Rudolf


Stepping through the arched wooden doors is something akin to entering an idiosyncratic and possibly clandestine church. Men and women attired in rumpled linen and ergonomic sandals move purposefully through the hallways. Overhead, the ceilings rise and fall in sculptural double curves. The walls are daubed a shimmering, ethereal peach, and on them hang intricate coloured tapestries depicting scenes of mystic import. The leaded windows taper themselves elegantly into leaf shapes. Everywhere is the tangy smell of beeswax polish, unless lunchtime is approaching, when this is overpowered by the unmistakable odour of biodynamic beans. Sometimes voices echo down the flowing central staircase in medieval plainchant or in Celtic folk song. It doesn’t take long to realise there are no computers.

This is the headquarters of the Rudolf Steiner movement, and I'm here because I’ve decided, on a directionless whim, to train as a teacher in their alternative school system. I have almost no knowledge of anthroposophy (Steiner’s esoteric philosophy slash quasi-religion) beyond a book by the former bass player of Blondie that I’ve recently ordered from Amazon. There are multiple red flags in the bass player's book to suggest that a profession based on what Steiner called his ‘spiritual science’ might not be an ideal fit — references to Rosicrucianism, to repeated earth lives, to the lost kingdoms of Lemuria and Atlantis — and I’ve blithely paged past every one of them. At the interview, I’m asked how I feel about angels. I mumble something about keeping an open mind and get out my cheque book.