The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Life, Nature, and Cultivation of Anthroposophy
GA 26

Foundation of the General Anthroposophical Society at the
Christmas Meeting, 1923, Dornach, Switzerland

13 January 1924

To give the Anthroposophical Society the form most suitable for the development of the Anthroposophical Movement: this was the purpose of the Christmas gathering which has come to an end. A society of this kind can have no abstract rules or statutes. Its real basis is already given in all that insight into the Spiritual World which is Anthroposophy. In this a large number of men and women today already find an impulse which they feel is worthy of their spiritual striving. The union in a society with others of a like mind is what their souls require. For in mutual give and take in spiritual matters, human life unfolds its truest essence. It lies in the nature of the case that those who would make Anthroposophy an integral part of their life, should wish for a society through which to foster it.

Anthroposophy has its root in the perceptions — already gained — into the spiritual world. Yet these are no more than the root. The branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits of Anthroposophy grow into all the fields of human life and action.

With thoughts that manifest the essence and the laws of spiritual being, the call of Anthroposophy rings into the very depths of the creative soul of man. Artistic powers of the soul are conjured forth, and Art receives incentives on all sides.

Anthroposophy pours into the hearts of men the warmth that is kindled when the eyes of the soul are lifted to the spiritual world. In unfeigned devotion to the Divine in the world, the religious sense is awakened, and true Religion is thus deepened and intensified.

The well-springs of Anthroposophy are opened, for the will of man — strengthened by love — to draw from them. Kindling the love of mankind, Anthroposophy grows creative in moral impulses to action and in the practice of a truly social life.

And Anthroposophy imbues with fertile seeds of spiritual vision Man's penetration into Nature. From the mere learnedness concerning Nature, true Knowledge of her arises.

In all these ways, Anthroposophy begets a multitude of tasks; but these can only find their way into the wider circles of mankind if fostered and developed first in a society.

The responsible people at the Goetheanum issued an invitation — a call to those who believe that Anthroposophy, in the way it is cultivated there, is seeking to be equal to these tasks. Such were invited to a Christmas gathering, where the efforts that have been going on for some time past in the foundation of the various anthroposophical societies should be brought to an adequate culmination.

The response was beyond expectation. Between seven and eight hundred people were present when the ‘Foundation Stone’ of the ‘General Anthroposophical Society’ was laid. Their transactions will be described by gradual installments in the ‘Goetheanum’ Supplement.

It fell to me to open and conduct the meetings. It was with a glad heart that I did the opening. Beside me sat Albert Steffen, the Swiss poet. The whole gathering of anthroposophists were looking towards him with thankful hearts. It was on Swiss soil that they had come together to found the Anthroposophical Society. To Switzerland, in Albert Steffen, they have long owed a leading member to whom they look up with true enthusiasm. In him I had Switzerland before me, represented by one of the ‘gentlest’ of her sons; and my first word was of heartfelt greeting to him and all our friends in Switzerland. My second was to call on him to give the opening address.

It was a deeply moving address. Albert Steffen spoke with his wonderful word-painting, his plastic, picture-forming poetry of language. Eloquent and mighty visions rose before one as one listened to him.

There stood before us the moment when in 1913 we laid the Foundation Stone of the Goetheanum. I cannot find words to describe what I experienced when the ceremony in which I had acted ten years since arose before me once again in Steffen's picture.

Words moulded with artistic beauty called to our minds the building of the Goetheanum — hundreds of devoted hands at work, hundreds of hearts beating in glad unison.

Then — the Goetheanum fire. The whole tragedy of it, the pain of many thousands throbbed again as Albert Steffen spoke. And at length another picture: in the foreground the very Being of Anthroposophy, transfigured in the soul of the poet; and in the background the enemies — not blamed, but simply, quietly portrayed, with all his plastic power of expression.

‘Ten years of the Goetheanum’ — well could one feel how deeply Steffen's words sank into the hearts of those present.

After this prelude, so worthy of the occasion, I had to speak of the form which the Anthroposophical Society should now assume. I had to state what should take the place of ordinary rules and statutes. We need a simple description of what it is that human beings desire to achieve, in that they come together on a purely human basis to form the Anthroposophical Society. It is at the Goetheanum, with its scanty sheds and temporary wooden halls since the fire, that Anthroposophy is being fostered. How the leaders of the Goetheanum understand this task, and what they consider its effect will be on the civilisation of mankind, should be simply stated. Then should follow a description of how they conceive that the work should be carried on in a ‘School of Spiritual Science’.

