Already in 1909, Rudolf Steiner pointed out that in our current fifth cultural period (Sardis) and in the period that follows (Philadelphia) a strong oppositional force becomes active. While mankind is taking in the Christ principle – the higher Self that is developing as a result of the force of love in man-, this oppositional force is aiming at dragging mankind into materialism (Aus der Bilderschrift de Apokalypse des Johannes, GA 104a: May 17, 1909). More than a century later this is in full swing, in much more refinement than was visible at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the first place we can think of our lifestyle and the well-known social and environmental problems associated with it, such as the depletion of the ozone layer and climate change. But there is much more. For example, many see the developments surrounding digital networks as an important achievement and improvement in our lives, without considering that this also comes at a price. In their view, that price is irrelevant because the harmful effects are not noticed. Let’s look at what the changes are in the realm of air and light, as Steiner calls it, and what consequences they may have, both for mankind and for life on Earth in general. And how does Steiner see these techniques developing, following the symbolic language of the Apocalypse? We’ll dwell on that at the end.
Interventions by technological man in the breathing space for life on Earth
Since we were given access to fire, man has been able to adversely affect the breathing air in his environment. In the beginning the air pollution caused by man’s fires was not very significant compared to the natural fires and volcanic eruptions. But the exhaustion of reserves of gas, oil and coal took on ever-increasing proportions and are now the cause of the change in our climate. I am not saying anything new, but it illustrates how mankind can initiate developments that at first barely influence the natural processes and finally cause disturbances that are difficult to reverse. This is being repeated on an ever-increasing scale.
Local pollution and erosion of the soil is followed by pollution of river water, then of the air above the continents and now of the climate on the entire planet, before penetrating to the altitude, planetary space (K. Zoeteman, 1991, Gaia-Sophia, Edinburgh: Floris Books; K. Zoeteman, 2009, Gaialogica, Zeist: Christofoor). This space around our planet seems far away. What takes place there escapes most people’s attention and does not have much influence on the natural processes in the beginning. Planetary space still belongs to everyone, so whoever pollutes this area, that was not earlier influenced by humans, can easily get away with it. There is as yet no earth government that can issue permits for experiments in space or for launching rockets, while safeguarding general planetary interests. So, each country does as it pleases. First, of course, the big states have started militarizing space, followed by, for example, rolling out the ever-faster internet and GPS to determine our location on Earth and to base navigation or crowd control on that. A revealing example of the mentality of space travel is the launch of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon rocket on a test flight in February 2018, with which he also launched his red Tesla Roadster into space. It will orbit the Sun in 557 days ever since. Completely useless, but it is legal.
Promotional material for Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster’s space voyage through our solar system…
Nowadays, the launching of rockets in space has become a daily business. For all kinds of reasons: espionage, TV, internet, navigation, monitoring nature (of agricultural crops, drought, snow cover, volcanic eruptions, large fires), and so on. Some of these purposes are quite useful. But the way states and large technological companies brutalize the delicate atmosphere around the Earth should raise more questions than is currently the case. Something of the required discussion comes in the form of the protest against the rollout of the 5G network, which is the successor of earlier 4G, 3G, 2G and 1G networks that were more limited in their capabilities. What is going on there?
The European Commission has obliged all member states to have at least one regional 5G network by the end of 2020. After all, each country has to keep up with the technological pace of our time.
What is involved? The providers, who offer 5G services, need a wireless network of technologically advanced transmission antennas. In May 2020, VodafoneZiggo was the first in the Netherlands to introduce 5G transmission technology. VodafoneZiggo is rebuilding and expanding its network of 3,000 transmission masts for this purpose. At KPN and T-Mobile, the adjustments for 5G are also at an advanced stage (https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2020/06/24/hoe-snel-wordt-5g-in-nederland-en-wanneer-moet-je-upgraden).
Objections to 5G are focused on the impacts of electromagnetic radiation that such masts emit on the health of nearby residents. But that is not the only effect we have to think off. The transmitter masts are complemented by a blanket of satellites put into orbit around the Earth to operate our mobile phones, i-Pads and the like with as little delay as possible. With 5G, the download speed and response speed, which is important when streaming movies and gaming, will be considerably higher. Both aspects, the local masts and the network of satellites, will be discussed below.
A mobile phone is a device that can be applied to make wireless calls using a network of antennas. These are not the so-called wireless phones that are connected to a fixed telephone connection at home or in the office and that can only be used within a radius of tens of meters from the base station. In 2017, mobile smartphones were in use by more than half of the world’s population, which in principle allows us to communicate wherever we are. A smartphone is not only a mobile phone, with which we can make and send calls and text messages, but also an advanced mini-computer with functions such as taking and sending photos and videos, e-mailing, playing games, surfing the internet, location registration, etc. Especially the latter functions have a lot to gain from offering the more reliable and faster 5G network.
How does it work exactly? The own mobile phone is, just like the transmitter mast, a small transmitter that sends electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio waves in space to one or more transmitter masts. From that moment on, the signal goes into the ground via cables and finds its way through the fixed GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) network, a cable and fiber-optic network that spans oceans and the entire globe. Finally, the signal returns to one or more masts in the vicinity of the intended receiver via space near its smartphone.
