Marie Steiner on Tomberg's Case, an Undated Letter (Approximately 1936)

We have compellingly been asked to speak out plainly and without reservation regarding a situation in which we want to restrain ourselves as much as possible because we do not want to abandon hope that a talented and formerly trusted member find himself again after he falling prey to youthful confusion.

Questions are being asked us that make it possible to sum up the matter that causes us so much pain succinctly, yet doing so would only make the outlines of the problem visible.

1. Is it permissible that such a circular as the tract on the Old Testament by Mr. Tomberg carry the subtitle, "anthroposophical tract"?

2. Isn't the publishing of such a circular against the will of the governing committee in Dornach contrary to the expressed will of Dr. Steiner, who in an issue of the members' letter indicated an intention that the permission of the governing committee be obtained for anthroposophical activities (and to such belong indeed such anthroposophical tracts).

To be sure, it isn't permissible. In fact, Dr. Steiner made it clear to the active members' circle that the governing committee at the Goetheanum must give permission for anything that occurs in the name of the society. And it is especially a commitment that every member of the first class undertakes as a member of the school of Michael not to occupy himself with any form other than that present here. Dr. Steiner spoke the following words in introducing the first-class lessons . . . [unprovided]

Mr. Tomberg's behavior departed from the quoted conditions. Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, he has presented himself to us in his "anthroposophical tract" as a new spiritual investigator; he has placed before us a "fail accompli". In order to neutralize any objection that might be raised, he has made rather reckless and arbitrary assertions already in his first tract and has basely mocked those who will not acknowledge other initiates.

3. Is it conceivable, that a young man like Heir Tomberg, who just turned 35 years old, has the necessary maturity to be an occult teacher?

Dr. Steiner often emphasized that he himself would not have presented himself as an occult teacher before his fortieth birthday, and that this corresponds to a spiritual law. The law of slowly developing inner and outer maturation also demands such reservation. He presented as a test for the degree of maturity of him who believes himself compelled to present himself as a spiritual investigator that he have the patience to wait, to investigate, and to investigate again, not just simply believe that he already possesses the power of judgment concerning his own cognitive capacity.

However, something else that is present here also needs to be considered. Dr. Steiner always implored those who were involved in divorces and the new marriages connected with them--who at the same time sought to be accepted into the first class--to wait until those things had ebbed and evened themselves out; so that passion would not influence or cloud one's striving for knowledge. How much more is it then necessary to wait until such upheavals of the soul are past when one wants to present oneself to the world as a spiritual investigator? One is the very most subject to error when mysticism and esotericism combine with each other. That is the domain that evokes the greatest deceptions and where darkness can most easily enter the picture.

One will hardly be able to object here that that danger hasn't been overcome since, according to reports, the moment of passion and the dependence of soul associated with it were present. And, especially, the recommendation of eugenic occultism aimed at attracting highly developed souls into birth--exactly when the harbinger of that teaching is rejoicing at his recently born child--has also something of the upwelling of a mystical-erotic occultism about it. Such things are nothing new, they appear again and again, and cannot claim originality in any way. And that, in fact, according to Bjelotsvetoff's theory, there is no time to lose in following the new revelation and breeding the sixth race eugenetically--that's nearing the grotesque. They've been breeding that sixth race for decades in California--the followers of Tingley as well as Besant--and have bought themselves paradisiacal fields well fertilized with money in order to bring that in the most comfortable way to fruition.

To the prophet Mr. Tomberg, who has appeared with exultation, and to Mr. Bjelotsvetoff, Dornach seems dry and archival. He was never even there and hasn't allowed himself even to imagine the incredible work that must be accomplished here in order to make fruitful the various domains of life as Dr. Steiner always admonished us to do. For what he gave us cannot be superseded: it must be brought to life.

Only to those who through vanity made themselves susceptible to temptation and succumbed to temptation through the false praise of immature and self-seeking friends--only to them could it occur to perceive and recommend themselves as the heirs and continuers of Dr. Steiner's esoteric knowledge. Such aspirations could lead to no result in Dornach, because there the unattainable example of Dr. Steiner remains alive. When someone assumes to be able to simply continue his (Dr. Steiner's) work as teacher instead of making the attempt in all humility to penetrate it and to bring it to life--that simply means that one has understood nothing of Dr. Steiner's uniqueness.

