All humans experience the same planetary cycles in a common timeline of human development. The planets teach us that there is a year-by-year unfolding that is the same for all living people.
When we look back at earth from the window of an airplane, we might see ribbons of road, tiny cars and trucks, patchwork of green, yellow, brown fields, and the roofs of factories, businesses and homes. From that vantage point we get a glimpse of how humans interact together to change the land and water over time. In a similar way, we can see patterns emerge when we observe human life from the vantage point of planetary cycles.
The timeline of planetary cycles unfolds in the same sequence for everyone. But within that sequence there is vast variety and complexity. We could think of the cosmic timeline as a story map. Most stories have common elements and predictable sequences: introduction of characters, the setting, the problem, the events in rising action, the falling action, and the resolution. In a similar way, planetary cycles create a predictable structure and certain themes arise.
Understanding the human-cosmic timeline is as simple as the idea of birthdays. Each planet takes a certain amount of time to travel around the sun. Each planet has what we call a “return.” A birthday is a solar return, when the Earth returns to the same relative position where it was when you were born. The sun and earth complete that path in 365 Earth days. The moon has 12-13 lunar returns every year. Jupiter will take about 12 years to make one pass around and remains in each zodiac sign about one year. When Jupiter returns to the same place where it was when you were born, we would call this a Jupiter Return, or a Jupiter birthday. The first Jupiter Return occurs at around age 12, if a person lives to the age of 72, then they will experience 6 Jupiter Birthdays, or 6 cycles of Jupiter, each with a repeating common theme that unfolds a little more with each cycle.
Saturn, on the other hand, will take 28-29 Earth years to return back to the same position where it was when you were born. Every 28-29 year old experiences their first “Saturn birthday.” There will be a second Saturn birthday at around age 58. Thus, each of the planets, sun and moon has their own return. Each return carries certain common characteristics or repeating themes throughout a person’s biography.
If we are blessed to live long enough, we will pass through the entire obstacle course of life. Life does not end at age 88 for everyone, obviously. Certainly many people live longer than 88, and many live shorter lives too. The longer we live, the more the story unfolds. Regardless of the age when you depart this world, the planets don’t stop moving.
Mainstream, scientific theories of child and human development seem to verify and complement rather than contradict the events of the cosmic timeline. The evidence of these bigger planetary cycles might be somewhat less obvious than observing Earth’s seasons for instance. But, if we want to observe the scale of these patterns we must look at the entire life biography.
Why wouldn’t teachers want to be very familiar with the particular planetary transits and their characteristics for the ages of their students and understand what kinds of challenges typically manifest themselves at those ages. For generations, educational philosophy and educational psychology have called this body of knowledge “child development. ” Little or no connection has been made to the planetary cycles in this. What makes age 7 such a magical age? What makes age 9 such a crucible? What makes age 11 and age 12 so tender? What about age 14 and the transition to older adolescence? Planetary cycles offer explanation.
To reference Steiner’s idea on this matter, listen to an audio lecture read aloud on The Seven Year Cycles.