Since 2004, German anthroposophist, Judith von Halle (b.1972), has publicly claimed that she regularly experiences the “bleeding wounds of Christ”―the mystical stigmata―together with inedia (the ability to survive on very little food and water) and clairvoyant visions. Not surprisingly, these claims erupted into immediate sensationalism and controversy within the anthroposophical community; resulting in a deep, substantial and continuing division between influential detractors and wealthy supporters. Von Halle’s most vocal detractor has been prominent Russian anthroposophist, Sergei O. Prokofieff (1955‒2015); while her most public supporter has been well-known German anthroposophist, Peter Tradowsky (b.1934).
In order to understand this heated and often rancorous intellectual polarization, it is necessary to delve deeply into the curious phenomena known as the “mystical stigmata.” Typically, the mystical stigmata are marks, sores or wounds that spontaneously appear on the physical body of a Christian devotee which correspond primarily with the crucifixion piercings of Christ-Jesus in his hands, feet and side. Occasionally these may also include the forehead (where the crown of thorns was placed) and the back (where the scourging was inflicted).
Though St. Paul may have been the first recorded mystical stigmatist, based on the scriptural statement: “I bear on my body the marks [in Greek: ‘stigmata’] of Jesus” (Gal 6:17), St. Francis of Assisi (c.1181‒1226) is most often given the historical credit in 1224. Since that time there have been well over 300 reliable instances of the mystical stigmata being recorded, of which about 60 can be attributed to various saints. Even though many saints have experienced the mystical stigmata, such as St. Catherine of Siena (1347‒1380) and St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887‒1968), the Catholic Church does not consider the mystical stigmata to be an indication of saintliness, or an incontestable instance of a miracle. In fact, the Church is extremely cautious and reserved about reported cases of mystical stigmata; and therefore conducts a thorough investigation into such claims before any official acceptance.
While there have certainly been numerous instances of fraudulent mystical stigmata (such as self-mutilation), so far in authentic instances there has been no conclusive scientific explanation. While hypnotism and auto-suggestion have produced some mild psychosomatic effects, the force of ordinary imagination does not appear strong enough to produce mystical stigmata. Even so, both Church and science are reluctant to attribute non-physical, supernatural causes to mystical stigmata.
So what does esoteric Christianity and the spiritual scientific (anthroposophical) investigations of Rudolf Steiner (1861‒1925) have to say about mystical stigmata? Basically, that these unusual phenomena are indeed the result of an exceptional psychosomatic process. In this case the disciple of Christ-Jesus passionately identifies and vicariously empathizes with the horrific sufferings on the Cross. These excruciating feelings and emotions are so powerfully aroused and held in the astral body that they forcefully impinge on and press into the etheric or life body. Since the etheric body contains the formative forces that determine the shape and life activity of the physical body, wounds will actually corporeally appear. More than mental imagery, then, it is powerful religious emotion that produces the mystical stigmata.
Furthermore, as was the case of St. Francis, certain dedicated followers of Christ-Jesus have been privileged to interweave a copy of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth into their own astral bodies. As explained by Rudolf Steiner in a lecture given on 6 April 1909 (and published in The Principle of Spiritual Economy; 1986):
In the period spanning the eleventh through the fifteenth centuries the time had come when a copy of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth was woven into the astral bodies of certain reincarnated souls. From the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries many human beings, for example Francis of Assisi and Elisabeth of Thüringen, had the imprint of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth woven into them while their own astral bodies—the source of their knowledge—were formed during reincarnation. This enabled these individuals to proclaim the great truths of Christianity in the form of judgments, logical constructs, and scientific wisdom. But, in addition, they were also able to experience the feeling of carrying the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth within themselves.
Your eyes will be opened if you allow yourselves to experience vicariously all the humility, the devotion, and the Christian love that was part of Francis of Assisi. You will then know how to look at him as a person prone to make mistakes—because he possessed his own ego—and as a great individual because he carried a copy of the astral body of Jesus of Nazareth within his own astral body. All the humble feelings, the profound mysticism, and the spiritual soul life of Francis of Assisi become comprehensible if we know this one secret of his life.
Since a replica of the astral body of Christ-Jesus preserves the entire emotional record of the crucifixion, the bearer of such additional astral forces can more easily re-experience the Saviour’s anguish and suffering on the cross. Not surprisingly, then, the mystical stigmata first appeared around the time of St. Francis. It is quite logical to conclude, therefore, that many other Christians who have experienced the mystical stigmata over the centuries did so because of an interweaving with a replica of Christ-Jesus’ astral body.
Also noteworthy in regard to the mystical stigmata is that these phenomena have almost exclusively occurred throughout history within the monastic confines of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This was because the difficult developmental path of Mystic-Christianity requires prayerful solitude and seclusion from worldly concerns. Though this developmental path differs from Rosicrucian-Christianity, it leads nonetheless to an authentic encounter with Christ-Jesus in the superphysical realm.
