Biography Work According to Anthroposophy

Recently, I’ve come across a very interesting book: The Human Life by George O’Neil and Florin Lowndes. This is a book about biography work, a discipline well known among anthroposophers (Giorgio if you are reading this, thanks for the advice!).

For those who never heard about Anthroposophy, it is a conception of the world founded by the Austrian philosopher, social reformer and esotericist Rudolf Steiner. I don’t want to go into that because it’s a huge topic and this post would probably turn into an article about it. In fact Anthroposophy is the mother of Waldorf Education, Biodynamic Agriculture and the Camphill Movement (just to name a few). So if you are interested you can start from here.

Biography Work

In a nutshell, Biography Work is the dynamic understanding of the human life. It is a way of looking at your biography as a piece of artwork you consciously contribute to create. And I say contribute because your life is driven by its own laws. We can’t ignore them; we need to learn the way to listen to them and understand them. In other words, it’s never a creation from scratch. You can’t pretend to be someone you’re not. But you can definitely be an active part in order to live a meaningful life. That’s the goal of Biography Work.

The Chart

The book comes with a beautiful chart (it’s a poster by the way). It pictures the archetype of a human life divided in septennia (the rainbows below) in a way that they can also mirror each other.

The colors help to catch easily the relationship between events and experiences that we wouldn’t connect otherwise. Those correspondences are based on spiritual laws of rhythm and reflection discovered by Rudolf Steiner. You can think of it as a spiritual “breathing”: outer events and inner processing create together the game of life.

This chart is a potent, living symbol we can work with. Check it out, it’s stunning.

Biography Work Chart by George O'Neil

Planetary Spheres

As an astrologer I was at first interested in the correspondences between planets and septennia. From an astrological perspective they are indeed pretty obvious.

The chart starts at the top left corner with the Moon (0-7 years), and proceeds down through the spheres of Mercury (7-14 years) and Venus (14-21 years). This top-down representation means that as you grow your spirit gradually incarnate from the spiritual realms down to earth. This process ends with the formation of what Anthroposophy regards as the “body”. Please note I am simplyfing a lot, since Anthroposophy talks about a physical body, an etheric body and an astral body.

Then, the central part of the incarnation takes place. From 21 to 42 you are under the influence of the Solar Sphere. Here you go through a long threefold phase (3 septennia) of exploration and learning. If everything goes well, that should lead you eventually to understand who you really are. The central part of the incarnation is about the Soul: the second component of the human being.

Finally, the real spiritual journey begins (yes, at 42!). Now you know where you come from and who you really are. You have everything you need to do what you came down on earth for. It’s time for action, the influence of Mars kiks in (42-49 years). This is also called the “second adolescence” and it is a reflection of the experiences that took place on the Sphere of Venus (14-21).

You are now going upwards, ascending the ladder of wisdom. The Sphere of Jupiter (49-56) makes you a mature person, in the same way the Sphere of Mercury (7-14) gave you juvenile vitality and curiosity. At last, those vital forces begin to retreat as the influence of Saturn (56-63) grows stronger. These three septennia refers to the development of what Anthroposophy calls the Spirit.

In conclusion

The journey, of course, proceeds. But you are now a “child of the gods”: you are free from the influence of the planetary spheres. Or at least from the classic septenary, since the correspondences continue with the generational planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto). Your life is now one with the life of others.

This article was just an introduction to a very complex subject. If you are not familiar with Anthroposophy the book itself is nevertheless an excellent compendium. If you want to deepen the threefold nature of the human being according to Anthroposophy I highly suggested the book Theosophy by Rudolf Steiner (you can find it here for free).

The Seven-Pointed Star

This article will deepen the symbolic meaning of the seven-pointed star from the astrological point of view. As you may know the number seven carries several esoteric symbologies: the seven colors of the rainbow, the seven notes of the major scale, the seven deadly sins, the seven days of Creation, etc. We are going to see how the seven planets of the classical septenary relate to one another when they are arranged according to this sacred-geometry shape.

The first thing we want to do, is to build the seven-pointed star. Let’s take the seven planets, from the fastest to the slowest, placing them evenly along a circle. We will have: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This was also the sequence of the celestial spheres according to the Ptolemaic system. By connecting a point every three—another number full of meanings—we have the seven-pointed star.

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Now, let’s see what we have found here. If you go through the star—starting from the Sun, going down left to the Moon—you’ll get another sequence: the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. You may not recognize it immediately, but this is the sequence of the days of the week: Sunday, day of the Sun; Monday, day of the Moon; Tuesday, day of Týr—germanic god of war (Mars); Wednesday, day of Wodan—which corresponds to Mercury for his trickster aspect; Thursday, day of Thor—germanic god of thunder (Jupiter); Friday, day of Freya—germanic goddess of love (Venus); Saturday, day of Saturn. Please note that in Latin, these correspondences are far more obvious since each day is dedicated to a god who bears the name of the planet.

