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Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse

Schmidt Number: S-2008

On-line since: 15th December, 2007


KRISTIANIA — May 20, 1909

IN OUR SURVEY OF THE EVOLUTION OF OUR PLANET we have seen that the earth will again be spiritualized, that human beings can participate in this evolution and that they will again be able to return to the sun. Evolution leads to a constantly increasing spiritualization, to a higher condition, to the devachanic state. All those beings who are too stuck in their materialization will not be able to participate in this spiritual earth. First, everything must pass over into an astral condition. But the coarse, material elements of humankind and the base substances in the lower kingdoms enter with human beings into a kind of lower astral world. This could be called the sub-physical astral world. We have, then, devachan, the astral world, the physical world, and the lower astral world. This lower astral world is also working in opposition to our evolution today. It is ruled by the spirit Mammon, [See Note 1] that is, the spirit of hindrances. He is a power of the lower world.

All the beings who cannot rise up into the higher world must go down into this lower world. All the higher beings, after the age of the seven trumpet calls, will enter into a state of the earth united again with the sun.

Certain beings have passed through their human state on every incarnation of the earth: the angels during the moon stage, the archangels on the old sun, the good Asuras, also known as archai or primal beginnings, on old Saturn. There are also beings who did not complete their development. Such beings existed, for example, on the moon; these beings were then transplanted to the earth. They were higher than the human being but, at that time, had not yet reached the stage of humanity. These are the luciferic spirits. They have entangled the human being ever deeper in matter; they became connected to humankind in the Lemurian age. The human being would have gone through his evolution in a higher sphere if the luciferic spirits had not united with that evolution. But human beings can thank them for something good: their freedom. The luciferic spirits made, so to speak, a sacrifice for the good of humankind when they united their evolution with the earth and remained behind.

But Saturn, Sun, and Moon occurred before the middle of the earth's evolution. Those beings who remained behind before the midpoint have made an offering, a sacrifice. However, those who remain behind from now on, after the middle of the earth's evolution, merely represent a hindrance, not a sacrifice. The luciferic spirits have also brought humanity something positive. They have permeated the human astral body and thereby have brought us to independence.

If we consider that the human physical body was prepared for the human being during the ancient Saturn state, the etheric body during the Sun state, the astral body during ancient Moon, then we see how, in its way, this physical body is the most perfect member. It is the most evolved. If we could look into the miraculous structure of the physical heart, or the brain that is structured and organized with so much wisdom that physical science has not yet solved the riddles it presents, we would recognize this. The astral body is, indeed, a higher member but far less perfect; the etheric body has been perfected more than the astral but less than the physical. The I is the least perfect of all. For example, how little does the I understand the structures of the physical body. This is even precisely described in the Bible where it is said: “... then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being ...” (Genesis 2:7) This happened during Lemurian times. At that time luciferic beings worked into the astral body of the human being. However, it was just by doing this, by slipping into the astral body that they caught up with what they themselves had neglected in the past. What they should have accomplished on the Moon they went through vicariously within the human being.

When the sun will have again united with the earth, then human beings — through the fact that they will have purified their instincts, desires, and passions — will redeem the luciferic beings. The luciferic beings who do not go on to the Sun remain in their original condition. They then appear as expelled into the evil, lower astral world. This is the ancient snake and it emerges as the first dragon. Therefore, when the earth enters the sun, a dragon appears. But there are yet other beings left behind: such human beings who could not prevent themselves from dropping back into animality, who remain slaves to their animal instincts. While the other human beings go to the sun, these will form an evil power over and against the higher. These form the second monster, and the writer of the Apocalypse says in his exact fashion: The luciferic dragon appears in heaven because he comes from higher worlds; the second beast arises from the sea — this consists of the souls of animalistic human beings who have remained behind. (Compare: (Rev. 12:3–13:10)

We have still a third vision, that of the black magicians. They do not remain stuck in animality; they develop spiritual abilities. In full consciousness they have turned away, and provide a bodily incarnation for Sorat. That will be the incarnation in flesh of the demon of the sun.

