Sounds good, doesn’t it? But it is another of those words that has a special meaning in anthroposophy. According to Steiner it is one of the 12 senses.

This website describes Steiner’s idea of “the four ethers”, of which warmth ether is one;

“Its elemental counterpart is fire, or externally perceivable warmth. Warmth ether and warmth as an element are closely related”.

“Warmth ether” is an important factor if you believe Steiner’s version of how the world was formed as does this writer;

“Steiner referred to the most primary form of etheric substance, from which the original “Old Saturn” stage of the Earth was formed, as Warmth-Ether, that is, substance that consist of “heat” or “warmth”.   Now, according to physical science, there is no actual substance called “heat”; temperature is simply  the result of the motion or speed of vibration of  atoms and other particles.  The faster the particle  vibrates, the “hotter” it is.  According to Steiner,  “heat” is an actual substance, which stands in the  same relation to gas as gas does to liquid”.

“…The Etheric level is intermediate between the Physical and the Psychic world.  Due to the gradational nature of reality, according to which everything can be conceived of as a vast spectrum or continuum, every vertical level or world can be considered intermediate between the two worlds which border it on  either side (i.e. above and below).”

This author hastens to defend Steiner’s “out there” statements about warmth;

“Now, I for one think we can take the word of physicists when they say there is no such substance as “heat”.  This does not mean that Steiner was wrong though.  It only means that he was not describing something which is actually physical, but rather something which precedes the physical.”

Steiner is never wrong according to his followers, no matter how bizarre his statements .

Here is an extract from an article in the Waldorf Library about ringtime, or circle time in Steiner schools.

“Warmth is perhaps the most important element of the work with ringtime. Warmth is the physical expression of ego activity; … Warm hands and rosy cheeks tell us that the incarnating ego is working into the physical body. The development of the organs of the young child is dependent on the working of the warmth organism. There can’t be development without warmth.”

Hats and slippers are features of Steiner, with teachers insisting on children wearing them. It can be an attractive feature for parents who feel their child is being well looked after, but are they aware of the spiritual reasons why “warmth” is important in anthroposophy?

Here a registered nurse puts into words in an Anthromed article the occult ideas about warmth;

“I feel that care for the warmth organi­zation of the child is the immediate task of parents and care givers be­cause the re-directing and reorganiz­ing forces of our higher self are hid­den in the warmth of the blood.”

We all find comfort in being cosily warm at times, and in knowing that our children are warm. Steiner play on this “feelgood factor” by using warmth in their blurb. It was even used when the SWSF gave evidence to the DfE at the Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families on Early years Education. Graham Kennish asserted;

” …a huge number of parents and childminders who contacted Open EYE were looking for a second home that would give their child self-confidence, warmth and happiness, which is not a word that one finds in the early years documentation.”

It was pointed out in reply however, that

“The Every Child Matters approach and the five outcomes [of EYE] were very clear on the importance of well-being and child safety.”

All teachers and parents have a duty to look after of the children in their care; anyone would think from their claims that only Steiner schools do so. They do care, but primarily about the spiritual development or “higher self” of children. Creepy.




  1. we escaped!

    Now i understand why they wanted my son to constantly wear a hat to keep him warm (even in summer). The eurythmy teacher always made a point of telling us he needed a warm hat on constantly. If he was cold I would of course put a hat on him, but I refused to make him wear one whilst it was hot outside.
    I do recall them mentioning rubbing a lavender concoction on his chest at night too! They said it was because he didnt know himself and he had no skin…

    • Helen

      As usual one bizarre concept leads to another in anthroposophy;
      I looked it up after what you said about “having no skin” and found that the skin also has a special significance. This article “The skin seen from the anthroposophical point of view” makes the connection “in thought between the skin and the whole of human existence, the systems of the threefold organism are sought out in the skin, and the skin is considered in the polarity between hardening and dissolution.”
      It’s all about how “the four levels of existence relate to the threefold skin”.
      Shame parents are left to wonder about these things. Who would have dreamt it?

  2. Helen

    By the way “Open EYE” was a campaign group formed in 2007 which “waged a concerted media campaign against aspects of England’s statutory Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) over a number of years…”
    It was headed by a former Waldorf teacher and principal of Hawkwood College, and our acquaintance Richard House was also on the team.
    It has now merged with Early Childhood Action. Top of the organising group – Guess who? Yes, Richard House.