So the first thing we can say about the seven-pointed star is that—from the astrological perspective—it is the esoteric foundation of the weekly cycle, that we can also call the Wheel of the Week.

The Wheel of the Week

The Wheel of the Year is a well known concept, especially in neo-paganism. But what we call here the Wheel of the Week is a pattern which is followed unconsciously and ritually by practically the whole world. We all go around and around, endlessly following this circle without knowing its meaning.

So, how does this sequence make sense? Let’s see now how the planetary forces connect to each other, to better understand the astral pattern we are going through on a weekly basis (click on the planet name for further details).

s4_featThe Sun The Sun is the beginning and the end of every life cycle. It represents our spiritual homeland, the place where we belong. When we attune to this force we can experience Love as an expression of our higher self. Here, we are golden. We feel invincible, and for this reason we are able to completely give ourselves to others, without expectation. Every person in need is like our child.
m1_featThe Moon But sometimes we are that needy person. The Moon represents indeed our inner child, the part of us humble enough to receive love and help from others. The Sun is the source of that love. By reflecting its rays, the Moon shares it with other people. But what happens when that love is denied us? What if our needs are not met? Emotions arise, and with them the impulse to action.
m5_featMars This is when Mars—the warrior within—kicks in. It is the force of our self-affirmation that not only makes us do something to get what we need, but also enables us to achieve our goals. It is the burning matrix of our desires and the source of our willpower. But you don’t always have to start a war, so to speak: the simplest way to affirm yourself is to speak your mind.
m2_featMercury Mercury is the lord of communication and eloquence. It represents both the way we speak and think: it is the force which builds our mindset. We can say it is the mind itself—our most dangerous weapon. We can use it to our advantage or to harm us, it is both misleading and clarifying. Mercury enables us to solve concrete problems but also to enter the world of intellectual speculation.
j6_featJupiter Obviously this world belongs to Jupiter—our inner philosopher. It is the part of us that wants us to grow and mature by making experiences. It guides us through life with powerful ideals which—from the spiritual perspective—are what we value most. That’s why in ancient times it was called Fortuna Major, whereas Venus was known as Fortuna Minor.
v3_featVenus Venus represents indeed what we value generally speaking: usually what gives us pleasure and satisfaction. It doesn’t necessarily have to be spiritual or elevated. On the contrary, Venus’ task is to seek balance in all forms, especially between the spiritual realms and the world of the senses (Saturn). Art is one of the her ways, as well as Justice.
s7_featSaturn Saturn is the cold force that structures and consolidates the material world, based on the balance of opposites achieved by Venus. Basically, it is the down-to-earth part of us that enables us to be alone and responsible—both qualities we need in order to be independent. Saturn makes us strong, tenacious and steady. When you stop thinking only for yourself, when you become a solid foundation for others, the Sun starts to dawn in your soul.

The Four Levels

In addition to the circular pattern (planetary sequence according to their speed; the celestial spheres order) and that of the seven-pointed star, we have a third pattern based on four levels. Starting from the bottom of the star we rise from the lower to the higher instincts, getting closer and closer to our spiritual homeland (the Sun).

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m1_feats7_feat
To Survive
Together, Saturn and the Moon represents fear and survival. At this level the main goal is to stay alive or, in another words, to preserve your physical body. For this reason this is the lower level of the star—its foundation. Building boundaries (Saturn), finding a place to rest and feeling safe (Moon) is key.
m2_featj6_feat
To Feed
When you are feeling safe you can move on to the next level. Here, the joined effect of Mercury and Jupiter represents the way you process (Mercury) and introject (Jupiter) things into your system. In other words the way you feed on a physical level (nutrition), psychological level (social interaction) and spiritual level (education).
v3_featm5_feat
To Reproduce
Mars and Venus represents reproduction. When an organism feels safe, rested and satiated it has the urge to reproduce itself. They not only represents reproduction on a physical level (sex, having children), but also on a psychological (making love, intimacy) and spiritual level (teaching, disciple-master relationship).
s4_featTo Rise When all previous levels have been attained, the ultimate need is “to rise”. This means achieving a totally new level of awareness, action and meaning in life. It is what they call enlightenment or reintegration in the spiritual realms: Life and Death become two doors that we can cross freely, acting by a higher plane of existence.

In conclusion, we can say that the seven-pointed star is a symbol so rich that it can be considered as a stand-alone tool for self-knowledge. It is also a valid alternative to the eastern chakra system, without necessarily relate each planet to a body part (if you want to do it, follow the planet-organ correspondences). It can also be compared to the Enneagram by matching each planet with a psychological type—and this without even considering the zodiac. In another article we will explain how it can be used as a compass to consciously navigate through the psyche.