I never saw it coming, but Diana managed to turn the anthropornography (or is it more correct to say pornosophy?) thread into something serious. Well, maybe it was serious from the start, just not this serious. I thought I’d nick the topic and Diana’s formulation of it too. Here it goes:
What are the implications of the anthroposophic doctrines of karma and reincarnation (child choosing his/her parents, souls previewing their next incarnation and sometimes “hesitating” before birth, etc.) for the ethics of contraception, abortion, adoption, reproductive technologies such as IVF, selective embryo reduction in multiple gestations, cloning, etc.? What do the rigid and essentialist notions of male and female in anthroposophy imply about sexual preference?
Dan Dugan mentioned someone who dropped out of waldorf teacher training ‘after a teacher told her class that an aborted baby’s spirit would follow the mother around for the rest of her life.’ That’s not so nice — if you believe there’s even the slimmest chance it might be true… Then, today, Peter Staudenmaier posted this; quote:
A number of anthroposophists have expressed decidedly negative views on homosexuality (and on abortion, for related anthroposophical reasons). Perhaps the most prominent instance in anthroposophist circles is L. F. C. Mees’s theory that homoerotic inclinations arise from an improper process of reincarnation. A similar karmic ‘explanation’ for homosexuality has been championed by anthroposophist Bernard Lievegoed, who claims that “Homosexuality is a problem of the human soul in its relationship to the physical and etheric body.” (From his 1994 book Der Mensch an der Schwelle) Other anthroposophists simply condemn homosexuality as a “sexual perversion”; that is the stated position of some of more openly reactionary figures within the anthroposophical movement, such as Bondarev and Lochmann.
Falk wrote in a comment earlier today:
In all my reading of Steiner he never seemed to have any hang-ups about sex. [. . .] The only notable things I recall him saying, are, first it’s important to separate sex from love, which seems to be simple common sense. Secondly that the separation of the human being into sexes was the necessary pre-condition for the development of independent thought, and, thirdly that this evolutionary necessity will be superceded, ie, we will one day be sexless beings again.
Some of this is found in my collection of quotes below.
Any thoughts on this among those of you who aren’t on the critics list? Any interesting findings on the internet — links, documents, books, events? Any experiences, ideas, opinions?
(Diana promised to ‘find some of [Steiner’s] remarks about sexual deviations a bit later’ — which will be most welcome!!)
Jens Bjørneboe, the writer and anthroposophist, is sometimes brutally explicit, and, this said, I haven’t even read his famous porn novel (yet). I recently read a hilarious letter he wrote from Dornach, where he attended a conference and also happened to watch an enactment of the mystery dramas. That is, until he walked out. In short, the Goetheanum stinks (indeed, it is the word he uses) of denigrated, subdued, repressed sexuality.
Peter Staudenmaier mentioned anthroposophical attempts to deal with the topic of homosexuality; the result of one such attempt is this volume of the German anthroposophic magazine Flensburger Hefte from 2000. As far as I can tell (there are a cople of interesting reviews on the website), this volume offers a more progressive take on the issue, in particular in contrast to some of the reactionary figures of the anthroposophical scene. There’s also a German group of anthroposophists devoted to the topic, and there’s a very useful literature list on the website. There are reading samples from the volume of Flensburger Hefte mentioned above; you’ll find links fo several other interesting articles on that page as well, e g, this one.
For anyone who reads Norwegian, or who can endure google translate, one article, which is well worth reading, is available here.
I’ve come across a few spectacular (and possibly some unspectacular as well) views of individual anthroposophists, but the less said about these particular views, the better. I mean, the less said by me, right here and now. I’m looking forward to other people’s contributions on the topic.
However, I do have a collection of a few quotes for inspiration. It’s nothing new, but stuff I’ve unearthed in the archives of my computer and the critics list. Often, and I guess I don’t have to say this, but I do it nonetheless, the entire lectures are well worth reading. (The ones without good references were probably found on rsarchive.org. I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job noting these things when I saved the quotes, but if I’d bother about it now, I’ll never get the post posted. The quotes don’t appear in any particular order at all, just random. Some are less relevant than others. There are a couple of quotes in German, but the vast majority are in English.) Here it goes:
‘It is frequently the case that a marriage partner whom someone has chosen deliberately will be related to him in the next life as father or mother, or brother or sister.’ (Steiner, R. Reincarnation and Karma.)
