7 (number)

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7 is the Number of Time and thus at the same time also the number of the etheric world and of the etheric body taken from it, for the reality of time is founded in the etheric world.

The Number of Perfection and the Number of Fulfilment

The heptagram as a symbol of the Mystic Lamb (drawing from GA 96, p. 314)

Seven is the Number of Perfection, for all development, small and great, takes place and is completed through seven stages. The triple 7-7-7 is also the Number of Fulfilment. Our whole world system develops through seven planetary stages of world evolution. Humanity passes through seven cultural epochs in post-Atlantean times, and man develops in seven-year periods during his life on earth. The critical phase of development is characterised by the Number of the Beast (666).

Seven colours comprise the rainbow and the musical scale has seven tones. However, sevenness or septicity (Greekεβδομάς Hebdomas) can also manifest spatially as the result of a living temporal process of development - the great macrocosmic example of this are the seven planetary spheres. Philon of Alexandria characterises the nature of the 7 in detail in his writing "On the Creation of the World" (LatinDe opificio mundi)[1].

The Athenian poet and statesman Solon (640 BC-559 BC) divided human life into ten hebdomads (Greekἑβδομάς hebdomas "sevenness") of seven years each, which he described in his famous elegy Παῖς μὲν ἄνηβος ... ("Immature knave though ...") described:[2]

A boy first is man, immature: there he casteth out his teeth.
He casts off the teeth that sprouted from the child in the seventh year.
When for the other time God closed the seven years,
Signs of manhood then sprout, the approaching.
During the third, his chin curls - still the limbs grow -
Woolly fluff, as the skin's blossom in change is faded.
Now, in the fourth, up to a high and full bloom.
Strength ripens, in it the man shows his worth.
With the fifth thrives the time for him to think freely.
And that in sons a lasting tribe may arise.
During the sixth, the spirit spreads on all sides into the right,
Never again will his courage drive him to useless deeds.
Seven years of seven and eight: in full bloom
The tongue and the spirit stand together for fourteen years.
Still in the ninth the man is fit, but show more laxity.
Against the full thriving tongue and wit henceforth.
He who has reached the tenth, completing the tenth in measure,
Hardly at the unseasonable time, the nigh of death doth him bear.

The septagram is the symbol of the Mystic Lamb, the Christ.

Seven and the Capacity of Short-Term Memory

The number 7 also seems to be of decisive importance for the capacity of short-term memory, which is related to the subjectively felt duration of the moment determined by the breathing rhythm. During this period of 3 - 4 seconds, up to about 7 objects (e.g. numbers, letters or whole words) can be grasped and recalled - and, insofar as they are grasped as a whole, largely independent of their specific information content. This so-called seven phenomenon was already discovered experimentally by John Locke in the 17th century and is today referred to as Miller's number (The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two), named after the US psychologist George Armitage Miller. Miller, who in his 1956 article "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information"[3], which is one of the most cited articles in the field of psychology, also established that humans can only record 7±2 memory units (chunks) at the same time with their short-term memory.

„And finally, what about the magical number seven? What about the seven wonders of the world, the seven seas, the seven deadly sins, the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades, the seven ages of man, the seven levels of hell, the seven primary colors, the seven notes of the musical scale, and the seven days of the week? What about the seven-point rating scale, the seven categories for absolute judgment, the seven objects in the span of attention, and the seven digits in the span of immediate memory? For the present I propose to withhold judgment. Perhaps there is something deep and profound behind all these sevens, something just calling out for us to discover it. But I suspect that it is only a pernicious, Pythagorean coincidence.“

George A. Miller|: The magical number seven, plus or minus two[3]

Seven Human Communities

Seven human communities, representing seven successive stages of human development, must work together at any one time to promote the overall development of humanity.

„If human communities are to work together, there must be seven; the eighth would be a repetition of one of the seven.“ (Lit.:GA 346, p. 70)

A prime example of this are the seven Christian communities in Asia Minor to whom the seven epistles are addressed in John's Apocalypse. These seven communities stand for the seven cultural epochs of the post-Atlantean period. Four of them cultivate the fruits of the four cultural epochs already past ( ancient Indian culture, ancient Persian culture, Egyptian-Chaldean culture, Greco-Latin culture), we are in the first third of the fifth cultural epoch today, and two communities are already anticipating the two epochs to come (Slavic culture, American culture).

Seven Secrets of Life

Main article: Seven Secrets of Life

According to Rudolf Steiner, there are seven secrets of life that are ultimately related to the seven great planetary stages of world evolution from Old Saturn to Vulcan. Steiner often discussed individual ones of these secrets of life, but rarely presented all seven in context.

„There are seven secrets of life which have never yet been spoken of outside the occult brotherhoods. Only in the present epoch is it possible to speak of them exoterically. They are also called the seven "inexpressible" or "unspeakable" secrets.

These are the secrets:

  1. The Secret of the Abyss.
  2. The Secret of the Number. (One can study it in Pythagorean philosophy).
  3. The Secret of Alchemy. (This can be understood through the works of Paracelsus and Jakob Böhme).
  4. The Secret of Birth and Death.
  5. The Secret of Evil, which the Apocalypse deals with.
  6. The Secret of the Word, the Logos.
  7. The Secret of Godliness; it is the most profoundly hidden.” (Lit.: GA 246, p. 253/GA 094, p. 111[4])


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.


  1. Philon of Alexandria: On the Creation, § 89-128 (English translation)
  2. German by Wolfgang Schadewaldt in: Lebenszeit und Greisenalter im frühen Griechentum. Die Antike. Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur des klassischen Altertums. Volume 9 (1933), p. 282. See also Baltrusch. Greek original in: Philon of Alexandria: Περί της κατά Μωυσέα κοσμοποιίας, el.wikisource (XXXV) 103 (p. 36 f. archive.org), and in: Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert: Die Geschichte der Seele. 3rd Edition 1839, p. 353 books.google
  3. George A. Miller|: The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. In: Psychological Review, 63, 1956, p.81-97 [pdf
  4. The original paper by Edouard Schuré is in French. Instead of "unspeakable" it says "nameless" mysteries in GA 94, which is a translation error. Moreover, in the 4th secret, birth is not mentioned.