dining with seers — culinary considerations for life among clairvoyants

On the internet, I had heard a rumour about a certain article in Das Goetheanum. To my delight, the municipal library subscribes to this weekly journal from the Anthroposophical Society. I don’t know why, but they do, I discovered. The article is written by Franziska Schmidt-von Nell, who claims Rudolf Steiner ruined her appetite for asparagus. This is why (I had to type by hand and am now trying to decipher my own handwriting and transferring the quotes to the computer; I’m sure there are numerous errors, for which I apologize in advance):

Meine Freundin hat mir erzählt, dass ihr eine Freundin erzählt habe, dass ihr jemand gesagt hatte, dass Rudolf Steiner gesagt habe, dass, wenn man spargeln […] esse, einem für den Hellseher sichtbare Zotten aus dem Mund wüchsen, so wie ein Art Bart, aber aus Flechten, oder so moosartig. […] Selbst wenn für die gewöhnliche Mitesser diese Zotten unsichtbar bleiben, ist doch die Vorstellung der Möglichkeit allein schon ekelig. Und was, wenn ein Hellseher am Tisch sitzt? Für dem muss es erst recht quälend sein!

It is a very entertaining read, very humourous, and if you have access to the journal, I can but recommend it. And, in an eminently satirical way, which isn’t that common for this journal (or for anthroposophical publications in general), it manages to criticize one aspect of anthroposophical culture.

Obviously for me — as a mushroom lover; if possible, I love mushrooms even more than asparagus — the news about mushrooms is quite troubling (no, I didn’t know this… or I knew, but had conveniently forgotten). Apparently:

Alle echte Anthroposophen wissen, dass man Leute, die Pilze gegessen haben, daran erkennt, dass ihr Astralleib ständig wie eine Schere auf- und zugeht.

Is this a bad thing or perhaps a good thing? Is it better or worse than the supersensible asparagus beard? I don’t know. Bad if you move in anthroposophical circles and want to conceal your predilection for mushrooms, naturally. Though it makes you wonder how well they’d do in a proper test situation — if they could distinguish those who had eaten mushrooms from those who hadn’t! It made me think, too, about what a splendid possibility is offered by this supposed ability of seers: that of carrying out objective tests on supersensible perception. (Any shroom-spotting clairvoyants volunteering?) Nevertheless, as far as the consequences for the astral body are concerned, I wouldn’t be too bothered about them. I mean, I eat lots of mushrooms, because I love mushrooms. I figure that, if indeed I have an astral body, it enjoys mushrooms too. Despite the bizarre scissor-like effect.

Wild mushrooms in preparation, last September. Interference with the astral body is an unavoidable consequence of autumn walks in the forest and subsequent feasts!


Tja, da muss man sich eben fragen: Soll ich das riskieren oder esse ich besser keine Pilze mehr? Melonen machen wohllüstig, Reis isst man am besten montags, Hafer hingegen freitags (wegen der Planeten), Tomaten sind Nachtschattengewächse (‹Nacht› und ‹Schatten› — da kann man ja gleich davon ausgehen, dass man den Teufel im Salat hat!), Kartoffeln machen materialistisch.

A salad with something devilish in it, that’s just my kind of food! Surprisingly — to some people, I imagine — I don’t eat a lot of potatoes; maybe my materialism is caused by tomatoes which are said to have a similar effect. I love melons, but unfortunately in me they seem to lack some of the indicated effect. And there are further considerations to be made (some of what follows explains the prevalent waldorf school hysteria pertaining to certain activities).

Kaugummikauen verklebt die Seele, Fussballspielen zerstört das Verhältnis zum Kosmos, denn der Ball ist rund und der Kopf des Mensch auch. Und Letzterer ist ein Abbild des Kosmos. Und der Ball wird — daher ja der Name — mit den Füßen getreten. Verstehen sie?

The anthroposophists have to keep all this in mind, while making sure they eat in conformity with the planetary constellations and continuing to work on their spiritual development; they have to do it all, while working on karma, acknowledging elemental beings, perparing the future, she writes.

