School of Spiritual Science

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Second Goetheanum in Dornach, main seat of the School of Spiritual Science.

The School of Spiritual Science was founded by Rudolf Steiner following the re-founding of the Anthroposophical Society at the 1923/24 Christmas Conference. The aim was to reconstitute the Esoteric School, which Steiner had run in three classes from 1904 until the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, and to expand it to include artistic and scientific sections. An extraordinary step had thus been taken. Whereas the Esoteric School, following the occult tradition, had still been run as a secret school, the existence of which was known only to those who were personally invited to attend, the existence of the School of Spiritual Science was enshrined from the outset in the publicly accessible statutes of the General Anthroposophical Society as point 5.

Task and structure of the School of Spiritual Science

The School of Spiritual Science has its headquarters at the Goetheanum in Dornach, but works in the worldwide context of its members. Its aim is to continue spiritual research in the spirit of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and to give stimulating impulses for the most diverse anthroposophical fields of work, for which it also offers an extensive further training programme. The basis of the work are the so-called class lessons which Rudolf Steiner himself held for the first members as part of the First Class. Participation in the class lessons requires a corresponding familiarity with the fundamentals of anthroposophy and meditative practice.

The School of Spiritual Science, like the former Esoteric School, should be run in three classes:

„«5. The Anthroposophical Society sees a centre of its activity in the School of Spiritual Science in Dornach. This will exist in three classes.»

Please, do not be frightened by these three classes, my dear friends. The three classes were originally already there in the Anthroposophical Society, only in a different form, until the year 1914.

«Members of the Society are admitted to the Anthroposophical Society on their application after they have been members for a period to be determined by the leadership of the Goetheanum. They are thereby admitted to the first class of the School of Spiritual Science. Admission to the second or third class takes place when those applying for the same are found suitable by the leadership of the Goetheanum.»“ (Lit.:GA 260, p. 50f)

The spiritual world, which in Anthroposophy is first described in idea form, is to be represented by higher forms of expression borrowed directly from the spiritual world itself:

„It will therefore generally have to be the case that man first comes to know the spiritual world in idea-form. This is the way spiritual science is cultivated in the General Anthroposophical Society.

But there will be personalities who wish to participate in the representations of the spiritual world, who ascend from the idea-form to modes of expression which are borrowed from the spiritual world itself. And there will also be those who want to learn the ways into the spiritual world in order to walk them with their own soul. The three classes of the "school" will be there for such personalities. There the work will progressively reach a higher and higher degree of esotericism. The "School" will lead the participant up into the regions of the spiritual world which cannot be revealed through the idea-form. With them comes the necessity to find means of expression for imaginations, inspirations and intuitions.

Then the fields of artistic, pedagogical, ethical life and so on will be led up to the areas where they can receive their illumination and the impulses to create from esotericism.“ (Lit.:GA 260a, p. 108f)

As a result of his illness in the autumn of 1924 and his death on 30 March 1925, Steiner was only able to begin setting up the first class and the sections of the Hochschule. Of the total of 38 class lessons that Steiner was able to hold until his illness, 29 lessons have been preserved in stenographic transcripts and have since been published as part of the Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe (Lit.:GA 270).

Volume I: 1st - 9th lesson English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
Volume II: 10th - 19th lesson English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
Volume III: 7 repetition lessons, 4 individual lessons in Prague, Bern and London (2) English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
Volume IV: Tafelband pdf

In the first lesson Steiner gave in Dornach on 15 February 1924, he said:

„... within this school every word that is spoken is spoken in such a way that it is based on full responsibility towards the spirit that reveals itself in our age, that spirit which reveals itself to humanity through the centuries and millennia, but in each age in a special way. And this spirit wants to give to man that which man can only find through the spirit.

We must be clear from the outset that it is not hostility towards all that comes to man through the senses when a school of spiritual science looks to the revelations of the spirit. We must also be clear about how we recognise - recognise in all depth - recognise that the world of the senses gives man its great revelations, necessary practical hints, so necessary for life, must not feel induced by anything to somehow disregard that which comes to man from the world of the senses.“ (Lit.:GA 270a, p. 1f)


Today the School of Spiritual Science is divided into a general anthroposophical section and ten specialised sections:

  1. General Anthroposophical Section
  2. Section for Mathematics and Astronomy
  3. Medical Section
  4. Natural Science Section
  5. Section for Agriculture
  6. Pedagogical Section
  7. Visual Art Section
  8. Section for the Performing Arts
  9. Section for the Literary Arts and Humanities
  10. Section for Social Sciences
  11. Youth Section

