I'm about to give you a heavy dose of Steinerthought.
If you quickly decide it is bunk, so be it.
That's all you really need to know.
This page was originally written for a different website.
The sixth and seventh great epochs are the final periods within a larger phase of evolution, the “physical stage of form.” I realize that some of what I will say now is confusing. This goes with the territory in Steiner’s worldview. Please just plow ahead. Things may become clearer eventually. (I'm going to resist the temptation to explain too much too soon. I want you to have the experience of plunging into Anthroposophical discourse as it exists unmediated. Eventually, things may get clearer. The diagram, below, may help. You can also skip down to the third section of this page.)
The seven great epochs are subdivisions of this larger phase, this “stage of form.” When we complete all seven great epochs, we will complete this stage of form and move on to the next stage of form.
There are seven stages of form (of course), which take their name from the "shapes" or “forms” that are thought up by higher beings in the spiritual hierarchies. These beings, or gods, have impulses that they send to higher spiritland, which may be considered a stage of form where these divine impulses develop as the germs of thoughts. These germs are then shuttled to lower spiritland, where they become focused thoughts, which then travel to the astral stage of form where they become soul images. The soul images become physical realities when they are passed to the physical stage of form. (No. Seriously.)
That's where we are now, in the physical stage of form. When we complete the sixth and seventh great epochs in this stage of form, we will be ready for a rest period ("pralaya"), after which we will move along to the perfected astral stage of form, where everything gets reversed and the physical begins its process of spiritualization that will come to flower in the archetypal stage/higher spiritland stage of form.
Still with me? The stages of form, in brief, are large swaths of evolutionary progress. The great epochs are subsets of a stage of form. Likewise, each stage of form is a subset of a condition of life, which is a still larger evolutionary phase. And each condition of life is a subset of an enormous evolutionary period called a condition of consciousness. One way to summarize our present situation is that we are now in the fifth cultural epoch (“Present”) of the fifth great epoch (“Post-Atlantean”) of the fourth stage of form (“Physical”) of the fourth condition of life (“Mineral Kingdom”) of the fourth condition of consciousness (“Earth”).
[THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE EARTH AS FORESEEN BY RUDOLF STEINER,
excerpt, pp 132-133; highlighting added.]
I have not yet defined some of these terms, but we'll get to them. Seddon warns us, however, that we won't understand. “The descriptions that follow become increasingly difficult for ordinary consciousness to grasp ... Only a living, imaginative thinking [call it clairvoyance]...is likely to find them fruitful material for meditation.”  For once, I totally agree.
So: Stages of Form. It’s important not to take any of the following in a narrow, linear, logical way. Judged rationally, it’s all madcap. But it will give you a glimpse of what lies in wait (or at least what kind of thinking stands behind Waldorf education). Seddon explains: “[E]verything that takes form first arises in Higher Spiritland, is developed in Lower Spiritland, and takes shape in the astral world before becoming physical. It subsequently returns perfected through the astral world to the transformed intellectual stage of Lower Spiritland and thence to the archetypal stage of Higher Spiritland.”  But I already told you this.
Let's see if R. Steiner can help.
“We are in this higher spiritland when experiencing the splitting of the ego ... It is here that one is first able to form a true estimate of man on earth. As one looks back one begins to know what man is in his inmost being. There, too, it is first possible to come to an experienced judgment concerning the course of history. Human evolution that has been experienced becomes for us the progress of the soul as an ego being [sic]. Standing out from the general progress are leaders in the advancement of humanity. [Gee, I wonder where Steiner placed himself?] Here one actually experiences...the impulses that are continually flowing through the initiates who, wherever they may be, have to leave the life of the senses and go to spiritual worlds so that they can give out these impulses.” 
“From the lower spiritland one sees the whole being of Christ Jesus! So that, looking back in a purely human way, and holding fast to what is present in remembrance, you have a memory of Christ Jesus and of all the events that have taken place in connection with him, that is, if the other conditions of which I spoke...have already been fulfilled. The truth about the other initiates [e.g., Steiner], however, you experience for the first time in the higher spiritland.” 
“Each of these conditions [of consciousness] is divided into seven conditions of life — usually called 'rounds'; rounds are the same as conditions of life. And those now called conditions of form were formerly called 'globes'. The latter expression is extremely misleading, for it leads to the idea that these seven globes are side by side [sic; the Steinerian diagram presented here shows a V-shaped formation, like geese or UFOs; Steiner is saying that Theosophists misrepresent the nature of globes].
