In searching about Steiner's 7-year-cycles, I stepped into related information which I'd heard before, so I'm adding it all up here in one post.
Become aware of all your pretensions
The first seven years of life are the most important time. If the person is going to live seventy years then those first seven years are going to be decisive for seventy years, because he will repeat the same pattern on different planes. He will pretend to love his wife, he will pretend to love his children, he will pretend to love his friends. And the pretensions will go deep that he will not even feel that this is a pretension; he will think this is what love is supposed to be. This is love.
That's why everybody in the whole world is loving and the world is turning into a madhouse. People should be blissful-if there is so much love in the world everybody should be flowering. Something very basic is missing.
My effort here is to help you become aware of all your pretensions. Once you are aware they can be dropped. They can be dropped very easily - the whole thing is to become aware of them. They have gone deep, their roots have reached very deep into your bones, into your very marrow. So one has to be very alert, very aware, to find all the roots. Once you have found all the roots of your false pseudo love, you can uproot all the weeds and you will become again a child and you will start afresh from the very beginning of innocence, and then there will be spontaneity, naturalness.
Osho: A Must for Before Sleep p.225
Rudolph Steiners description
of the 7-year cycles
WAKING UP 0 - 7 years
The physical organism is build up. The emergence of the remaining teeth is, according to Steiner, a sign that the process is complete.
The child looks around, crawls around and finally walks around.
Simultaneous with the walking comes the "I" and "me". It is so important that the "I" is allowed to gradually expand deep into the . The "children's diseases", with their high fevers is an aid for that, since a high fever is causing an expansion of the consciousness into the etheric and astral.
The child can hardly bear an everyday event, as for example to see a dead bird on the road, but will happily listen to fairytales where witches torture kids and themselves are brutally murdered!
It is important that the child lives in and works out her own fairytales and fairytale-heroes, so that these stories and heroes are not imposed from outside, but growing forth from inside.
This also is the reason why Steiner recommends simple toys, dolls with no face etc, so that the child's imagination put the face on, and not a remote adult or computer. Television and even reading at this young age therefore is seen as potentially damaging.
THE MAGIC AGE 7 - 14 YEARS
We are still in the process of incarnation; the full aura of the child is not yet manifest. In this phase, the feeling-body, (the astral) needs to be build in to the earthly existence.
The adult is in many ways living in an abstract world, dealing with responsibilities, planing, goals etc, that are beyond the interest and capacity of the child. Yet, we often are "proud" of our child if they achieve in this world, are quick to learn to read etc.
Where the child is at, experiences, wonder, magic, is the age- appropriate challenges, not logic.
An important part of this, - other than not just living a routine-life- is fairytales. ian speaking fairytales off course is build around archetypes. And being allowed to assimilate them, meet them, battle with them on her own terms, allows the child to build a depth and confidence in her own .
Here after Johannes Dragsdal: Hvert alderstrin sin opgave
WHO AM I? 14 - 21 years
The "child" is no longer a child, but neither is he an adult -
Sometimes amazingly grown up attitudes is displayed, sometimes the teddy bear needs a cuddle, the "child" can not find his footing - rarely can the parents! -
This time calls for a very delicate balance of authority and respect of the "child's" autonomy.
The puberty ought not just to be the maturing of the sexual being, but also a maturing in the ability to penetrate reality.
The need to separate things or statements, criticise or build "utopias" is obvious, and therefore now, the modern empiric teaching-methods are relevant.
The big mood-swings are important, they create an inner containment, a space big enough to harbour both huge appetite on life and a deep pain in the realisation of the sad state of affairs in real life, the dichotomy between life and death etc.
At the age of 18 years, 7 month and 4 days, the young meets the peculiar phenomena, the Moon-knot. This day, the moon is in exact the same position with sun and earth as it was when we were born. This period therefore is a rebirth, a break in the outer circumstances, a shift of deep consequences.
The moon-knot comes again when we are 37 and 56.
SELF REARING 21 - 28 years
The physical development is complete, and mentally the question -"what can I do on this earth is in focus.
