The Septenary Principle refers to the primacy of number seven in the manifested cosmos. Number seven is prominent in many ancient traditions. For example, in Christianity there are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven deadly sins, the seven sacraments, the duty to forgive seventy times seven that Jesus indicted to Peter, among others. The Book of Revelation also has many septenaries. In Hinduism there are seven sages (Saptarishi), seven shaktis, seven chakras, seven lokas and talas, and many more. Other septenates in the Western antiquity are the seven classical planets, seven seas, seven sages of Greece, seven Kings and Emperors of Rome, seven hills of Istanbul and of Rome Seven Liberal Arts, Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Humans have also classified aspects of the natural world in septenates, such as the seven days in the week, the seven colors in the rainbow, and the seven main musical notes.
In Theosophical teachings number seven is also prominent, there being seven eternities, seven rays, seven primordial beings, seven hierarchies of being, seven planes, seven principles, seven globes in a planetary chain, seven rounds of evolution, seven root-races and seven sub-races, etc.
H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
Everything in the metaphysical as in the physical Universe is septenary. Hence every sidereal body, every planet, whether visible or invisible, is credited with six companion globes. . . . The evolution of life proceeds on these seven globes or bodies from the 1st to the 7th in Seven ROUNDS or Seven Cycles.
Mme. Blavatsky was among the first in modern times to point out to the sacredness of the number seven. This notion was at first rejected by people in different fields, who criticized her for this. As she wrote in 1883:
We were taunted by ignorant Brahmins and learned Europeans that our septenary divisions of nature and everything in it, including man, is arbitrary and not endorsed by the oldest religious systems of the East.
In all the old Sanskrit works — Vedic and Tantrik — you find the number 6 mentioned more often than the 7 — this last figure, the central point being implied, for it is the germ of the six and their matrix.
As man is a seven-fold being so is the universe — the septenary microcosm being to the septenary macrocosm but as the drop of rainwater is to the cloud from whence it dropped and whither in the course of time it will return.
This septenary principle can also be seen in the cycles human beings go through during their lives:
A baby begins teething in the seventh month; a child begins to sit after fourteen months (2 x 7); begins to walk after twenty-one months (3 x 7); to speak after twenty-eight months (4 x 7); leaves off sucking after thirty-five (5 x 7); at fourteen years (2 x 7) he begins to finally form himself; at twenty-one (3 x 7) he ceases growing.
With the child, it is the teeth that appear in the seventh month and he sheds them at seven years; at twice seven puberty begins, at three times seven all our mental and vital powers are developed, at four times seven he is in his full strength, at five times seven his passions are most developed, etc., etc.
- Seven Planes
- Seven Principles in Human Beings
- Seven Rays
- Seven Eternities
- Seven Keys of Interpretation
- Primordial Seven
- The Septenary System Nomenclature at Theosopedia
- The Mysteries of the Hebdomad by H. P. Blavatsky
- The Number Seven by H. P. Blavatsky
- The Number Seven and Our Society by H. P. Blavatsky
- The Septenary Principle in Esotericism by H. P. Blavatsky
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 158-159.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 574.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 62 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 159.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 111 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 378.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 67 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 182.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. II (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1966), 413.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 312, fn.