h Phoenix Qi: The Magical, Mystical Number 7 Seven

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Magical, Mystical Number 7 Seven

Why is the number seven so special?

These things are never as simple as they look, and it is unlikely that there is one reason above all others that makes seven a particularly potent number and symbol. It is often a series of things that convince people that something holds power just as today we need more than a coincidence or two to believe in the power of things like prayer, the Law of Attraction, or numerology.

I believe there are four major reasons that, cumulatively, made Seven stand out as a special, mystical and magical number to ancient peoples.

First are the stars, specifically the heavenly "wandering"* bodies visible to the naked eye, the planets Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They were pretty special since all the other visible twinkling lights moved through a standard and predictable course.

* The word "planet" is derived from the Greek planetai which means "wandering."

Second is another astronomical explanation: there are seven stars in the Big Dipper portion of the constellation of Ursa Major. The Dipper has been an important part of cosmologies from China to Mexico because it is always in the night sky, and the direction in which the handle points is a seasonal marker. This is most noticeable on the solstices and equinoxes: In the evening of the day of the Summer Solstice, the handle points toward the southern horizon; on the Autumnal Equinox, it points toward the western horizon; on the Winter Solstice, it points toward the north, and on the Spring Equinox, the handle of the Big Dipper points toward the eastern horizon.

Third, seven is the only one of the first 10 digits (1 through 10) that does not divide evenly into the 360 degrees of a circle! Since circles can represent both heavenly and earthly powers and influences, not to mention being symbols of The Eternal, imagine how seven was considered an Otherworldly number with Otherworldly symbolism since it was so unique that it set itself above inclusion in the symbol of wholeness, the circle.

Fourth, the Ancient Greeks considered seven to be a potent number due to the chanting of the seven vowels of their alphabet as magical sounds. There are several spells and incantations revealed in The Greek Magical Papyri In Translation: Including the Demotic Spells edited by Hans Dieter Betz that include the chanting of A, E, E with a line on top, I, O, U (written Y), and O in various orders for various reasons. (Alpha, Epsilon, Eta, Iota, Omicron, Upsilon, and Omega.) It is possible that chanting the vowels in a particular pattern or order caused a shift in consciousness much like the chanting of "Om." In one spell which seeks the attention of the god, the vowels and sounds each also corresponded to a direction; the priest was to chant or sing each sound while pointing his palms into the directions of east, west, north, south, up (sky/heaven), down (earth), and the final vowel was sung while holding one's hands over one's heart for Center.

Here is an interesting and fun list of Special 7 stuff from Wikipedia:

In science

  • The number of spots on a common ladybug.
  • With very few exceptions, all mammals' necks have seven bones.


In the classical world

In classical antiquity:

In religion

  • In Judaism:
    • A highly symbolic number in the Torah, alluding to the infusion of spirituality and Godliness into the Creation. For example:

2. God rested on and sanctified the seventh day (Shabbat).

3. A seven-day purification period is required for one who has become tamei to become tahor.

4. The Shemittah (Sabbatical) year arrives every seventh year.

5. The Jubilee (Yovel) year comes after 7 times 7 years.

  • In Eternalism:
    • The number of deities
    • The years Godzimir was exiled to Turin, in Savoy
    • 1/7 of each of the Deities powers was taken to create the Eternal
    • There are seven verses in each of the Septrains of the Prognostications of Godzimir and Invomandus
    • Seven universe in each phase toward Edication
  • Others:
    • The number of Archangels according to some systems.
    • The minor symbol number of yang from the Taoist yin-yang.
    • The number of palms in an Egyptian Sacred Cubit.
    • The number of ranks in Mithraism.
    • The number seven is of particular significance within Cherokee cosmology.
    • In Buddhism, Buddha walked 7 steps at his birth.

In mythology

  • In Khasi mythology, the seven divine women who were left behind on earth and became the ancestresses of all humankind.
  • The number of gateways traversed by Inanna during her descent into the underworld.
  • The number of sages in Hindu mythology; their wives are the goddesses referred to as the "Seven Mothers."
  • In Guaraní mythology, the number of prominent legendary monsters.
  • Seven Lucky Gods exist in Japanese mythology.
  • In British Folk lore, every 7 years the Farie Queen pays a tithe to Hell (or possably Hel) in the tale of Tam Lin.

