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Waldorf Journal Project

The Waldorf Journal Project, sponsored by the Waldorf Curriculum Fund and published by AWSNA Publications, brings to English-speaking audiences translations from essays, magazines, and specialized studies from around the world.

Journals are published twice a year and all articles in issues from 2002 to the present are available on the Online Waldorf Library.

Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Michaelic Human Being

An Interview with Sven Åke Lorentson Priest in the Christian Community in Oslo

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Q: Why do we celebrate St. Michael in the Waldorf school, or the nodal points of the year at all? What does Michael represent for the children and for us adults and for the world? These questions led us to someone who could answer more than many a priest could ask!
A: Why these celebrations in Waldorf schools? “Which month is the darkest?” some adults ask. Many people will actually answer November rather than December because for them it is a reality, a concrete experience—the Christmas mood brings forth an inner light.

So on the emotional level we experience an inner course to each year—we could call it the mystery year. In order to understand the mystery year it is important to take into consideration the experience we had as children. For many this is forgotten or suppressed. For Norwegians, Easter is often connected with traveling to the mountains. As a Swede I have to ask which mountain is it that has such a magical quality. In Sweden we have the midsummer night’s eve, which has its own ritual, and for Norwegians it is Easter time in the mountains.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Michaelic Human Being

Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Playful Human Being

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by David L. Brierly

Children have lost the capacity to play. They only want to be entertained. How often we hear this expressed. Parents and teachers are concerned with this phenomenon. They are asking if the time for playing is past. Yes, what is truly the nature of play, and what is the life-long importance of the play of the child?

Our neighbors to the east are going to learn to play! Last autumn the Swedes instituted the first official “Play Weekend.” The Swedes’ movement for play was completing a two-year project focused on the importance of play for learning. They established a “Play Weekend” for the entire nation. “Arrangements for Play in Sweden” was held on the first weekend in September. The premise behind the project was that play develops fantasy, creativity, and empathy, and that children at play will develop a richer adult life. According to the Dagblade, the largest newspaper in Sweden, they hoped to sell a hundred thousand red clown noses before the Play Weekend which was modeled after the event of “Comic Relief day” in England.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Playful Human Being 

Waldorf Journal Project 7: Six - An Important Year

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by Astrid Sunt

The human being goes through one of life’s big transformational processes during his seventh year. It is well known that, from a physiological standpoint, it takes seven years to renew all the cells in the body. That means that the seven­ year-old you have in front of you is not the same child from a physical perspective that was carried under his mother’s heart. The child has worked through and renewed his whole organism. The inherited body is outgrown and put aside. We can see this quite clearly in children’s drawings. The pictures often contain houses or a car or a boat with a person in it. Or the theme has a certain border around it. The person in the picture stands on the ground, and the child, so to speak, has moved into his own house and taken fully hold of his own body. Castles, forts, and jagged mountain ranges, together with as occasional less clear or more varied theme predominate his drawings. It is important for the child to express these phases freely through drawing and not have any particular agenda from a pedagogical adult perspective.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: Six - An Important Year 

Waldorf Journal Project 7: Reality and Joy in the School Garden

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by Linda Jolly

School in itself needs to be a friendly place. Outside it is not only going to have a place for running and play, but also a garden where one can in-between send the students so they can take joy in the sight of trees, flowers and grass.
– Johann Ames Comenius (1592–1670)

In a time when society is hurtling forward at the speed of light, a school garden can seem like an anachronism, something left over from a time when people had plenty of time, when they could take joy in producing their own food products, and where the only entertainment that came through the air was bird song. But if we stop for a moment, we will notice that the school garden is about something very different than being nostalgic.

Many people have probably experienced themselves that to work in nature is a good counter-balance to time-pressure and a contribution toward regaining a slower pace. A garden has to do with the idea that things take time. While we get a lot of facts via the Internet in the course of minutes, we cannot really get to know a plant until we have followed it through at least one cycle of growth. A garden also has to do with experience permeated with feeling. A garden gives us the opportunity to connect with the outer nature through our inner lives. When I smell a rose today, I can still experience that moment in my childhood when I had my nose buried in the soft, delicate flower petals in my mother’s garden.

All of this is even more important for our children, who are growing up in a much more restless time. How can the work in a school garden help to recreate a balance so that the children can take joy in their own self-expression in nature? I will look at some of the themes that have become important for my work with gardening and with outdoor pedagogical work in general.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: Reality and Joy in the School Garden 

Waldorf Journal Project 7: Some Thoughts about Children and the Inner Nature of Wood

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by Lars Wegge

At the after-school activity house at our school, it often happens that children disappear and we find them in the woodwork room. You can almost predict what they are busy with: they are hollowing out slabs of wood. If you ask what it is going to be the answer comes quickly— “Bowl.” With bowl adzes and chisels they dig and hollow out all kinds of wood bits and pieces from the scrap bin.

What is it with this digging and downward- and inward-moving activity that is so exciting and captivating? What makes the need to creep into old hollow trees irresistible for so many?