It cannot be a matter of setting up principles to which one is then expected to declare one's adherence. An existing reality must be described, its character set forth. To which we simply add: Whoever would lend his co-operation and support to the things that are being done at the Goetheanum, can become a member.

As ‘Statutes’ — which are, however, no Statutes, but a description of the society that can result from the purely human and living relationship above indicated:

  1. The General Anthroposophical Society is meant to be a union of people who desire to further the life of the soul — both in the individual and in human society — on the basis of a true knowledge of the Spiritual World.
  2. The persons gathered at the Goetheanum, Dornach, at Christmas, 1923 — both the individuals who were present and the groups which were represented — form the foundation of the Society. They are convinced that there is in existence at the present time a real Science of the Spiritual World — elaborated for years past, and, in important particulars, already published. They hold, moreover, that the civilisation of today needs the cultivation of such a science. This is to be the task of the General Anthroposophical Society. It will endeavour to fulfill the task by making the spiritual science of Anthroposophy cultivated in the Goetheanum at Dornach the central point of its activities, with all that results from it, for brotherhood in human intercourse, for moral and religious life, and for the artistic and spiritual life in general, within the being of mankind. [The Society is continuous with the Anthroposophical Society founded in 1912. With the same objects in view which were then defined, the intention is to create an independent point of departure, in keeping with the true spirit of the time.]
  3. The persons gathered together at Dornach in founding the Society recognise and support the view of those responsible at the Goetheanum (represented by the Executive) in the following particulars: ‘Anthroposophy, as pursued in the Goetheanum leads to results which can be of assistance to every human being — without distinction of nation, social standing or religion — as an incentive in spiritual life. These results can in a real sense give rise to a social life based on brotherly love. The possibility of making them one's own and founding life upon them depends on no special degree of learning or education, but alone on a free, unbiased human nature. The researches however which lead to them and to the power of competent judgment on the results of research, are subject to a spiritual-scientific training which must be acquired step by step. The results are in their way no less exact than those of Natural Science. When they attain general recognition like these, they will bring about a like progress in all spheres of life — not only in the spiritual but in the practical domain.’
  4. The General Anthroposophical Society is in no sense a secret society, but an entirely public organisation. Without distinction of nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, any person who considers the existence of such an institution as the Goetheanum in Dornach — School for Spiritual Activity in Science and Art — to be justified, can become a member of the Society. The Anthroposophical Society is averse to any kind of sectarian tendency. Politics it does not consider to be among its tasks.
  5. The General Anthroposophical Society looks upon the School of Spiritual Science at Dornach as the centre of its work. This School will be composed of three classes. Members of the Society will — on their application — be admitted to the School after a period of membership to be determined in each case by those responsible at the Goetheanum. They thus gain entrance to the first class of the School of Spiritual Science. Applicants will be received into the second or third class respectively when those responsible at the Goetheanum deem them ripe for admission.
  6. Every member of the General Anthroposophical Society has the right to participate — under conditions to be announced by the Executive — in all lectures, performances, and meetings of any kind arranged by the Society.
  7. The establishment of the School of Spiritual Science is in the first place incumbent on Rudolf Steiner, who will appoint his collaborators and his eventual successor.
  8. All publications of the Society will be open to the public as are those of other public societies. [The conditions, too, whereby one enters into the training of this School, have been described in published works and their publication will be continued.] The same will apply to the publications of the School of Spiritual Science; but in regard to these works, those responsible for the School reserve the right from the outset to deny the validity of opinions unsupported by the proper qualifications, namely by the training of which the works themselves are the outcome. In this sense and as is customary in the recognised scientific world, they will admit the validity of no judgment which is not based on the requisite preliminary studies. The publications of the School of Spiritual Science will therefore contain the following notice: ‘Printed in Manuscript for the members of the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, Class ... No person is held qualified to form a judgment on the contents of these works, who has not acquired — through the School itself or in an equivalent manner recognised by the School — the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be in so far disregarded, as the authors of the works in question are not willing to take them as a basis for discussion.’
  9. The object of the General Anthroposophical Society will be the furtherance of research in spiritual regions; that of the School of Spiritual Science the actual pursuit of such research. A dogma in any sphere whatsoever shall be excluded from the General Anthroposophical Society.
  10. At the beginning of each year the General Anthroposophical Society holds an annual General Meeting, when the Executive shall submit a full report and balance sheet. The Agenda shall be issued by the Executive together with the invitation to all members four weeks before the meeting. The Executive may summon emergency General Meetings and fix the Agenda for such Meetings. Invitations to such Meetings shall be sent to members two weeks in advance. Motions by individual members or groups of members shall be sent in eight days before the date of a General Meeting.
  11. The members of the Society may join together in smaller or larger groups, on any geographical or relevant basis of activity. The seat of the General Anthroposophical Society is at the Goetheanum, whence the Executive shall communicate to the members or groups of members what it considers to be the task of the Society. The Executive enters into communication with the officials elected or appointed by the single Groups. Membership shall be applied for in writing and can be obtained through admission by the Executive at Dornach; each card of membership has to be signed by the President of the Society. As a general rule every member should join a Group. Only those who find it quite impossible to enter a Group should apply for admission at Dornach as individual members.
  12. The subscription shall be fixed by the single Groups; each Group shall however send 15 Swiss Francs annually per member to the headquarters of the Society at the Goetheanum.
  13. Each working Group formulates its own Statutes, but these must not be incompatible with the Statutes of the General Anthroposophical Society.
  14. The organ of the Society is the Goetheanum Weekly, which shall for this purpose issue a Supplement containing the official communications of the Society. This enlarged edition of the Goetheanum will be supplied to members of the General Anthroposophical Society only. (An English translation — the Anthroposophic News Sheet — is published at Dornach. Subscriptions for this News Sheet should be addressed to the office at the Goetheanum, Dornach.)

