something with which to work, after a first serious encounter with The Philosophy of Freedom, and Awakening to Community, the next best effort would be to understand and practice the Three Panels of the Imagination of the Second Coming, as described in Ben-Aharon's work noted above.]

What all this comes down to and means, is that the renewal of the cultivation of Anthroposophy is a function of the individual acts of seeking the Good first, and Branch and Group work seeking the True second.  It is not a function of top down order in an organization.  In fact, anything from above which seeks to tell individuals, and/or Groups and Branches, how to be anthroposophical or what anthroposophy is, has missed the point.  In the fifth cultural epoch the Good can only manifest through individuals and the True can only manifest in those small Groups and Branches where living out the Good and seeking the True is the basic gesture, as Marjorie Spock so wisely intuited many years ago in her small pamphlet: Group Moral Artistry.

Thinking is a profoundly moral art.  It is in fact in our social existence that we are challenged to tame the excesses of sympathy and antipathy in the soul, in order to make possible the creation of a thought content based upon the knowledge of a freely chosen moral imperative (the Good).  This is why the individualized knowledge of the Good is a necessary precedent to the seeking after knowledge of the True.  It is knowledge of the Good that sets my course in the sacrifice of opinion in order to find a community sense of the True.

The New Mysteries cannot be fostered from Dornach, or in fact in any place of central authority, although they can be practiced there and then served from such places.  Only in the Groups and Branches, can true centers of the New Mysteries arise.  In the Fifth Cultural Epoch the Temple is not to be found above, but is born below, in a multiplicity (many many Temples) of shared spiritual communal existence.

The practical element enters in when we seek to make in the Groups and Branches something of a mystery temple atmosphere.  This is what the Youth Circle sought, but failed at, by not recognizing that the primary act is not in the outer temple atmosphere itself, but rather in the acts of the human spirit within the temple of its own soul.  What happens outside in the creation of a temple atmosphere in the Groups and Branches has to arise because it appears from within the individuals first.  The Groups and Branches support, in a open and free way, the individual expression of inner work, and this then leads naturally to the arising of a temple atmosphere.  It will appear primarily as a shared mood, in the conversation, and there is no necessity at all for a Rite-like structure (everyone reading from the soul calender for example, although each Group and Branch must be free to self determine how it approaches these processes).  The seeking for an outer Rite-like structure is simply imitative of third epoch atavistic group-soul processes, where the mystery atmosphere was imposed from the outside.  In the New Mysteries, the mystery atmosphere will appear in the Groups and Branches from within the individual outward, as a naturally arising shared mood of reverence and awe as each begins to experience inwardly the consequences of the Reverse Cultus within their own souls.   The individuals will sense the rising toward the spirit within, and that will engender the heart warmth of fellow feeling.  It will be the shared mood that is the first sign of the success of the mutual work.

The basic individual gesture is as follows: we will the good, and think with the heart.  This willing of the Good, as an individualized intuitive aspect in support of the group work, then (according to Steiner and phenomenologically perceivable to introspection) brings about a current in the etheric body which rises from the lower pole upward through the heart, whereby it is warmed by the cultivated (willed) mood of reverence, awe and fellow feeling, and then streams further upward into the upper pole where the will and heart warmed etheric stream opens up like a flower toward the surrounding Sun Mysteries.  Into this inner open flower like gesture then streams the Truth, as a community intuition, appearing to the whole group in speech, first from one member and then another.  Even the neophyte - the complete newcomer to Spiritual Science - can speak into the conversation out of this shared mood.

It remains to bring forward one more essential matter.

The Anthroposophical Society and Movement was meant to be a meeting place in which differing Mystery Steams could come together.  It was not meant to be a place where the too often dominant tendency was that only one prideful and self absorbed pseudo-Mystery stream carried out its sectarian and dogmatic practices.  That dominant tendency is how far we have fallen, yet it also shows how far we can rise, if we so choose.

Like an individual biography, with its trials and errors, the biography of the Society and Movement tells a precise and wonderful story of just what is needed to be addressed.  If we do as a group, that which the individual spiritual aspirant must do, namely view ourselves objectively and as a stranger, then we can not only honestly see our flaws, but more importantly the true nature of our potential.  The one cannot exist without the other.  To face starkly the one (the flaws), we do the most necessary work that gives birth to the other (the potential).

On a wider scale, there are three general kinds of healthy Mystery Wisdoms practiced by humanity.  One is a stream similar in nature to the bodhisattva tradition of Buddhism (East), another is a stream similar to the initiation wisdom of the true Rosicrucians (Center), and the third stream is rooted in the development of the earthly character of the individual, as represented in their moral contributions to the community (West).  The former seeks to raise the human up, the second seeks to bring the divine down, while the third seeks the integration of the individual within the whole community of beings, both visible and invisible.

If the New Mysteries are begun to be properly practiced within the Anthroposophical Society and Movement in America, then this will attract Moon Wisdoms, Saturn Wisdoms and perhaps all the Planetary Wisdoms once celebrated Eons ago, to the newly emerging modern Sun Wisdom.  This attraction will arise, not because the New Sun Mysteries are wiser and better, but because in their light and warmth of service (based upon sacrifice) all will flourish.   Rather than standing against each other in differentiation, the myriad Mystery Wisdoms will come into contact, forming a dynamic and living spiritual vortex, themselves then beginning to take council together, out of which gesture then will finally arise a conscious True New Michael Festival.  

thought, and then written, in the season of Michaelmas, 2004
Joel A. Wendt

aspects of this essay can be found expressed in a wider context in the book:
the Way of the Fool: Christian Enlightenment (initiation) and the Future of Christianity - some thoughts on the nature of human becoming (the evolution of consciousness) and the wise relationship of moral grace, freedom and love
which can be found on-line at:

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