The Bank that likes to say ‘Quack’: Triodos

With the news of banking scandals over the past few days, there are many people reconsidering where they bank. Is it possible to bank with an organisation that has solid ethical credentials and will not use its money to reward reckless investment bankers’ bonuses or finance questionable businesses?

A web site came on to my twitter timeline today called Move Your Money that aims to help people chose their banking facilities based on an assessment of bank’s ethical commitments and business activities. I looked at their web site and saw that an example they gave was the Co-operative Bank. That was expected. But the second example was the lesser known Triodos Bank.

Triodos is a Dutch based bank that presents itself as believing “banking is about more than big profits and bonuses”. Its mission is to be “one of the world’s leading sustainable banks. Our mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change.”

As such, it admirably has an open lending policy so that you can see exactly where your money is being invested. The bank prides itself on funding many organic farmers, renewable energy projects and cultural and artistic endevours. What’s not to like?

What the bank is not so forthcoming about is how it was founded and the guiding philosophical principles behind its activities. You will not find details easily on the web site. You have to look at its articles of association to see that in fact it is an Anthroposophical organisation. Its preable states (updated May 2012),

The anthroposophic movement and the movement for religious renewal that is the Christian community were the sources of inspiration for the people who founded Triodos Bank.

Triodos Bank is – at its sole discretion – associated with anthroposophy, this being the humanities science initiated by Rudolf Steiner that accordingly forms an important basis for the work of Triodos Bank.

What is Anthroposophy?

Rudolf Steiner was an early 20th Century Austrian occultist who claimed to have had many clairvoyant insights into politics, culture and the economy – the “threefold order” that gives rise to the name of the bank. Steiner created something he called ‘Occult Science’ and claimed mainstream science could be extended through contact with the spiritual world. He claimed that humans were actually a combination of physical and spiritual entities and that our spirits are reincarnated though a hierarchy of existence. Good karma would lead to reincarnation in higher races with the ultimate prize of being incarnated in the body of a “germanic-nordic” body. This racist doctrine, inspired by alleged clairvoyant revelation, was obviously resonant with other movements in Germany at the time.

Steiner’s adherents can be found in many walks of life today. Just as Triodos is circumspect in exposing its origins, other areas may surprise you too. His agricultural mysticism is known as biodynamics. This is a form of agriculture belief, based on undertaking farming activities according to astrological and magical cycles and beliefs, has been adopted by both Charles at Highrove and Himmler at Dachau.

Steiner embraced homeopathic medical beliefs and wove it into his anthroposophical medicine. Steinerist retail organisation, Weleda is one of the largest suppliers of homeopathy and alternative medicine products in Europe. Steiner’s mistletoe therapy for cancer is still offered by a few NHS anthroposophical doctors.

Steiner, or Waldorf, education is a hot topic in the UK at the moment with Education Minsiter, Michael Gove this week giving the go ahead to the UK’ s first free school based on Steinerist principles, the Steiner Academy Frome. The purpose of Steiner education is to help the incarnation process of spirits into children’s bodies. Various things can interfere with this process, including being able to read. Children are not supposed to be taught to read until their second dentition when the approrpiate spiritual incarnation milestones have been met. Parents are not told of these goals. Steiner warned his teachers, to be coy about their aims for fear that “people would break the Waldorf [Steiner] School’s neck.”

Steiner’s view of what children should be taught about the world is sometimes startling. For example, on geology, Steiner had some rather unconventional views about the nature of the British Isles,

An island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars. In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside. In general, the cosmos creates islands and continents, their forms and locations.

Steiner recognised the difficlulty in telling pupils this directly. But urged teachers to ‘do it somehow’.

Of course, in Steiner schools, if a child falls ill, then homeopathy will be used. And the natural companion beliefs to homeopathy are present, such as a distrust of vaccination. It is no coincidence that the UK is currently suffering measles outbreaks, many of which occur around Steiner schools and towns with large populations into alternative beliefs, such as Bruton, Glastonbury, Brighton and Forest Row. Indeed the Steiner School ‘Olympics’ was cancelled last year due to measles.

Steiner believed measles was a manifestation of karma.

