Coronavirus and Cosmology: The Study of World Events



This article first appeared in New View magazine Issue #95 Spring 2020. The accompanying title illustration is of the rotating hexagonal structure, first observed in 1981, at the north pole of the planet Saturn.

  Some 25 years ago I started attending an annual world events seminar at Peredur Centre for the Arts in East Grinstead, England, organised by the late Coen Van Houten. They were valuable meetings. They were always held in early or mid-January and they continued until the early years of the new century. The meetings had a very deliberate ‘Janus’ focus, both on the year behind and then the year ahead. First we would always look back at the year that had passed, at what we considered to have been the main world events of the old year. We sought to describe the events objectively, in their outer aspect, going into quite some detail if necessary. Then we would speak about how these events made us feel; we described our inner subjective response to them. Coen would then lead us through a process that tried to encapsulate the event in an image, perhaps something we drew or painted and then, eventually, a single short phrase, or even just one word. We would then sleep on that and see if anything arose from it in the morning. The ultimate aim was to see if we could come to an intuition of the spiritual being that stood behind the event. On the second day, we would speak about the coming year and what we thought might occur, in the light of our findings about the previous year and also out of an approach to history and evolutionary cycles and rhythms in the light of Anthroposophy. Obviously, not all events are simply extrapolations of the events of the previous year and many world events seem to come “from out of the blue”, as we say, as though unconnected to anything we currently recognise, though this is often because we are ignorant of certain aspects and facts of both spiritual and/or earthly history. It was good to maintain this annual focus once a year in the threshold month of Janus, the god of classical antiquity who stood on the threshold of the year looking both back and forward.

The Karma of Untruthfulness

For me, as someone interested since childhood in history and, since the age of 12, in the First World War and its consequences – an event that proved epoch-making for Britain, and indeed the world, in that one could say that the 20th century was born out of that cruel crucible – one of the most inspirational of Rudolf Steiner’s many lecture courses was that of the 24 lectures he gave in Dornach, Switzerland, in the winter of 1916-1917. These are known in English as The Karma of Untruthfulness1 but in 2010 a new, revised and enlarged German edition of these lectures was published in three parts: Vol. 1: Ways to the Formation of Objective Judgments; Vol.2: The Karma of Untruthfulness; Vol. 3: The Reality of Occult Impulses.2 The first German edition of these lectures was only made in 1966, 52 years after the end of the war they do so much to illuminate, and the first English language translations, based on the second German edition (1978 and 1983) appeared in 1988 (The Karma of Untruthfulness Vol.1) and 1992 (The Karma of Untruthfulness Vol.2) respectively. In 2005, Rudolf Steiner Press brought out a second, two-volume English edition of the lectures. These were more attractive publications than the 1998/1992 edition and contained longer introductions, but in terms of content they were essentially the same as the earlier English edition. The 2010 German edition, however, contains previously unpublished material, including maps, notes and diagrams by Steiner.

I would like now to introduce some of the things I have learned from studying Steiner’s Karma of Untruthfulness lectures, which, in my view, can be regarded as a kind of media studies course (and all quotes in this article, unless otherwise stated, come from these lectures).3  Although the media he was dealing with were print media, in our electronic digital Internet era one can still learn a great deal from these lectures through paying attention to how Steiner approached world events, and to what he paid attention. He had three broad aims in these lectures: 1. To give an understanding of the great spiritual streams behind current events. 2. To show how these streams work in different places and through brotherhoods, groups and individuals. 3. To discern characteristic elements (he called these ‘symptoms’) that are crucial to understanding events on the physical plane. To realise these aims he showed that he was thoroughly au fait with what was happening behind the scenes on the physical plane as well as in the spiritual world.

