The Human Truth Foundation

The Mystical Number 7

By Vexen Crabtree 2013

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#paganism #religion #superstition

The number 7 is one of the most magical and holy numbers, and has been reverred in ancient pagan religions throughout the world. It recurs in religious texts as a special number, but why? Firstly, it has some very mundane uses and although it is a prime number and not particularly useful as a factor, the Babylonians, who otherwise adored factorable numbers, divided weeks into 7 days. This was because it was in simplistic accordance with time intervals between phases of the moon1. As the calendar (and cyclic events) has always been an essential part of organized religion, this division into 7s was something that religious authors felt the need to explain in cosmic and supernatural terms and such lunar symbology formed a key part of pagan lore. The historian Fara notes that "it's only a short step from being a special number to becoming a magical one"2 and such a simple division gave the number 7 astro-theological significance, noted far and wide as a religious number by those who like to give enhanced meaning to the vagaries of the natural world.


1. The Number 7 in Religion, Mythology and Freemasonry

#christianity #iran #islam #japan #judaism

The number 7 has been mythologized for a very long time. Modern religions such as Christianity and Islam grew out of Mesopotamia, and some of that region's most ancient archaeological evidence shows us that the number 7 already had cosmic significance. Their very creation story is alluded to as the Seven Tablets of Creation3.

Seven has always been a very special number. Sanskrit's most ancient holy book, the Rig Vega, describes seven stars, seven concentric continents, and seven streams of soma, the drink of the gods. According to the Jewish and Christian Old Testament, the world was created in seven days and Noah's dove returned seven days after the Flood. Similarly, the Egyptians mapped seven paths to heaven, Allah created a seven-layered Islamic heaven and earth, and the newborn Buddha took seven strides. [...] For numerologists, seven signifies creation, because it is the sum of the spiritual three and the material four; for alchemists, there are clear parallels between the seven steps leading up to King Solomon's temple and the seven successive stages of chemical and spiritual purification. Iranian cats have seven lives, seven deities bring good luck in Japan, and a traditional Jewish cure for fever entailed taking seven prickles from seven palm trees and seven nails from seven doors.

"Science: A Four Thousand Year History" by Patricia Fara (2009)2

And according to notes on Freemasonry:

This mystical ladder, which in Masonry is referred to 'the theological ladder, which Jacob in his vision saw, reaching from earth to heaven,' was widely dispersed among the religions of antiquity, where it was always supposed to consist of seven rounds or steps. For instance, in the Mysteries of Mithras, in Persia, where there were seven stages or degrees of initiation, there was erected in the temples, or rather caves,--for it was in them that the initiation was conducted,--a high ladder, of seven steps or gates...

... In the Mysteries of Brahma we find the same reference to the ladder of seven steps; but here the names were different...

... seven steps were emblematical of the seven worlds which constituted the Indian universe. The lowest was the Earth; the second, the World of Reexistence; the third, Heaven; the fourth, the Middle World, or intermediate region between the lower and upper worlds; the fifth, the World of Births, in which souls are again born; the sixth, the Mansion of the Blessed; and the seventh, or topmost round, the Sphere of Truth, the abode of Brahma, he himself being but a symbol of the sun.

"The Symbolism of Freemasonry" by Albert G. Mackey (1869)4

And a few more notes from the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance:

The Greek Pythagoreans believed that the number seven pointed symbolically to the union of the Deity with the universe. This association was picked up by the Christian church, especially during the Middle Ages. Seven was regarded as having sacred power, as in the seven cardinal virtues, seven deadly sins, seven sacraments, [...], etc. Thus it was held that there must logically be exactly seven planets.

OCRT5

It is clear that the number 7 is just one of those numbers that flips the right switches in the minds of the superstitious, amongst those who enjoy magical and mystical things, and finally, stimulates the authors of our religious books to entangle it in their stories. All because it is one of the prime units of our calendars, a division of the period of the (spooky, female) moon.

2. In the Bible (Judaism and Christianity)

There are so many stories which feature that importance of the number 7 that it is not sensible to list them all. Many of them are minor coincidences, for example, Noah released a Dove to see if it could find land after God drowned the entire Earth, but it came back. He waited seven days before trying again (Genesis 8:8-11). No other multiples-of-seven surround this Dove, hence, it is probably pointless to draw any mystical inference from this (unless it has something to do with nature's cycle of life and plant growth following a deluge - but what?). Hopefully some of the following (such as sneezing 7 times) can be seen to be clearly related to superstitions and mythology:

The number 7 is used to represent good things and bad things in the Bible, holy things and evil things, such as the Beast in Revelations and the number of heads of the three beats, and the number of heads of the monstrous Hydra. There are also, of course, the Seven Deadly Sins.

One author puts it like this:

Seven was, among the Hebrews, their perfect number; and hence we see it continually recurring in all their sacred rites. [... some stuff already mentioned above]. Noah received seven days' notice of the commencement of the deluge, and seven persons accompanied him into the ark, which rested on Mount Ararat on the seventh month; Solomon was seven years in building the temple: and there are hundreds of other instances of the prominence of this talismanic number.