The young has left -or should leave- home. It is time to be responsible, feel consequences when experimenting, playing, being serious or not at all serious, studying or procrastinating, inviting parental advice and acting opposite… Maybe the young most of all needs a wall to play his balls up against.
The intellectual peak is roughly from 21 - 42, so the challenge is to honour that, without letting go of the intuitive, more mystical and creative perception.
LIFE-ACHIEVEMENT 28 -35 years
It is as if the period up to now was a preparation, in many cases something happened that turned out to be the basis for the life's achievement. It is a period coloured by will, so the question is wether the will is in the ego's service, or has the quiet questions from the soul, a quest for the deeper purpose with life been preserved, listened to. This balance is very important for the coming 7-year periods.
Rudolph Steiner says that it is not enough to teach will, willingness to sacrifice is more important. It is the ego that must be sacrificed to reach the higher goals.
THE POWERS IS RECOGNISED 35 - 42 years
Being in the middle of life, the output to life has been established, the feed back is coming. Either does the world accept or reject, it is no longer one self that is rearing; now the world is our teacher.
The second moon-knot is when we are 37 years, 2 month and 8 days.
So again a new rebirth. This second moon knot is in particular a confrontation with the outer. At that age started his "travel into hell", into the depth of his , making him conclude that he no longer lives for himself alone.
POWER TEMPTATIONS 42 - 49 years
At the age of 42 the meeting with the dead stuff in ourselves is beginning to come forth, the calcification in body and .
It is the rigidity, the habits, the avariciousness that have their day.
AGE-PROBLEM 49 - 56 years
Some people around the fifty years age are only interested in job-advancements and themselves, they have gone rigid in the I-disease, is spiritually speaking already dead.
In this age, if we succeed in not becoming trapped in ego and fear, not trapped in "holding on to our youth" we begin to be free from the personal destiny that has been like a insistence over the rest of the life, we begin to collect the deeper insights that life has given us, and begin to be independent enough to express it.
At the age of 56 years, 9 month and 12 days comes the third moon-knot. This is a bit like a judgment - what was learned? Have I anything to live on for?
METAMORPHOSIS 56 - 63 years
In an achievement-based society the elderly is a problem, not an asset. The wisdom inherited in a long life, the more time retirement gives, the independence from duties and expectations, all point to a spiritual peak. If there is not a spiritual openness, the period off course is empty, despair, or at best filled out with social life and entertainment, a waiting period for death.
DAYS OF GRACE 63 - ?
From planing in 10-year periods, the perspective more and more comes towards a gratitude for the day before us There is no longer any ambition, we can wholeheartedly "just be"- if the spiritual values is not there, a disappointment with life, a for death will come forth.
Death is off course coming nearer, and our avoidance of - or of this inevitable polarity to birth is now in focus wether we deny it or ponder it.
If just the fear of death could be eliminated.
Interestingly: For the ancient Greeks, the youthful and very strong god Hermes was the god of death. For us it is the ripper, a skeleton with no nourishment. There is a sad loss of searchlight into the unknown with a symbol for the transition so devout of joy.
Every Seven Years You Change
Most cells in your body is renewed over a period of time.
Does your personality change, too?
Rudolph Steiner, the great teacher of Anthroposophy said that the seven-year cycles continue throughout life, and are of the utmost importance to doctors, teachers, psychiatrists and the social sciences. Without some smattering of these changes it is difficult for anyone to understand the relationship of any given individual with his or her environment. So I have tried to summarise what Steiner and others have said about the cycles.
One of the most important of these cycles is the first, from birth to seven years of age. Its importance lies in the fact that it is the beginning of everything, the foundation upon which the later structure will be built. Birth gives individual life to an infant body. Even at birth, this small being already has its given potential of intelligence, creativity and personality. But this potential has to come to terms with its environment, which includes its own body. In a human being we cannot have awareness without consciousness; we cannot have thinking without the tools of thought such as language, concepts or ideas. So during our early years we are largely moved by the instincts of hunger, need for love, protection and support, along with pain and the impact of our environment. All this while we build up the inner, mental structures that in later years will allow us to think, to feel, and to be aware of ourselves as an individual.