But then we see how the earth emerges from the sun yet again in the future. If the spiritual human beings were to remain united with the sun forever, then the other human beings who, without guilt, had remained behind in animality would never he saved. So, these spiritualized people come forth once more and unite with what has fallen out of evolution in an attempt to save these backward souls. When the earth began its existence as “earth” it had to briefly repeat the Saturn, Sun, and Moon conditions once again. It went through recapitulations of those conditions before it became the present-day earth. Now, when actual earth conditions prevail, it must prophetically mirror the future embodiments of Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. In this way the earth goes through seven states during its actual earth condition. These states are usually called “rounds.” During the prophetically mirrored Jupiter state, the earth will actually unite with the sun. On this Jupiter-Earth all the great cultural ages will appear again — with the seven intervals between them — but they will be far less sharply delineated. On this Jupiter-Earth, many beings still have the possibility of being saved, even the black magicians.

This will also be the case on the Venus-Earth, when we have a sixth planetary interval. Here also the beings that have remained behind will stubbornly struggle against help; but this Venus-Earth will at last be decisive.

Then, on the Vulcan-Earth, nothing more can be saved. On the Venus-Earth the last moment for salvation has come in the last sub-epoch. That is why the ancient cabalists formed the word “Sorat,” because the number 666 is contained within it. That is also the number of those human beings who, out of their own cunning free will, have become black magicians by placing spiritual forces in the service of their own egotism.

The first dragon is not a human being. It came out of the spiritual world. The second dragon is ascribed to animalistic nature but in a fundamental sense the Bible ascribes this number of the third group to human beings. So the number 666 is not a sign of the beast but a human number.

The Apocalypse is an outline of the whole of evolution. Venus-Earth is portrayed to clairvoyant sight in such a way that there is not much hope for those left behind. Human powers at that time will not be capable of very much. That is why everything appears so desolate and the worst vices will reign there in the most depraved ways. They must be expelled during the Venus state of the earth. On the Jupiter-Earth there are still many, many who will allow themselves to be saved and who will unite with the sun.

But during the Venus-Earth evil must be overcome and driven into the abyss; that is the “Fall of Babylon.” (glory.
\ 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
\ 18:3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
\ 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
\ 18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
\ 18:6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
\ 18:7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
\ 18:8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
\ 18:9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
\ 18:10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
\ 18:11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
\ 18:12a The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood,
\ 18:12b and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
\ 18:13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
\ 18:14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
\ 18:15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
\ 18:16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
\ 18:17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
\ 18:18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
\ 18:19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
\ 18:20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
\ 18:21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
\ 18:22a And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee;
\ 18:22b and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
\ 18:23a And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee:
\ 18:23b for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
\ 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

King James Version
', STICKY, CAPTION, 'Rev. 17–18 ...', HAUTO, 1, VAUTO, 1, CELLPAD, 8, 8, 8, 8, WIDTH, 400, BGCOLOR, '#445555', FGCOLOR, '#CCDDDD', CAPCOLOR, '#FFFFF8')" onMouseOut="nd()">Rev. 17–18) The people who have been saved can develop themselves further to a new sun state. What has been cleansed and purified will arise for the Vulcan-Earth.

Human beings today are already creative on the earth. They can force the lifeless forces of nature to serve them. They can build cathedrals, they can sculpt marble. Today they are masters of lifeless nature. Even though Raphael's paintings of the Madonna are falling to dust, even though the external physical world is passing away, what the human being achieves in terms of art during the evolution of the earth will one day resurrect in a different form. The crystals we see today were once forms worked out by human beings during the old Moon embodiment of the earth, in a way similar to how we create and form artistically today. What the spirits once achieved in infinite ages of time now grows out of the earth; today it rises up. So, too, the matter of Raphael's Madonnas will also rise up. In the distant future, everything that human beings now create will rise again with the brightness of crystals. The place that humanity has prepared and will find waiting is called the “New Jerusalem” by the writer of the Apocalypse. A new world will arise, inhabitable by human beings who will have achieved the requisite state of maturity. In a new state, in the Jupiter existence, they will find the place where, out of love and out of human work, peace will reign.



Note 1. Through Ahriman.

Last Modified: 24-Apr-2021
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