H.P. Blavatsky ~ The Number Seven In Chemistry


To demonstrate more clearly the seven in Nature, it may be added that not only does the number seven govern the periodicity of the phenomena of life, but that it is also found dominating the series of chemical elements, and equally paramount in the world of sound and in that of colour as revealed to us by the spectroscope. This number is the factor, sine qua non, in the production of occult astral phenomena.

Thus, if the chemical elements are arranged in groups according to their atomic weights, they will be found to constitute a series of groups of seven; the first, second, etc., members of each group bearing a close analogy in all their properties to the corresponding members of the next group. The following table, copied from Hellenbach’s Magie der Zahlen, exhibits this law and fully warrants the conclusion he draws in the following words: “We thus see that chemical variety, so far as we can grasp its inner nature, depends upon numerical relations, and we have further found in this variety a ruling law for which we can assign no cause; we find a law of periodicity governed by the number seven.”

chem table

The eighth column in this list is, as it were, the octave of the first, containing elements almost identical in chemical and other properties with those in the first; a phenomenon which accentuates the septenary law of periodicity. For further details the reader is referred to Hellenbach’s work, where it is also shown that this classification is confirmed by the spectroscopic peculiarities of the elements.

It is needless to refer in detail to the number of vibrations constituting the notes of the musical scale; they are strictly analogous to the scale of chemical elements, and also to the scale of colour as unfolded by the spectroscope, although in the latter case we deal with only one octave, while both in music and chemistry we find a series of seven octaves represented theoretically, of which six are fairly complete and in ordinary use in both sciences. Thus, to quote Hellenbach:    “It has been established that, from the standpoint of phenomenal law, upon which all our knowledge rests, the vibrations of sound and light increase regularly, that they divide themselves into seven columns, and that the successive numbers in each column are closely allied; i.e., that they exhibit a close relationship which not only is expressed in the figures themselves, but also is practically confirmed in chemistry as in music, in the latter of which the ear confirms the verdict of the figures. . . . . . The fact that this periodicity and variety is governed by the number seven is undeniable, and it far surpasses the limits of mere chance, and must be assumed to have an adequate cause, which cause must be discovered.”

Verily, then, as Rabbi Abbas said: “We are six lights which shine forth from a seventh (light); thou (Tetragrammaton) art the seventh light (the origin) of us all;” (V. 1,160) and – “For assuredly there is no stability in those six, save what they derive from the seventh. For ALL THINGS DEPEND FROM THE SEVENTH.” (V. 1,161. Kabala, “The Greater Holy Assembly.”)

The (ancient and modern) Western American Zuñi Indians seem to have entertained similar views. Their present-day customs, their traditions and records, all point to the fact that, from time immemorial, their institutions – political, social and religious – were (and still are) shaped according to the septenary principle. Thus all their ancient towns and villages were built in clusters of six, around a seventh. It is always a group of seven, or of thirteen, and always the six surround the seventh. Again, their sacerdotal hierarchy is composed of six “Priests of the House” seemingly synthesized in the seventh, who is a woman, the “PRIESTESS MOTHER.” Compare this with the “seven great officiating priests” spoken of in Anugîtâ, the name given to the “seven senses,” exoterically, and to the seven human principles, esoterically. Whence this identity of symbolism? Shall we still doubt the fact of Arjuna going over to Pâtâla (the Antipodes, America) and there marrying Ulûpi, the daughter of the Nâga (or rather Nargal) King? But to the Zuñi priests.

