SoSoG

From Anthroposophy

SoSoG is an acronym for 'Standing on the Shoulders of Giants', a metaphoric expression for secondary anthroposophical literature.

Many students into anthroposophy dive into the tremendous body of lectures and books by Rudolf Steiner .. but often or mostly stop there.

However, Rudolf Steiner was not alone but was surrounded by many individuals who also contributed a tremendous wealth of exceptional materials, thereby already structuring and further exploring certain subject areas, complementing them with own research.

In the past 115 years a tremendous amount of work was done in this respect, yet

  • this work is not always very well known, one has to really search and find its way
  • one can easily be snowed under by the thousands of book titles in databases of anthro libraries, so where to start?

The SoSoG approach links the following main angles:

  • a topic taxonomy
  • a 'best of' selection or 'gallery' of anthroposophists you should know, or are worthwhile to study. See eg the kulturimpuls website.


The SoSoG gallery or "library of must-study monuments of anthroposophical literature" can be split into the following parts:

  • books that have become classics, available in modern editions in English - see below.
  • books that have not been translated, were only published in German, and may no longer be available (but only through antique book shops such as booklooker.de). A further subsection consists of material that was not even published in book form, but as newsletters privately published by the author.

For the second category, the FMC project also has an initiative to publish Advanced Study Volumes in English, to make the valuable work of certain anthroposophists available more broadly, mainly when they are of the level that this certainly belongs in an advanced library on spiritual science.

For more info, see also the PDF file in the References section of Status of planned publications

SoSoG anthro library list

The list below contains recommendation, classics, or must-haves for the earnest student of spiritual science who wants to build a personal library. The choice was made to limit the SoSoG list below to english books, but note there is a wealth of secondary literature in german which is not included here. More works are being translated however, and some german anthro reference works are due for translation and will be added.

It covers a broad variety of topics across many fields, yet is far from being exhausive. Quite on the contrary, these books are listed because they provide a basis or introductory foundation in any area - so they are a starting point for study and reference.

The list below is ordered chronologically based on the year the work was written. One needs to take into account the timeline of publication of Rudolf Steiner's lectures, and the fact people only had access to a limited set of cycles. Even after the start of the GA initiative, new cycles were still published after the 1970s that contain key material that authors hardly had any access to (even though certain people went to research topics directly in the Dornach archive before materials were published).

Note the 1950s saw the publication of a number of 'classics' that remain foundational upto today.

The 1930s

  • Elisabeth Vreede: Astronomy and spiritual science (2007, letters 1927-30 first in DE in 1954 and first in EN in 1980)
    • This appears to be the only published work by Vreede, the key astronomer in the group directly around Rudolf Steiner.
  • Norbert Glas: Reading the face (2008, first DE in 1935)
    • This is the first of Glas' many works on physiognomy, others are on the temperaments, hands, feet, hair, etc). It is a base work in this area.

The 1950s

After WWII had cleared up, the 1950s brought a series of books that have become 'classics' in any anthroposophical library. They were written by the many great figures that incarnated in the wave 1890-1910 to pick up anthroposophy and brought the work of their study out after the 30-year war (1914-44) that shook the world.

  • Rudolf Hauschka: The nature of substance (2008, original in DE 1950 first in EN 1966)
    • This book brings across the scientific value and rigour of Hauschka, his scientific tests, imaginative insights, perspectives and applications.
  • Ernst Lehrs: Man or matter (2014, original in 1951)
  • George Adams and Olive Whicher: The plant between Sun and Earth (1982, first in 1952)
  • Walther Cloos: The living earth (1977, first DE in 1958)
  • Wilhelm Pelikan: The secrets of metals (1973, original in DE 1959)
    • Rudolf Steiner's references to metals, so important as a 'language' in alchemy upto the middle-ages, are scattered in snippets across thousands of lectures in the GA. Here is a unique book giving a logical and coherent coverage of the different metals, and their workings in Man, on Earth, and in the cosmos. With metals we mean not the solid but also the more rarified, highly diluted versions of the key metals.

The 1960-70s

  • Theodor Schwenk: Sensitive Chaos (the creation of flowing forms in water and air) (2014, original in 1962 and first in EN in 1965)
  • Oskar Kürten: Symphonies of Creation (The Primal Elementary Kingdoms in the Work of Rudolf Steiner) (2018, first in DE 1970)
    • a book which is rather unique in it's scope and coverage of the Elementary Kingdoms, inspired by the work and essays of Maximilian Rebholz who was the first to coin together a deep understanding and the importance of this topic. Kürten goes to cover the different cosmological aspects and workings of the different spiritual hierarchies and entities that make up the fountain of creation, and an understanding of the Elementary Kingdoms is a key closing stone for this. Rudolf Steiner's coverage of the topic in his books and lectures was very limited, and there is no literature on this topic - at all - except for Rebholz and Kürten.
  • George and Gisela O'Neil: The human life (1998, ch 1-9 published 1977-81, first book edition 1990)
    • unique book in its multi-facetted coverage of the various aspects of the human life in all its aspects and different cycles. A must have to reflect on life's stages, and doing biography work.

The 1990s

  • Lawrence Edwards: The vortex of life (2006, first in EN 1993)
    • Here is a humble teacher who brings a major contribution to the study of the etheric formative forces, with an original discovery based on diligent experimental work. See also
  • Roy Wilkinson: Rudolf Steiner - an introduction to his spiritual worldview, anthroposophy (2005, first in three booklets 1993-4)
    • What book would you give to someone who is open to have a first read on anthroposophy, by means of introduction? This is such an excellent, well written introduction, very readable and recommended for 'novices' to get acquanted with key chapters of anthroposophy.
  • Hans-Werner Schroeder: The cosmic Christ (2010, first in 1997 TBC)
    • The study of the Christ from a spiritual scientific and cosmic perspective may be the most important subject we devote our soul work to. But is there a book which spans the arc and shedding light on the multiplicity of perspectives? There are not many, for sure. This is a good compendium of various perspectives of this deepest of all subjects. Of course it can not be complete, but it is still unique in providing a systematic and balanced overview as an entry point and reference, without going in detail.

Post 2000

  • Dankmar Bosse: The mutual evolution of Earth and humanity (2019, first in DE 2002)
    • This is a study volume, a reference to have to accompany one in a life of interest and deepening study. It is a beautiful A4 hardcover book with many wonderful pictures and illustrations, well laid out. A work of love and decades of dedication here by a geologist who lays out the evolution of the earth. See also the work of Iwer Thor Lorenzen on this theme.

Process

The list above is embryonic and to initialize the idea, it obviously needs to be extended.

Please send us an email via the Contact page if you want to suggest a work for the SoSoG list.

Candidates

  • introductory books - worldview spiritual science
    • Owen Barfield: The Case for Anthroposophy
    • Stewart C. Easton: Man and world in the light of anthroposophy
    • Francis Edmunds: An Introduction to Anthroposophy
  • etheric and formative forces
    • Nick C. Thomas: Space and Counterspace - A New Science of Gravity, Time and Light (2008)

Discussion

Systematic work

The following people have published secondary anthro literature 'reference works' in Study Volumes format, and/or have worked in a systemic work on aggregation of the contents in the GA.

See the kulturimpuls website for profiles and more info.

  • Ernst Hagemann, Ewald Grether
  • Maximilian Rebholz, Iwer Thor Lorenzen,
  • Norbert Glas, Oskar Kuerten
  • Fred Poeppig, Karl Heyer
  • Otto Hartmann, Werner Schüpbach

Related pages

References and further reading