The space network of satellites for 5G
When the internet is switched on via the smartphone or laptop, satellites above the earth’s surface are involved. Via these satellites it is possible to communicate directly with individual users as well as via hundreds of so-called Gateway Earth Stations. To enable communication via these satellites, they must be equipped with powerful beams of electromagnetic waves of certain wavelengths that can cover long distances in space from a height of a few hundred kilometers above the Earth and transmit large amounts of information undisturbed in high density. In the year 2020, large companies are working on rolling out the 5G network, using the motto ‘The sky is the limit’. If only it were true that a sustainability limit was experienced in the higher air layers, one could be less concerned. Because many new xG generations are expected to follow in the 21st and further centuries while effects are not sufficiently known.
Here follows a short impression of what, according to for example Arthur Firstenberg, is already in the pipeline (https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/planetary-emergency/).
There are some big players in the USA that are launching rockets with satellites to build the 5G space network. They have received permission from the American Federal Communications Commission. Elon Musk’s SpaceX was given the green light in 2018 for his plan to bring 4,425 satellites into low orbit around the Earth, the so-called Starlink project. After that, SpaceX wanted to increase this number to 12,000 to make ultra-fast and delay-free internet possible on every square meter of the Earth. By 2020, 800 of these satellites should be operational. In 2020, the ideas are further developed to install not 12,000 but 30,000 ‘Generation 2’ satellites that radiate cells of about 8 km in diameter onto the Earth’s surface, so that these satellites can operate 150 million internet users simultaneously. Together with four other companies (Boeing, OneWeb, Telesat Canada and Iridium), launches of 20,000 satellites in North America have now been authorized or applied for. The plans of Amazon and Samsung add another 10,000 satellites. (https://www.ad.nl/wetenschap/steeds-meer-satellieten-maar-wie-heeft-de-macht-in-de-ruimte~aedefa11/?referrer=https://www.google.nl/). There are also similar projects from China, Russia and Europe, among others. In total, about half of the satellites come from the USA, 14% from China and 6% from Russia (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/chart-of-the-day-the-countries-with-the-most-satellites-in-space/).
Finally, there are other satellites that are used for the Global Positioning System (GPS). For distance determination via the GPS, 32 different satellites are used, each in one of in total six orbits at an altitude of 20,200 km above the Earth. These much more distant orbits are chosen in such a way that at least four satellites can always be observed from any place on Earth. The measuring principle of the GPS is based on the distance measurement between satellite and receiver and on knowing the position of the satellite. The distances between the satellite and the receiver are derived from the measured durations of transmitted radio waves. This are used to feed our navigation systems.
Map of objects circulating around the Earth (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/OrbitsCatalog)
About the health effects
Whether the radiation emitted by both masts and satellites has a harmful effect is currently controversial. To say the least, it is strange that such a major technological intervention in the living environment is hardly accompanied by good ecological and health research. There is a lot to be said about this, but it would be going too far for this article to go into that in depth. See, for example:
The current health standard in the Netherlands aims at limiting the warming up of the body by radiation. Briefly, Prof Dr Hans Kromhout, chairman of the Health Council of the Netherlands’ EMV Committee, expressed points of concern in an interview about 5G in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf on 23 March 2020:
‘According to Kromhout, because of its economic importance, the assessment of 5G is at odds with the careful way in which we deal with other exposures, such as to chemicals, pesticides or medicines. “There are very strict regulations for this,” he underlines.
“But for 5G you have a single standard, the ICNIRP standard, which is based entirely on warming. And there are some measurements taken in the vicinity of 5G transmitters, as you can see in the RIVM (an advisory scientific institute of the Dutch government) report on 5G. However, no exposure of individuals is measured, no future exposure scenarios are calculated and no possible health risks are estimated. This has to be done differently. You shouldn’t just let the industry take its course. Well-thought-out considerations beforehand – blessings versus risks – are also necessary in this dossier”.’
Non-heat related effects can play a role in nature, as the previously quoted Arthur Firstenberg indicates. There is an atmospheric electric current of 1 – 10 pico-Amperes per square meter, which originates in the earth and moves upwards during thunderstorms up to the ionosphere, and then returns to earth through the atmosphere and through our bodies. According to some researchers, this current is important for our health (e.g. R.O. Becker and G. Selden, The Body Electric, New York: Morrow 1985, p. 142). The positive or negative influence on our health would depend on the frequency of the current. Transmitter fields are always high-frequency, something that does not occur on Earth as far as we know. The new radiation from the 5G network could disrupt the delicate natural processes.
