no hang-ups

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pre-condition for the development of independent thought, and, thirdly that this evolutionary necessity will be superceded, ie, we will one day be sexless beings again.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.)

You may also want to look at AnthroWiki, or consider buying this book, and I can’t avoid mentioning this recent article in Info3… well, I’ll stop now.

50 thoughts on “no hang-ups

  1. No, I couldn’t stop now, as I promised. I found more links in English.

    ‘We typically identify with our body and/or with our emotions. Beyond our physical and feeling bodies is the “I,” which is ultimately genderless, eternal and evolving. Thus we can ask: “Is there a purpose to having a masculine and a feminine? Does a gendered experience serve only our transient earthliness or does it serve our eternal I?” Lisa gave insight to harmonize and come to terms with the present earthly gendered experience but always guided our attention back to our eternal selves. “It is not the human purpose to fulfill your pleasure centers,” she reminded us.’ http://bit.ly/hiNknb

    ‘These two creative powers arise from a shared font of etheric formative forces that make it possible for us, beginning with puberty, both to reproduce physically and to form abstract thoughts mentally. When these powers set siege to each other, they generate two mutually antagonistic urges that can last well beyond the teenage years. When, for instance, the forces of sexuality attempt to overpower the realms of intellect, the result is what Rudolf Steiner, in a different context, calls the “lust for the erotic”. By the same token, when the forces of intellect attempt to dominate the realms of sexuality, the result is what he calls the “lust for power”. Building on the content of an earlier keynote address at the conference, Douglas went on to suggest how these forces arise differently in girls and in boys.’ http://bit.ly/dH1ICu

    ‘The realm of amorous and erotic ventures has traditionally been thought of as a field over which Lucifer exerts his influence. To an extent, this is rightfully so since, by creating tension between the female and male genders, Lucifer has helped lay the foundation for individual human freedom and subsequent spiritual inner development. On the other hand, the “Seven Deadly Sins” of lust, greed, wrath, pride, sloth, envy and gluttony have come about as the shadow side of this freedom but can be overcome through individual human development. How these tinge human relations, particularly where love and sexuality figure prominently, is part of our daily experience and observation. Some aberrations of human sexual life, and most neurotic disorders with their unfulfilled wishes, bear clearly the stamp of the luciferic influence.’ http://www.anthromed.org/Article.aspx?artpk=104

    And, Tom, is this really a genuine Steiner quote?

    “…the concept of love and the concept of sex go together like the concept of ‘locomotive’ and the concept of ‘being run over.’ It is true that, on occasion, locomotives do run over people, but that is no reason for putting these two concepts in such close juxtaposition. So it is for the concepts of sex and love.”

    If it is, it’s hilarious. Found here: http://steiner98.tripod.com/Archives/sex1.html

  2. ‘Der Materialismus hat es heute auf diesem Gebiete sogar – was niemals vorher auf der Erde geschehen ist – zu einer schändlichen Wissenschaft gebracht. Das Schlimmste, was geleistet wird heute, ist das Zusammenwerfen von Liebe und Sexualität. Das ist der schlimmste Ausdruck des Materialismus, das Teuflischste der Gegenwart. Die Dinge, die auf diesem Gebiet geleistet werden, sie werden erst herausgeschält werden müssen. Sexualität und Liebe haben gar nichts miteinander zu schaffen in ihrer wahren Bedeutung. Sexualität kann zur Liebe hinzukommen, hat aber mit der reinen, ursprünglichen Liebe überhaupt nichts zu tun. Die Wissenschaft hat es bis zur Schändlichkeit gebracht, indem sie eine ganze Literatur aufbrachte, die sich damit beschäftigt, diese beiden Dinge in Zusammenhang zu bringen, die gar nicht im Zusammenhang stehen.’ GA 143, p 184

  3. Alicia,

    The reason you couldn’t find this lecture in the RS Archive is that they have the original 1948 English translation by upstanding Englishwoman Dorothy Osmond, and for whatever obscure British reason — perhaps Thetis can explain —she did not translate the German word “die Lokomotive” as “locomotive!” Instead she translated it as “railway engine!”

    Anyway, here’s her excerpt. I’ll follow it with the German.

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/EarthMan/19120514p01.html
    EARTHLY AND COSMIC MAN
    Lecture 6 of 9
    “The Mission of The Earth”
    May 14, 1912, Berlin, GA 133

    And a remarkable fact in the spiritual evolution of Earth-existence throws far-reaching light upon what we know as compassion, and also, in the true sense, love. In the age of materialism it is exceedingly difficult to maintain in true and right perspective, this concept of compassion or love. Many of you will realise that in our materialistic times this concept is distorted, in that materialism associates the concept of “love” so closely with that of “sexuality” — with which, fundamentally, it has nothing whatever to do.