So, Triodos bank? How does Steinerism manifest itself in their business?

The most obvious place is in who they lend to. Their admirable open lending policy allows us to who see they are financing. Organic farming features heavily, a spin off of Steiner’s biodynamics.

More worryingly, Triodos appears to behind the financing of many Steiner schools. But most disturbing is the large amount of funding they put into alternative medicine businesses.

I will not be opening any Triodos accounts. I do not believe Steiner Schools are ethical. They are a betrayal of a child’s right to be educated, to not be told falsehoods and to be protected from dangerous diseases. Alternative medicine clinics, as readers of this blog will know, have very many ethical problems, most importantly, misleading their customers into believing these treatments, such as homeopathy, offer effective alternatives to mainstream medicine.

Whilst, no doubt, many of the projects funded by Triodos can be truly described as ethical and progressive, it is the furtherance of irrational belief systems, such as Anthroposophy, homeopathy and biodynamics, that represent a serious departure from being ethical. Such beliefs have a capability to do real harm, and as such, I will not be aiding their advancement.

60 Comments on The Bank that likes to say ‘Quack’: Triodos

  1. Thanks for that Andy.

    I found an interesting recipient of a Triodos loan: The Homeopathic Supply Company. They sell all sorts of homeopathic stuff including products from Helios. Oh and look! They are registered under the MHRA’s HR scheme, which doesn’t permit indications…

    A ‘must-have’ remedy for parents of young children, invaluable for ear pain, colic and fever. Chamomilla is an excellent remedy for easing the pain of teething.

    • Surely instead of mocking these guys, we should take what systems they have created and polish it up and balance out the system more until it’s well rounded and effective, therefore doing something that contributes to society as opposed to mocking people who strike out on their own to find their own ways of doing things and not being sheep.

  2. @Jo D. Baker
    Coop? Patronising bastards!
    I wanted to open an account for my son (then 15) and looked to the Coop since we already had an account with them. They (reasonably enough) insisted I should take joint responsibility for the account, but then refused to let him have any way of getting at his money other than a hole-in-the-wall card. (This was in those heady days of the 21st century when the Internet had been invented and he wanted to be able to buy things online.) HSBC obliged and he’s been with them since. They exposed themselves to no more risk than the Co-op – the debit card they gave him didn’t allow him to overdraw – but they were happy to let me, as co-signatory to the account, decide if he should have that facility.

    Later they discontinued my and my wife’s joint account (in favour of a new ‘product’) and made us re-apply. We tried for their Smile account but their website design was as much use for my dyslexic and computer un-savvy SO’s attempts to register as a chocolate teapot so we gave that up. I phoned them and explained to them about W3C recommendations for accessible website design for people with disabilities but it seemed to be water off a duck’s back to them.

    “Good with money”? That’s just the name of their cute advertising slogan!

  3. John Stumbles, Steiner parent and webmaster at the Alder Bridge Steiner school – are you getting the Quackometer confused with ‘You and Yours’?

  4. “It’s mission is to be “one of the world’s leading sustainable banks.”

    You do mean its instead of it’s. This is the second time I’ve come to this website. I’ve found glaring mistakes at the beginning of both articles. What is your worth as a thorough sceptic if you’re not ready to even check the spelling and grammar of your articles?

    As Lindsay replied to my reply about the June 10th article : “Annoying to pedants like you and me but at least we know what the intended meaning was. Right?”

    No, I don’t. I move on because I’m not sure how much fact-checking is done since I do know that making sure things are right is not a priority.

    • “but at least we know what the intended meaning was. Right?”

      I agree.

      I cannot belive that someone is so up their own arse over a simple grammatical error such as its and it’s.

      No ambiguity about my meaning – f*ck off, you’re boring.

    • I hate grammar pedants. Smug twats, the lot of them. I’ll never forget that awful woman Truss (Eat’s shoot’s and leaves) who wrote she was more distressed by a missing apostrophe than she was with the losses of the Falklands war. Or something like that. I recollect her book going straight off to a charity shop.

      Nicely put, JDB.

      And yes, I did add them on purpose.

