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An Interpretation of the Revelation to John
by Elsa M. Glover
Some parts of the Bible were written in symbolical form because, at the time they were written, humanity in general was not ready to learn the truths hidden within the symbols. Revelation is one such part. To those who can read the symbols, however, Revelation describes the path of Initiation and the things which the Initiate can investigate in the higher Worlds, such as the Creative Hierarchies, the past, present, and future of man's evolution, and the story of the struggle between Jehovah and the Lucifer Spirits.
Chapter 1 of Revelation is of an introductory nature, telling the circumstances under which John received the revelation. Chapters 2 and 3 describe the Path of Initiation. The seven churches described are seven steps on the Path of Initiation. Different people may develop the qualities needed for Initiation in different orders, and also some of the needed qualities are worked on simultaneously. Thus, the seven steps described are not necessarily in the order in which they will be taken.
The church at Ephesus represents the dedication of the creative force to spiritual rather than passionate use. The aspirant is told (Rev. 2: 5) to remember from what he has fallen, to repent, and to do the works he did at first. In the Lemurian Epoch, man fell from non-passionate to passionate use of the creative force (as described in Gen. 2). The one who conquers will be allowed to eat from the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7). The Tree of Life is symbolical of the power which gives one the ability to live on Earth as long as one desires. It is the power to heal and thence to maintain a physical body indefinitely. Thus the one who is successful in the regenerate use of the creative force will eventually gain the power to heal.
The church at Smyrna represents the withstanding of temptations associated with material wealth. The person who has material poverty but spiritual riches may be ridiculed by the worldly-minded (Rev. 2:9). The aspirant may be thrown into prison for a time by the devil, that he may be tested (Rev. 2:10).This means that the aspirant may need to live under restricted material conditions for a time in order to show that he considers somethings more important than material comforter wealth. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death (Rev. 2:11). The first death is the lifting of one's consciousness above the material so that one no longer considers material things of intrinsic value. The second death is the death of the physical body. The spiritualized consciousness does not mind physical death.
The church at Pergamum represents the sending of the currents of creative force upward strongly enough to start the pituitary body and pineal glands vibrating. This gives spiritual sight. The creative force currents dwell in Satan's throne (Rev. 2:13). Satan represents the Lucifer Spirits. Their throne is the spinal cord, because they work in the spinal cord of man to stir up selfishness, passions, and immorality (misuse of the creative force). People who do not repent will be warred against by the one with the sword in his mouth (Rev. 2:16). The sword is symbolical of divine justice according to the Law. Thus, people who fall to the temptations of the Lucifer Spirits will be subject to retribution according to the Law of Cause and Effect. But to him who conquers will be given a white stone and a new name (Rev. 2:17). The white stone is the body of a person who has raised the creative force currents (often called the Philosopher's Stone). The new name represents a new state of consciousness, namely, perception in the higher worlds.
The church at Thyatira represents control of the emotions and feelings. The higher emotions manifest as love, faith, service, and patient endurance (Rev. 2:19). The lower emotions may beguile the servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols (Rev. 2:20). The servants are one's faculties. Eating food sacrificed to idols represents giving and then taking back what one has given, or giving only where one can get a return. Those who do not repent may become sick and suffer tribulation, and their children may die (Rev. 2:22-23). Passions and selfish emotions do cause conflicts and hence sickness, suffering, and destruction. The children represent thoughts and desires produced by a passionate nature. The children dying communicates the fact that selfish thoughts and desires will sooner or later have to be eliminated. To him who conquers will be given power over the nations, and he will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27). The nations are the faculties of man. Thus, he who has control of his emotions will have self-control. Iron is the metal ruled by Mars, which is the home of the Lucifer Spirits. Thus, ruling with a rod of iron indicates control of the Mars forces and the ability to withstand the temptations implanted by the Lucifer Spirits.
The church at Sardis represents the making of the soul body. People who have the name of being alive and yet are dead (Rev. 3:1) are those who have a physical body with which to function in the physical world (and hence are physically alive) but who do not have a soul body capable of functioning in the higher worlds (and hence are dead to the higher worlds). The works of those without the soul body have not been perfect in the sight of God (Rev. 3:2). Note that good work (service) is needed to build the soul body. The second coming of Christ will be at some unknown time (Rev. 3:3), and He will come in the clouds (Rev. 1:7), that is, in the soul body. Those who have not developed their soul bodies will not be able to follow Him at that time. He who conquers shall be clad in white garments (Rev. 3:5). The white garments refer to the soul body (which is also sometimes called the Golden Wedding Garment).
