Aspects of the Occult Significance of the Year 1998

© Terry Boardman  April 1998

* This essay is an abridged version of a lecture given by the author in Stourbridge, England 27.2.1998 to members of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain


Rudolf Steiner  saw the end of the 20th century as a culmination for anthroposophy and as a crucial testing time for mankind. The year 1998, he said,  is especially important because it is the third repetition in the Christian era of the number 666, the Number of the Beast in the Apocalypse. 3 beasts are mentioned in Apocalypse: a great red dragon in heaven with 7 heads, 10 horns, and 7 crowns;  a beast from the sea with 7 heads, 10 horns, and 10 crowns – this beast was like a leopard with bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth; and a beast from the earth, with  two-horns which looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon. This last beast is the Beast whose number is 666. He is a deception and resembles the Christ. He is like the light but not the true light.  He is the Anti-Christ.

In his 1908 lectures on the Apocalypse Rudolf Steiner shows that the name of this third  Beast is S-v-r-t, (Sorath/Surath) the Sun Demon. (60-6-200-400 in kabbalistic gematria) This name is related to Sura and Asura, Ahura. Ernst Bindel notes that it is the short form of Suriel (My company is with God) Sarhapanim (Angel of the Face of God). From Suria comes the  feminine form Suriath.  This being originally had the task of guarding the sunlight during the night and returning it to God in the morning.(1) In kabbalistic esotericism the name S-v-r-t also means: Samech (physical body), Vau (life body),  Resh (feeling body), Tau (earthly ego) i.e. the four lower  members of Man. Rudolf Steiner also shows that the events of the Apocalypse of St. John refer not exclusively to the present time, as many believe, but rather, to the last period of the seven great stages of earth evolution, which lies far in the future. However, there is a sense in which our own time is a kind of prefiguring of that distant epoch. A resonance of that time occurs, when humanity is faced with  the choice between the two-horned beast and the Lamb.(2)

Two Contrary Trinities
It is important to understand that Sorath is not Ahriman, the spiritual inspirer of modern materialism. Rudolf Steiner spoke of Sorath before Ahriman:  Sorath on  27 April 1907 (GA96 untranslated) and 21 Oct 1907 (GA101 typescript Z306) (3) and Ahriman for the first time on 1 Jan 1909. Sorath stands behind Ahriman and Lucifer as Christ’s shadow, inspiring them. At his Transfiguration Christ stands between the Old Testament figures of Elijah and Moses, the embodiments respectively of strength and wisdom, of Sun-Mars, and Moon-Mercury. In the New Testament Christ also stands in a certain sense with Peter and John on either side of him. These two human disciples become the progenitors of two different streams of Christianity: the orthodox, even worldly Petrine Christianity which has tended to harden into dogmas and outer forms -  the institutional strength of the Catholic church which is above all a church of Will -  and the more esoteric, sometimes even otherworldly and more mystical and mercurial stream of Johannine Christianity, the Christianity of cosmic wisdom. Christ has also been aided by two mighty supersensible disciples, Sun Archangel Michael and Moon Archangel Gabriel. We should recall how Rudolf Steiner indicated that the Moon religion of  Islam, inspired by Gabriel, played a vital part in blocking much of the Sorathically-inspired knowledge that was about to flood Europe from the Academy of Gondishapur after the year 666.

Sorath, the counter-sun force, also has his two servants: Lucifer and Ahriman, whom we can see as having a relationship to the forces of strength and wisdom. Just as the archangels Michael and Gabriel have had their periods as guardian beings of certain nations and peoples as well as being Time Regents for certain epochs of human history, so Lucifer and Ahriman have been appointed their respective times to act as Man’s chief adversaries: Lucifer in the time of Earth evolution which in esotericism is called  the Mars period lasting until the Mystery of Golgotha (i.e. the period of  Man’s incarnation or involution into physical  existence), and Ahriman after Golgotha  in the period of Man’s gradual excarnation or evolution out of physical existence, which is called the  Mercury period. In those two epochs, the three mighty Beings Lucifer, Christ, and Ahriman all have a period of actual incarnation on the physical plane in human form.  In the Mars period Lucifer, the spirit of expansion, appeared in China c.3000BC, and thereafter attempted to prevent Man’s incarnation process, while in the Mercury period, Ahriman, the spirit of contraction, has been trying to fetter Man to physicality and prevent Man’s spiritual excarnation. Ahriman’s physical incarnation is now imminent in America. Between these two in both time and space, 3000 years after Lucifer, 2000 years before Ahriman, Christ incarnated in Jesus of  Nazareth in Palestine.

