The Epoch of Trumpets
This page was originally written for a different website.
“This epoch completes the physical condition of form [sic] of the earth [i.e., the physical existence of the Earth], which must then be entirely transmuted into astral form [i.e., poof]. But only in human beings is matter annihilated. So it must all be absorbed by us — we must not despise matter, but unite with it. Lemuria, when matter first solidified, is thus redeemed.” 
The seventh great epoch entails a sort of gradual shutting down of physical reality. We humans will basically eat all things physical, thereby annihilating it. Matter, or the material universe, or reality, exists for our sake, according to Steiner. We have needed to pass through it; that is to say, it needed to exist. But once we are finished with it, nada — we will, in a manner of speaking, clean our plate, and then we will move along to higher feasts.
As often, a little background is in order. “Astral,” for Steiner, is a higher soul/spirit realm than “etheric.” Lemuria, as we have learned, was a really, really ancient continent — a sort of proto-Atlantis. But note that Seddon speaks of Lemuria as a period of time, by which he means the centuries when Lemuria was up and running. We humans existed then, but in very different bodies (something like jellyfish). [See "Evolution, Anyone?"] In Anthroposophy, the physical, the temporal, the imperishable, and the spiritual interweave, with the spiritual being the real goods. The stars, for instance, which are associated with our astral bodies, are not lifeless balls of flaming gases. Rather, they are the manifestations of various gods, and they project astrological influences down to us.
Steiner was big on astrology. The stars hold Great Britain and other islands in their places, for instance (islands and even continents float — they are not attached to the seabed). [See "Steiner's Blunders".] The stars are places where the gods reveal their intentions. Christ, the Sun God, came to Earth from the star we call the Sun. Three planets precede the Sun as it travels through the heavens; three other planets follow the Sun. [Again, see "Steiner's Blunders".] Altogether, then, the solar system as described by Steiner consists of seven orbs (the six planets plus the Sun). Seven is a magical number, for Steiner. Indeed, he said, "Seven is the number of perfection. Observation of man himself will make this clear. Today he is under the influence of the number five insofar as he can be good or evil. As a creature of the universe he lives in the number four. When he will have developed all that he holds at present as germ within him, he will become a seven-membered being, perfect in its kind. The number seven rules in the world of colour, in the rainbow; in the world of tone it is found in the scale. Everywhere, in all realms of life, the number seven can be observed as a kind of number of perfection. There is no superstition or magic in this." 
The seventh great epoch will culminate our existence on Earth. Indeed, it will culminate the existence of the Earth, as we understand such things. The seven great epochs are merely the stages of evolution we undergo in the solar system as currently formulated. Previously, the solar system existed in very different forms, and in the distant future — after the seventh great epoch — it will assume yet other forms. Altogether the solar system will pass through — you guessed it — seven of these mega stages, which Steiner sometimes called planetary stages since they bear the names of planets or planetary forces or planetary gods. "In the course of our whole evolution we have seven Planetary conditions: Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan; and in connection with each Planet we must consider seven Rounds."  "Rounds" are what Steiner elsewhere called conditions of life. During life "on" each planet — which actually means life during each planetary condition or condition of consciousness — we pass through seven rounds or conditions of life. We will return to this big picture when we get to "Matters of Form".
You get the general idea. Seven. Important things generally happen in sevens. So, we will wrap up Earthly life with the seventh great epoch, which — like all the preceding great epochs — will consist of seven stages or ages.
Steiner got a little vague about the ages of the seventh great epoch. But in general he said that the various ages will be various manifestations of Spiritland. “Steiner does not describe the seven ages separately, but he does indicate that this epoch must be regarded as the earthly expression of Spiritland [emphasis by Seddon], which now descends to earthly manifestation.”  In a general way, "Spiritland" is the spirit realm. (It is also, more specifically, a specific part of the spirit realm, but we can disregard the distinction for now.) There are higher and lower regions of Spiritland, and they have particular influences on the higher and lower regions of existence in the realm(s) below Spiritland. Seddon sketches part of this thus: “The fifth region [of Lower Spiritland] marks the transition to the influences of Higher Spiritland, the descended realm of intentions and aims which form the archetypes for all lower regions.”  Sorting out all of this would take us deep into Theosophical/Anthroposophical theology. If you are interested, you can pursue such questions in the Brief Waldorf/Steiner Encyclopedia. For the nonce, we should probably just press on.
