In text fragment 29, we read how an angel instructed John to eat the little book. The angel stood with one foot on the sea and with the other on land. John was invited to enter the astral world represented by the sea. Now, he is confronted with the dragon, standing on the sand of the sea. The sea represents the astral world, the world of passions and desires. These do inspire those following the dragon. And John  seas a beast rising from the sea with seven heads and ten horns. The angels and demons start to present themselves. First the beast rising from the sea, later followed by the beast with two horns coming up  from the depths of the earth.

Steiner’s look at the beast rising from the sea

John sees at the gate to the spiritual world the consequences of the battle between Michael and the dragon. The fallen dragon takes the shape of the beast rising from the sea and finds ways to seduce the children of the woman. According to Steiner (GA 104a, p.120; GA 346, p.232-241), this beast also represents man which has become victim of the seductions of Lucifer and Apollyon/Ahriman. It is the part of mankind, falling back into the phase which was reached at the end of the Atlantic epoch. These people remain slaves of their animal-like instincts and constitute an evil force, acting against those striving for a return to the spiritual world.  The impact of Lucifer was strong in the period before the incarnation of the Christ by means of moral temptations. After this moment, the influence of Ahriman is added to these temptations by means of  materialistic seductions which make us even forget that the spiritual world does exist. How Ahriman seduces with technical services, and at the same time suppresses the activity of the free self, is hardly noticed anymore. Ahriman aims to chain man to the material world and to prevent the spiritual flourishing, leading to the participation in the coming astral unification of Earth and Sun.

The beast that is given power by the dragon, may continue forty and two months. This again refers to a period of three and a halve years, representing the classical initiation period of three and a halve days.  The number 42 also indicates that the power of the beast will last 6×7 cycles. In the sixth cycle the decision will be reached. At the number 6 something crucial comes to a decision, a dramatic process in the human evolution comes to its culmination, be it at 6, or 66 or 666.

Steiner (GA 104a, p.120) points out that the beast rising from the sea also remembers of the water sphere which dominated the Atlantic epoch. It took till the end of Atlantis till the clouds were lifted and the surroundings of present Ireland became visible, as well as the Sun, symbol of the awakening of the human self-consciousness. This is reflected in the Bible story of the ark of Noah and the Deluge. The beast wants to prevent man to grow from the past Atlantic being with seven heads, through the I, to the Manas, the purified astral body, the higher Self. According to Steiner (29 June 1908), only a small group will, at the end of the Post-Atlantic epoch, carry the seed of Manas-man into the Seal epoch.  The bond of brotherhood between men will only start to materialize in the course of the Seal epoch. But the first signs of this will become visible in the cultural-period of Philadelphia, which starts several thousands of  years from now. This sixth cultural-period will be a pre-view of the coming Seal epoch. But in the same period the first split-off from the upward steam of mankind will occur. 

The beast rising from the sea receiving its power from the dragon, Tapistry, Castle of Angers, 14th century, (photo Remy Jouan)

Schult’s look at the beast rising from the sea

Schult (p.207-209) follows other lines of thought than Steiner, in his interpretation of the demonic forces, and some are distinctly different. The seven heads and ten horns relates Schult, as we saw, with the seven planets and the ten star constellations of the old zodiac. The beast rising from the sea is a mixed being of a panther, a bear and a lion. This remembers of chapter 7 of the book Daniel where he describes his visions: ‘I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from the other. The first was like a lion,… the second like a bear…, the third like a panther…., and I saw a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it, and it was diverse from the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.’ These four beasts in Daniel point at the four world corners, the kingdoms of North, South, East and West. These kingdoms were later related to the Babylonian empire (Lion), the Persian empire (Bear, Bull), the Greek empire (Panther-Scorpio-Eagle) and the Roman empire (Aquarius, the sign ruled by Saturn and Uranus). After overcoming these four kingdoms, of the demons of the four natural elements, the kingdom of God will reveal itself as the fifth kingdom, the kingdom of the pure spiritual element, the quinta essentia, to which the world will return.

