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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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The Apocalypse of St. John
GA 104

In this early cycle of lectures, Steiner unlocks with spiritual fire and insight the profound mysteries in the Book of Revelation. He shows that the Apocalypse of St. John with its picture-language can help us decipher the book of destiny.

This edition was revised in 1958 by M. Cotterell. The introductory lecture is published in English translation for the first time. This volume is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

This edition was revised in 1958 by M. Cotterell.

Introductory Lecture June 17, 1908
Spiritual Science. The Gospel. The Future of Mankind. The pre-religious time. The Mythologies. The religious state. The different stages of consciousness and the I-Am.
Lecture I June 18, 1908
General character of the spirit of the Apocalypse. What takes place in Initiation and how is Initiation related to the nature of the Apocalypse?
Lecture II June 19, 1908
Concerning Initiation through training of the thinking-forces (pre-Christian time), the feeling-forces (Christian time), and the culture of the will in Rosicrucian training. Symbolic representations for the specific Christian and the Christian-Rosicrucian Initiation.
Lecture III June 20, 1908
What is Man? and what is he destined for in this age? Ascent by degrees into imaginative, inspirational and intuitive knowledge. The inner progress of the seven post-Atlantean cultures is expressed in the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials of wrath. The seven Churches are the representatives of the seven post-Atlantean culture-epochs and to each the Apocalyptist directs a message in which he says what can be retained of the old and what must be different.
Lecture IV June 21, 1908
What the seven epochs of the post-Atlantean culture have laid into the souls and sealed will live over into the seven epochs of the future. Seven times will souls be unsealed: seven seals must be opened out of the book. In this book, which is written into men's souls, will stand the entries of the culture-epochs. What is not fitted for immortality falls away, the new that has been prepared in our age emerges and is indicated through the symbol corresponding to the intelligence: the horse. The call of the I-Am overcomes death. Symbolic appearance of those to whom white raiment is given. Symbolic fulfilment of what is given by external life in the disappearance and transforming of sun and moon, the spiritualizing of mankind.
Lecture V June 22, 1908
Digression. The four conditions of our planetary existence. The Apocalypse shows how the future of the earth is revealed through Christian Initiation by the emergence of what has been prepared in souls in the past. The human being first becomes man in the middle of the earth's evolution. All the other beings who have gone through the human stage up to then have advanced beyond him and could therefore guide his development. They are the regulators of the age — the twenty-four Elders. The foundation for the animal, plant, human kingdoms was provided by the beings who remained behind. The glassy sea indicates the emergence of the mineral kingdom in its first form. From then on the writer of the Apocalypse shows us the pictures of future stages of evolution.
Lecture VI June 23, 1908
Digression (continued). The twenty-four categories of beings who had gone through the human stage and also other beings were united with the original world-mist of which occultism speaks. Jahve separated himself from the lofty beings, the seven Elohim, who went out with the sun. He remained connected with the earth. Solid parts have only gradually been incorporated into the original human form. The ancient Atlantean was still quite different in form and had a quite different soul-life. Only when the densification of the water led to the flood and the rainbow appeared did man learn to say “I” to himself. Earlier he was sheltered in the spirituality of the Group-soul; now he learnt to feel the God in himself: Jahve was the Ego-leader. That was the first lighting-up of individuality. Man had won his self-consciousness at the cost of spiritual darkening. This development took place through three culture-epochs into the fourth. Then a new force streamed through the earth, the earths whole aura was changed through the Blood that flowed on Golgotha, the Christ-Principle had united itself with the earth.
Lecture VII June 24, 1908
The future is a recapitulation of the past in an altered condition; the former dull clairvoyance will unite with the clear self-consciousness that has been gained. Through Christ's entry into the world the human being has been preserved from sinking down into a kind of abyss. Man stands before a decision. In a certain way he has already descended into the abyss; if he yields to the descent his personality is not saved for the ascent into the spiritual worlds. To the measure in which understanding for the Christ-Impulse is developed in man, will humanity ascend. Gradually those submerge into the abyss who have acquired the “I” in the form of egotism, but who cannot lift themselves to the spirit which has given them the human countenance. These become animal-like, the evil race. After the opening of the seals man will have in his countenance that which he bears in his heart. The sign, the name of Christ will be expressed in the countenance of the redeemed. We look to the past as the great school of love and its two forces; it leads those who strive to Christ — the true Light-bearer. Noah and the spiritual Adam. At the opening of the four seals the horse, symbol of mere intelligence, appeals four times in succession. At the opening of the fifth seal those appear in white raiment who have been preserved for spiritualization, who understand the call of the earth's mission and will be there when the slaves of personality sink into the abyss. The sixth culture-epoch will bring the opposite pole to intelligence in the little band out of all nations who will live in brotherhood in the sense of the Church of Philadelphia.