Again and again in these lectures, he emphasised the importance of the search for truth. He began with the question that was in everyone’s minds at that time of the First World War: “what can I do in this crisis?” – and answered simply and directly: “Endeavour to understand! See through things!” Thoughts, he said, are forces and have effects. What people think is far more important than what they do, because thoughts become deeds in the course of time. We live today on the thoughts of past times; these thoughts are fulfilled in the deeds of today. Clear and proper understanding of what is going on is the only way – “Nothing else is of any use”. We need wide-awake vigilance and discrimination in all things. All forms of atavistic mediumism and spiritual practice that avoid the conscious mind are anti-modern and harmful. At the very beginning of his public life, in his book The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1894; a.k.a. The Philosophy of Freedom), Steiner showed how it is vital to combine the correct thought with the object, to find the concept that truly corresponds to the percept. Nothing is better for a person, he said, than real insight into how things work in the world. The truth can never be as damaging as an untruth and to adhere to the truth is a solemn and holy act of worship. Have courage for truth, he urged; stand on the foundation of truth, even if it is harmful or embarrassing. It is essential “to develop the will to see things, to see how human beings are manipulated, to see where there might be impulses by which people are manipulated. This is the same as striving for the sense for truth. …. One who possesses the sense for truth is one who unremittingly strives to find the truth of the matter, one who never ceases to seek the truth and who takes responsibility for himself even when he says something untrue out of ignorance.” He emphasised the role of one’s own karma in investigation. All depends on the historian’s karma leading him to the right information at the right moment. Karma, he said, brings us to places where we can ‘sniff out’ knowledge if we are awake to the surroundings.

But of course, we have to know ourselves well if we are to guard against personal inclinations in making judgments about historical or contemporary events. In the lectures Steiner continually interweaves descriptions of outer events with warnings of the need to change our inner state in order to observe correctly and draws attention to the difficulty of working with our sympathies and antipathies when we are faced with apparent contradictions. We should not, for example, form judgments about nations on the basis of criticism of representative individuals of those nations. One must be aware of one’s own standpoint and be able to exercise what he called “ethnic self-knowledge” i.e. understand how one’s own views may be affected by the habits and inclinations of one’s own folk soul. For this, it seems to me, one needs to be able to view one’s own people with a certain distance, as if observing a foreign object, just as he recommended each of us to observe earlier periods in our own biography as if they were those of another person. When one lives abroad for a substantial period of time, something can happen in one’s soul that serves to sever its connection, to some extent, to one’s own people. In what Steiner often called a ‘homeless’ inner condition on the path of spiritual development, one can then come to see one’s own people and culture in a fresh light and because one has this new more objective relationship to one’s people, one can find new and different ways to serve them more effectively. “Every people has its own mission”, it is “only possible to approach this through a longing to attain an understanding“ of that people.

We need, judiciously, to combine open-minded, imaginative thinking that can relate seemingly disparate elements and a simultaneous insistence and reliance on solid facts [much as a keen police investigator might]. Both are necessary to see through the distractions and the fog of untruth that is spread to confuse the unwary. Long periods of time and a certain cool detachment are necessary for this work. Clarity is the fundamental prerequisite for the formation of any judgment. We cannot take things at face value but must examine them, preparing by looking at things from many different sides. We cannot afford to reject anything on the basis of dogma or prejudice, but rather, we should learn to look at things side by side and wait for them to speak, keeping in mind motivation and perspective in the people or events under consideration. We should look for those people who seek to understand and interpret things clearly. “One cannot claim there is no way of getting to the bottom of these things” says Steiner “…if one seeks honestly, there are many ways of finding out what is going on” and “No true Anthroposopher can allow himself to be deafened to current events by all those methods used by the powerful to distract us from seeing ‘what they are really playing at’.”

We can train ourselves to observe the ulterior reality of a phenomenon and seek to see through what Steiner called “the outward comedy”. He gave the example of the fine rhetorical speeches of the British Prime Minister Lord Rosebery4, (see pic. above) which were but masking the imperatives of those men of power who stood behind him. We can think of the “outward comedy” of George W. Bush in our own era, sitting telling school children a goat story on the morning when the terrible events of 9/11 were unfolding, or of the hair and gestures of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and their habits of speech that have been so quoted on in the media and been lampooned by cartoonists. All these can become pointers for us. How people speak is often more revealing than what they say. But we should learn, says Steiner, to avoid people’s words and illusions, and look instead at their aims and desires, become aware of the rhetorical devices they employ: describing in pictures, using images and comparisons, bringing intensifications. In our time, we can think here of the polished rhetoric of Tony Blair, Barak Obama, and Emanuel Macron and their own habits, gestures and quirks.

