"Someone who wants to lead human beings into the spirit must himself be able to see into the spirit.... There is absolutely no point in taking the Book of Revelation as something about which commentaries can be written. The only meaningful thing to do is to learn through the Book of Revelation how to become an apocalyptist oneself."
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, September 12, 1924:
By bringing before our souls the central points in which the apocalyptist’s revelations culminate—as we have already done with certain aspects—we can soon arrive at the overall composition as well as the consecutive content of the Book of Revelation. Today we shall therefore continue in our consideration of the central points, so that tomorrow we can really get down to the content consecutively.
Yesterday I spoke about how the apocalyptist in a sense saw something that was threatening to engulf Christianity—that which he felt to be the true Christianity—something that would turn it away from the Christ-Principle and lead it back to the Father-Principle, which, if it were to win the day, could take on only materialistic, naturalistic forms in this time.
The apocalyptist saw things and processes in accordance with the secret of numbers or, better, he both looked and felt in accordance with the secret of numbers. Just as the musician senses the way notes sound together in accordance with the secret of numbers, although he becomes conscious of this at most in the occasional passage, so did the apocalyptist sense more or less consciously the secrets that are linked to a number such as 666.
Let us now ourselves look into the cosmos in order to glean from it more of those secrets of the number 666. Let us consider that the Christian revelation as a whole is actually a Sun revelation, that Christ is the Being who comes from the Sun and who sends Michael with his hosts on ahead, just as in a different way Jehovah of old sent Michael on ahead. If we consider that we ourselves are now living in a Michael age we shall find that the Christ-Impulse as a Sun Mystery appears very profoundly indeed before our soul.
We must become profoundly aware in our soul that in the fight against Christianity what is being fought against is the fact that the real spiritual element of Christianity is connected with the Sun. Nothing would please the opponents of Christianity more than if human beings entirely lost their vision of the Sun as a spiritual being and retained only the view of the Sun as it is in physical existence—as I have already mentioned elsewhere during these lectures. When Arabism broke in upon humanity it brought with it the immense danger of humanity forgetting the Mystery of the Sun as the Mystery of Christ. The whole of human evolution would then be sent off in a direction different from the Michael direction, which has the task of preparing the Christ-Evolution in a way that would make it comprehensible for human beings.
The apocalyptist who can see behind the scenes of external history realizes that what is happening externally in the order of the world is taking place on the foundation of supersensible processes. So let us have a look at these supersensible processes perceived by the apocalyptist as standing behind external happenings.
Every star in our planetary system, including the Sun, has a collection of beings within it. On the Earth we have the collection of human beings in their evolution. If we want to gain a very profound view of human beings on the Earth we could take a look at a later point in evolution when humanity will have attained a much higher stage than the one we occupy today. We could look, for example, to the Vulcan condition, which will follow later after the Earth condition.
Dear friends, imagine what kind of a picture someone would have of the Earth if he were to see before him a cosmic body containing a collection of Vulcan human beings. Yet this would still be the Earth with its human beings, only it would be in a different stage. It is most important for the human soul to imagine the Earth as a totality in this way, to imagine not only humanity in its present stage on Earth but what is already present today in seed form, to look at what the human being carries within him and therefore what he also is: the human being at the Vulcan stage. The other planets everywhere also have a collection of beings living in them. To the Earth has been assigned the task of being the place where the human being evolves, which is why it stands in the middle. We also have other planets, for example today’s Jupiter, which shows us quite clearly that its beings are entirely different. After all, we meet these beings when we are working out our karma between death and a new birth. If we take the totality of all the beings who are at work in connection with the individual planets including the Sun, we have what was seen right up to the fourteenth century as the spiritual Intelligence of each of the planets; even by the teachers of the Catholic church it was seen as the Intelligence of the planets. We can speak about the Intelligence of the planets as a reality, just as we can speak of humanity on Earth being the Earth’s Intelligence.
Every such planet possesses not only its Intelligence but also its Demon. The teachers of the church knew this right up to the fourteenth, fifteenth century. The totality of all the opponents of the Intelligences on a planet are Demons. And thus it is also on the Sun.
