The first great image after the sounding of the seventh trumpet presented the cosmic Sophia, giving birth to the solar Son-child, which is threatened by the red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. The first great vision after the outpouring of the seventh vial of wrath shows the whore of Babylon seated on a red beast with seven heads and ten horns. She represents mankind that exchanged its spiritual kingship for serving its materialistic desires. And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet red beast, full of names of blasphemy, and it had heads seven and horns ten. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations, and of filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead was a name written, a secret: Babylon, the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the world. And I saw the woman, drunken of the blood of the saints, and of the blood of the witnesses of Jesus, and I was amazed when I saw her, great was my astonishment.
The angel, who brought John to this level of consciousness, explains to John the symbols of the vision. I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns: The beast, that you saw, was and is not; and shall ascend out of the abyss, and then will fall in destruction. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, as they behold the beast that was and is not, and yet will be again. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman has her throne, and are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, the other is not yet come, and when he comes, only a short time must he stay. And the beast, that was and is not, is itself the eighth, and yet it is not one of the seven. And it continues in perdition. And the ten horns which you saw: they are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet, but they gain power some time with the beast. These will show a similar inclination, and they will lend their power and strength to the beast. These will fight against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, together with those which are called with him and chosen and faithful. And he said to me: The waters which you saw, where the whore thrones, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations and languages. And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her bare and naked, and shall consume her flesh and burn her with fire.
The above explanation does, at first sight, not help us very much, as it represents one of the most mysterious texts of the Apocalypse. Nevertheless, let us look at possible explanations.
The whore of Babylon
The earlier image of the virgin Sophia, clothed with the Sun, was a symbol for evolving mankind. But at the present stage of evolution, after the outpouring of the vials, mankind is split in two parts, one represented by the whore of Babylon and the other by the cosmic Sophia, the bride of the Lamb. The whore of Babylon is the part of men which has contaminated the being of virgin Sophia in itself. The new Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb and represents the human soul which is merging with the Spirit of God (Schult, p.278).
Schult characterizes the beast as the world power Babylon-Rome, as the representative of all material kingdoms on earth. And Schult associates the scarlet red of the beast with Lucifer. The purple and scarlet red raiment of the whore shows that the red dragon which threatened the virgin Sophia, has taken over the Sophia in these souls of men. The jewels of gold, and precious stones, and pearls of the whore, represent the earthly showing off of the heavenly trinity of Sun, stars and Moon. They do not represent the inner suffering that is part of the mastership of the virgin. Pearls represent mastered sorrow, as an oyster produces a pearl, to overcome an impurity. And the golden cup in the hand of the whore is filled with abominations. The cup is a strong contrast with the child which Sophia carries on her arm. The cup symbolizes the impure wealth she has annexed and which binds her to the world forces aiming at accumulating possessions, according to Bock (p. 280-283).
Steiner (GA 346, p.157-159) sees in the whore on the beast, as we discussed in the previous explanation of fragment 48, the part of mankind which followed materialistic desires and abandoned spiritual moral principles. The whore is symbol of the first fall of men.
The beast with seven heads and ten horns
Bock (p. 280-283) comments on the explanation which the Apocalypse gives of the seven heads of the beast. The Apocalypse describes here a different meaning of the heads than Steiner did in relation to the scene of the virgin Sophia. The apocalyptic symbols have several layers of meaning. Bock sees a parallel with the fairy-tail of Little Snow-white. The mirror at the wall tells the old queen that in ‘the world behind the seven mountains’ Snow-white lives who is thousand times more beautiful than she is. The fairy-tail refers to the land behind the threshold, the invisible world of elementary beings, in this case of the seven dwarfs. Here, Snow-white is the symbol of the purified human soul, the Sophia clothed with the Sun. The whore of Babylon sits on the seven mountains because she wants to hide away the spiritual world and merge with the material world only, according to Bock.
Steiner sees in the seven kings the seven developmental phases of man, of which at the time of which the Apocalypse reports here, five have passed. Man’s development has arrived in this part of the Apocalypse at the future decisive sixth phase, the sixth king. Only the seventh still has to come.
Schult (p.281) interprets the seven kings, which are linked to the seven heads of the beast, as the great rulers of the seven earth incarnations, the seven great time cycles, which he calls the seven aeons. Seven of these aeons have passed in this phase of the Apocalypse, the sixth is occurring and the seventh still has to come but will take only little time. God creates the world in six aeons and rests on the seventh. During the seventh aeon no new creation takes place. That is why evil culminates on the sixth day and why the number 666 is associated with the anti-Christ. The sixth aeon is the aeon of the final decisions between the powers of light and darkness.
The eighth king
The Apocalypse points at the beast as the eighth king. And the beast, that was and is not, is itself the eighth, and yet it is not one of the seven. And it continues in perdition. During the outpouring of the seven vials of wrath, angels have been sent from the sphere of the Sun to the parts of mankind that are lagging behind, to inspire them to choose for the way upward. But when the phase indicated by 666 has passed, there is no longer a way back to the light world. Those who have separated themselves as a colony of satan-Sorat, follow as black magicians another path. At this point previous incarnations of Earth and reflections of incarnations to come, have passed. Those who are choosing voluntarily for material desires and black magic will constitute the eighth sphere and will be ruled by the eighth king and will fall in destruction. As a result of white magic the astral Earth will approach in seven steps the Sun, while black magic will make the Earth to a dead moon landscape. This withered moon, the eighth sphere, will in a later future accompany the Jupiter earth as a moon (Steiner, GA 101, p.135).
The battle against the Lamb and the ten horns
Subsequently, a new battle is fought against the Lamb, in which the Lamb is the victor. Those fighting the Lamb become divided among themselves and fight each-other. And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her bare and naked, and shall consume her flesh and burn her with fire. The world of Babylon will go to wrack and ruin because of its own contradictory interests, according to Bock. And Schult (p.283) sees that the beast turns against the whore of Babylon. The revolution devours its own children.