“These conditions [of form], from the most remote form, which was almost formless [sic], down through the physical and up again to the formless, are not seven globes existing side by side [sic], but seven successive conditions. The same globe that is now physical was first of all spiritual, then it became denser and denser. It is the same globe simply condensed. Then a portion of it became astral, then a portion physical; it is always the same globe. It dissolves again like salt in warm water, it again becomes astral. Thus we have ascended to this astral stage where, in the Apocalypse [see the Book of Revelation], the vials of wrath are described: there the earth becomes astral again.” 
Steiner is exhausting. Let's go back to Seddon (who, I admit, is nearly as trying):
“In lower spiritland everything takes the form of thoughts, as dense as those that originally formed the brain [sic: Steiner taught that matter evolved from spirit and thought, not vice versa] ... Thoughts of the mineral creation [i.e., thoughts coming from the physical brain] are reabsorbed into the spirit [as we evolve higher] ... Intuition [i.e., paranormal perception] no longer sees the movement of the planets but hears clairaudiently the music of the spheres [as we evolve even higher] ... There are still materialists [among us] who are slaves to their animal instincts ... It is they [materialists] who worship the beast that arises from the sub-astral [sic] sea....” 
In other words, thoughts condense into physical existence, then they become spiritual and nonphysical again, in higher form. But materialists continue to exist and ride along as evolution climbs back toward (higher) spirituality.
Perhaps we should start again at the beginning. Here is an overview of human evolution as described by Steiner. It is essentially a reworking of Theosophical doctrine. The overview should clarify (slightly) some of what we have already seen and (more slightly) what we will be getting to.
Steiner describes our evolution in AN OUTLINE OF OCCULT SCIENCE (which has also been published as AN OUTLINE OF ESOTERIC KNOWLEDGE and as OCCULT SCIENCE - AN OUTLINE). Bear in mind that this was an early work, but Steiner explicitly says in the prefaces that he was right all along.
Humanity will evolve through seven major phases, the conditions of consciousness, which are named for "planets" (Old Saturn, Old Sun, Old Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan — in that order). Overall, we will move higher and higher in consciousness, progressing from being quite dim to becoming gods. (Actually, after the seventh condition of consciousness — Vulcan — there are five more conditions of ever-more-divine consciousness, but these cannot be described in human language, so we needn't trouble ourselves with them now. We'll get to them when we get to them.) 
Each condition of consciousness contains seven conditions of life, each of which contains seven stages of form, each of which contains seven great epochs, each of which contains seven ages (actually, in some stages of form, the subdivisions go under other titles — although why this should be is not wholly clear).
We are currently in/on the Earth condition of consciousness. Within this condition, we progress through seven sub-conditions, called conditions of life. We are now in the fourth such sub-condition, the mineral condition of life. Solid, physical minerals now exist; we have physical bodies made of minerals; and we are able to grasp the idea of separate existences.
Each condition of life includes seven stages of form in which the ideas of the gods for that condition of life are gradually realized. The stages of form begin in higher spiritland and extend down to our physical existence in space and time. Then, with modifications, they extend back up to higher spiritland. Seddon: “These seven stages are together present around us as past, present and future, and comprise the total sphere of reality.”  The stuff beyond these seven stages, in other words, is outside reality (which we could have guessed). We are currently in the physical stage of form.
There are seven epochs within each stage of form. In the epoch just before our own, the fourth or Atlantean epoch of the physical stage of form, human beings were first divided into races. We are now living in the Post-Atlantean epoch of the physical stage of form. We developed the type of bodies we have now in this epoch, specifically during the Ice Age. (Our bodies back at Atlantis were “still soft and animal-like, without a solid skeleton.” )
Each epoch consists of seven sub-epochs. In our Post-Atlantean epoch, these sub-epochs are called cultural epochs or cultural ages. The cultural epochs/ages are guided by spirits called Archai or Zeitgeists, and they unroll under the influence of various stellar constellations (astrology). Our current cultural epoch — known, disappointingly, as Present  — falls between the Greco-Roman and the Russian cultural epochs.
