Seven year rhythm

From Anthroposophy

During life, Man develops through an unfolding of the different bodily principles in periods of seven years or 'septennia', related to the work of the hierarchies and corresponding to the influences of the planetary spheres. These periods can be found back in biography work. They also correspond to major changes in Man, eg the changing of the teeth or the physical changes at puberty. See schema FMC00.236.

This has major consequences for education and one's life biography (see: Biography work)

In the first seven years Man lives in an inherited body, but builds his own physical body in the first seven years.


  • corresponding three 20 year periods in life and the Spirits of Form (SoF) (1910-06-10-GA121)
  • biography examples: eg Goethe, Napoleon, .. (eg 1916-11-05-GA172, 1919-08-30-GA293)
  • the importance of the age or 35, and the age of 33 for Christ-Jesus (1909-09-21-GA114)
  • see also: Humanity is getting younger: the moment that Man is 'fully developed', and the soul becomes free of the body, occurs at a certain age, and has not been the same in the various preceeding cultural ages. This age shifts with time and this life period becomes ever shorter, showing a convergence point at the end of the epoch.


FMC00.236 provides an overview of the septennia or seven year periods and how Man develops his bodily principles corresponding to the planetary spheres due to the work of the spiritual hierarchies.


FMC00.236A illustrates with extracts from the original black board drawings (BBW)


FMC00.237 depicts Life Chart diagram diagram by George O'Neill based on Steiner's lecture of 1924-08-16-GA311 (by Florin Lowndes, see publication under references for an excellent book). This diagram is often used and appears in many books for personal biography work.


Lecture coverage and references

1907-03-04-GA096 - human biography and planetary evolution


1909-09-21-GA114 - the age of 35 + the ages of Nathan Jesus (14->12, 21->19, 28->26, 35->33)

  • When the physical environment of the mother's body is abandoned at birth, the part of the human being then born is really his physical body only; what comes to the fore during the first seven years is the physical body. In various lectures on the education of children the great importance of this knowledge for the teacher has been emphasized.
  • Then, when the etheric sheath has been discarded, the etheric body is set free.
  • Again, in the fourteenth year, when the astral sheath is discarded, the astral body is set free
  • Immediately connected with the etheric (or life) body is what is called the astral (or sentient) body which does not become completely free as regards the outer world until about the twenty-first year. Then what is called the sentient soul becomes gradually free.
  • At the twenty-eighth year the intellectual or mind-soul (Gemütseele) becomes free, and later the spiritual soul (or consciousness-soul).

This applies, to the human being of today. Observation of human life guided by spiritual science clearly reveals these stages of development. The great leaders and leading figures of humanity have also known why the thirty-fifth year is so important. Dante was aware why he made particular mention of his thirty-fifth year as the time when he had the visions set down in his great poem. At the very beginning of the Divine Comedy there is an indication to this effect. At the age of thirty-five man's being has progressed to the point where the can make full use of the faculties dependent upon the astral body, the sentient soul and the intellectual soul.

1910-06-10-GA121 - three 20 year periods and SoF



1916-11-05-GA172 - The Rhythm in Goethe’s life




1919-08-30-GA293 - Napoleon as example of strict rhythm of septennia








1924-08-16-GA311 (or 1924-08-16-GA243 check)


Related pages

References and further reading

  • George and Gisela O'Neil: 'The human life' (1990, third printing 1998)