‘Marriage? Where this is more than a love affair made binding at a registry office, or a business transaction, there two souls have come into being in the same period of time, in order to find one another. The myth of Eros, as Plato tells it in his Symposium, is true, only it is more individually true, truer to the facts than man could realise in Plato’s time. It is not that the man seeks the woman, but that this man seeks this woman. And the community of life, prepared in higher worlds, is fulfilled on earth. Marriages are made in heaven. [. . .] The real truth which is in a marriage will inevitably come to light through death. Suddenly two people, who have perhaps maintained to the end the lie that they are united in love, will be miles apart. Other marriages again will arise from the deep. If two pieces of electrical apparatus which are tuned to one another can find one another across the whole globe, much more can two human souls who are in harmony. Reincarnation teaches not the indissolubility of marriage, but the deep cosmic seriousness of marriage.’ (Rittelmeyer, F. Reincarnation in the light of ethics.)
‘When mankind reaches a new turning point in its evolution, it must briefly recapitulate what it has previously passed through. Thus, the peoples of the first three post-Atlantean periods had briefly to recapitulate three important evolutionary epochs of mankind. In ancient India the wise Rishis looked back to a time when the sexes did not yet exist, to a time when man was sexually still a unity. They looked back to a primeval man, known in occult teachings as Adam Kadmon, who was both man and woman. The highest cosmic being expressing this primeval unity was indicated by the sacred name, Brahman. All manifoldness proceeded from Brahman, the Divine Unity. This unity was present for men on earth only as long as the male and female sexes did not exist. Thus, in the spirit of the great Indian Rishis there appears, like a mirrored image, the divine primeval unity of man, the pre-human Adam Kadmon, in whom lived peace, spirit, clarity and harmony. He it is who speaks in the Vedas that poured from the lips of the Indian Rishis. This occurred in the first period of human civilization after the great flood. At that time one did not yet speak of a trinity, of a threefold Divine Person, but solely of a primeval Unity, of Brahman, in whom everything was contained and in whom everything originated.
‘Then a time came when the Persian priests of Zarathustra, the wise Parsis, looked back to the epoch in which the two sexes were born out of fire, and man became a duality. With the birth of sexual man out of fire, evil, which had not previously existed, entered the world. Evil in the human sense did not exist before the division of the sexes that occurred in the middle of the Lemurian age. Good and evil have existed only since that time when they came to fill the last part of the Lemurian age and the first part of the Atlantean.’ (Link.)
‘At present we will concern ourselves with the physical and etheric bodies. For herein lies the solution to the riddle of the sexes. The etheric body is only to a certain extent a picture of the physical body. In regard to the sexes things are different. In the man the etheric body is female and in the woman it is male. However strange it may seem, a deeper observation will disclose the following: Something of the opposite sex lies hidden in each person. It is no good however to look for all kinds of abnormal phenomena, rather one needs to pay attention to normal experiences. By confronting this fact, it is no longer possible in the strict sense to speak of man and woman, but rather of masculine and feminine qualities. Certain qualities in the woman work more outwardly while others are more inward. The woman has masculine qualities within herself and the man feminine qualities. For example a man becomes a warrior through the outer courage of his bodily nature, a woman possesses an inner courage, the courage of sacrifice and devotion. The man brings his creative activity to bear on external life. The woman works with devoted receptivity into the world. Countless phenomena of life will become clear to us if we think of human nature as the working together of two polar opposites. In the man the masculine pole works outwards and the feminine lives more inwardly, while in the woman the opposite holds true.
‘Spiritual science however also shows us a deeper reason why a masculine quality is to be found in the woman and a feminine in the man. Spiritual science speaks of how human beings strive after ever greater perfection, through many lives. Our present life is always the result of a previous one. Thus as we proceed through many lives, we experience both male and female incarnations. What arises in this way may be expressed as the effect of those experiences gathered on both sides in earthly life.
