By Robert Powell

This article is the fourth in the series published in Shoreline on the theme of the Second Coming. In the third article ("Sub-Nature and the Second Coming') reference was made to the Grail Mystery comprising the sublime mystery of the four different kinds of communion with Christ. And just as the third article was concerned with communion of the human self with the self of Christ as expressed in St. Paul's words "not I, but Christ in me", so this fourth article is concerned with the communion of the purified astral body with Christ's astral body.

As described in the third article, we find the archetype of the communion of the human self with Christ's Self in Christ's descent into hell, down to the Kingdom of the Mother. For this was a descent of the Self of Christ alone, separated from the physical, etheric and astral bodies. At the time of the Fall, the Mother withdrew into the darkness of the underworld, beneath the nine sub-earthly spheres of evil. In the ancient mystery centres, such as Eleusis in ancient Greece, a path of descent to the Mother (known to the Greeks as Demeter) was sought by way of ritual initiation. However, it was only through the Mystery of Golgotha, with Christ's descent to hell, that a path of descent to the Mother became opened up as a divine path. As described by Rudolf Steiner, "The path is right, but it is very difficult... If one passes through them [the nine sub-earthly spheres of evil] together with Christ, then the demons are unable to harm one, but otherwise they would be able to destroy one!"The path of descent to the Mother entails confrontation with the nine sub-earthly spheres of evil and is therefore a very difficult path. Nevertheless, it is precisely this path that is becoming opened up in the twentieth century through the Second Coming, with a new descent into hell by Christ having begun in 1945 (around the time of the explosion of the first atomic bomb). The cosmic rhythm underlying the descent into hell is the 12-year Jupiter rhythm, and during the course of 1992 a new stage on this path of descent will begin. (c.f. Shoreline 4 p. 49-50)

Whereas the 12 year Jupiter rhythm is related to the Self of Christ, the rhythm of his etheric body is one of 33 1/3 years. As the life of Jesus Christ from birth to the Mystery of Golgotha lasted 33'/3 years, all the events of His biography became inscribed into His etheric body. Since the Mystery of Golgotha the unfolding rhythm of 33'/3 years of Christ's etheric body has played a major role in the spiritual history of humanity. For example, the content of the Four Gospels was inspired by this etheric body which contains the Eternal Gospel. Since 1899, with the completion of the fifty sixth 331/3 year cycle since the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ's etheric body has been working with renewed intensity in the twentieth century - in connection with the Second Coming, His manifestation in the etheric realm - and Rudolf Steiner's lectures on the Fifth Gospel (1913) were inspired from this source. We are now nearing completion (in September 1999) of the fifty-ninth 334/3 year cycle since the Mystery of Golgotha, and then the sixtieth cycle will begin. The human being's transformed etheric body is able to enter into communion with the etheric body of Christ.

However, as referred to at the start of this article, it is especially the communion of the purified astral body with Christ's astral body which is the central theme of this article. The purified astral body is known in the East as manes, and we find an historical archetype of the communion under consideration here in the "manna communion" of the people of Israel in the wilderness. In the Biblical account it is emphasized that manna was a product of the night (Exodus 16: 6-13). At night the human self and astral body separate from the physical and etheric bodies during sleep. Normally the human being is not conscious of this sojourn in his astral body each night. However, through purification of the astral body he may become spiritually conscious during the night and the wealth of experience he thereby undergoes bestows new strength upon him. This is the essence of manna communion which arises th rough the development of manes (the pu rif fed astral body). I n the case of the people of Israel, into which Christ incarnated, the manna communion in the wilderness was an expression of the approaching Incarnation. Since the Mystery of Golgotha this mode of communion is possible if, through union of the human self with the Christ Self ("Not I, but Christ in me"), the Christianized human self works purifyingly upon the astral body, transforming the latter into manes. An example of this we find historically in St. Francis of Assisi. The spiritual power exerted by St. Francis over wild animals bears witness to the transformation and purification of his own animal nature (astral body). The astral body thus purified becomes capable of entering into communion with Christ's astral body. What does this signify?

