Anthroposophical Society

Anthroposophical Society

Overview
The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spiritual philosophy known as anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, including Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

 who was at the time General Secretary of the German section. The Society was re-founded as the General Anthroposophical Society in 1923/4 "to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." It includes an esoteric school at its centre, the School of Spiritual Science.
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Encyclopedia
The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spiritual philosophy known as anthroposophy
Anthroposophy
Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

 in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, including Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

 who was at the time General Secretary of the German section. The Society was re-founded as the General Anthroposophical Society in 1923/4 "to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." It includes an esoteric school at its centre, the School of Spiritual Science. The Society's headquarters is in the Goetheanum
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

, located in Dornach
Dornach
Dornach is a municipality in the district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland.-History:Dornach is first mentioned in 1223 as de Tornacho. In 1307 it was mentioned as zu Dornach...

, Solothurn
Canton of Solothurn
Solothurn is a canton of Switzerland. It is located in the northwest of Switzerland. The capital is Solothurn.-History:The territory of the canton comprises land acquired by the capital...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. The Society has national Societies in many countries, including every English-speaking country. Its primary activities include organizing members' meetings and conferences, supporting research and providing communication channels for a variety of purposes. The Society also tries to encourage sustainable initiatives in the many practical fields in which its members are active.

The society has approximately 60,000 members as of 2008.

History


The Anthroposophical Society traces its history back to 1902, when Rudolf Steiner became General Secretary of the German branch of the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

. Prior to this time, Theosophy had made little headway in Germany; despite some visits by Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society, to Germany and its prominent Theosophists, it was not until after her death in 1891 that a single Berlin Lodge was officially chartered in 1894. Its nominal leadership by Dr Huebbe-Schleiden was supported by the ongoing efforts of Count and Countess Brockdorff, under whose auspices Steiner was first asked to lecture to an audience including German Theosophists in August 1900. Here, as in the Vienna of the mid-1880s (where Steiner first encountered Theosophy and mingled with Theosophists), his spiritual insights found a responsive audience, many of whom had found in Theosophy only an imperfect reflection of their own beliefs.

Upon Steiner's ascension to leadership, and throughout his term in office, this German branch worked quite independently of the rest of the Theosophical Society; in particular, Steiner sought to link to European esoteric, philosophical and scientific traditions in a way quite foreign to the main society
Theosophical Society Adyar
The Theosophy Society - Adyar is the name of a section of the Theosophical Society founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and others in 1875. Its headquarters moved with Blavatsky and president Henry Steel Olcott to Adyar, an area of Chennai in 1883...

, which was geographically and spiritually based in Adyar, India.

This tolerance on Besant's part grew strained over the years, and signs of the growing divide between the two belief systems are easily distinguished in hindsight. By 1907, Steiner's shift from the use of Blavatsky's Theosophical terminology to the teaching of the core of his own Anthroposophical revelation became increasingly apparent, including at the International Congress at Munich in May 1907. Later that year, "by mutual consent", connections were severed between the Theosophical Esoteric Section (E. S.) and the esoteric circle he had founded as an offshoot.

Gathering tensions over a variety of issues, including the rapid growth of the German section and its increasing activity in areas outside of Germany, came to a head when the leadership of the Theosophical Society declared that they had found the reincarnated Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 in a young boy named Jiddu Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti
Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti or , was a renowned writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and bringing about positive change in society...

. The Order of the Star in the East was founded in 1911 by the followers of Krishnamurti, most of whom were Theosophists; Steiner's opposition was made unmistakable by his 1912 declaration that no member of the new Order could remain a member of the German Theosophical Society. By the end of that year, Besant had led the General Council of the Theosophical Society to revoke the charter for the German Section, under Steiner's leadership. In February 1913, Steiner and a group of prominent German theosophists founded a new society, the Anthroposophical Society, with the intent of pursuing a more Western path of spirituality than that nurtured in the Theosophical Society.

Steiner's personal role in the growth of the German Theosophical Society was revealed at the time of that split, as the branch which had numbered only a single Lodge and a few individual members in 1902 had burgeoned to 69 Lodges, 55 of which (about 2,500 people) left with Steiner in the forming of the new Anthroposophical Society. The 14 Lodges which remained in the Theosophical Society were issued a new charter by the General Council of the Theosophical Society, and were once again led by Dr Huebbe-Schleiden. This early Anthroposophy showed a strong Germanic predominance — English Anthroposophy was initially limited to a small anonymous club during WWI; there also seem to have been some founding members from the Netherlands and other European countries —, and functioned as a German-speaking esotericism; however, the choice of Switzerland over Weimar for the Goetheanum argues against a narrow nationalistic view of the Anthroposophical Society.

