The Goetheanum Press is the oldest anthroposophical publishing house.
The Goetheanum Library has approximately 110,000 books. Hours: Tuesdays 14:00 - 19:00; Fridays 14:00 - 18:00
The Goetheanum offers a full-year study program, "Foundations of Anthroposophy," in English! (The full-time study overseen by the General Anthroposophic Section, is also offered in Spanish/Portuguese and German.) Students from around the world, of various backgrounds and ages, come for an academic year of Anthroposophic studies, including artistic classes.
There are 11 sections at the Goetheanum that offer conferences throughout the year, often translated or held in multiple languages. See the individual websites for current programs.
The following schools and sections offer occupational Anthroposophical courses, diploma programs and research options in Dornach: eurythmy (performing arts section), painting (visual art section), education, biodynamic agriculture, medicine, mathmatics/astronomy and natural science. The youth section located on the Goetheanum hill, houses a multitude of activities and international conferences in English, German and Spanish. The literary arts and humanities section and the social science section can be contacted for questions about involvement, study or research.
The 11 Sections for the School of Spiritual Science are involved in world issues and research projects.
Here is insight into their current projects: General Anthropsophy ·Natural Science · Agriculture · Medicine · Theraputic Education and Social Therapy · Education · Mathematics-Astronomy · Arts and Humanities · Spoken and Musical/Performing Arts · Visual Arts · Social Science · Youth Section
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The “inspirational field” begins to speak
Bodo von Plato presented this concept in Anthroposophy Worldwide 9/2003 as a vision, expressing his hope that the Goetheanum’s international organs could become an organism that was capable of inspiration and of taking up the tasks of our time. One hears people speak of important steps and of increasing mutual understanding but this is still hardly expressed in the reports. During the annual general meeting the fruits of the work of these organs became apparent: light-filled but at the same time fragile and vulnerable. Some of the meetings of recent years contributed to preparing this and now the curtain is becoming transparent. One precondition was certainly that there were few open confrontations this time because they tend to force justifications rather than allow the delicate fruit of the “inspirational fields” to grow.
Conflicts were resolved and promises kept
The positive mood was also due to the fact that conflicts had been resolved before and that promises were honoured during the meeting: the conflict surrounding Haus Haldeck that was presented in last year’s general meeting has come to a peaceful conclusion; the Representative of Humanity had been projected onto the main stage for the members of a work group who decided to study the question of the sculpture’s location in greater depth (Anthroposophy Worldwide, 3-4/2015). One of the promises that were kept is that the intention of the Goetheanum Leadership to look into the relationship of the Anthroposophical Society with the School of Spiritual Science and with the anthroposophical movement and into current issues was made more obvious in various contributions. Jaap Sijmons, for instance, explained topical questions arising in Dutch health law, such as patients’ rights, assisted dying and the actions of individual physicians in relation to the painted ceiling and coloured windows of the Main Auditorium. Constanza Kaliks used Brazil as an example to show that we need to start with the situations that we find even if they are not ideal (see (page 8, AWW).
This social breathing space also allowed the moderators – the members of the Executive Council – to experiment more. There was a moderated panel discussion, contributions were generally shorter and if there was nothing more to say, we went into the break earlier, which meant that the next session could start sooner and more time could be devoted to the next issues. Justus Wittich is good at making members feel that they have been heard. His credibility helps to solve conflicts before they become heated. At the same time he does not put up with behaviours such as individual people insisting on pursuing their concerns although the meeting has rejected them, as happened twice this year. Justus Wittich trusts that solutions can be found if one tries to find them together, even if this makes life more difficult for him. He questioned, for instance, the decision that each member should pay 125 Swiss Francs per year to the Goetheanum, seeing this was a target that had never been met (the average figure is 79 Swiss Francs). He also pointed out that clarification was needed on who, in a global society, was responsible for absorbing currency differences. By making these points, Julius Wittich does not try to blame anyone but to illustrate where it is necessary to come to new agreements. He also made it clear that maintaining the Goetheanum was the task of the members and not that of Weleda and those who “buy Weleda toothpaste”. The new approach was also reflected in the following discussion. One speaker said he found the appeal for Christmas donations “boring”. He added, however, that he had no solution to offer but that it was necessary to be creative with these things. There were clearly no longer expectations as to what the Executive Council or the Goetheanum Leadership “ought to do”. The annual financial statement – with its shortfall of almost 400,000 Swiss Francs – and the Executive Council were almost unanimously approved.
