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.”
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