The church at Philadelphia represents the separation of the soul body (which is the two higher ethers of the vital body and the higher part of the desire body) from the dense body, the two lower ethers of the vital body and the lower part of the desire body. This separation permits soul flights. Christ has set before the aspirant an open door, which no one is able to shut (Rev. 3:8). Prior to the Crucifixion only certain chosen people were given the training and conditions needed to prepare them for soul flights. At the Crucifixion the Christ Spirit changed the etheric conditions of the Earth in such a way that there after anyone could prepare himself for and learn to achieve the needed separation to be able to go on soul flights. Thus, He opened the door to the higher worlds for all. Those who enter the opened door into the higher worlds will be kept from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world (Rev. 3:10).
When one enters the higher worlds one meets the Dweller on the Threshold, which is all of one's unredeemed past acts. One then consciously takes on the responsibility of paying one's debts to the world, and thus his record is cleared. He who conquers will be made a pillar in the Temple of God and will go out no more, and the names of God and the new Jerusalem will be written on him (Rev. 3:12).Being made a pillar in the Temple of God represents the end of the requirement to be reborn on Earth. Having the name of God written on one represents having attained the consciousness of God. The word "Jerusalem" means "abode of peace." Having the name of the new Jerusalem written on one means having attained a state of inner peace.
The church at Laodicea represents the development of the Will needed to tred the Path. When people are neither hot nor cold they will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ (Rev. 3:15-16). Those who have no desire and make no effort themselves will not be led on the Path of Initiation, but will rather be allowed to take the longer route which is taken by humanity in general. Those who feel no need for the gold refined by fire (the spiritualized body, the Philosopher's Stone) or the white garments (soul body) or the salve for the eyes (which gives spiritual sight) will not work for them and thence will not attain them (Rev. 3:17-18). Christ is knocking at the door (of man's consciousness), and if the aspirant opens the door, the Christ Spirit will enter in (Rev. 3:20).
After one has attained Initiation, he has the ability to see in the higher Worlds. John first indicates the Creative Powers which can be contacted in the higher Worlds (Rev. 4). The One which John saw sitting on the central throne represents God. The twenty-four elders surrounding Him represent the positive and negative poles of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The seven torches represent the seven planetary Spirits (the Spirits of Mercury Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus). The sea of glass represents the total of all wisdom, the Cosmic Mind. This is the same as the Molten Sea made by Hiram Abiff in the Masonic Legend. The four living creatures, which bear resemblance to the symbolical representations of the four fixed signs of the zodiac, can be associated with the four elements associated with these signs and with the four states of matter associated with these elements and with the beings which work in these states of matter. Thus the Lion (Leo, Fire, Etheric Region) represents the Angels, the ox (Taurus Earth, Dense Physical Region) represents man, the man (Aquarius, Air, World of Thought) represents the Lords of Mind, and the eagle (Scorpio, Water, Desire World) represents the Archangels.
An alternate level of interpretation of John's view of the Creative Hierarchies is possible. For every creative power in the universe there is a part of this creative power within man. Thus, taking the microcosmic view, the one on the central throne can be taken to be the God Within (the Ego), the elders and torches can be taken to be the zodiacal and planetary forces within man, and the four living creatures can be taken to be the vital, dense, mind, and desire bodies of man.
In the higher worlds, the past evolution of man, the life and life-after-death activities, and the planned future evolution of man can be seen. John describes these in symbolical form (Rev. 5:11). Chapter 5 tells of a scroll sealed with seven seals, which only a slain Lamb was worthy to open. The Lamb represents the Christ consciousness. The scroll represents the wisdom which can be attained in the higher worlds. In chapter 6, John says he saw a white horse with a rider holding a bow who went out to conquer. This represents man at the start of his evolution. The white horse indicates innocence. The bow represents aspirations. Then appeared a red horse and rider who took peace from the Earth. This represents man acting under selfish passions. Then appeared a black horse with a rider carrying scales in his hand. This represents man enmeshed in materiality (spiritual darkness). The scales indicate that man in this state must be guided by laws. It is added that the oil and wine must not be harmed. The oil is the oil for the lamp of life, which is the soul. The wine is the life force. The laws must guide man in such a way that he will not stop his soul growth and will not misuse the life force.
Finally, a pale horse appeared whose rider was Death. Eventually all mortal men die physically. Rev. 6:12-17 describes the process of dying. Since a microcosmic level of interpretation is being taken here, the Sun and Moon represent the solar and lunar forces within the body, and the kings of the Earth represent the forces which rule the various parts of the body.
