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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Anthroposophic Movement
GA 258

These lectures were delivered in a lively, informal and conversational tone, and as such were not conceived of in book form. But because of their exceedingly important content and historical context, their significance should not be underestimated. This is true not only insofar as it applies to anthroposophists, who will find illuminated the background of the movement to which they belong and who will thus acquire a firm standpoint through their insight into the necessity of events which need no justification.

These eight lectures are the entire lecture series entitled, The History and Significance of the Anthroposophical Movement to the Anthroposophical Society, published in German as, Die Geschichte und die Bedingungen Anthroposophischen Bewegung Im Verhaeltnis zur Anthroposophischen Geselschaft. Eine Anregung zur Selbstbesinnung. They are based on transcripts which remained unrevised by the lecturer. They are reproduced with permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Translated by Christian von Arnim, abridged by Richard Seddon and edited by Joan M. Thompson. Diagrams in the text by Assia Turgenieff are based on blackboard drawings by Rudolf Steiner.

From the Foreword to the First Edition (1931)
Editorial Preface
I. The Homeless Souls June 10, 1923
Characterization of the anthroposophical movement. Souls who can make themselves at home on earth and homeless souls. The cult of Richard Wagner as a cultural phenomenon for homeless souls. Rudolf Steiner's observations in these circles: “I never lost my connection with the spiritual world.” His acquaintance with theosophists of Blavatsky's persuasion. He himself used Goethe's Fairy-tale as a way to speak about the spiritual world. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine; Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism; Herman Grimm's novel Unüberwindliche Mächte. Rudolf Steiner's lectures in Berlin on mysticism.
II. The Unveiling of Spiritual Truths June 11, 1923
The homeless souls of the nineteenth century inclined towards spiritualism, the writings of Ralph Waldo Trine and the Theosophical Society. The corporate cohesion and self-awareness of the Theosophical Society. Ideal of the Anthroposophical Society: Wisdom can only be found in truth. On the central ideas of The Philosophy of Freedom and the endeavour to find a link with contemporary civilization in order to speak about a spiritual realm which is justified on its own terms. The philosophies of Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Solger, Robert Zimmermann. Rudolf Steiner took the name of Zimmermann's Anthroposophy. Topinard. Lecturing activity in the Die Kommenden group. The founding of the German Section of the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky's writings, Schelling and Lawrence Oliphant; Jakob Boehme.
III. The Opposition to Spiritual Revelations June 12, 1923
An assessment of the phenomenon of ‘Blavatsky’ requires real powers of judgement. About the lack of judgement of our time as exemplified through Ohm, Reis, Stifter, Julius Robert Mayer, all of whom were denied official recognition for a long time. The effect of Blavatsky's writings on the secret societies. Jungian psychoanalysis and anthroposophical research in relation to Blavatsky. Jakob Boehme. Increasing hardening of the human brain so that the inner revelations cannot penetrate to the surface. Personal illustration of the inability of our time to make a true judgement: lecture by Rudolf Steiner to the Giordano Bruno Federation about Thomas Aquinas.
IV. Spiritual Truths and the Physical World June 13, 1923
Blavatsky and her effect. Her spiritual but exceedingly antichristian perspective, similar to Nietzsche's. The reasons for this anti-christian attitude. Up to the close of the Middle Ages the spiritual world was sought in ritual images, including musical and mantric forms. The development of intellectualism from the fifteenth century onwards introduced a more critical attitude. Many souls contain a yearning for the spirit as a consequence of earlier lives on earth. The urge among modern human beings to follow up their dreams as a consequence of pre-earthly experiences. The social order of earlier periods coincided with the wisdom of the Mysteries. Todays social order drives people to search for something beyond physical existence. Blavatsky revealed the wisdom of the ancient heathen religions. From the start, anthroposophy took the path from heathen to Christian wisdom.
V. The Decline of the Theosophical Society June 14, 1923
Anti-christianism and, how to cure it. Necessity of a new esoteric path to come to terms with the Mystery of Golgotha. Guiding forces of the first two periods. Until 1907 every step made by anthroposophy had to be taken in opposition to the traditions of the Theosophical Society. Example: the concept of time in relation to kamaloca and the book Theosophy. The Munich congress of 1907. Indian influences on Blavatsky and Annie Besant and the culturally egoistical attempt to defeat the West spiritually through the East. The Order of the Star of the East and the exclusion of the anthroposophical movement from the Theosophical Society. The developmental periods of the anthroposophical movement.
VI. The Emergence to the Anthroposophical Movement June 15, 1923
First period: the development of the basic content of the science of the spirit. View of natural science. The journal Luzifer-Gnosis. The second period: exploration of the Gospels, Genesis, the Christian tradition. Expansion of the anthroposophical understanding of Christianity as such. The spread of anthroposophy into the artistic field through performance of the Mystery Dramas in Munich. Reasons which led to the expulsion from the Theosophical Society.
VII. The Consolidation of the Anthroposophical Movement June 16, 1923
Summary of the first two phases. The opposition which grew in strength after construction of the Goetheanum began. Development of eurythmy. The booklet Thoughts in Time of War and the inner opposition which it provoked within the society. The being of Anthroposophia. The third phase: fertilization and renewal of the sciences and social relationships. The conditions governing the existence of the Anthroposophical Society. A more open-hearted form had to be found for the three objects of the society: fraternity, comparative study of religions and the study of the spiritual world.
VIII. Responsibility to Anthroposophy June 17, 1923
Review of the previous seven lectures. The spiritual substance of anthroposophy comes from sources other than Blavatsky, but the terminology is the same in order to promote understanding. Rudolf Steiner's The Philosophy of Freedom and Goethe's world conception. Anthroposophy was able to build on Goethe's scientific writings and his Fairy-tale. In Egypt the human being was the focus of the world order, social conditions were regulated according to the stars and the moral impulses also came from there; in science today the human being and the divine are excluded. Rudolf Steiner's analysis of Nietzsche and Haeckel. Julius Robert Mayer, Paracelsus and van Helmont. The twenty-one year rhythm and the danger of sinking into a state of latency; the necessity of responsibility and self-reflection.