    • You are going to miss out on a lot of life’s facts if you are so upset about an apostrophe. You may be surprised to learn that the earth is in fact round. We won’t miss you!

      • Interesting to note that the replies point to the missing apostrophe instead of the thoroughness expected of a sceptic.

        I’m not at all distressed by one grammatical mistake. I am distressed by the lack of discipline of someone trying to set the facts straight, whom I don’t know and have to put my faith into.

      • Sorry Yan, I just noticed a spelling mistake in your last post:

        “…and have to put my faith into.” Should read “…grow up and think for myself”.

        For the record, I have found grammatical and spelling errors in just about every paper I’ve read. If I rejected all of them there wouldn’t be much left to read.

        I am a real ball-breaker when it comes to proof reading PhD theses/papers etc. but there’s a time and a place mate.

      • And another thing… you should have said”faith in” not “into”. And its not good to finish a sentence with a preposition. Ill overlook it this time but dont let it happen again!(sorry .!)

    • Your post is full of the ironies we usually see in the burble of the Internet spelling and grammar police; it’s full of mistakes. I count four errors. 1) When you write, “You do mean its instead of it’s,” you are speaking of “its” and “it’s” as objects, so you should put them in quotation marks, as I have just done in this sentence. 2) You would like the author of the blog post to check his spelling and grammar, but you did not identify any errors of spelling or grammar. The error you identified was a punctuation error; funny then that you didn’t correctly punctuate your own comment identifying the error. 3) When you write “I’m not sure how much fact-checking is done since I do know that making sure things are right is not a priority,” you are misusing the word “since,” which should only be used in a temporal sense. The word you want is “because”; the resulting sentence would not be exactly eloquent, either. 4) “Fact-checking” should be hyphenated when used before a noun, i.e, adjectivally, as in “fact-checking process” or “fact-checking error” – kinda like your own error – but not otherwise; there is no noun “fact-checking.”

  5. The Dutch Society against Quackery (founded 1881) gave its yearly and much feared Mr. Kackadoris Prize in 2010 to Triodos. These were the words of the jury.

    Considerations of the Meester Kackadoris Prize jury 2010.

    The Meester Kackadoris Prize for the enhancement of quackery of this year goes to the Triodos Bank and its Triodos Foundation. As stated in the notes to the nominations these institutions donate much to alternative medicine, which according to Triodos has the same preference for sustainability as themselves. With its sophisticated and successful PR, the bank has its anthroposophical identity completely hidden from view and so she is able to also attract customers who believe to join an environmentally progressive bank. Unknown to the public at large the grants of the Triodos Foundation strikingly favour anthroposophical institutions, such as GP practices, the research group anthroposophic healthcare in Leiden and the Louis Bolk Institute(Wageningen). Highly immoral and condemnable is the fact that Triodos even exports quackery to the Third World. This is done in the form of subsidising acupuncture-centers and especially by subsidising Homeopaths Without Borders, which promotes homeopathy and spreads it in South America, Kenya and Georgia. Semi-literate students in Kenya are told that with homeopathy ‘accidents, fevers, burns and meningitis’ can be cured. The epidemiologist Luc Bonneux rightly called it “criminal aid” in an environment where adequate medical care often is found (too) late. Besides the sometimes long distances to the places where regular medical care is available and the belief in traditional medicine, which is not rarely tried at first, there is now a third cause of life threatening ‘delay’: the belief in homeopathy, promoted by rich and easily but unjustly esteemed westerners. In reality, they are a bunch of scatterbrained quacks, generously subsidized by the Triodos Bank and its Foundation.
    (Amsterdam, 2 October 2010)

  6. Homeopathy against aids in Africa: I am not aware of activities supported by the Dutch government. I do know that the NDCO (an institute subsidising sustainable projests in the 3rd world, fully depending on taxpayers money)gave money to the Homeopaths without Borders to enable them to teach and practice homeopathy in Georgia. In their team was a psychiatrist (Andries Keizer), who homeopathically treated the many cases of PTSD after the Russian army had ‘visited’ Georgia. After protests by the Society against Quackery the NCDO stopped these subsidies. That was in 2008.