In close connection with the opening meeting, was the festivity on the morning of 25 December, entitled ‘Laying the Foundation Stone of the General Anthroposophical Society’. It could only be a question of Laying the Foundation Stone in an ideal and spiritual sense. The soil in which the Stone was laid could be no other than the hearts and souls of those united in the Society. And the Foundation Stone itself must be the attitude of mind which grows when Anthroposophy gives shape to life. This attitude in life, as it is required by the signs of the present time, lies in the will to find — by deepening the human soul — the path to an awakened vision of the Spirit and to a life proceeding from the Spirit. I will now put down the verses wherein I tried to give shape to this Foundation Stone.


[See the volume The Foundation Stone (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, London, 1957).]

Du lebest in den Gliedern,
Die dich durch die Raumeswelt
In das Geistesmeereswesen tragen:
Übe Geist-Erinnern
In Seelentiefen,
Wo in waltendem
Das eigne Ich
Im Gottes-Ich
Und du wirst wahrhaft leben
Im Menschen-Welten-Wesen.

Soul of man!
Thou livest in the Limbs
Which bear thee through the world of Space
Into the ocean-being of the Spirit.
Practise Spirit-recollection
In depths of soul,
Where in the wielding
Thine own I comes to being
Within the I of God.
Then in the All-World-being of Man
Thou wilt truly live.

Denn es waltet der Vater-Geist der Höhen
In den Weltentiefen Sein-erzeugend:
Ihr Kräfte-Geister,
Lasset aus den Höhen erklingen,
Was in den Tiefen das Echo findet;
Dieses spricht:
Aus dem Göttlichen weset die Menschheit.
Das hören die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Father-Spirit of the Heights holds sway
In Depths of Worlds begetting Life.
Spirits of Strength!
Let this ring out from the Heights
And in the Depths be echoed,
From God, Mankind has Being.
The Spirits hear it in East and West and North and South:
May human beings hear it!

Du lebest in dem Herzens-Lungen-Schlage,
Der dich durch den Zeitenrhythmus
Ins eigne Seelenwesensfühlen leitet:
Übe Geist-Besinnen
Im Seelengleichgewichte,
Wo die wogenden
Das eigne Ich
Dem Welten Ich
Und du wirst wahrhaft füblen
Im Menschen-Seelen-Wirken.

