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The Seven Seals of the Apocalypse

Revelation extracts ↵


Seven Seals

I recommend that Revelation (the best translation I know of is from the New Jerusalem Bible) be read in conjunction with the following images. The text from the Apocalypse of St John is available on the page: Apocalypse.

Eliphas Levi, in his Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (p 364 / p 399 in the English translation as Transcendental Magic), represents the seven seals together, effectively 'sealing' the whole content of the Apocalypse (Greek for 'Revelation').

In that, he manages quite well to render visually so much of the written imagery used by St John. The whole book is in so many ways reflected and 'contained' by these 'seven seals'. So visually, the whole Apocalyptic text can be 'read' from the imagery as given – quite an achievement. Admittedly, it should be noted that Levi writes:

It was at the epoch of the Gnostic and Manichaean heresies that the Tarot must have been lost to the Church, at which time also the meaning of the divine Apocalypse perished. It was understood no longer that the seven seals of this kabalistic book are seven pantacles, the representation of which we give [here to the right], and that these pantacles are explained by the analogies of the numbers, characters and figures of the Tarot.

For the benefit of those who do not read Hebrew, the bottom left-hand circular depiction reads: Holy Jerusalem.

Rudolf Steiner similarly makes use of these images knowing full well, I would suggest, not only their source but also that here is a visual representation of the whole segment of text, rather than what may be described as 'seals'. Steiner has this to say about them:

The seven pictures that decorate the hall are symbolic expressions for quite specific ancient truths. They represent the so-called seven seals of ancient, and ever new, wisdom. This is spoken of in the Apocalypse of John, and this Apocalypse is a kind of interpretation of an esoteric symbol language. Whoever studies the seals will recognise the images in the visions of the writer of the Apocalypse. Every letter, every colour of the seals means something. When we look at them together in the right way and sense the connection, quite specific feelings are released, which can engender an inner strength. (GA 284 - 21st of May 1907)

Interestingly and in light of Levi's comment above, Steiner claims of tarot that 'whoever could combine the right numbers with the right pictures was able to read it. This wisdom of numbers and pictures has been taught since primeval ages'.

   Eliphas Levi 7 seals of the Apocalypse

Steiner's representations of the seals

Rudolf Steiner's diagrammatic seals representations, as painted by Clara Rettich in 1911, are probably the best known amongst but few. These, to be sure, are clearly based on Eliphas Levi's own renditions (right-hand column):

Apocalypse Seal Flaming Sword

Apocalypse Seal Flaming Sword

Apocalypse Four Living Creatures

Apocalypse Seal Four Living Creatures

Apocalypse Seal Four Horsemen

Apocalypse Seal Seven Trumpets

Apocalypse Seal Jaochim and Boaz

Apocalypse Seal Jaochim and Boaz

Apocalypse Seal Woman Clothed with the Sun

Apocalypse Seal Woman Clothed with the Sun

Apocalypse Seal Thousand Year Reign

Apocalypse Thousand Year Reign

Apocalypse Resurrection

Apocalypse Seal Resurrection

It should be called to mind that the images above are wonderful artistic renditions from Steiner's own sketches. As should be obvious, the sketch and the finished image are of course a little different. In fact, the finished imagery is a little different with different renditions. Below is Steiner's sketch, followed by Clara Rettich's 1907 mildly different version to the above (it should be noted that these 1907 renditions made for the Munich Conference are, in each of the other seals, a little more Levi-like than the ones shown above).

The letters around the seal refer to the Rosicrucian Ex Deo Nascimur • In Christo Morimur • Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus - taken from the Fama Fraternitatis (though originally therein as Ex Deo nascimur, in Jesu morimur, per Spiritum Sanctum reviviscimus). This last seal Steiner talks of as the Holy Grail.

Apocalypse Resurrection

Apocalypse Seal Resurrection