  7. The article that you link to by Peter Staudenmaier as source on Steiner and anthroposophy is not a good and reliable source. On some of the reasons for this, see

    For a general introduction to the myths about Steiner, anthroposophy and Waldorf education, see

    For some more comments on the typical myths about Steiner that you publish, see This last article discusses in some detail three typical myths about Steiner and anthroposophy, much rooted in Staudenmaier’s writings:
    – “Steiner’s philosophy … was founded on racist and anti-Semitic beliefs”
    – Waldorf schools have a philosophy based in “racial and religious discrimination, and
    – “Steiner’s theory of reincarnation states that souls travel an upward path of consciousness, beginning with the ‘sub-races’ (Africans) and ending with Aryans – the most ‘enlightened’ race.”

    With Steiner, you often need to decrypt him out of the context he was speaking. This is the case with the word “race”, that in his talks at some times may refer to race in the Blumenbach sense of the view of five main races of humankind, while it at other times refers to the theosophical term and concept “root races”, that in Steiner’s view refers to humanity during the sequential stages of our present solar system, a term he used when he was general secretary of the theosophical society in Germany for some years at the beginning of the 20th century, but then replaced with the “geocentric” term “Earth epochs”, as he considered the development of the Earth and humanity to be the main characteristic of our solar system. For a short into to this, see

    Staudenmaier does not distinguish beween the two concepts and mixes them up.

    As for Steiner’s comments on the British Isles as “floating”, this is a very short comment in passing, and not to the point in a superficial sense, but to the point in a deeper sense. The British Isles are floating, as are the continents, but not on water, but on the magma that constitutes the interior of the Earth. What floats are the tectonic plates upon which they are situated.

    The theory of Alfred Wegener about the floating plates, that Steiner thought should be taught in Waldorf schools, was only in its first beginning when Steiner made the comment about the substance of the theory, and his comment about the continents as floating and held in place by “forces from the stars” in an extremely short way indicates his view that the Earth at a very early stage was much softer, and formed by forces that imprinted a structure on it, that made it into a kind of dodecahedron, not in a strict sense with flat surfaces, but in a broad sense.

    It also indicates that that dodecahedric structure of the early Earth in his view is the background for the formation of the tectonic plates at the surface of twelve original magmatic cells, with the surfaces in time having “cooled”, “dried” and partly broken into smaller pieces with the aging of the Earth.

    That far, that view does not need to shock anyone. But then of course there is his implicit view, that the twelve original surfaces that in his implicit view are the origin of our present tectonic plates slowly move about because of their relation to forces from twelve directions in the Zodiak.

    The very short comment by Steiner in a few sentences on the British Isles reveals how much thinking you often must do to penetrate what he’s really after, in this case how the British isles are not only part of the surface of the Earth, but that the Earth is part of not only our solar system, but of cosmos in a larger perspective.

    He did not think in short terms with regard to time or small terms with regard to space, but on a scale often difficult – but not impossible – to grasp. With Steiner, few things often are as simple as they may stand out at first. But if you do some thinking about it, it can be very rewarding.

    • Are you trying to get someone’s attention? It’s just that your hands are waving so fast…
      Rather than thinking deeply about his meaninghow about teaching reality? If he meant that the Earth is part of our solar system and cosmos (which I would think is apparent) why not say that instead of using such superficially ‘deep’ terms?
      I can’t believe that one of these schools is going to be publicly funded.

    • While Steiner teachers believe in the literal existence of gnomes, and we have had evidence for that from Steiner apologists here, I really can’t be bothered to excuse other parts of his loopiness. Interesting, maybe, but only as an historical curiosity for students of such things.

    • Apologia.

      The idea that the meaning of anthroposophy is somehow hidden behind texts that must be interpreted correctly places it firmly in the occult and hermetic traditions. Of course, readers of this blog can not correctly interpret the works of Steiner because they have not undergone the necessary initiation into the mysteries of the cult.

      I must remember to write more gnomic posts that require special interpretation.

      • “I must remember to write more gnomic posts that require special interpretation.”

        Does that need a fishing rod and a toadstool?

    • Sune,

      Can you please confirm if you are still in the pay of the Swedish Waldorf [Steiner] School Federation? Are you still being asked to monitor web content and counter critical content?