If we regard Christianity primarily as an evolution that accords with the Sun Genius, the Sun Intelligence, then we have to see that which is opposing this evolution of Christianity as the Sun Demon. The apocalyptist saw this. He saw what was happening behind the scenes when Christianity fled eastwards from Rome, and he saw Christianity taking on different ways of knowing. He saw the mighty counter-principle of Arabism bursting in on a Christianity that was threatened from two sides by illusion. And what he saw behind the scenes of external Arab and Mohammedan deeds made him realize that the Sun Demon was working there against the Sun Genius, against the Sun Intelligence. So he had to depict the Sun Demon as working and living counter to the Christian principle in the human being in such a way that if a human being succumbed to this Sun Demon he then no longer wanted to make contact with the divinity of Christ but wanted instead to remain in the sub-human realm. If asked, the apocalyptist would have called the representatives of Arabism in Europe ‘human beings who have surrendered to the Sun Demon’ in their soul nature. It was clear to him that from this Arabism everything arises that brings the human being close to animal nature, first of all in his views but gradually also in his will impulses. Who could deny that this also lives in the will impulses? With things that happen as realities in the world one does not always have both cause and effect side by side; one does not see the purpose nor that toward which the purpose is directed.
We may therefore ask ourselves: What would happen if Arabism, the teaching of the Sun Demon, were to be entirely victorious? Humanity would be withdrawn from being able to experience conditions that human beings must experience if they are to comprehend the working of karma from earlier incarnations or if they are to comprehend the Transubstantiation. In the final analysis, that which flowed from Arabism was directed against an understanding of the Transubstantiation. Certainly external facts do not look as if this were the case, but by allotting validity only to the old Father Principle, to the natural world-order, the Sun Demon does indeed intend to sweep away from human view that kind of union which is active in the very highest degree in a sacrament such as the Transubstantiation.
For the apocalyptist, then, the Sun Demon was particularly active around the year 666. He describes him in a way that allows any initiate to recognize him. All such spiritual beings—the Intelligences of the planets, the Intelligences of the Sun, and the Demons of the planets and the Demons of the Sun—have their key sign within the Mysteries where they are present during important ceremonies, and the Sun Demon has this sign:
He wrote the characters by giving their number values, and he wrote them to be read from right to left. The consonants, to which the appropriate vowels must be added when speaking, give the name of the Demon that has this sign of the Sun Demon: Sorat. Sorat is the name of the Sun Demon at that time, and the apocalyptist describes this sign, which we can easily recognize. The apocalyptist sees everything that works against Christianity in this way—such as Arabism—as an outflowing of that spirituality which is represented by Sorat, the Sun Demon.
Dear friends, the number 666 was there in one instance at the time when Arabism was flowing into Christianity in order to impress the seal of materialism on to Western culture. But it was there for a second time after a further 666 years had passed, in 1332, in the fourteenth century. At that time once again the Beast rose up out of the waves of world events. To one whose vision is like that of the apocalyptist, world events appear as continuous waves of timespans measuring 666 years. The Beast rises up to threaten Christianity in its search for true humanity; beasthood asserts itself against humanhood: Sorat stirs. In the fourteenth century we see Sorat, the adversary, rising up once again.
It was the time when—out of the deepest depths of soul much more than out of orientalism—the Order of the Knights Templar wanted to found a Sun view of Christianity, a view of Christianity that looked up again to Christ as a Sun Being, as a cosmic being, a view that knew again about the spirits of the planets and stars, a view that knew how in cosmic events Intelligences from worlds that lie far apart from one another work together—not only the beings of one particular planet—a view that knew about the mighty oppositions that are brought about by such obstinate beings as Sorat, the Sun Demon, who is one of the most mighty demons in our system. What is at work in the materialism of human beings is, fundamentally, the demonic work of the Sun Demon.
It is of course difficult now to consider what might have become of European civilization if that powerful, that externally powerful Order of the Knights Templar—their riches were confiscated, as we know—had been able to achieve its goals. But in the hearts and souls of those who could not rest until the Order had been destroyed in 1312 and until Jacques de Molay had met his death in 1314, in the hearts of those who were the adversaries of the Christ who looked to the cosmos, in these hearts Sorat lived again, not least by making use of the Roman Church’s attitude of mind at that time to bring about the death of the Templars. The appearance of Sorat was more visible than it had been the previous time, and the demise of the Templars is shrouded in a stupendous secret. When you can see into what went on in the souls of the Templars while they were being tortured you can gain some idea of how what lived in their visions was instigated by Sorat. As a result they slandered themselves, providing their enemies with a cheap indictment through what they themselves uttered. People were confronted with the terrible spectacle of seeing individuals being unable to speak about what they genuinely represented, while different spirits from among the cohorts of Sorat spoke through them instead, accusing the Order of the most disgusting things out of the mouths of its own adherents.
