The Theosophical Forum – October 1936



The number seven, spoken of also as the septenate or septenary or heptad, is the most important number in symbology. It is universal in cosmogonies and theogonies and is familiar to us in innumerable familiar instances. Its use is both traditional and founded on experience: on the one hand we find septenary divisions and classifications which we should not have thought of making ourselves; and these are traditional. On the other hand we find that many things fall naturally into septenary divisions. It seems to be the key number of the present great cycle of evolution. To begin with, the Logos or One Deity, emanates seven rays, which are the world-builders; and there are countless representations of this in the different theogonies: the seven sons of Aditi, the seven Amshaspends, Angels of the Presence, Builders, Wheels, Sephiroth, Gods, etc., etc. And this is repeated on all planes till we get to the seven primary elements of the physical plane, the seven colors, seven notes of the scale, etc.

Seven, as before pointed out, is the number of combinations of three things, as algebraically represented by a, b, c; ab, be, ca; abc It is also the sum of three and four, triad and quaternary; it is two triads and a unit; it is six and one, as seen in the hexagon or the double triangle, each with central point, and in the six directions of space with their central point of origin. In occult symbology we hear of seven mystic vowels and seven sounds, and of the heptachord of Apollo which has reference to a good deal more than merely a musical instrument. When light is being spoken of, the septenate becomes seven colors, and these seven colors have their physical manifestation in the seven colors of our visual perception. It is said that from "Darkness" comes light, and from white light come the seven colors; and this means that from the unmanifest logos comes the manifest logos, and from that the seven rays. In physics white light is decomposable into seven colors; and the etheric vibrations to which the phenomenon of light is referred do not yield a visible effect until such effect is evoked by contact with physical matter; and thus we have darkness yielding light.


The positive side of creation is represented by seven Forces or Sons of Fohat, etc., and the negative side by seven planes of materiality or seven cosmic planes; and correspondingly in the microcosm we have the sevenfold constitution of man. The chemists Mendeleeff and Newlands arranged the chemical elements in a table according to the relation between their atomic weights and their properties, and found that they fall into a septenary scale; which is one among many proofs that physical nature follows the laws impressed upon it by primary nature. Seven sacred planets are enumerated, and connected with seven Gods and other septenates; the visible planets are their "chariots." The number seven is related to the number twelve; as there are seven planets, so there are twelve zodiacal signs in which they move. Astrology gives one sign each to sun and moon and two signs each to the other five planets. Twelve is also the sum of seven and five. According to one interpretation, which is likened to "Ezekiel's Wheel," the signs from Aries to Libra inclusive are the seven, and the signs from Scorpio to the end are the five. In the Esoteric Tradition twelve globes are placed on seven planes, and seven globes on four planes, as in the diagram. Sometimes the number ten is used in the enumeration of cosmic powers, and can be made by putting above the septenate a triad belonging to the archetypal world, as in the Sephi-rothal Tree, represented in the diagram; or again we may have a quaternary with a triad above it and an inverted triad below.

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