Easter

Easter is an important festival for Steiner followers. It is also important for some Christians of course; for a few it is one of the two days a year when they attend church, but it is celebrated for specific reasons by those who run Steiner schools.

Here is a description of Easter at Edinburgh Steiner school;

Due to the Easter holiday we frequently do not have the opportunity to celebrate Easter in school, but in our assemblies at the end of the spring term and at the beginning of the summer term we try to reflect the dramatic changes of mood within the Easter period. We can illustrate the polarities of life and death, light and darkness, contraction and expansion, destruction and renewal.”

Most people in this country are not thinking of these concepts at Easter. Some may give a passing thought to the resurrection, probably triggered by a film on TV or a timely BBC documentary, but mainly they will be thinking of chocolate, roast lamb perhaps, and an extra two days off – maybe some gardening.

Light and darkness, destruction and renewal? No, I don’t think so.

Steiner schools in the UK talk of rebirth and fertility as part of Easter, and the significance of the season, but Easter in the Southern Hemisphere does not occur in Spring.

A Steiner  school in New Zealand says “As part of Holy Week the Lower School classes plant bulbs.  It is always a challenge for teachers of the younger classes to find the right metaphor for the Easter event, especially when Easter is in Autumn.  In the Southern Hemisphere we do not have the pictures in nature of sprouting and the new life that speak to the resurrection, rather a dying-away…”

Geoffrey Ahern pointed out in his book “Sun at Midnight”;

“His [Steiner’s] imputation of European seasons worldwide was clearly a slip”(page 184)

So much for the festivals being seasonal and at one with nature; they are anthroposophical festivals, pure and simple.

According to Steiner Easter is special because it is not earthly like Christmas, but cosmic; the day of the Easter festival is determined by a constellation of the stars;

Principles such as these were laid down at a time when traditions of wisdom were still current among mankind, traditions that originated from ancient atavistic clairvoyant faculties and gave man a knowledge far surpassing the knowledge that present-day science can offer. And such traditions were a means for bringing to expression man’s connection with the worlds beyond the earth. They always point to something of supreme importance for the evolution [of] mankind.

There is a whole lot more in this vein and a long explanation of why he thought St Paul played an important role in “the evolution of the Christ Impulse within the whole history of mankind” in this lecture on Easter in The Festivals and their Meaning.

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Festivals/Easter/19200402a01.html

Yes Steiner school festivals are picturesque, but they are not celebrating the seasons, as parents often believe; children are being educated in Rudolf Steiner’s bizarre take on the “history of mankind” and the “course of earth-evolution”, which is considerably at odds with accepted history and science.

As usual all is not as it seems, and it is necessary to look behind the colourful façade to discover what is really being planted in the minds of children in the name of a so-called child-centred education.

 

 

 

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5 comments

  1. richard turley

    Dear Helen, I just don’t see the point you are making. Easter, particularly this year, is a dramatic change and surely this is worth celebrating. I would dearly like my children to plant bulbs and wonder at the return of new life from the darkness of winter. The metaphor of hope and light conquering darkness, is a rich message for everyone and goes very well with a chocolate easter egg hunt. Most schools have a vision which is religious or esoteric and what can be more esoteric than the Christian belief in resurrection which was so strongly upheld in my school. While I respect your right to free speech I really feel that much of what you are presenting is prejudiced and obstinately narrow minded.

    • Helen

      When people accuse me of prejudice because I do not agree it is acceptable to teach children about angels, demons and pseudoscience under the guise of so-called alternative education, it makes me wonder what is their standpoint.
      I wonder if you are the same Richard who works at Ruskin Mill with Aonghus?

    • Jim

      Of course it is perfectly natural to celebrate ( as in ‘rejoice at’ ) the return of spring and the lifting of our spirits ( in the strictly non-spiritual sense! ) that it brings. But what is it that some people feel is lacking in the natural spring that it has to be tricked out with all manner of supernatural paraphernalia?
      And I think Helen’s point about the euro-centric nature of Steiner festivals is clear enough. It’s as daft as the shop windows full of reindeer, mock snow and fur boots of an Australian Xmas.

      • Helen

        “supernatural paraphernalia” – yes, I have enjoyed and even taken part in seasonal festivals in summer over the years, but always with the idea of it being quite fun to keep old traditions alive, and usually an excuse for a day or evening out,with refreshments.
        Taking them seriously as significant rituals never occurred to me. Now I am wondering if some people really think dousing a May queen with water from a spring or rolling a cheese down a hill is meaningful rather than just a bit of fun.

  2. Helen

    Hello Richard,
    You don’t say whether you are in Britain, Australasia or elsewhere…
    The point I was trying to make – not very clearly, maybe, is that Steiner schools do the same festival traditions wherever they are in the world, because that’s what Steiner said they should do, not because of the seasons.
    Spring, eggs, bunnies, chicks, new life – that’s what we mostly associate with Easter in England.
    On the other side of the world it is Autumn so if the festivals were truly seasonal, as Steiner schools claim, they would be celebrating with a Michaelmas-type festival. The schools sometimes admit the festivals are Christian, and say that families can choose to opt out if they object – I wonder how many do? But the schools also invariably say they are non-denominational, which doesn’t fit with Christian festivals.
    Only this week I saw a complaint from a Steiner parent about how unwelcoming the schools are to other religions and how wedded they are to anthroposophy. it’s such a shame parents don’t realise this until it’s too late.
    You mention the resurrection, and this is one of the most commonly rejected features of the bible of all – even by proper Christians. You say “most schools have a vision which is religious or esoteric” – yes, and I thoroughly disapprove.
    But with all other religious schools the belief system is not kept secret from new recruits as with Steiner, so parents are informed when they make their choice.
    I am obstinate in my insistence that Steiner should come clean and call themselves anthroposophy schools, for that is what they are. Narrow-minded? I don’t in general restrict my criticism to any one particular religion, but this blog has a specific theme, so I try to keep on topic.

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