Despite the advances humanity has made, the Apocalypse is still unwinding during the seventh great epoch. The ages of the epoch are related to regions or layers of the physical Earth, which must be transmuted. Thus, for instance, Seddon tells of a layer of the Earth that includes a sort of shaft of Hell, as it were. “[T]his Fruit Earth [the layer] is connected by a sort of channel to a hollow space in the uppermost layer, through which work its forces and those from below it — a real 'shaft' of the Abyss. Here the Apocalypse depicts a cloud of locusts (which can breed with great rapidity and destroy all vegetation, as excessive life destroys consciousness). Their king, named the Destroyer, is the Angel of the Abyss."  So humanity's trials are not yet finished — consciousness is still imperiled.
Seddon says that the ages or regions of the seventh epoch are 1) the continental realm of spirit, 2) the oceanic realm of spirit, 3) the atmospheric realm of spirit, 4) heat death, 5) first woe, 6) second woe, 7) third woe. (Seddon actually diagrams all this, and a great deal more, in his Appendix 2.)  The ages may be seen as stages of purification during which physical reality is systematically wiped out. The first four ages correspond to the four "elements": earth, water, air, and fire. Then follow three periods of scourging, beneficial suffering: the three woes.
This is the great epoch of the trumpets of doom. Steiner says: “Viewing the last epoch, that of the sounding trumpets, with spiritual vision, you would see that people consist of delicate spiritualized bodies [humans change their forms throughout the past and future as laid down by Steiner]; and that those who have hardened and compacted the material principle have preserved within themselves the most substantial constituents of matter; and that this will fall as husks to compose the material globe which will remain after the epoch represented by the sounding of the trumpets.” 
The continued existence of the material globe after the abolition of the material globe is a dicey issue. Seddon acknowledges that Steiner's doctrines become more and more difficult to digest as they project further and further into the future. The best way for me to summarize the final achievement of the seventh great epoch may be simply to stand back and let Seddon have a crack:
“All those who express what is good, beautiful and noble, and who bear an expression of Christ on their countenance, whose words ring out as resounding thoughts that manifest him, are completely spiritualized in the astral cosmic sphere ... The earth too is completely transformed through Wisdom (science), Beauty (art) and inner Strength, and attains the astral condition ... It's [sic] matter will be dissolved into cosmic space ... The period until this takes place — of the order of 40,000 years — is very short compared to the millions or milliards of years reached by the correct but unreal calculations of natural science ... Earth evolution has taken place according to a spiritual plan, the inner structure of which is reformed within humanity under the direction of the Masters of the White Lodge (such as Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Christian Rosenkreutz). This is compressed into an ever smaller kernel, so that a small copy of the whole physical evolution is carried through the subsequent stage of form, multiplied in Spiritland, and becomes the atoms of the next Condition of Life." 
That's a mouthful. We should note that science is wrong, as usual (despite getting a passing pat on the head under the heading of Wisdom). The masters of the White Lodge might have spared everybody a lot of trouble is they'd just made things right to begin with, but they couldn't, things had to evolve — except that our "evolution" was a plan they arranged, so it wasn't really evolution. But we aren't supposed to think this way (or think at all, perhaps — remember the automata of intellect).
The White Lodge, as you may have inferred, is an inner council of good (white) spiritual forces. It got going as a group intervening in the battle between Jehovah and Lucifer  and ultimately it will become a sort of ego (or "I") for everything.  Rosicrucians were messengers of the Lodge.  Christian Rosenkreutz was the founder of the Rosicrucians  — at least, Steiner accepted this fiction. Scholars now conclude Rosenkreutz (rose and cross, symbol of the Rosicrucians) never existed. 
As for stages of form (including various spiritlands) and conditions of life — we've touched on these, glancingly, and we'll be getting back to them in future installments.
— Roger Rawlings
Steiner divided most phenomena into arbitrary spiritual/numerological groupings.
He was extremely big on the number seven, which he called the number of perfection.
Guided largely by Theosophical doctrine, he divided human evolution into seven planetary stages,
and he accepted the ancient concept of seven "sacred" planets.
He imposed this seven-part scheme on almost everything:
“Light appears in seven colours, and sound appears in seven tones,
the undivided nature of Man appears in seven limbs.”
— Rudolf Steiner, AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC SCIENCE (Leipzing, 1920).
