2016/17 Annual Theme for the Year

World Transformation and Self-Knowledge in the Face of Evil

While the first part of the annual theme 2016/2017 reflects the themes of previous years, the aspect of evil has been newly added. As last year, several authors will expand on the theme of the year.

Dear members and friends, the purpose of the annual theme is to help establish a horizon of awareness for all those who wish to work together on this issue. In doing so they realize a central endeavor of the Anthroposophical Society in that they connect with others and foster the soul life by striving for spiritual knowledge.

One of the core tasks for members of the Goetheanum Leadership is to come to a realistic assessment of the spiritual situation of our time and of the role anthroposophy has to play in it. On this basis we seek to work together and meet our responsibility with regard to the Goetheanum as a School of Spiritual Science. The annual theme arises increasingly from this work. As part of this endeavor we regularly consult with the general secretaries of the larger national societies and this consultation helps us to arrive at a shared orientation and formulation of the theme.

Creating a conscious connection

The annual theme therefore expresses our assessment of the current situation and of the corresponding tasks of anthroposophy, and this assessment is informed by our individual work, our journeys and our encounters, and our cooperation with many people and institutions all over the world.

We hope that, bearing this background in mind, the branches and groups of the Anthroposophical Society will find the proposed theme interesting and that it can form a meaningful focus for the work in the professional fields and in the sections. Wherever you live and whatever you do, you can, by working on the annual theme, make a conscious connection and work together with the Goetheanum and with many other anthroposophically orientated people in the world. This spiritual connection will enhance the power of anthroposophy to contribute increasingly to creating a more humane world at all levels of reality.

In recent years we have specifically focused on the relationship between self-knowledge and world-knowledge. Affirmation of the world which is increasingly man-made and complex was a particular concern. Since more and more people are gradually working themselves into the annual theme we did not want to suggest an entirely new topic. The events of the last year and the thought of what is to be expected in the near future urge us to work towards a deeper understanding of evil. We realize that forms and dimensions of evil are becoming effective today that are not only shocking but that confront us with ever new riddles of knowledge which are characteristic of humanity in the age of the consciousness soul.

Transforming the world

In his anthroposophical spiritual science Rudolf Steiner discovered and unfolded entirely new aspects regarding an understanding of evil and these aspects lead to a new thinking and new attitudes in individuals as well as in the social life.

Our everyday lives as well as our search for a deeper understanding induce us to ask how the world can be transformed through self-knowledge and how self-knowledge can arise from world transformation when we learn to understand evil in the widest sense.

We would like to recommend two lectures in particular by Rudolf Steiner, where he describes, directly after World War I, a radical new understanding of evil that had gradually emerged in his work but had never been expressed by him as clearly before. The lecture cycle From Symptom to Reality in Modern History (GA 185) culminates in a series of soul exercises that describe the stages of an inner development which can help us transform ourselves and therefore the world – in the face of evil.

In our work we have also experienced the dimensions that open up when one works with the two imaginations at the center of the description of the Michael Mystery: In "The World-Thoughts in the Working of Michael and in the Working of Ahriman" Rudolf Steiner presents two imaginations that express the tension from which an image arises of a true human future that is difficult to grasp. Goethe’s Faust, which will be performed in full at the Goetheanum in 2016 and 2017, also impressively presents the burningly topical issue of the human struggle with evil.

And lastly we would like to recommend a number of other works that open up essential aspects of the problem, hoping they will inspire you to connect with the theme of the year

| For the Goetheanum Leadership, Christiane Haid and Bodo von Plato.
Anthroposophy Worldwide No. 1-2/16

From Symptom to Reality

Rudolf Steiner:

From Symptom to Reality in Modern History (GA/CW 185), lectures 4 and 5

Anthroposophical Leading Thoughts (GA/CW 26), Michael Letter of November 16, 1924, “The World Thoughts in the Working of Michael and in the Working of Ahriman”

How to Know Higher Worlds (GA/CW 10)

Faust and the Problem of Evil (GA 273), lecture of 3 November 1917
[An English translation  of this lecture can be found online at
http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/GA0273/19171103p01.html ]

Christiane Haid and Martina Maria Sam (eds):
Rudolf Steiner über Goethes Faust,
volume I: Grundlagen, volume II: Szenenkommentare,
Dornach 2016 (due to be published in German in March 2016)

Friedrich Joseph Schelling:
Investigations into the Nature of Human Freedom

Friedrich Nietzsche:
Beyond Good and Evil

Hannah Arendt:
Responsibility and Judgment
The Life of the Mind

Martin Buber:
Good and Evil

Nancy Huston:
Instruments of Darkness
Fault Lines

Erhard Fucke:
Im Spannungsfeld des Bösen

Hans Werner Schroeder:
Der Mensch und das Böse. Ursprung, Sinn und Wesen der Widersachermächte.


Previous "Themes of the Year":

"The I Knows Itself" in Michaelic World Affirmation

"The I Knows Itself": Dimensions of the Foundation Stone Laying

"The Identity of the Anthroposophical Society"

"Anthroposophy - Rosicrucianism in Our Time"

"The Destiny of the I in the Age of the Etheric Christ"

"Thinking of the Heart as an Organ for Perception of Development and Metamorphosis"