Sorath, however,  is more than the spiritual principles of  expansion and contraction, of strength and wisdom, represented by Lucifer and Ahriman respectively. He does not enter into physical incarnation; he remains as spiritual shadow. He is that Being which seeks to lead Man  specifically into black magic.(4)   What is black magic ultimately? It is the effort to work against the plan of the good Gods for humanity and the Earth, to prevent the Earth from reuniting with the Sun, thus preventing the future respiritualisation of the Earth. Black magic is therefore  the very inverse of love; it is the process of involution taken to an extreme of contraction in matter. One of its manifestations is  a  delight in causing physical pain and suffering,  In his lecture of 21.10.1907 (5) Rudolf Steiner speaks not of the Sun Demon but of the Earth Demon who seeks to make the earth not like the Sun but hard like the Moon. The two-horned beast, we remember,  emerges from the earth. He emerges strictly speaking, not out of the ground or soil, but out of human heads. In a lecture of 27.4.1907 (6) the power of the Lamb, the Sun Intelligence, is said to call forth life from out of the earth and works in plants, animals, and Man, whereas  the opposing power, called in that lecture the Sun Demon,  is said “to work in the evil forces of Man”.

1933-45: The Sun Beast’s Trumpets Blare
Rudolf Steiner indicated 1933 as the  rise of the Beast. Immediately before the approach of  the Etheric Christ in 1933-5, humanity would have to face the  appearance of the Beast from the abyss (20.9.24 GA346). There followed 12 years of hellish destruction greater than ever before or since. These years were dominated by the motif of the false Sun motif. The Nazi swastika (the ancient Sun wheel symbol) allied to the rising sun of militarist Japan and to Mussolini’s would-be neo-Roman blackshirts all point to an  inverse eclipsed sun of destruction. All three fascist allies sought to put a modern  Ahrimanic technology at the service of a backward-looking, irrational and fantasy-ridden Luciferic ideology. The darkest of these false suns rose over and mesmerised the Germans, who live in the cultural, if not the geographical, heart of Europe, while Euro-Africa is the continental heart of the world.

Eventually, the Swastika sun-symbol ended up crushed between two lands of the star: the ahrimanic blue of  the west (USA) and the luciferic red of  the east (USSR). The culmination of horror was reached in the absolute destruction wreaked in 1945, which came to be called Year Zero and which was marked by Hitler’s infamous “Nero-order” to destroy everything in Germany, and also by the A-bombs, which in an instant turned living human beings into shadows. Sorath’s national tools in these years, Germany, Japan, and Italy, which should and could have been Sun-lands, were led into destruction by him between the new continental superpowers of  East and West. We can thus see 1933-1945 as 12 years which heralded the arrival of the Beast – his own apocalyptic trumpets blared. Those 12 years were truly apocalyptic in the biblical sense. We should remember, however, that the darkest shadows only appear because of the arising of the greatest light, and that greatest light, after 1933, was the beginning of the Second Coming of the Christ in the etheric world.

 666 and Gondishapur
 Each time the number 666 occurs in evolution, a significant assault on humanity takes place. When it first happened, in the year 666, the Anti-Christ being sought to flood mankind prematurely with the intellectual wisdom that ought to have been mankind’s only in the 5th Post-Atlantean epoch (1413-3573). He sought to do this through the intellectual powerhouse that was the Academy of Gondishapur in Persia (near the modern Iranian city of Dizful in the Iran-Iraq border area). This centre had united the knowledge of ancient Greece with that of the Middle East and of India and in the year 666 was reaching its peak of development. Before western humanity had reached any sufficient degree of emotional maturity, the Anti-Christ wished to deluge them with this knowledge. If this had happened, the whole of future earth evolution would have been imperilled, as a spiritually immature humanity would have developed tremendous powers of  egotism as a result of the technical wisdom placed in its hands. This is already enough of a threat today when we see the temptations of nuclear weapons and genetic manipulations; we can imagine how it might have been 1500 years ago! The Sorath project of 666 was blunted by the rise of Islam, but still managed to influence the West indirectly through Spain, Sicily, and the Crusades. A key element in Sorath’s programme was then and still is centralisation – all humanity is to be under his thumb; he is the false sun which seeks to shine on all. There is not the space here to go into it in detail, but a look at events around 666  – the ‘chinesification’ of the Japanese imperial structure in the Taika Reform of 646; the elimination of the prophet Mohammed’s family and the establishment of the Ummayyad caliphate at Damascus by Muawiya (later, the reincarnated Woodrow Wilson) in 661; the  victory of the more intellectual Roman Catholic church over the Celtic Christians at the Council of Whitby in 664, all bear the signature of centralisation. Of particular interest is the fact that Dagobert II was then  nominal Merovingian king of Austrasia in northern France (656-79. Actually in exile in 666, ruled 676-679). Since the publication of “The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail” in 1982 in which this seemingly obscure Dagobert was a central figure, there has been a spate of books, anti-Christian and anti-Vatican in tone which have pointed to a proto-Freemasonic King of United Europe and  Atlantica from out of the bloodline of Jesus Christ. In the events of 666 we see the mark of Sorathic thinking, a false envisioning.