Das ist ja auch ganz schön und gut, aber leider leben wir in der Gegenwart, und das nicht jeder für sich alleine, sondern in einer Gesellschaft mit anderen Menschen zusammen, die nicht unbedingt diesen Wissensschatz mit uns teilen (wollen). Was für die einen‹normal› ist, scheint den anderen unmöglich: Ein Mobiltelefon benutzen — oh weh! E-Mail schicken!! Fernsehen!!!

And how to explain to a (non-anthroposophist) dinner host that, due to concern over one’s astral body, one would rather avoid eating asparagus?

Schmidt-von Nell writes that when Steiner is referred in order to provide a guarantee that some supposed fact is true, all this knowledge about what he said becomes an obstacle to everyday life (rather than a source of helpful guidance and inspiration; in my interpretation).

Wir fallen auf, wir fallen raus aus dem sozialen Zusammenhang und werden Sekte.

Well, that seems to sum it up quite neatly.

Vor lauter Sorgen wird unsere Welt eng und fade aus einem Übermaß an Bewusstsein. Wir überprüfen und kontrollieren, wermeiden und organisieren. Und so wird es regelrecht schwierig überhaupt unbefangen die Gegenwart erleben zu können.

All die Angaben und Vorgaben beschrenken und beschneiden, wenn sie als totalitäre Lebensanweisungen eins zu eins umgesetzt werden.

She goes on to say that sometimes when learning about some advice or another — which supposedly had been given by Steiner — you double-check the gesamtausgabe and, lo and behold, the particular wisdom is nowhere to be found. More likely, it is something someone once heard, and it’s been carried from one generation to another, as one piece in the puzzle of anthroposophical folk lore. It contributes to ‘den wolkigen Märchenschatz der scheinbar schönen anthroposophischen Welt.’

The article finishes with a Rudolf Steiner-quote, and the wish that this kind of advice should be heard more frequently than advice about asparagus consumption (et cetera, i e, the concrete stuff of practical nature… which makes everyday life unpractical to live). I hunted down the English translation for you.

One should not in any way disregard, at any particular stage of life, one’s previous experiences. One should judge what one experiences in the present by one’s experiences of the past. This is placed upon one scale of the balance; upon the other, however, must be placed the inclination of the student continually to experience the new. Above all, there must be faith in the possibility that new experiences may contradict the old. [Steiner, R. GA 13.]

See Das Goetheanum, 7 • 2011, pp 6-7.

11 thoughts on “dining with seers — culinary considerations for life among clairvoyants

  1. Oh, God, Alicia, this is precious! I am going to take all the German and make one big translation. For now, the 1st paragraph just couldn’t wait!

    “My girl friend told me that her girl friend told her that someone else had said to her that Rudolf Steiner had said that: if you eat asparagus […] a clairvoyant would see tiny shaggy hairs growing out of your mouth, as a kind of beard, but growing like lichens, or something like moss. […] Even when these hairy things would not be visible to your ordinary dining partner, just imagining the possibility is in itself disgusting. And then, what if a clairvoyant would be sitting at the table? For him it would be all the more excruciating!”

  2. Alicia,

    I just got the German together and read through it. I must say you are a good transcriber because I only found two typos, which happened very close together, but they are so cute that I have to point them out and pontificate. The first typo is clearly a Freudian slip, but the second is definitely a Steinerian slip.

    [1] You copied:
    Melonen machen wolllüstig.
    Which means:
    Melons make you crave wool.
    But the correct German is:
    Melonen machen wohllüstig
    which means
    Melons make you really horny.

    [2] You copied:
    Tomaten sind Nachtschattengewäsche
    Which means:
    Tomatoes are to be washed in the dark of night.
    But the correct German is:
    Tomaten sind Nachtschattengewächse
    Which means:
    Tomatoes are deadly nightshades.

  3. Haha!! Yes, you’re right, no wool, and wool wasn’t what I was thinking of, although of course it’s no less true — melons never made me crave wool. I will immediately correct these 2 errors (which were kind of funny).

    Unfortunately, I’m sure there are other mistakes as well — I’m likely to have missed things in text. I was quite mad with myself for not simply buying xerox copies. My handwriting sucks, and I had a really shitty pencil, to make matters worse. The errors you mentioned are mine when typing on the computer though…

    You should try to get the full text from someone — it is very funny!!

