A delightful book of Charles Kovacs: ‘Betrachtungen zur Apokalypse’

25 January 2021 | Apocalypse in discussion, Blog, Context and roots | 0 comments

Kees Zoeteman

Dieter Hammer read about project-Apocalypse on this website and then sent me a message whether I also knew the work of Charles Kovacs. This is exactly what I had initially hoped for: to share our insights about the Apocalypse with each other. Not knowing Charles Kovacs and his work, I immediately bought the book that includes a commentary by Kovacs on the lecture cycle Die Apokalypse des Johannes at Nürnberg, that Rudolf Steiner held in 1908 (GA 104).

Born in Vienna in 1907 to Jewish parents, Charles Kovacs was artistically active and interested in anthroposophy from an early age. He worked during the Nazi regime in Kenya, and later in London, Florence and Edinburgh, where he died in 2001. The manuscript published in this book for the first time comprises the contents of his lectures delivered at the age of 77 to Waldorf School teachers and eurhythmics in Edinburgh around 1983/1984. After his death the manuscript surfaced and it was published as a book by Perseus Verlag in Basel in 2010. The book contains intriguing portraits painted by him of, among others, John the author of the Apocalypse, Lucifer, Ahriman and Sorat, who is pictured on the title page.

His 16 lectures contain the precipitation of his life insights. They display a surprising clarity and depth that he bases mostly on Steiner’s lectures but also draws on his own inner experiences. This makes it a wonderful source of insight, as explained below with a few examples.

The difference between the Yoga and Rosicrucian paths

In his first lecture, Kovacs discusses the polarity between thinking and willing, which is also reflected in the polarity between the old initiation and the new initiation as indicated in the Apocalypse. In the ancient initiation in India, Egypt and Greece, the student had to be brought into a kind of death sleep in order to then be able to experience the spiritual world in full wakefulness of his mind. Modern man already possesses this wakefulness in thinking because the etheric body has withdrawn within the contours of the head. Nowadays it is important to overcome the death forces in thinking and to bring willpower into our thinking. These death forces, for example, try to make us fall asleep when reading a text or listening to a lecture. With our will, however, we can stay awake. This contradiction between past and present is also reflected in the Yoga and Rosicrucian path to initiation.

In the Yoga path, the student raises the energetic kundalini snake through exercises, beginning at the four-leafed lotus flower (chakram) near the sexual organ, going to higher stages, until the two-leafed lotus flower between the eyebrows is reached. That Buddha had reached this high stage is indicated in pictures by a dot on his forehead, according to Kovacs. Abstinence from sex and asceticism are important prerequisites for this process.

In the Rosicrucian Way, the reverse order is followed, starting with the two-leafed lotus flower. Sexual abstinence is not a prerequisite here but asceticism refers to the omission of certain thoughts (such as thoughts of hatred) and certain feelings (such as vanity). The Yoga disciple begins to kill off the sexual forces and can use these forces to think and exercise power over others. The Rosicrucian disciple begins to bring willpower into dead thinking and thus achieves a body-free I-consciousness. This became possible only after the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Through the Yoga way, the disciple did not get a body-free I-consciousness, but an All-consciousness, a body-free world-consciousness. The body-free I-consciousness was first given to Lazarus-John when he was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. This Lazarus-John-is the same as the author of the Apocalypse. With this new initiation, John paints the future human development.

The first love

In the third lecture, Kovacs explains what the first love refers to when Christ says in the first letter to Ephesus: However, I have against you: that you have given up your first love! The first love refers to the first human incarnations in Lemurian times (see also GA 13) when matter on earth was of a much finer character than today. At that time, the etheric body of man was both male and female. Man could therefore build up a physical body of his own from the fine earthly materiality.  That which later transformed itself into the sexual organs between man and woman, that was then one love organ directed toward the earth, toward the earthly substances for the construction of a physical shell. The earth was literally man’s first love. And when man turned away from material issues in the Indian cultural period and in the church of Ephesus, and pursued only spiritual things, he became unfaithful to his first love.

