The letter to Laodicea closes the series of seven letters, the first circle in the spiral, and specifies the mission of the last cultural period (5700 – 7900) of the Post-Atlantean epoch. It is also named the American cultural period. During this final cultural period, in which the vernal equinox falls in the zodiac sign of Capricorn, no great new developments will take place. It shows the consequences of previous developments and gives new chances to connect with the stream of human souls moving to the light.
Laodicea is located further inland, 35 miles south-east of Philadelphia and close to Denizli. Centuries ago the city has been abandoned by its inhabitants.
Antiochus II (261-246 BC), king of Seleucids, renamed the already existing city to his wife and sister Laodice. The gods Zeus, Apollo and Asclepius were worshiped in the city. The city was located on the trade route, coming from the East, which spliced here in one route to Pergamon and one to Ephesus. Laodicea was a center for export of very popular black wool and it knew a prosperous linen industry. Furthermore Laodicea had an advanced system of banks and formed the financial center for the whole of Asia province. Laodicea was also famous as a cure center for wealthy Greeks and Romans as a result of its warm healing waters which flowed to Laodicea from the nearby Hierapolis, the present day Pamukkale.
Conducted by a Roman system of aqueducts and flowing over terraces on the hills in Hierapolis, the water finally reached the valley of Laodicea. On the way down, the chalk that is dissolved in the carbon dioxide containing water, is precipitated which forms colorful terraces. The metaphor in the letter of the luke-warm water, which was abundantly present in Laodicea, is related to this natural phenomenon. The city was also known for its eye salve against ailments caused by flies, which was produced here and distributed over the whole of the Roman empire. Around the year 60 an earthquake destroyed a large part of the city, which the city could restore without external assistance. Just like the case of Philadelphia, the culture of Laodicea is not rooted in the past, but oriented towards the free individual of the future.
Epaphias, a companion of the apostle Paul, is said to have founded the Christian community in Laodicea (Schult, p.85).
Its location and all its attainments made Laodicea to a politically prominent and financially flourishing city in Asia Minor.
Schult (p.84) sees in all these characteristics signs of the zodiacal sign of Capricorn and its planet Saturn. Like the Moon dominated in the first cultural period the physical world of the Post-Atlantean epoch, which at that time still dwelled in its childish phase of formation, so Saturn rules in the seventh cultural period the solidification of the physical world in its old age, symbolized by the precipitating chalk crusts. This process we also see in man of old age in our Post-Atlantean epoch.
Steiner, in his lecture on 25 June 1908, calls the seventh cultural period of less importance because it lacks a progress principle. The progress is achieved in the previous sixth cultural period (Steiner, GA 180, p.192), where those who found the spiritual life, assemble around their leader, the Christ, and distinguish themselves from those which have turned away themselves from the spirit.
The opening of the seventh letter says: These things says the Amen, the witness, faithful and true, the very beginning of the creation of God. Amen means in Hebrew ‘true’ and ‘trusty’, or ‘truly’ or ‘yes, so it is’ (Schult, p.86). The true completion by the final being created by God is expressed by the Amen. For the cyclic way of thinking of the antiques, Saturn is as well the end and the very beginning. Saturn-Cronos is not only the god of time but, as aeon, also is representative of eternity, which transcends time. That is why Christ calls himself here as well Amen as the very beginning of creation. In this he refers to the true human being, which dwells beyond time.
The disgust over being luke-warm
As a general rule in the Apocalypse, all impressions intensify when the end nears (Schult, p.87). To the end the light and dark forces become less covered and more overwhelming. This will be most demonstrated while moving towards the center of the spiral. But this also takes place moving from the first to the seventh ray. In Philadelphia we heard the highest praise. In Laodicea the sharpest condemnation is given: Because you are luke-warm, and neither cold or hot, I will spit you out of my mouth. In the closure of the Post-Atlantean cultural period nothing can inspire anymore and all contemplation remains superficial. All insight and knowledge is met with cynicism and relativism. God is no longer experienced in his holiness, which exceeds our physical world. Religious life is contributing little to society anymore because of lack of credibility and public appetite for sensation and atheism. But the overwhelming material richness of Laodicea cannot replace the inner emptiness.
