The horse as symbol for human intelligence, can no longer be the theme at the opening of the fifth seal, notes Steiner (24 June 1908). The Christ impulse is given to man in the middle of the Post-Atlantean epoch, and man had to make his choice. Instead of the horse, the symbol of the white raiment emerges.
The white raiment
The white raiment symbolizes the divine force of the I in connection with the love guided mind. It concerns the purified soul, that has conquered the counterforces in himself and is found among the dead martyrs.
The opening of the first four seals showed what happens to those souls that have chained themselves to ever grosser materialism as a result of which they fall in the abyss of becoming again animal like. They have used their intelligence only for material matters. But those, which have coupled in the present fifth cultural period of Sardis their intelligence with spirituality, will in the coming Seal epoch be saved to take part in the future spiritualization of the world. They belong to the sealed, which have not become a slave of their intelligence which would lead them to the down-fall of their higher self. They wear the white raiment, the cover of purified thinking and immortality. For them a future of continuing rising awaits, together with the spiritualizing Earth of the evolution to come.
The fifth seal reveals immediately to us the spiritual reality that was hidden behind the fifth letter to Sardis (Schult, p.122). Christ said to the community of Sardis: I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what is left that is alive and nearly dies: for I have not found your works of full value before my God. The people are evoked to conquer death and wake up spiritually. Also in the fifth letter the conquerors received the white raiment, which already was mentioned in the story of the royal wedding in the Gospel (Matthew 22:1-14). The white raiment is the symbol for the God-I, of which the light shines through the envelops of the lower human being, before wakening up in the spiritual world. A higher divine consciousness is penetrating men, but this cosmic consciousness is, according to Schult, not yet able to totally tear away life and body from death. The suffering of the innocent has the power to overcome evil and liberate the world. But, although the martyrs receive the white raiment, the number of martyrs first has to be completely fulfilled before evil in the world can be overcome. Below we will discuss what the Kabbalah has to say about this number of martyrs.
The Kabbalah on the number of the martyrs
The Kabbalah gives indications on how to interpret the requirement that the number of martyrs must be full.
Within the Kabbalah of esoteric Judaism (https://kabbalah.com/en/online-courses/3190-introduction-to-kabbalah), the Tree (or Flower) of Life is used to describe the path to God. It is an arrangement of ten interconnected spheres (called sephiroth, meaning ‘spheres’), which represent the central organizational system of the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition of the Kabbalah (https://www.tokenrock.com/explain-tree-of-life-160.html). The Tree of Life is considered to be a map of the universe and the psyche, the order of the creation of the cosmos, and a path to spiritual illumination. The ten spheres represent the ten archetypal numbers of the Pythagorian system. There are said to be 32 paths on the Tree of Life. The first 10 are the sephiroth (not including Da’at). The remaining 22 correspond to the lines or channels of energy that join the sephiroth together. Each of these, in turn, corresponds to one of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
The meanings of the ten sephiroth are:
The Crown (‘Kether’ in Hebrew): the Creator Himself.
Wisdom (‘Chokhmah’): Divine reality or revelation; the power of Wisdom.
Understanding (‘Binah’): repentance or reason; the power of Love.
Mercy (‘Chesed’): grace or intention to emulate God; the power of Vision.
Strength (‘Geburah’): judgment or determination; the power of Intention.
Beauty (‘Tiphereth’): symmetry or compassion; the power of Creativity.
Victory (‘Netzach’): contemplation or initiative or persistence; the power of the Eternal Now.
Splendour (‘Hod’): surrender or sincerity or steadfastness; the power of Observation.
Yesod (‘Foundation’): remembering or knowing; the power of Manifesting.
Kingdom (‘Malkuth’): physical presence or vision and illusion; the power of Healing.
The kabalistic Tree of Life, sources: https://www.tarotofthepomegranate.com/Kabbalah&Tarot.html; https://cosmicnavigator.com/apps/the-22-paths-of-the-tree-of-life
Van Egmond explains in his lecture of 10 January 1995 (p.12) that the altar represents the throne of the Holy One, and that the Zohar, the key book of Kabbalah, says that from the altar the souls of man are cut. The people are returning to the altar and the white raiment is the symbol that they have become angels, inhabitants of heaven. But why must their number be full?
The sephira Yesod (Foundation) is the entry between the world in which we live, the sephira Malkuth (Kingdom), and the future world, the sephira Tiphereth (Beauty). To be as a person continuously in connection with your soul (Ruach) a connective channel has to be made between Malchuth, Yesod and Tiphereth. That must be achieved during our incarnation on earth. This channel corresponds with the middle column in the figure of the Tree of Life. What applies to individual man, also applies to mankind as a whole. The larger the number of souls that have made this connection, the stronger the connection will be between heaven and earth, between Tiphereth and Malchuth. A similar process occurred in the destruction by God of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23–32). God would not destroy these cities in case ten or more righteous souls were found. With ten righteous souls God would be able to express himself, a bridge between heaven and earth would be still possible. The reason why the martyrs cannot yet move on is that otherwise this bridge would be broken.
The other key picture of the fifth seal is the altar. The altar is the place where the dead and the resurrected souls weave through one-another, says Bock. It is the arousing sign that is placed opposite to Death and Hades of the fourth seal. Schult (p.120) explains that who wants to penetrate into the kingdom of the super-sensuous, first has to experience death. All higher life is born out of death, out of preparedness to sacrifice. Only who is losing his life and let go his lower self, will find the real life and find the spiritual entrance to his true God-I. If the power of the horseman on the pale horse rules, if death and devil dominate the soul, the world forces of wisdom will be too weak to wrest man from the kingdom of shadows. Forces of love need to stream down in man’s inner self. Then the world altar is raised, on which the Creator Logos sacrifices himself as Redeemer god for the whole of the cosmos. Christ himself is letting the four horseman drive into the souls of mankind. They show the descend of cosmic intelligence, the stepwise dying away of the light of heavenly wisdom. Christ does not battle with these horsemen, the descending intelligence. But he carries as Lamb of the world the shortcomings of mankind, heals them and transforms them, by counter-balancing the reign of the mind by the reign of the sacrifice.
Schult (p.121) furthermore characterizes the altar as the altar for burnt-offering in the porch of the heavenly temple and at the same time as a grave. Grave and altar belong together like sacrificial death and resurrection. The graves of the first witnesses of the death of Christ were perceived as altars. While the temporary body was decaying, one could perceive with spiritual eyes the soft shine of a new bodily quality, born from light.
The actual region of death in the zodiac is Scorpio. According to Sumerian tradition it is here that Nabu-Mercury reveals himself. But above Scorpio, above the realm of Hades and the dead, rises in southward direction the giant star Antares in the starry sky. That is how in the scripture of the stars the realms of the dead and the altar are connected.