The Millennium In The Light of Anthroposophy

© Terry Boardman   Nov. 1999

How can one understand the Millennium in the light of Anthroposophy? First, by recognising that the Millennium has to do with Christ. There are of course those who say that the dating is all wrong, and that Jesus, if he lived at all, must have been born in 4 BC or earlier. This is not the place to go into the complexities of what Rudolf Steiner had to say about the two Jesus children and the two Jesus families, but it should be pointed out that most conventional discussions of the dating of the birth of Christ deal with the visit of the Magi to Herod and Jesus, that is, with the earlier birth of the Jesus of Matthew’s Gospel rather than with the birth of the Jesus of the Gospel of Luke.  There is also the question, from a theological viewpoint, whether we should be dating the millennium from the birth of Jesus or from his Resurrection. It would seem natural, however, to date it from the commencement of the process of the Christ Event, which began with the  birth of the children who would provide the physical vehicle for His later Incarnation. Steiner many times drew attention to the fact that the Incarnation of Christ, of the Logos, the Creator of the world, constitutes the central fact of the whole of Earth evolution; everything led up to it, and after it, everything is changed . This means that, in St Paul’s words, the Old Adam has become the New Adam. A seed was planted into the soil of humanity that over the centuries, is spreading from heart to heart and soul to soul – a seed of conscience and love that will transform humanity and ultimately, the physical planet itself.

 Steiner further described how Christ’s blood at the crucifixion permeated the earth, the air and the atmosphere as a homeopathic essence. Since that time, a new rhythm of 33 years (actually 33.33 years, the etheric life of Jesus Christ) has entered ‘the time body’ of Earth evolution. Seeds planted for good and ill in social affairs show a result in some form 33.33 years later and twice more in the course of a century. 3 x 33.33  years = 100 years.  This period of 3 x 33.33 years or one century can be said to be equivalent to one year in the “life” of the new Adam, or ‘christened’ humanity , by which is not meant only those who call themselves ‘christians’, but rather, the whole of  humanity since this ‘christening potentisation’ has entered into it. Again, there is not the space here to go into details, but it is instructive to compare the development in the life of a child from birth to 21 with the development of humanity from the time of Christ until the 21st century, which is about to dawn, especially those periods  – the 4th, 7th, 9th, 12th, and 14th centuries which can be said to correspond to the 4th, 7th, 9th, and 12th years in the life of the child – precisely those years which are so important in the Waldorf pedagogy.

 One can say therefore that the 4th, 7th, 14th and 21st centuries correspond respectively to the incarnation of the earthly (physically oriented) ego of the new humanity, to the freeing of its etheric (life) body, its astral (feeling) body and the incarnation of its higher self (Ego).  In this sense, therefore, the millennium is  based not on any decimal-based chronology but on the life of Christ. The 21st birthday, we recall, was the time not so long ago in western cultures when a child received the key of the door in recognition of the responsibility of adulthood. In China and Japan entry into one’s 21st year on the 20th birthday was traditionally celebrated as Adult’s Day and young people dressed in their best clothes and attended special ceremonies. This 21st century therefore, far from being just any century, signifies the coming into being of humanity’s own Selfhood, its Higher Ego, or rather, the beginning of that process, which will last until the 42nd century.

The Ego of Mankind
And what is that Higher Ego of humanity? Anthroposophy answers that it is nothing less than the Christ, who is no God of and for only Christian denominations in the West, but is the Spirit of all Mankind, whether or not we  are aware of it. In what sense then shall the Christ Ego of humanity be revealed in our time? This has to do with what is called in the Bible ‘the coming in the clouds’, or traditionally, the Second Coming. This is no Evangelical Rapture where we shall be swept up and disappear from the face of the Earth. It is the next stage in the process of Christ’s accompaniment of Mankind throughout our race’s gradual incarnation onto and gradual excarnation from the earthly plane. As we descended ever deeper into matter, so did the Christ approach closer to us. Prior to His Incarnation in a  physical body, He was in the etheric realm of the Earth, what we today call the biosphere and was living in the realm of archangels (the guardian spirits of peoples and communities). He then ‘touched down’ as it were into the physical – a once-only event, and with His Ascension began our own gradual ascension or excarnation out of earthly matter. Obviously, this is a very long process, which will last millennia just as our incarnation did, and no dreamy flight from earth reality or aspiration to otherworldliness is intended.