Just as Christ's etheric body is the bearer of the Eternal Gospel mirrored (in part) in the Four Gospels, so Christ's astral body is the bearer of the Eternal Apocalypse, part of which is mirrored in the Apocalypse of St. John (Book of Revelation). There Christ appeared to St. John with "seven stars in His right hand" (Revelation 1:16), symbolising the seven planetary forces underlying the astral body. The entire symbolism of the Book of Revelation relates to the "night consciousness"that awakens through purification of the astral body, which then is able to enter into communion with Christ's astral body - as exemplified by St. John.

As the rhythm of Christ's etheric body is exactly 33 1/3 years, which was the length of the life of Christ Jesus on earth, what is the rhythm of Christ's astral body?

In order to answer this question, it is helpful to think of the following analogy. As described in my book Hermetic Astrology, vol 11: Astrological Biography, the human being's destiny on earth is prepared in the period between conception and birth. At the moment of birth 'his' destiny begins to unfold in 7-year periods, whereby the first 7-year period is prepared during the first lunar sidereal month (27'/3 days) of the embryonic period. the destiny of the second 7-year period is prepared during the second lunar sidereal month of the embryonic period, and so on. Hence there exists a clear correspondence between the embryonic period (conception to birth) and the course of life (birth to death), which gives rise to the human being's astrological biography.

Now, the moment of the baptism in the Jordan can be likened to the conception of Christ and the resurrection on Easter Sunday morning can be thought of as the moment of birth of the Risen One. By way of analogy, the period from the baptism to the resurrection, which lasted 1290 days, was the embryonic period of the Christ Impulse which has been at work since the Mystery of Golgotha. And just as human destiny unfolds in 7-year periods from the moment of birth onwards, so the Christ Impulse is unfolding historically according to a certain rhythm. What is this rhythm?

It is a much longer rhythm than the 7-year rhythm underlying the unfolding of human destiny. Let us recall that there is a correspondence between each 27 '/3 day lunar sidereal month of the embryonic period and each 7-year period of human life. Similarly, there is a correspondence between the "embryonic period" of 1290 days of the ministry of Christ and the rhythm underlying the unfolding of the Christ Impulse historically. This correspondence is such that one day of Christ's ministry corresponds to 29 '/2 years historically. Those readers who are familiar with astronomy will recognize here the Saturn rhythm of 29 '/2 years, this being the period required by Saturn to make one orbit of the sidereal zodiac, just as the Sun's period is one year and Jupiter's period is twelve years. In fact, 29'/2 years is the rhythm of Christ's astral body. How may this be understood?

Again it is by way of analogy that we may come to understand the relationship between the 29'/2 year rhythm of Christ's astral body and the 33 '/3 year rhythm of His etheric body. For the human being there is an analogy here with the 27 '/3 day lunar sidereal month and the 29 '/2 day lunar synodic month. The Moon takes 27 '/3 days to complete one orbit of the sidereal zodiac. This rhythm relates to the astral (sidereal) world and, correspondingly, to the human astral body. On the other hand, the Moon's synodic period of 29 '/2 days is the length of time taken for the Moon to complete a cycle of its phases, e.g. New Moon to New Moon. This rhythm belongs to the etheric world and thus relates to the human etheric body. The difference between these two periods (a little more than two days) is the length of time taken "in order that what we experience in our soul may be imprinted by the astral body upon the etheric:" (Rudolf Steiner, Man: Hieroglyph of the Universe, London, 1972, p.167). There is an analogy here with the 29 '/2 year rhythm of Christ's astral body and the 33 '/3 rhythm of Hi~Etheric body. The difference between these two periods (just over 3'/2 years) closely 'corresponds to the 3'/2 years (1290 days) of Christ's ministry.