Lecture VIII June 25, 1908
Increase of egotism is the preparatory cause of the War of All against All. The two aspects of the ego. It brings about hardening if it does not find love; it is the seducer who thrusts into the abyss. It is, however, pledge of man's highest goal. Hence the symbol in the Apocalypse for ego-consciousness is the sharp two-edged sword in the mouth of the representative of humanity. Evil has a part in the plan of creation in order that through it may come the greater good. It is the Manichean principle. The opening of the seven seals characterizes the seven consecutive civilizations which will be formed after the great war: the initiate sees them in the symbolism of the astral world. When these civilizations will have run their course there begins a new age, symbolized by the sounding of the seven trumpets. Man perceives it from the actual spiritual world where the tones of the spheres ring forth. In the heavenly realm thought resounds. This heavenly realm will have descended into the physical world in the seventh epoch, as the astral world in the sixth epoch. The earth is transformed into an astral celestial body: a material globe is separated off with the beings who are not fitted for the ascent. The expulsion of matter is indicated in the Apocalypse through the outpouring of the seven vials of divine wrath. The reception of the highest which man can absorb, the message of love contained in the Gospels must penetrate not only the understanding, but man's innermost being: this book is swallowed by man. The Mars forces and Mercury forces, symbolized in the two pillars, are the heritage of the past now permeated by the force of love contained in the book.
Lecture IX June 26, 1908
After the seven trumpets have sounded an astral earth arises with the beings which belong to it. Digression on the possibilities of man's evolution. The working of the ego on the astral body, etheric body, physical body — at first unconsciously. At last a more or less self-conscious ego is worked out of the group-soul nature which reached full individuality with the appearing of Christ. To-day we have the beginning of Spirit-self. When the seventh trumpet sounds man will dissolve the physical element of his nature and live over as etheric being into the astralized earth. Retrospect to the first Adam and the corruptible body. The incorruptible body of the last Adam bears in its countenance the capacity of receiving Christ. It is the mystery of becoming man. Glance at the ancient earth as an organism permeated by regular currents out of which original man was born as a little separate place which raised itself from the earth and yet was connected with it by innumerable threads. Adam means son of earth. In the ancient earth everything was foreshadowed — the courses of the blood and nerves, all the organs. To-day man works on his soul and will make his body an image of the soul which has taken Christ into itself. He will implant the forces he has thus developed into the earth's next embodiment, Jupiter, out of which the Jupiter beings will be born. The body is truly the temple of the egohood to be found within. If it is formed rightly then Jupiter will be built with the proper measurements. With this spiritual condition of the earth appears again what was there formerly. Elijah and Moses, the spiritual representatives of what we have seen in the two pillars. After man has spiritualized himself and the earth has gone through the right degree of evolution he is mature enough to reunite with the forces that are in the sun. As conqueror of the moon he unites with the sun; the symbolic expression for this is the woman who bears the sun within her and has the moon under her feet. The part of humanity not impregnated by the Christ-principle has fallen away and formed a kind of secondary planet. There the four types of the Group-soul appear in their animal forms and three others as well. What has remained in the flesh is represented in the secondary planet by the seven-headed beast. They are now the seven adversaries. All that is organized in man by the etheric is called in occultism “head;” what becomes physically conscious through a member of the etheric body is called “horn.”