These receive an annual tribute, to this day, of corn of seven colours. Undistinguished from other Indians during the whole year, on a certain day, they come out (the six priests and one priestess) arrayed in their priestly robes, each of a colour sacred to the particular God whom the priest serves and personifies; each of them representing one of the seven regions, and each receiving corn of the colour corresponding to that region. Thus, the white represents the East, because from the East comes the first Sun-light; the yellow, corresponds to the North, from the colour of the flames produced by the aurora borealis; the red, the South, as from that quarter comes the heat; the blue stands for the West, the colour of the Pacific Ocean, which lies to the West; black is the colour of the nether underground region – darkness; corn with grains of all colours on one ear represents the colours of the upper region – of the firmament, with its rosy and yellow clouds, shining stars, etc. The “speckled” corn – each grain containing all the colours – is that of the “Priestess-Mother”: woman containing in herself the seeds of all races past, present and future; Eve being the mother of all living.

Apart from these was the Sun – the Great Deity – whose priest was the spiritual head of the nation. These facts were ascertained by Mr. F. Hamilton Cushing, who, as many are aware, became an Indian Zuñi, lived with them, was initiated into their religious mysteries, and has learned more about them than any other man now living.

Seven is also the great magic number. In the occult records the weapon mentioned in the Purânas and the Mahabhârata – the Agneyâstra or “fiery weapon” bestowed by Aurva upon his chela Sagara – is said to be built of seven elements. This weapon – supposed by some ingenious Orientalists to have been a “rocket” (!) – is one of the many thorns in the side of our modern Sanskritists. Wilson exercises his penetration over it, on several pages in his Specimens of the Hindu Theatre, and finally fails to explain it. He can make nothing out of the Agneyâstra.

“These weapons,” he argues, “are of a very unintelligible character. Some of them are wielded as missiles; but, in general, they appear to be mystical powers exercised by the individual – such as those of paralysing an enemy, or locking his senses fast in sleep, or bringing down storm, and rain, and fire, from heaven. (Vide supra, pp. 427 and 428.) . . . . They assume celestial shapes, endowed with human faculties. . . . . The Râmâyana calls them the Sons of Krisâswa” (p. 297).

The Sastra-devatâs, “gods of the divine weapons,” are no more Agneyâstra, the weapon, than the gunners of modern artillery are the cannon they direct. But this simple solution did not seem to strike the eminent Sanskritist. Nevertheless, as he himself says of the armiform progeny of Krisâswa, “the allegorical origin of the (Agneyâstra)  weapons is, undoubtedly, the more ancient.” 1 It is the fiery javelin of Brahmâ.

The seven-fold Agneyâstra, like the seven senses and the “seven principles,” symbolized by the seven priests, are of untold antiquity. How old is the doctrine believed in by Theosophists, the following section will tell.

1 It is. But Agneyâstra are fiery “missile weapons,” not “edged” weapons, as there is some difference between Sastra and Astra in Sanskrit.


The Secret Doctrine, ii 627–630
H. P. Blavatsky








The archaic Stanzas of Dzyan present a symbolic statement of the archetypal process of becoming throughout all planes and in all spheres of manifestation. It is none other than that through which the One becomes the many while remaining the One within the many. At the highest level of abstraction, surpassing both subtle and sensory perceptions, as well as all the conceptions of the materializing mind, the one pure Ray of primordial Light out of the absolute Darkness is said to multiply the smaller rays. This is a symbolic representation of the quintessential logic of differentiation, the logic of divine descent and manvantaric manifestation. There is in this fundamental logic a mirroring of the miraculous nature of birth on every plane. Gestation and growth on every plane is rooted in the universal solidarity of all life. That solidarity is much more than a physical fact or a psychic sentiment. It is a moral and metaphysical framework within which takes place all transformation of form and consciousness.

The symbolic code language of Gupta Vidya contains the fundamental challenge of Divine Wisdom to modern thought. Through elaboration and ramification, modern thought has created a vast conceptual structure of explanation and thus unravelled many secondary processes of causation. Yet, at the same time, modern thought cannot explain so basic a phenomenon as how a foetus emerges and develops from a single minute cell. Despite all the popular cliches about the extension of life through genetic engineering, the fundamental mystery of the embryo remains. Similarly, modern thought has little to say about the metaphysical mystery of the One or the psychological mystery of the Ego. In all three, there is the same challenge. The mystery of the One is a challenge of metaphysics and meditation. In meditating, one gathers within oneself all the many rays, archetypally collected into the primary seven and then merged into one central invisible point. Through repeated effort, one can thus experience something of that state of consciousness which is prior to differentiation. This is an experience of the metaphysical Void, but it is different from the experience of deep sleep because one retains full self-consciousness.

