Putting the spiritual into practice

Anthroposophy in the life and work of Olly and Uno Donner


  • Julia von Boguslawski University of Helsinki
  • Jasmine Westerlund University of Turku


The aim of this article is to examine how Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical ideas were reflected and put into practice in the lives of the Finnish couple Olly (Olga) Donner (1881–1956, neé Sinebrychoff) and Uno Donner (1872–1958). They encountered anthroposophy in 1913 and subsequently embraced it as the guiding principle of their lives. Through a close examination of these two people we aim to shed light on how a new worldview like anthroposophy, which was gaining followers in early twentieth-century Finland, was also a manifestation of wider changes in religious culture in Europe. Our perspective could be described as biographical in the sense that it has been characterised by Simone Lässig (2008: 11) who writes that ‘the reconstruction of individual life courses helps to discover more about the context – for example, about daily rituals, pious practices, or kinship relationship’. Thus, the biographical perspective serves as a tool for grasping how something as deeply personal as an anthroposophical worldview was understood and practised, not only by Olly and Uno Donner, but also by a larger group of people who in the early twentieth century were looking for new ways to make sense of the surrounding world.




How to Cite

von Boguslawski, J., & Westerlund, J. (2018). Putting the spiritual into practice: Anthroposophy in the life and work of Olly and Uno Donner. Approaching Religion, 8(1), 48–68. https://doi.org/10.30664/ar.66739