Anthroposophical Society Warm-hearted confirmation
Virginia Sease’s address in which she said good-bye to the Executive Council after 31 years (see p. 6f.) was particularly heart-warming. In her 80th year now, Virginia Sease will continue to be a member of the Goetheanum Leadership and to carry a number of tasks within the General Anthroposophical Section. The ongoing applause and standing ovations she received seemed more like a confirmation of her work than the acceptance of her retirement from the Executive Council. Paul Mackay mentioned as some of Virigina Sease’s defining qualities reliability, untiring loyalty to the cause, unbroken positivity and an ever renewed focus on knowledge – not so much in the sense of intellectual knowledge but of life experience. He spoke of a kind of piety, an “enlightened devotion to God that was free from subordination”. Virginia Sease, he pointed out, had fulfilled the “function of a guardian”, always asking, “Are we being consistent? Are we aware of what is essential?” At the same time she had shown incredible flexibility and the ability to work collegially with the Executive Council in its various constitutions. It was therefore, as Paul Mackay summarized, “a joy and an honour to work with you and we are pleased that you do not retire altogether, leaving us all to our own devices, but that you remain with us as a member of the Goetheanum Leadership and continue your work with the class lectors.” Virginia Sease said it was “most gratifying that the members continue to understand the present impulses of the Executive Council and of the Goetheanum Leadership. These are processes that are evolving. We can really trust the people who now carry the tasks of the Executive Council and the Goetheanum Leadership.”
The many layers of the Anthroposophical Society
Many contributions referred to the annual theme and conveyed an impression of “The current situation of the Anthroposophical Society” (the theme of the preliminary plenum meeting). Over these three days I realized that there is not one situation the Anthroposophical Society is in, but rather a wide range and many layers of activities. To name but a few: As Justus Wittich pointed out, the Anthroposophical Society is looking back on its own history. But while it has developed traditions, it does not want to be a “society of traditions”. This has consequences for its forms of life. Looking at the lives of younger people who have children and are working, one member asked whether it was at all possible for them to regularly attend branch meetings. Another member thought that such time could be found if the branch meetings were considered important enough. A third member spoke of the situation in Wiesbaden (DE), where the branch meetings were held at the Waldorf school and where, in addition to the regular evening meetings, morning groups were offered to parents of the school. What might seem like a contradiction can therefore be seen as a truth that applies in a particular place with its particular needs. A branch in Zurich holds regular meetings that include class conversations, esoteric work and a shared meal. During the meeting of the general secretaries (see p. 2), Hans von Florenstein Mulder showed how interest in the Anthroposophical Society can arise from interest in a particular professional field. He was referring to farmers in Nepal. The former General Secretary Ron Dunselman (NL) pointed out how important meditation was for the spiritual world. General Secretary Gioia Falk (DE) referred to this when she said that for us today finding a way to meditation can be a contribution to maintaining a healthy soul life.
Bodo von Plato showed how, up to the 1970s, anthroposophical institutions were founded by people “who had an active interest in anthroposophy”. The people who arrived after them sought out the fruits of the anthroposophical initiatives without feeling the need to experience their original source. He went on to describe a third form: a school in France that he is accompanying and that finds its – anthroposophical and non-anthroposophical – spiritual basis in Novalis’ coming-of-age novel “Henry von Ofterdingen”. Joan Sleigh then shared similar observations using the examples of Waldorf schools in Sweden and Namibia. The danger of dilution could be averted if one developed interest in the other, and out of this interest cooperation could grow. The starting point for this was the meeting of individuals. Openness for something one does not yet know would lead to astonishment, to being astounded – a sentiment from which knowledge, recognition, even devotion, and ultimately compassion could grow.
