Esoteric Lessons 1913-1923: From the Esoteric School, Vol. 3 (CW 266/3)
Notes written from memory by the participants and meditation verses by Rudolf Steiner
Beginning in January 1913, five days after the Anthroposophical Society was founded, this rich volume traces the esoteric work (and lack thereof) in the decade leading up to the reestablishment of the General Anthroposophical Society at the “Christmas Conference” (1923/1924) and the subsequent creation of the First Class, which replaced the Esoteric Section.
Part One, the largest section (Jan. 2, 1913–July 14, 1914), containing thirty-nine lessons in nineteen months, allows us to sense the subtle, though seismic, shift as Anthroposophy gradually became an autonomous earthly, spiritual reality outside the context of Theosophy, with the initial focus to deepen the Rosicrucian path. The emphasis is more practical than theoretical. The task is meditation, without which the new, freestanding spiritual movement could not fulfill its mission. As a consequence, instructions and advice are given. Then, with the outbreak of World War I, the esoteric lessons cease.
Part Two is much shorter and covers the period from 1918 to 1923, with only six lessons. Clearly, the time demanded a different approach to the spiritual world, and esoteric students were less prepared to work. Nevertheless, important meditations were given that indicated a new direction.
Part Three contains the two esoteric lessons given to the esoteric youth circle—members of the Youth Movement who were serious about esoteric work and would become public exponents of Anthroposophy. Here is something quite new and future-oriented: a new way of undertaking spiritual work in the service of the Archangel Michael. Never before made public, the meditations and instructions are powerful and relevant. This section is preceded by a moving account of the history and development of the esoteric Youth Movement, in which Rudolf Steiner placed such hopes.
The volume closes with the Threefold Mantra that foreshadowed a new approach for the First Class and was used by those in the Esoteric Section between 1920 and 1923.
This volume is the English translation of «Aus den Inhalten der esoterischen Stunden, Gedächtnisaufzeichnungen von Teilnehmern. Band.3, 1913 und 1914; 1920-1923» (GA 266/3).
About the Author
Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) was born in the small village of Kraljevec, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now in Croatia), where he grew up (see right). As a young man, he lived in Weimar and Berlin, where he became a well-published scientific, literary, and philosophical scholar, known especially for his work with Goethe’s scientific writings. At the beginning of the twentieth century, he began to develop his early philosophical principles into an approach to systematic research into psychological and spiritual phenomena. Formally beginning his spiritual teaching career under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, Steiner came to use the term Anthroposophy (and spiritual science) for his philosophy, spiritual research, and findings. The influence of Steiner’s multifaceted genius has led to innovative and holistic approaches in medicine, various therapies, philosophy, religious renewal, Waldorf education, education for special needs, threefold economics, biodynamic agriculture, Goethean science, architecture, and the arts of drama, speech, and eurythmy. In 1924, Rudolf Steiner founded the General Anthroposophical Society, which today has branches throughout the world. He died in Dornach, Switzerland.
Christopher Bamford is Editor in Chief for SteinerBooks and its imprints. A Fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, he has lectured, taught, and written widely on Western spiritual and esoteric traditions. He is the author of The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity (1990) and An Endless Trace: The Passionate Pursuit of Wisdom in the West (2003). He has also translated and edited numerous books, including Celtic Christianity: Ecology and Holiness (1982); Homage to Pythagoras: Rediscovering Sacred Science; and The Noble Traveller: The Life and Writings of O. V. de L. Milosz (all published by Lindisfarne Books). HarperSanFrancisco included an essay by Mr. Bamford in its anthology Best Spiritual Writing 2000.
Marsha Post is senior editor, translator, and Waldorf and adult education coordinator for SteinerBooks. While living in New York City, she was a leader in the Anthroposophical Society branch. She also served on the General Council of the Anthroposophical Society.