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About Rudolf Steiner and Theodor Reuss

On occasion you will read about how Rudolf Steiner was a member of the OTO and practiced sexual magic. Such accusations were already being bandied about in his lifetime, and to anyone who knew him or his work they were and remain ridiculous. No hint of such rumors ever emerged from people close to Steiner. Rather it was people who simply wished to discredit him who slung such accusations around. If anyone believed such accusations, then or now, it might be because there really were occultists running around practicing sexual magic. Steiner spoke of occult knowledge, so it appears plausible, right? One such group practicing sexual magic was the OTO (or Ordo Templi Orientis). Their history is complex, the more so for being short of actual historical documents. That is, there is precious little actual documentation and lots of inflated claims. But the fact that they practiced sexual magic is not disputed. One of the main founders of this order was a man called Theodore Reuss. . Details of his life are sketchy, but Reuss seems to have been in the business of selling Masonic titles. One person who bought such at title was Rudolf Steiner. This happened about 1906 when Steiner appears to have intended to revive or create some sort of Masonic order. Steiner obtained the title, but appears never to have done anything with it. Steiner himself was very specific about what he wanted. He wanted to permission to use the name, and nothing else. This he stipulated in writing. He did not want any rituals or any initiation for himself. Nor was he ever in direct contact with Reuss. This he left to Marie von Sievers. Nonetheless this limited contact has been held up as proof; proof of all sorts of things. Once the connection has been made, you can go on to make all sorts of claims. Reuss went on to found the OTO and promulgate sexual magic. Steiner had nothing more to do with him, and deliberately ignored all attempts by Reuss to contact him. Commenting on the episode years later in his autobiography, Steiner wrote:

It is obviously easy to make the observation afterwards that it would have been far more “discreet” not to link up with practices which could later be used by slanderers. But I would remark with all positiveness that, at the period of my life here under consideration, I was still one of those who assume uprightness, and not crooked ways, in the people with whom they have to do. Even spiritual perception did not alter at all this faith in men. This must not be misused for the purpose of investigating the intentions of one’s fellow-men when this investigation is not desired by the man in question himself. In other cases the investigation of the inner nature of other souls remains a thing forbidden to the knower of the spirit; just as the unauthorized opening of a letter is something forbidden.

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