The Twelve Senses

The Twelve Senses

About 100 years ago, Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, developed and introduced the idea that humans have twelve senses, not just five.

Tom van Gelder wrote about these on his website about Phenomenology. There he states,

“There is a relationship between sensory perception, and health and vitality. Your vitality increases if you observe intensively and perceptively. At the same time, the healthier and more vital you are, the more intensive and perceptive your observations.

Steiner’s twelve senses can be grouped into three categories. He distinguished senses which relate to the perception of:

  • your body: the senses of touch, of life, of movement, of balance
  • the external world: smell, taste, sight, temperature
  • the immaterial, spiritual world: hearing, speech, thought, ego

Will, feeling, thought

  • The first four senses, the lowest, are called physical senses, or senses of the will because they are used to perceive one’s own body.
  • The middle four senses are the senses of feeling. Observations made with these senses arouse feelings. These senses are also reflected in our language: a tastefully furnished house, a sourpuss, hard to swallow, heart-warming, cold thought.
  • The last four senses, the highest, focus particularly on the other. These are the spiritual or knowledge senses, and they are used in the observation of other people.”

This year I will focus on one sense per month.  I will explain the sense further, relate it to Unitarian Universalist principles, and give suggestions of games or activities that you can do at home to fortify the sense.

January=sense of touch

February=sense of life

March=sense of movement

April=sense of balance

May=sense of smell


Amy Huntereece, M.Ed., DRE Beacon Unitarian Universalist congregation