Rudolf Steiner: Accidental Shaman

By David Halpin

The symbols of Freemasonry are chosen for a reason. There are no coincidences.

The acacia tree is an often overlooked symbol that turns up prominently in Masonic imagery but perhaps because it is decorative, as opposed to the centrally placed square and compasses, the acacia has kept its sacred history very much in the background.

Albert Pike in Morals and Dogma writes that within Egyptian mythology the acacia is the tree which grew up through the body of Osiris, thus revealing a subtle hint about the potential hidden reason for its association with the soul and higher states.1

It was also said that Moses made the ark of the covenant from acacia wood and that the tree itself was given to the Israelites by God as a sign of their bond.

We can see then that there is a very obvious reason as to why this tree might be considered sacred to the Masons. Indeed, an evergreen tree in any hot and dry climate obviously epitomizes the notion of eternal life and the ever living soul.

All of this can explain the symbolic choice of acacia by a mystical order but might there also be another reason?

Many plants and trees share the same outward appearance and traits of the acacia so was there something else about this particular tree that bestowed its sacred significance?

Today, we know that the bark of the acacia contains high levels of dimethyltryptamine, or DMT as it is more popularly known.

Plants and trees containing DMT have been used for thousands of years by shaman and spiritual seekers to enter into altered states of consciousness. These states have been called Heaven, the Duat, Yggdrasil, the higher worlds, Tir na Nog and NDEs (near death experiences.).

Dr. Rick Strassman in his groundbreaking research has gone so far as to call DMT the "spirit molecule".2

As we have shown, the acacia is already associated with Moses, so considering these properties, might we ask if this tree was used to create a psychoactive substance in order to facilitate his communion with Yahweh and are there any other examples of prophets associated with the acacia? Was the burning bush a hidden reference to the preparation of acacia into a psychedelic substance?

Gary Lachman writes in his biography of Rudolf Steiner that, throughout his childhood, Steiner’s father would cook the blossoms of the acacia to accompany the family’s meals.3 This gives us room to speculate on the potential effects of this entheogenic tree on the mind of a growing child. Indeed, in some indigenous cultures DMT containing plants are deliberately given to children on the verge of puberty in order to assist their shamanic maturing.

It is worth pointing out that DMT effects from some species of acacia can be effective without the need for an MAOI. The acacia confusa is the most famous example but because this tree will not survive a climate of freezing winters I would personally doubt that this was the tree in Steiner's garden. Today, there are many experiences described online of acacia consumption without MAOI, either way.

It is most likely safe to say that psychedelic initiation was not the intention of Steiner’s father, however.

A final irony in this anecdote is that Steiner’s father was told about the edibility of the acacia blossoms by a priest!

The phonetic etymology of acacia is particularly interesting.

Akh is the Egyptian term used to describe the "transfigured soul".

As is the adverb adjective for "quickly", and Ia means "to praise/ raise up/ honored".

In this breakdown we get an accurate description of the spiritual properties of the acacia tree when used in a psychoactive sense: Akh Ac Ia becoming “The transfigured soul quickly raised”.4

When we also consider that Steiner was the person who first used the term ‘Akashic Records’ the connection between acacia and Akasha becomes even more intriguing.

Using this term to describe the realm behind all things, where all actions, intentions and higher worlds were recorded, Steiner was describing the shamanic, nonphysical, plane of existence.

Could there be a connection between Steiner’s consumption of the acacia and his visions of higher worlds or is this just a coincidence?

It is certainly an odd synchronicity that Steiner would, decades later, use the term Akashic Records, etymologically linked to acacia, to describe the place where he believed all souls emanated from and would eventually return to.

Obviously, there have been many spiritual thinkers who have arrived at the belief in higher realms without the need for psychedelic assistance and some of Steiner’s more practical education and bio-farming ideas demonstrate the breadth of his intuitive knowledge in other areas.

However, to overlook Steiner’s potentially important, yet inadvertent, link with this ancient shamanistic tree would mean ignoring another piece in the puzzle of this enigmatic individual and the hidden influence of the acacia in our spiritual history.

1Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Albert Pike. 1872.
2DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Rick Strassman, M.D. 2001.
3Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work, Gary Lachman. 2007.
4An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary, E.A. Wallis Budge. 1920.

David Halpin

David Halpin is a regular contributor to various Fortean and esoteric publications including Ancient-Origins, Occultum and The Wild Hunt. He also reviews both new and influential books relating to the occult, Paganism, Gnosticism and ancient mysteries for his Occult Book Review channel on YouTube.