Cultural epochs are divided into fairly brief (350-year) periods, presided over by Archangels of Time. There are also very brief (33-year) cycles.
This neat outline sometimes blurs or cracks. E.g., “Irregularities begin as mankind extricates itself from the rigidification of the past.”  So don’t be rigid.
As we proceed through evolution, at each stage we must recapitulate each prior stage. Thus, for example, when we first entered the first epoch (called "Polarian") of the physical stage of form, we had to recapitulate (in a new form) everything that happened to us in the higher spiritland stage of form, the lower spiritland stage of form, and the astral stage of form. Only then could we get untracked and push ahead in the physical stage of form.
Summary: Under Steiner’s scheme, we currently live in the physical realm, on the planet Earth, in a period when intellect just happens to be emphasized. Things were very different in the past, and they will be extremely different in the future. The difficulty in all this is that the physical things Steiner calls temporary and even illusory are things we can perceive with our senses and study with instruments such as microscopes and telescopes. In other words, we can confirm the existence of these things. They are what we know as reality. Most of the other stuff Steiner speaks of, by contrast, cannot be confirmed in any sensible way — we would need to employ clairvoyance, a form of “cognition” for which there is precious little evidence. The “realities” of which Steiner speaks are speculative, at best — and at worst, they are the product of a delusional con game.
To gaze deeper into humanity's past, present, and future
Various gods or superhuman individualities have pitched in to assist us on our journey toward divinity. "Primeval teachers," for instance, have lent a hand.
• ”Let me remind you how during his first passage through the Moon sphere man's thoughts were directed, for good and also for ill, to the primeval Teachers of the human race, to the starting-point of earthly existence, when superhuman Teachers imparted superhuman wisdom to the men of Earth.” — Rudolf Steiner, SUPERSENSIBLE MAN (Anthroposophical Publishing Company, 1961), lecture 4, GA 231.
• “Treasures of wisdom, expressed not in intellectual but in a more poetic, pictorial form, existed at the beginning of man’s evolution on Earth, scatted among the men on Earth. These primeval Teachers were not incarnated in physical bodies, but only in etheric bodies and relations with them were different from relations between physical human beings.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 7 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1973), p. 15.
• “[T]he primeval Teachers themselves had then to make their way to the Moon, where they are to this day, and to found a colony there ... From the Moon, Jahveh [i.e., Jehovah] reigned over the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and those of the primeval Teachers who were still associated with the cult and the teaching of Jahveh united with him in the Moon, in order to look out into the cosmos through his eyes ... [O]nly when man views the universe in this way can he have any true conception of the function of the Moon.” — Rudolf Steiner, KARMIC RELATIONSHIPS, Vol. 2 (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1974), p. 203.
— Roger Rawlings
[R. R., 2010.]
Like most forms of occultism, Steiner's is extremely elaborate.
Like others, his depends heavily on astrology, pseudoscience,
mystical misuse of math, and — generally — esoteric wishfulness.
Above is a Rosicrucian image, not to be confused with Anthroposophical designs
(although Steiner advocated Rosicrucianism — after he had reinterpreted it to suit himself).
I include such images here at Waldorf Watch to place Anthroposophy in its occult context .
"In Figure 6 the letteramarks the center of eternity. The motion of the rays towardb,d, andcwas the first divine manifestation and is symbolized by the equilateral triangle,b,d,c. The eternal world within the inner circle became manifest in the water (salt), the light (mercury), and the fire (sulphur) of the archetypal world, represented by the three circles (f,e,g) within the triangle of complete equality (h,i,k), which is in turn surrounded by the circle of the high throne. The circlefis namedunderstanding;e,wisdom;g,reason. In circleiis the wordFather; in circleh,Son; in circlek,Spirit. The seven outer circles are the seven spirits before the throne ... The outer circles are the angelic world ending in the cognizable world of the Sons of God. Then comes the circle of the visible constellations and fixed stars; within this is the solar system with the sun as the center (l).Ungrundmeans the Abyss."
