Rudolf Steiner, Secret Societies & ‘The Ahrimanic Deception’

Ahriman’s head carved in wood by Rudolf Steiner

Ahriman’s head carved in wood by Rudolf Steiner


For those who believe there is an ‘occult’ or ‘spiritual war’ taking place between forces of ‘light’ and ‘darkness’, or ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and that this ‘war’ manifests on the material and mortal planes politically, culturally, spiritually, and economically, it is often surprisingly difficult to discern the affiliations in this ‘battle’, with the multitude of occult Orders, Schools and personalities. These often use similar or even identical terminologies and symbols, and draw on the same traditions and origins. In such a situation well-meaning people are easily duped into supporting long-range aims of which they do not understand.

Occult War: Adepts ‘Black’ & ‘White’

The definition of ‘good and evil’, or ‘light and dark’, metaphysically can – from an esoteric perspective – be regarded as a dichotomy between those who seek a higher spiritual path for mankind, and those who seek to enchain man to matter. This dichotomy is well portrayed in the standard depictions of ‘The Devil’ trump in the Tarot Major Arcana.1 Paul Foster Case, founder of the Builders of the Adytum, gave a particularly apt explanation:

In its most general meanings, it signifies Mammon and thus big business, the conventions of society, the injustice and cruelty of a social order in which money takes the place of God, in which humanity is bestialised, in which war is engineered by greed masquerading as patriotism, in which fear is dominant. Students of astrology will have no difficulty in seeing how this corresponds to Capricorn, the sign of big business, and the sign of world fame.2

One sees in this Trump a male and female human each starting to take on the appearance of wild beasts – with horns and tails – enchained to a solid block, representing matter, with the Devil enthroned. As Case states, it is symbolic of the reign of Mammon, which is ushered in by materialistic doctrines such as Capitalism and Marxism, keeping humanity focused on lower pursuits in the guise of ‘progress’ and ‘freedom’.

Occultists such as René Guenon, Aleister Crowley and Julius Evola3 have sought to identify contending Schools as ‘White’ and ‘Black’ Brotherhoods, or as ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ Hand Paths.

Given the confusion that exists – because individuals and occult currents that are diametrically opposed often claim to represent the same traditions – the biblical injunction ‘by their fruits ye shall know them’ is the best formula for identifying motives, although this also is often obscure. For example, the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley, whose ‘evil’ antics played up to the tabloid press, could easily be regarded as a ‘Black Adept’. Although Crowley claimed to work in the tradition of, among others, and for unclear reasons, the 18th century Black Adept Adam Weishaupt and his crypto-Masonic Illuminati, Crowley sought to expose the spiritual war that was taking place between the ‘White’ and ‘Black’ Adepts,4 while his doctrine of Thelema is antithetical to the doctrine of the Illuminati.5 Also, while having been a Freemason, as was Eliphas Levi,6 Rene Guenon7 condemned the Black Adepts who had subverted and redirected Masonry.8

Steiner and The Ahrimanic Deception

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), founder of Anthroposophy, whose influence has gone far beyond ‘occult’ circles for his prominence in alternative education, architecture, and organic agriculture, was one of those seminal personalities who believed in the existence of such an ‘occult war’. Again, as with Crowley, difficulties are encountered due to Steiner’s own affiliations with Freemasonry.9 However, Steiner, like Guenon, Evola, Levi and Crowley, forthrightly sought to expose a Dark current at work within the secret societies, and in particular within Freemasonry, whose influence was being directed in the world politically.