According to the research of Rudolf Steiner, the mystical stigmata very often spontaneously occur during the intense meditations of the fourth stage of Mystic-Christian initiatory development, known as “The Crucifixion.” As described in a lecture given on 27 November 1906 entitled “The Gospel of St. John and Ancient Mysteries”:
[As] a fourth experience he had to develop the feeling that his body was no more for him than any other object in the world. He carried the body with him only as an instrument … In this way the mystic experienced in himself the Crucifixion. He saw himself crucified. The outer symbol was that during the meditation stigmata appeared at the places of the wounds of Christ―in the hands, in the feet and in the right side. This is the blood-trial of the Mystic, the fourth stage of initiation.
From the foregoing information, we can clearly see that the mystical stigmata is an initiatory experience which commonly occurs on the developmental path of Mystic-Christianity that has been historically practiced within the monastic orders of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Moreover, it is also associated with the replicated astral body of Christ-Jesus. It is not an experience that is common to or associated with the developmental path of Rosicrucian-Christianity.
Since the anthroposophical spiritual science of Rudolf Steiner promotes the Rosicrucian-Christian path of initiatory development, not the path of Mystic-Christianity, the stigmatist Judith von Halle is an obvious anomaly within the anthroposophical movement. If in fact her claims of mystical stigmata, inedia and visionary experience are genuine, then obviously she has been following a Mystic-Christian path of development, rather than the Rosicrucian-Christian path as encouraged in anthroposophy. Since Mystic-Christian development is a “path of the heart”―of affective development―not a “path of the head”―of intellectual development―(as is practiced in Rosicrucian-Christian development), von Halle’s connection with anthroposophy is clearly an attempt to cognitively understand and explain her own mystical experiences.
Some overly-suspicious anthroposophists regard von Halle as a Catholic “Trojan Horse”; that is, a covert means of introducing Catholic practices―such as mystical stigmata, inedia and personal visions―into the anthroposophical movement. And even though her early education included attending a Jesuit-run high school in Berlin, this is hardly proof that this Jewish stigmatist is some nefarious Catholic infiltrator seeking to subvert anthroposophy.
Nevertheless, as demonstrated by both science and the Catholic Church, the anthroposophical leadership has a right and a duty to be cautious regarding claims of mystical stigmata within its membership. As yet, there has been no objective scientific or medical investigation into von Halle’s claims. Of the anthroposophical leadership in Dornach, the only one who has seriously challenged von Halle’s various claims has been Sergei Prokofieff. While some anthroposophists have considered many of his statements and conclusions to be overly harsh, no doubt von Halle would be just as critically assessed under a Catholic Church investigation. Without an objective investigation into her claims, most anthroposophists are left to accept these claims “on faith,” which runs entirely contrary to the scientific approach of anthroposophy.
As Prokofieff indicated in numerous instances, based solely on von Halle’s published pronouncements, her veracity as a reliable esoteric teacher is seriously called into question. One glaringly-mistaken assertion that von Halle has made is that her “alleged” mystical stigmata is the result of incorporating the “phantom” or “resurrection body” of Christ-Jesus. As Prokofieff correctly pointed out, stigmatic effects have nothing to do with the “phantom” of Christ-Jesus, since this perfected physical form is no longer “wounded” in any way (even from past memory). Moreover, as previously indicated, if any vehicle of Christ-Jesus is associated with stigmata, it is a replica of Christ-Jesus’ astral body, not the phantom.
By associating her “alleged” stigmata with the Saviour’s phantom, von Halle is clearly sending the message that her mystical condition is the result of a special connection with Christ-Jesus; rather than just a predictable effect of Mystic-Christian meditation. This of course lends more weight to her pronouncements by fallaciously “appealing to authority.” Furthermore, is von Halle suggesting that all authentic instances of mystical stigmata are physical effects of the phantom body of Christ-Jesus, or just her own? Even if von Halle’s mystical stigmata proved to be authentic, this does not mean that all her visionary pronouncements and explanations are accurate.
Another glaringly-mistaken assertion that von Halle has made is that Rudolf Steiner is also the Master Serapis. While Rudolf Steiner is certainly one of the twelve bodhisattva-masters of the Great White Lodge, he is definitely not Serapis. Steiner has indicated that Serapis and Skythianos are one and the same exalted individuality, but never once suggested that this individuality was he himself.
While Prokofieff has pointed out numerous other mistaken visionary assertions by von Halle, even the two glaring errors indicated here are sufficient to call into question her esoteric accuracy. This should come as no surprise since von Halle (as did Prokofieff) chose to ignore Rudolf Steiner’s clear esoteric admonition: “I had reached the age of 40, an age before which no one in the sense of a master may openly appear as a teacher of occultism. Everywhere where someone teaches earlier than this there is an error (Correspondence and Documents 1901-1925).” When she began to publicly disseminate her esoteric ideas in book form in 2005, von Halle was only thirty-three. Does she think that this strict esoteric requirement applies only to Rudolf Steiner (a bodhisattva-master), but not to herself because she is somehow more advanced because of mystical stigmata?
While Judith von Halle may be a warm and friendly person (as attested to by others), this does not mean that she is an accurate and reliable esoteric teacher. Even without authenticating her alleged mystical stigmata, von Halle can be reliably assessed on the basis of her published ideas. As biblically expressed: “Beware of false prophets … You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15,16). Unfortunately for discerning anthroposophists, von Halle bears bitter fruit.