In the events around 1332 when the Mongol empire was at its height and the  Black Death first appeared in China (1332), when  Moscow began its rise to dominance within Russia (1339), when the English Nominalist philosopher William of Occam proclaimed the absolute power of God, when the Templars were suppressed by Philip the Fair, greedy for gold, when the 100 Years war broke out (1337) and England sought  to return to the Continent illegitimately , we see Sorathic feeling: East-West conflict, the beginning of the western greed for Sun gold, the Black Death which bred  fear and communal breakdown – all the marks of  a false awareness, a false feeling life.

And what do we see in 1998, the third repetition of 666? The New World Order has been proclaimed; there is one almighty superpower whose social heart is mightily afflicted; from this superpower has come the all-encompassing World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, even the EU, NAFTA and APEC; a world wide web has been spun around the globe by computer spiders and satellitic insects;  the uniform cultural values, icons, and language of Americanism are spread throughout the world by media monarchs like Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates; megacorporations like Glaxo-Smith-Kline-Beecham, Sony-Columbia-Microsoft emerge. Distracting us all from angels desperate to help us, Hollywood’s UFO aliens fix us all in their X-Files. The all-affecting Millenium Computer Bug threatens socio-economic breakdown. In the victorious ‘democratic’ West which won the Cold War, CCTV cameras are erected in even the smallest towns to spy on fear-ridden citizens in the name of security. The world-spanning Internet is controlled by a group of supercomputers in one country, whose paranoid government wishes to ban encryption codes so that it may know everyone’s computer communications. Paralleling a new interest in reincarnation, genetic technology, the Human Genome Project, neo-Darwinian evolutionary biology, and the physicists’ Holy Grail of the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, seek to reduce all life itself to new levels of matter.

This neo-Darwinian philosophical development in the West claims to bravely accept a random meaningless evolution based on blind natural selection and adaptation. This in turn underpins the current economic model of post-Cold War, red-in-tooth-and-claw, free market capitalism. The neo-Darwinian world view is said to be ‘grander’ and ‘more awe-inspiring than the old ontological superstitions of religions’, and it  is  as the new self-evident and objectively true ‘scientific’ orthodox world view that it is being increasingly promoted from the top down by mainstream media. In parallel to this philosophical centralising orthodoxy from the  cardinals of science in our age, there is mushrooming up from below with an inexorable energy the people’s enthusiasm for myriad forms of  spirituality, be they ancient, Asiatic, New Age,  neurotic, fundamentalist, or free-spirited. While the news media occasionally feel they need to acknowledge the existence of this popular spirituality, they mostly focus on death, party political games of division, sexual and gender-based divisions, materialistic technology, and  ecological devastation. There are cultic mass suicides, massacres in Algeria, Rwanda, war in Iraq near Gondishapur, with Palestine threatened. In many of the events around 1998, we see Sorathic willing – false  or misdirected willing.