‘Whoever is able in this way to look more deeply into the male and female natures knows that the more intimate experiences of the two sexes are very different, and must be very different. Our entire earth existence is a collection of the most varied experiences. However, these experiences can only become comprehensive through their being acquired from the viewpoint of both sexes.’
‘Spiritual science knows that the two higher members of the human being, the ego and the astral body leave during the night while the physical and etheric bodies remain behind. Thus it follows that during sleep the human being leaves behind male and female aspects and lives as a sexually undifferentiated being in the spiritual world. Everyone’s life is thus divided between a sexual and an asexual experience.
‘Do the sexes then have no meaning in the spiritual world? Does the polarity of physical and etheric body which makes the two sexes manifest here on earth, find no echo in the higher worlds? Certainly we do not take our sexual nature with us into higher worlds; however, the origin of the two sexes is to be found in the astral sphere.’
‘. . . we must distinguish between the reality of the senses and the nature of being itself. If we want to solve the riddles of life, we must observe the whole human being from the world of the senses and from the world of the spirit. It can be seen that beyond the sense-perceptible polarity, man and woman are only garments, sheaths which hide the true nature of the human being.’ (Passages above from Steiner, R. Man and Woman in Light of Spiritual Science.)
‘Denn es werden ja viele von Ihnen wissen, wie gerade in unserer heutigen materialistischen Zeit dieser Begriff verschoben, karikiert wird, indem der Materialismus in unserer Zeit den Begriff der Liebe so nahe wie möglich heranrückt an den Begriff der Sexualität, mit dem er gar nichts zu tun hat. (…) Daß unter gewissen Umständen zu der Liebe zwischen Mann und Weib die Sexualität herantreten kann, begründet nicht, daß man diese beiden Begriffe so nahe als möglich aneinander heranbringt: das Umfassende der Liebe und des Mitgefühles und das ganz Spezifische der Sexualität. Und logisch ist es ebenso gescheit, wenn man den Begriff, sagen wir der Lokomotive und des Menschenüberfahrens, weil manchmal Lokomotiven auch Menschen überfahren, als zwei zusammengehörige Begriffe betrachtet, wie man heute den Begriff der Liebe und den der Sexualität zusammentückt, weil sich die Dinge unter gewissen Verhältnissen äußerlich beieinander finden.’ (Steiner, R. GA 133, s 107.)
‘Many symptoms indicate that the incarnation of the soul-spiritual individual into the model body has been less deep since the start of the twentieth century than in earlier times … A specific symptom of this historical process is evident in human sexuality with the increase in -homophilia-. The souls of individuals who, as they reach sexual maturity, fail to incarnate into the body far enough to reach the clearly defined level of male or female physical characteristics prepared by the forces of Yahveh, remain at the stage of sexual indeterminancy. On a soul and physical they fail to advance to the fully developed polarity of the sexes. This state of indeterminancy forms the basis for homosexual behavior.’ (Dumke, K. AIDS the deadly seed: An anthropological and epidemiological investigation of a modern epidemic and its significance. Trans. Christian von Arnim. Sussex: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1991. Quote and reference provided by Dan Dugan, see fuller version.)
‘Marriage is a duality. In the world today there is a prevailing tendency to lead everything back, quite wrongly, to the sexual. A great antithesis plays into the realm of marriage: the husband has a female etheric body and the wife a male etheric body. The spirit and soul in the man is more feminine, and vice-versa. The human soul strives towards the highest. Hence the man will equate the highest with the womanly, because his soul is feminine. The external part, the body, is only an outer symbol, only a parable. “All things transient are but a parable.” “The eternal-womanly draws us to the heights.”’ (Steiner, R. At the gates of spiritual science.)
‘When the time came in which the sexes separated, these beings considered it their task to act upon the new life in accordance with their mission. The regulation of sexual life emanated from them. Everything which relates to the reproduction of mankind originated with them. In this they acted quite consciously, but the other men could only feel this influence as an instinct implanted in them. Sexual love was implanted in man by immediate transference of thought. At first all its manifestations were of the noblest character. Everything in this area which has taken on an ugly character comes from later times, when men became more independent and when they corrupted an originally pure impulse. In these older times there was no satisfaction of the sexual impulse for its own sake. Then, everything was a sacrificial service for the continuation of human existence. Reproduction was regarded as a sacred matter, as a service which man owes to the world. Sacrificial priests were the directors and regulators in this field.’ (Steiner, R. Not sure, but could be from Cosmic memory, chapter on the division into sexes, possibly.)