The stars of the sky falling to Earth represent the cosmic forces which take over in the body as the individual Spirit leaves. The sky vanishing like a scroll being rolled up correlates with the fact that when the vital, desire, and mind bodies leave the physical body, they leave with a spiral motion.
The consciousness of John then enters the Desire World and sees what happens to men in purgatory and the First Heaven. In Rev. 8:1-5, John describes an Angel with a censer containing incense, the smoke from which mingled with the prayers from saints. Then the Angel took the censer and filled it with fire and threw it on the Earth. The censer with incense represents the hurt feelings of innocent people. The censers being filled with fire and thrown on the Earth indicate that in the same measure as a person caused others to suffer, he will suffer himself, and thus the earthy (or lower) part of his nature will be burned out (or purged). Rev. 8: 6-9: 19 describe more of the purging process. The four Angels mentioned in 9:15 are the four Recording Angels who watch over the workings of the Law of Cause and Effect. In Rev. 9:20 it states that: "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands. . . " Those parts of our lower nature which have not been killed in one purgatorial experience will still be present in our natures in our next life. We cannot learn all our lessons in one life.
In Rev. 7;1-17, the experiences of man in the First Heaven are described. The four Angels mentioned in 7:1 are again the four Recording Angels. They were told not to harm the 144,000 people who were sealed as servants of God. According to the customary procedures used in numerical symbolism, 144,000 equals (adding the digits) 9, which is the number of man. This indicates that virtually all men (after passing through purgatory) reach the First Heaven. This interpretation is further substantiated by the statement in 7:9 that a great multitude was there which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, clothed in white robes. In 7:14-17, it further states that: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb....They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore. . . . and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." The great tribulation (in a microcosmic level of interpretation) is purgatory. The white robes indicate that the suffering in purgatory cleansed their desire bodies. That they will hunger and thirst no more indicates that whatever they had desired on Earth (of an uplifting nature) will here be realized.
When man passes into the Second Heaven, he spends some time evaluating and assimilating his experiences of his past life. This is described in Rev. 10:8-11:2. John tells how an Angel gave him a scroll to eat which was sweet in his mouth but bitter in his belly. The scroll represents wisdom. Eating the scroll represents taking wisdom into his consciousness. Being sweet in his mouth represents seeing the beauty or rightness of some piece of wisdom. Being bitter in his belly indicates that when it comes time to use wisdom and to do what one knows is right (after return to Earth life) it is not always easy or pleasant. The measuring of the Temple of God indicates the evaluation of the structures of one's physical body, habits, desires, and thoughts of the previous life. John was told not to measure the courtyard. This indicates that one should not evaluate his associates and blame them for any of his shortcomings.
Rev. 11:4-19 briefly describes the planned direction of the evolution of man. The two lamp stands and two olive trees are the sources of divine guidance for man and the opportunities for soul growth which come to men (remember that the olive oil used in the lamps of life represented the soul). The beast that ascends from the bottomless pit may make war on the prophets and kill them. The beast is selfish passion. Passion may tempt man not to follow the divine direction and may succeed.
But the prophets come back to life. Although the divine Light may be disregarded for a while, it cannot be extinguished and it will return to the consciousness of man. Eventually, the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of Christ. This section ends with the Ark of the Covenant being seen in heaven. The Ark is the symbolical representation of the Initiate (the Ark contained the tables of law, a gold pot of manna, and Aaron's rod, which represent the Initiate with the Law within his heart, the soul body, and the spiritualized creative force currents).
Rev. 12-22 describes the struggle (in the evolutionary process) between Jehovah and the Lucifer Spirits. John describes seeing a woman clothed with the Sun, with the Moon under her feet, who brought to birth a child. A dragon sat by to devour the child, but the child was caught up to God and the woman fled to the wilderness. (Rev. 12:1-6). The woman symbolizes the forces of physical creativity directed by the lunar god, Jehovah. The child brought to birth is humanity. The dragon represents the Lucifer Spirits. The dragon being prevented from devouring the child by the child being caught up to God indicates that during involution, when man's consciousness was in the higher Worlds, man had little self-consciousness and could not initially be aroused to acts of selfish passion by the Lucifer Spirits, but instead docilely followed Jehovah. The wilderness is something which is far removed from man's everyday actions. The woman fleeing to the wilderness indicates that man was not generally aware of the creative act at that time.