Besides urging his listeners to pay attention to the significance of names, for example, of people, events and organisations, Steiner also draws attention to what occurs, or what is deliberately done, on certain dates, or days and under certain starry and planetary constellations that echo similar configurations in the past.  A recent example occurred on the 23rd day of the 3rd month (March), the day when, incidentally, Mars entered into conjunction with Pluto, and Boris Johnson gave a TV address to the people of Britain at prime time 8.30 pm (which is 20.30 in the 24 hour clock) in which he announced the most stringent measures yet in order to deal with the coronavirus situation. The number ‘23’ occurs throughout this event, as we can see. In the BBC News programme that immediately followed his broadcast, it was claimed that Britain would now follow the Italian pattern of events if it did not do what the Prime Minister had just announced (at that point, Italy had had over 5476 deaths allegedly due to coronavirus and Britain had had 281). In other words, the British were held to be interchangeable with the Italians, British society was held to be the same as theirs and, of course, as the assumption evidently was that we are all not individuals in medical and health terms but the British are all exactly the same as the Italians – medicine apparently not recognising human individuality – therefore Britain must follow the Italian pattern. On this 23rd day of the 3rd month the British people, whose national day, we can recall, is 23 April and whose national poet and philosopher Shakespeare has a name beginning with the 23rd letter of the alphabet (W) and is thought to have been born and died on a 23 April, we were told by the BBC that the “turning point” came at 233 deaths in both Italy and the UK: Italy had 233 deaths on 7 March and Britain had 233 deaths on 21 March. This “turning point” is evidently supposed to prove something beyond the similarity of the figure of 233, but what was not exactly made clear. I couldn’t help recalling that on 23.3.1933 Adolf Hitler pushed the Enabling Act through the Reichstag which completed the process that brought about a ‘legal dictatorship’. Obviously, the mere similarity of date does not mean there will now be a dictatorship in Britain, but one can pay attention to the kind of event – the gesture or direction of the event – that happens on the same date and under what starry constellation.

Symptomatology and the ‘spiritual weather’

But besides the striving for self-knowledge to improve the quality of our judgments and besides training ourselves in observation of world events in the ways outlined above, one of the most fundamental factors referred to repeatedly in the Karma of Untruthfulness lectures is the actions of spiritual beings who create ‘the spiritual weather’, we could say, that brings about the spiritual evolution of mankind. When we study history and current events, Steiner pointed out, we need to see phenomena against the background of spiritual knowledge; this is the study of what he called ‘historical symptomatology’: seeing through symptoms to the “illness” behind them. Sometimes, he said, a single phenomenon can illuminate decades. What is important in history is to point out what is characteristic or characteristic about facts, and not just to list them one after the other – a history of symptoms or gestures is needed. Ultimately, behind these symptoms spiritual beings are active, and that is where we find real causality in the interactions between spiritual beings, never forgetting that we too are spiritual beings, but incarnated ones.

World events on the physical plane then, have to be seen against the background of the actions of invisible spiritual beings, as well as human actions. My ‘I’ (the essential human self) is physically invisible to others, but they can get an impression of it through my outer actions and through the state of my body, my caring, my indignation, my tears and so on. In the physical world we are free to ignore the weather, to go out walking in a severe rainstorm without a hat or an umbrella, but we may catch cold and die of pneumonia. Similarly, we are free to ignore ‘the spiritual weather’, the actions of invisible hierarchical spiritual beings who are far beyond us in ‘rank’ (i.e. consciousness). To speak of this spiritual weather then, and the actions of high spiritual beings acting ‘above history’, as it were, is not to speak deterministically, any more than to speak of the weather is determinist. We are free to act as we will, but just as it is common sense to go out on a rainy day with an umbrella, so is it ‘spiritual common sense’ to seek to perceive the nature of the times consciously and correctly and act in accord with it. The Roman Empire in the West ended in 476 AD with the deposition of the Emperor Romulus Augustulus by the East Gothic military leader Odoacer and the Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the East was terminated by the Turks’ conquest of Constantinople in 1453 AD. But many people today, in what is a completely different epoch, still behave as though the culture of that Empire was still with us and was still valid: all those people whose life centres around official documents and constitutions, ordinances, paragraphs and clauses, for example – lawyers, politicians and bureaucrats. If we choose, as a culture, and also as individuals, wilfully or out of ignorance, to disregard changes in the spiritual weather, which according to Steiner are the actions of high spiritual beings, then, just as we get soaking wet when we are out in the rain without an umbrella and may contract pneumonia, we may well suffer in some way a personal or a cultural, societal crisis. It happened to Germany and Japan in the 1930s and 40s and to Russia in 1917-1991; it is happening to us all right now in this so-called “coronavirus crisis”. In recent weeks (the end of March at the time of writing) radical, authoritarian actions have been taken by governments in advanced countries in the name of ‘health and safety’ that starkly contradict the democratic and individualistic direction in which evolution has been moving since the 15th century i.e. since the end of the era of the previous 2160 years that was influenced by Classical Antiquity. And in Britain we find ourselves ruled at this time by Boris Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson, a man who idolises the Roman Empire and the Classical world of that ancient epoch. Millions have allowed Johnson and other leaders of the advanced countries to inflict severe damage on their countries’ cultures, societies and economies because they are simply unaware of the spiritual weather and what it requires.