‘The force by which mankind forms a thinking brain for itself is the same by which man impregnated himself in ancient times. The price of thought is single-sexedness. By no longer impregnating themselves, but rather by impregnating each other, human beings can turn a part of their productive energy within, and so become thinking creatures.’ (Same as above.)
‘Both the male soul in the female body and the female soul in the male body again become double-sexed through fructification by the spirit. Thus man and woman are different in their external form; internally their spiritual one-sidedness is rounded out to a harmonious whole. Internally, spirit and soul are fused into one unit. Upon the male soul in woman the action of the spirit is female, and thus renders it male-female; upon the female soul in man the action of the spirit is male, and thus renders it male-female also.’ (Same as above.)
‘Wherever there are dissolute excesses, there the substance is given in which powerful asuric forces pour cunning intellectualism into the world. In the case of decadent tribes similar powerful asuric forces are to be found. The black magician draws his most powerful forces out of the morass of sensuality. The purpose of sexual rites is to introduce such magic into these circles. A battle is continually taking place on the earth, the one side striving to purify the passions, the other side striving to intensify sensuality.’ (Steiner, R. Foundations of esotericism, lecture XIX.)
‘An age, however, which clung to the outer physiognomy, was able to erect barriers between men and women. An age that is no longer entrenched in what is material, what is external, but which will receive knowledge of the inner nature of the human being which transcends sex, and will, without wishing to crawl into bleakness or asceticism or to deny sexuality, enable and beautify the sexual and live in that element which is beyond it. And people will then have an understanding for what will bring the true solution to the woman’s question, because it will present, at the same time, the true solution to the eternal question of humanity.’ (Steiner, R. Woman and society.)
‘With the insertion of the skeleton another process ran parallel. In consequence of the advance of human evolution on the casting out of the Moon and the retention of only what was able to develop, two different forces arose in the beings inhabiting the Earth. The Sun and Moon were now outside and their influences affected the Earth from without. From this intermingling of the Sun-forces and the Moon-forces, which had previously been in the body of the Earth, but now streamed in from without, the sex-life made its appearance. For all the forces connected with sex come under the influence of the Sun and Moon.’ (Steiner, R. Theosophy, chapter XI.)
‘We have seen that in the phases of the new moon, when the moon is dark, Isis is characterized, but that Osiris is characterized in the shining phases of the full moon. Isis and Osiris are spiritual beings on the moon, but we find their deeds on the earth. We find them on the earth because it is through these deeds that the human race divided into two sexes. The female ancestors of human beings were formed through the influence of Osiris; the ancestors of men were formed through the workings of Isis. The influence of Isis and Osiris on mankind occurs through the nerve filaments, through the working of which mankind is developed into male and female. In the myth this is shown through Isis’s seeking Osiris; the male and the female seek each other on the earth. Over and over again we see that wonderful events of cosmic evolution are hidden in these myths.’ (Steiner, R. Egyptian myths and mysteries, lecture VIII.)
‘So you see what subterranean soul foundations connect the problem of nationality with the problem of sexuality. That is why these two impulses in life manifest in such related ways. If your eyes are open to life you will see a tremendous amount of similarity between the way people behave in an erotic sense and the way they show their connection to their nationality. I am not speaking either for or against either of these things, but the facts are as I have described them. Arousal of a nationalistic kind, which works particularly strongly in the unconscious if it is not brought up into ego-consciousness by making it a question of karma as I described the other day, is very similar to sexual arousal. It is no good glossing over these things by making out that the emotional illusions and longings of national feeling are noble, while sexual feelings are rather less so. For the facts are as I have described them to you.’ (Steiner, R. The karma of untruthfulness, II.)
