The Anthroposophical Christmas Tree

On this page of Waldorfwatch there is a very interesting guide to the occult symbols which are apparently used to decorate anthroposophical Christmas trees.


[Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955]

Roger Rawlings explains their meanings;

         A Waldorf Christmas tree can be unique. Usually, there are no electric lights on the tree, since in the Waldorf view modern technology is demonic. Instead, the tree may bear numerous candles, roses, and unusual. symbolic ornaments. Rudolf Steiner prescribed these ornaments; they embody esoteric Anthroposophical doctrines.

“The Roses, growing out of the green, are a symbol of the Eternal* … The square is the symbol of the fourfold nature of man; physical body, ether-body, astral body and ego.** The triangle is the symbol for Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man.** Above the triangle is the symbol for Tarok . Those who were initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries knew how to interpret this sign. They knew too, how to read the Book of Thoth, consisting of 78 leaves on which were inscribed all happenings in the world from the beginning to the end, from Alpha to Omega and which could be read if the signs were rightly put together … Above this symbol is the Tao — the sign that is a reminder of the conception of the Divine held by our early forefathers … [T]hese early forefathers of ours lived on the continent of Atlantis … Finally, the cosmic symbol of Man is the pentagram, hanging at the top of the tree. Of the deepest meaning of the pentagram we may not now speak. But it is the star of humanity, of evolving humanity; it is the star that all wise men follow, as did the Priest-Sages of old.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE FESTIVALS AND THEIR MEANING, “Signs and Symbols of the Christmas Festival” (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1955), GA 96.

He adds;

If you see a Christmas tree decorated this way in a Waldorf school, you may want to pause and reflect.

* Roses are the key symbol in Rosicrucianism, the occult path that Steiner said is correct for modern humans. [See “Rosy Cross”.]

** These are components of human nature, according to Anthroposophical doctrine. [See “What We’re Made Of”.]

I have never seen such a tree myself, I do not move in the right circles.



  1. MarkH

    Here’s a photo of the Christmas tree at our local Steiner school:

    You’ll notice the roses but there are also, unusually, apples. I think these represent the Tree of Life as in the Garden of Eden, but does anybody know for sure? It’s very pretty, but enquiring minds will want to know more. :-)

    Here’s Steiner himself on the symbols of Christmas:

  2. Helen

    There seem to be plenty of enquiring minds outside the Steiner movement, but not many inside.
    I read about the apples. Trust Steiner to bring that in to Christmas.
    He also brings in the “Mystery of Golgotha” for unfathomable reasons.
    It has been pointed out that there are more symbols than those shown above here

  3. robin bate

    Hi I would like to purchase the Christmas tree symbols as indicated by Dr R Steiner. Can you help me locate them. Thanks.
    Robin Bate

    • Helen

      Well this proves you can be both!
      Not a medical doctor you understand, as the public are often led to believe. All his ideas about child development stem from discussions with spirits rather than medical study.

      • Robin Bate

        Before you can comment on a Genius like Dr Steiner you have to learn to be able to think. Something the majority of humanity can’t quite manage, mainly due to their own laziness. Once you have learnt to think you won’t need Dr Steiner’s guidance so much, as you will be able to work it out for yourself. Until then basically you are pissing in the wind. Yours Robin

          • Jim

            I think you’re just talking to yourself Robin. You seem to believe that you, unlike the majority, are a thinker but you have yet to express a coherent thought. It doesn’t have to be one anyone agrees with – just coherent.

  4. we escaped!

    Thankfully we do not need to rely on steiner or any other type of religion for guidance. You do tend to find that people that do not rely on such things have capacity to think and work things out for themselves.

  5. Jim

    Robin – I’m not sure what you think is the slogan but never mind.
    I’m happy to call thinking a mental activity which is rooted in a physical process in a way of which we currently have only a limited understanding. The problem with “spiritual” is that it suggests something external, mysterious and not something we should even try to understand. Maybe it’s ok just as an adjective to describe things ( music, art etc ) we find moving but it’s dangerous because it opens the door to all manner of irrational nonsense and denial of reality.