Scientists are not so much concerned because of warming by radiation in the brains of telephone users, but because of the non-heat related effects. If these really play a role it would put a bomb under the whole concept of the smartphone. There are people who say they experience effects other than heat from electromagnetic fields. They are classified as ‘electro-sensitive’. According to e.g. the Dutch kennisplatform.nl, people with electro-sensitivity complain about head, muscle and joint pain, cardiac arrhythmia, skin problems, fatigue and concentration problems when exposed to electromagnetic fields far below the current exposure limits. This platform, referred to above, is an information platform of formally involved organizations in the Dutch 5G introduction, including RIVM, TNO, DNV GL, GGD, GMOR Nederland, Agentschap Telecom and ZonMW. It states: ‘The complaints experienced by people with electro-sensitivity are real and can be serious and adversely affect their quality of life. The cause of the complaints is not yet scientifically clear’. The latter can of course easily be claimed, although more and more studies on non-heat related effects of electromagnetic radiation are becoming available. See, for example, the work of Geesink et al., which from 2016 onwards have provided a meta-analysis of the currently available 750 biomedical publications (1970-2020) in the field of electromagnetic effects on living matter: https://www.quantumbionet.org/quantumbiosystems/ . More than 30,000 studies are also listed on https://www.emf-portal.org/ . It is now claimed by kennisplatform.nl that a small minority among the population is hypersensitive and implicitly this classification assumes that, due to the exceptional position, it does not have to be taken into account when rolling out the 5G technique.
The Stop5GNL foundation has instituted interlocutory proceedings against the Dutch state to prevent the rollout of 5G. In May 2020 the Court in preliminary relief proceedings dismissed the most important claim: stopping the rollout of the 5G network. An appeal was lodged. In the meantime, as of 29 June 2020, the auction of frequencies for the 5G network in the Netherlands was started by the government.
The ecological and health effects discussed led some countries, such as Belgium and France, to apply the precautionary principle. In the Netherlands, opposition based on the research results still finds it difficult to cope with the overwhelming economic thirst for technological progress in policy-making. This will probably only succeed if the effects take on much greater proportions and can no longer be ignored. Will the development later be reversed or can the effects still be reduced?
Manipulated realm of air and light
At this point it is interesting to take note of what Rudolf Steiner has foreseen for the current and coming cultural period. Steiner has given short indications during a lecture in Kristiana, Norway, on 18 May 1909. In this lecture he discussed the meaning of the seven apocalyptic seals. The seals show what is being prepared in the current seven cultural periods and what will result from our choices in the coming Seal epoch. We will limit ourselves to the current fifth cultural period and the coming sixth cultural period.
John observes clairvoyantly, according to Steiner, that the souls in the fifth or Sardis period will become more and more luminous by absorbing the love impulse in their Self. This will lead to a luminous aura of these souls that will appear as a white garment around them in the Seal epoch. But another part of men is moving away from this and sinks deeper and deeper into materialism. For them, the result will be that materialism finally overcomes their personality. All external practical life is separated from their individual personality, just as in the financial world money has already taken on a life of its own. This oppositional force will appear at the end of our cultural period as an ‘externally overcome humanity’. And the people who are following the inner Word and save the freedom and independence of their Self, will suffer a lot. But at the same time, they are the carriers of the new culture in the coming Seal epoch.
A harbinger of the Seal epoch is the sixth cultural period, represented by the community of Philadelphia. With the exception of the spiritual people of that time, the rest of mankind will have developed an even stronger materialism than we see at present. These people will ‘to a large extent master the forces of nature, as we already see in wireless telegraphy and aviation (it is at that time 1909, KZ). It is not indifferent whether the airspace is imbued with spiritual thoughts or thoughts about material needs. That will envelop our entire globe. Here we look inside a period of time in which man will intervene to a great extent in the air and light sphere’.
At the moment when Rudolf Steiner said this, the listeners could not yet imagine our present time with smartphones, 5G networks, satellites and crowd control. And who can imagine at present what this will lead to in 30, 100 or 3000 years’ time? Once again, we let Steiner speak. ‘What will be the fruits of this period of time? In a certain era these electric waves will act in their true form back on the earth’s forces, and depending on the good and bad character (of the deeds, KZ) earthquakes and landslides will occur as effects of man’s deeds’. Steiner sees this expressed in the events described after the opening of the sixth seal (Rev.6:12), which consist of the occurrence of a big earthquake, the Sun being darkened and the Moon becoming red as blood. He adds: ‘Indem der Mensch seine Empfindungen der Luft mitteilt, ändert er die ganze Natur, und es tritt etwas auf wie ein Meteorregen. So entfesselt der Mensch die Kräfte der Natur, aber nicht ungestraft trifft er seine Verrichtungen’ (By transmitting his sensory desires to the air, man changes all of nature, creating something like a meteor shower. In this way man unleashes the forces of nature, but these actions do not go unpunished).
Rolling out the 5G network offers the current consumer little news compared to what was already possible with the 4G network. But with governments and multinational companies that do as they like in this area, a threshold seems to have been crossed in the awareness of the public. Protests are increasing and e.g. the Swiss government has therefore stopped the rollout of 5G. The sketch given by Rudolf Steiner on the occasion of the Apocalypse shows that we are at the start of a much bigger transformation that will continue for centuries to come. What is at stake, has to do with the freedom of the individual and the development of the power of love that alone can pave the way to the future of true humanity. Any materialistic surrogate of that ideal is misleading.
With thanks to Jan van Gils for his technical comments.