Altered States of Consciousness and Charismatic Authority

The Case of Judith von Halle


  • Olav Hammer University of Southern Denmark
  • Karen Swartz Åbo Akademi University



Judith von Halle, Charismatic Authority, Anthroposophy, Polemics, Religious Experience


Charisma is an unstable basis upon which to build authority. Charismatic leaders need their followers to perceive them as being endowed with extraordinary, even supernatural, gifts. Detractors can in turn question whether the leader actually possesses these unique qualities. Using Judith von Halle and her conflicts with the Anthroposophical Society as a case study, we address the question of how charismatic authority can be constructed and deconstructed in polemical texts. At various points throughout her career, Von Halle has made extraordinary claims. She presents herself as being clairvoyant and as having received stigmata. Anthroposophists who believe these claims cite them as their reasons for regarding her doctrinal statements as being trustworthy. Skeptical Anthroposophists, on the other hand, question her experiences and motives. Using a theoretical framework inspired by Foucault and Bourdieu, we discuss how both camps discuss von Halle’s charismatic status in terms that are opaque to outsiders unfamiliar with Anthroposophical discourse.

Author Biographies

Olav Hammer, University of Southern Denmark

Professor, Study of Religions, University of Southern Denmark

Karen Swartz, Åbo Akademi University

Faculty of Arts, Psychology and Theology, Culture, History and Philosophy


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How to Cite

Hammer, O. . ., & Swartz, K. . (2020). Altered States of Consciousness and Charismatic Authority : The Case of Judith von Halle. AURA - Tidsskrift for akademiske studier av nyreligiøsitet , 11(1), 4–22.