Steiner on epidemics and cosmology

Interestingly, what Steiner has to say about epidemics and pandemics relates very directly to this question of spiritual weather, when we bear in mind that just as our physical bodies are moved about by our will, our invisible spirit, so are the heavenly bodies up above merely the outer marker for the location of activity by spiritual beings of an awesome nature. On 20 October 1918,5 Steiner, who spoke of viruses as ‘bacilli’, said the following in reference to the outbreak of what has come to be known as the ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1919:

“In man there exists a polarity — the psychic centre and the periphery…. If in order to understand history we must look inward, as I have indicated, to the underlying symptoms, then in order to understand medicine, for example, hygiene and medical health services we must look outwards, to cosmic rhythms for the source of pathological symptoms. …Just as modern history fails to penetrate to spiritual realities, so modern medicine, modern hygiene and medical health services fail to penetrate to the symptoms which are of cosmic provenance. …Clearly, just as the external facts are true that the outward aspect of James I was such and such, as I pointed out earlier [in this lecture he was giving], so, from the external point of view it is also true that a certain kind of bacillus is connected with the present influenza epidemic. But if it is true, for example, that rats are carriers of the bubonic plague, one cannot say that rats are responsible for the plague. People have always imagined that the bubonic plague was spread by rats. But bacilli, as such, are of course in no way connected with disease. In phenomena of this kind we must realize that just as behind the symptoms of history we are dealing with psychic and spiritual experiences, so too behind somatic [physical body] symptoms we are dealing with experiences of a cosmological order. In other cases the situation of course will be different! What is especially important here is the rhythmic course of cosmic events, and it is this that we must study. We must ask ourselves: In what constellation were we living when, in the 1890s, the present influenza epidemic appeared in its benign form? In what cosmic constellation are we living at the present time? By virtue of what cosmic rhythm does the influenza epidemic of the nineties appear in a more acute form today? Just as we must look for a rhythm behind a series of historical symptoms, so we must look for a rhythm behind the appearance of certain epidemics. …Do you regard it as impossible that something takes place in the sun — since its rays are directed daily towards the earth — which has significance for the earth emanations and is related to the life of man, and that this reaction varies according to different geographical localities? Do you think that we shall have any understanding of these matters unless we are prepared to accept a true cosmology founded upon a knowledge of the soul and spirit? The statement that man’s inclination to resort to war is connected with the periodic appearance of sun spots is, of course, regarded as absurd. But there comes a point when statements of this kind cease to be absurd, when certain pathological manifestations in the emotional life are seen to be connected with cosmological phenomena such as the periodic appearance of sun spots. And when tiny creatures, these petty tyrants — bacilli or rats — really transmit from one human being to another something that is related to the cosmos, then this transmission is only a secondary phenomenon. …People will only achieve results in the sphere of health, hygiene and medicine if they study not historical, but cosmological symptoms. For the diseases we suffer on earth are visitations from heaven…We can only advance the cause of progress in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul, when people recognise the validity of spiritual realities. Therefore everything depends on this one aim: the search, the quest for truth.”

If we investigate the cosmological phenomenon of sun spot cycles, and look at sun spot minima – those years when there are very few or zero sunspots – we find, for example, a study in the Journal of Astrobiology & Outreach (23.6.2017) entitled ‘Sunspot Cycle Minima and Pandemics: The Case for Vigilance?’6 The conclusion of this study is that the “three major sunspot minima – Sporer [1400-1520], Maunder [1645-1715] and Dalton [1790-1830] – are known to have been associated with devastating pandemics caused by viral or bacterial agents. Whilst some of these agents could be interpreted as being newly introduced to the Earth, others probably represented mutated or re-activated entities that were in circulation at the time… The modern period 2002-2017 has been characterised by the lowest solar activity since the Dalton minimum… These conditions taken together arguably provide the best opportunity for the onset of pandemics. An open gateway is offered for the ingress of new pathogens which are inevitably electrically charged in space. Virions, phages, bacteria, and other micron-sized biological entities can cross the weakened interplanetary magnetic field and readily reach the Earth’s surface.”