The Holy Spirit and the white robe

In our Sardis cultural period, our soul is separated from the group soul to stand on its own. This is an elaboration of the Mars principle that is central to this cultural period, Kovacs said in his fifth lecture. Our time is focused on how the individual person finds the right relationship to the community. What makes a group of people a true community? In earlier times, a higher being, the group soul, was present in all members of a group. The human group was in a sense the material body of the group soul. But the human self is a spiritual being that must begin to connect freely with the higher spiritual being of the community. The primal image of this process is the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit comes upon the people. Only through the Holy Spirit is it possible to harmonize the full I-power of the individual with the goals and tasks of the community. This is the public secret of our time, that only the Holy Spirit can in truth be community-building; all else is doomed, says Kovacs. So how can you find access to this Holy Spirit? It is through lively thinking! These are powers that open our souls to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. That is, Christ is with us until the end of time and answers our soul questions. For this, however, we must be equipped with certain spiritual powers to learn the speech of Christ. And it is to these high spiritual powers that the white robe refers, which is put on those who possess these powers and who use these powers in the service of the Holy Spirit and do not abuse them. In our cultural period, the consciousness soul can open to mere truth and moral intuition, according to Kovacs. Only the I in man can receive the Holy Spirit, receive the intuition, where the individual and the community form a unity. This is somewhat different from the communist ideal where the I is subordinated to the commune. 

The theme of the seven-ness

The seven-ness, which occurs frequently in the Apocalypse, can easily deteriorate into an abstract concept, which is why Rudolf Steiner has given instructions on how to approach it vividly. Kovacs addresses this in his tenth lecture. The abstract numbers of time processes are represented in the flower forms and the flower forms in turn can be seen as resulting from power flows. The power flows in turn obey invisible active principles that indicate the directions. If you try to imagine these principles you arrive at a gesture. This gesture is, in a certain sense, the primal image of which the plant is the visible imprint. This gesture can be compared to when we ask for something, it expresses a request. With each flower, the earth turns inquiringly to heaven, to the cosmos. The sunlight is the fulfillment of the earth’s request.

Next, Kovacs explains that the seven is about the steps through which we arrive at spiritual-soul reality:

 1. The physical form, 2. The power currents (the ether body), 3. The gesture underlying the currents (the astral body), 4. The spiritual-soul expressed in the gesture (the I). In these four steps we see a reflection of the great stages of world development. The human being in the present stage of world development, the solid mineral earth, receives the spiritual reality of the I. The I is the eternal asking within us. As the flower is a demand for the light of heaven, so the I is the eternal demand in us for the light of divine grace. And the three future stages, with which the seven is made full, are characterized by the I taking over the lead in us. What the gods have given in the first three stages, an -astral-, ether- and physical body-, is mirrored by the I in the last three stages. From the lower quadrangle arises the upper trinity of Manas, Buddhi and Atman. In the case of the flower, we see this in the response of the cosmos to the inquiring gesture by the sending of the sun’s rays, the forming in the plant of the fruit, and from the fruit of the seeds.  The total life of the plant is drawn together in the seeds. The externally visible becomes invisible and internalized into seeds, which only germinate into the visible in the next year. At the midpoint of the seven-ness, evolution passes into involution, spiritualization. At that middle point where evolution passes into involution, where one vortex passes into another vortex, as in the double spiral of the galaxy and the constellation Cancer, that is where the “creation from nothingness takes place,” that is the moment when the gods build new worlds. With the double spiral, we have progressed from the bare number seven to an image that reveals the essence of the seven-ness.

The galaxy

It can also be said that on the Old Saturn form arose, on the Old Sun life, and on the Old Moon consciousness. Form, life, and consciousness are the fundamentals of world development. On the present mineral earth these three principles are in balance. On the later Jupiter earth, consciousness (the Holy Spirit) is again paramount, on the Venus earth, life (the Son), and on the Vulcan earth, form (the Father).  The first stages of earth development (Saturn, Sun, Moon) are stages of concealing the primordial divine. The future stages (Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan) reveal the deity again, in Manas the Spirit, in Buddhi the Son and in Atman the Father. In the middle, on the present Earth, in the state of balance of the three, man acquires freedom. That, in a sense, is the inner essence of the seven-ness, going from the concealment of the divine trinity to their revelation in man. The path from concealment to revelation, that is the essence of the sevenfold and therefore of time.

The Lamb, the beast with the two horns, and the two-leafed lotus flower 

Chapter 12 deals with the Lamb and the beast with the two horns, the power we know as the anti-Christ. The two-leaved lotus flower, the forehead chakra, is the actual organ of I-consciousness. The intuition “I am an I” is conveyed through the forehead chakra. From this also comes the expression in the occult schools that this supersensory organ is “the Lamb”. The intelligence and the I-consciousness are two sides of the same force. Radiating outwardly, this force acts as the light of intelligence; inwardly, it becomes consciousness of the Self. The whole esoteric schooling is aimed at getting the chakras moving, otherwise they remain in a state of rest. Meditation is aimed at moving the forehead chakra. And the beast that rises from the abyss is anxious to prevent this moving of the forehead chakra. The result then is that the two-leaved lotus flower stiffens and the two blades become two horns. Therefore, this beast, which is hostile to the Lamb, has two horns, according to Kovacs. Wherever people are imposed a certain way of thinking that leads to inhumanity, whether it is governments or mass media or bosses, that is where the coming of the anti-Christ announces itself, Sorat.  What do we know about the anti-Christ?