Light In The Darkness
How are we to respond to these seemingly overwhelming distractions? Two statements  of Rudolf Steiner help us here:  “It is easy to ask the question: What can I myself do in these painful times? The first thing one can do is to endeavour to understand things, to really see through things. This brings up thoughts which are real forces and these will have an effect… You cannot say: Are not the good spirits going to intervene? They do intervene to the extent that we open ourselves up to them, if we have the courage to do so. But first of all we must be serious about understanding things; we must be deeply serious about trying to understand.” (7) In 1923, when he refounded the Anthroposophical Society, Rudolf Steiner gave to the members the Foundation Stone Meditation, which contains within it three exhortations to practise spirit-remembering, spirit-awareness, and spirit-envisioning. In the sense of the first, we can strive to think spiritual thoughts, especially about our origins in the spiritual world, re-membering ourselves as spiritual beings in the spiritual world. In doing so, we can drive out materialism, when it is unjustified, from our world of thought. This points to the exertion of willpower in meditation, not just by isolated individuals, but by group members who can seek to work meditatively together, for example, simultaneously at different times of day. It also points to the need for thhose who regard themselves as anthroposophers to re-member themselves into joint activity with those  millions of pupils of the Archangel Michael who are not in the Anthroposophical Society.

In the sense of the second verse of  the Foundation Stone, we can unite ourselves with world events and seek to understand them as Rudolf Steiner called us to do. We can enter the often dragonesque world of the media, understand what is working within its ideas and behind them, see through it, and, as far as we are able, try to bring new thoughts into it. At the same time we can strive to be aware of our own thought processes and soul impulses and what works in them from moment to moment, day to day, season to season, noticing how they change and why. If we pay more attention to the seeming coincidences and synchronicities in our lives we shall gain more of a feeling for the pattern, rhythms and meaning of our life and that of others: energetic working,  etherically with  Steiner’s Soul Calendar which relates our soul life to the changing seasons; astrally, with astrosophy, the new star wisdom that goes beyond the personality to the spirit, and finally, the exercise of the daily backwards review (rückschau), which strengthens our memory, our ego and our awareness of  the events in our lives. This will help to overcome feelings of isolation and depression. Similarly, we can try to be more aware of our economic habits and what motivations are working within them.

Finally, in the sense of the third verse of the Foundation Stone, we can strive to understand the social ideas of Anthroposophy, notably the concept of the threefold society rooted in liberty, equality, and fraternity and seek to envision them in order to replace the destructive social divisions that arise from materialism and the many other ‘isms’ that are its offspring. So many of today’s problems are the result of  the blurring of the boundaries between the cultural, legal-political and economic spheres. This has its origins in the confusion of thinking about the nature of God and the Trinity which set in around the year AD 333. Rudolf Steiner urged his listeners to work with two Christian thoughts to counter contemporary materialism: “My Kingdom is not of this world” and “Render  unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”. (15.1.1917 Karma Of Untruthfulness Vol 2).

The final and fourth part of the Foundation Stone Meditation is addressed not to the Soul of Man, but to Christ. He is now working in the life realm of the earth, in the etheric biosphere, the realm of the angels. If we offer the above three practices to Him we can work with Him and with His greatest servant, Michael, for the healing of humanity and its ailing body, our Earth. We can then actually take part in the Apocalypse (Revelation) of our time.

…we have today the task of developing this new understanding of the Apocalypse: to be able to understand it as a task, which presses daily upon our hearts. Today we do not need merely to interpret the Apocalypse. It is necessary that we do the Apocalypse in everything, otherwise we can simply leave it alone. The desire merely to interpret it is of  little value.
 - Rudolf Steiner 9.9.1924

1 Ernst Bindel, “Die Geistigen Grundlagen der Zahlen” (The Spiritual Foundations of Numbers) Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart 1980 p.64
2.  In passing, it may be noted that the astrosopher Willi Sucher (1902-1985) traced the meeting of Jupiter and Saturn which will occur in the year 2000 AD 34 and Saul’s Damascus moment when he too was faced with a choice between light and darkness. See the collection of lectures by Sucher, “The Living Universe and the New Millennium” (Anastasi, Broome, 1997, pp.29-34)
3.  GA refers to Steiner’s collected works Gesamtausgabe
4.  See  lecture 12 in Steiner’s  cycle on the Apocalypse of St. John, Rudolf Steiner  Press, 1977
5.  Berlin GA 101 typescript Z306 available from Rudolf Steiner House library
6.  Berlin GA 96
7.  See lecture 15.1.1917 GA 174 (The Karma of Untruthfulness Vol. II, Rudolf Steiner Press 1992, p.131-2)

    This page was created by Terry Boardman Dec 1999 Last Updated 16.7.2012