In a 1919 lecture delivered in Zurich entitled ‘The Ahrimanic Deception’, Steiner stated that, “a great part of mankind today is already under the control, from one side or another, of Ahrimanic forces of a cosmic nature which are growing stronger and stronger.” Steiner had an unusual perception of what he called the “Luciferic Impulse,” which he stated manifested on Earth in 3000 BCE. The Luciferic Impulse prepared the way for the “Christ Impulse” in Steiner’s cosmology. Both ‘Impulses’ began to fade and mankind has therefore become increasingly materialistic. Steiner stated this Ahrimanic Deception emanates from an actual being:

The Ahrimanic impulse proceeds from a supersensible Being different from the Being of Christ or of Lucifer.… The influence of this Being becomes especially powerful in the Fifth Post-Atlantean Epoch. If we look at the confused conditions of recent years we shall find that men have been brought to such chaotic conditions mainly through the Ahrimanic powers.10

While the Luciferic Impulse pushed humanity into what Nietzsche might have called the Dionysian passion that gives birth to arts and brings humanity outside of itself, albeit, according to Steiner, with a “false spirituality,” “Ahriman is the power that makes man dry, prosaic, philistine – that ossifies him and brings him to the superstition of materialism.”11 Ahriman would seem to equate with the Christian perception of the Antichrist. The Christ Impulse balances the two poles, in what in some respects seems akin to a Hegelian dialectic.

And the true nature and being of man is essentially the effort to hold the balance between the powers of Lucifer and Ahriman; the Christ Impulse helps present humanity to establish this equilibrium…. [T]he Ahrimanic influence has been at work since the middle of the fifteenth century and will increase in strength until an actual incarnation of Ahriman takes place among Western humanity.12

Preparing the Way for Ahriman

The relevance of this concept of the Ahrimanic Deception in regard to an ‘occult war’ for world rule, is that:

Now it is characteristic of such things that they are prepared long in advance. Ahrimanic powers prepare the evolution of mankind in such a way that it can fall a prey to Ahriman when he appears in human form within Western civilisation… Ahriman will appear in human form and the only question is, how he will find humanity prepared. Will his preparations have secured for him as followers the whole of mankind that today calls itself civilised, or will he find a humanity that can offer resistance.13

The way in which humanity looks at the cosmos under the Ahrimanic Deception is not with the spiritual awe and sense of place of those of past Civilisations, including, we could add, those of Gothic man in Western Civilisation’s cycle of youth, as the philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler pointed out,14 but as merely part of a mechanical and mathematical process. Steiner said of this:

Today man gazes from his earth up to the star-world and to him it is filled with fixed stars, suns, planets, comets, and so on. But with what means does he examine all that looks down to him out of cosmic space? He examines it with mathematics, with the science of mechanics. What lies around the earth is robbed of spirit, robbed of soul, even of life. It is a great mechanism, in fact, only to be grasped by the aid of mathematical, mechanistic laws.…15

We might state of this Ahrimanic Deception that it motivates Rationalism and Materialism, the dominant ideologies of the Late West.16 Steiner warned that the Ahrimanic Deception aims to imbue Man with “scientific superstition,” an “external illusion,” that while necessary (it was far from Steiner’s intent to repudiate the sciences) has made what we can identify as Rationalism and Materialism into a dogma.

The second method of the Ahrimanic Deception is to split society into contending factions. Steiner aptly identified Marxism, a product of Scientism, as a primary method of the Ahrimanic Deception.

Since the times of the Reformation and the Renaissance the economist has emerged as the new priest into the increasingly materialistic world, while Steiner also pointed out that Christian religion had also become desacralised.

Since that time the economist has been in command. Rulers are in fact merely the handymen, the understrappers of the economists. One must not imagine that the rulers of modern times are anything but the understrappers of the economists.17

Steiner next alludes to a very important matter, the power that the bankers have assumed:

In the nineteenth century the ‘economical’ man is replaced for the first time by the man thinking in terms of banking, and in the nineteenth century there is created for the first time the organisation of finance which swamps every other relationship. One must only be able to look into these things and follow them up empirically and practically.18

This statement provides the key to the history of the ‘modern world’ for the past several hundred years, and the human agency pushing for a world state – a ‘New World Order’ – enchained to the dead weight of matter.19 The power of the international banking cabals prepares the way for an Ahrimanic World Order by reorienting the spirit of Man:

If men do not realise that the rights-state and the organism of the Spirit must be set against the economic order called up through the economists and the banks, then again, through this lack of awareness, Ahriman will find an important instrument for preparing his incarnation.20

Role of Secret Societies

The ‘Ahrimanic Deception’ equates with what Guenon and Evola referred to as the ‘Counter-Tradition’. The secret societies it uses behind the façade of the Perennial Tradition are the ‘Anti-Tradition’. Steiner lectured on the role of these secret societies in the occult war.