    • we escaped!

      This is what is most alarming to me. All of the rules are set by steiner people and all of the ofsted requirements are put together with the help of a steiner person and all of the inspections are conducted alongside a steiner person. Same goes for DfE. This does not allow for a fair or unbiased outcome.
      The concern really needs to be what they are doing with your child behind closed doors! Initially, for us we were concerned about his lack of proper education, as we dug deeper however, we soon realised that the level of brainwashing was frightening. His emotional well being was not considered by this school and they relished in making him feel abnormal and different.

    • we escaped!

      It does make me wonder if they are all aware of the questionable practices going on in steiner schools? If they all believe in stuff like this and they feel its sensible and appropriate to express it openly- steiner must seem normal and acceptable to them? Hence why they turn a blind eye and completely ignore concerns that are raised?

    • Jim

      And Tony Blair believed in WMD in Iraq. Crazy huh?
      But to be fair this is supposed to be a representative democracy so it needs a fair share of mutters and crooks.

  3. Jim

    More seriously, there are good reasons for being concerned about EYFS. It may have started as a well intentioned attempt to improve standards but it seems to have become overprescriptive and inflexible. And if it then has to be implemented by overstretched teachers and child care staff it is likely to end up a counter productive tick box exercise. Which seems to be why so many put their names to the original Open Eye campaign. Unfortunately the campaign organisers were heavily Steiner based, for whom of course Steiner education is the only viable alternative to the “toxic” state system. I’m sure many of those who supported the campaign would not share this view at all but it is easy to misrepresent their position.
    The Early Childhood Action campaign which has succeeded Open Eye does not seem to have quite such a blatantly Steiner core group, though it is still headed by Richard House. The supporters list includes quite a few Steiner groups and individuals. However the manifesto does confine itself to the core issues with EYFS.
    Where there is concern is in the way these issues are generalised into a “toxic childhood” story that is used to damn all state education and offer Steiner as the only alternative. What they really want is to stop the state “interfering” in education so they can be free to mess up children’s minds in their own peculiar way.

    • Helen

      What are your concerns about EYFS?
      The overarching principles seem worthy to me, with four guiding principles;
      1.every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;
      2.children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
      3.children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers; and
      4.children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. The framework covers the education and care of all children in early years provision, including children with special educational needs and disabilities.

      I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those caring for young children should have such guidelines to follow. Parents can be sure they are not paying someone to sit their child in front of Telly Tubbies videos and feeding them coco pops. Or holding back their progress in line with the imaginings of a 19th century Austrian Clairvoyant.
      The ECA manifesto seems to attack a straw man, suggesting that imaginary play is not already “at the centre of young children’s experiences and learning”.

      • Jim

        Hi Helen – I’ve been away for a few days so sorry for the late reply.
        I would have no concerns at all with those guiding principles, nor I’m sure would those who are worried about the practical implementation of EYFS, including those within mainstream education. Let me first disclaim any hands on knowledge – as with so many issues I’m trying to form a balanced view based on what I read in the press taking account of where I read it and who is commenting.
        The concerns seem to be the usual ones of a bureaucratic interpretation of what started out as sound guidance. The problem is that guidelines may be open to interpretation – how can a teacher be sure that what they are doing satisfies them? So they get turned into easy to measure prescriptions. When teachers are constantly under attack as they have been it is easy to see why sometimes a list of attainments children should have as part of a broader education gets treated as if they were all that matters.
        I agree there is a straw man element to the ECA manifesto, though to be fair you could say the same for EYFS if you take it to be suggesting that its principles were not previously being followed. But if there is a problem the answer is to deal with it, not take flight into the pernicious fantasy of Steiner world.
        BTW – the problem of measurement distorting objectives is not confined to education. My background is in designing and managing major IT projects for insurance companies ( I’m doing penance ). I’ve seen many attempts to manage productivity and quality right from the earliest measure of counting lines of clean code written per day ( result – lots of code that did nothing useful ). The problem is that the results that matter, in education or big IT projects, are not visible sometimes for years but we understandably want some assurance that we are on track. And to make matters worse the less you trust teachers ( or developers ) the more you interfere in the process to try to gain that assurance.

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