In 1910 Rudolf Steiner spoke for the first time about this Second Coming or Reappearance of Christ in the etheric realm. This is the biosphere, the realm of watery life, the realm in which the Angels are active. Steiner later indicated the years 1933, 1935, or 1937 as the time when this would begin and when there would be a few people who would have the perceptive faculties to recognise it. It would be of the utmost importance, he said,  for humanity not to sleep through this event, and upon mankind’s remaining awake for it very much depended . Those spiritual forces which sought to frustrate Man’s healthy development would do all they could to prevent Man from becoming aware of the Second Coming of Christ. Later, Steiner indicated that prior to this Reappearance of Christ, not on the physical but on the plane closest to it, the etheric plane, mankind would have to face the rise of “the Beast from the Abyss”, the Antichrist, which would take place in 1933. With hindsight we know all too well what arose in that year and how humanity’s attention was indeed for the most part fixated on the activity of the Beast for those fateful 12 years  of 1933-45. 2 x 33.33 years brings us to 1999-2000. The Etheric Christ is now with us. We saw how in 1966, after the first 33.33 period had passed, a new spirit of change and liberation, particularly in our attitude to the biosphere, occurred. To many it felt that, despite the awesome Sword of  Damocles represented by MAD (the nuclear doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction that constantly hung over our heads at the time), a new consciousness was dawning, that anything was possible. But we soon saw how this was immediately attacked by the forces of darkness and how the  initially innocent and vigorous ‘counter-culture’ of ‘the flower children’ was within three years largely overwhelmed by the unholy trinity of  “sex, drugs, and rock’n'roll”. 33.33 years on, those forces of darkness are making their next assault, aware that the brief window of fluidity opened up by the end of the Cold War rigidities must be closed down as soon as possible before more and more people begin in various ways to wake up to the reality of the Etheric Christ and His activity around the world working out of the sphere of the Angels. With the 21st century, Mankind’s Ego comes into its own. As in the life of the individual, this is an exciting but dangerous and risky period. Many young people lose their way just at this time as their Ego is faced with the challenge of  beginning to  master their lives and many fall into drugs, depression, crime, or even suicide. So it may also be with Mankind if we fail to remain alert.

 The Incarnation of Ahriman
A still greater challenge faces us with the new millennium, because Rudolf Steiner revealed that each of the three cosmic beings that affect Mankind’s development, Lucifer, Christ and Ahriman would have a physical incarnation in a human being. Lucifer had his in the East, in China, in the 3rd millennium BC. Then came the Christ in Jesus in Palestine 2000 years ago. Now, “before even a part of the 3rd post-Christian millennium will have passed”, according to Steiner, we must expect the incarnation of Ahriman in the West, probably in America. Ahriman is the cosmic force of contraction, of abstraction, who wishes to fetter Mankind to a materialistic existence in this world and lead us to deny any other reality than that of the physical senses. He would have us live in an earthly paradise, a Utopia, immortal forever in physical bodies, but those bodies, except perhaps for the brain, would be mostly cybernetic. His cyberhuman world would become a single machine-like entity. Ahriman has been preparing for his arrival for some time, and since the development of electrical power we have  felt his tightening breath-constricting grip on our culture and civilisation grow ever tighter. He comes to teach us many things about technical systematic culture, and about living with machines, for he is a brilliant teacher, and since Edison’s light went on in 1879 we have been fast learners: in the lifespan of a single human being we have flown from Kittyhawk to beyond the orbit of Pluto. So we can learn from Ahriman; indeed we must, for we need to explore the material and mineral realms for another 1500 years yet. But woe betide us if we do not have a thinking that can provide a counterbalance to what he brings, for a thinking based solely on the fragmentary isolating and solidifying nature of the physical mineral world, a thinking based on the false and fallen light of electricity, is a thinking that can only produce a culture of death. To counterbalance this, we need thoughts and imaginations that are highly mobile and fluid. We need thinking hearts (not mere pumps) that can draw on the imaginations that come from the etheric life realm  of the Angels. Anthroposophy indicates  many ways in which we can develop these capacities. It also gives us the confidence that comes from knowing that we have help on our side in the form of the Archangel Michael, Archangel of the Sun and Christ’s preeminent helper, who is now (from 1879 to c.2233) the cosmic being whose impulses of cosmopolitanism and the spiritualisation of thinking oversee this epoch of time. Michael is also the preeminent opponent of Ahriman and does the most to aid us in resisting Ahriman’s  forces of materialism. Rudolf Steiner saw the whole of Anthroposophy and its social impulses as being under the inspiration of Michael.