On the other hand, there have always been at various places on the periphery talented personalities who with small attempts at seership have been waiting in the wings and for a time impressed even prominent members. They have mostly had the intention to come to Dornach as emissaries of masters or "from the Far East' to save and elevate the Goetheanum--until their splendor built on special powers disappeared into dust and smoke and the eyes of most were thereby opened. In the meantime, blossoms and fruits of such works have appeared that are similar (intoxicating but toxic). And perhaps the battle with what seeks to erode the severity and the purity of Rudolf Steiner's spiritually scientific method of work and push the society into the grip of psychic sensationalism--it is perhaps that that in the final analysis lies deepest at the foundation of the difficulties in the society. In our free society, one is exposed to this danger, for which the case of Benthien is still having an effect as a crass example--representing the climax of such nonsense (a woman seer who played a great role in certain circles of the society in the '20s and '30s with her mystical utterances about--among other things--reincarnation). This happened because the young were badly advised. But the door to danger is always open as soon as vanity and thirst for fame make a compact with uncontrolled psychic powers.

But we certainly ought not to compare what Mr. Tomberg is accomplishing and achieving with those sibylline powers. But all the more should one therefore examine whether what he does is as unblemished as he says and whether or not he is in fact prey to great illusions.

Mr. Tomberg states in his first manuscript that he declares once and for all that he thanks Dr. Steiner for everything--he is the air that one breathes, and that he therefore cant acknowledge him whenever he reports facts that come from him. But what then results? Everything of Tomberg's is built on Dr. Steiner's wisdom; it is the firm ground, through which one can always impress and, where one wants to--or where one is influenced by unseen powers--one turns things around, gives them another direction and none can distinguish anymore where Dr. Steiner's wisdom stops and where Tomberg's new inspirations begin. Is that then unblemished work? Is that true to Dr. Steiner? It is a compelling proof of the great confusion into which Mr. Tomberg has been driven that he represents it so.

In order to justify his course, which he decided and prepared Just since his friendship with Mrs. Bjelotsvetoff, he attacks the Goetheanum by saying that we lack here warmth: he feels himself called to provide it. How? Through circulars--his written tracts. Are then those by Dr. Steiner made available to the members not on the same level of warmth of love? And has he found a different way than that of the printing press to let flow to the members his love? Only a small circle of people who are fanatic or sensation seeking could think that what he offers has a greater worth than the words into which Dr. Steiner poured his heart's blood.

The decisions of the annual meeting give a welcome opportunity to say that one would have crossed the will of Dr. Steiner here. The dogma of five is being promulgated. However, it is a dogma that was first promulgated after Dr. Steiner's passing by those whose special purposes were bound up with it. For, when Dr. Steiner was alive, it was six: he didn't promulgate five but six. For he was included, wasn't he? And he had the formation of new sections in view, if leaders were to appear who could join correctly in the work. Vis 6 vis X, he showed a certain limited reserve and named another personality to me, who would have received the task if had (s)he shown more perseverance in the work. Esoteric connections cannot be reduced to the number five. And a number does not stand higher than the most noble commandment that we have been given to heed. Another form becomes necessary when the foundation pillar of esotericism--the truth--is shaken. And, when vanity and desire for fame open the gates of the enemies of the soul, then the battle with them becomes unavoidable. This will always be the trap that the tempter--like a thief in the night--sets and that will cause the downfall of some of those who are called to the work. And a love that shuts its eyes in the face of such things would be untrue.

In connection with what happened in Tallinn (the Estonian name for Reval, Tomberg's place of residence), hindsight interestingly reveals the fact that Tomberg--shortly before the appearance of his tracts--imperatively requested to be invited to the Goetheanum--together with Mrs. Bjelotsvetoff, whom he hoped soon to marry--and in fact as a lecturer in anthroposophy. It did not work out because of financial difficulties, for the Goetheanum was not in a position to guarantee living costs for two persons and couldn't advise anyone to give up a job considering how difficult things were. All things now considered in retrospect, in connection with a coarse attempt to force one's way into the Goetheanum that then failed, it seems then that it could very easily have happened that, on a basis of high regard and trust, foreign inspirers could have found their way into the Goetheanum with Mr. Tomberg himself perhaps not becoming aware of it . . . [the letter ends suddenly here].