One of the most important of these inputs is that of the unconscious behavioural responses we learn. From the moment you are born, perhaps even prior to that, you are learning, or there are pressed upon you, responses to what you are experiencing. The culture you are born into is a huge ready-made set of behavioural responses. For instance, an Australian aborigine would easily respond to a huge living grub/caterpillar by eating it. This would be a very difficult behavioural response for most Northern Europeans or Americans. As babies we learnt everything from whether you respond to opportunity with fear or eagerness; to love with fear of warmth; to food as a glutton or with healthy appetite.
At birth there is a very different physical and glandular system than in later years. For a start the sexual organs have not developed, meaning responses to sex and sensation are very global. Also the thymus is very large and in later years becomes smaller. It has been said this, in these early years, gives the child a very primitive response to truth, right and wrong, and what later become moral codes. So the child only slowly develops any real sense of social morality.
But something so mysterious happens to us during this first seven years that once done it can never be undone. The Roman Catholic Church recognises this by saying that if they can have the first seven years of a child’s life, that is all they need to insure a lifelong influence. Napoleon also observed that as the twig is bent, so the tree will grow. This is borne out by seeing the cases of children who have been lost and brought up by animals during these formative years. Even with the best tuition they never learn to become a self aware personality as we know it. Time is a mystery to them, and even though their brain size and function is normal, they never approach the usual capabilities that education gives to modern women and men. So, in the first cycle we pass through an incredible process of learning. This includes motor movements, speech, relationship to ourselves and to our environment. And that means learning a vast amount about what is useful, entertaining or harmful; about what responses we get from others, and developing habits of response that may be difficult to change in later years. We learn a sense of personal awareness and move toward becoming an individual. In other words, we learn to say “I” and know what we mean.
The learning of language is like a powerful computer program that gives us the ability to develop an identity and self awareness. This is shown again by children reared by animals. Language also adds limitations which we can overcome if we recognise them.
Steiner also says that during this first stage of development the developing inner forces are working to transform the body of the child from one that was inherited from the parents, to one that represents the full personality of the child.
Something often overlooked about the stages of growth are ones emotional age.
From age zero we are completely dependent upon the loved person for our needs, physical, emotional and social. Great anger, jealousy or pain are felt if the loved one relates to anyone else, is lost, or threatens to leave. If we do not mature beyond this emotional age, in adulthood this enormous feeling reaction may also be felt at a time of emotional withdrawal of the partner, even if there is no sign of them withdrawing physically. In the infant and toddler there is a desire for unconditional love and a need to be always with the loved one. In an adult with this level of love, sex may be a part of the relationship, but the main need is a bonded connection. This is sometimes felt as a need to have the loved person want you as much, or as desperately, as you want/need them. Possibly the greatest fear, one that can trigger great anger or an enormous desire to placate or earn love, is the threat or fear of being abandoned.
The second cycle, from seven to fourteen, continues this growth. The concepts and association of ideas and emotions that began in the first cycle begin to be discovered by the child. The physical changes also prepare the growing personality for the next stage. The thymus gland decreases rapidly in size, allowing the development of a sense of right and wrong, and social responsibility. A sign of this physical and psychological growth is the losing of the milk teeth and the emergence of our adult teeth. This marks an entrance into a new maturity.
The child has learned, with the advent of its concepts and developing emotions, to create an inner world of its own. It is a world of heroes, danger and vivid imagination. As the thymus fades, and the sexual organs develop, the personality glides into the turbulent world of puberty and adolescence.
Sometimes it is already evident, even from the preceding cycle, the direction of interest and activity the child will take in maturity. Although for the very observant this might be seen in very early years, it becomes more evident as one approaches puberty.
In all a time of inner expansion. You begin to experience and test abilities in the broader sense of the outside world. You may learn to share and interact, controlling earlier instincts in favour of group dynamics. The habits learned in the first period are now part of the character of the growing child.