The Age of Aquarius or Pisces?
Two other aspects of the millennium need to be touched upon in this brief survey of the subject. First is the question of  which Age we are living in. Many in the New Age movement have since  the 1960s been asserting that this is already the Age of Aquarius or else that it is just round the corner. This allows them to write off Christianity and the Christ as the  principle of the passing or past Age of Pisces. But unlike the tropical astrology beloved of the media and popular horoscopy, the question of astronomical Ages is an astronomical phenomenon which can be precisely dated, because it is based on the precession of the equinoxes. Every 72 years the vernal (spring) point precesses by 1º through the zodiac. It is currently at 5º of sidereal Pisces which means it will not enter the sign of  sidereal Aquarius until the year 2375. Astronomically, the Age of Pisces began in the year AD 215. However, another concept  of esoteric astronomy applies here, because a certain interval has to lapse before an impulse on the high astronomical zodiacal level can be ‘stepped down’ to operate  at the level of human history. That interval is  1199 years and is determined by the so-called rotation of the Venus pentagram – a series of conjunctions made by Venus (long known as the cosmic timekeeper owing to the harmony of its movements and used as a cosmic clock by various ancient cultures) with the Sun. Every 8 years Venus makes a series of 5 conjunctions around the Sun as seen from Earth and these trace out a pentagram, the conjunction points of which literally rotate around the entire zodiac in a period of 1199 years. Now 215 + 1199 = 1414. Rudolf Steiner did not refer explicitly to the Venus pentagram, but 1413  is the year after which he always said the Age of Pisces began in cultural terms. Astronomically, then the Age of Aquarius begins in 2375, but in cultural terms it is not due to begin until 3573, until which the Piscean impulse of all-inclusiveness will continue. Each of the 12 zodiacal Ages lasts 2160 years (72 x 30). We are now on the cusp of the change from the second seventh part (308 years) of the  Age of Pisces (1721-2029) to the third seventh (2029-2337) Pisces is the last of the 12 zodiac signs and in a sense, contains all the others. It is this aspect of the modern era – the sense that anything is possible and anything is accepted, all times and spaces are accessible -  that has confused people and made them feel we are already in the Age of Aquarius.

Finally, the last aspect to be considered is another transit from 2 to 3, namely the move from the 2nd to the 3rd millennium. The change from  2 to 3 will signify a shift from the endless dualisms and bipolarities that have marked the past 1000 years (Popes vs monarchs, Catholics vs Protestants, East vs West, North vs South, capitalism vs communism, adversarial legal systems etc etc) to a new triadic spirit which, if we work with it effectively, should enable us to build a more balanced culture. In this, the threefold social organic thinking of Anthroposophy which is based upon the threefold nature of the spiritual world and also of Man should be able to play a constructive and seminal role.

The current era of millennial transit then is no mere arbitary number but a complex historical and temporal phenomenon at the zodiacal, archangelic, and Christological levels. Above all, we face a crucial century which signifies the beginning of  the Age of Man’s Egohood and also will signify a major assault upon that Egohood. We will need all our wits about us if we are to rise to the challenge of consciously becoming 21.

This page was first uploaded in Dec 1999 Last Updated 16.7.2012