    That is a point where the culture of our day abandons both intelligence and sound, healthy reason. Through its materialism, evolution in our time is veering not only towards the unintelligent and illogical but even towards the scandalous, when “love” is dragged into such close association with what is covered by the term “sexuality.”

    The fact that under certain circumstances the element of sexuality may be associated with love between man and woman is no argument for bringing so closely together the all-embracing nature of love or compassion, and the entirely specific character of sexuality. So far as logic is concerned, to associate the concept of, say, a “railway engine” with that of a man being “run over,” because engines do sometimes run over people, would be just about as intelligent as it is to connect the concept of love so closely with that of sexuality — simply because under certain circumstances there is an outward association. That this happens today is not the outcome of any scientific hypothesis but of the irrational and, to some extent, unhealthy mode of thinking prevailing in our time.

  4. Der irdische und der kosmische Mensch
    6. Vortrag, 14. Mai 1912, Berlin, GA 133 (S. 99-116)
    Die Mission der Erde. Erstaunen, Mitgefühl und Gewissen. Das Bleibende des Christus-Impulses

    Und wenn wir eine merkwürdige Tatsache der geistigen Erdenentwickelung betrachten, so wirft diese Tatsache ein weithin bedeutsames Licht auf das, was man Mitleid, Mitgefühl, was man im echten Sinne auch Liebe nennen kann. In unserer heutigen materialistischen Zeit ist es sogar außerordentlich schwierig, gerade über diesen Begriff von Mitgefühl und Liebe die rechte Anschauung zu erhalten.

    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. Das ist ein Punkt, wo unsere gegenwärtige Geisteskultur sogar nicht nur das Vernünftige verläßt, sondern das verläßt, was irgendwie überhaupt noch zulässig ist bei einem gesunden Denken.

    Hier kommt bereits die Entwickelung in unserer Zeit durch ihren Materialismus nicht nur in das Unvernünftige und Unlogische, sondern in das Schändliche hinein, wenn so nahe aneinandergerückt werden, was man Liebe nennen kann und was sich unter dem Begriffe der Sexualität verzeichnen läßt. 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 Lokomotiveund des Menschen-überfahrens, weil manchmal Lokomotiven auch Menschen überfahren, als zwei zusammengehörige Begriffe betrachtet, wie man heute den Begriff der Liebe und den der Sexualität zusammenrückt, weil sich die Dinge unter gewissen Verhältnissen äußerlich beieinander finden. Aber das rührt nicht her von irgendeiner wissenschaftlichen Voraussetzung, sondern von der unsinnigen und sogar teilweise ganz ungesunden Denkweise unserer Zeit. (S. 108)

  5. The only ‘negative’ characterisation of homosexuality that I can find here is not from Steiner but form some anthro. doctor, (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.), and also in a reference to Lievegoed.

    The characterisations of male and female attributes ,” 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.”, may be dated and no longer politically correct. One can obviously find examples in normal daily life of women who are physically courageous and men who are ‘devotedly receptive’, but apart from that I don’t find anything in the quotes above which would significantly change my view of Steiner on sexuality.
    Despite the fact Steiner used these sort of stereotyped ways of thinking about men and women, if you read the booklet ‘Die frauenfrage’ you will find he was concerned to point out that such views of what is womanly should not be used to limit in any way a woman’s freedom to choose what she does with her life – that she should have exactly the same rights and freedoms accorded to men – and he was writing this in 1906 before women had been given the right to vote in england. ( I do not know what the situation in europe was then).
    Steiner was surrounded by able and forceful women, who where his friends and colleagues.

  6. Tom – I can see no reason why not to use the word locomotive, unless Dorothy perceived it as in some way ‘American’. You can ‘do the locomotion’ but you cannot ‘do the railway engine’- only a toddler could do that and it would involve chairs.

  7. Fantastic Tom!! I tried ‘locomotive’ on rsarchive but of course it didn’t succeeed. I also looked through lists of lectures in 1911 & 1912 but it was too difficult to make a guess. As always, I ended up finding other very funny things, but not what I was looking for.

    The translation to railway engine is silly — it’s robs the quote of the humour somehow.

  8. falk:
    “The man brings his creative activity to bear on external life. The woman works with devoted receptivity into the world.”, may be dated and no longer politically correct.”

    Oh, that’s just “dated and no longer politically correct,” is it? Is that the problem with that statement?

  9. Just wanted to say I love all the new words that have been coined on Alicia’s blog: first we had “misanthroposophy” and now we have “anthropornography” and “pornosophy”!