The number 666 has twice been fulfilled. And now the time has come in the spiritual world when Sorat and the other opposing demons are preparing to prevent the Sun Principle from entering into the Earth. Michael, on the other hand, preparing for his new regency, is fighting with his hosts for this entry of the Sun Principle. Michael was regent of the Earth before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, around the time of Alexander. The other archangels then in turn took over from him: Oriphiel, Anael, Zachariel, Raphael, Gabriel. Since the last third of the nineteenth century he has again been regent of the Earth in order to continue working in his way for Christ, for whom he worked until his previous regency ended, approximately until the end of Alexander’s rule. Michael is on the Earth once again, this time in order to serve here on Earth the preparation for Christ and for the deeper comprehension of the Christ-Impulse.
As time has gone on I have spoken here and in various other places about how Christianity has been introduced spiritually through Michael. I mentioned one aspect of this two days ago when I spoke in a lecture about Michael’s regency in the time of Aristotle and Alexander, during which a genuinely Christian impulse was already introduced, and when I also pointed to the year 869, in which a kind of supersensible Council took place. This continued further. And at the beginning of the new era, when the consciousness soul is beginning to take effect, we now have—if we look up to spiritual events belonging to earthly humanity and running parallel with earthly events—the wonderful sight of a supersensible school with Michael as its teacher. Those who were to work toward a real development of Christianity—souls not at the moment incarnated on the Earth, and also other spiritual beings—were gathered in great numbers around Michael, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, as though in a great, supersensible school in which those souls were being prepared who were to appear on Earth at the beginning of the twentieth century during Michael’s regency. When we look at what was being prepared there we find that it was the anthroposophical world view, which wants to work for this evolution.
From what the ancient Mystery wisdom saw, and through the prophetic sight of future Mystery wisdom, we gather that human beings who take in what we call the inner Christianity, the spiritualized Christianity, those who look to the Genius of the Sun with regard to Christ—these individuals will experience an acceleration of their evolution and reappear on the Earth again at the end of the twentieth century. Dear friends, everything we are able to do now in our time by way of taking in the spirituality of these teachings is of great significance, for we are doing it for the human beings who are, sub specie aeternitatis, alive at this time. It is a preparation for what is to take place at the end of the century, initially in the form of great, all-embracing, intense deeds of the spirit, after a great deal will have happened that is inimical to a spiritualization of modern civilization. The great revolutions that came about in Europe as a result of the Crusades belonged under the sign of the second occurrence of the number 666. This fact found its expression in the demise of the Templars. Sorat continues to work on and on against the forces coming from the Genius of the Sun that are battling for a genuine Christianity.
Before us lies the time of the third number 666: 1998. At the end of this century the time will come when Sorat will once again raise his head most strongly out of the waves of evolution to become the adversary of that appearance of Christ which those who have been prepared for it will already experience during the first half of the twentieth century when the Etheric Christ becomes visible. Only two thirds of the century have still to run before Sorat once again raises his head most mightily.
During the first 666, dear friends, Sorat was still hidden away inside the evolutionary process of events; he was not seen in any external form, for he lived within the deeds of Arabism,and initiates were able to see him. When the second 666 years had passed he showed himself in the thinking and feeling of the tortured Templars. And before this century is out he will show himself by making his appearance in many humans as the being by whom they are possessed. Human beings will appear of whom it will be impossible to believe that they are real human beings. They will even develop externally in a peculiar manner, for outwardly they will have intense, strong dispositions with savage features and furious destructiveness in their emotions. Their faces will be like the faces of beasts. The Sorat human beings will be recognizable by their external appearance; in a terrible way they will not only scoff at everything but also oppose and want to push into the pool of filth anything that is spiritual. This will be experienced, for example, in the way something that is at present concentrated into a small space in seed form as today’s Bolshevism will become incorporated into the whole of human evolution on Earth.