This is the third cycle, from fourteen to twenty-one. During it we become conscious of ourselves in a new way, and with a different relationship to life. One might say we become “self conscious.” The emotional range expands in all directions, and with this a new appreciation of music, art, literature and people begins. It is found for instance that at puberty the ability to distinguish subtler tones of colour and sound develops. Besides this the person might go through the difficult struggle of breaking away from home life and/or parental influence. It naturally produces conflict as the person learns some degree of independence. Also, the opposite sex, or sex as a urgent impulse, usually becomes all important as the new emotions pour in upon our personality. See Example 5 for information about facing adolescence.
Because of the new range of feelings, many youths experience a different relationship to religion and life’s mysteries. All this, as one approaches twenty-one, produces an individual with some sense of social and individual responsibility, or if not that the beginning or a sense of a direction or life purpose. This might not be recognised as such at the time. But it is a time of searching for life purpose, independence, a realization of choices plus a testing of social and personal limitations as well as an awareness of a burgeoning sexuality. As this is a traumatic period of life for most of us, it is also likely to be a time of many unforgettable dreams.
The period is a time of adding maturity, dignity and poise to the person. If these changes have not occurred by twenty-one, then the person has in some way not covered necessary aspects of development, and both psychology and the law recognises that they are lacking maturity.
This period is one of great and sweeping changes, physically, emotionally, morally and mentally. Such enormous changes often do not occur without an experience of loss. In this case the world of childhood is fading, or it might even be torn away, leaving scars.
It is also a time when many new features of the personality have their beginning, i.e. the religious sense, appreciation of the beautiful, etc. Although such things have their beginnings here, they sometimes remain undeveloped until later years. Because of these changes, and because such a lot is being revealed in these years, it is obvious why so much thought should be given to early marriage. Because of one’s changing viewpoint, the particular partner one would choose at seventeen or eighteen, is likely to be different to the partner chosen at twenty-one and beyond.
The emotional development at this age is possibly seen as initial uncertainty or clumsiness concerning emotional and sexual contact. It often involves desire to explore many relationships, unless there are forces of introversion or personal and social uncertainty at work. We are still finding out what our boundaries and needs are, and the sexual drive as at full flood.. Any partner we have at this time may be loved for ones own needs – rather than out of recognition of who the other person is. Great romantic feelings and spontaneous love which are often difficult to maintain in face of difficulties.
The cycle that follows from twenty-one to twenty-eight, can more or less be called a process of enlargement and refinement. It is the period that we mentally and emotionally enter into adulthood. We start to build the foundations of our careers and intimate relationships with a driving energy that we hope will gain us entry and respect in the larger world.
One of the most marked features is the developing sense of discrimination. The faculties of insight, intuition, judgement and understanding begin to come to the fore. The personality softens and begins to mellow. The sparks of interest that were awakened in the previous cycles begin to be developed along more definite lines. The abilities of the last cycle also flourish. The adult emotional age may begin to emerges if one has successfully grown through the previous levels. This shows as a growing sense of recognising needs of ones partner yet not denying ones own. It is followed by an ability to be something for the partners sake without losing ones own independence or will. One becomes more aware of the issues that colour or influence relationship, and meeting them in cooperation with others. Independence and connection can appear together instead of opposite ends of a spectrum. You move toward becoming caring sexual partners through discovering each others needs and vulnerability.
In this period you will begin to confront the issue that you were either born with, or arose through the challenges and pains of your infancy and childhood. These usually show as the way you handle intimate relationships, whether you can really meet in partnership with the opposite sex, and how you respond to the external world, its challenges and opportunities.
At this time what is revealed may not be addressed as a personal problem or issues to be healed or re-evaluated. They will be faced more directly later if they are not dealt with now.
The changes become more subtle as the years pass. The next cycle from twenty eight to thirty-five, for instance, is one where the creative process of mind becomes most active. Researchers and inventors seem to make their greatest advances during these years. It is interesting to note that physical science finds evidence of the reason for this in the fact that the association centres of the brain come to their peak efficiency at about thirty-five years of age.