The Son of man, man-in-God, appears as the center of the zodiac, surrounded by the four Cherubim of God’s throne: bull, lion, eagle and angel-man. They are the counter forces of the demonic four beasts rising from the sea in the book of Daniel. Schult sees in this beast rising from the sea a link with the mythological bird Greif, which is a combination of lion, eagle and bull and represents a luciferic being. Schult defines the dragon, described in chapter 12 of the Apocalypse, as the star dragon, as a unity of Lucifer and Ahriman, which is split up in two aspects in chapter 13. The beast rising from the sea is the devil or Lucifer and the second part is satan or Ahriman, rising from the earth.

Subsequently, Schult (p.209) concludes that the beast rising from the sea must be a luciferic materialisation of demonic powers in the zodiac and the planets, which is also present in the light aura of the Sun. As such, it is also the materialization of the demon of the Sun, the anti-Christ. Schult (p.211) identifies the star dragon as the opponent of the Father god, and the beast rising from the sea as the Sun dragon Lucifer, the opponent of the Son god, the Christ. The Sun was in antiquity the element on which the earth was resting, and the depth of the sea was hell. From hell the beast rises. And the other beast that will rise from hell under earth, in the second part of this text fragment, would be Ahriman as the opponent of the Holy Spirit, according to Schult.

Differences in the explanations from Steiner and Schult

Often visions can be interpreted in different ways, without being contradictory. But the differences at this point between Steiner and Schult have at the root a difference in view on the origin and essence of evil. In summary, Schult arranges the three demonic opponents according to the sequence Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while Steiner does this the other way around. For Schult the star dragon differentiates  in beastly appearances of Lucifer and Ahriman, while Steiner sees in the dragon in heaven a luciferic impulse, an ahrimanic impulse in the beast rising from the sea, and a culmination and the ultimate source of evil in the beast rising from the earth. In other words, Schult sees in the beast rising from the sea the anti-Christ, while Steiner identifies the anti-Christ with the beast rising from the earth. We will come back to this issue at the end of this explanation of the text fragment.

The deadly wound

The beast rising from the sea has at one of its heads a deadly wound, which miraculously heals again. Schult (p.212) explains this healing of the wound by relating the seven heads of the beast with the seven planets. The planet representing the head with the wound is in his vision the Moon. The Moon goes through different phases and renews itself monthly. The Moon is the ruler of life and death, of the mind and sexual life, it stands for the  Tree of knowledge. The Sun is the symbol of  the Tree of life. All that is created on Earth, finally is falling into decay and dies. But the Moon goddess is the ruler of magic. In this respect the beast with the seven heads resembles the Sun-Lamb. But the Lamb sacrifices itself selfless, does not resist evil, but carries all suffering. The beast rising from the sea heals its wound with magical force, it fights against suffering and death by magical self-continuation. That is the path of the anti-Christ which always chooses to avoid suffering. Suffering and death  can only be uplifted by man’s will power to accept suffering and dying. Those which do not fight evil but endure it, are written by name in the Book of Life, according to Schult.

The beast coming up out of the earth

Just before we are going to read the wonderful text fragment 36 on the Lamb, collecting the 144,000 men on mount Sion, the Apocalypse reveals the demon coming up out of the earth. It has the appearance of a great magician. The seductive power of this entity goes further than falling back into an animal like state, it is a force that leads to the use of black magic.

The beast with two horns, rising from the earth, Albrecht Duerer, 1496-1498, Apocalypsis con figuris, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

It makes fire descend from heaven. This beast looks like the Lamb but speaks like the dragon. And it commands the habitants of the earth to make an image for the beast that rose from the sea and to mark themselves.

And it was given to him, to donate breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast even can speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And it causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to mark themselves on their hand, their right, or on their forehead, that no man might buy or sell, save he that had this mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.  

Fire descending from heaven

On 20 September 1924 (GA 346, p.232-241) Steiner tells about his spiritual observations on the relation between these beasts and physical events in our solar system. He sees the working of the divine spirit in the fixed stars of the zodiac, while archangels express themselves as planet intelligences that move the planets around the Sun. He calls the comets in our solar system the instruments of the beasts. Comets are continuously threatening the order in our solar system, by disturbing the harmony of the moving planets around the Sun, or life on Earth. The latter was seriously feared in for instance 1933, when calculations showed that the spectacular Biela comet would fall on Earth. Steiner thinks that John has also seen a comet with seven fragments, and later this was followed by a comet split in two parts, the beast with two horns, which finally resulted in a rain of fire in the sky. He links the visionary images of John with factual physical events. The fire descending from heaven is a rain of meteorites caused by the beast ascending from the abyss, according to Steiner.