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: Some Thoughts about Children and the Inner Nature of Wood

Waldorf Journal Project 7: About Seeing the Heart

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by Arne Øgaard

In his book The Little Prince, Antoine de St. Exupery lets us meet a little fox, who wants very much to become tame so he can befriend the Little Prince. When the two of them part, the fox tells a secret: “You can only truly see with the heart. The most essential is invisible to the eye.” This secret can be called one of the main intentions in the Steiner pedagogical approach. Many people probably have discovered that with the heart, but it is more difficult to put into words. This essay is my attempt to do just that.

How can we see with the heart? It must have something to do with feelings, but it is not that all feelings can express insights about the most essential aspects in life.

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: About Seeing the Heart 

Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Role of Old Age in the Course of One's Life

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by Karl Brodersen

As we grow older, we realize ever more clearly that the course of our life is a gestalt that unfolds in three distinct phases: childhood, adulthood, and old age. Consequently, there are two transition times: youth to adulthood and again when we reach fifty, which we sometimes call the “change-over years.”

As an adult we might meet a childhood friend, whom we have not seen for a long time. Often it is difficult to recognize the cheerful blond boy of former years in the serious, well-established man now facing us. During adolescence one, so to say, sheds one’s old skin, find new friends, a new environment, and develops new interests. Do we, during that time, form a new identity or do we remain the same person? In any case we are dealing with a profound change, a metamorphosis like that of a plant turning from leaf to blossom to fruit. This experience helps us understand the concept of reincarnation more easily, that is, how something entirely new can emerge from one life on earth. At the same time we are starting to intuitively sense the law connecting one life with the previous and the following ones, which is the Indian concept of “the law of karma.”

Read more: Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Role of Old Age in the Course of One's Life

Waldorf Journal Project 7: The Development of the Human Being through the Great Cultural Epochs

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by Conrad Englert-Faye

The following is a transcription of a series of lectures presented in Norway in 1943 during the German occupation. It has been passed down through rough notes taken by Johann Holtsmark. The editor thought the content would be interesting for readers in North America.
Englert was fluent in Greek and Latin and was a scholar of Greek culture. These talks inspired several young men, such as Dan Lindholm, Karl Brodersen, JØrgen Smit, Torger Holtsmark, and other giants, to initiate the Waldorf school in 1945 at the conclusion of World War II. With approximately four million people and thirty-four Waldorf schools, Norway is currently among the leading countries with regard to Waldorf schools per capita in the world.

The great cultural epochs can be seen as a movement from East to West. We will start with a concentration on the Greek/Latin cultural epoch and examine some simple known facts.

Human Biography and the Biography of a Nation
A biography can be looked at through a description of a personality, his life and work, on the foundation of outer documentation. The biography becomes a description of the person’s outer life, his or her facade. It is possible, however, to think about a different kind of biography where we do not examine documents and outer sources but rather turn our attention toward the impact made in the world by an individual’s life. How does the memory of this human being live on? Which impulses has he/she imprinted into the world? How is the world different as a result of this individual’s life? In order to accomplish this kind of biography, we have to seek out and describe what stands behind the human being. What lives in his/her ideas?

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Waldorf Journal Project #6: Shaping One's Life and Forming the World

All articles from this issue in one file, click to download

Social Conflict and the Sub-Natural Forces by Friedrich Glasl
Craft and Morality by Dr. Thomas Weiss
Empathy by Dr. Thomas Weiss
Youth Guidance and Empathy by Anke Weiss
Organology and Physiology of Learning Aspects of Educational Theory of the Body by Wolfgang Schad
Thoughts on the Idea of Evolution by compiled by Arthur Auer
Three Kinds of Milk: A tale from the Swiss Alps by Conrad Englert-Faye
Waldorf Education in South Africa by James Pewtherer
A South African Elegy by Margarethe Mehren
Encouragement for Sculpture by Peter A. Wolf
Memories of a Former Waldorf Student by Margarethe Mehren
Section from Memories of a Former Waldorf Student in German by Margarethe Mehren

All individual articles from this issue can be found below

Waldorf Journal Project 6: Social Conflict and the Sub-Natural Forces

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by Friedrich Glasl

As a child of four I experienced the last battles for Vienna during World War II. Certain scenes of the fighting are still with me; how can people become so inhuman? When Austria was freed again by the Allies in 1955 and the Treaty signed in Belvedere Castle, I was a l4-year-old amongst the cheering thousands outside the castle, as glad as they were that Austria, like Switzerland, had declared its neutrality, no longer wanting an active part in war. In 1959 I became a conscientious objector and joined the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, a peace movement based on active Christian non-violence. My conscience, however, would not simply allow me to say ‘no’ to the horror of war, which seemed incomprehensible to me. I was looking for practical ways of coping with conflict, so I studied Political Science and, in particular, problems of war and peace. Later, my studies in anthroposophy gave me further insight into the nature of conflict that I now use in my work as a consultant with NPI (Institute of Organization Development, Zeist, Holland).

People make life hell for each other through conflict. They cause one another pain and have to wrestle with the most profound questions. As an adviser, I am often faced with existential questions: What does conflict mean in the lives of those involved and of those advising? What is its deeper meaning? Which forces are revealed in strife between people? What are our chances of developing through that strife?

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