Lecture X June 27, 1908
The plan of world evolution takes its course in numerical relationships, the number seven governs all parts of world evolution. Seven conditions of planetary embodiments coincide with the development of human consciousness. Transformation of the four conditions of consciousness already passed through into the future three conditions: conscious picture-consciousness = Jupiter; inspired-consciousness when each being seems like a resounding musical form of what was earlier astral picture; intuitive-consciousness, when the soul remains individual and yet rests within all things and beings. Each of these conditions has seven conditions of life, which coincide with the seven kingdoms. The seven kingdoms of the earth correspond to the elementary kingdoms on the previous planets, which have disappeared into our world. Man belongs entirely to the mineral kingdom because this is the only one he can understand. The other kingdoms are pre-stages of what man will some time experience, they are prototypes; pointing to a future kingdom in which man will be later. On Jupiter there will still be something similar to the seven Earth kingdoms, on Venus and Vulcan the idea “kingdom” is no longer suitable. The seven life-conditions must again pass through seven form-conditions, the physical is the middle one. It descends and then reascends to a perfected astral and lower and higher Devachan. We must rise from this intellectual scheme to the living structure with the help of the pictures which are to be seen in the astral. These do not originate from brain-thinking but are given by clairvoyance of the facts. The form-conditions also pass through seven stages and give race- or culture-conditions. We live in the fifth; the sixth is indicated in the Apocalypse through the seven seals, the seventh through the seven trumpets. Then the physical passes over into the astral. Man had to go through four group-souls until he attained individual consciousness and thereby perfected four kinds of bodily members: four heads corresponding to the four parts of the body: the horns, densifications of the etheric system of force. After the ego-man receives the Christ-principle no more animal heads are formed. Man has become man-like and appears in white raiment. The seven heads and ten horns which are brought over from Atlantean times are overthrown. One who rejects Christ would bring the old form to view: the beast with the seven heads as at the time of the seals, so now in the time when the vials of wrath are poured out and the earth divides into two parts.
Lecture XI June 29, 1908
After the time indicated through the sounding of the trumpets the earth becomes spiritualized. The conditions of form and the number of evolution. This is now for us 344. At a future time the number will be 666; this future is prepared in our time. The age of the sounding of the seven trumpets will see men who descend deep into evil. And when that far-distant future comes which is indicated not through 466 but 666, they will no longer be able to alter these tendencies. The adversary of the Sun-Being, Christ, or the Lamb, is the Sun-Demon, Sorat, the principle that leads men to complete hardening. A sign of the Christ-adversary is hidden in numbers. The abuse of spiritual forces, black magic, is the method of seduction used by the two-horned beast. The hardening of matter is shown to the Apocalyptist in the Great Babylon. On the other side stand those who unite with the principle of the Lamb and prepare the main outlines of what Jupiter is to be — the New Jerusalem. The force through which the Sun-genius overcame the two-horned beast, the great Dragon, is called in Christian-Rosicrucian esotericism: the countenance of the Sun-genius, Michael, who has the key and holds the Dragon chained.
Lecture XII June 30, 1908
It is only possible for man to reach freedom and love through the descent of evil into the abyss. The Sorat-principle originates from other world-ages, must satisfy itself with those fallen away, with those who have hardened in matter on the earth. These will be the hosts of Sorat. What do the concepts “First Death” “Second Death” mean to the writer of the Apocalypse? The clairvoyant Jupiter-man will live consciously under other moral conditions. The astral body already transformed through the ego will be capable of working into the etheric body. The helper who makes this possible is the Christ-being. Only later will man, with the aid of the Father, be able to work into the physical body. The “first death” is the laying aside of the very last physical body. Men then go on living in the spiritualized earth with all that has been brought into the etheric body with the aid of Christ. They live in harmony with the Christ-principle. The etheric body of those who have rejected it will be adapted to the physical body and will live in disharmony and burning desire. In the further spiritualizing of the earth there will no longer be etheric bodies. Those who have received Christ will cast them off without trouble, the others will feel it as a second dying in each successive astral form. That is the “second death.” Those who have reached the goal on earth sketch out the plan for the Jupiter-evolution: that is the New Jerusalem. Those who have thrust away the forces which the Jupiter-consciousness can give them will be those who have remained behind, sunk down below. But it will still be possible to convert a certain number. Not till the Venus-embodiment comes the unalterable decision. It is the corrupted intelligence that falls a prey to the beast; therefore the number of the beast is the number of man. The regularity of the New Jerusalem is described in the cube of the last picture.