Gold, white raiment and eye salve
The last letter uses several symbols that relate to the practical life in Laodicea. Christ urges man living in the end of time of the Post-Atlantean epoch to turn around their inclinations. In this context he uses three symbols: gold, white raiment and eye salve.
Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich. Laodicea was a wealthy city as a result of its bank system. But it is the gold refined in fire that Christ points at, which is the purified gold of heart and love forces. It is the ‘Rheingold’ of which Richard Wagner speaks in his opera ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’.
And white raiment, that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness does not appear. The white garment produced by the wool and linen industry in Laodicea is not worthy compared with the white raiment Christ is offering, which represents the physical body that is purified by controlled will power, according to Schult (p.88).
And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Christ offers the ability to see spiritually, which purifies the thinking of mankind on Earth and transforms it into supersensory knowledge and divine wisdom.
It was the special calling for Sardis to awaken the consciousness of the spirit, the purification of thinking. In Philadelphia the purification of feeling and the development of true brotherhood is the central quality to be developed. And in Laodicea the central theme is to enlighten the will and make the spirit work in physical reality.
I stand at the door, and knock
Again the symbol of the door is used in this letter. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will have supper with him, and he with me. In the previous letter the open door indicated the opening of our heart for others and for the super sensuous. Here it is made clear that this does not yet mean that we open the reticence of our heart for the Christ, for him which opens for us a new future (Bock, p. 68). Schult (p.89) characterizes this as the most intimate text of the seven letters, which announces the unification at the deepest level of the physical human being with the Father god. The small group of people that has found this pathway joins, according to Steiner, the ‘end being’ in which all comes together and which is addressed here as the ‘Amen’. This man will join Christ in the ascension and by sitting on his throne participates in his authority to co-create the future world of the New Jerusalem.
The battle of all against all
The preparation for the initiation, which is according to Steiner shown with these seven letters, is an exercise in which we learn to see how the spirit acts on the physical plane. It involves an initiation in will power, which can still be incited by the image of the seven stars and seven spirits before Gods throne showing us our evolutionary path. Steiner (GA 104a, p.94) states that the Post-Atlantean epoch will end in a battle of all against all, like Atlantis ended in a flooding of the Atlantean continent. But here we are dealing with a battle at the level of the soul. Those souls that have entangled themselves in matter and live in more and more dense bodies, will battle with each other. In the seventh cultural period little will be found of the refined first Indian cultural period, guided by the seven Rishi’s. Very few people will be present which favor the spiritual, nor will they be enthusiastic about the physical existence. In case where few people are entangled in the material aspects of our existence, the seventh cultural period will last only a short time. Those who have purified their soul in the sixth cultural period do not have to incarnate in the seventh cultural period. They will, after the battle of all against all, start a new culture in the Seal epoch, which follows our present Post-Atlantean epoch.
The preparation for the proper initiation
Schult (p.94) sees the seven letters in the Apocalypse and the initiation as a whole, as the phase of catharsis, after which in the chapters 4 through 16 the phase of illumination follows. We experience as a result of the seven letters, the purification of all seven constituting layers of man (physical body till Atman). Bocks (p.72) summary is that the seven letters can be seen as a separate book and are a guide for improving ourselves. They are preparatory steps towards the proper initiation by developing self-knowledge and virtues (Dullaart, p.45). But at the same time the letters reflect the total of the seven development phases of Earth and man, as will be shown later.
On the horizon we see heavenly man, sitting with Christ on the throne of the Father. After all the preparation, the first thing which purified man will see is the throne of God which reveals both his early origin and final destination.