  4. Here’s the translation of the whole text.

    My girl friend told me that her girl friend told her that someone else had said to her that Rudolf Steiner once said that: if you eat asparagus […] a clairvoyant would see hair-like filaments growing out of your mouth, as a kind of beard, but growing like lichens, or maybe more like moss. […] Even when these filaments would not be visible to your ordinary dining partner, just imagining the possibility is in itself disgusting. And then, what if a clairvoyant would be sitting at the table? For him it would be all the more excruciating!

    All true anthroposophists know that when people eat mushrooms, it is clear that their astral body continually pulsates like a pair of scissors opening and closing.

    Well, you just have to ask yourself: should I take the risk or else, should I stop eating mushrooms? . . . Melons make you really horny. . . .Rice is best eaten on Mondays, as opposed to eating oats on Fridays (because of the planets) . . . Tomatoes are deadly nightshades (night + shadow) and — you can of course take for granted that you have the devil in your salad. . . . Potatoes make you materialistic.

    Chewing gum forms clots in your soul. . . . Playing football [soccer] destroys your relationship with the cosmos, since the ball is round and so is the human head. And the head is an image of the cosmos. And the ball — well, it’s in the very word itself — unites head with feet. Do you understand now?

    This is all well and good, but unfortunately we live in the present day, and it’s not everyone for themselves, but we live in a society together with other people who do not necessarily share this wealth of knowledge we possess (or want to). What is “normal” for one person seems impossible for the other: using a mobile phone — oh dear! Sending E-mails! Television! God, no!

    We are dropouts, we drop out of the social context and we become a cult. Out of sheer worry, our world becomes parochial and insipid from an excess of consciousness. We monitor, we control, we avoid, and we organize. And thus we can almost never experience the present moment with any kind of unbiased attitude whatsoever.

    All these indications and guidelines become restrictions and prohibitions when they are implemented one-on-one as totalitarian directives for living your life.

  5. Finding out more about Franziska. She’s 37, a housewife, mother of 3 and a speech formation therapist. (Like a curative eurythmist but without much of the arm waving.) I’m not sure what this sector of Family Cultural Work is, but it does involve early childhood education. Maybe it’s also a Daycare center at the Goetehanum.
    Franziska Schmidt-von Nell (*1974), verheiratet, 3 Söhne (3, 4 und 6 Jahre); Studium Germanistik, Anglistik und Psychologie, Ausbildung zur (therapeutischen) Sprachgestalterin. Seit 2002 in Ausbildung zur Hausfrau und Mutter, neuerdings verantwortlich für den Bereich Familienkulturarbeit am Goetheanum.
    Franziska Schmidt (née) Nell (born 1974), 3 sons (ages 3, 4 and 6), studied German and English language/literature and psychology, trained in (therapeutic) speech formation. Since 2002, training as a housewife and mother, recently made director for the sector of family-cultural work at the Goetheanum.

  6. One thing though.

    ‘using a mobile phone — oh dear! Sending E-mails! Television! God, no!’

    > ‘using a mobile phone — oh dear! Sending E-mails!! Television!!!’

    In this case, the increasing numbers of exclamation marks made it funny, which made any ‘God, no!’ unncesseary, because the exclamation marks told the whole story, as it were.

    At least I don’t think there was any ‘god no!’ — I don’t remember it.

    (I so wish this article was online, it’s so funny. These quotes are just a small part.)

  7. I can’t believe someone who’s doing speech formation professionally can be this funny.

    This is not good for the stability of my worldview.

  8. I wonder if Steiner College is aware of the dangers of shroom consumption? Workshop on myco-dynamics:


    ‘Mushrooms are a hidden treasure in our gardens. They are highly efficient at breaking down toxins, enhancing soil vitality, and providing nutritious and medicinal food. We’ll explore these dynamics and more, and experience hands on techniques of myco-dynamic gardening.’

    Medicinal and nutritious — but what about the effects on the astral body??

    (Thanks Tom for the link.)

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