ahern’s meetings with anthroposophists 1982

Ahern on meeting anthroposophists (in the course of his work on a dissertation):

The Anthroposophists reconstructed their pasts through a particular psychosocial ambience or ‘Anthroposophicalness’ . Sex, aggression and materialism are at its opposite pole. I would have been most surprised if any of the ten men had told me they ran a sex-shop, had black belts at judo or were estate agents. Instead, there was a nice vulnerability. Everyday affairs seemed to be conducted from a deep structure of earnestly idealistic myth. Most had a sense of humour but it did not descend from the level of The Divine Comedy. Some were fey, others puckered and puzzled-looking, a few genial or cold : but all were well-mannered with it. I was impressed by a sense of general openness, genuineness and conscious truthfulness. They seemed to be absorbed in their particular spiritual monism as surely as Jonah is reputed to have been swallowed by the whale, but with little apparent prospect of regurgitation.

[…]

All the eighteen accepted Steiner’s idea of reincarnation and with it the belief that they had chosen their parents and families while in the spirit world before birth. … Only four of the eighteen answered my question about who they thought they were in previous incarnations. Apparently Steiner warned against answering this because, as one student said, it involves “an egotistic wrap up”. Two thought they had been previously incarnated in France between one and two hundred years ago and two thought they had previously been born in ancient Egypt.

[…]

Their sense of totality seemed to be completely identified with Steiner’s revelation though, at the most conscious level, a cognitive sop was thrown to the ideal of critical independence, which was also considered desirable, if only because Steiner said so.

Ahern, G. ‘Double profanity, or towards the explicit: eighteen anthroposophists and a researcher’, Religion (1982) 12, 131-147.

Article includes interesting stuff on what led them to become anthroposophists (they were students at the Steiner House in London).