Seija Zimmermann also spoke in depth about the importance of human relationships: the Anthroposophical Society as an esoteric community had its share of conflicts (“or rather: growth processes”), she said, but we were also given the tools to discover what was at work behind these conflicts. What, she asked, prevented us from taking seriously the conditions we were confronted with in spirit, soul and body? “They allow us to establish a relationship with the phenomena out of freedom.” (The challenge of reading these phenomena was also one of the subjects at the preliminary plenum meeting: here lay the strength and the task of the Anthroposophical Society. How, for instance, can one understand the plane crash in Seyne-les-Alpes? What brought the people together who shared this destiny with each other?)
A precise description of the General Anthroposophical Society was not even possible in figures. On 31 December 2014 the General Anthroposophical Society had 46,157 members (300 fewer than in 2013). But there are interesting movements within the various countries: in Germany, for instance, the Anthroposophical Society grew slightly in 2014 (by 0.3 per cent). But Hartwig Schiller, although happy about this development, hastened to qualify the outcome. While the figure was based on facts, following the updating of the membership data in the previous year, this could easily be different again in the coming year. Financially, there were not only the shortfalls and depletion of assets shown in the balance, but Justus Wittich also reported about unexpected windfalls, such as an Italian donation of 500,000 Swiss Francs (designated for the new West entrance) and a legacy from Switzerland.
Section activities today
Examples from three Sections of the School of Spiritual Science showed how their activities depend on what is happening in our time. Ueli Hurter from the Section for Agriculture referred to some aspects of his section’s annual conference about the dignity of animals (documented in the Goetheanum Journal Issue 21/2015). Working conditions for animal husbandry have become more difficult due to economic problems and hostile attitudes. There are people who think that animals should not be killed (“No blood must be shed for me!”) or “enslaved”, and others who are concerned about the effect of animals on the general climate. But animal husbandry is an intrinsic part of biodynamic farming for a variety of reasons, such as soil fertility and the furtherance of animal evolution through the human being. Does this mean that the work of the Section for Agriculture is restricted to its own “family”, that is, the biodynamic movement? Is the Section not responsible for the promotion of agriculture in the whole world? Justus Wittich asked these questions during the panel discussion. Ueli Hurter replied that biodynamic farming was not just for Demeter farms but for the earth, and that its voice is being heard as was apparent in connection with the World Agriculture Report. Its goal was the humanization of agriculture in the world – in the various fields of activity.
Michaela Glöckler underlined that it was important to interest the younger generation in Anthroposophic Medicine. While there was interest in the medical training the tasks that followed were often seen as too daunting by young people. In a “training for trainers” ways are now being developed of encouraging young people to train as anthroposophic physicians.
Oliver Conradt gave an example of the practical application of research carried out within the section, when he spoke of the construction of engines based on three prototypes of the hexagon mechanism (Anthroposophy Worldwide 12/2014). He pleaded that enough time needed to be given to the research and implementation of this technology. “This work needs individuals who spent more time on it and then something will come of it.”
Looking at the world with new eyes
While this general meeting was filled with light and content, it was also very poorly attended, a fact that makes it the more important that the general secretaries and country representatives are present since they represent the membership worldwide. This year for the first time the councils of the European national societies met ahead of the annual general meeting. 36 people attended this preliminary meeting. There were also critical voices. They referred to the relationship between academic and spiritual science in general and the work of Helmut Zander and Christian Clement in particular. Questions were also asked about the posters and the artistic approach to the Faust production (people missed the work on the dramatic gestures or raised questions regarding eurythmy in connection with singing). Christian Peter and Margrethe Solstad addressed these questions. In his introduction of Constanza Kaliks as the new member of the Executive Council, Paul Mackay chose a motif from the Annual Conference: new ways of thinking make it possible to see things with new eyes – and seeing the world with new eyes was now more important than ever.
"Anthroposophy Worldwide" No. 5/2015
Performing, Experiencing & Exploring Destiny Community
21st – 25th July, 2018
March 25th, 2017 – January 7th, 2018
Daily from 8 -22:00
Øya. 77 pictures from Hannes Weigert in the West staircase. Vernissage on March 25th, 2017 at 16:30 with a talk by Bodo von Plato and Eurythmy by Saskia Barnes.
April 2, 2017 – September 20, 2017
Daily from 8 -22:00
"He went alone to the deserted shore," (Sergej O. Prokofief about Maximilian Woloschin)
Please be aware of adjusted visiting hours for the main auditorium:
2.–6.4., 27.4., 19.–24.7: Closed