  10. Diana:
    ‘falk:
    “The man brings his creative activity to bear on external life. The woman works with devoted receptivity into the world.”, may be dated and no longer politically correct.”

    Oh, that’s just “dated and no longer politically correct,” is it? Is that the problem with that statement?’

    The problem is that it was never factually correct. But the idea was probably not uncommon in Steiner’s days. Now it sounds daft and, yes, very dated.

    falk: ‘The only ‘negative’ characterisation of homosexuality that I can find here is not from Steiner but form some anthro. doctor’

    I think you can find more negative stuff from the reactionary anthros Peter mentioned, Lochmann, et alia.

    Another anthro.doctor, dr Norbert Glas, had some negative views too (he wrote that homosexuality is a sin and the cause of HIV and that homosexual partners can never truly love, unfortunately his article is referred to in Norwegian, see http://www.forumberle.no/artikler/a_homofili.html):

    ‘Glas beskiver homoseksualitet som selve årsaken til HIV/Aids. Dette fordi homoseksualiteten har fjernet seg maksimalt fra den opprinnelige, guddommelige kjærligheten og bare tjener menneskets egoistiske drifter. Glas mener at det aldri kan dreie seg om noen ekte kjærlighet mellom homofile partnere. Homofili er dermed den høyeste form for egoisme som kan finnes. I forholdet mellom kvinne og mann er det ”fremdeles” et uegoistisk kjærlighetselement til stede fordi det består en viss mulighet for en unnfangelse. HIV/Aids forståes som en direkte konsekvens av det syndige forhold mellom to homofile.’

    There are several other examples in that article.

    ‘if you read the booklet ‘Die frauenfrage’ you will find he was concerned to point out that such views of what is womanly should not be used to limit in any way a woman’s freedom to choose what she does with her life – that she should have exactly the same rights and freedoms accorded to men’

    http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/19061117p01.html

  11. >The problem is that it was never factually correct. But the idea was probably not uncommon in Steiner’s days.

    Yes, but I was pointing out the typical weasel-language in falk’s reply. Falk doesn’t say he disagrees with it. It’s the same language anthroposophists use to dissociate themselves from racist Steiner texts without repudiating them. They just suggest critics are misunderstanding, or judging Steiner unfairly by the criteria of an earlier age.

    This is not only weak and spineless, it’s incoherent. Steiner was supposed to have been clairvoyant, so he has no good excuse for using “dated” language or catering to the political correctness of a particular era. He was supposed to be handing down timeless spiritual truths. Saying he was “politically incorrect” doesn’t cut it.

  12. ‘Steiner was supposed to have been clairvoyant, so he has no good excuse for using “dated” language or catering to the political correctness of a particular era. He was supposed to be handing down timeless spiritual truths.’

    Yeah, but it certainly works fine if one assumes he was a (non-clairvoyant) human being who was wrong quite often! Neither this, nor the racism, are such huge issues for those who admit Steiner could make mistakes. But, again, that’s the whole problem.

  13. Yes, that is true for me. I see him as a man who could make mistakes. There is no logic in the assumption that because he was clairvoyant he could not make mistakes nor in the idea that he should be able to foresee how social attitudes would change.
    Yours Weasily,
    Falk

  14. Ah, well! That’s a great response. (I usually get sullen silence to this …) I have many times asked anthroposophists if it isn’t possible for a clairvoyant to make a mistake. They don’t seem to like the question. I like your attitude!

    Would you agree, though, that it does pose some problems for a clairvoyant to make mistakes? “Clairvoyant” at least suggests they aren’t going to make MANY mistakes, I think. Just how many do we allow, and of what nature – how serious a mistkae? – before we have to say, well, he isn’t clairvoyant after all then.

    It has always seemed to me that a clairvoyant should surely be prone to the occasional error – just having a bad day, having indigestion, a little tired etc.

    But while a clairvoyant is having a slightly bad day, wouldn’t they just get some details wrong? Would they come up with detailed doctrines on extremely important topics that later turn out to be philosophically completely skewed?
    Hm.

  15. interjects bluntly – there is no such thing as clairvoyance. There is no logic in the assumption that he WAS clairvoyant. It is make-believe, like unicorns or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the Celestial Teapot.

  16. Of course, if someone was the infallible, perfect clairvoyant, he wouldn’t have to forsee what would change in, e g, social attitudes in the future. He’d have the truth already. For whenever other people would catch up (perhaps never).

    Another problematic issue is that (likewise fallible) human beings have to interpret when a guy like Steiner was speaking from clairvoyant insight or when he was just babbling away on a bad day (plauged by constipation, intellectual or physical).