    • Your argument is that Steiner wasn’t racist, he just had lunatic ideas about geography and geology?

      If anything I’m even less keen that you should be running schools after reading this.

      Also, I just love this sentence:

      “… a kind of dodecahedron, not in a strict sense with flat surfaces, but in a broad sense.”

      The poetry of nonsense.

    • Mr. Nordwall makes this far too easy…

      The fuller quote by Steiner is this: “The students are about eighteen, and at that age it is best if they attain an overall understanding of history and art. We should give them an understanding of the spirit of literature, art, and history without, of course, teaching them about anthroposophy. We must try to bring them the spirit in those subjects, not only in the content but also in the way we present them. With the students, we should at least try to achieve what I have striven for with the workers in Dornach, pictures that make it clear that, for instance, an island like Great Britain swims in the sea and is held fast by the forces of the stars.1 In actuality, such islands do not sit directly upon a foundation; they swim and are held fast from outside. In general, the cosmos creates islands and continents, their forms and locations. That is certainly the case with firm land. Such things are the result of the cosmos, of the stars. The Earth is a reflection of the cosmos, not something caused from within.
      However, we need to avoid such things. We cannot tell them to
      the students because they would then need to tell them to their
      professors in the examinations, and we would acquire a terrible
      name. Nevertheless, that is actually what we should achieve in
      geography. FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER, p. 607.)”

      Notice even here how Steiner is being careful to avoid outside criticism of the school. He warns teachers that if they actually *teach* Anthroposophy to students, the discrepancy between scientific fact and what Steiner wanted to teach children would be discovered by the students’ professors when they go on to university – and reflect badly on the school. This text is required reading for Waldorf teachers and leaves no doubt about Steiner’s intentions to disguise the teaching of Anthroposophy to students. Waldorf teachers today are just following suit.

  8. A reminder to readers… Sune Nordwall is a Waldorf disinformation officer who is PAID to place comments supporting Steiner on blogs like this one.

    His primary job is to attempt to discredit the work of people who have investigated Waldorf.

    Steiner said lots and lots of terribly stupid things and 100 years later Waldorf requires paid apologists to convince people he wasn’t so stupid after all… so that their schools can exist. In that sense, Waldorf schools are built on a far shakier foundation than the British Isles are. Here are some more of Steiner’s quotes about Waldorf and education: and

    I suspect that if the Tridos bank is heavily invested in Waldorf schools – which are finally coming into the public spotlight (and with that spotlight comes a clearer picture of what they are about) then the banks’ eventual failure will be tied to Waldorf’s failure. If the “ethics” displayed in Waldorf is any indication of the ethics used in the Triodos bank – then it’s doomed.

    • There’s one thing they share, at least, and it is not understanding that the only ethical way to proeceed would be through being completely upfront and honest about anthroposophy. Interestingly, this never seems to occur to anthroposophical ‘iniatives’ and institutions.

      • @Alicia

        Why would it? It never occurred to their founder to be upfront and honest about Anthroposophy in Waldorf schools. We don’t see that kind of dishonesty with Steiner in other ‘initiatives’ – biodynamics, Anthroposophical medicine and so forth. He put that stuff out there for everyone. When it came to Waldorf education, he advised Waldorf teachers to be dishonest about its presence in the school, its content in the curriculum, and especially about its religious nature.
        Waldorf schools are even corrupting other areas of Steiner’s works. At Waldorf school festivals and fairs, biodynamic foods are routinely sold to vegetarians and vegans and others who might object – without disclosure that animal products are used in their growth and preparation.