Soul of Man!
Thou livest in the beat of Heart and Lung
Which leads thee through the rhythmic tides of Time
Into the feeling of thine own Soul-being.
Practise Spirit-mindfulness
In balance of the soul,
Where the surging
Deeds of the World's Becoming
Do thine own I unite
Unto the I of the World.
Then 'mid the weaving of the Soul of Man
Thou wilt truly feel.

Denn es waltet der Christus-Wille im Umkreis
In den Weltenrhythmen Seelen-begnadend;
Ihr Lichtes-Geister,
Lasset vom Osten befeuern,
Was durch den Westen sich formet;
Dieses spricht:
In dem Christus wird Leben der Tod.
Das hören die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Christ-Will in the encircling Round holds sway
In the Rhythms of the Worlds, blessing the Soul.
Spirits of Light!
Let this be fired from the East
And through the West be formed,
In Christ, Death becomes Life.
The Spirits hear it in East and West and North and South:
May human beings hear it!

Du lebest im ruhenden Haupte,
Das dir aus Ewigkeitsgründen
Die Weltgedanken erschließet:
Übe Geist-Erschauen
In Gedanken-Ruhe,
Wo die ew'gen Götterziele
Dem eignen Ich
Zu freiem Wollen
Und du wirst wahrhaft denken
In Menschen-Geistes-Gründen.

Soul of Man!
Thou livest in the resting Head
Which from the ground of the Eternal
Opens to thee the Thoughts of Worlds.
Practise Spirit-vision
In quietness of Thought,
Where the eternal aims of Gods
World-Being's Light
On thine own I bestow
For thy free Willing.
Then from the ground of the Spirit in Man.
Thou wilt truly think.

Denn es walten des Geistes-Weltgedanken
Im Weltenwesen Licht-erflehend:
Ihr Seelen-Geister,
Lasset aus den Tiefen erbitten,
Was in den Höhen erhöret wird;
Dieses spricht:
In des Geistes Weltgedanken erwachet die Seele.
Das hören die Geister in Ost, West, Nord, Süd:
Menschen mögen es hören.

For the Spirit's Universal Thoughts hold sway
In the Being of all Worlds, craving for Light.
Spirits of Soul!
Let this be prayed in the Depths
And from the Heights be answered,
In the Spirit's Universal Thoughts, the Soul awakens.
The Spirits hear it in East and West and North and South:
May human beings hear it!

In der Zeiten Wende
Trat das Welten-Geistes-Licht
In den irdischen Wesensstrom;
Hatte ausgewaltet;
Taghelles Licht
Erstrahlte in Menschenseelen;
Das erwärmet
Die armen Hirtenherzen;
Das erleuchtet
Die weisen Königshäupter.

At the turning-point of Time
The Spirit-Light of the World
Entered the stream of Earthly Being.
Darkness of Night
Had held its sway;
Day-radiant Light
Poured into the souls of men:
Light that gives warmth
To simple Shepherds' Hearts,
Light that enlightens
The wise Heads of Kings.

Göttliches Licht,
Unsere Herzen;
Unsere Häupter;
Daß gut werde,
Was wir
Aus Herzen gründen,
Was wir
Aus Häuptern
Zielvoll führen wollen.

O Light Divine,
O Sun of Christ,
Warm Thou our Hearts,
Enlighten Thou our Heads,
That good may become
What from our Hearts we would found
And from our Heads direct
With single purpose.


THE Executive was formed at the Christmas Meeting of persons who through the nature of their connection with the life of Anthroposophy will be able to take the initiative for action in the direction indicated in these paragraphs. They must be persons whose work is situated at the Goetheanum itself. Their relations to the other functionaries of the Society will be discussed in future numbers of the News Sheet. The names of the members of this Foundation Executive or Vorstand are as follows:

First President: Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Second President: Albert Steffen
Recorder: Dr. Ita Wegman
Frau Marie Steiner
Fraulein Lili Vreede
Secretary and Treasurer: Dr. Günther Wachsmuth

It will be desirable for the News Sheet to be published in translation for the Members in the different countries. We ask the General Secretaries or Councils of the various Societies or Groups to make proposals to us on the subject of these translations.