Bio of Dr Elisabeth Vreede

Dr. Elisabeth Vreede, born on July 16, 1879, in The Hague, Holland, was a pioneering figure in the field of Astrosophy and a key member of the Anthroposophical Society. The daughter of a lawyer father and a charity-devoted mother, she grew up in a household where Theosophy was a part of everyday life. Her early fascination with the starry sky was influenced by her readings of French astronomer Camille Flammarion, who approached spiritual topics with a scientific lens.

the natural world and cosmic symbols above them

Early Education and Interests

Vreede’s academic journey led her to the University of Leyden, where she studied a diverse array of subjects including mathematics, astronomy, Sanskrit, and philosophy, particularly the works of Hegel. Alongside her academic pursuits, she was actively involved in student life, founding a boat club and serving as a council member of the students’ union. This period of her life was marked by a harmonious blend of social engagement and scholarly endeavors.

Meeting Rudolf Steiner and Theosophical Involvement

Her first encounter with Rudolf Steiner, who would have a profound impact on her life, occurred at the Theosophical Congress in London in 1903. Growing up in a Theosophist family, Vreede was deeply impressed by Steiner’s lectures on subjects like ‘Mathematics and Occultism’, further deepening her interest in spiritual science.

Professional Life and Work with Steiner

After graduating in 1906, Vreede taught mathematics at a girls’ school until 1910. Subsequently, she moved to Berlin to work on her dissertation and served as Rudolf Steiner’s secretary for a time. In 1914, she relocated to Dornach, Switzerland, to contribute to the building of the first Goetheanum, where she was often found engaged in woodcarving.

Contributions During and After World War I

During World War I, Vreede took a hiatus from Dornach to assist in Berlin, caring for prisoners of war alongside Elisabeth Rotten, a Quaker and peace activist. Post-war, she played a pivotal role in introducing Rudolf Steiner’s idea of the threefold social order to England and began constructing the library and archive at the Goetheanum.

Leadership in the Anthroposophical Society

In 1924, Steiner appointed her to lead the Mathematical-Astronomical Section of the School of Spiritual Science. Vreede was a board member of the Anthroposophical Society from 1925 to 1935. However, in 1935, following internal disputes, she was expelled from the executive council and cut off from the observatory and archives she had helped to establish.

Collaboration with Willi Sucher

Vreede’s collaboration with Willi Sucher was significant, particularly in their work on the death asterograms of historical personalities. This collaboration was a key part of Sucher’s research, which he later expanded in England and Scotland.

Later Years and Legacy

Despite being excluded from the Anthroposophical Society, Vreede continued to contribute to the community. On the anniversary of Steiner’s death, she spoke eloquently about various Anthroposophists, commemorating their contributions. Her final public lecture, marking the 400th anniversary of Copernicus’s death, was a testament to her enduring spirit and intellectual vigor.

Dr. Elisabeth Vreede passed away on August 31, 1943, in Ascona, leaving behind a legacy marked by deep understanding and dedication to spiritual science and Astrosophy. Her profound insights and contributions to the Anthroposophical Society and her collaboration in the field of Astrosophy remain influential to this day.