The association between the beast coming up from the earth and black magic

The beast coming up from the earth is a tyrant and black magician. His actions show some  similarity with the horseman on the black horse, with the balance in his hand as a tool to come to trade.  Now the beast has monopolized all trade as no man might buy or sell, save that he had this mark. This type of evil is common in all fragments laying on the third ray of the spiral figure, presented on this website.

Steiner (GA 104a: p.120 etc.) describes the group of people following the beast rising from the earth as black magicians. They are not permanently falling back in the animal-like state, but develop spiritual abilities. They have consciously turned against being part of the unification with the Sun, and have laid their incarnation in the hands of the beast and its image. The black magician learns how to cut in the flesh of living beings or make them otherwise physically suffer, and by doing so exerting as much suppressing power and pain as possible, which gives him or her an erotic delight. A well-known form hereof is sado-masochism. Those practicing black magic move ever closer to the beast with the two horns. This entity is completely different from man and originates from other world periods than ours, says Steiner. Up till recently this entity had nothing to gain from the Earth, except when it would have succeeded in preventing to coming of the Christ. This entity now is interested in preventing the development of Manas in people and in this way preventing them from participating in the unification of Earth and Sun (Steiner, GA 104, p. 239 etc.). The black magicians are the third group of people which are not able to join in the astral unification with the Sun.

According to Steiner, the three groups, which are not joining in the astral unification with the Sun, will in later cycles obtain new opportunities to make a choice. This occurs every time when a sixth phase in a small or large cycle is present. Even for the black magicians these possibilities remain open. But the sixth epoch on Venus-earth is the final possibility to make a choice. Once the last earth incarnation of Vulcan has arrived nobody can be saved anymore.

The anti-Christ, Sorat, as hidden entity behind the number 666

Steiner (29 June 1908) sketches the events connected with the number 666 as pointing to the ultimate moment of choice between moving upward or falling back from the envisioned human evolution of becoming man-in-God. Every time the number 6 appears in a cycle, it reflects this apocalyptic future moment of final decision. In every cycle the dark entity, the anti-Christ, anchors deeper the desire in man to turn away from the unification with the Sun. The anti-Christ is a Sun-demon of which the name is hidden in the number 666.  In the mysteries in which John was initiated, the number 666  was written as 400 200 6 60, which gives, after adding of these numbers, the number 666. These four numbers correspond in Hebrew with the letters T R W S, or Swrt as the letters are read from right to left. After adding the consonants, it results in Sorat (Steiner, GA 346, p.118).

Sorat stands for the principle that leads man into sclerosis, a hardening which stops the development of man towards his divinity. Sorat is the demon of the Sun, the opponent of Christ, present from the start till the end of man’s creation. Lucifer tries to prevent the ability to consciously observe passions with our astral body. Ahriman hampers the development of our ability to consciously think and feel with our etheric body, and discover the meaning of what we have observed. Sorat wants to disturb our ability to express our will in our physical body, and to enfeeble the human I and splitting it up. Man entering heaven becomes a white magician, creating, with the force of unselfish love, new life. The black magician has become a pray of immorality and abuse of spiritual forces called ‘fornication with matter’. Steiner means with this term the abuse of etheric forces. Ahriman has a stronger desire to serve evil than Lucifer, while this desire is even stronger in Sorat. Lucifer fell during the Old Moon incarnation, while Ahriman did so on the Old Sun. The fall of Sorat, also referred to as the high beings named ‘the Asuras’, goes back to the Old Saturn incarnation of earth. Sorat rebels against the Father god and wants to annihilate our I (Steiner, GA 93a, p.149; GA 110, p.178).