When we look to planetary movements, we find that many astrologers seem to agree the coronavirus epidemic was unleashed at the time of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction (meeting) in Capricorn7, which was more or less exact in January this year, although astrologers disagree about the extent (orb) of a conjunction (meeting). The smaller the orb, the greater the effect of the conjunction, and the conjunction was within a 3°orb from 6 December 2019 to 17 February 17 this year i.e. during the outbreak in China and the beginning of the spread of the virus globally. 

In March this year, Mars moved into a conjunction with Jupiter and Pluto, and it was in March that the coronavirus outbreak intensified. On 18 March five celestial bodies (!) were in Capricorn, in a very tight conjunction (within 8° of each other). Mars and the Moon were at 21° Capricorn, Jupiter at 22° Capricorn, Pluto at 24° Capricorn and Saturn at 29° Capricorn. Capricorn is traditionally associated with government, authority, and order, the father. The days between 18 and 23 March – when Mars joined the Jupiter-Pluto conjunction – were very difficult; the disease surged and governments took the most drastic action, requiring most of their populations to stay at home. On 21 March Saturn moved from Capricorn into Aquarius; amongst other things, Saturn is associated with discipline, restriction and limitation and Aquarius with freedom and togetherness, science and electricity. Will 5G technology be restricted by governments because of this crisis or will the forces of authority and order use it to impose 5G?

In 1348 King Philip VI of France investigated the causes of the terrible plague (the “Black Death”- see pic. above) that decimated Europe in the 1340s, and his astrologers decided that conjunctions of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, all in Aquarius in March 1345, were the original, or ‘distant’ cause of the plague. Finally, the last time there was a triple conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, as there is now, was in 1284. That was the year in which the historical events that gave rise to the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin occurred in Germany. Also, in 1284, the Republic of Venice began production of the ducat, the gold coin that would become the standard for European coinage for the next 600 years. Are the peoples of the world being deceived in this crisis by elites intending to use the fear and paranoia associated with the disease to bring about a fundamental shift in our financial and economic system? Will this crisis be used to effect the elimination of cash and to justify the move to a fully digital economy, including the introduction of the much-vaunted “Green New Deal” programme advanced by Al Gore, US Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and the Extinction Rebellion movement as well as the technology required to sustain this?

Hierarchical Beings

The following is based on Steiner’s understanding of how spiritual beings work into human affairs. There are three levels of consciousness far above the human that determine the world’s ‘spiritual weather’. Just as the physical weather has a purpose – to bring about changes in the condition of the physical earth – so do these ‘levels of consciousness’, which are in fact spiritual beings, (as we are, only they are invisible and far more advanced in their development than us), have a purpose, which is to bring about changes that assist us in our development. To use traditional nomenclature for these, they are the seven planetary Archangels who each in turn preside over periods of history that last for 350-400 years at a time; they are called ‘planetary’ because they mediate forces from the spiritual spheres associated with those physically visible planets. In those spiritual spheres higher beings dwell that are responsible for those regions of the spiritual-physical realms. In the Middle Ages, from approx. 1190-1510, the Mars Archangel Samael was presiding over the spiritual weather of that period and ‘his’ divisive, assertive energy prepared the way for the growing individualism of the modern world, which became evident in the Reformation of the sixteenth century. From 1510 to 1879 the Moon Archangel Gabriel performed the supervisory office and whenever ‘he’ does so, he orients us towards an ever deeper incarnation into the physical earth. Since 1879 the Sun Archangel Michael has been directing the spiritual weather; we have all been living within his influence which has steadily grown over the past 140 years. Traditionally, Gabriel was represented standing at the gate of birth as we left the spiritual world and entered the physical plane, while Michael was shown standing at the gate of death with his scales, weighing up what we had achieved in our earthly lives.

Michael’s influence orients us in the opposite direction to Gabriel, as it were, towards the spirit and the cosmopolitan world of mind and thought. In this Michaelic era, how we form our judgments is especially important, because it depends on how consciously we think and how extensive and ‘sun-like’ our understanding of the world is. Michael’s era will be followed by that of the Saturn Archangel Oriphiel (c.2300-c.2650), whose rulership, according to Steiner, is always a particular time of testing for humanity.

