Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse
Kristiania, May 17, 1909
A seer such as the writer of the Apocalypse can already see the future evolution of humanity in the astral world. What will enter into evolution after the war of all against all is already being prepared. Those human beings called to carry evolution into the future, beyond the war of all against all, are already being prepared through the wisdom taught in Theosophy. In far-reaching ways, the spiritual stream of wisdom will become increasingly effective.
When the clairvoyant can observe the modern human being, it sees the etheric body extending a little bit beyond the upper part of the physical body. The etheric body of a man is feminine and the etheric body of a woman is masculine. The astral body, on the other hand, is a flowing structure, variable in terms of color and form, changeable according to the inner life. If we raise our hand the impulse to do so comes from the astral body. When we walk, when we cry or laugh — that is caused by an impulse in the astral body having influence over the physical body. However, what has the most essential influence on human beings is their I. The I works in an altogether roundabout way through the astral body.
In ancient Atlantean times and in the Lemurian age, human beings were not only able to stretch out their different bodies, but they could also extend and “puff” them up. At that time the physical body was only a very small inclusion; on the other hand, the etheric and astral bodies were gigantic. The astral body might look like one kind of animal but was constantly changing and soon resembled another. Human beings constantly changed their physical form according to the desires and impulses living within them. The air then was filled with thick foggy mists much thicker and water-filled than our mountain fog. The human physical body had the most varied colorings and forms; one could already see in its gelatinous substance indications of the physical organization, for example the blood system and the skeleton. Toward the end of Atlantis the air was cleared of thick watery masses. Only then could human beings become the creatures of air and earth that we are today. Atlanteans did not see the sun at all the way it is seen today; it was seen as the mighty ring of the sun. Because the air was never free of water, there were never any rainbows. Only after the separation of water and air were rainbows possible. The entire process of the Atlantean flood is portrayed in the story of Noah and the rainbow. (Genesis 9:12–17)
It was also necessary for the beings on the earth to pass through their stages of evolution at very different times. If a portion of humanity in the early stages of Atlantis had not wanted to descend into a “densified” physical body, then the human form would have remained as it was — with all the instincts, desires, and passions still expressed in the physical form. However, there were beings that became solid, hardened at that time. Animals are nothing more than beings that entered into a hardened, dense condition too early. What the human being carries in the astral body today in terms of desires and passions has come to expression in the physical body of the various animals. Each of the groups of animals developed a particular instinct, and is “congealed” or solidified in it. During the Lemurian age it was the mammals; they are human passions that have congealed into a rigid form. What we carry within ourselves presents itself as a picture in the various animals. With human beings, the instincts have been gradually refined and we can hide them in our heart. The lowest instincts of the human being were first to fall into the physical world during eruptions of natural forces in the earlier times of Lemuria. The apes represent, so to speak, the last lower instincts to fall or be pushed into physical matter before the soul of the human being was itself hardened in matter. With some animals, horses for example, we still find today as a peculiarity the etheric body of the head extending beyond the physical head. That was the case with Atlantean human beings. A certain point in the human etheric body moved into the corresponding part of the physical body only in the last third of the Atlantean age. Only then were human beings able to develop a physical form appropriate for the spirit.
There are sixteen groups of human instincts and passions and so too, are there sixteen groups of animals. Zoology will one day understand how these sixteen groups were gradually “precipitated out” of the spiritual world. We can easily say how the various parts of the mammal groups were created. The formation of hoofs, for example, occurred when, in a very special way, animal nature closed off from the outer world. Claws were created through aggression. The hoofed animals express a very different stage of evolution than animals with claws. We see just such a contradiction expressed in the forms of the centaur and the sphinx.
This is portrayed in the second part of Faust, a very important book from the occult point of view. The Sphinx encounters Mephistopheles and laughs at him because of his horse hooves, which are a sign of a hardened nature, a nature that has egotistically closed itself off from the world.
If we cut our finger we feel pain; this shows us the bearer of feelings, the astral body. Earlier, when the human being's entire nature was still soft, the hair growth was also permeated by astral forces. We are told of Esau that he was covered with hair; he was still retarded in his development and in his power of judgment. For this reason Jacob could trick him, because Jacob had already come further in the development of his power of judgment, of his I. There are forces again working outward in human beings today. The more the I has mastery over the astral body, the more the physical body can also be molded and transformed. Today we have our karma within us like a life account, with a balance of everything we have prepared in our various incarnations. But because the human being's physical nature expresses very little of the I, we carry our karma inwardly and unmediated. But later it will show itself on the human face. Humankind will evolve in the future so that its karma is carried on the countenance. No longer will the fact that a human being is born into a specific race or in a specific climate be decisive for external appearances. There will be rather a class of good people and a class of evil people. Let us understand Paul correctly, who said: “I live, but it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me.” (Gal. 2:20) What is called “receiving the Yahweh-Christ being” will later show itself in human beings externally. Today it is still possible to be a rogue and yet hide it; but in the future, human beings will carry the mark of their inner life on their foreheads.
Let us look at the human being after the war of all against all. We can think of him or her as someone with radiant, good features and a noble benevolent expression. This will become the fate of those who have taken in spiritual impulses at the right time. All moral, intellectual, and spiritual forces will, in the future, confront us visibly in the external features of a human being. What is taken in today will be sealed into souls. After the seventh age, after the war of all against all, they will be unsealed.
That is what the writer of the Apocalypse sees in the seven seals that will gradually be broken. The book with the seven seals is not intended to be like our books or like ancient scrolls. What is intended is a succession of events. The succession of epochs is the concept of the Apocalyptic “books” as, for example, the Evangelist Matthew speaks of the succession of generations, of the lineage of Jesus of Nazareth. Orders of succession are created in this way. The book tells us that the power of the lamb can break the seals.
That gives us an idea of what is intended with the seven seals.