The point to bear in mind is that each day lived through by Christ during His ministry prepared the working of the Christ Impulse for one "Saturn day" of 29'/2 years in history, in the sense that Christ's judgement of each day became inscribed into His astral body and from the time of the Mystery of Golgotha this has been unfolding parallel to Saturn's orbit of the sidereal zodiac. As an example, let us consider the period of temptation known as the "Forty days in the wilderness". It was on the evening of the Sabbath, 28 '/3 days after the baptism in Jordan, that Christ Jesus began his forty days of fasting in the wilderness. The entire forty days was a period of temptation, which culminated with the final temptation the meeting with Satan, who demanded that Christ turn stones into bread - towards the end of the thirty-ninth day. (Here it must be borne in mind that the "day"in the Jewish calendar begins at dusk and lasts until sunset of the following day.) Christ's judgement of these forty days of temptation became I inscribed into His astral body, the content of which has been unfolding historically according to the correspondence: one day- 29 '/2 years. Knowing this correspondence, l we can arrive at an exact dating of the historical period of temptation of humanity.

Firstly, when did the historical period of temptation start? Since the forty days in the wilderness commenced 28 '/3 days after the baptism in the Jordan, these 28 '/3 days have to be multiplied by 29'/2 . We arrive at 836. This is the number of years after the Mystery of Golgotha that the historical period of temptation began. Since the Mystery of Golgotha took place in AD 33, this means that in AD 869 (33 + 836) the period of temptation of humanity began. Many readers will recognize the significance of this | date. In 869 there took place the eighth Ecumenical Council (the fourth Council of Constantinople), which condemned Photius who was made responsible for the schism between the Eastern and the Western Church. It was at this point in time that Christianity began to lose sight of a truly spiritual conception of man. Seen against the background of Christ's ministry, 869 was the point in time in the history of Christianity of "entering into the wilderness" and the "start of the temptation of humanity". Where do we stand now in relation to the period of humanity's temptation?

This period began with Saturn in sidereal Sagittarius in 869 and lasts forty revolutions of Saturn around the sidereal zodiac - ending with Saturn in Sagittarius in 2047. As described in the third article in this series, this is close in time to 2040, when Christ on His path of descent through the sub-earthly spheres reaches the deepest level of descent, then to begin His ascent. The year 2047 denotes the end of the period of humanity's temptation. And just as at the end of Christ's forty days in the wilderness "angels came and ministered to him" (Matthew 4:11), so by the time of the middle of the next century there will be a ministering of angels to humanity, for those who overcome temptation.

But when will the trial of humanity take place signified by the meeting with Satan at the culmination of the forty days in the wilderness? Cosmically this encounter between Christ and Satan was signified by the conjunction between the Sun and Pluto at 9 degrees Sagittarius (in the sidereal zodiac) towards the end of the thirty-ninth day in the wilderness*. Now, as it happens, Pluto will reach 9 degrees in the year 2010. Considering that the end of the thirty-ninth Saturn revolution since 869 will be in 2018 (during which year Saturn will cross 9í Sagittarius three times), the arrival of Pluto at 9 degrees Sagittarius in 2010 will cosmically commemorate the encounter of Christ Jesus with Satan in the wilderness. How may this be interpreted?~

According to Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), just as Christ incarnated into Jesus two thousand years ago, so Ahriman will also incarnate into a human form, and this will take place not long after the start of the third millennium, i.e. soon after the year 2000. This is known in Christian tradition as the incarnation of Anti-Christ. There are many prophecies concerning this, mostly derived from Christ's own words:

" So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place ... then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Then if anyone says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!" or"'There he is!" do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect..."(Matthew 24:15, 21-24).

The reference to the prophet Daniel is with respect to Daniel's prophecy concerning the city of Jerusalem (the "holy place'), where Daniel speaks of a "prince who is to come (who) shall destroy the city and the sanctuary... desolations are decreed" (Daniel 9:26) Here Daniel is referring to the "prince of this world" (Satan).

