Secret Brotherhoods

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Secret Brotherhoods And the Mystery of the Human Double 

7 lectures (of 9), St. Gallen, Zurich, and Dornach, November 15-25, 1917 (CW 178)

In the age of the internet and the proliferation of “conspiracy theories,” ideas that secret groups are trying to gain control of humanity are no longer rare. But this was not true in 1917 when Rudolf Steiner spoke of such matters in the extraordinary lectures contained in this book. His unique contribution to this controversial topic is not based on abstract theories; it arose from exact research methods that use advanced forms of perception and cognition.

Using the firsthand knowledge available to him, Steiner takes us behind the scenes of events in outer history and contemporary culture to reveal a dark world of secret elitist brotherhoods that are attempting to control the masses through the forces of economics, technology, and political assassinations. These hidden groups, he explains, seek power through the use of ritual magic and suggestion.

Among his many topics, Steiner speaks about the geographic nature of the American continent and the forces that arise from it; the nature of the double (or doppelganger) and the dangers of psychoanalysis; the spiritual origin of electromagnetism; the abuse of inoculations and vaccinations; the meaning of Ireland for world development; confused ideas about angels in relation to higher beings and divinity; and, above all, the need for clear insight into world events based on spiritual knowledge.

Never before available in English as a complete volume, the text of this book has been freshly translated for this edition.

Secret Brotherhoods is a translation of 7 lectures from German of Individuelle Geistwesen und ihr Wirken in der Seele des Menschen. Geistige Wesen und Ihre Wirkung Band II (GA 178).


Many other topics are tackled also. Here is a truncated run-down of subject matter.

Lecture 1: The characterization of science and spiritual science: scientific observation traces phenomena back to their origin and studies what is visible; the starting point for spiritual science is death and what happens thereafter in the spiritual world. Resignation and courage to seek more knowledge when the outer limits are reached.

Lecture 2: The time has come to reveal spiritual secrets. Increasing emphasis on materialism since the 16th century necessitates the search for spiritual knowledge today. How the spiritual world impinges on the physical. The faculty of love.

Lecture 3: Human souls are now becoming conscious of much that formerly lay beyond consciousness. Some are concerned more with the spiritual world while others seek earthly power. The guidance of humanity in accordance with esoteric laws. Knowledge gained from souls who die of assassination.

Lecture 4: The transformation of soul life during the course of time. Monotheism leads human beings only to their own angel. The battle in the spiritual world between 1841 and 1879. The spirits of darkness at work. The task of spiritual science.

Lecture 5: The spirit cannot be comprehended by means of the concept of the unconscious. Where there is a spirit there is consciousness. Secret brotherhoods seek to use occult knowledge for their own ends. The zenith of materialism and experiencing the appearance of Christ in the etheric. To tackle evil consciously is a contemporary task. How spiritual and materialistic concepts work in the life after death, and how secret brotherhoods use this knowledge. Eliminating the ‘American’ impulse.

Lecture 6: The secret brotherhoods and spiritualism. Contradictions in life. A unifying universal principle and how certain spiritual individualities work. Living reality and abstract lack of contradiction.

Lecture 7: The old culture is gone and spiritual science points to the future. God, Virtue, Immortality. How secret brotherhoods refine them. How eastern and western brotherhoods use spiritual knowledge. Depending on how human being behave on earth, the dead can work out of the spiritual world in freedom and be coerced into human existence in an artificial way.

Steiner accepts the fact that people will shy away from making an effort to ascend to concepts that are difficult here in this book because they have no outer object to relate to anything other than the visible world. But the horizontal politics of the visible world are unmistakable for those ‘with eyes that see and ears that hear.’ The spiritual ideas and concepts inherent in this book throw a light in dark places and provide the ways and means for those treading the spiritual path.

A necessity book for the days and years ahead of us.

In light of all that Steiner brings forth, we are obligated to reassess our own views on the modern day assassinations of JFK, Karen Silkwood, Juanita Nielson, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luthur King and Princess Diana etc. Those that were able to affect large outcomes for ‘good’ on the material plane were indeed pursued by forces that viewed them as an impediment to accomplishing their own agenda.

Secret Brotherhoods… has never before been available in English as a complete volume. The text of this book has been freshly translated for this edition.

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.

Additional information

Weight 16 oz
Dimensions 5.5 × 1 × 8.5 in


Johanna Collis






July 2004






CW 178


Rudolf Steiner Press

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  1. Anonymous (verified owner)

    This cycle of lectures exposes those groups who run our (earthen) world. Dr. Steiner stated many times that our defense is simply knowledge of our adversaries. Herein lies that knowledge.

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