‘[W]e must be clear that masculine characteristics exist in every woman, and feminine characteristics in every man. We also know that the ether body of a man is female, and that the ether body of a woman is male; this immediately makes the matter extremely complicated. We must realize that the male-female polarity is thus reversed in the ether bodies of men and women, as are the cometary and lunar effects. These effects are also present in relation to the astral body and I-being. [. . .] [T]he relationship between the moon (representing the universal masculine) and the cometary nature (representing the universal feminine) is decisive and reflects itself in the product of the sexes. [paragraph break] Feminine spiritual life, whether in a man or in a woman, projects something primitive and elemental into our existence, and this is also what a comet does … We can express it this way: a woman acts more out of passion and feeling, in contrast to dry, masculine reasoning.’ (Steiner, R. The reappearance of christ in the etheric. Quote provided by Roger, see full reference and several other quotes here!)
‘Now Lucifer has the tendency to interchange the two worlds with each other. In human love whenever a person loves in the physical sense world for himself with a trace of egoism, it occurs because Lucifer wants to make physical love similar to spiritual love. He can then root it out of the physical sense world and lead it into his own special kingdom. This means that all love that can be called egoistic and is not there for the sake of the beloved but for the sake of the one who loves, is exposed to Lucifer’s impulses.
‘If we consider what has been said, we will see that in this modern materialistic culture there is every reason to point out these luciferic allurements in regard to love, for a great part of our present-day outlook and literature, especially that of medicine, is permeated by the luciferic conception of love. We would have to touch on a rather offensive subject if we were to treat this in greater detail. The luciferic element in love is actually cherished by a large section of our medical science; men are told again and again — for it is the male world especially pandered to in this — that they must cultivate a certain sphere of love as necessary for their health, that is, necessary for their own sake.
‘A great deal of advice is given in this direction and certain experiences in love recommended that do not spring from a love for the other being but because they are presumed indispensable in the life of the male. Such arguments — even when they are clothed in the robes of science — are nothing but inspirations of the luciferic element in the world; a large portion of science is penetrated simply by luciferic points of view.’ (Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 2 of “The Secrets of the Threshold” given August 25, 1913 in Munich, GA 147. Quote provided by Tom Mellett.)
‘Was ist aber die Wahrheit? Die Wahrheit, meine lieben Freunde, ist, daß alle Verrichtungen, die sich am Menschen finden, geistiger sind als das Sexualleben und daß, um zu richtigen Gesichtspunkten zu kommen, der umgekehrte Weg eingeschlagen werden muß. So daß man also sagen muß: Jedes Heranbringen der Sexualität, der Erotik, an irgendwelche Betätigungen des Menschen, um sie zu erklären, ist der ganz verkehrte Weg. Der richtige ist allein der, die Sexualität aus der Umwandlung der höheren Verrichtungen des Menschen in das Niedrigste auf Erden zu erklären. Nehmen wir, weil wir uns schon einmal mit diesen Dingen beschäftigen müssen, eine der grauenhaftesten Behauptungen des Psychoanalytikers, nämlich die Behauptung – man muß eben schon solche grauenhafte Dinge erwähnen, meine lieben Freunde, man muß es, weil sie eben in unserer heutigen Zeit auftreten -, also die Behauptung, daß das Verhältnis des Sohnes zur Mutter, der Tochter zum Vater, wie es in der Kindheit als Liebe zur Mutter, als Liebe zum Vater auftritt, ein sexuelles Verhältnis sei. Denn der Psychoanalytiker sagt, das, was das Töchterchen für den Vater, das Söhnlein für die Mutter empfindet, ist ein sexuelles Verhältnis, denn der Vater wird vom Sohn immer eigentlich als der Konkurrent betrachtet; er sei auf ihn unbewußt eifersüchtig; ebenso ist die Tochter auf die Mutter eifersüchtig. – Das ist sozusagen einer der grauenhaftesten Auswüchse der Psychoanalyse. Sie wissen, daß solche Dichtungen wie die Ödipus-Dichtung in den Schriften der Psychoanalytiker auf Grundlage dieser psychoanalytischen Voraussetzungen so erklärt werden.