The number 666 in history

Much has been said about the number 666 to describe its secret and hide the secret at the same time. The hiding language has led to many misunderstandings and phantasies among non-initiated. In the first place 666 should be read as six-six-six, where six indicates the last but one phase in a cycle of seven. It is the number indicating man, which has till the last possible moment chosen to become or remain a black magician, and uses the acquired magical power for the own egoistic interests. To this group of man applies: The understanding has calculated the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and the number is six hundred sixty six.

But the number 666 has many more layers of meaning. One of these is to be found in concrete history. On 11 September 1924 (GA 346, p.106-108) Steiner shows three moments where the number 666 plays a role in history. These were successive moments of intense activity of Sorat, where impulses in society are strong to rob man of the I. In the year 666 strong forces were released to suppress the freedom of the human spirit by Arabism. For Islam does not want to follow the Son, the Christ, in freeing the I, but wants to step back to the earlier obedience to the Father god, as revealed to us in nature and the stream of heredity. The first caliphate was established immediately after Muhammad’s death in 632. Not individualism, but the collectivity of the tribe, the own group, is the measure of things. And this battle repeats itself every 666 years. In 1312 (2×666) the Templers were exterminated by the Inquisition of the Roman-Catholic Church. And the third culmination point fell in 1998 (3×666) and the surrounding decennia with an upcoming jihadism.‘Sorat people’ are characterized, according to Steiner, by a bestial type of anger that is determined to disrupt everything that is spiritual.  At the same time, Michael is since 1879, during 350 years, the time spirit of the Earth and involved with the preparation of a deeper understanding of the Christ impulse. The latter can be experienced since 1933 by man by means of a direct individual meeting with the etheric Christ, of which already many witnesses have reported (Steiner, GA 346, p.120-122). The Apocalypse learns us to see in the historic events the actions from the world of the spirit.

Differences between Steiner and Schult on the appearance of the anti-Christ

Let us in summary first look at some arguments, used by Steiner, to link the anti-Christ to the beast coming up from the earth. At the moment Earth and Sun are united again in the astral sphere, three groups of people will not be able to join, according to Steiner. The first group is represented by the serpent in heaven which battles with Michael. These are luciferic beings which did not complete their development at the Old Moon incarnation of earth, neither during the present Earth incarnation. Contrary to those which succeed, these luciferic beings will stay bound to earth and its physical successor. The second group, represented by the beast rising from the sea, are those men which did fall back in the animal like state and have distanced themselves of the spiritual world as a result of the inspirations of Ahriman (Steiner, GA 104a, p.120 etc.). The third group is represented by the beast rising from the earth, which is the leader of black magicians, as we saw. 

Schult (p.224-229) emphasizes other background elements of the two beasts than those described by Steiner. Schult’s leading angle for interpretation is antique astrology. He associates the heavenly dragon with the in antiquity existing combination of Lucifer and Ahriman working from heaven on the human will. The beast rising from the sea represents in his view the force of evil called Lucifer or Diabolos, which he associates with the Sun-demon, working in the human soul. The beast coming up from the earth, Ahriman, is the cold and hardened demon of the Moon living in the mind of man. He couples Sorat with Lucifer and sees Sorat-Lucifer as the great opponent of the Christ. The dragon of the stars is in his view the opponent of the Father god, while the beast with the seven heads, and the beast with the two horns, are respectively the demonic opponents of the Christ god and the Holy Spirit god. 

Steiner (GA 346, p.114 and following.) has given a different view on the second beast coming up from the earth. He (Steiner, GA 346, p.118) points for the role of the Sun-demon at this second beast rising from the abyss: ‘The writer of the Apocalypse identifies the demon of the Sun as the beast with the two horns.’. He uses as supportive argument that the occult sign for the Sun-demon consists of a hook with two horns. Steiner takes as reference point the impact of the demonic beings on the process of spiritualization in man’s evolution. As mentioned before, the dragon in heaven refers in Steiner’s view not to men but to retarded luciferic beings. The beast rising from the sea refers to men falling back to the animal state of end Atlantis. The third group, following the beast rising from the depths of the earth are those using black magic as a force against the Christ. Schult gives little attention to the role of Sorat and his proposal linking Sorat with the first beast that rises from the sea, is overall in my view less credible.