    • robin bate

      Well i agree the unknown and in particular the super sensible is a potentially very dangerous area to explore, map and understand. So is space travel and many other activities. However with a spiritual scientific approach health and well being can be maintained whilst making progress on what is after all our future.
      Dont let Catholic dictacs rule the roost.

      I look forward to getting something coherent from you.

      Ok. Lets look at 3 aspects of being a human being. As a human i can think, i have feelings and i can act ( run, walk , work etc). Can you accept that.

  6. Jim

    Robin – I’ve combined your last 3 comments. Perhaps you could pause for thought before posting then your thoughts might appear less random.

    Yes, life has dangers. The difference is that space is there and the super sensible as you call it ( perhaps that should be super senseless ) is not.

    Of course I can accept those 3 aspects of being human, and probably some animals. They do not require or evidence the super sensible, though I have a sinking feeling you’re going to explain why they do.

      • robin bate

        I would ask why your forum allows comments such as nutcase to be used. Dr Steiner was educated at the University of Vienna. Was well read and discussed in detail and at length many many subjects with the top people of his day. Hitler considered him an enemy and one of the many fruits of his labour is technology used in the making of modern medicstions.

  7. Jim

    Would you prefer censorship? Whilst nutcase is perhaps not an accurate clinical description you know very well it is used colloquially of someone who holds extreme and absurd ideas and that is certainly fair usage in Steiner’s case. I find myself wavering between thinking that he believed all that nonsense, in which case nutcase seems appropriate, or he didn’t believe it, in which case charlatan would be preferable.
    His education is irrelevant as is Hitler’s attitude to him. Let’s not rake over the whole Nazi issue yet again.
    What precisely are you saying is Steiner’s contribution to modern medicine? Surely not homeopathy, which is neither modern nor medicine. If there really is something I would be interested to hear it.

  8. Jim

    Robin – I won’t embarrass you by publishing your last post and I’m sorry you prefer crude abuse to discussion. If you do choose to respond sensibly you will be welcome.

  9. Nick Nakorn

    I think the main difference between those who prefer rationality and the scientific method and those who prefer spirituality and esoteric methods is that the former recognise the severe limits of their own individual powers while the latter exaggerate them; thus the collegiate process of science and testing that appeals so much to the former is dismissed by the latter who prefer rhetorical rather than analytical modes of discourse. The irony is that doing science well requires more structured thought than any internal revelation and that those who love the esoteric think the collegiate and consensual modes of science to be arrogant and close-minded; a criticism more aptly put to atomistic individuals who prefer to accept that they know best in spite of evidence to the contrary.

  10. robin bate

    It is the other way round pudding. Read Goethe ‘s theory on colour and you will see how limited Newton’s is. God you can be so thick.

  11. Jim

    Robin – tiresome as your abuse has become I thought this worth publishing as illustrative of the quality of your argument. I have read Goethe’s writing on colour, and I expect Nick has too. Whilst the acuity of Goethe’s observation cannot be faulted his theorising is nonsense and lacking any explanatory power and for that reason has long been disregarded by science. Simply preferring a theory as being more exciting or poetic does not constitute an argument as to why it is closer to the truth than another.

  12. Jim

    Actually I was probably a bit unfair to Goethe. He was writing mainly about our perception of colour whereas Newton was more concerned with the external forces giving rise to that perception. It is when that distinction is forgotten and his theorising strays into Newton’s territory that it falls down.

  13. Nick Nakorn

    Indeed, Jim; at Art School in the 1970s we looked at a lot of colour theory and were lucky enough to be one of the colleges chosen by the Albers Book of Colour tour. At that time there were only 16 (I think) hand printed Albers books touring world-wide. It was hugely interesting. Robin, I agree with Jim, colour perception is an entirely different subject compared to colour ‘production’. Perceived colours, from a scientific standpoint are notional and for descriptive purposes and, as we now know, Newton’s observations have been superseded and improved by spectral science.

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