— Manly P. Hall, THE SECRET TEACHINGS OF ALL AGES,
The proposition underlying all these occult systems is this: If a system is elaborate enough — if it is worked out in sufficient detail — the gullible will be won over. "Wow!" they think, "look how everything fits together! This system must be true." But the symmetry of these designs is generally deceptive, consisting of arbitrary patterns imposed on elements of pure fantasy that cannot be reconciled with truth or reality. Moreover, many concepts in a typical occult system are inconsistent with each other, indeed they often contradict each other, unless some of them are severely wrenched out of shape. In Anthroposophy, the importance of Christ is stressed alongside the importance of karma and reincarnation. According to the Bible, we have one life on Earth, after which we go to our eternal reward or punishment. Christians believe this depends on our acceptance or rejection of Christ. But the doctrines of karma and reincarnation posit many, many lives on Earth, as we move toward spiritual improvement or degradation, depending on our own karmic actions. These concepts — the importance of Christ, the importance of karma and reincarnation — do not in fact fit together, unless we reinterpret them so severely that they cease to mean what their originally meant. And this is precisely what Steiner did. His Solomonic Nathanic Christ Jesus, the Sun God, is quite different from the Son of God worshipped in Christian churches. [See "Sun God" and "Was He Christian?"]
“Spiritual science shows that originally there was not a primeval mist, a lifeless mist, but that living warmth was there at the beginning, a simple living warmth ... In my OCCULT SCIENCE I have called this original warmth condition the Saturn condition [red] ... It has, in fact, something to do with the planet Saturn, but we will not go into that now ... [T]here were as yet no solid bodies and no air, only warmth; but the warmth was living ... The human being lives absolutely in warmth ... A living cosmic being was present ... Now the first thing to happen to this warmth-being was a cooling down ... [T]he second condition to come about was gaseous, definitely airy [green] ... In what has been formed, in a certain sense, as a second cosmic body, everything is air. There is as yet no water, nothing solid within it; it consists entirely of air ... I have called this second condition 'Sun' ... [I]t was not the present sun, but a sunlike condition ... [B]oth human being and animal were there ... Now how did things continue? The warmth decreased, and as it gradually decreased, not only was air formed but also water ... I have called it 'Moon' [yellow] ... [I]t was a watery, thoroughly watery body ... [M]an and animals were joined by plants pushing up out of the water ... [A]s long as the Old Moon period lasted, the whole earth was a womb. There was nothing yet of stone or mineral. It was all a gigantic womb, and we can say that our present earth [blue] came forth from this gigantic womb." — Rudolf Steiner, FROM SUNSPOTS TO STRAWBERRIES (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2002), pp. 5-10. [R.R. sketch, 2009, based on image on p. 6.] Steiner delivered these words to working men, so he simplified. Whether that improved his account is debatable.
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. 92.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p. 132.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p. 93.
 Rudolf Steiner, INITIATION, ETERNITY AND THE PASSING MOMENT (SteinerBooks, 1980), p. 107.
 Ibid., p. 108.
 Rudolf Steiner, THE APOCALYPSE OF ST. JOHN: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (SteinerBooks, 1977), p. 179.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p.97.
"And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the 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: 1-18]
There is a long tradition that a beast will rise from the sea at the end of the world. Tennyson drew on a Norse fable:
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
[“The Kraken,” 1830]
Steiner’s version, that the beast will live and be worshipped, is — for once — nearer the biblical prophecy. The Beast, in this reading, is the Antichrist.
 “After the Vulcan stage, man will develop yet further, and will ascend to still higher levels of consciousness. As the external eye looks into misty gray distances, so the inner eye of the seer looks upon five more forms of consciousness, as far off as distant spirits, of which a description, however, is quite impossible. In all, one can speak of twelve stages of consciousness." — Rudolf Steiner, COSMIC MEMORY (SteinerBooks, 1987), p. 166.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p. 10.
 TFOHATEAFBRS, p. 11.
 It is also called the Anglo-Germanic Age or the fifth Post-Atlantean cultural age. It is a time marked by the "struggle for power between the Anglo-Saxon and the Germanic cultures for dominance of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, especially with regard to Russia ... Steiner says 'I told you some time ago that in the secret brotherhoods, especially those which grew so powerful from the times of James I onward, it was taught as an obvious truth that the Anglo-Saxon race — as they put it — will have to be given dominance over the world in the fifth post-Atlantean period.'” — Rudolf Steiner, quoted by Christopher Bamford in SPIRITUALISM, MADAME BLAVATSKY, & THEOSOPHY (Anthroposophic Press, 2001), note 2, p. 295.