    Meanwhile, I still haven’t stopped laughing at the locomotive quote. It is so darn funny. A locomotive and a train-crash — how did he come up with that? What did his audience say?

  17. I agree, thetis, I just like to point out to anthroposophists that in the many discussions of topics Steiner just may have been (how can we say this delicately) … WRONG about, the “clairvoyance” thing logically gets in the way of their favorite set of excuses (man of his times, “you must understand the historical context” etc.). It is difficult at best, if not impossible, to have this both ways. I guess anthroposophists DO have this both ways, among themselves, where they don’t presumably ask each other to make sense, since they have spirituality and therefore making sense is optional.

    So I like to at least admit there is a small amount of breathing room there. I don’t personally believe their guy was clairvoyant. But I’m willing to recognize that there is a slim margin for allowing him to be occasionally wrong yet still clairvoyant.

  18. Steiner’s project is of course a little grander than simple clairvoyance. A clairvoyant might help me find where I set down my missing car keys. Steiner claimed to see the past and future spiritual history of the human race. To err on questions like the essential natures of male and female or the question of races having “spiritual tasks” … these are large errors.

  19. Diana, you know I know where you’re coming from. But I’m not clairvoyant, so I don’t know where you’re going ;)

  20. ‘A clairvoyant might help me find where I set down my missing car keys. ‘

    Steiner was probably right to focus on the grander scheme. These lesser clairvoyants are such pathetic losers, so easily found out.

    It’s always hysterically funny when they appear on the scene when someone has disappeared and suspected to have been murdered, and they say ‘I see trees and some water’. Well, the whole nation is forest and water, 98% of the surface or something. I don’t know but it’s a lot.

    And then the victim is found in some totally odd, treeless and waterless place. Clairvoyance failed because skeptics sent negative energies.

    They can’t ever help you find your car keys if you send out negative energies, Diana. It’s impossible.

    I think that if you want to fail and be remembered, you’ve got to fail spectacularly. On the grand tasks. Nobody remembers the smallscale clairvoyants who misses 9 out of 10 car-keys they’re looking for.

  21. It is a real problem, knowing when Steiner was speaking as a plain man and when he was speaking out of his clairvoyant insight.
    I use my own judgement which was something he also believed one should do.

    Of course there are people around who think that when he stubbed his toe and muttered, ‘Scheiße’, that too was a revelation from the spiritual world.
    Anthroposophy attracts extremists. But i don’t blame Steiner for that, any more than I would blame Einstein for the terrorists who are trying to make nuclear weapons.

    The things he said about race are wrong and destructive. But when I look at the whole of his work, it is clear to me that one of his main aims was to try and ameliorate the tensions, wars and exploitation of peoples that is a direct outcome of nationalism. He was opposed to Nationalism in all its forms. He clearly did believe that in every human being there is a spark of the divine and that all people of whatever race, gender or class should be equal before the law, free to develop their full potential and able to live securelywithout being exploited.

    His solution to the the problem of male chauvinism, or whatever you want to call the oppression of women by men, was to seek the universally human. He did think there was some sort of soul differenece between men and women, and he thought it possible to say what that difference is. I think he was wrong – but he was clear that whatever one believed it should never be used to discriminate against, to determine or proscribe the role of females in any way.

    Even committed feminists like Ursula Le Guin have passed through a phase where they explored the possibilty of stating what the soul- difference between men and women is. For example In ‘Tehanu’, she referred to a woman as a ‘still centre’ and a man as a ‘reaching -out’.
    (I do not have my copy with me, so I hope I have the wording right)
    My guess is that had Steiner lived today, he would not have used stereotypes of race or gender to characterise anyone.

  22. ‘Of course there are people around who think that when he stubbed his toe and muttered, ‘Scheiße’, that too was a revelation from the spiritual world.’

    Well, even an incorrigible skeptic hearing this utterance would happily concede that Steiner had reached some insights about the spiritual world! (Even if he was standing with his foot in gnome burrow.)

    ;-)

    ‘he was clear that … it should never be used to discriminate against, to determine or proscribe the role of females in any way.’

    I think you’re basically right about that. He had good practical reasons for it too — many of his followers were accomplished women, and he needed them more than he needed to reinforce traditional gender roles (assuming he had even wanted it; I don’t think he did).

    ‘I use my own judgement which was something he also believed one should do.’

    That is, of course, very good. I think that’s the only thing one can to, if one wants to get anything out of Steiner’s work. And the less stuck one is in the Steiner frame of reference — i e, not moving outside the Steiner universe, rarely taking in other modes of thinking or arguments — the better (or more well-founded) the judgments, I’d say. (People who have shut themselves up in an anthroposophical cocoon can have the oddest ideas. And usually no clues as to what is acceptable in the non-anthroposophical world.)