That is why it is so important that all who are capable of doing so should strive for spirituality. What is inimical to spirituality will be there anyway, for it works not through freedom but under determinism. This determinism has already decreed that at the end of this century Sorat will be on the loose again, so that the intention to sweep away anything spiritual will be deep-seated in large numbers of earthly souls, just as the apocalyptist has foreseen in the beast-like countenance and the beast-like strength that will underlie the deeds of the adversary against the spiritual. Even today the rage against spiritual things is already immense. Yet it is still only in its very early infancy.
All this was foreseen by the apocalyptist. He saw the true unfolding of Christianity as a matter connected with the Sun, but he also foresaw how terrible would be the unfolding of the Sun Demon. All this appeared before him. The entry of Michael into the spiritual evolution of humanity at the end of the nineteenth century and the appearance of the Etheric Christ during the first half of the twentieth century are events that will be followed by the arrival of the Sun Demon before this century comes to an end. In this Michael age of ours, especially if we want to work in the realm of theology and religion, we have every reason to learn above all from the Book of Revelation how to think and feel in an apocalyptic way, how not to remain stuck in what are merely external facts but how to rise up to the spiritual impulses that lie behind them.
The trail is being blazed for the entry of the demons, the adherents of the great Demon Sorat. To gain an idea of this you only need to speak to people who understand something of what led to the World War. It is fair to say that of the approximately 40 people who are guilty of causing that war, almost all were in a state of lowered consciousness at the moment when it broke out. Such a state of consciousness is always a way in for ahrimanic demonic powers, and one of the greatest of these demons is Sorat. Such are the attempts Sorat is making to gain at least temporary access to the consciousness of human beings in order to bring about calamity and confusion. Not the World War itself, but what followed it and what is even more terrible and what will become more terrible still—for example the present state in which Russia finds herself—this is what the Sorat spirits who invade human souls are aiming at.
We must be aware of the fact that this is so. For in times when there was true spirituality on the Earth, what did it mean to work as a priest? It has always meant, dear friends, that one worked not only within the sphere of earthly events but also in full consciousness of how one stands in the spiritual world, in intercourse with the divine world. This and no other was the spirit in which the apocalyptist wrote his Book of Revelation. Someone who wants to lead human beings into the spirit must himself be able to see into the spirit. Every age has to do this in its own way. Look at the inner laws according to which—although perhaps somewhat alienated from the spirit—the sequence of Egyptian pharaohs appears to be so logical. We can glean from this that the succession of pharaohs was indeed not arbitrary. Ancient scriptures told which task each pharaoh, following on the previous one, must regard as his specific obligation and that the impulse for the formulation of that obligation emerged from what later came to be called the Hermetic revelation, the revelation of Hermes. I do not mean the Hermetic revelation we know today in a somewhat bowdlerized version, but the ancient Hermes wisdom that also belongs to the great Mysteries in which one spoke of the revelation as being three times holy: a revelation of the Father, a revelation of the Son, a revelation of the Holy Spirit. All this points to the fact that priestly work everywhere meant working out of the spirit into the material world; this is what priesthood was always understood to signify.
This is what the impulse of priesthood must once again become, now that the period of time is over when it was not felt to be true that one can work out of the spiritual world. With the culture and education we have today, which in the era of the consciousness soul has gradually come to take on materialistic forms in every field, people are very far from being able to comprehend such a thing as the mystery of the Transubstantiation and with this the spiritual mysteries of Christianity. For individual priests today, contemporary education makes it seem like a kind of untruth to speak of the profound contents of the Mysteries that are connected with the Transubstantiation. Hence the rationalistic discussions about Transubstantiation that began at the time of the second attack by Sorat and continue today up to the time of the third attack. There is absolutely no point in taking the Book of Revelation as something about which commentaries can be written. The only meaningful thing to do is to learn through the Book of Revelation how to become an apocalyptist oneself, and in becoming an apocalyptist to get to understand one’s own time so well that the impulses of that time become the impulses of one’s own work.
As a human being of the present time and as a priest one can enter into this by looking directly at the beginning of the Michael age in the 1870s, at the appearance of Christ in the first half of the twentieth century, and at the threatening rise of Sorat and his adherents at the end of the twentieth century. As human beings who understand these things and know how to interpret the signs of the times, let us arrange our lives in accordance with these three mysteries of our time: the mystery of Michael, the mystery of Christ, and the mystery of Sorat. If we do this, we shall work in the right way in the field to which our karma has led us, and so will the priest in his priestly field. We shall continue from here tomorrow.