Allgemeine Anthroposophische Gesellschaft
|Formation||1913 / 1923|
|Headquarters|| Dornach SO, |
|46,157 in 35 national societies and 39 groups|
|Paul Mackay, Bodo von Plato, Seija Zimmermann, Justus Wittich, Joan Sleigh, Constanza Kaliks|
|Part of a series on|
|Anthroposophically inspired work|
The General Anthroposophical Society is 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."As an organization, it is dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the inner path of schooling known as anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.
Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded in the early 20th-century by esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by natural historians in investigations of the physical world.
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian clairvoyant, philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.
The Anthroposophical Society was founded on December 28, 1912 in Cologne, Germany, with about 3000 members. Central to this founding was Rudolf Steiner, who acted as an advisor and lecturer. The members of its original Executive Council were Marie von Sivers, Michael Bauer, and Carl Unger.The Society was re-founded as the General Anthroposophical Society in 1923/4 in Dornach, Switzerland. It includes an esoteric School of Spiritual Science.
Marie Steiner-von Sivers was the second wife of Rudolf Steiner and one of his closest colleagues. She made a great contribution to the development of anthroposophy, particularly in her work on the renewal of the performing arts, and the editing and publishing of Rudolf Steiner's literary estate.
Dornach is a municipality in the district of Dorneck in the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland.
The Society's headquarters is at the Goetheanum, located in Dornach, Solothurn, Switzerland. The Society has national Societies in many countries, including every English-speaking country.Its primary activities include organizing members' meetings and conferences, supporting research, and providing communication channels for a variety of purposes. The Society also encourages sustainable initiatives in the many practical fields in which its members are active.
The Goetheanum, located in Dornach, in the canton of Solothurn, Switzerland, is the world center for the anthroposophical movement.
The canton of Solothurn or canton of Soleure is a canton of Switzerland. It is located in the northwest of Switzerland. The capital is Solothurn.
Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi), and land area of 39,997 km2 (15,443 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.
As of 2013, the Society has approximately 52,000 members. Formal branches of the Society have been established in 50 countries, and smaller groups are active in 50 further countries. About 10,000 institutions base their work on anthroposophy,including schools, farms, medical practices, and communities for the handicapped.
The Anthroposophical Society traces its history back to 1902, when Rudolf Steiner became General Secretary of the German branch of the Theosophical Society. Prior to this time, Theosophy had made little headway in Germany; despite some visits by Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society, to Germany and its prominent Theosophists, it was not until after her death in 1891 that a single Berlin Lodge was officially chartered in 1894. Its nominal leadership by Dr Huebbe-Schleiden was supported by the ongoing efforts of Count and Countess Brockdorff, under whose auspices Steiner was first asked to lecture to an audience including German Theosophists in August 1900. His spiritual ideas found a responsive audience here, as many German Theosophists had found in Theosophy only an imperfect reflection of their own beliefs. 29, 36, 42-3:
The Theosophical Society was an organization formed in the United States in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky to advance Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments, currently has several successors. Following the death of Blavatsky, competition within the Society between factions emerged, particularly among founding members and the organisation split between the Theosophical Society Adyar (Olcott-Besant) and the Theosophical Society Pasadena (Judge). The former group, headquartered in India, is the most widespread international group holding the name "Theosophical Society" today.
Throughout Steiner's term in office, the German branch worked quite independently of the rest of the Theosophical Society;in particular, Steiner sought to link to European philosophy and science and to Christian esoteric traditions, while the Theosophical Society was both geographically and spiritually based in Adyar, India.
The Theosophy Society – Adyar is the name of a section of the Theosophical Society founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and others in 1882. Its headquarters moved with Blavatsky and president Henry Steel Olcott from New York to Adyar, an area of Chennai, in 1886. The designation 'Adyar' is added to make it clear that this is the Theosophical Society headquartered there, after the American section and some other lodges separated from it in 1895, under William Quan Judge.