While referring to both the “humanitarian works” and the spiritual evolution that is supposedly at the foundation of Freemasonry,21 Steiner, like Levi, Crowley, Evola and Guenon, also spoke of the manner the ‘Ahrimanic Deception’ operates through Freemasonry. Steiner even went further than anti-Masonic ‘conspiracy theorists’ such as Nesta H Webster22 and the eminent Scottish scholar, Prof. John Robison,23 himself a Grand Lodge Freemason, both of whom accepted English Masonry’s innocence of intrigue. Steiner, however, made a particular point of discussing the origins of Continental Masonry in the English Lodges. Despite its repudiation of ‘irregular’ Grand Orient Masonry that predominates on Continental Europe and Latin America, English Grand Lodge Masonry, stated Steiner, was also involved in a struggle for world power. He said the British Government was subverted by the secret societies, and that in particular foreign affairs was taken over by “an inner committee.”24 Steiner, in tracing the origins of Grand Orient Masonry to the Grand Lodge, wrote that:

But everywhere in a different way, in many places outside the actual British realm, Freemasonry pursues exclusively or mainly political interests. Such political interests in the most palpable sense are pursued by the ‘Grand-Orient de France’, but also by other ‘Grand Orients’. One might now say: what has that to do with the English?… But view this in conjunction with the fact that the first High-degree Lodge in Paris was founded from England, not France! Not French people but Britons founded it; they only wove the French into their Lodge…25

After listing the Lodges that were founded under the impetus of the English Grand Lodge, from Spain to Russia, Steiner adds that, “these Lodges were founded as the external instruments for certain occult-political impulses.” These impulses included the “fury of the Jacobins,”26 (who launched a Reign of Terror over France in the name of ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’); Weishaupt’s Illuminati and the Italian Carbonari. Although Steiner admits these began without “evil” intent (which I would dispute), they “continued their underground work in many different forms,” after being driven underground. Steiner alludes to the disingenuousness of Grand Lodge Masonry in being able to say:

‘[L]ook at our Lodges, they are very respectable – and we are not concerned with the others’. But if one can see through the historical connection and the driving forces in an interplay of mutual opposition to one another, then it is indeed high British politics that is concealed behind it.27

Of the “occult-political” societies, Steiner observed they serve a materialistic aim behind the façade of spirituality: what Guenon and Evola called “Anti-Tradition,” and Levi called “profanity.” These “various Orders” are “not spiritual, because of their purposes and goals.” They are the secret societies that work in the name of “democracy” and a “universal republic” (as did the Jacobins and the Illuminati). Steiner warned:

If one wants as a person of modern times to see clearly in order to meet the world openly and understand it, then one should not let oneself be blinded by democratic logic, which is justified only in its own sphere, or by phrases concerning democratic progress etc. One would have also to point to the interposing of something that reveals itself in the attempt to give rulership to the few through the means available within the Lodges – namely, ritual and its suggestive effect.28

While genuine mystical lodges exist(ed) – even Guenon sought initiation in them, as did Steiner – both pointed out that one must be cognisant of those Orders with mystical trappings and claims to ancient pedigree as a mask for other motives, as they are “often nebulous, maybe even fraudulent”… “For power is of special importance for these secret societies, not insight.”29

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1. For example, the popular ‘Rider-Waite Tarot Deck’.