In other fields

· In Galician folklore, a seventh son will be a werewolf. In other folklores, after six daughters, the seventh child is to be a son and a werewolf. In other European folklores, the Seventh son of a seventh son will be a child with special powers of healing and clairvoyant seeing.

· Seven candles are lit in the kinara during the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, which is a seven-day holiday.

· The Kulin people of Australia living near the Dandenong Ranges traditionally have seven seasons. Some of the Native Americans of Montana also have seven seasons: chinook season, muddy spring, green summer, gold summer (or dry summer), 'Indian' Summer, late fall, and cold winter.

Seven is also:


English Woman In Eire said...

I have found all your information very interesting and I will read it some more, I found you as I have just created a stone circle and used seven for the number of stones, but It occurred to me their may be some significance to the number seven so i deceided to research it tonight, amazing things computers!! thank you for all your information

Phoenix said...

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I find this sort of thing fascinating, too!

I just remembered two other seven's: the seven notes of the musical scale, and the seven circles in the classical Greek labyrinth.

Your experience with the sunset and your stone circle was certainly a gift! Good luck with your project.

Anonymous said...

Hmm! The die thing I like especially. It fits well with the whole thing that seven is considered to represent perfection and six imperfection in certain Christian symbologies; much evil (storms, earthquakes, famines) certainly does come of processes we now call chance, a roll of the proverbial and likely six-sided die.

On one die, alone, six is the highest you can achieve. Alone, imperfection, due to chance, is the highest outcome possible. But when two dies come together, two imperfect random event generators working together as one, the likeliest of outcomes turns out to be seven, the number of perfection after all!

I have my own system of thought about number symbolism. The Fibonacci sequence, which often appears in natural systems, consists of the sum of the two numbers before each new term. (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc.) In art, ratios of its numbers often are used to improve the visual appeal of its work. (5 to 8 is considered an especially pleasing ratio.) Because of the sequence's power in earthly aestheticism and its frequent appearance in nature, the whole sequence in my system represents the world and worldly values. The first whole number that cannot be expressed as a product of the world, as a product of Fibonacci numbers, is none other than the number seven. This is why I've come to think of it as a number representing spiritual things. The second such number is 11. Both are prime. The third such number is 14, followed by 17 and 19.

Other Fibonacci-related symbolism:

The number thirteen, often the subject of superstition, is the seventh number of the Fibonacci sequence; its status as seventh makes it serve to represent a kind of perfection, yet it is a "perfection" only within the system of the world and of worldliness, the antithesis of actual spiritualism (hence, the superstition of bad luck from the number 13).

Six, as mentioned before, is used to represent spiritual deficiency, because it is one less than seven; this means that the number 8, the sixth Fibonacci number, holds a position of spiritual deficiency in the system of this world. That which is deficient in worldliness has more room for spiritual things and so the deficient 8 therefore naturally lies as the worldly number closest to the non-worldly spiritualism of 7.

5 is interesting because it is self-referencing and self-coherent; 5 is the fifth number of the Fibonacci sequence, so its self-reference establishes it as the point of origin that people are born into, and from which we ought to attempt to progress on our spiritual path.

By interleaving along the Fibonacci sequence, you can make lesser relationships with the numbers. For example, the 8 of the worldly sequence is 21, one after two, representing one choice after two options of good and evil. Recognizing the distinction between right and wrong action is typically considered of paramount importance to systems of moral thinking, a precursor that moves in the direction of the greatest spiritual heights attainable through the worldly system.

Not to disappoint, but I don't believe that there is pretty much any truth to what I just wrote. I'm too mainstream for such things (and besides, the lesser correlation I just named only works in the base ten system number system; it wouldn't translate into hexadecimal or Mayan base-20, for example.)

But regardless, the main part of my number symbology does strike me in some odd way as aesthetically pleasing, certainly enough to share. Hope you enjoyed!