    I don’t think this is that much of an issue with anthroposophists — it is an issue, however, in areas such as waldorf education. Nobody else but the individual teacher knows which parts of the waldorf doctrines s/he rejects (as being in error) or which s/he accepts and applies to the education. A wacky teacher may actually value the maddest parts of the teachings the highest.

  23. ‘Nobody else but the individual teacher knows which parts of the waldorf doctrines s/he rejects (as being in error) or which s/he accepts and applies to the education. A wacky teacher may actually value the maddest parts of the teachings the highest.’

    Yes, this is a serious problem for Waldorf/Steiner schools and institutions. What I would call internal monitoring. It is a problem for any institution which addresses education and/or care, but particularly for Steiner inspired establishments as they have an idiosyncratic style of management.

  24. Falk:
    >Yes, this is a serious problem for Waldorf/Steiner schools and institutions. What I would call internal monitoring. It is a problem for any institution which addresses education and/or care, but particularly for Steiner inspired establishments as they have an idiosyncratic style of management.

    It’s less of a problem if one chooses an educational theory that DOESN’T have central components of lunacy. Then, regardless of “management style,” one has a lot less “monitoring” to do to make sure teachers are not implementing the loony parts.

    I did find the book I was thinking about, I just haven’t had time to look up the quotes (Steiner’s thoughts on “sexual deviancy”). Hopefully I will do it before everyone’s forgotten this thread.

  25. I have not forgotten it!! I got that pornographic novel yesterday evening. Bjørneboe’s.

    I would agree with Diana that there’s more of an issue when an educational system is built upon a body of ideas like Steiner’s. As compared to, for example, mainstream pedagogical ideas and current knowledge.

  26. Here’s the quote I was thinking of, which I’ve just posted on critics too.

    This is from “The Work of the Angel in Our Astral Body” (Zurich, 9 October 1918), which I originally read in the volume Angels, Selected Lectures by Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Press 1996. Also available at:

    Available at: www3.sympatico.ca/alpha/angels.doc

    Steiner speaks of a time when “certain instincts belonging to sexual life and to sexual nature would not come to consciousness in a useful way but become harmful. These instincts would not be mere aberrations but would enter into the social life, configuring it. Something would enter into people’s blood as a consequence of sexual life that would above all make people go against brotherliness on Earth rather than develop brotherliness. This would be a matter of instinct.

    A crucial time will come when the path to the right may be taken – which demands wakefulness – or the path to the left, where people sleep. Instincts of a truly horrific nature would then develop.

    What do you suppose scientific experts will say when such instincts emerge? They will consider them a natural and inevitable development in human evolution. Light cannot be shed on such matters by ordinary science, for scientific reasoning can be used to explain why people become angels or devils. In either case one thing always follows from another – the great wisdom of causality! Scientists will be completely blind to the event of which I have spoken, for they will simply consider it to be a natural necessity that people turn into half devils because of their sexual instincts.”

    I am out of time so cannot ramble in my usual fashion about the seemingly endless ways in which this material appalls me, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  27. Hi Diana, an oldie but goodie! I had forgotten that this is the one lecture where Anthros can pinpoint Steiner’s attitude toward homosexuality now, since he was predicting the future here. And with the sentence about something entering the blood as a result of this perverted sexual activity — well, that’s obviously the AIDS virus spread by gay men. So Steiner’s prediction has come to pass.

  28. It interests me that some people interpret this quote as relating to homosexuality, as Steiner does not actuallyspecify what he means by an aberration. I know ‘The Work of the angels in the Astral Body’ quite well, (I attended a whole weekend workshop on it) and cannot recall that Steiner ever mentions exactly what he means by sexual aberration. It is puzzling that people take him to mean that homosexuality is an aberration which will appear as a result of not being awake to the angel’s message, as homosexuality has ALWAYS been part of human life, well-documented in the classical Greek civilisation.

    Given the way it has figured so prominently in the news in recent years, I have interpreted Steiner’s predictions as referring to paedophilia, which I do regard as an aberration.

    I cannot recall anywhere Steiner ever referring to homosexuality – it has always been anthro. doctors and other commentators who try to pathologise homosexuality using Steiner to justify their own prejudices. None of the last lot of quotes about sex posted on the blog were from Steiner himself.