Michael and his Angels fought the dragon, and his Angels and the dragon were thrown out of Heaven. Then the dragon was on Earth and able to pursue the woman. The woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she could fly into the wilderness, away from the dragon. The dragon poured water out of his mouth after the woman, but the Earth swallowed up the river. (Rev. 12:7-17) The dragon and his Angels being thrown out of heaven refers to the fact that the Lucifer Spirits are stragglers of the angelic life-wave and they needed a denser environment for their evolution than that needed by the Angels. The dragon pursuing the woman on Earth indicates that the Lucifer Spirits tried to get man to use his creative forces to serve their interests. The Lucifer Spirits needed physical knowledge in order to further their evolution, so they wanted men to stop depending on the guiding wisdom of Jehovah and to act on their own initiative (however unwise these acts might be). Man was given two means of resisting the promptings of the Lucifer Spirits.One is represented by the two wings of the great eagle, which represents the wings of prayer which help man to put his consciousness in touch with the divine and thereby to attain divine guidance. The other is represented by the Earth swallowing the river poured out of the dragon's mouth. The river poured out of the dragon's mouth indicates the selfish desires which the Lucifer Spirits tempt man to entertain. The Earth swallowing this river indicates that physical restrictions can put limitations on selfish desires (one tends to stop desiring that which he knows is physically impossible to obtain).
A beast rose out of the sea. The beast had a mortal wound which healed. Men worshiped the beast. (Rev. 13:1-10) The sea is passion. The beast is the lower part of one's nature which is built from passion. That the beast had recovered from a mortal wound indicates that when we think we have eliminated some particular fault in our personality, it yet may rise up again. Men worshiping the beast indicates men giving up the struggle against their lower natures and deciding that it is natural and hence good to follow its dictates. A beast also rose out of the Earth. It worked great signs, deceived those who dwell on Earth, and gave power to the image of the beast from the water. The number of this beast was 666 (a human number) and was marked on the right hand or forehead of all. (Rev. 13:11-18) The beast who rose out of the Earth is materialism. Materialism can work great wonders, as is evidenced by the achievements of science in the present day. But materialism also can deceive those who dwell on Earth. It can lead people into believing that everything can be done physically and that there are no powers beyond the physical. Materialism also gives power to the image of the beast from the water. This means that it encourages selfishness and passion. Adding the digits in the number of the beast, we get 18 and hence 9, which is symbolical of the number of man. Thus, the beast is man-made.
Rev 14-18 describes how those who follow the beast bring suffering upon themselves, and how the evil part of their nature thus is cut down and removed. The City of Babylon represents the lack of wisdom and the resulting confusion associated with material existence (the word "Babylon" means "birthplace of confusion"), and it is overcome. Finally, the smoke of the harlot (of Babylon) goes up (Rev. 19: 3), which means that the creative force is turned upward and selfish passion is overcome.
Rev. 19:6-8 tells how the sound of mighty thunder peals was heard when the marriage of the Lamb came. The Bride had made herself ready by clothing herself in fine linen, bright and pure, which was the righteous deeds of saints. The Bride is humanity. The fine linen clothing of the Bride is the soul body (which is made by service).The thunder peals are atmospheric vibrations which will occur at the Second Coming of Christ and which will free the soul body (of those who have one) from the dense body and permit these people to live in the Etheric Region. The marriage of the Lamb indicates the unification of man's consciousness with the Christ consciousness.
Rev. 19:11-16 gives a symbolical description of an Initiate. His eyes being like flame indicates that he has inner sight. His robe dipped in blood indicates that he got where he is through suffering. The sword in his mouth with which he rules the nations indicates that he governs his own actions and keeps them in line with Cosmic Law. That he rules with a rod of iron indicates that he has mastery over passion.
In Rev. 19:17-18, birds are described as feeding on the flesh of kings, captains, men, and horses. The birds symbolize the soul, and their feeding on the flesh indicates that the soul grows as the result of physical experience.
Rev. 21-22 describes the Coming Age. That the dwelling of God will be with men implies that men will have the God-consciousness. That there will be no more pain indicates that when men have the God-consciousness they will no longer create the disharmonies which result in pain. That the thirsty will be fed the water of life indicates that men will have healing power. The Tree of Life in the new Jerusalem also indicates possession of creative power. The city of Jerusalem coming from God indicates that peace of mind is associated with the God-consciousness. That the new Jerusalem will have no temple and no need of Sun or Moon indicates that then the God Within (the Ego) will be able to direct its own bodies and that an external God will not be needed for direction.
The purpose of a book such as Revelation, which describes the evolutionary path of man, is to inspire men to work in harmony with the Beings Who guide their evolution. May we all learn to realize that we are poor, blind, and naked, so that we will go and buy the gold refined by fire, the salve to anoint our eyes, and the white garments to cloth our bodies.
—Rays from the Rose Cross Magazine, September, 1977, page 409-411; October, 1977, page 459-60, 465; November, 1977, page 503-4.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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