Anthroposophical Society

Anthroposophical Society

The General Anthroposophical Society is an organization dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the form of spirituality known as Anthroposophy. The society was initiated during 1913 by members of the Theosophical Society in Germany, including Rudolf Steiner 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." [First principle of the original statutes; see statutes section of this article.] It includes an esoteric school at its centre, the School of Spiritual Science. The Society's headquarters is in the Goetheanum, located in Dornach, Solothurn, Switzerland. The Society has "national Societies" in many countries, including every English-speaking country.Lía Tummer, "Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy for Beginners", Writers and Readers Publishing, ISBN 0-86316-286-X, pp. 166.] 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.


The Anthroposophical Society traces its history back to 1902, when the German branch of the Theosophical Society was founded, led by Rudolf Steiner as its General Secretary. This branch worked quite independently of the rest of the Theosophical Society; [In his autobiography, Steiner mentions that the he and the leader of the larger society at the time, Annie Besant, agreed to foster independent esoteric schools in harmony with one another: "No one was left in uncertainty of the fact" that I would bring forward in the Theosophical Society only the results of my own research through direct vision. For I stated this on all appropriate occasions." Rudolf Steiner, "The Course of My Life: an autobiography", Anthroposophic Press (1986), ch. 30, p. 299 (emphasis in original). ISBN 0-88010-159-8] in particular, Steiner sought to link to European esoteric, philosophical and scientific traditions in a way quite foreign to the main society, which was geographically and spiritually based in Adyar, India.

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 in a young boy named Jiddu Krishnamurti. [Ron Rhodes, "The Christ of the New Age Movement", "Christian Research Journal", 12(1), 1989. [ on-line version of part 2] ] In December 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. They were excluded from the Theosophical Society one month later, in January of 1914.

The society was refounded in December of 1923Johannes Hemleben, "Rudolf Steiner: A documentary biography", Henry Goulden Ltd, ISBN 0-90482-202-8, pp. 142-148 (German edition Rowohlt Verlag ISBN 3-49950-079-5)] 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, a medical clinic, a farm and other institutions.

At the Christmas Conference called to refound the society, Steiner presented the , 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.


The principles of the new society were set out as follows:

# 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.
# 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. (1)
# 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.'
# 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.
# 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 (2) takes place when the person requesting this is deemed eligible by the leadership at the Goetheanum.
# 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.
# 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.
# All publications of the Society shall be public, in the same sense as are those of other public societies. (3) 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.'
# 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.
# 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.
# 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.
# Membership dues shall be fixed by the individual groups; each group shall, however, submit 15 Swiss Francs (4) for each of its members to the central leadership of the Society at the Goetheanum.
# Each working group formulates its own statutes, but these must not be incompatible with the Statutes of the Anthroposophical Society.
# The organ of the society is the weekly „Das Goetheanum“, which for this purpose is provided with a supplement (5) containing the official communications of the Society. This enlarged edition of 'Das Goetheanum' will be supplied to members of the Anthroposophical Society only.
# The Founding Vorstand will be:President Dr. Rudolf SteinerVice-President Albert SteffenRecorder Dr. Ita WegmanMembers Marie SteinerDr. Elisabeth VreedeSecretary and Treasurer Dr. Guenther Wachsmuth

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.


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