‘Nun, der richtige Gesichtspunkt ist der, daß gefragt wird: Wodurch entsteht denn die Sexualität des späteren Lebens? Sie entsteht dadurch, daß ein Geistigeres herabsinkt. Das spätere Sexuelle ist also ein herabgesunkenes Kindlich-Geistiges. Und der richtige Gesichtspunkt ist der, daß man vor allen Dingen dasjenige, was nicht Sexuelles ist, in keiner Weise – nicht bewußt und nicht unbewußt – mit diesem Gebiet vermischt; daß man sich klar ist, daß beim Kinde noch nicht Sexualität vorhanden sein kann. Und erst dann, wenn man sich dessen in vollem Umfange klar ist, wird man den richtigen Gesichtspunkt der Betrachtung finden. Es ist dies auch ein außerordentlich wichtiges Moment in der Pädagogik, denn es kommen die größten Verkehrtheiten heraus, wenn man manche kindliche Ungezogenheiten ohne weiteres umdeutet in irgendeine verfrühte Sexualität; die können von etwas ganz anderem kommen als davon, daß die Kindesnatur prinzipiell irgend etwas Sexuelles schon hätte. Behaupten, daß die Kindesnatur schon etwas Sexuelles habe, würde der etwaigen Behauptung gleichkommen, daß der heutige Tag schon das ganze Regenwetter eines folgenden Tages in sich enthalten könne.’ (Steiner, R. GA 253, VII lecture.)
‘Wir haben eben betont, daß für die geistige Welt die Liebe sich so entwickeln muß, daß der Mensch vor allen Dingen auf die Durchdringung mit innerer Stärke in bezug auf sein Selbst sich entfalten muß, daß der Mensch den Drang entwickeln muß, sich zu vervollkommnen. Er muß sich selbst im Auge haben, wenn er die Liebe zur geistigen Welt entwickelt. Wenn er diese selbe Art von Antrieben, die ihn in der geistigen Welt zum Erhabensten führen können, insSinnliche überträgt, können sie zum Abscheulichsten führen. Es gibt Menschen, die sich im äußeren physischen Erleben, in dem, was sie den ganzen Tag über tun, gar nicht besonders interessieren für die geistige Welt. In unserer Zeit, so sagt man, sollen diese Menschen gar nicht so selten sein. Aber die Natur läßt mit sich keine Vogel-Strauß-Politik treiben. Nicht wahr, diese Vogel- Strauß-Politik besteht darin, daß der Vogel den Kopf in den Sand steckt und dann glaubt, die Dinge, die er nicht sieht, seien nicht da. Die materialistisch gesinnten Menschen glauben, die geistige Welt sei nicht da, weil sie sie nicht sehen. Sie sind richtige Vogel-Strauße. Aber in der eigenen Seele, in den Tiefen der eigenen Seele ist deshalb der Drang zur geistigen Welt nicht etwa nicht da, weil die Menschen ihn leugnen, weil sie sich darüber betäuben. Er ist da. In jeder Menschenseele ist ein lebendiger Trieb, eine lebendige Liebe zur geistigen Welt vorhanden, auch in den materialistischen Seelen. Die Menschen machen sich nur seelisch ohnmächtig gegenüber diesem Drang. Nun gibt es ein Gesetz, daß, wenn etwas auf der einen Seite durch Betäubung zurückgedrängt wird, es auf der entgegengesetzten Seite herauskommt. Die Folge davon ist, daß der egoistische Trieb sich in die sinnlichen Triebe hereinschlägt. Es schlägt aus der geistigen Welt die Art von Liebe, die nur für sie berechtigt ist, in die sinnlichen Triebe, Leidenschaften, Begierden und so weiter hinein, und da werden diese sinnlichen Triebe pervers. Die Perversitäten der sinnlichen Triebe, alle abscheulichen Abnormitäten der sinnlichen Triebe sind das Gegenbild von dem, was hohe Tugenden in der geistigen Welt wären, wenn man die Kräfte, die dann in die physische Welt gegossen werden, in der geistigen Welt verwenden würde. Darüber muß man nachdenken, daß dasjenige, was in verabscheuungswürdigen Trieben in der Sinneswelt zum Ausdruck kommt, wenn es in der geistigen Welt verwendet würde, das Erhabenste in der geistigen Welt leisten könnte. Das ist ungeheuer bedeutsam.’ (Steiner, R. Die Geheimnisse der Schwelle. Full reference and a nasty article on ‘the spiritual-scientific background of perversion’: here. The entire GA 147 can be found here.)