The challenge is to imagine what it would be like in the Divine Darkness, where there is no thing and no forms. Then one must imagine that within the germ of divine thought within the Divine Darkness there may arise one ray of ideational energy which contains the potentiality of the entire cosmos. From that one ray one must imagine an entire ordered array of progressive elaborations and manifestations. This is symbolized in the language of the Kabbalah by the phrase “thrones, powers and principalities”. These refer to all the subtle hosts of invisible Nature. In meditation one must reach beyond all of them to the One. Then one will be able to accommodate all these thrones and powers and principalities, the manifold hierarchies involved in multiplication of the one ray, within the folds of hebdomadic and unitary life. Although this is a challenge to metaphysics, it can only be met through deep meditation.

The mystery of the one Ego was intimated by Plato, who said that the human soul was a compound of the same and the other. This is the mystery of that which is different from, yet consubstantial with, that which it reflects. This mystery poses a profound challenge to one’s deepest sense of “I-am-I” consciousness. At the root, “I-am-I” consciousness involves a total negation of all time and form, and of all identification with memories, sensations, expectations and anticipations. It can also abstract from all that exists in the realm of appearances and thus experience pure being, which is indivisible and universal. How, then, is “I-am-I” consciousness different from Deity itself? That is, one might say, the ultimate mystery of the Sphinx, the riddle that has to be unravelled by each human soul, not in sleep or dreams and not after death, but through intense reflection in waking consciousness. This abstraction of meaning from experience must be achieved through introspection, through identification with other hearts and minds and souls, and also through the intimate knowledge of all the life-atoms that ceaselessly circulate between all beings. The soul must acquire a working acquaintance with the pantheistic conception of Deity in Nature. To solve the problem of the Ego in its entirety is the fundamental challenge of meta-psychology.

Both of these problems – the problem of the One in relation to the many and the problem of the same and the other in relation to the “I-am-I” consciousness – are replicated and reflected within the mystery of the embryo, the foetus and the germinal cell. H.P. Blavatsky posed the challenge to biological thought by asking

whether it seems unnatural, least of all “supernatural”, to any one of us, when we consider that process known as the growth and development of a foetus into a healthy baby weighing several pounds – evolves from what? From the segmentation of an infinitesimally small ovum and a spermatozoon; and afterwards we see that baby develop into a six-foot man!

Ibid., 222

The mysteries of embryology are inseparable from those of cosmology. The philosophy of Gupta Vidya is fundamentally based upon the ultimate analogy in every process of manifestation between the most cosmic and the most atomic, between the divine and the human. Hence, the Stanzas of Dzyan, in depicting the origin of the cosmos, contain innumerable references to Hiranyagarbha – the cosmic egg. They speak of the primeval gestation within the waters of space, and explain how the entire spectrum of worlds emerges from a point in the germ to yield manifestation as we know it. These cosmological processes are truly difficult to comprehend, for they raise fundamental questions which cannot be answered merely through some pious reference to the heavens or through intellectual imagery. Unfortunately, this is all that pseudo-religious and pseudo-philosophic traditions have done, and they have therefore failed to answer the challenges of universal cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis. If one grasped the integrity of the universal processes that give rise both to Nature and Man, then one would understand that these questions are no easier to answer than parallel questions about the human body and physical birth. Since Deity, Man and Nature are philosophically inseparable, one cannot comprehend the origin of the cosmos, the origin of humanity or the birth of a single baby independently of each other. One needs to regain a sense of wonder that something so infinitesimally small as an initial germinal cell can give rise to a full-grown human being.