The society was refounded in December 1923 after a split occurred between younger members, who had formed their own "Free Anthroposophical Society," and the older members of the existing group. It was especially the younger members who had taken initiatives such as founding a school, a curative home for the handicapped
Camphill Movement
The Camphill Movement is an initiative for social change inspired by anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential "life-sharing" communities and schools for adults and children with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs, which provide services and support for...

, a medical clinic, a farm
Biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

 and other institutions.

At the Christmas Conference called to refound the society, Steiner presented the Foundation Stone Meditation, which he suggested would be the spiritual cornerstone of an Anthroposophical movement which for the first time would be unified with the Society itself. He also gave a series of lectures on world history over the course of this eight-day conference, and founded the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science as an organ of regeneration.

United States


The Anthroposophical Society in America, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, is one of over seventy national societies of the international General Anthroposophical Society, headquartered at the Goetheanum
Goetheanum
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach , Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. Named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the center includes two performance halls , gallery and lecture spaces, a library, a bookstore, and administrative spaces for the Anthroposophical...

 in Dornach, Switzerland. The American society has branches, groups and sections in over 36 states.

The goal of the Anthroposophical Society in America is to further the work of Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

. It is a non-sectarian, non-political association devoted to such ends. It supports study groups, regional branches, the School for Spiritual Science in North America and the Rudolf Steiner Library.

The administrative offices for the U.S. Society are located at the Rudolf Steiner House, 1923 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 344,791 as of 2010...

.

The U.S. Society is governed by a General Council. Members of the General Council are:
  • Torin Finser, General Secretary
  • MariJo Rogers, General Secretary
  • Lori Barian, Secretary and Central Region Representative
  • Joan Treadaway, Western Region Representative
  • Ann Finucane, Eastern Region Representative
  • Gordon Edwards, member at large
  • James Lee, member at large
  • Gerald Kruse, Treasurer
  • Marian Leon, Director of Administration and Member Services


A partial list of branches follows:
  • The New York City Branch
  • The Portland Branch
  • Los Angeles Branch
  • Anthroposophical Foundation of California in Pasadena, CA
  • The Seattle Branch