Beyond the seven planetary Archangels are the 12 Archai, one level higher in rank or consciousness than the Archangels. These 12 mediate Zodiacal impulses to mankind for periods of 2160 years each, that is 30 x 72 years, for it takes 72 years for the spring equinox point to move through one of the 30 degrees of a single one of the 12 Zodiac signs. In many of his works and from various angles Steiner explained how these 12 signs affect the evolution of the human organism over the course of time. Currently, since the early 15th century, we have been in what he calls the Age of the Consciousness Soul8, in which the will aspect of our threefold soul is being developed, the two others being the thinking aspect and the feeling aspect, which were developed in the two previous Zodiacal periods. This Consciousness Soul epoch (1413-3573), which according to Steiner  lasts 2160 years, will continue until the middle of the 4th millennium. A crucial aspect of this epoch is for individuals to become conscious of themselves as spiritual beings and of their relationship to the worlds of spirit, nature and other human beings. This is something that only individuals can do in freedom; it cannot be done en masse, as a group, and it is to be done in the course of at least two incarnations during the Consciousness Soul Age, normally once as a man and once as a woman, thus providing individual souls with a balanced human experience of each phase of human development on Earth. In this epoch the main challenge is for individuals to penetrate their mental life so that they can become the conscious masters of their thinking. The Consciousness Soul Age will be followed by the Age of the Spirit-Self, the first period in which the spirit of man will be developed, as distinct from the soul. The focus in that epoch will not be so much on individuals and thinking but on the development of new communities and a higher, more refined life of feeling.

In this context, in The Karma of Untruthfulness lecture cycle Steiner gave two extremely important indications about modern history; the first was that  “the whole of recent history [by which he meant the period from the beginning of the Consciousness Soul epoch in the early 15th century until his own time] has to do with the struggle between the ancient Roman-Latin element  and that element that is to be made out of the English-speaking peoples if they fail to put up any resistance to it.” This points to the struggle between those elements hanging over from the Greco-Roman epoch (747 BC – 1413 AD) before the Age of the Consciousness Soul which are today historically retrogressive or ‘illegitimate’, as it were, and the historically progressive and legitimate impulses of our epoch, the Age of the Consciousness Soul. One of these progressive impulses is democracy, the striving of each individual, whatever their social status or affiliation, to have a say in how the community is run. Another is the economic impulse, as distinct from the purely political or legal impulse of the Greco-Roman epoch and the theocratic impulse of the previous, ancient Egyptian epoch, for example. In our epoch, the English-speaking peoples have a particularly important role to play in the sphere of the economy.

The second important indication9 Steiner gave in these lectures was that the elites of the English-speaking peoples are determined to prevent the Slavic peoples from playing the significant role that they are destined to play in the epoch of the Spirit-Self, that is, the epoch after ours, when the Slavic peoples will be in the vanguard of a new impulse for ethical community based on the refinement of feeling. Instead, the English-speaking elites wish to hold evolution back in the Age of the Consciousness Soul when the English-speaking peoples play a vanguard role, so that evolution can be held back at the level of the ‘lower octave’ of individualism, namely, self-centredness. This is because the English-speaking elites have not become sufficiently conscious of how they, as individuals, are gripped by their own folk soul and its inclinations, one of which is the inclination to materialism. Steiner indicated how  “certain elements” of the British people are most suitable to promote this via the use of what he called ‘grey magic‘, by which he meant above all media manipulation and propaganda. Again, we are seeing this to a remarkable degree right now in the coronavirus ‘crisis’.

On 18 October 2019, the 7th World Military Games (see above) opened in Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million people and a major transport and technological hub, as well as being one of the first cities where 5G was being rolled out in China. 10,000 athletes from over 100 countries competed in 27 sports, and on that same day the “Event 201” conference10 (see above) took place in New York, hosted by Johns Hopkins University and organised by the World Economic Forum (which hosts the annual jamboree events for ‘world leaders’ in Davos, Switzerland) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Event 201 was held in order to simulate, as an exercise, a global coronavirus pandemic. This was two months before that pandemic first appeared in …. Wuhan, China. Discussing the communications element of the simulation11, the participants agreed there would be a need to “flood the zone”, as they put it, i.e. to fill the global media with the same messages and this is what we have seen and heard in the mainstream media during this current crisis. Alternative views of the crisis and serious critiques of government reactions have hardly had a look-in. This is an important aspect of ‘grey magic’: people are prevented from gaining access to information that would help them to form better judgments by a relentless media focus on a single message, a single narrative. The English-speaking peoples, who have dominated global media for most of the last 100 years, are the “most suitable national element for transforming the whole world into a materialistic realm”, Steiner said on 15.1.1917. This is because of their inclination to materialism that has been deeply ensconced within their culture especially since the time of Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the instigator of the natural scientific method and inspirer of the Royal Society (1660). “Secret Societies know this and want to set their foot on the neck” of their own people “and strip them of all spiritual endeavour” that is genuine. “Just because karma has ordained that the Consciousness Soul should work here [in Britain] particularly strongly, the secret brotherhoods have sought out elements in the British national character. Their aim is to send a wave of materialism over the earth and make the physical plane the only valid one. A spiritual world is only to be recognised in terms of what the physical plane has to offer.”12