In Vladimir Soloviev's inspired work "A Short Narrative About Antichrist" published at Easter, 1900, he describes the false Christ (Antichrist) who, in league with the false prophet (the magician Appollyn, becomes Emperor of the world and establishes his residence in Jerusalem. Among Apollyon's magical powers is the ability to make fire come down from heaven. This is a clear allusion to the two-horned beast referred to in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. In fact, it is in the Book of Revelation that we find an account of the reign of Antichrist, the "beast", who is aided buy the two-horned beast:

The two-horned beast exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the [first beast]... Men worshiped the first beast, saying, 'Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?" And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and, it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months .(Revelation 13:12, 4 5).

Regarding the Apocalypse as an account of the unfolding of the Christ Impulse - in so far as it mirrors the content of Christ's astral body, unfolding: historically in the Saturn-rhythm of 29'/2 years - the Book of Revelation obviously must depict the encounter with Satan. For Christ Jesus this occurred towards the end of His thirty-ninth day in the wilderness. As the forty days in the wilderness started 28'/3 days after the baptism in the Jordan, the encounter with Satan was about 67 days (28+39=67) into His Ministry. Multiplying by 294/2 and adding to AD 33, we find that humanity's encounter with Satan - known traditionally as the coming of Antichrist - occurs in the ' period around 2010, when Pluto is again at 9 degrees Sagittarius, where it was at the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.

It is precisely the meeting with Antichrist that is depicted in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Satan, the dragon, gives his authority to the beast, i.e. he incarnates into a human form and becomes the beast, known in the tradition as Antichrist. The beast is allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months, which can be interpreted as signifying that Antichrist is allowed to gain world dominion (as emperoror "prince at this world') and fore certain period of time (Forty-two months') is allowed to tempt humanity into accepting him as the Messiah. According to the account of the Apocalypse, he is aided by the two horned beast whose number is six hundred and sixty-six.

In his lectures on the Apocalypse of St. John, Rudolf Steiner refers to 666 as the number of the Sun-Demon, Sorath. (Sorath, is spelt in Hebrew: Samech, Vau, Resh , Tau-having the numerical value 60 + 6 + 200 + 400 = 666.) The Sun-Demon, Sorath, is the inspirer of black magic. And in Soloviev's account of the reign of Antichrist, he is helped by a magician (Apollyon) who is able to wield magical powers. In other words, just as one particular human being, by becoming a vehicle for Satan, will emerge as Antichrist, the beast, so will another human being act under the inspiration of Sorath as a wielder of black magic "to make the earth and its inhabitants' worship the first beast". This second human being is "the false prophet who in its [the beast's] presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast" (Revelation 19:20)

Looking to the year 2010 - as a rough orientation as to when the trial of humanity through the "world emperor" and his "magician" (the false prophet) will take place - it is clear that the two human beings spoken of here must already have been born before the year 2000. In fact a definite date for the birth of Antichrist was communicated by the American clairvoyant Jeanne Dixon in her book My Life and Prophecies. In this book she refers to a vision she had of the birth of Antichrist at sunrise on February 5 1962, at a place in the Middle East - a matter of hours after a total eclipse of the Sun in the sidereal sign of Capricorn. There was indeed a most spectacular alignment of planets in Capricorn at this time of birth of Antichrist as indicated by Jeanne Dixon, with Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, the Sun, Mercury and the Moon aligned with the Moon's Node in Capricorn. The last time such a grand conjunction of the seven visible planets occurred was in 1524. If the future "World President"was actually born in 1962, then in 2010 he will be forty-eight years old, at the height of his power.

