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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse
GA 104a
Part Two

Lecture XI

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,1Through Ahriman. 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.” (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.