"The Symbolism of Freemasonry" by Albert G. Mackey (1869)4

3. In the Qur'an (Islam)

#islam

4. Theosophy - The 7 Root Races, Each With 7 Sub Races

#india #spiritualism #theosophy #USA

Theosophy
Links: Pages on Theosophy, Other Religions
God(s)
AdherentTheosophist
AdherentsTheosophists
Texts
AfterlifeYes
Founding
HeritageSpiritualism and Westernized Indian spirituality
Area of OriginUSA
FounderBy Madame Blavatsky in 1875
Very Brief Description
Mired in fraud arrests and exposés, the Spiritualism scene had soured, so Madame Blavatsky reinvented her routine as a new religion, using an Indian theme.
More about Theosophy.

The number 7 is also a mystical and important number for the Theosophists, to the extent that aspects of the theology/philosophy are infused with it to a nonsensical degree:

Theosophists have always taken Atlantis for granted, and to the myth have added a second one - the myth of Lemuria. This name was originally proposed by a nineteenth-century zoologist for a land mass he thought must have existed in the Indian Ocean, and which would account for the geographical distribution of the lemur. Madame Blavatsky, the high priestess of theosophy, adopted the name and wrote in some detail about the 'Third Root Race' that she believed flourished on the island.

According to Blavatsky, five root races have so far appeared on the planet, with two more yet to come. Each root race has seven 'sub-races,' and each sub-race has seven 'branch races.' (Seven is a mystical number for theosophists.) The first root race, which lived somewhere around the North Pole, was a race of 'fire mist' people - ethereal and invisible. The Second Root Race inhabited northern Asia. They had astral bodies on the borderline of visibility. At first, they propagated by a kind of fission, but eventually this evolved into sexual reproduction after passing through a stage in which both sexes were united in each individual. The Third Root Race lived on Lemuria. They were ape-like giants with corporeal bodies that slowly developed into forms much like modern man. Lemuria was submerged in a great convulsion, but not before a sub-race had migrated to Atlantis to begin the Fourth Root Race.

The Fifth Root Race, the Aryan, sprang from the fifth sub-race of the Atlanteans. At the present time, according to theosophists, the Sixth Root Race is slowly emerging from the sixth sub-race of Aryans. This is happening in Southern California where, in Annie Besant's words, the 'climate approaches most nearly to our ideal of Paradise.' [...] After the Seventh Root Race (which will develop from the seventh sub-race of the sixth root race) has risen and fallen, the earth cycle will have ended and a new one will start on the planet Mercury.

"Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science" by Martin Gardner (1957)6

What we do know is that the evolution of life has not gone through any series of species related in any way by the number seven, and, that of course, it never will. Every concept of Theosophy's idea of Root and Sub races is wrong, but, it still represents yet another attempt to explain reality in terms of stories that encompass the number seven. All such stories turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, the number may be loved by many humans but it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe.

5. Conclusion

#christianity #islam

All stories that give cosmic and universal significance to the number 7 turn out to be terrible descriptions of truth, because simply, although the number may be loved by many humans, it is not a particularly important number in the physics of the Universe. It all started with our Human attempts to measure time; the Babylonians (and others) divided the phases of the moon into 4 parts, each of 7 days. Although not perfectly accurate, it is a useful division and gave us our week. As all religious and organized ritual systems come to be based on natural events and natural cycles (especially those stemming from agricultural societies), the number 7 became a religious and magical number. As such, those who wrote down our myths and religious beliefs from the very beginnings of our recorded history, have attempted to describe the world according to their own beliefs which have included a prominent number 7. Christianity, Islam and other world religions have used it; occult systems and magical societies have embraced it, and endless superstitions and mythologies give importance to the number 7. It is used by many as a godly and heavenly number, but also in the Christian Bible, Satan is surrounded by the symbolism of the number 7 in the Book of Revelation. All in all, be highly suspicious and skeptical when you see any story that claims to be true and which imbues the number 7 with special significance.

Current edition: 2013 Aug 20
Last Modified: 2015 May 03
http://www.humanreligions.info/seven.html
Parent page: Human Religions

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#christianity #india #iran #islam #japan #judaism #paganism #religion #spiritualism #superstition #theosophy #USA

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Koran. Penguin Classics edition. Originally published 1956. Current version published by Penguin Group Ltd, London, UK. Translation by N. J. Dawood. Quotes taken from 1999 edition.

The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. Book Review.

Budge, E. A. Wallis. (1857-1934)
(1921) The Babylonian Legends of the Creation.

Fara, Patricia
(2009) Science: A Four Thousand Year History. Hardback book. Published by Oxford University Press. Fara has a PhD in History of Science from London University.

Gardner, Martin. Died 2010 May 22 aged 95.
(1957) Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science. Paperback book. Originally published 1952 by G. P. Putnam's Sons as "In the Name of Science". Current version published by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, USA.

Mackey, Albert G.
(1869) The Symbolism of Freemasonry. E-book. Amazon Kindle digital edition.

Footnotes

  1. Fara (2009) p7.^
  2. Fara (2009) p3.^^
  3. Budge (1921) digital location 691-95. There are in the British Museum several fragments of Neo-Babylonian copies of the Seven Tablets of Creation. Added to this page on 2015 May 03.^
  4. Mackey (1869) Kindle loc 983-1005.^^
  5. Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance page religioustolerance.org/past_mor4.htm. Year of publication not stated, but Last Modified 2013 Oct 08. Accessed 2013 Dec 14.^
  6. Gardner (1957) p168.^

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