Walter Johannes Stein

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Walter Johannes Stein, circa 1930

Walter Johannes Stein (6 February 1891, Vienna – 7 July 1957, London) was an Austrian philosopher, Waldorf school teacher, Grail researcher, and one of the pioneers of anthroposophy.

Early life[edit]

Stein studied mathematics, physics, and philosophy at Vienna University, before completing a doctorate in philosophy at the end of the First World War, having continued work on it throughout his service in an artillery unit in the war.

Follower of Steiner[edit]

Stein became a personal student of Rudolf Steiner from about the age of 21, and enjoyed the unofficial supervision of Steiner while writing his dissertation. Broadly speaking, the dissertation was an attempt to write a theory of cognition for spiritual knowledge.

After the war Stein assisted Steiner in promoting Social Threefolding. When it became apparent in 1919 that these efforts were not going to succeed, Steiner asked Stein to teach history and German literature at the first Waldorf School in Stuttgart. It was as part of this work that Stein began his research on the Grail, which culminated in 1928 with his book The Ninth Century and the Holy Grail.[1] The cover of the latest English edition says of this work:

"In studying the central Grail narrative – Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach – Stein takes a twofold approach. On the one hand he searches historical records in order to identify actual people and events hidden behind the Grail epic's veil of romance. And on the other hand, he deciphers Eschenbach's hidden spiritual messages, revealing Parzival to be an esoteric document containing mighty pictures of the human being's inner path of development."

Thomas Meyer has also published a collection of articles by Stein on themes related to those in the book under the title Der Tod Merlins.[2]

In London[edit]

Stein moved to London in 1933, at the invitation of the theosophist-turned-anthroposophist Daniel Nicol Dunlop. Dunlop was director of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association (BEAMA), and chairman of the executive council of the World Power Conference. Dunlop had called Stein to London to take up a post in research for the World Power Conference; he had apparently founded the World Power Conference as a precursor to a World Economic Conference, and he had called Stein to London to assist him especially with this latter, more ambitious, project. However, Dunlop died in 1935 before this plan could be brought to fruition. Stein did, however, bring about Dunlop's wish for an independent cultural journal in the form of The Present Age. Stein, having taken up various studies in economics, geography, and geology for his collaborative work with Dunlop, was able to bring together the results of this work in a special issue of the journal under the title The Earth as a Basis of World Economy. The publication of the journal ceased, however, with the start of the Second World War.

World War II[edit]

During and after the Second World War Stein made many connections in government circles in Britain, as well as with the Dutch and Belgian royal families. It has been said that Stein was invited to England to advise Winston Churchill on the question of Hitler's occult practices. Stein was, however, invited to England by Dunlop, not Churchill, though Stein apparently was consulted on these matters as someone knowledgeable about such things.

Ravenscroft's writings[edit]

The primary source of stories about Stein and his (alleged) relationship to Hitler and Churchill is Trevor Ravenscroft in his books The Spear of Destiny (1973, on the Holy Lance) and The Cup of Destiny. Ravenscroft claimed that he had been a pupil of Stein's, and that Stein would have written the former book but for his untimely death.

However, investigative reporter Eric Wynants discovered the Stein/Ravenscroft connection was a complete fabrication while interviewing Ravenscroft for an article in 1982. According to Wynants, Ravenscroft admitted during their interview that he had never actually met W.J. Stein, but "talked to him only via a medium".' [3] Similarly, the biography of Walter Stein by Johannes Tautz does not support Ravenscroft's claim to have ever met Stein. It has been alleged that Ravenscroft intended to publish The Spear of Destiny as fiction, but was bullied into publishing it as non-fiction.[4] Retired London Publisher Neville Armstrong who issued The Spear of Destiny described Ravenscroft as "certainly the most difficult and devious malchick I have ever published" in his autobiography.[5]

Both of Ravenscroft's books have been said to fail to give an accurate account of Stein's work, and to misquote him in several places. Concerning Ravenscroft's claim that Stein had a relationship with Hitler, Stein himself said that the first time he saw Hitler in person was at a public hotel in 1932,[citation needed] and at no time states that they actually spoke to one another. A reviewer of the Tautz biography, Daniel Hindes, said, "Now it may be that all the claims in Ravenscroft’s book are so patently ridiculous as to require no serious investigation. But their existence ought to be mentioned in the only biography of Stein, if only to dismiss them."[6]

More extensive criticisms have been offered by Christoph Lindenberg in his review of The Spear of Destiny in the German journal Die Drei based on research at the Vienna Records office. He found that many of Ravenscroft's statements were contradicted by official records.

As a lecturer[edit]

Stein lectured extensively on anthroposophy and related themes from around the early 1920s onward, giving up to 300 lectures a year. He also contributed many articles to The Present Age and similar periodicals, and wrote a number of short books including The Principle of Reincarnation, Gold: in History and in Modern Times, West-East: A Study in National Relationships, Labour: in History and in Modern Times, and The British: Their Psychology and Destiny.

Spiritual life[edit]

Stein appears to have had a spiritual breakthrough in 1924 using the meditative methods of Steiner. Building on this breakthrough, he apparently attained, over his lifetime, some insight into his own karmic background. This is described in greater detail in Tautz's biography of Stein. Tautz cites Stein's written account of his experience as fact.

2007 event[edit]

A celebration of the life of Stein was held in the UK on 7 July 2007, hosted by the Economics Conference of the Social Sciences Section of the Goetheanum.[7]


  • Walter Johannes Stein: A Biography by Johannes Tautz, Temple Lodge Press 1990.


  1. ^ First published in German as Weltgeschichte im Lichte des heiligen Gral. Das neunte Jahrhundert; the latest English edition is The Ninth Century and the Holy Grail, Temple Lodge Publishing 2001.
  2. ^ Published in English as The Death of Merlin, Arthurian Myth and Alchemy, Floris Books 1989.
  3. ^ [see 'The Secret of the Spear – The Mystery of The Spear of Longinus' by Alec Macellan p.116]
  4. ^; this reference mixes up the names of Rudolf Steiner and Walter Stein.
  5. ^ Cathching Up With The Future published in 1999.
  6. ^
  7. ^ From I to We – The Life and Work of W J Stein, Celebration of the Life of Walter Johannes Stein. Diary of the Economics Conference.

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