In 1923 Rudolf Steiner gave a series of lectures to members of the Anthroposophical Society in Stuttgart, Germany and Dornach, Switzerland. This series has been translated in English as Awakening to Community (CW 257). The Atlanta branch planning group has been very slowly working through this book at the beginning of each committee meeting as a means of helping our understanding and deepening our feeling for the support of individual and group study, and for lending a hand to practical initiatives. In lecture 4, Steiner provided a definition of anthroposophy as “the consciousness of one’s humanity,” and as “the soul attitude and experience that make a person a full-fledged human being.” This consciousness, this soul attitude, can be developed through reading spiritual science literature on one’s own and with others. Many of us need a fair amount of time and effort to absorb not only what is said, but how the material is presented to the reader or listener.
Eventually, out of a genuine interest and concern for the world, free individuals – teachers, doctors, farmers, social entrepreneurs, artists, pastors, office workers, etc. – may attempt to outwardly create from their vocational specialty or specific interest. This collective outwardly visible effort is called the anthroposophical movement, that is, persons taking initiative based on an experience and understanding of anthroposophy. In lecture 3, a week earlier, Steiner discussed three phases of the Society, about 1900-1923. Only in the third phase beginning 1917 or so did the Society significantly extend to the various “practical” domains of society. As individuals matured in their relationship to anthroposophy it became important to balance outer work with a continued commitment to building the Society as the wellspring for the “daughter movements.”
Thousands of anthroposophic initiatives are active worldwide. Although the founders of these initiatives may call themselves “anthroposophists,” their colleagues, co-workers, school parents, board members, and so on, may simply be drawn to what for them is an intangible element that seems to have the potential for positive transformation, a source of light and warmth. Beneficiaries of initiatives may never directly encounter anthroposophical material, finding the practical expression deeply satisfying. These could include children (students), patients, members of a biodynamic CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription, and persons with special needs in a Camphill community. Countless Waldorf school parents and grandparents in locations such as China, India, Egypt, Israel, and Atlanta are incredibly enthusiastic about the education that their children are receiving. RSF Social Finance investors may participate in the social investment fund out of an interest to more closely associate with loan recipients, while having no familiarity with the anthroposophical foundations.
In Georgia, which of course includes metro Atlanta, a dozen or two dozen members of the Society are also actively involved in the anthroposophical movement. Independent initiatives include
- Waldorf education, pre-school through high school (1980’s);
- a family medicine health clinic (2017);
- attention to death and dying, in particular home death care (2016); and
- Christian congregational life (2011).
Local participation further afield includes social finance, biodynamic farming, astrosophy, and outreach to prisoners.
Individuals who wish to support these initiatives may choose to join the local branch and/or the Anthroposophical Society.