    I also think that Tom’s reference to the AIDS virus as ‘something entering the blood’ is taking Steiner too literally. I cannot see that having AIDS works against brotherliness. When Steiner speaks of brotherliness he is speaking about impulses of compassion for people who are not our blood relatives, or compassion for people who are of a different race or nation. He introduces the idea by saying that no-one will be able to rest content in his/her own happiness knowing that others are suffering and in pain. He said this at a time when people in europe were largely unaware of the suffering of the exploited peoples in the ‘colonies’. Even 30 years later it was possible for a British prime minister to publicly dismiss the sufferings of the people in Czechoslovakia ( “A small nation far away”) as something of no interest to us.(‘us’ being the British)
    Ursula Le Guin has written a wonderful short story, ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’, which illustrates what Steiner meant very well, ( I know I have already referred to her writings recently – she is definitely NOT an anthroposophist).

    I am open to correction if anyone can show me a quotation from Steiner himself which specifically targets homosexuality.

  29. Just a very quick comment (I’ll return later). Diana — I fixed the line breaks.

    Also — I think the passage does not necessarily have anything to do with homosexuality. It may, of course, but it isn’t that apparent. He may not have been clear about it himself, though of course it’s impossible to say.

    It could be what falk refers to — predatory sexual behaviour. That’s certainly an aberration.

    In addition, that predatory behaviour (of various sorts) is ‘in the blood’ is not that rarely used metaphorically. In another non-steinerian context it would be easier to determine if such a saying is meant metaphorically, but with Steiner, oh well…

    (Have to run…)

  30. Falk:
    >It interests me that some people interpret this quote as relating to homosexuality,

    I don’t interpret it that way; obviously, quite a few anthroposophists do. The difference, however, is just that I don’t think Steiner was clairvoyant. So I don’t have a need to imagine Steiner “predicted” anything much ever, which I don’t think he did. I’m just pointing out that to people who DO feel obliged to constantly relate even the most obscure and impenetrable of Steiner’s ramblings to actual historical happenings, connecting this to AIDS is pretty darn obvious.

    >as Steiner does not actuallyspecify what he means by an aberration.

    Right. But that’s from Victorian prudishness, surely that’s apparent; it’s not evidence Steiner was open minded about sexuality! Anywhere he so much as mentions sexual matters, the prose becomes vague and subject to interpretation 14 ways.

    We’re left to consider how anthroposophists do interpret him, in the absence of clarification from The Man. At least, for those of us who can’t converse with the dead.

    >I know ‘The Work of the angels in the Astral Body’ quite well, (I attended a whole weekend workshop on it) and cannot recall that Steiner ever mentions exactly what he means by sexual aberration. It is puzzling that people take him to mean that homosexuality is an aberration which will appear as a result of not being awake to the angel’s message, as homosexuality has ALWAYS been part of human life, well-documented in the classical Greek civilisation.

    I’m sure you’ve pointed out your fellow anthroposophists’ error to them, then.

    >Given the way it has figured so prominently in the news in recent years, I have interpreted Steiner’s predictions as referring to paedophilia, which I do regard as an aberration.

    Just to be sure I’m understanding you, you do believe, then, that when Steiner said things like this, he was actually predicting things that you and I can read about in the newspaper in 2011?

    >I cannot recall anywhere Steiner ever referring to homosexuality – it has always been anthro. doctors and other commentators who try to pathologise homosexuality using Steiner to justify their own prejudices.

    I agree with you there. I don’t know if there’s any actual evidence of his views on homosexuality, or if he even had views on the matter.

    >None of the last lot of quotes about sex posted on the blog were from Steiner himself.

    Fair enough.

    >I also think that Tom’s reference to the AIDS virus as ‘something entering the blood’ is taking Steiner too literally.

    Nonsense, when Steiner talked about blood, he meant blood. You can’t have read much Steiner and not know THAT. Spiritual stuff definitely gets in our blood, changes our blood, is manifest in our blood … open a Steiner volume at random from your book shelf and you can probably find Steiner ranting that somesuch is reflected in our actual blood.

    >I cannot see that having AIDS works against brotherliness.

    That was a lot easier to see back in the ’80s.

    >When Steiner speaks of brotherliness he is speaking about impulses of compassion for people who are not our blood relatives, or compassion for people who are of a different race or nation.

    A tangent here, but just a tip for you, it is not really helpful to speak of having “compassion” for people of other races. I know there is an anthroposophical predilection for this, but it’s offensive.

  31. Don’t worry about, Diana. Your contributions *more* than weigh up the occasional name miss.

    (The line break thing is such a minor thing, really, and it wasn’t even necessary — I fix these things sometimes, because it looks better… I always annoys me, though, that when copying a text from critics, there’s always the line break issue…)

    (Got to run again, but will be back later…)

  32. Regarding your last comment about compassion, Diana, I was explaining what I think Steiner meant, not my own feelings about other races.
    However, I don’t really understand what would be patronising about feeling compassion for, e.g., the Palestinians who are being abused and oppressed by the Israelis, or the Kurds who are still suffering the after-effects of Saddam’s use of poison gas against them, or the Sami people who were forced by the Swedish government to live in fixed houses, or the native Americans who had their land taken from them by force, or the Czechs who had been over-run by Hitler when Chamberlain made his dismissive speech….. I could go on.