2. Paul Foster Case, Oracle of The Tarot: A Course on Tarot Divination, Chapter 6, ‘The Major Trumps: 15. Le Diable’,

3. Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins, Inner Traditions, 2002, 250-251.

4. Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears, Falcon Press, 1983, 66.

5. K R Bolton, ‘Aleister Crowley as Political Theorist’, Crowley: Thoughts & Perspectives Vol. II, Troy Southgate, editor, Black Front Press, 2011, 5-27; Keith Preston, ‘The Whole of The Law: The Political Dimensions of Crowley’s Thought, ibid., 68-84.

6. Eliphas Levi, The History of Magic, translated by A E Waite, 1913, Rider, 1982, 310. Levi in condemning the “profanity” of Freemasonry and its involvement in political subversion, including the French Revolution, was doing so as an initiate of the 18°, the Rosicrucian Degree. This is indicated in a footnote to his History of Magic, where he states: “Having attained by our efforts to a grade of knowledge which imposes silence, we regard ourselves as pledged by our convictions even more than by an oath.… and we shall in no wise fail to deserve the princely crown of the Rosy Cross….” (286). Levi here states that he was staying true to what he considered the genuine Tradition of Masonry, whilst condemning what he saw as the perversion of Masonry by the Counter-Tradition. His reference to the Masonic oath attached to the ‘Rosy Cross’ indicates he had reached as far as the 18° of Knight of the Pelican & Eagle & Sovereign Prince Rose Croix of Heredom.

7. Robin Waterfield, René Guenon & the Future of The West, Sophia Perennis, 2002, 21.

8. René Guenon, The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, New York, Sophia Perennis, 2001, 260-261.

9. ‘Was Rudolf Steiner a Freemason?’,

10. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Ahrimanic Deception’, Zurich, 27 October 1919,

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Oswald Spengler , The Decline of The West, George Allen & Unwin, 1971. Spengler, writing in the early 20th century, contended that history is not lineal-progressive, but that each Civilisation is self-contained and goes through its own analogous organic cycles of birth, youth, maturity, old age and death. During the latter epochs of a Civilisation, culture becomes ossified and materialistic and money-thinking dominates. This is the cycle of present Western Civilisation. Broadly, the historical-cyclic theories of both Steiner and Spengler can be used in tandem.

15. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Ahrimanic Deception’, op. cit.

16. Vide, Spengler, op. cit.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid.

19. For the political agendas of the International Bankers, including the connections with Marxism, see: K R Bolton, Revolution from Above, Arktos Media Ltd, 2011.

20. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Ahrimanic Deception’, op. cit.

21. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Work of the Secret Societies in the World’, Berlin, 23 December 1904,

22. Nesta H Webster, Secret Societies & Subversive Movements, Britons Publishing Co., 1964, Chapter 6, ‘The Grand Lodge Era’, 128-129.

23. John Robison, 1798, Proofs of a Conspiracy, Western Islands, 1967, ‘Introduction’, 6.

24. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The Karma of Untruthfulness’, ‘Rudolf Steiner Archive, GA 173’, 18 December 1916,

25. Rudolf Steiner, ‘Karma of Untruthfulness, Part II’, GA 174, 8 January 1917,

26 Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. Rudolf Steiner, ‘The History & Actuality of Imperialism’, Dornach, Switzerland, 21 February 1920.

DR. KR BOLTON has doctorates in theology and related areas, Ph.D. honoris causa, and certifications in psychology and social work studies. He has been widely published by the scholarly and broader media on a variety of subjects. He is a ‘contributing writer’ for Foreign Policy Journal, and a regular writer for New Dawn. Books include: Revolution From Above (London: Arktos Media Ltd., 2011), Stalin: The Enduring Legacy (Black House Publishing, 2012), ‘Introduction’ to Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism (Black House, 2012), with books pending on the conflict between tradition and counter-tradition, and psychopathy in Left-wing politics.

The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 136 (Jan-Feb 2013).

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