There are three types of evil beings. They are beings who have stayed behind on earlier stages of earth development. Left behind on the Old Moon are the armies of Lucifer, who himself is a much higher being than these left behind angels. Then there are beings who actually have the rank of archangel but have lagged behind on the stage of the Old Sun. They are servants of Ahriman, who himself, however, belongs to a much higher order. And finally, there are the evillest beings who have already stayed behind on the Old Saturn and thus have not participated in the earth development from the beginning on. They are backward Archai, also referred to as Asuras, who are led by the anti-Christ. They say no to the purpose of earth development: to create a cosmos of love and freedom. The anti-Christ opposes everything that wants to become and blossom new. The eternally becoming, the eternally young is the essence of the Lamb. Man’s mission, as he ages, is to raise the powers of the becoming to the spiritual-soul realm through the power of the I that turns to Christ. Only Christ, the eternal becoming, can open the book on the Father’s lap, the book of the chronicle of human evolution.  


In Chapter 14, Kovacs elaborates on this two-horned animal and the workings of magic. Magic is nothing more than working through the spirit in matter. The physical human body contains the secrets of primal magic, the magic of the Father God, the magic of three-dimensional space, the cube. And the anti-Christ wants to appropriate this secret of primal magic by hurting and amputating the body. That is why black magic leads to the slaughter of innocent people as with Gilles Rais, the satanic contemporary of the noblewoman of Orleans, as in the fantasies of Marquis de Sade, and all the fantasy-transcending atrocities of Hitler’s executioners. These are examples of souls who participated in black magic practices in Mexico in a previous life. They are committed to preparing for the coming of the anti-Christ.

In the sixth or Sealing Age, that follows our Post-Atlantean Age, humans will ascend to the magic of the Holy Grail. But during this time, Sorat will also work in his effort to tear people from this ascension. Sorat and his servants are associated with the number six. This is related to the qualitative meanings of the arrangement of the seven:

One is the promise. Two is the trial. Three is the understanding. Four is the reversal. Five is the repentance. Six is the decision. Seven is the fulfillment.

The number six involves the decision between Christ or the anti-Christ, Sorat. This is a decision that man must make freely. Then the way is open for the seventh stage of fulfillment. The number 666 indicates the last great decision that falls at the end of Venus earth. But this number also works in smaller rhythms and therefore 3×666=1998 is a time around which the power of Sorat is extra active. With the inspiration of Michael, shown in the sixth seal, that represents magical idealism, the oncoming evil magic can be resisted.  

The Zodiac of Dendera, Egypt, exhibited in the Louvre in Paris

The New Jerusalem and our eternal name

After discussing, in the fifteenth chapter, Rudolf Seiner’s explanation of the seventh seal, Charles Kovacs in his final lecture discusses the meaning of the New Jerusalem, a city such as cannot exist on our earth. He situates the New Jerusalem not in the Jupiter phase of earth development but in the distant future of the Vulcan earth. In the final phase of humanity’s evolution, man must sacrifice his physicality and thus his personality. The earthly personality perishes with the earthly body. The spiritual individuality, however, is eternal and it can enter the New Jerusalem through the final sacrifice of the personality. The spiritual individuality, the higher Self, finds its home in the higher Devachan, the higher mental world, of which the world of the fixed stars, which lies above the planetary spheres, is an imprint.  Of this higher Devachan, the Zodiac with its twelve signs is a representation. Each I has a relationship with a particular combination of the zodiac signs. The different higher I’s are distinguished by the different combinations of zodiac signs to which they belong. The 12 zodiac signs form a cosmic alphabet. Thus, each human I has its own combination in the world of the fixed stars and this combination is its “eternal name”. Our eternal names are written in the stars. The same is true of the group souls of the minerals. Only they never leave this area, while the human-I does have to descend to lower regions. This higher Devachan is traditionally called the crystal sphere because this region is the home of the group souls of the minerals. When man finally arrives at the Vulcan earth after the Jupiter earth and the Venus earth, he will be awake at the level of intuitive consciousness and enter the New Jerusalem, the higher Devachan that is composed of the twelves and where the home of man is.   

Now is there so much new in Kovacs’ book? Perhaps not, but everything is clarified just a little further. Therefore, as a reader, you get the feeling that what was first visible with vague outlines has now suddenly been set out clearly.


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