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 GA264-266), and gave rosecrucian initiation guidance and exercises on an individual basis (re GA267)


  • 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, see Schema FMC00.322)
  • mantras and meditations (eg GA267, see also Meditation texts)


Schema FMC00.322 provides a synthetic comparison between the eastern yogic, the christian gnostic, and the rosecrucian initiation paths (click to enlarge). Rudolf Steiner stressed that the first two are not really suited any more to the current cultural age of the consciousness soul, teaching along the rosecrucian path.


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)
  • First Class: GA 241-GA242 and GA245
  • Esoteric Lessons for the First Class (GA241)
  • The Misraim Service: Freemasonry and Ritual Work (GA 265)
  • Esoteric Lessons - GA266
    • 1904-1909 (GA 266/1)
    • 1910-1912 (GA266/2)
    • 1913-1923 (GA266/3)
  • Soul exercices (GA267)
  • Soul exercises II - mantras (GA268)
  • The First Class Lessons and Mantras: The Michael School Meditative Path in Nineteen Steps (GA270/1 to 4)
    • 19 lessons between 1924-02-15 and 1924-08-02
  • The First Class of the Michael School: Recapitulation Lessons and Mantras
    • individual lessons between 1924-04-03 and 1924-09-20
  • 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)

See also: Meditation texts

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.


Christian initiation

Reflection on the side:

The Christian initiation (described as a process and as a whole) resonates with a technique such as what Draja Mickaharic called Vicarious Visualization (in 'Gaining life experience'); also Franz Bardon describes the training of the capability of imagination in steps 2 and 3 of 'Initiation into Hermetics'.

In a way, the Christian initiation appears like a very focused practice of magical imagination leading to realisation in astral, etheric and physical domains.

Related pages

References and further reading

  • Massimo Scaligero - PDF books freely downloadable
    • 'A Practical Manual of Meditation' (2015 in EN, original 1973 in IT 'Manuale pratico della meditazione')
    • 'Techniques of Inner concentration' (original in IT in 1975 as 'Tecniche di concentrazione interiore')
    • 'A Treatise on Living Thinking' (2015 in EN, original 1961 in IT as: 'Trattato del pensiero vivente. Una Via oltre le filosofie occidentali, oltre lo Yoga, oltre lo Zen', in 1993 in DE as 'Traktat über das lebende Denken. Ein Weg zur Überwindung der abendländischen Philosophien, des Yoga und des Zen')
    • 'Meditazione e miracolo' (1977)
  • Georg Kuehlewind
    • 'The Light of the 'I': Guidelines for Meditation' (2008 in EN)
    • 'The Gentle Will: Meditative Guidelines for Creative Consciousness' (2011)
    • 'Stages of Consciousness: Meditations on the Boundaries of the Soul' (in DE as 'Bewusstseinsstufen: Meditationen über die Grenzen der Seele')
  • Paul Eugen Schiller:
    • 'Rudolf Steiner and iniation - The Anthroposophical Path of Inner Schooling: A Survey' (1990 in EN, original 1979 in DE as 'Der anthroposophische Schulungsweg, Ein Überblick')
  • Jörgen Smit
    • Spiritual Development: Meditation in Daily Life (1996)
    • How to transform thinking, feeling and willing: practical exercises for the training of thinking, feeling, willing (1998)
    • Meditation, Transforming our lives for the Encounter with Christ (2007 in EN)
  • 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)
  • Mark Willan: A set of keys
    • Guidance on meditation exercices from a lifelong practitioner, inspired on Rudolf Steiner

Further notes

  • Contents of the book by Paul Eugen Schiller: Rudolf Steiner and iniation


Education toward Spiritual Knowledge

The Structure and Composition of the Anthroposophical Path


- The Study of Spiritual Science

- Fundamental Moods

- Development of the "Six Attributes"

- The Cultivation of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing

- The Control of Thinking, Feeling, and Willing

- Sense-free Thinking, Feeling, and Willing


- Conditions and Dangers

- Meditations: General Guidelines

- Body-free Life of Soul

The Crossing of the Threshold

- Initiation

- The Christian Path of Initiation

- The Rosicrucian Path of Initiation

- The Initiation Path Today

Spiritual Science

- The Level of Imaginative Cognition

- The Level of Inspirational Cognition

- The Level of Intuitional Cognition