Looking more deeply at the structural arrangement of the Rosicrucian degrees or the Tree of Life, we see that both depict Creation by seven unique worlds, each successive one enclosed within the one proceeding it, forming a pictograph of seven circumscribed circles (Figure 11).
This notion of the Totality of Creation being represented by seven, concentric worlds occurs commonly in many ancient traditions.
For example, in the cosmogony of Ra developed in Heliopolis during the 4th Dynasty of Egypt, creation manifested in layers symbolized by the successive births of the Egyptian pantheon. The first world is hidden; the second world is Nun, the Waters of Creation; Ra, the Sun, who lives and breaths within Nun is the third world; Ra’s self-begotten children, Shu, air, and Tefnut, moisture, are world four; the next generation of children, Geb, the earth, and Nut, the sky, are world five; Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys are world six; and the final god, or Horus, is world seven. In this cosmogony, the final supremacy of Horus through battle with Set, the god of falsehood and power, symbolizes the ascent of man from out of the world of delusions, world seven, into the higher planes.
The Seven Circumscribed Circles of Creation
The doctrine of seven worlds is common to several other occidental creation stories. For example, within Genesis is contained the story of the creation as seven worlds or seven days. In the Beginning, that is upon day zero, the Spirit of God, the Elohim, moved over the waters of chaos, the tobu-bohu, and separated light from darkness, heaven and earth and so on till upon the sixth day God created man in his own image.
In the Zervanite sect of Zoroastrianism, the pre-existing God, Zurvan or Infinite Time, creates the universe in seven emanations as shown in Figure 12.
The Seven Creative Emanations of Zurvan
Based upon the writings of P. D. Ouspensky, a student of G. I. Gurdjieff, the Russian mystic who transmitted the neo-Babylonian teachings of the Central Asian brotherhood, the Sarmoung, symbolized the creative emanations of God using the parallel schemes: World 1 is the protocosmos, the universe; World 2 is the megalocosmos, the set of all the galaxies or island universes; World 3 is the macrocosms, the Milky Way galaxy; World 4 is the deuterocosmos, our sun; World 5 is the mesocosmos, our planetary solar system; World 6 is the tritocosmos, the earth; and World 7 is the microcosmos and is represented by the moon, the world of delusions.
The ancient Rosicrucian temples of Egypt were arranged in seven ascending layers containing specific chambers of initiation as shown in Figure 13.
The Seven-fold Arrangement of the Egyptian Initiation Temples
The lowest chambers of the first level, the first through fourth, were utilized for initiation and instruction of students entering into the First through Fourth Temple Degree grades: Zelator, Theoricus, Practicus and Philosophus. The fifth chamber of the second level comprised the 5th, 6th and 7th Temple Degrees: Adeptus Junior, Adeptus Major and Adeptus Exemptus. The 6th chamber of the third level was composed of students having attained to the 8th and 9th Temple Degrees: Magister Templi and Veiled Prophet. The 7th chamber of the fourth level contained the Degrees of the Illuminati, the 10th, 11th and 12th Temple Degree students. The fifth and hidden level which cannot be depicted in the physical world is the abode of the Luminaire, or the “One Who Provides Light”.
Notice that I mentioned that the Egyptian temples were comprised of four ascending levels sorted into seven distinct initiation chambers containing twelve degrees. To summarize, the Temple Degrees symbolize the twelve basic types of energies comprising Creation, the seven chambers symbolize the seven fundamental worlds emanating from the Unfathomable Source and the four levels symbolize the four Kabbalistic worlds named previously.