Rays from the Rose Cross


Page 1

N THE LAST SECTION* we dealt not

only with the true nature of Weight,

Measure, and Number, but also with their

“fall” in connection with the temporal mis-

sions and the eternal messages of the Old

Indian, Old Persian, and Egypto-Chaldean cul-

tures. Seen from the standpoint of human nature,

these three great principles contain the meaning of

man’s need to come to terms in his life [vital] body,

sentient [desire] body, and sentient [emotional]

soul with the three axioms of human destiny: toil,

suffering, and death. For the three “curses of the

Father,” which have overhung the destiny of man

ever since his fall into sin, demand of him a spiri-

tual and moral struggle in his life body, his sentient

body, and his sentient soul. And indeed, human

consciousness is obliged to evoke a sacrificial

force in the life body in order to descend into the

sphere of the active world of physical existence.

“Weight,” as readiness for incarnation in the phys-

ical, is not to be found in the physical sphere itself,

but in the etheric from which the physical is taken

and molded. That which is experienced in the

physical as the “toil” of earthly activity may be

experienced in the etheric as love for the Earth

mission, as true “Weight.” Similarly, in the sen-

tient body, man is in a position to encounter con-

sciously the “suffering” which he experiences in

the life body. Here he can be conscious of its true

content, can acquire a conscious relationship to it.

And here he can experience it as the mission in

time, as true “Measure,” whereas the life body is

itself “time.” But it is only in the sentient soul that

man first meets with the whole tragedy of the prob-

lem of “death.” This is because it is only in the

soul, and for the soul, that that external event and

the pain of it becomes an inner karmic question;

i.e., a question concerning the value and nature of

the “Number” of individual beings. It is a question

whether this number is an eradicable product of

nature, or whether it is rooted in the eternity of the

Godhead—hence ineradicable.

Thus the main problem of the Egypto-Chaldean

age was immortality, as is clearly shown, for

instance, in the Gilgamesh myth. The main prob-

lem of the Old Persian culture, on the other hand,

was the objective relationship between good and

evil in the world and in the Zend-Avesta. Preserved

until this day are echoes which show us that the

important thing in the Old Persian age was to feel

the “cosmic year” as the measure of this relation-

ship in the stream of time. Further, the main prob-

lem of the Old Indian culture was the value of

human activity in the physical world. Thus, for

example, the Bhagavad Gita, although of later ori-

gin, is entirely devoted to this problem.

During the fourth, the Greco-Latin culture-

epoch, there was added to the three problems—the

“value of the world of deeds”; the relationship

between good and evil; and immortality—a fourth;

namely, the problem of freedom. For as man meets

with the first three problems in the life body, the

sentient body, and the sentient soul, so he encoun-

ters the problem of freedom with the awakening of

the intellectual soul. It is the intellectual soul

which makes man conscious of being placed

between that which he knows and wills and cannot

do, and that which he does not will and yet

does. We can hardly find a better formula for this


Studies in the Apocalypse

The Letter to the Angel of the Church in Thyatira

*See March/April 2003 Rays. Valentin Tomberg’s Studies of
the Apocalypse, ©1985 by Candeur Manuscripts, is reprint-
ed by permission of the Anthroposophic Press.

