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).