      • Well, for one thing, we’re living in a different time. *Not* talking about it doesn’t work anymore. It might just be more rational for them to be upfront voluntarily than to have others discuss what they’re about while pointing out that they’re dishonest. Not that rationality was ever their strong side. But having Sune take care of public relations and trying to justify the dishonesty and madness just won’t cut it…

        To a certain extent you’re right — he didn’t exactly advise secrecy for biodynamics (they, too, have few misgivings about presenting themselves as… well, at least they won’t say their products are unsuitable for vegans, they prefer saying nothing at all). Biodynamic companies practice it anyway, the secrecy. Same with the banks — they didn’t exist then, but today they prefer not to mention anthroposophy if they can avoid it, just as the schools. Curative care homes — same lack of disclosure as with the schools. Anthroposophical medicine — well, anthroposophy is mentioned almost by default, but they hardly focus on the more extreme *ideas* behind it and prefer to present the more benign elements. So I do think we see the same, or similar, dishonesty with all initiatives, presumably because they believe more people will consume their goods if they’re economical with the truth. This, at least, being one of the reasons, apart from the very nature of esoteric belief systems playing a role too.

  9. There is a Jose Saramago novel – The Stone Raft – in which the Iberian peninsula breaks free of the European continent and floats about the oceans. It’s a great book – very highly recommended. FICTION.

  10. If we can sidestep the discussion on whether or not the teachings of Rudolph Steiner are good or bad for a moment, the fact that the Triodos bank is covert about its intents and origin while claiming the opposite makes them no different than the banks they are trying to distinguish themselves from.

    So it basically boils down to having a bank a account with a mainstream bank that does more evil than good or with an alternative bank that does more evil than good…

    Looks like “Honest Banking” still hasn’t arrived yet.

  11. Andy, you ask me above, July 4, 2012, 3:45 pm:

    “Can you please confirm if you are still in the pay of the Swedish
    Waldorf [Steiner] School Federation? Are you still being asked to
    monitor web content and counter critical content?”

    If you read the end of the page I linked to July 6, 2012, 10:09 am in response to Alicia, in the comments section on the article where you compare me to a paid Homeopathy lobbyist and try to defend the honor of Peter Staudenmaier (ttp://, you can see the answer. That’s why I gave the link (

    “After the internet discussions in 2008, I suggested to the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf Schools that they employ me part-time as media consultant to follow and report what is published in different media on and related to Steiner Waldorf education, mainly in Sweden, but partly also abroad and they agreed. My work only included reporting about it, and not to write for or in any way represent the Federation. Last December (2011), I stopped working for the Swedish Federation of Steiner Waldorf schools.

    Outside of my part time employment I continued and continue to participate in discussions of Waldorf education as a free debater the same way I have done the last decade before and after the employment. In those discussions, as in all discussions, I only represent myself and my own personal views.”



  12. @Sune “In those discussions, as in all discussions, I only represent myself and my own personal views.”

    When you say “I only represent myself” – you must mean yourself and all your trolling personalities. I believe Alicia has a list of them somewhere. Are YOU a mother Sune? Why do you pretend to be a mother while participating in discussions? Do you give your “own personal views” from the perspective of being a mother? (For people who don’t know, Sune is a middle-aged single man). Why do you lie about who you are if it isn’t to misrepresent yourself and of course, Waldorf education? Why should people believe a liar? The answer is… they shouldn’t and DON’T!

  13. Thank you for pointing this out, I think.

    Having changed banks twice in recent years (the first because they refused to believe their website wouldn’t work the same in Firefox as in IE and the second because the building society got taken over by one of the big five) I moved to the Co-op and bunged some savings in Triodos as the rates were quite reasonable.

    I shall now go and research where to move them next, with stuffed under the mattress being a consideration.

  14. How sad that this misinformed article about Steiner schools is what people are basing their banking decisions on. I am a teacher in a Steiner school in Australia and have taught in many schools throughout the world before being introduced to this way, including international schools in Switzerland and several different state and independent high schools in the USA, England and Australia.
    I can say without a doubt that the year 12 students that graduate each year from our school are the most confident, creative and hopeful young people I have met in any system. They are educated about history, the Arts and are not brought up to believe that rote learning for exams is anything else but one skill in a myriad of skills that may or may not be their area of strength.
    Investors who support Steiner schools can be proud that they are supporting the growth of young people who will meet the world in the way that they were met in their schooling – with love, patience, understanding and a respect for the magic of life.

      • Greetings, BSM!

        As I have read through many of your comments on this blog, I notice that you demonstrate a deep and abiding yearning to educate yourself about gnomes. And the problem is that you are going about your education in the wrong way. You see, you are such an adamant proponent of logic and rationality that you actually move farther and farther away from an understanding — and then ultimately, away an authentic perception of the gnomes themselves.