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situation than the one given by St. Paul: “For that
which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I
not: but what I hate, that do I” (Romans 7:15). Man
finds himself placed between the impotent under-
standing and the hidden will life when he experi-
ences himself within his intellectual soul. His
understanding sets before him the demands of the
spirit, but gives him no power to fulfill them. His
subconscious nature, however, functions through
impulses which are dark to his consciousness. That
which he has seen to be true and good he recog-
nizes as a necessity, as “law,” but that which func-
tions with natural force within him he recognizes
only as the result of deeds already accomplished,
which also may be regarded as a “law” (Romans
7:16-21). Now if he follows the claims of the spir-
it, the “law,” he must exercise constraint on his
nature; if, on the contrary, he follows his natural
impulses, he is guilty of betrayal of his own con-
victions and turns aside from reason, which is,
nevertheless, his guiding star. It is this real inner
contradiction which raises the problem of freedom
in the soul of man. The question is: How may the
light of insight become such that it can lay hold
upon the impulses of nature and shine through
them? That is, how is it possible for nature to fol-
low the spirit freely, and for the spirit to rise over
the soul, not as a ruler, but as a beneficent Sun?
Now, for the realization of freedom, the light of
the intellect must become something more than
mere light. It must receive power not only to illu-
minate, but also to kindle to deeds. The light must
become fire, otherwise it will not be possible to
make freedom a reality. On the other hand, the life
of will must become, so to speak, a rigidified light:
it must become “metal.” For, as the metals which
have materialized are light that has become rigid
and heavy, so also the content of man’s will life
must become something which lends weight and
solidity to the content of the higher man’s knowl-
edge. For this reason, the fourth letter, addressed to
the Angel of the Church in Thyatira, sets the ideal,
the archetype of freedom, at the very beginning:
“These things saith the Son of God, who hath his
eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like
fine brass” (Rev. 2:18). Christ is the force which
realizes the ideal of freedom; namely, the conver-
sion of light into fire, of will into metal.
But the path to the realization of the ideal of
freedom lies in the love (agape) rendered possible
by the Christ impulse. It is in the form of love that
the reality of the Christ impulse can overcome the
opposition of intellect and of those impulses which
hamper the condition of freedom. For this reason,
the “Angel of Thyatira” possesses not only the
three necessary qualities by means of which man
comes to terms with “toil,” “suffering,” and
“death,” but also a fourth, by means of which the
realization of freedom becomes possible. For if the
necessity of “toil” demands conscious service
(diakonia), the necessity of “suffering” requires
patience (hypomone), and the necessity of “death”
needs faith (pistis). The angel of the fourth church
possesses, besides these qualities, yet a fourth,
namely, love. “I know thy works, and charity and
service, and faith, and thy patience, and that thy
last works are more than the first” (Rev. 2:19), says
the letter to the fourth angel, pointing thereby to
the fact of the Cross, for which the men of the
Greco-Latin epoch must be ready. It is the Cross of
“toil,” suffering,” and “death” which must be
borne, and the dilemma appears in the manner of
bearing the Cross in the spirit of service, patience,
faith, and freedom in love. This Cross was erected
gradually in the spiritual history of mankind. First,
in the Old Indian epoch, service was learned by
coming to terms with the necessity of toil through
insight into the value of the world of deeds. Then
patience was acquired in the course of the Old
Persian epoch when the point was to recognize the
objective relationship between good and evil in an
age when men had to suffer the conflict between
good and evil. In the Egypto-Chaldean culture-
epoch, it was especially with death that man had to
come to terms, and in reaching an understanding
with immortality to attain to faith. Finally, in the
Greco-Latin period, that dilemma was experienced
of which St. Paul speaks, and from this experience
arose the problem of freedom and the longing to
realize it through the force of love. In the sense of
the preceding studies, however, the Cross can also
be represented as shown in Figure 1 (page 6).
Here the tests of Weight, Measure and Number
lie in the karmic necessities of “toil,” “suffering,”

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and “death,” and the forces acquired by the passing
of those tests constitute the soul forces of service,
patience and faith. But freedom is the reality of the
true ego of man, and that reality is revealed by the
rays of the Sun force of love in man. Love is the
essential revelation of the true ego.
The bearing of this Cross—“I will put upon you
none other burden but that which ye have already;
hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2:24, 25)—is the task
of the “Church in Thyatira” and was the true mis-
sion of the Fourth Post-Atlantean culture-epoch.
But to that Cross was opposed another as the
antithesis of the dilemma. This was the overcom-
ing of “suffering” without toil, and the flight,
before the tragedy of “death,” into the great unity.
It was that spiritual tendency which was
founded on the decadent Sibylline school,
the spiritual tendency of the
“woman Jezebel, which
callest herself a prophet-
ess” (Rev. 2:29). The point
connected with the Israel-
ite queen Jezebel, who supported this
tendency as an opponent of the
prophets, was that the dilemma exist-
ing between reason and impulse should be
bridged by submission to the guidance of the dark
Sibylline impulse. Men are thus “seduced” into
accepting the Sibylline inspiration as the solution
of the problem of freedom, and thus arriving at a
condition in which the dilemma no longer exists
because reason is excluded and nature alone
allowed to speak. This condition developed later
into what is known today as Mediumism. At that
time it was not yet the modern “trance” condition,
but it was well on the way in this direction. On the
other hand, the effect of the spiritual passivity
which was thus fostered was that men became
even apathetic to “suffering” because they had
chosen that path which involved no “toil.” And this
apathy towards “suffering” was achieved not by
genuine strength of patience, but by man electrify-
ing himself so that he was fanaticized by a process
called in the Apocalypse, “eating things sacrificed
unto idols” (phagein eidolo thyta). By this means a
man became so inwardly “electrified” that he was
able to endure a great deal without suffering. The
“eating of things sacrificed unto idols” had actual-
ly a kind of narcotic effect—it anesthetized the
suffering of the soul by making it insensitive.
This spiritual tendency helped men to overcome
the karmic necessities of “toil” and “suffering,”and
in the same way they helped themselves over the
tragedy of “death” by endeavoring to feel the
“great unity” of all natural and spiritual life.
Through this they lost the sense of anything defi-
nite or individual and thus robbed death of its
“sting.” Such men lived with the attitude that all
lives in all, and leads through all to all; there is
nothing to choose, and nothing to lose, for all paths
lead to the same goal—the goal of union with the
active totality of nature. This peculiar monism was
essentially a denial of the reality and the
significance of Number. By it the conflict
with “death” was
avoided because
individuality was
not prized. This
d e p r e c i a t i o n o f
individuality, this detachment from
all that is definite, is called in the
Apocalypse, “committing fornica-
tion” (porneusai). It is a universal mar-
riage of all with all, whereas the idea of individu-
ality, which is the idea of true Number, demands
strict and definite organization. There only one
way, leading to one ideal, is admissible.
Thus the cross of “Jezebel” [Figure 2, page 7]
stands in opposition to the cross of the “Angel in
Thyatira.” This cross is suggested in the
Apocalypse by the following words: “Notwith-
standing, I have a few things against thee, because
thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth
herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my
servants to commit fornication and to eat things
sacrificed unto idols” (Rev. 2:20).
Now what is the karmic remedy for such a spir-
itual tendency? On the one hand, it is time; that is,
the opportunity to learn that the Sibylline teaching
which once stood so high is decadent. For the
Sibylline teaching was, at one time, a true and
unsullied source of spiritual revelation to mankind.
That was in the days when the Gods stooped to
nature. Later, however, the Gods withdrew to a
Figure 1