Besant's tolerance for the differences in their approaches grew strained over the years. By 1907, Steiner had shifted from Theosophical terminology to his own vocabulary and the uniqueness of his approach was becoming increasingly apparent, for example at the International Congress at Munich in May 1907. Later that year, "by mutual consent", the esoteric circle Steiner had founded as an offshoot of the Theosophical Society's Esoteric Section (E. S.) became a wholly independent institution. 44:
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. Followers of Krishnamurti, most of whom were Theosophists, founded the Order of the Star in the East in 1911. Steiner's opposition to this order was made unmistakable by his 1912 declaration that no member of the new Order could remain a member of the German Theosophical Society. By the end of that year, Besant had induced the General Council of the Theosophical Society to revoke the charter for the German Section, which was under Steiner's leadership. In February 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. 45:
The German branch had numbered only a single Lodge and a few individual members when Steiner became its head in 1902. By 1913, it had burgeoned to 69 Lodges, 55 of which (about 2,500 people) left with Steiner to be part of the new Anthroposophical Society. The General Council of the Theosophical Society issued a new charter to the 14 Lodges which remained in the Theosophical Society, which were once again led by Dr Huebbe-Schleiden. 43, 45-46 The early Anthroposophical Society was predominantly German-speaking, though there were some founding members from other European countries, particularly the Netherlands. :45 Its inaugural general meeting was held in January 1913 at Berlin. English anthroposophy was limited to a small anonymous club until after World War I.:
After a split occurred between younger members, many of whom were founding or active in new initiatives such as a school, a curative home for the handicapped, a medical clinic, and a farm, and who had formed their own "Free Anthroposophical Society," and the older members, the anthroposophical society was formally refounded, with new leadership, in December 1923.Both groups came together in the new version of the society.
A conference was first called to refound the society. At this conference, which became known as the Christmas Conference, Steiner suggested that a meditative verse he had created for the occasion, the Foundation Stone Meditation, should become the spiritual cornerstone of a renewed anthroposophical movement. This movement should for the first time become unified with the Society that nurtured it. 49At this time, the Anthroposophical Society was renamed as the General Anthroposophical Society and affiliated national societies were formed. :
Steiner gave a series of lectures on world history over the course of the eight-day conference, and established a School of Spiritual Science as his esoteric school, which became a new focus for ‘esoteric’ commitment and authority. While there was no requirement for membership in the General Anthroposophic Society, First Class members had to have been members of the General Society for 2 years, and accept ‘inner responsibility’ for Anthroposophy." 49, 61:
On November 1, 1935, the National Socialist regime banned the society in Germany for its "close relations with foreign freemasons, Jews and pacifists." The order issued by Reinhard Heydrich stated that, as a result of its opposition to the National Socialistic idea of Volk, the activities of the Anthroposophical Society endangered the National Socialistic state.Jewish teachers at the Waldorf schools were consequently dismissed.
From the 1930s until the 1960s, disputes over two separate issues, publishing rights for Steiner's books and the spiritual direction of the society, led to the Anthroposophical Society being effectively divided into several groups with little connection. Through efforts on all sides, the splinter groups merged again into the present Society in the early 1960s.
The Anthroposophical Society in America, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is one of over seventy national societies of the international General Anthroposophical Society, headquartered at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland. The American Society has branches, groups, and sections in over 36 states.
The goal of the Anthroposophical Society in America is to further the work of Rudolf Steiner. It is a non-sectarian, non-political association devoted to such ends. It supports study groups, regional branches, the School for Spiritual Science in North America, and the Rudolf Steiner Library.
The administrative offices for the U.S. Society are located at the Rudolf Steiner House, 1923 Geddes Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The U.S. Society is governed by a General Council. Current members of the General Council are
The professional staff is led by a leadership team of
A partial list of branches follows:
The founding principles of the society were:
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.
Daniel Nicol Dunlop was a Scottish entrepreneur, founder of the World Power Conference and other associations, and a theosophist-turned-anthroposophist. He was the father of artist Ronald Ossory Dunlop.