        It may actually be the case that your monomaniacal focus on logic and critical thinking is such a delicious occasion of mirthful scorn and riotous ridicule by the entire gnome population of the UK, that you prefer to remain in denial about their existence and their crucial work in supporting the plant kingdom of planet earth. Not that I blame you. I mean, if I knew that I was the laughing stock of a million or so gnomes rushing about right under my feet, I would strive mightily to block out their existence, too.

        And yet, their mockery of you is not mean-spirited at all. If anything, it is just like pub buddies joshing and teasing each other as an expression of camaraderie and affection. See, they are not laughing at you, but at your insanely hilarious obsession with logic.

        Rather than go on explaining it for you, I shall now quote from the master himself, Dr. Rudolf Steiner, about gnomes from a lecture that he gave to his followers in Dornach Switzerland on November 2, 1923. (Pay special attention to the sentences I emphasize in boldface because they challenge you to become gnomically skeptical of your prevailing non-gnomic groping at thinking.)

        You may read the entire lecture here:

        The plant gathers the secrets of the universe, sinks them into the ground, and the gnomes take these secrets into themselves from what seeps down spiritually to them through the plants. And because the gnomes, particularly from autumn on and through the winter, in their wanderings through ore and rock bear with them what has filtered down to them through the plants, they become those beings within the earth which, as they wander, carry the ideas of the whole universe streaming throughout the earth.

        We look forth into the wide world. The world is built from universal spirit; it is an embodiment of universal ideas, of universal spirit. The gnomes receive through the plants, which to them are the same as rays of light are to us, the ideas of the universe, and within the earth carry them in full consciousness from metal to metal, from rock to rock.

        We gaze down into the depths of the earth not to seek there below for abstract ideas about some kind of mechanical laws of nature, but to behold the roving, wandering gnomes, which are the light-filled preservers of world-understanding within the earth.

        Because these gnomes have immediate understanding of what they see, their knowledge is actually of a similar nature to that of man. They are the compendium of understanding, they are entirely understanding. Everything about them is understanding, an understanding however, which is universal, and which really looks down upon human understanding as something incomplete.

        The gnomes laugh us to scorn on account of the groping, struggling understanding with which we manage to grasp one thing or another, whereas they have no need at all to make use of thought. They have direct perception of what is comprehensible in the world; and they are particularly ironical when they notice the efforts people have to make to come to this or that conclusion.

        Why should they do this? say the gnomes — why ever should people give themselves so much trouble to think things over? We know everything we look at. People are so stupid — say the gnomes — for they must first think things over.

        And I must say that the gnomes become ironical to the point of ill manners if one speaks to them of logic. For why ever should people need such a superfluous thing — a training in thinking? The thoughts are already there. The ideas flow through the plants. Why don’t people stick their noses as deep into the earth as the plant’s roots, and let what the sun says to the plants trickle down into their noses? Then they would know something! But with logic — so say the gnomes — there one can only have odd bits and pieces of knowledge.

        May I conclude with a bumper sticker for you, BSM:


      • Dear BSM,

        Lest you yourself feel that you must smoke or otherwise imbibe some psychoactive substance in order to observe the posse of gnomes swirling under your feet, I would counsel you to pursue a more natural drug-free cognitive path to the perception of these nature spirits.

        Thus do I advise you strongly to read this new book by Welsh singer-songwriter Susan Raven who is an expert on gnomes and other nature spirits infesting — no, I should rather say — inhabiting the UK.

        Nature Spirits: The Remembrance: A Guide to the Elemental Kingdom

        Indeed Susan draws up a mission statement for the Nature Spirits that I have cheekily christened: “The Gnome Manifesto.”

        But first let me establish her anthroposophical bona fides lest Andy worry about me straying off the topic of Steiner-related gnomes.

        I copy these quotes and the manifesto itself from this interview with Susan:

        I have always preferred the fluid, emergent, mystical nature of the imagined world to a full-on interaction with the competitive, material world; but it would be correct to say that I began my present spiritual path quite late in life when I discovered Anthroposophy at the age of 33.

