The opening of the sixth seal shows us how the cultural period of Philadelphia works out in the future in our inner world and in the exterior world, where characteristic features of the well-known mineral surroundings will disappear. The coming of the seventh seal and the Trumpet epoch announce themselves already.
The dissolution of matter
An immense transformation is taking off. There was a great earthquake, the sun became black as a mourning-garb of hair, and the full moon became red as blood. Steiner interprets these signs as the dissolution of matter and the remaining of a cosmic being in which the spiritual forces that have initiated creation are present in basic form. Moon and Sun are also referring to the preceding incarnations of our planet, the third and second, which have produced the present incarnation of Earth. Their vanishing is a signal that the fourth incarnation of Earth is coming to an end. We arrive at a point where all physical things are disappearing and only the spiritual is remaining as germinal force for the future. What has not been prepared, cannot participate in the next phase of development. Text fragment 18 shows the dawn-fall of those which cannot (yet) be saved. For them the view on the scripture in the stars fades away, the heavenly book-scroll is rolled together. They hide in caves, and in rocks of the mountains, at the same time crawling deeper in the sphere of matter (Bock, p.118-120).
The heavenly book-scroll that is rolled together
After the opening of the sixth seal, only that part of external existence can remain that belongs to the etheric sphere of being (Schult, p.124). The coming cosmos consists of the spiritual, astral and etheric spheres. Sun and Moon lose their radiance, the fixed stars fall down, heaven is rolled together. The picture of the book that is rolled together has a horrible impact. It marks the irreversibility of the taking away of the freedom that existed before. It marks the end of the freedom to choose for the personal or universal interest. Now, the haughty man flies for the divine wrath that he always scorned away. He realizes himself that it was divine love that surrounded him in everything. Suddenly his eyes are opened and he wants to hide from the reverse of this love that comes to him as wrath.
The dissolution of physical reality is for the cosmos as a whole a process that will start at the end of the Seal epoch. For individual man this already takes place at the moment of death. But this falling down of the stars, the fading away of the lights in the sky and the crumbling-down of the mountains and rocks of the Earth, can also be understood as a transformation of consciousness within mankind, according to Schult (p.124). When the insight of man has become completely material based and the last residues of super-sensuous perception are hurrying off, nature becomes completely inanimate. Then the spiritual dimension of Sun, Moon and stars is completely obscured. Mankind lives in the total darkness of materialistic existence. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together.
Angel rolls up heaven, fresco in Saint Cyril’s Church, Kiev, 12th century (source: postcard provided by Mieke Kerssens, november 2019; http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CF%5CR%5CFrescopainting.htm )
Only the light of the Holy Spirit, that rises in the inner part of the I, is still able to enlighten the world. In such a way the world already perished during the Greek-Roman twilight of the gods. By the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the new heaven and the new earth emerge, while the old cosmos goes under.
Seven representatives of falling mankind
The Apocalypse names seven representatives of humanity that are falling down, each of which can be coupled with a planetary sphere, according to Schult (p.125). The kings are coupled with Saturn, the great men with Jupiter, the chief captains with Mars, the rich men with Venus, the mighty men with the Sun, the slaves with the Moon and the free men with Mercury. The whole of seven folded mankind stands in the judgment of God.
Six is marking the decisive moment
The pictures of the opening of the sixth seal are not automatically continued in those of the seventh seal. We are first guided towards an important intermediary picture which brings our attention back to the place where all starts and ends, the throne. In the intermediary picture it is shown what is awaiting those that join the upward movement after the opening of the sixth seal. It confirms that the number six represents the culmination of the battle between light and darkness. At number six the decisive moment is reached of each evolutionary cycle.