In a conversation with Willi Sucher (1902 - 1985) some sixteen years ago, he indicated that he had done research into Jeanne Dixon's vision and found it quite plausible. Willi Sucher even identified the place of birth as Tobruk, Libya. When asked about the significance of the planetary alignment in Capricorn, he replied: "In antiquity Capricorn was called the 'gateway of the gods', and what better moment could Antichrist choose to be born than when all the planets are aligned in front of Capricorn, blocking the gateway to the spiritual world, in order to establish his rulership in a world of materialism, cutting off humanity from all spirituality. "

Whether or not Jeanne Dixon's vision is true remains to be seen. What is striking is the remarkable parallel between her vision and that of Soloviev. Although she does not mention a "magician", she does refer to powerful friends- among the political leaders of the United States - who will help Antichrist come to power. And she also speaks of Antichrist establishing his centre of activity in Jerusalem.

Against this background the political events in the Middle East especially in connection with Israel, take on a new significance. It is no wonder that the Middle East is such a centre of tension. And a figure such as the dictator of Iraq appears as a pawn in a much more complex game, preparing the way for the new world order that Antichrist is intending to usher in. The Gulf War may thus be seen as a stage in the chain of events leading towards this new world order. Here it may be mentioned that at the outbreak of the Gulf War there was a conjunction of the Sun with Saturn in the Moon's node, reminding us of the temptation in the desert (as remarked upon in the Christian Star Calendar, January ,1991). The Gulf War lasted almost exactly forty days*, as with the forty days of temptation, and it took place in the wilderness (being named Desert Storm). Without going into details, it is evident that the deeper significance of the Gulf War can be seen against the background of the preparing of the way for Antichrist.

For humanity as a whole the question is raised: Christ or Antichrist? This the essence of the approaching trial which will be presented to mankind by the- emergence of Antichrist upon the World Stage. This trial has to come for the whole 'of humanity, just as Christ had to encounter Satan towards the end of the forty days in the wilderness. At that time it was necessary, for it was only through the overcoming of temptation that Christ cleared the way for the unfolding of his mission. The same holds true now with respect to the future mission of the Christ Impulse for the earth .and mankind. Nevertheless, the severity and enormity of the approaching trial of humanity must not be underestimated. In Christ's own words:

"Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, '1 am the Christ," and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars... For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places ... Then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be..." (Matthew 24:4-7, 21 )

In connection with these words we may think - alone in 1991 so far - of the Gulf War; of famine in Ethiopia, Sudan & Mozambique; of the devastation wrought by cyclones in Bangladesh & Japan & by flooding in China; and of the earthquakes in Costa Rica, Georgia, the Philippines, Japan and California. Yet we may also take consolation from Christ's words, for He spoke them to the disciples in response to their question: "What will be the signs of your coming ?" In other words, we are now living in the age of the Second Coming, and all the trials and tribulations of our time' may be seen against the background of this event. Indeed, it is this event that can give us the spiritual strength to meet and overcome all, including the great trial that will be presented by' Antichrist. And it is for this reason that it is of such importance to occupy ourselves with Christ's Second Coming, to find a relationship to this event and to find a connection with Christ Himself along the path of communion with Him. There are various approaches that may be followed, and here in this article it is above all the path of communion (through purification of the astral body) with Christ's astral body that has been at the centre of our considerations. For, this path holds the key to the mysteries of the Apocalypse and to reading the apocalyptic nature of the signs of the times in which we live. Along this path the incarnation of Antichrist appears as the shadow side of the Second Coming - the one event taking place on the physical planet of existence and the other in the etheric realm accessible only to spiritual vision. For humanity as a whole it is a matter of a choice, the choice being: Christ or Antichrist?

This is a choice between good and evil, between a spiritual outlook and materialism. ln the last analysis it is a question of whether humanity will recognize and choose Christ as the Risen One, who through the resurrection celebrated the triumph of the spiritual. In the words of Soloviev:

"We have only one firm support: the true resurrection. We know that the struggle between good and evil is being fought and not only in the soul and in society but also deeper - in the physical world. . And from the past we know already of a victory of the Good - the personal resurrection of One ... The kingdom of God is the kingdom of victorious life, triumphant through the resurrection, and here - in this triumphant life - lies also the true and ultimate good that has to be brought to realization. Here lies the entire power and the whole work of Christ. (Complete Works, vol.8. p.247).