Introduction by Wilhelm Rath
the verses that follow an attempt has been made to express in
rhythmical form what these unique works of art can convey to
verses should, however, not be regarded as intended to stand by
themselves. Some parts of them would then seem to be
meaningless. They should be looked upon as an ‘elucidating
description’ accompanying the beholder — and not in any
way claiming to be the only explanation.
Employing a new kind of engraving in glass of a single colour
the windows were intended to awaken in the ‘eye of the soul’ an
experience of the imaginative world in much the same way as was
intended for the ceiling paintings of the small and large
the art of the Goetheanum is not decoration, nor is it merely
art per se — rather is it an art that speaks.
Whosoever is able to understand its language will discover in
it secrets of the human being. Rudolf Steiner called the
Goetheanum “the house of the word” not only because
the spirit manifesting itself to humanity in the word of
anthroposophy resounded in it, but also because all forms and
pictures were intended by their own ‘language’ to open the soul
to the spirit, to lead man from sense experience to higher
faculties of perception.
Whereas the paintings of the large cupola in their colours and
images born of the colour-worlds pointed to the imaginations of
former states of the earth and of human cultures, and in the
smaller cupola present and future of human development were
revealed to the soul in significant pictures, the motifs of the
windows show the path of inner development towards an
imaginative experience of the spiritual background of man's
life of soul.
starting point for this path is the experience of the image of
man's egoity as it is begotten in its primordial form from the
macrocosm (centre motif of the West window), whilst the windows
on either side remind man that he can only cross the threshold
to higher cognition by courageously facing the animality of his
own ‘abyss’ and overcoming it.
green windows depict the striving soul's relation to the powers
of opposition — to Lucifer in the South and Ahriman in
blue windows reveal the foundation of the human power of will,
enabling man to arrive at free decisions (in the South window)
and the cosmic origin of his head organization for perception
and cognition through thinking (in the North window).
violet windows tell of the soul's descent to incarnation (in
the South window) and its re-ascent to the spirit in life after
death (in the North window).
Finally, the windows in the colour of peach blossom (now rose)
reveal the spiritual reality of sleeping (South window) and
waking (North window).
the first Goetheanum each of the windows was in the form of a
triptych, so that the eye of the beholder was naturally drawn
first to the main motif of the centre light and subsequently to
that of the left and right. [The glass obtainable then must
have been much truer to what Rudolf Steiner was looking for,
witness the fact that the last pair are designated as
rose-coloured but had almost reached peach blossom. In the
present Goetheanum, tall narrow windows were required and so
the central light of the triptych now occupies the upper
portion of the window and the flanking lights occupy the lower.
see the windows in a meaningful sequence you should begin with
the red window in the West — continuing from here to the
green window in the South — then to the green window in
the North and so on till you arrive at the peach blossom (rose)
window in the North showing the spiritual aspect of man in the
waking state, which is after all basic for all Ego development
on earth. For only the consciously awake human being can work
for the redemption of the earth in the sense of the Christ
event by his spirit-filled actions.
this manner, the path of a spiritualized Platonism as
represented by the windows in the South combines with the
spiritualized Aristotelianism in the North windows.
in the new Christianity of the anthroposophical movement t lie
spiritual currents of Platonism and Aristotelianism combine
forces, so does the Platonic view of the prenatal life in
anthroposophical human science unite with the Aristotelian view
of the condition of man in the life after death.
as the Platonically inclined soul looks yearningly to the
spiritual world in which it originates and out of which it
gathers strength for earthly life and ever again refreshes
itself in sleep — of this the windows in the South speak
to us — so the Aristotelian soul finds contentment in the
affirmation of the earth, in the confrontation with the
Ahrimanic power in complementing sense perception with
understanding thinking — and lastly in the grasping of
the spiritual significance of his purposeful awake-ness for the
redeeming of all creation. This is revealed to him by the
windows in the North.
path of inner schooling of the spiritual soul in the age of
Michael is to be found in the alternating and intertwining
rhythm of the South and North windows. This can balance out the
onesidedness of our karma and prepare the soul for an
understanding of the encounter of the great Platonists and
Aristotelians at the end of the century. The side lights of the
rose-coloured window in the North in particular point to this
future when man, having arrived at higher wakefulness, is
capable, out of the strength flowing to him from the Mystery of
Golgotha, of working at the redemption of the Luciferic and