Principles


The principles of the new society were set out as follows:
  1. The Anthroposophical Society is to be an association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world.
  2. The persons gathered at the Goetheanum in Dornach at Christmas, 1923, both the individuals and the groups represented, form the nucleus of the Society. They are convinced that there exists in our time a genuine science of the spiritual world, elaborated for years past, and in important particulars already published; and that the civilisation of today is lacking the cultivation of such a science. This cultivation is to be the task of the Anthroposophical Society. It will endeavour to fulfill this task by making the anthroposophical spiritual science cultivated at the Goetheanum in Dornach the centre of its activities, together with all that results from this for brotherhood in human relationships and for the moral and religious as well as the artistic and cultural life.
  3. The persons gathered in Dornach as the nucleus of the Society recognise and endorse the view of the leadership at the Goetheanum (represented by the Vorstand [Executive Council] formed at the Foundation Meeting): 'Anthroposophy, as fostered at the Goetheanum, leads to results which can serve every human being as a stimulus to spiritual life, whatever his nation, social standing or religion. They can lead to a social life genuinely built on brotherly love. No special degree of academic learning is required to make them one's own and to found one's life upon them, but only an open-minded human nature. Research into these results, however, as well as competent evaluation of them, depends upon spiritual-scientific training, which is to be acquired step by step. These results are in their own way as exact as the results of genuine natural science. When they attain general recognition in the same way as these, they will bring abut comparable progress in all spheres of life, not only in the spiritual but also in the practical realm.'
  4. The Anthroposophical Society is in no sense a secret society, but is entirely public. Anyone can become a member, without regard to nationality, social standing, religion, scientific or artistic conviction, who considers as justified the existence of an institution such as the Goetheanum in Dornach, in its capacity as a School of Spiritual Science. The Anthroposophical Society rejects any kind of sectarian activity. Party politics it considers not to be within its task.
  5. The Anthroposophical Society sees the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach as a centre for its activity. The School will be composed of three classes. Members of the Society will be admitted to the School on their own application after a period of membership to be determined by the leadership at the Goetheanum. They enter in this way the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science. Admission to the Second or Third Classes takes place when the person requesting this is deemed eligible by the leadership at the Goetheanum.
  6. Every member of the Anthroposophical Society has the right to attend all lectures, performances and meetings arranged by the society, under conditions to be announced by the Vorstand.
  7. The organising of the school of Spiritual Science is, to begin with, the responsibility of Rudolf Steiner, who will appoint his collaborators and his possible successor.
  8. All publications of the Society shall be public, in the same sense as are those of other public societies. The publications of the School of Spiritual Science will form no exception as regards this public character; however, the leadership of the School reserves the right to deny in advance the validity of any judgment on these publications which is not based on the same training from which they have been derived. Consequently they will regard as justified no judgement which is not based on an appropriate preliminary training, as is also the common practice in the recognised scientific world. Thus the publications of the School of Spiritual Science will bear the following note: 'Printed as manuscript for members of the School of Spiritual Science, Goetheanum, … Class. No one is considered competent to judge the content, who has not acquired - through the School itself or in a manner recognised by the School as equivalent - the requisite preliminary knowledge. Other opinions will be disregarded, to the extent that the authors of such works will not enter into a discussion about them.'
  9. The purpose of the Anthroposophical Society will be the furtherance of spiritual research; that of the School of Spiritual Science will be this research itself. A dogmatic stand in any field whatsoever is to be excluded from the Anthroposophical Society.
  10. The Anthroposophical Society shall hold a regular General Meeting at the Goetheanum each year, at which time the Vorstand shall present a full report with accounting. The agenda for this meeting shall be communicated by the Vorstand to all members, together with the invitation, six weeks before the meeting. The Vorstand may call special meetings and fix the agenda for them. Invitations to such meetings shall be sent to members three weeks in advance. Motions proposed by individual members or groups of members shall be submitted one week before the General Meeting.
  11. Members may join together in smaller or larger groups on any basis of locality or subject. The headquarters of the Anthroposophical Society is at the Goetheanum. From there the Vorstand shall bring to the attention of the members or groups of members what it considers to be the task of the Society. The Vorstand communicates with officials elected or appointed by the various groups. Admission of members will be the concern of the individual groups; the certificate of membership shall, however, be placed before the Vorstand in Dornach, and shall be signed by them out of their confidence in the officials of the groups. In general, every member should join a group. Only those for whom it is quite impossible to find entry to a group should apply directly to Dornach for membership.
  12. Membership dues shall be fixed by the individual groups; each group shall, however, submit 15 Swiss Francs for each of its members to the central leadership of the Society at the Goetheanum.
  13. Each working group formulates its own statutes, but these must not be incompatible with the Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society.
  14. The organ of the society is the weekly „Das Goetheanum“, which for this purpose is provided with a supplement containing the official communications of the Society. This enlarged edition of „Das Goetheanum“ will be supplied to members of the Anthroposophical Society only.
  15. The Founding Vorstand will be:
  • President: Dr. Rudolf Steiner
    Rudolf Steiner
    Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher...

  • Vice-President: Albert Steffen
    Albert Steffen
    Albert Steffen was a poet, painter, dramatist, essayist, and novelist. He joined the Theosophical Society in Germany in 1910, and the Anthroposophical Society in 1912 and became its president after the death of its founder, Rudolf Steiner, in 1925...

  • Recorder: Dr. Ita Wegman
    Ita Wegman
    Ita Wegman, MD is known as the co-founder of Anthroposophical Medicine with Rudolf Steiner. In 1921, she founded the first anthroposophical medical clinic in Arlesheim, now known as the Ita Wegman Clinic...

  • Members: Marie Steiner
    Marie Steiner-von Sivers
    Marie Steiner-von Sivers was the second wife of Rudolf Steiner and one of his closest colleagues...

     and Dr. Elisabeth Vreede
    Elisabeth Vreede
    Elisabeth Vreede was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and Anthroposophist.-Life and work:...

  • Secretary and Treasurer: Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth
    Guenther Wachsmuth
    Guenther Wachsmuth was a jurist, economist, anthroposophist, author and first Secretary and Treasurer of the Anthroposophical Society.-Life:...



These principles were originally intended to serve as statutes as well; the legal requirements of registering such societies led to an expanded set of statutes, however.

See also

  • List of branches of the Anthroposophical Society in America
  • Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy
    Anthroposophy, a philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development...

  • Biodynamic agriculture
    Biodynamic agriculture
    Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that emphasizes the holistic development and interrelationships of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. Biodynamic farming has much in common with other organic approaches, such as emphasizing the use of manures and composts...

  • Camphill Movement
    Camphill Movement
    The Camphill Movement is an initiative for social change inspired by anthroposophy. Camphill communities are residential "life-sharing" communities and schools for adults and children with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs, which provide services and support for...

  • Threefold social order
  • Waldorf education

External links