This is even more interesting when we see that most of the great religious teachers and philosophers came to some vital experience at thirty-five. Jesus, Buddha, Paul, Dante and Jacob Behmen were all in the region of thirty-five at the point of their greatest insights. It would seem then, that if there is an inspirational influence at work in the life, it would possibly reach its peak during these years in and around thirty-five.
Here we take stock of ourselves and the emotional influences that have shaped our personality. We begin to determine what is us and what traits we have been pressured by family, peers or society to adopt.
From the thirty-fifth to the forty-second year, depending upon one’s personality and what one’s circumstances allow, one begins to feel a new restlessness. In some degree a desire to share whatever one has gained through life with others comes to the surface. Thus we find many successful business men building libraries, or aiding colleges and the arts at this period in their life. What has been developed or realised can be taken to greater subtlety during this period. This is almost like unfolding something, perhaps similar to the way a flower unfolds a bud that has been developing in earlier phases of its growth.
This is when we reassess the results of what we are doing externally in our life. Our relationships, careers, habits and the ways we interact are all put under scrutiny and modified or changed. It’s a time of facing up to what does and what doesn’t satisfy us.
You may reach heights or realisation and creativity not touched previously. The profound breakthrough of ones innate genius that emerges around this time will no doubt be expressed in some degree. However, whatever is attained or realised will be enlarged and synthesised in later periods.
In the next cycle from forty-two until forty-nine a major change usually takes place. It is as if one takes all of one’s life experience up till this age and begins to digest it, and extract from it new ideals and a new direction in life. There is often tremendous unrest in this period and that following it. The unlived aspects of life cry out to be recognised and allowed. The desire to make a mark in life if it has not already been achieved presses for action here.
At this point it appears to many of us that we have reached the mid point of our life and from here on there will be a decline. Even if this is not so it is often felt very strongly and acted upon in one way of another. People change partners, life directions, and even attempt major personal changes, although these latter may have begun in the last cycle.
Also, the emotional age and the maturing of love may at last show signs of an unconditional love. If this is not appearing in small degree, it might be one is still locked in earlier ages. Strangely, many of us maintain the emotional age of a child right into mature years, feeling all the fear of abandonment, jealousy and possessiveness of our childhood. Many divorces and new directions appear around this period.
In these years we move from old stereotypical roles with a new found confidence in our individuality. We are prepared to please our self, rather than society and gain a real understanding of our uniqueness, accompanied by a sense of urgency to express our true self before it gets too late.
In this, and the next cycle from forty-nine to fifty-six, and the periods that follow, the physical changes bring about a mental or spiritual climax. The decline of physical prowess and vitality, forces the person to direct their attention inwards more frequently. Any problems of our personality, such as maladjustment and our repressions, will undoubtedly become more urgent in these years. This reacts upon one’s marriage and professional life alike. The problem is that we have to learn to live with ourselves in a new way. We slowly have to adapt to our new-old body, and habits of long-standing do not die easily.
This is when we take an inventory of our life. It’s a time of spiritual questioning and review of our life purpose. If we haven’t successfully understood who we are by this stage and achieved our goals, then depression, moodiness and turmoil will plague both our waking life and our dreams.
This period is often a time of inner tranquility and acceptance. At peace with oneself and more accepting of where we are and what we have achieved marks this period. But many things that were lying unlived within you might arise at this time, either as a form of unrest, or as directly living out those things that duty or work – or even self restraints – kept you from doing or being.
Usually your life situation begins to change in this stage. There is the start of a great shift and adjustment, both in terms of external activities, but also in how you deal with and feel about relationships. Part of the difficulty is that you have lived a long life as a younger person, and the old ways of dealing with things is often difficult to let go of as things change. The opportunity to experiment more fully in life helps you to reassess yourself and what new way of relating and being suits you or is satisfying.