Finally, in addition to the actions of the seven planetary Archangels and the 12 Zodiacal Archai, there are the actions of four beings that have more profound influences yet than them. According to Steiner, three of these beings –  Lucifer, Christ and Ahriman – all have incarnations on the physical plane just once in human evolution: Lucifer c.3000 BC in China, Christ in Jesus of Nazareth 2000 years ago, and Ahriman now, in the early 3rd millennium “before even a part of the 3rd millennium has elapsed”13  “in the West”, most probably N. America. These three incarnations are like three great pillars in the history of the last 5000 years, framing human development in that period. Each incarnation requires a lengthy preparation and a particular people or culture to bear it. In the case of Ahriman, that is the people of the United States, a country that was birthed from Britain. Europe became the continent primarily associated with Christianity, and today Europe finds itself squeezed between the economic and military impulses of China, whose vast “One Belt, One Road” transportation project across Eurasia is the greatest Asian movement westwards since the Mongols in the 13th century, and America, the ailing global hegemon which, led by semi-visible financial and economic powers, is determined to reassert its still formidable global hegemony.

The current coronavirus crisis in this 21st century since the time of Christ is taking place within this struggle for the corona (crown) of world power between China and America. But it is also taking place within the window of activity of a fourth being known to esotericism14 as ‘the Sun Demon’, or Sorath, the being associated with the number 666 in the Bible (Rev. ch. 13) who does not incarnate but strikes into human affairs every 666 years (666-1332-1998); my own research has led me to the conclusion that around each of those axial years can be seen a ‘window’ of 49/50 years15 in each case, so that the present window is either side of 1998 (1973-1998-2023). The Sorath being seeks to undermine and destroy the human I, to reduce us to the animal part of our human being, where we become subservient to our animal needs and drives. From the early 1970s until today we have seen countless examples of this animalisation. In their paranoid overreaction to the coronavirus, governments have sought to reduce whole nations to sheep, locked up in domestic ‘pens’, unable to move freely until their ‘shepherds’ allow, and whole nations have meekly complied. Public social and cultural life has all but been sheared off and we wait dumbly for we know not what. Perhaps a vaccine that, like sheep, we shall all be required to take for purposes of “health and safety”, our vaccination records accessible on an implanted ID chip in our bodies, just as farm animals already have. In Sweden it has even become fashionable in recent years to have ‘ID chip parties’ where, as well as eating chips and other food, partygoers have chips of a different sort implanted in their hands or arms. Once again, Britain has been in the forefront here; in 2019 The Guardian reported16: “In 1998, Kevin Warwick, a professor of cybernetics at Reading University, had a chip implanted in his hand both to demonstrate that it was possible, and as a way of exploring the transhumanist idea that fusing technology with the body is the next step in humanity’s evolution.” (emphasis – TB)(see pic. below)

Meanwhile, as we are not in fact sheep but human beings, we can at least use this current imposed detention in our ‘pens’ to study, research, think and meditate, and try to understand what is going on, even though much of that research and study may have to be in the ahrimanic realm of the Internet (the inspiration for which, like almost all modern technology, came from that  realm). We can take courage from the knowledge, a result of Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual research, that in this Age of the Consciousness Soul, in this 21st century of the Christian Era, and in this Michaelic Age, since the 1930s17 the Christ Being, the Divine Logos, has been visible to those who can perceive Him in the etheric mantle of the Earth, which is the realm of the angels. There He is borne by an angel, as in Palestine He was borne for just three years by a human being. Since the Ascension he has united Himself with the Earth. This can become a great source of strength and comfort to people in times such as ours.