Criticism of the current practice of class lessons

„The continuation of the "Hochschule" with the holding of the so-called class lessons in an unchanged form even after the death of Rudolf Steiner, who himself deliberately did not name a successor for the esoteric school, was pointed out in 1995 by Pietro Archiati in all clarity as a "phenomenon of succession", of succession, within the Anthroposophical Society. For admission to the "Michael School", which continued after 1925, a detailed application for admission still had to be made. One thus underwent a moral evaluation - now by the responsible lector - with the possibility of rejection, which happened repeatedly. To this day, many members of the Anthroposophical Society can see no spiritual injustice in this succession claimed by Dornach.

From my own experience of many years of membership and 21 years of work as a lecturer commissioned by Dornach, I can confirm how devastating for an occult movement this amalgamation of esotericism and power - which is based on a statement that is not true and gives spiritual power to an institution - is. (...). It is high time that the demarcation of esotericism brought about by Dornach was overcome. The mantras do not develop their power through an institution, but through the inner attitude and the seriousness with which the individual deals with this spiritual good.“ (Lit.: Heinz Eckhoff, Preface, p. 3 - 4)


  • Judith von Halle: Krise und Chance. Die Freie Hochschule und ihre Bedeutung für das Karma der Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft, Vlg. für Anthroposophie, Dornach 2010
  • Heinz Eckhoff: Vorwort, in: Rudolf Steiner: Werde der du bist, Archiati Verlag 2005, S. 3 - 4
  • Die Freie Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft Goetheanum - Zur Orientierung und Einführung. Herausgegeben für das Hochschulkollegium der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft Goetheanum von Johannes Kühl, Bodo von Plato und Heinz Zimmermann, Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach 2008, ISBN 978-3-7235-1328-6
  • Johannes Kiersch: Steiners individualisierte Esoterik einst und jetzt. Zur Entwicklung der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft, Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach 2012. ISBN 978-3-7235-1464-1
  • Johannes Kiersch: Rudolf Steiners Weg zu einer freien Esoterik, Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach 2019, ISBN 978-3723516164
  • Sergej O. Prokofieff: Die erste Klasse der Michael-Schule und ihre christologischen Grundlagen, Vlg. am Goetheanum, Dornach 2009 (nur für Mitglieder der ersten Klasse der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft)
  • Peter Selg/Marc Desaules (Hg.): Die Freie Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft. Ihre Bedeutung und ihr Ziel, Vlg. des Ita Wegman Instituts, Arlesheim 2018
  • Rudolf Steiner: Constitution of the School of Spiritual Science: An Introductory Guide: An Introductory Guide, Rudolf Steiner Press 2013, ISBN 978-1855843820
  • Rudolf Steiner: Die Weihnachtstagung zur Begründung der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft 1923/24, GA 260 (1994), ISBN 3-7274-2602-0 English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
  • Rudolf Steiner: Die Konstitution der Allgemeinen Anthroposophischen Gesellschaft und der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft. Der Wiederaufbau des Goetheanum, GA 260a (1987), ISBN 3-7274-2606-3 English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
  • Rudolf Steiner: Esoterische Unterweisungen für die erste Klasse der Freien Hochschule für Geisteswissenschaft am Goetheanum 1924, GA 270 I-IV (1999), ISBN 3-7274-2700-0
  • Rudolf Steiner: Der Meditationsweg der Michaelschule in neunzehn Stufen. Rudolf Steiners esoterisches Vermächtnis aus dem Jahre 1924, Perseus Vlg. Basel 2011 ISBN 978-3-907564-79-0
  • Rudolf Steiner: Der Meditationsweg der Michaelschule, Ergänzungsband. Die Wiederholungsstunden in Prag, Bern, London und Dornach, Perseus Vlg., Basel 2011 ISBN ISBN 978-3-907564-87-5
  • Rudolf Steiner: Für alle Menschen, Bd. 3: Die innere Entwicklung, Verlag Rudolf Steiner Ausgaben, Bad Liebenzell 2017, ISBN 978-3-86772-075-5
  • Rudolf Steiner: Die Mantren, 2. erweiterte Auflage, Verlag Rudolf Steiner Ausgaben, Bad Liebenzell 2017, ISBN 978-3-86772-222-3
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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
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Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.