    Regarding something, ‘being in the blood’, clearly he was not speaking of something detectable by any of the methods of medical science. I don’t take it too literally when he speaks like this. I take it as a metaphor in the same way as I take Richard Dawkins speaking about a religious tendency being, ‘ a viral meme which has infected people’ as a metaphor.

    People in England used to say things like,’racing has got into my blood’. Not meaning they have inherited a love of racing from their ancestors, but that it fills them with enthusiasm.
    I can understand that someone can be ‘ infected with a passion’ for something, and this may be a destructive, negative thing. And in this context of sexual aberration (predatory sexual behaviour) I think this is what Steiner means, though he does use weird ways of expressing it.

    ‘Just to be sure I’m understanding you, you do believe, then, that when Steiner said things like this, he was actually predicting things that you and I can read about in the newspaper in 2011?’

    That would be putting it simplistically. I don’t believe anyone can predict the future, if only for the simple reason that I do believe we humans have a degree of freedom in how we behave. But Steiner is talking about the Angel’s INTENTIONS which may or may not be fulfilled.

    I have no idea whether the increase in the incidence of sexual predators is CAUSED by the intentions of the Angel’s going astray, but if one accepts there are angels(and I do) it seems a more plausible outcome of their intentions not being fulfilled than the activities of homosexuals and the spread of AIDS. (which should not be simplistically linked to homosexuality as it appears to have been by Tom)

  33. >Regarding your last comment about compassion, Diana, I was explaining what I think Steiner meant, not my own feelings about other races.
    However, I don’t really understand what would be patronising about feeling compassion for, e.g., the Palestinians who are being abused and oppressed by the Israelis,

    Feeling compassion for them because they’re oppressed would be different from feeling compassion for them because they’re Palestinians. To Steiner, those two things are the same thing, and that is not a trivial or semantic complaint, it’s exactly what’s wrong with anthroposophy.

    >Regarding something, ‘being in the blood’, clearly he was not speaking of something detectable by any of the methods of medical science.

    Um, no, LOL.

    >I don’t take it too literally when he speaks like this.

    You can take it however you choose, of course, but the text does have a meaning. You’re misunderstanding Steiner if you don’t take these things literally; he insists all over the place that such statements are literal and that to fail to understand this is not to grasp anthroposophy etc. I would have to agree with Steiner that it’s a failure to take on board the central tenets of anthroposophy; one of which is precisely that your spiritual qualities are reflected physically.

    >I have no idea whether the increase in the incidence of sexual predators is CAUSED by the intentions of the Angel’s going astray,

    Well, if we’re on the topic, is there any reason to think the incidence of sexual predators has increased? Either way, I’m not sure this can be used to suggest Steiner’s prophecy was fulfilled, but again, I’m not really interested in a project of trying to match Steiner’s predictions with later happenings, that’s a pointless project, I just wondered if you did.

  34. New perspectives for criminology and penal law — the acts of angels gone astray.

    The justification of a modern defendant: ‘The angels made me do it!’

    Well, just speculating! Ordinary mental pathology is getting a bit boring, isn’t it?

  35. As a counter-weight to the bizarre ideas of anthroposophical doctors (and perhaps Steiner himself, though that’s not beyond doubt; I love him for the train-wreck quote anyway), here’s the preface to Bjørneboe’s porn novel, published in 1966 (and banned* — and he was found guilty in court — for those who understand Norwegian, there’s a clip from the court proceedings on youtube!):

    **********

    ‘Preface

    ‘People use the words ‘sexual-morality’, but it is an expression in error. There is no specific sexual morality! Regardless of what you do with yourself — if you sleep with girls or with boys –, or what in the world you can think of doing with them or with yourself; there is in this area no other morality than the one applied to all other areas of life: decency, courage, general humaneness and respect. As in all other relationships, it is, also in the sexual context, wrong to harm someone else. This is the only sexual morality there is: you shall not use sex to gain power or influence over others, you shall not harm them, and you shall not cause them any unwarranted pain.

    ‘Whatever else you do — when you don’t harm anybody doing it –, does not concern anybody but yourself and the person you are with. To abstain from sexual pleasure is no more moral than to abstain from picking flowers or reading books or going skiing.’