Steiner's numerological inclinations attracted justified ridicule.
One example: the idea that there are seven colors:
“What prevarication! From the innumerable colours that can be perceived by the eye,
human language has perhaps given especially simple names to a random seven
(and these are only approximately defined), and if Steiner is ignorant of the names of any other colours
we recommend that he asks any good dressmaker.”
— Nobel laureate, physicist Max von Laue.
Above you see [top]
the seven planetary stages as described by Steiner:
Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Present Earth, Future Jupiter, Future Venus, and Future Vulcan.
Below that are astrological signs,
"planets" 1 through 7, starting with 5:
Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Sun.
(According to Steiner, the physical planets in our current solar system
are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
These six, plus the Sun, make seven.
If you drop Earth and add the Moon, you get the seven "planets" of astrology.)
Anthroposophical art: The four horsemen
of the Apocalypse, by Arild Rosenkrantz.
[NASA, ~ 2008.]
The trumpets that will sound at the end of Earthly time may be ominous or they may be recognized as angelic instruments that have played in various times and regions. When we ascend into higher worlds, we may hear the celestial music always. "[M]en went through not only physical transformations, but spiritual and astral transformations as well. To follow these requires that we rise to spiritual worlds. There the music of the spheres can be heard, tones that swell and flood through space in this world, the harmony of the spheres, called by the occultist 'the trumpet tones of the angels,' will sound forth for them. Hence, the trumpets in the third seal." — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972), p. 53. [R.R. sketch, 2012, based on the one in the book.] Nonetheless, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse thunder below.
Diagram of the celestial sphere, showing the positions of the twelve astrological constellations.
(Seven is perfection, but Steiner found occult meaning in other numbers, too — such as twelve.
When he didn't divide things into seven parts, he tended to divide them into twelve.)
Gemini is in the 12 o'clock position; the others signs, clockwise, are Cancer, Leo, Virgo (at 3 o'clock),
Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius (at 6 o'clock), Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces (at 9 o'clock), Aries, and Taurus.
"This is what will be good: to discover how from two directions of the cosmos morning and evening forces
can be placed in the service of humanity, those coming from the directions of Pisces [9 o'clock]
and those coming from the direction of Virgo [3 o'clock] ... The spiritual secrets that on earth can cause the spirit to stream
from the cosmos — with the help of the dual forces of positive and negative magnetism —
these spiritual forces derive from the direction of Gemini [12 o'clock]. They are the forces of midday ...
Here again we have the duality of forces that certain egoistic brotherhoods...will use to lead also the Eastern
part of Europe astray, the part of Europe which has the task of preparing for the sixth post-Atlantean period.
This dualism makes use of the forces coming from Sagittarius [6 o'clock]."
— Rudolf Steiner, SECRET BROTHERHOODS (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2004), pp. 189-191.
[Colored sketch by R.R., 2009, based on b&w sketch on p. 190.]
We will continue the story at "Past and Future"
Detail, Rudolf Steiner portrait
To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, use the underlined links, below.
◊◊◊ 11. THE WALDORF WORLDVIEW ◊◊◊
If you'd like more information about any of the topics discussed here,
you might begin by consulting the following resources:
THE SEMI-STEINER DICTIONARY
THE BRIEF WALDORF / STEINER ENCYCLOPEDIA
WALDORF WATCH INDEX
WALDORF WATCH TABLE OF CONTENTS
Some illustrations on each page here at Waldorf Watch
are closely connected to the essay on that page;
others are not — they provide general context.
 THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER (TFOHATEAFBRS), p. 83.
 Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), pp. 43-44
 Rudolf Steiner, THE FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERICISM (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1982), lecture 26, GA 93a.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p. 83.
 Ibid., p. 87.
 Ibid., p. 88.
 Ibid., pp. 132-133.
 Rudolf Steiner, EVIL (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1997), p. 200.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, pp. 91-92.
 See FOUNDATION OF ESOTERICISM, lecture 26.
 Ibid., Lecture 25.
 Ibid., Lecture 15.
 See, e.g., Rudolf Steiner, THE MISSION OF CHRISTIAN ROSENKREUTZ (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1950).
 "...Christian Rosenkreuz, the putative founder of the group, who is now generally regarded as a fictional character rather than a real person." — "Rosicrucian." ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, Online, 18 Jul. 2009.