                                                          Overshadowed by the Etheric Christ by Ninetta Sombart

Christ came in Jesus in the epoch before ours. As our epoch is, in astrological terms, the Age of Pisces, the Fishes, when He walked the Earth it was in the Age of Aries, the Ram, and so he referred to those who followed him as his sheep. In that epoch people were only just learning how to think – that was a task of the epoch. But in our epoch, now that we can think, the task is to think for ourselves: through thinking, to realise how we are related to all being, visible and invisible, to overcome fear, isolation, alienation, and to use our thinking for the sake of the Good: In this epoch, to speak of human beings as sheep, even symbolically, is no longer appropriate. In the Age of the Consciousness Soul we strive to advance from intellectuality to Imagination, the first step to spiritual vision into the realm of life itself, by perceiving the outer form of spiritual realities, but Steiner warned that what works against Imagination is inattention to truth; it is fabrication and untruthfulness. He considered this was already rampant in the media of his day and often said that untruthfulness was the norm in the Press. What would he have made of today’s media world! Many are under the impression that ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ are things that only emerged c.2016. Far from it. Steiner was pointing out such things a hundred years ago already. That is one reason why the lectures were titled The Karma of Untruthfulness. If more and more people made the effort to engage with the content of these 25 precious lectures, they would find their understanding of world events in the modern era immeasurably enriched and strengthened.


1. (Collected Works GA 173 Vol. 1 and GA 174).

2. (GA 173a-c).

3 All Steiner quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Karma of Untruthfulness Vols. 1 and 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2005).

4 Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), Liberal Imperialist, Foreign Secretary 1886, 1892-1894, Prime Minister 1894-95. Widely recognised as the finest political orator of his age, he was married to Britain’s wealthiest heiress, Hannah Rothschild, from 1878 until her death in 1890. He was for many years the political mentor of the three close political colleagues who took Britain into the First World War: Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister 1908-1914, Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary 1905-1916, and Lord Richard Haldane, Minister of War 1905-1912 and Lord High Chancellor 1912-1915.

5 Collected Works GA 185.


7 The planetary positions given in this article are for the Tropical Zodiac used by most western astrologers and not the Sidereal Zodiac, used by a minority of western, and most Indian astrologers.

8 Coterminous with the Age of Pisces. The dates Steiner gives for this are  1413-3573. There is a time lag of 1200 years (1199 to be exact) from the beginning of the astronomical Ages and their reflection in human history and culture. The astronomical Age of Pisces – when, as viewed from Earth, the Spring point entered the sign of Pisces – began in 215 AD. The cultural Age of Pisces on earth began 1199 years later in 1413/14. The time lag is accounted for by the time taken for the ‘Venus pentagram’ (a configuration of conjunctions between the Sun and Venus, often called ‘the cosmic timepiece’ on account of its harmonious movements) to ‘rotate’ around the entire Zodiac. See R. Powell, Hermetic Astrology, Vol. I (1987) pp. 58-66.

9 Here Steiner drew partly on a lecture given by the British occultist, C.G. Harrison in London in 1893 and included in the book The Transcendental Universe (1894).

10 See Youtube:


12 Here, one can think of the growing cult of “Gaia” – the reverence for the physical earth as a near or  actual ‘divine’ physical being felt by many people in ecological and New Age circles.

13  Lecture of  1.11.1919.

14 For example, Abbot Johannes Trithemius of Sponheim (1462-1516) in his book The Seven Secondary Intelligences (1508). He was the teacher of the important 16th century esotericists Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus.

15 This is from my own work, but building on Steiner’s indications; he associated the second 666 year, i.e. 1332, with the fall of the Knights Templar (12.9.1924 GA 346). But they were arrested on Friday 13 October 1307, the Order was dissolved in 1312 at the Council of Vienne, and the two leading Templars in France were burned at the stake in Paris in 1314 – those dates are all well before 1332. 1307-1332 is 25 years. Working by analogy with the lemniscate, and moving 25 years beyond 1332, we arrive at 1357. By this latter date, the Order of the Templars (under that name) had completely disappeared from Europe. The second 666 window, associated by Steiner with the destruction of the Templars era, is thus 1307-1357, with the axial point at 1332. The same principle can be applied to the first and third 666 years thus: 641-666-691 and 1973-1998-2023. The activity of Sorath does not occur in only one year, although that axial year is a kind of culmination, but during a 49/50 year-long window of time around it.

16 Oscar Schwartz, ‘The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?’ in The Guardian, 8.11.2019

17 See R. Steiner, The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric (Anthroposophic Press, 1983) lectures of 25.1.1910 and 6.3.1910, both in GA 118.