At the sounding of the sixth trumpet the four angels which are bound at the great river Euphrates … were loosed … for to slay the third part of men.
These four angels were also mentioned in relation to the sixth seal, but then they were ordered not to act. In the book I Enoch it is reported that in the time, which the book Genesis refers to, luciferic angels descended to Earth. They brought magical acts to men and married their daughters. They enlarged the own will under the people and, by doing so, evil. These luciferic angels are now loosened. Furthermore, fire, smoke and suffocating sulphureous vapor ascend from the depths of the earth and also from the mouths of the lion-like horses. All these influences have to be resolved before the seventh phase can start, according to Van Egmond (10 January 1995, p.18).
Ten thousands of ten thousands
The number of demonic fiery horsemen that follow the luciferic angels is two times ten thousands of ten thousands. This number reminds us of the number of angels singing round about the throne of God, mentioned in Revelation 5:11. Typical of this number of ‘ten thousands’ is the combination of ten and thousand (Schult, p.155). Thousand is the number of the great world year, and ten is the number of eternity, the number belonging to the divine fire heaven. Ten thousands means therefore the approaching of a decisive moment in the process of entering the higher spiritual world.
One third will be killed
We hear again the theme, like after the first trumpets, that one third of all people will be killed. Bock relates this to the three-folded build-up of man: body, soul and spirit. The sounding of the trumpets leads more and more intense to the execution of the fate that the highest part of man, the spirit, is lost for those that could not be given the seal on their forehead. The spiritual fire, which man has to acquire to be able to return and find the way back to heaven, extinguishes. This spiritual fire dissolves for those which follow the rigid mind. The fiery flames of the higher Self, described by apostle Paul as ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’, is no longer able to reach the heart of this part of humanity as they close off themselves for it. After the sixth trumpet has sounded, the fire coming from the mouths of the lion-like horses becomes a poisonous weapon suffocating men even further.
Steiner (GA 346, p.191) sees, in line with the view of Bock, the killing of one third of men as the absence of the I in these people, which makes them unable to join the stream of men ascending to the spiritual world.
The culmination of ahrimanic presence in recent cultural periods
The increasing trend of materialism, which blocks the openness towards the spiritual world, started according to Steiner (GA 346, p.183-184) in 1843/1844. In that period ahrimanic forces entered human affairs, preceding the begin of archangel Michael’s role as spirit of the age in 1879. Everything that followed after 1843, in the sense of materialistic advances of science, technology and warfare, sees Steiner as a consequence of this breakthrough of Ahriman into deeper layers of the human soul. Steiner applies in his interpretations the inspirations of the trumpets not only to the physical events on the future earth, but also to the kind of inspirations man receives already nowadays in his thinking, in his consciousness. He positions the year 1843/1844 as the moment of the change in the human consciousness from the fifth to the sixth trumpet period. The inspirations from the sixth trumpet in human consciousness continued till around 2000. Then the seventh trumpet started to blow.
The golden altar before God
Schult (p.153) points out that the altar, as presented in the Apocalypse, has the same shape as the altar in the Jewish temple (2 Moses 30:1-3). The smoke visualizes the prayers ascending from men’s hearts to God. The sanctuary, with the altar and the censer, symbolizes the world of the soul, like the fore-court of the temple visualizes the physical body, and the Holy of holiest the divine spirit. The blowing of the trumpets started when the seventh seal was opened and the smoke of the incense rose up from the altar. This indicates, according to Schult, that the initiation as a whole is following the road of heart and feeling, where the sun can be found in the center. But first the descent into hell is needed, which started with the blowing of the fifth trumpet and is followed by the events of the sixth trumpet.
The four horns at the corners of the altar, from which God’s voice sounds, point at the corners of the world. Earlier the four Seraphim–Cherubim beings before the throne appeared to us as the highest guardians of the four corners of the world. It were the symbolic figures of the four zodiacal star constellations Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio. The four angels of the river Euphrates, which are loosened by God’s voice, are demonic representatives of these four world corners in the zodiac, but in the lower realm of the planets. We recognize in them the four apocalyptic horsemen. While the demons, described in relation to the fifth trumpet, ascend from the depths of the earth and darken man’s insight, the four angel demons of the sixth trumpet come from the waters of the paradisiacal life streams of the Euphrates and create disaster in the waters of our feelings. These demonic angels do not act one after the other, but all at the same time.
The confrontation with luciferic and ahrimanic demons depicted in mixed animals
The four beings represented by Taurus, Leo, Aquarius and Scorpio in the zodiac watch over the four world corners for the throne of the Christ, while the four demonic angels of the Euphrates watch over the four world corners before the throne of Lucifer, according to Schult. They awaken the luciferic demons of these four star constellations, which have also been depicted in the Greek Chimera, the Sphinx and the bird Griphon.
The bird Griphon is a mixture of an eagle, a lion and bull. The Sphinx has the back-body of a bull, lion’s paws, eagle’s wings and the head of a man. About the Chimera, Homer tells us that her front is a lion, her back is a dragon or snake and the middle part is a goat. When the sixth trumpet is blown, the Apocalypse presents to us horsemen on horses with lion heads and snake’s tails. In this picture the horsemen refer to the Aquarius man, their horses to Sagittarius, the snakes to Scorpio, and the lion head to Leo. The luciferic quality of these figures shows itself, according to Schult, in the strong colors of their breastplates. Leviathan-Lucifer is also depicted in the book Job (41: 10-12) as fire-spitting and smoke-blowing. After the ahrimanic demons, appearing with the fifth trumpet, and the luciferic demons, showing themselves in the time of the sixth trumpet, the Apocalypse subsequently brings us the breakthrough of the spiritual light of the Christ angel at the start of chapter 10. We find a similar sequence of events in Daniel, chapter 7. Schult concludes that man, looking for the encounter with the big ‘gatekeeper at the threshold’, the Christ-angel Michael, first has to meet the small gatekeeper at the threshold. This is the cluster of ahrimanic and luciferic beings in one’s own soul. Only those who have received at the opening of the sixth seal from Michael the seal of the living God at one’s forehead, are immune for the raging attacks of such ahrimanic and luciferic demons. They are purified by the fire of trials of fate and will be able, together with John as shown in chapter 10 of the Apocalypse, to encounter face to face the solar angel Michael.