The psychiatrist Carl Jung and others such as Nietzsche developed a whole theory about this period of life that he called Individuation. Perhaps the influence of this began in the last periods during the forties, but becomes more marked now. As an individual we may come to recognise that our make-up is formed out of the collective experience of our family and the culture we have been exposed to. The question, “Who am I,” leads us to look more fully into what makes us who we are. This awareness and the insight gained from it transforms us. The change is that of becoming more fully independent of the forces that formed us. This means we create something new of who we are, and perhaps leave something of this new self in the world by what we do, create or live. Not every one undertakes this diving into the depths of self to discover ones core being.
To quote from the website Soul-Guidance, “Individuation means that one becomes a person, an individual, a totally integrated personality. It is a process of self realization during which one integrates those contents of the psyche that have the ability to become conscious. It is a search for totality. It is an experience that could be formulated as the discovery of the divine in yourself, or the discovery of the totality of your Self. This does not always happen without pain, but it is necessary to accept many things that normally we would shy away from. Once a person has accepted the contents of his unconsciousness and has reached the goal of the individuation process, he is conscious of his relationships with everything that lives, with the entire cosmos.”
Now we have deeper acceptance and understanding of the people in our life. We appreciate the differences between us and our friends and look to the good rather than the bad in people. This is a period where our accumulated experience seeks new creative outlets.
A particularly noticeable process that occurs here is a conscious or unconscious sifting of life experience and moving toward what is the essence and best of what one has been and learned from the years and experiences. Sometimes, if you can actually be aware of and work with this process, it leads to a sense of being lost or uncertain. By this is meant that for most of us external needs have dictated the direction of much that we have done or was needed of us. Now a great deal of this external pressure is removed. With its loss you realise that a great many choices or directions are open to you. It is like standing at cross roads with many directions. Which one do you want to take? Often it needs you to stand and observe before any direction from your own core wishes emerges. If during your life you have never worked at dealing with the difficulties and weaknesses or pains innate in you, then this period can lead to great confusion and the meeting of many shadows that you may not yet have developed the skills to deal with previously.
This is also a time in life when natural inner processes can lead you to a greater awareness of what lies beyond death. Things fall away naturally if you let them. A greater detachment from things of the world arises and this in itself is a foretaste of death in which you can let go of all that you have held on to.
Of course there are no fixed boundaries and so one may achieve this level of maturity at another period. But if the issues met in the previous cycle have been dealt with, then there is a new awareness of the subtle sides of life, and a changed relationship with those you love or come in contact with. There is a greater unconditional love and acceptance. By this is meant that awareness of the depths and subtleties of ones own self are known more fully. If you are a person who has an active inner life, it can happen that the huge harvest of gathered life experience that was sifted and synthesised into clearer and more streamlined, or simpler concepts and meanings, is now expressed in your life and dealings with others. You may not be as powerful and active in the outer world, but you are gaining strength and effectiveness on people’s inner life if you are still healthy.
But such changes, as always, depend upon how well you have dealt with the problems, trauma as ability to grow during your life.
77-84 years onwards
During the three preceding periods a new self was developed. This emerged out of a summary and synthesis or all that you had lived. Perhaps, if you gave attention to your inner life, doorways of perception were opened through which you saw how your present life is a continuum of the long past, of ancestors and other influences. From this new self and widened perceptions you are acting and living in the world in a different way. The essence of the purpose, love and ideas you lived by is given new expression.
As we have seen, the various physical changes have interacted with the spark of awareness lit at birth, causing changes in consciousness and attitude. Might we not speculate then, by saying that the biggest physical change of all-death – may be but a pre-requisite for yet another cycle of life; an initiation into an entirely new type of awareness? In fact it can happen that from the last cycle onwards, if you dare to experience your inner life reasonably fully, you will already have experienced what naked awareness is like, or have penetrated what is called death in some way.
More info here: http://www.starbridge.com.au/en/elearning/lesson-5-time-seven-year-cycles.htm and http://dreamhawk.com/body-and-mind/every-seven-years-you-change.