Rudolf Steiner and initiation

From Anthroposophy

Rudolf Steiner is most known for his founding of anthroposophy and spiritual science as a knowledge stream. A set of key books and a vast body of lecture materials provides a foundation not only for the core of spiritual science but also many application areas.

However he also wrote and lectured about Initiation, from an evolutionary and historical perspective as well as from a spiritual scientific 'technical' perspective, that is: to explain to what and how and why of initiation and knowledge of the higher worlds.

Besides his public lecturing, and lecturing to members of the society, he also lectured to small groups of selected individuals in the so-called Esoteric School and Lessons (re the volumes GA264-267).


  • the main guidance and practical exercices, ao the six basic exercices (to be found in GA010 and GA013)
  • explanatory descriptions of initiation, meditation and concentration, the guardians of the threshold, clairvoyance, etc (throughout the GA)
  • historical and evolutionary perspective on initiation through the ages, from the ancient Mysteries, the different grades and rituals (throughout the GA)
  • contemporary paths and their comparison, eg the yoga, christian, rosecrucian paths (throughout the GA)
  • mantras and meditations (eg GA267)


Lecture coverage and references


  • Knowledge of Higher Worlds (GA010)
  • Outline of Esoteric Science (GA013)
  • Stages of Higher Knowledge (GA012)
  • The Way of Self Knowledge and The Threshold of the Spiritual World (GA016/017)
  • The Misraim Service:  Freemasonry and Ritual Work (GA 265)
  • Esoteric Lessons
    • 1904-1909 (GA 266/1)
    • 1910-1912 (GA266/2)
    • 1913-1923 (GA266/3)
  • Soul exercices (GA267)
  • On the History and the Contents of the First Section of the Esoteric School from 1904 to 1914 (GA264)
  • Guidance In Esoteric Training:  From the Esoteric School (GA042/245)

Lecture extracts

1906-06-06-GA094 shows the link with the six basic exercices

The lotus-flower with sixteen petals lies in the region of the larynx. In very ancient times this lotus-flower turned from right to left — that is to say in the opposite direction to the hands of a clock. In the man of today, this lotus-flower has ceased to turn. In the clairvoyant seer it begins to move in the opposite direction — from left to right. In earlier times, eight of the sixteen petals were visible, the others undeveloped. In future ages they will all be visible, for the first eight are the result of the action of unconscious initiation, the other eight of the conscious initiation attained by dint of personal effort. The eight new petals correspond to the Beatitudes of Christ.

The lotus-flower with twelve petals is situated in the region of the heart. In earlier times, six petals only were visible. The acquisition of six virtues will develop the other six in times to come. These six virtues are: control of thought, power of initiative, balance of the faculties, optimism which enables a man always to see the positive side of things, freedom from prejudice, and finally, harmony in the life of soul. When these virtues have been acquired, the twelve petals begin to move.


Related pages

References and further reading

  • Esoteric lessons contains links to the books as well as an overview of meditations
  • Rudolf Steiner and Christopher Bamford (editor): 'Start Now - a book of soul and spiritual exercises' (2004)
  • Lisa Romero: 'The inner work path' (2014)