Albert Steffen was a poet, painter, dramatist, essayist, and novelist. He joined the Theosophical Society in Germany in 1910, and the Anthroposophical Society in 1912 and became its president after the death of its founder, Rudolf Steiner, in 1925. Steffen was chief editor of the society's journal, Das Goetheanum, from 1921-1963.
Sergei Olegovich Prokofieff was a Russian anthroposophist. He was the grandson of the composer Sergei Prokofiev and his first wife Lina Prokofiev, and the son of Oleg Prokofiev and his first wife Sofia Korovina. Born in Moscow, he studied fine arts and painting at the Moscow School of Art. He encountered anthroposophy in his youth, and soon made the decision to devote his life to it.
The relationship between Rudolf Steiner and the Theosophical Society, co-founded in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky with Henry Steel Olcott and others, was a complex and changing one.
This article gives an overview of esoteric movements in Germany and Austria between 1880 and 1945, presenting Theosophy, Anthroposophy and Ariosophy, among others, against the influences of earlier European esotericism.
Elisabeth Vreede was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and Anthroposophist.
Louisa Edith Church Maryon, better known as Edith Maryon, was an English sculptor. Along with Ita Wegman, she belonged to the innermost circle of founders of anthroposophy and those around Rudolf Steiner.
Walther Cloos was a pharmacist, alchemist, Anthroposophist, lecturer, researcher, inventor, author and pioneer in anthroposophical pharmacy.
Oskar Schmiedel was a pharmacist, anthroposophist, therapist, Goethean scientist and theosophist.
The American Eurythmy School is a four-year eurythmy training in Weed, California, near Mount Shasta. It was founded in 1984 by Karen Sherman McPherson, who studied under Ilona Schubert in the 1970s in Dornach, Switzerland, and is the second largest four-year eurythmy training in North America. The first graduation from the four-year program was held in 1990. There are many graduates of the School teaching in Waldorf schools and performing in the United States.
Jörgen Smit was a Norwegian teacher, teachers teacher, speaker and writer, mainly in the context of the Anthroposophical Society and the Waldorfschool Movement. He was the general secretary of the Norwegian Anthroposophical Society, co-founder of the Rudolf Steiner Seminar in Järna, Sweden and member of the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.
Peter Selg is a German psychiatrist. He was born in Stuttgart and studied medicine in Witten-Herdecke, Zurich, and Berlin. Until 2000, he worked as the head physician of the juvenile psychiatry department of Herdecke hospital in Germany. Selg is director of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Research into Anthroposophy and professor of medicine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences (Germany). He lectures extensively and is the author of numerous books.
Eleanor Merry, was an English poet, artist, musician and anthroposophist with a strong Celtic impulse and interest in esoteric wisdom. She studied in Vienna and met Rudolf Steiner in 1922 after becoming interested in his teachings. She went on to organize Summer Schools at which Steiner gave important lectures, and was secretary for the World Conference on Spiritual Science in London in 1928.
George Adams Kaufmann, also George Adams and George von Kaufmann, was a British mathematician, translator and anthroposophist. He travelled widely, spoke several languages and translated many of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures into English. Through his studies in theoretical physics he contributed to the expansion and development of the natural sciences as extended by the concepts of anthroposophy.
Rudolf Steiner wrote four plays that follow the initiation journeys of a group of fictional characters through a series of lives. These plays were intended to be modern mystery plays. Steiner outlined the plot of a fifth play to be set at the Castalian spring at Delphi, but due to the outbreak of First World War, this remained an unfulfilled project.
Frederick William Zeylmans van Emmichoven, was a Dutch psychiatrist and anthroposophist. From 1923 until his death in 1961 he was chairman of the Dutch Anthroposophical Society. He was a familiar figure in public life and had a considerable influence on the anthroposophic movement, particularly through his numerous lectures and his work as an author, which included the first biography of Rudolf Steiner.