H.P. Blavatsky proceeded to develop and sharpen the mysteries which embryology poses by crediting modern thought with an approximate understanding of

the atomic and physical expansion from the microscopically small into something very large, from the – to the naked eye – unseen, into the visible and objective. Science has provided for all this; and, I dare say, her theories, embryological, biological, and physiological, are correct enough so far as exact observation of the material goes. Nevertheless, the two chief difficulties of the science of embryology – namely, what are the forces at work in the formation of the foetus, and the cause of “hereditary transmission” of likeness, physical, moral or mental – have never been properly answered; nor will they ever be solved till the day when scientists condescend to accept the Occult theories.

Ibid., 222-223

If, in other words, one wishes to give a systematic account of the process of immense expansion that goes on in the development of the foetus, one must have a knowledge of different planes and subplanes of matter, mind and consciousness. One must also develop an account of the interactions of these agencies and forces during the different stages of the development of the foetus, and give a philosophically coherent account of the processes of transmission of likeness, through which active forces promote actual growth. In commenting upon one of the more intuitive developments of nineteenth century biology, H.P. Blavatsky praised Professor Weissmann and his view of the ancestral germ-cell operating on the physical plane. She made a vital distinction between this physical plasm and a spiritual plasm. If one accepts the notion of an ancestral germinal cell which is through its very substance the agent of transmission over an immense period of time, then one must ask at what point man becomes endowed with that cell. Suggesting the metaphysical mystery of Jiva or cosmic life-energy, she stated:

Complete the physical plasm…the “Germinal Cell” of man with all its material potentialities, with the “spiritual plasm”, so to say, or the fluid that contains the five lower principles of the six-principled Dhyan – and you have the secret, if you are spiritual enough to understand it.

Ibid., 224

Such fundamental questions cannot be answered on the basis of inductive methods and within the confining categories of modern thought. No experimental science, however systematic and complicated, can penetrate the ontology of the process of becoming. A poet or mystic, using metaphors, can often come much closer to invoking a sense of the mystery of that process, as, for example, when Rupert Brooke wrote, “Dateless and deathless…the intricate impulse works its will.” Poetic intuition intimates something intrinsic and inherent to the life process, something that is extremely fertile, extremely complex and intelligent, yet unerringly precise. The vision of mystics and poets touches that which is beginningless and endless in life, that which eludes all categories, formulas and equations.

Hermes, June 1984
by Raghavan Iyer



Let us use with care those living messengers called words.

JIVA (Sk.). Life, as the Absolute; the Monad also or Atma-Buddhi.

JIVANMUKTA (Sk.). An Adept or Yogi who has reached the ultimate state of holiness and separated himself from matter; a Mahatma, or Nirvanee, a “dweller in bliss” and emancipation. Virtually one who has reached Nirvana during life.

JIVATMA (Sk.). The ONE Universal Life, generally; but also the Divine Spirit in man.

WILL. In metaphysics and occult philosophy, Will is that which governs the manifested universes in eternity. Will is the one and sole principle of abstract eternal MOTION, or its ensouling essence. “The will”, says Van Helmont, “is the first of all powers…. The will is the property of all spiritual beings and displays itself in them the more actively the more they are freed from matter.” And Paracelsus teaches that “determined will is the beginning of all magical operations. It is because men do not perfectly imagine and believe the result, that the (occult) arts are so uncertain, while they might be perfectly certain.” Like all the rest, the Will is septenary in its degrees of manifestation. Emanating from the one, eternal, abstract and purely quiescent Will (Atma in Layam), it becomes Buddhi in its Alaya state, descends lower as Mahat (Manas), and runs down the ladder of degrees until the divine Eros becomes, in its lower, animal manifestation, erotic desire. Will as an eternal principle is neither spirit nor substance but everlasting ideation. As well expressed by Schopenhauer in his Parerga, “In sober reality there is neither matter nor spirit.

The entire article can be found at Theosophytrust.org and Theosophytrust.mobi.