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The seven-headed beast

Published: January 14, 2020
Last updated on November 21, 2022

While I was preparing the post on Natalie’s radio interview on trauma, autism, and her clinical practice (see the link below), I noted that the length of the episode is 13:14 minutes. I had to chuckle. Let me explain why.

Interview on trauma & autism

Deck beast

It was morning, on the same day I posted Natalie’s interview. Natalie knocked on the bathroom door. “Let me in! I need to pee!”

I didn’t want to let her in, because I was already making use of the toilet. But my alone-time had to come to an end. Earlier that week we had a similar situation, and Natalie—as a joke (I hope)—threatened to pee on the deck if I didn’t hurry. So this time I said, “Go pee on the deck!” and then added, “You deck beast”.

I thought it was funny to call her a deck beast, in part, because we call our dog Pluto ‘beast’ occasionally when he is showing his animal nature (he is our surrogate child, so we often forget he’s still an animal).

The Beast out of the Sea

So here is why I thought it was funny that Natalie’s radio interview lasts 13:14 minutes. I’m not religious and never have been, but as a teenager, I was fascinated with theology, numerology, Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah, etc. I collected old Bibles, and for a while would carry a Bible around to read it when I had nothing to do. The chapter of the Christian Bible I was most enthralled by was Revelation 13. This is how it starts:[1]Revelation 13–14 | Bible Gateway

The dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on its horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.

I guess this is the deck beast I was referring to. I wasn’t imagining ten horns and seven heads, nor any crowns, but it makes sense that the sea is a metaphor for pee. “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea” is a poetic way of saying, “I saw my partner emerge from the deck after she peed on it”.

A bit later in the same passage, you can read (13:5):[2]Revelation 13–14 | Bible Gateway

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months.

I don’t know what to make of the blasphemies, but I hope this is foretelling that we will have 3.5 years of awesome autism advocacy!

Number of the beast

Now let me tell you why I was reminded of Revelations 13 in the first place. In the next passage, entitled The Beast out of the Earth (13:16), you can read the following:[3]Revelation 13–14 | Bible Gateway

It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

This reference is actually really interesting. Many metal bands sing about 666 being the number of the beast/devil, but it’s really not that simple, and possibly just wrong. The Book of Revelation—when taken at face value—seems to describe a dramatic theological spectacle. But its symbolism is less straightforward. Here is one interpretation:

This number is significant because the number six is less than seven—the number symbolizing perfection or completeness.

The number six also represents man, since mankind was created on the sixth day of creation. The three sixes may be a reference to the unholy Trinity.

In other words, 666 is a symbolic number, much like the other numbers of Revelation, and likely symbolizes, at least in part, the Beast’s imperfection, his place in the “unholy Trinity,” and his representation of and authority over sinful humanity.[4]Matthew Emerson — Between the Cross and the Throne: The Book of Revelation (2016)

But another interpretation shared by many scholars is that it’s a political metaphor. The statement “which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” is very important.

You see, in Kabbalah numerology, numerical values are attributed to different letters, so that names can be expressed in numbers (called Gematria).[5]The meaning of 666: an exegetical analysis of Revelation 13:18 (Moncada, 2014) What 666 actually refers to is the Roman emperor Nero. If you transliterate the Greek version of Nero Caesar’s name (Nron Qsr) into Hebrew (נרון קסר‎), it amounts to the numerical value 666.[6]The meaning of 666: an exegetical analysis of Revelation 13:18 (Moncada, 2014)

Embrace Autism | The seven-headed beast | table Nero666

An alternate number was also found; the oldest preserved manuscript of Revelations, Papyrus 115, features the number 616. This refers to Nero’s Latin name (Nro Qsr), which transliterates into Hebrew as נרו קסר (without the ן, hence the number is 50 less).[7]The meaning of 666: an exegetical analysis of Revelation 13:18 (Moncada, 2014) Several ancient writers designate Nero as a “beast” due to his tyrannical reign.[8]David E. Aune — Revelation 6–16 (Word Biblical Commentary #52b, 1998), p.770 Theologian and New Testament scholar Grant R. Osborne states that 616 might also have appeared in some manuscripts to identify the beast with Caligula, whose name (“Gaius Caesar”) in Greek also adds up to 616.[9]Grant R. Osborne — Revelation – Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2002), p.520 Either way, the evidence of the beast being an Antichrist figure in human history (as opposed to a representation of human depravity for instance) is strong.[10]Grant R. Osborne — Revelation – Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2002), p.520

Embrace Autism | The seven-headed beast | table Nero616

The political references don’t end there. The seven heads represent both seven mountains and seven kings, and the ten horns are ten kings who have not yet received kingdoms. There is a lot more depth to this, but it’s clear that these passages form an allegory for the political situation at the time.

A sign

Natalie had some concerns about this post, as none of this pertains to autism, but more importantly, she didn’t want to risk offending religious people. Either way, when I looked at our Facebook page and saw that we have 666 followers and 616 page likes, I took it as a sign that what I was doing was right.

A screenshot of the stats of the Embrace ASD Facebook page.

I’m also glad the pact we made with the devil to make our autism advocacy work is finally paying off. Joking!

The autistic beast

Given that the seven-headed beast is symbolic evil—whether it’s one part of the unholy trinity or a representation of Nero—I figured it could be an interesting metaphor for the greatest challenges/downsides of autism. “The autistic Beast out of a neurotypical Sea”, so to speak.

An illustration of the seven-headed beast.

So based on a poll in our Facebook group, the Embrace Autism Community,[11]Downsides of autism poll | Embrace Autism Private Community | Facebook these are the seven heads of the autistic beast:

  1. Executive dysfunction40 votes
  2. Anxiety30 votes
  3. Feeling like I don’t belong (alienation) — 27 votes
  4. Fatigue & lack of motivation (burnout) — 26 votes
  5. Emotional dysregulation (meltdown) — 24 votes
  6. Sensory overload (overstimulation) — 24 votes
  7. Unintentionally hurting people19 votes

What are your seven greatest challenges of being autistic?


This article
was written by:

Martin Silvertant is a co-founder of Embrace Autism, and lives up to his surname as a silver award-winning graphic designer. Besides running Embrace Autism and researching autism, he loves typography and practicing type design. He was diagnosed with autism at 25.

PS: Martin is trans, and as of 2021 she writes under her true name, Eva Silvertant.


Although our content is generally well-researched
and substantiated, or based on personal experience,
note that it does not constitute medical advice.


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