Spiritual Science and Charlatanism

It is apparent that blind faith as well as the crassest superstition is quite widespread. Therefore there are hardly two matters more connected with one another than spiritual science and charlatanism. If one is unable to distinguish the one from the other, if one accepts an authority in blind faith, as is so often the case these days when the expertise of another is accepted forthright, then one actually promotes the kind of quackery that is so often associated with spiritual science. This is rightly criticised by people in search of genuine truth. It is understandable that someone who is not in the position to distinguish between the quack and the true spiritual authority objects that it is all charlatanism.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 62 – Ergebnisse der Geistesforschung – Berlin, October 31, 1912 (p. 34)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger


Previously posted on 19 September 2018


Superstition / Real Knowledge

What can protect us from any aberrations which become superstition can be solely the pursuit of real knowledge, of seeing through the matters. Someone is always addicted to superstition who does not want to penetrate really into the depth of the matters. It anyway is in such a way that this longing for a certain quantity of superstition prevails absolutely. 

With it, I pronounce the basic principle of superstition: as long as the human being remains only in the observation of the physical environment, as long as he does not want to penetrate to spiritual science, to the real knowledge of the spiritual primal grounds of the things, a certain need of superstition lives in him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 57 – Superstition from the Standpoint of Spiritual Science – Berlin, 10th December, 1908


Blood-letting was not something derived from superstition

One thus can say that the bodily counterpart for the most important functions of the soul is found in human blood. You probably know that some people suffer from persecution complexes, seeing all sorts of figures that are not there. Particularly in earlier times, such persons were bled — not a bad remedy, really. 

You must not believe that all people in the past were as superstitious as is generally assumed today. Blood-letting was not something derived from superstition. People were bled primarily by applying leeches somewhere on the body that drew off blood. The blood thus was less active. Not necessarily in the case of alcoholics, but for other attacks of insanity blood was less active, and the person fared better.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness II: Lecture III – The Effects of Alcohol on Man – Dornach, January 8, 1923

Translated by Maria St. Goar


Spiritual Science/Occultism/ Superstition

There is a very prevalent opinion that what spiritual research says about the reality of higher worlds is merely the result of some form of ‘inspiration,’ so-called, or of subjective, intellectual deduction, or even of pure fantasy. Indeed it is not so. Clinical research, astronomical research, for example, demands specialised and difficult work. But what is acquired inwardly in the way described, learnt as it were from man’s own being by inner experimentation in order to unfold perception of higher worlds — this is an even more difficult task, demanding greater devotion, greater care, greater exactitude and methodical perseverance. 

What is here described in all seriousness as Spiritual Science is fundamentally different from current forms of Occultism, Mysticism and the like. As science stands in contrast with superstition, so does anthroposophical Spiritual Science stand in contrast with current forms of Occultism which try to acquire knowledge through mediums or by compiling external, sensational data in amateurish fashion. This particular brand of modern superstition is vanquished by nothing more decisively than by genuine spiritual research, with its absolutely scrupulous and exact methods.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 79 – On the Reality of Higher Worlds – Christiania (Oslo), November 25, 1921

Translation by D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on March 5, 2017