        I have studied the works of Rudolf Steiner since 1993 and I never cease to be astounded by the absolute clarity with which he speaks of the spirit world. He was both a scientist and a seer, and he used his scientific training to speak with utter precision about what he perceived in the super-sensible realms.

        of Susan Raven in Wales

        (a) To explore the link between the material world we perceive with our five senses, and the super-sensible world inhabited by nature spirits, elementals and angels.

        (b) To describe the interaction between these worlds in easy-to-understand language and imagery.

        (c) To place the relationship between nature spirits, elementals and human beings in an historical context.

        (d) To pull back the curtain of ridicule, fear and cynicism surrounding this subject.

        (e) To emphasise how important it is to rework our bond of kinship with the inhabitants of the super-sensible world as we enter a new phase in human evolution. The nature spirits are waiting to be reunited with an awake and aware humanity.

        (f) To show that matter does not define space – the formative forces and super-sensible beings that inhabit space are what define the myriad shapes and forms that make up our physical universe.

        (g) To offer meditations and exercises for people to practise in order that they may connect safely with the Spirit of Place in their own locality.

  15. Oh please! First a very biased and ill thought article by… what are you exactly David, a shareholder in Glaxo-Kline or similar? So you advocate unnatural western drugs with horrific side-effects that only premise to treat symptoms (and then leave you with more!) over time proven therapies and herbs that nature provides? Puh!

    It seems to me that Steiner was only imitating established cultures with ethical principles, like Chinese Taoism (health, longevity and agriculture, all natural and “in balance”). Are Steiner schools (according to your biased and ill-intending translation) any worse than those that “force drill” religions into tired little brains, like Christianity and all its different branches (although, I can’t recall Christ being a Christian?), Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witness or Zion, for examples?

    No wonder you and your “Quackometre” stir up such pithy replies. Perhaps you should put a voting system on here for the “Biggest Quack”? I’m sure you’d hit 100% in no time! Please, desist. You give journalism a bad name.

  16. I just joined this bank and funnily enough I was doing some research into Rudolf Steiner only a couple of months ago in relation to the artists Joseph Beuys for a book . I don’t think that Steiner’s philosophical approaches were suspect, nor would i use the term occult.
    I also think that this writer has failed to provide a succinct argument in relation to the ethics. I will say that the Waldorf schools are not without their concerns however, but then are not all schools problematic and imperfect? The premise of the Waldorf schools is based upon creative responses towards what is actually a conventional curriculum. If anything the schools are not radical enough for their aims, which is essentially a actively ethical citizen.

  17. I wish there was a page like this ridiculing the ethics and founding principles behind HSBC, Lloyds, and so forth. We’re really scraping the barrel when we think that eliminating their competition with a hatchet job discussing how many angels (or gnomes) dance on the pinhead of an alternative organisation. Arrogant, narcissitic comments that seem to reflect where we have got to as a society. Applaud the system, the status quo and mock anything or anyone that dares to be different.

    • I suspect if you have a little google you will find many pages questioning the ethics of mainstream banks. Happy to help.

  18. It’s a question of balance. In the current absence of capitalism’s overthrow, all decent people should attempt to behave ethically, which means of course compromising. Triodos is not perfect, but it is trying. Unlike all of the mainstream banks, who are only trying to make their shareholders richer.

    Cynicism might be trendy, but in the long run it’s infantile.

9 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Insidious Pervasiveness of the Cult of Rudolf Steiner | The Quackometer Blog
  2. Is Biodynamic Farming Vegan? | The Quackometer Blog
  3. Biodynamic Farming in Georgia « YFN Georgia LLC
  4. Investing in Woo « Mumfie in Brentford
  5. What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools, By Andy Lewis « Blog de Grégoire Perra
  6. What Every Parent Should Know About Steiner-Waldorf Schools | The Quackometer Blog
  7. How Steiner Schools Justify their Occult Pedagogy. | The Quackometer Blog
  8. Frome Steiner Academy: Absurd Educational Quackery | The Quackometer Blog
  9. The Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley’s Fight For Existence – The Quackometer Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.