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higher sphere, and the sphere from which the
Sibyls drew their inspiration became a possession
of demons. It was ranked with the spheres which, in
the Apocalypse, are called collectively, “the depths
of Satan” (ta bathea tou satana). It was for this
reason that Jezebel was given “time to repent of
her fornication; and she repented not” (Rev. 2: 21).
But if the knowledge of the fact of the Sibylline
decadence is not enough to turn the spiritual ten-
dency of “Jezebel” in a different direction, then
destiny must intervene—on the one hand, to put an
end to the possibility of Sibylline revelation; and
on the other, to give
increased power to “suf-
fering” and “death,” so
as to heal the apathy
towards these karmic
necessities of humanity.
To make the Sibylline
revelation impossible, the vertical
direction of that revelation (the
line of teaching and seduction in
the diagram, right) which runs from below
upwards must become horizontal. Then the possi-
bility of revelation from the subterranean sphere
ceases—the Sibyl becomes a human being who
can do nothing beyond the forces possessed by a
human being, and has no knowledge of anything
further than the memory of earlier Sibylline expe-
riences which may be re-awakened.
In any case, this human being is then complete-
ly under the control of “suffering” and “death.” All
these things are clearly expressed in the language
of the Apocalypse. “Behold, I will cast her
(Jezebel) into a bed, and them that commit adul-
tery with her into great tribulation, except they
repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children
with death” (Rev. 2:22, 23). This destiny is the
remedial treatment necessary for the karma of the
spiritual tendency of Jezebel.
But the “diagnosis” on which that remedial
treatment is based is given by the “searching of the
reins [literally, kidneys—Ed.] and hearts” (Rev. 2:
23). For the two spiritual tendencies with which
we are dealing—namely, that of “the Angel in
Thyatira” and that of “Jezebel”—are distinguished
precisely by the fact that in the first, freedom
through love is realized from the “heart”; whereas
the Sibylline onslaught is made by the lower forces
on the “reins.” Hence the two currents have two
different karmic paths. The current of the “reins”
must take the path of the loss of revelation and of
submission to tribulation and death. The current of
the “heart” must follow the path by which it will
acquire power in the sphere of the group souls of
the nations (exusian epi ton ethnon), and will break
them up into fragments of separate consciousness
units, “as the vessels of a potter shall they be bro-
ken to shivers” (Rev. 2:26, 27).
The “rod of iron” of the
ego-consciousness will
receive power to
loosen the bonds
uniting the group
soul, and to shat-
ter the structures
which originated exclusively in the
group soul. And in place of these
group soul elements “broken to
shivers,” another principle of community-
forming will arise: the Morning star—Mercury
(astronomically, Venus)—the star of the Manas-
[Mind] influence in the spiritual history of the
Earth. For there are two main influences which
direct the path of the Earth—that of Mars, and that
of Mercury.
The Mars influence is the influence of war; that
is, of the cleavage of mankind, the splitting up of the
community. The influence of Mercury, on the con-
trary, is community-forming and unifying. Now the
“rod of iron” referred to in the letter is the legitimate
internalization of the Mars impulse, which aims at
the emancipation of personality from the group con-
dition. But the personality grown independent and
emancipated by means of the rod of iron (iron rep-
resents the influence of Mars on the things of Earth)
will be once more united into a community through
the Manas influence of the Mercury impulse (the
impulse of the “morning-star”).
Thus, at the end of the letter to the “Church in
Thyatira” stands the promise of the morning star,
under whose sign those who have been loosed
from blood relationships will be again united.




Figure 2