    *******

    (*The reason he wrote the book was that he opposed the laws regulating moral indecency in, e g, writing. It’s quite interesting. The book continued to be in print in Sweden during the entire trial — and was illegally imported to Norway, of course.)

  36. In this context, I can but recommend this article by Zander.
    (https://zooey.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/zander-on-steiner-nzz/)
    http://www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/kultur/literatur_und_kunst/autoritaet_und_erloesung_1.9687832.html

    ‘Es gibt auch den Mann im Anthroposophen, den Charmeur, der in Liebesbriefen an Marie von Sivers und Ita Wegman ganz zärtlich sein konnte. Es gibt auch die grossen Gefühle, es gibt Erotik und Sexualität in Steiners Leben. Der Mensch Steiner war nicht nur der Kopffüssler, zu dem ihn manche Verehrer gemacht haben. … Aber er hat in seinen wilden Zeiten vor 1900 auch mit käuflicher Liebe zu tun gehabt [!!! /a], wie seine Freundin, die Wiener Schriftstellerin Rosa Mayreder (die sich wohl eine enge Beziehung zu Steiner hatte vorstellen können), dezent andeutete – und er hat immer wieder innige Zuneigung zu «anderen» Frauen gefasst. … Diese Beziehungen zeigen nicht nur, was angesichts der spirituellen Verklärung des «Doktors» nicht vergessen werden sollte: dass Steiner mit ganz normalen Bedürfnissen nach körperlicher Nähe gesegnet war. Wichtiger noch ist, dass Steiner diesen Frauen auch intellektuell viel verdankt.’

  37. Rudolf Steiner Press has got over the hang-up. New book:

    Sexuality, love and partnership from the perspective of spiritual science!
    http://on.fb.me/rsleUb

    (I think this may be the same compilation of texts that has been published in German. Rudolf Steiner Press has several such books coming out now; and I recognize the themes.)

  38. You mention novels. Have you every read any by John Henry Mackay, written under his pseudonym Sagitta. He was a friend of Rudolf Steiner, a witness at his wedding, and is mentioned also in the book Philosophy of Freedom. Can you really imagine that Steiner did not know of McKay’s interests in life while drawing tolerant attention to his work. ?

  39. No, I haven’t, but thanks for the suggestion! I knew they knew each other and I agree it doesn’t seem likely Steiner didn’t know a thing or two (in particular at that point in his life, I don’t think he would have cared). Of course, Steiner knew Mackay long before he became a theosophist and an anthroposophist! And Mackay’s novels were written long after Steiner knew him.

  40. Rudolf Steiner appears to support equal rights for a gay person in his Philosophy Of Freedom. This post is taken from The Philosophy Of Freedom Community website: http://philosophyoffreedom.ning.com/forum/topics/should-society-give-gay-people-the-right-to-marriage

    Should Society Give Gay People The Right To Marriage?

    Who is to decide what your “natural disposition” is, you or society? A man and a woman marry because this suits their natural disposition in that most people are attracted to the opposite sex. If society declared heterosexuals could only marry the same sex they would complain that according to their natural disposition they are not attracted to the same sex.

    While discussing the social structure in chapter 14, Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy Of Freedom points out that it is not the role of society to decide what social position best fits one’s gender in regards to profession. In other words, it is not up to society to tell a woman that according to her natural disposition of being a woman she is best suited to do woman’s work, such as being a home maker. It states that it is up to the individual to decide what to strive for according to what fits their nature. Maybe, according to her particular disposition, she wants to be a construction worker. Society has no right to stereotype people according to what they believe their nature is supposed to be.

    If you apply this to the issue of gay marriage it seems to say that it is up to the individual to decide what social structure conforms to their natural disposition. So if your natural disposition is to be attracted to the same gender then you should strive for that, which would include gay marriage. It is not up to society to dictate social norms that do not fit one’s nature.

    If you oppose gay rights to be consistent you should oppose women’s rights. Actually, that is probably the case.

    On occasion we may choose to struggle against our natural disposition for other reasons, such as curbing the insatiable sexual drive, but that is another issue.

    Philosophy Of Freedom chapter 14-4 “So long as men debate whether woman, from her “natural disposition,” is fitted for this, that, or the other profession, the so-called Woman’s Question will never advance beyond the most elementary stage. What lies in a woman’s nature to strive for had better be left to the woman herself to decide. If it is true that women are fitted only for that profession which is theirs at present, then they will hardly have it in them to attain any other. But they must be allowed to decide for themselves what is conformable to their nature.”

  41. I don’t think it’s possible to say. Am not even sure it matters.

    If you really wanted to, you could probably find arguments, perhaps more obscure ones, more or less vaguely suited to support the opposing stance too.

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