In every system of antiquity there is a frequent reference to this number, showing that the veneration for it proceeded from some common cause. It is equally a sacred number in the Gentile as in the Christian religion. Doctor Oliver says that this can scarcely be ascribed to any event, except it be the institution of the Sabbath. Godfrey Higgins thinks that the peculiar circumstance, perhaps accidental, of the number of the days of the week coinciding exactly with the number of the planetary bodies probably procured for it its character of sanctity. The Pythagoreans called it a perfect number, because it was made up of three and four, the triangle and the square, which are the two perfect figures. They called it also a virgin number, and without mother, comparing it to Minerva, who was a motherless virgin, because it cannot by multiplication produce any number within ten, as twice two does four, and three times three does nine; nor can any two numbers, by their multiplication, produce it.
It is singular to observe the important part occupied by the number seven in all the ancient systems There were, for instance, seven ancient planets, seven Pleiades, and seven Hyades; seven altars burned continually before the god Mithras; the Arabians had seven holy temples; the Hindus supposed the world to be enclosed within the compass of seven peninsulas the Goths had seven deities, namely, the Sun, the Moon, Tuisco, Woden, Thor, Friga, and Seatur, from whose names are derived our days of the week; in the Persian Mysteries were seven spacious caverns, through which the aspirant had to pass; in the Gothic Mysteries, the candidate met with seven obstructions, which were called the Road of the Seven Stages; and, finally, sacrifices were always considered as most efficacious when the victims were seven in number.
Muell of the Jewish liturgy was governed by this number, and the etymology of the word shows its sacred import, for the radical meaning of the Hebrew word shabang, is, says Parkhurst, sufficiency or fulness. The Hebrew idea, therefore, like the Pythagorean, is that of perfection. To both the seven was a perfect number. Again: 7, means to swear, because oaths were confirmed either by seven witnesses, or by seven victims offered in sacrifice, as we read in the Covenant of Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis xxi, 28). Hence, there is a frequent recurrence to this number in the Scriptural history.
The Sabbath was the seventh day; Noah received seven days' notice of the commencement of the deluge, and was commanded to select clean beasts and fowls by sevens; seven persons accompanied him into the ark; the ark rested on Mount Ararat in the seventh month; the intervals between despatching the dove were, each time, seven days; the walls of Jericho were encompassed seven days by seven priests, bearing seven rams' horns; Solomon was seven years building the Temple, which was dedicated in the seventh month, and the festival lasted seven days; the candlestick in the tabernacle consisted of seven branches; and, finally, the tower of Babel was said to have been elevated seven stories before the dispersion.
Seven is a sacred number in Masonic symbolism. It has always been so. In the earliest instructions of the eighteenth century it was said that a Lodge required seven to make it perfect; but the only explanation to be found in any of those ceremonies of the sacredness of the number is the seven liberal arts and sciences, which, according to the old Legend of the Craft, were the foundation of Freemasonry. In modern ritualism the symbolism of seven has been transferred from the First to the Second Degree, and there it is made to refer only to the seven steps of the Winding Stairs; but the symbolic seven is to be found diffused in a hundred ways over the whole Masonic system.
The sun was naturally the great central planet of the ancient seven, and is ever represented as the central light of the seven in the branched candlestick. Of the days of the week one was known as Sol's day, or Sunday, and as the Sun was the son of Saturn, he was ushered in by his father Saturn, or Saturdays whom he superseded.
The Jews got their Sabbath from the Babylonians about 700 B.C. (Ancient Faiths, page 863) also see Philo Judoeus, Josephus, and Clement of Alexandria, while Sol's day dates from time immemorial, and was always a sacred one. In a phallic sense, when the sun has been in conjunction with the moon, he only leaves Luna after impregnation, and as Forlong, in his Rivers of Life, expresses it, "the young sun is that faint globe we so often see in the arms of the new moon," which is in gestation with the sun.
The occult meaning of the word Mi-mi perhaps is here revealed, as mentioned in First Kings (xviii, 97), being defined Firewater. Mi is the name of the sun, and as well signifies gold. It is designated in the musical scale, and is also the name of fire in Burmese, Siamese, and cognates tongues, as mentioned by Forlong in treating of the Early Faiths of Western Asia (volume ii, page 65). Next to the sun in beauty and splendor the moon leads all the hosts of heaven. And the Occidental, as well as the Oriental, nations were wrongly moved in their imaginations by the awful majesty, the solemn silence, and the grandeur of that brilliant body progressing nightly through the starry vault: from the distant plains of India to ancient Egypt, and even those far-off lands where the Incas ruled, altars were erected to the worship of the Moon. On every seventh day the moon assumed a new phase, which gave rise to festivals to Luna being correspondingly celebrated; the day so set apart was known as Moon-day, or the second day of the week, that following Sun-day. "The Moon, whose phases unasked and appointed their holy days" (Cicero, Tusculan Disputations, book i, chapter 28) . In the Hebrew, Syrian, Persian, Phenician, Chaldean, and Saxon, the word Seven signifies full or complete, and every seventh day after the first quarter the moon is complete in its change. In all countries the moon is best known under the beautiful figure of the unveiling Queen of Heaven. The relative values of Seven in the musical scale and in the ancient planetary formula are as follows:
Si ........ Moon .......... Silver Ut ....... Mercury ...... Quicksilver Re ...... Venus .......... Copper Mi ...... Sun ............. Gold Fa ...... Mars ........... Iron Sol ..... Jupiter ..........Tin La ...... Saturn ......... Lead
The eminent professor of music, Carl Bergstein, in connection herewith, furnishes the information that Cuido Aretinus, Monk, in the eleventh century, the great reformer of music, invented the staff, several keys, and the names at, re, mi, pa, sol, la, si; they being taken from a prayer to Saint John to protect the voice, running thus:
Ut queant laxis ..... Resonare fibris Mira gestorum ..... Pamuli tuorum Solve polluti ........ Labii reatum, ............................. Sancte Johannes
The literal translation of which vould be rendered: For that (or to enable) With expanded breast Shy servants are able to sing the praise of Thy Deeds, forgive the pollute lips the sins uttered.
The syllable at has since been changed for the more satisfactory do.
In the vear 1562 there was printed at Leipzic a work entitled Heptalogium Virgilii Salsburgensis, in honor of the number Seven.
It consists of seven parts each embracing seven divisions. In 1624 appeared in London a curious work on the subject of numbers, bearing the following title: The Secret of Numbers according to Theological, Arithmetical, geometrical, and Harmonical Computation; drawn for the better part, out of those Ancients, as well as Neoteriques. Pleasing to read, profitable to understand, opening themselves to the capacities of both learned and unlearned; being no other than a key to lead men to any doctrinal knowledge whatsoever. In the ninth chapter the author has given many notable opinions from learned men, to prove the excellency of the number Seven. "First, it neither begets nor is begotten, according to the saying of Philo. Some numbers, indeed, within the compass of ten, beget, but are not begotten; and that is the unarie. Others are begotten, but beget not, as the octonarie. Only the septenaries have a prerogative above them all, they neither beget nor are they begotten. This is its first divinity or perfection. Secondly, this is a harmonical number, and the well and fountain of that fair and lovely Sigamma, because it includeth within itself all manner of harmony.
Thirdly, it is a theological number, consisting of perfection. Fourthly, because of its compositure; for it is compounded of the first two perfect members equal and unequal, three and four; for the number trio, consisting of repeated unity, which is no number, is not perfect. Now every one of these being excellent of themselves, as hath been demonstrated, how can this number be but far more excellent, consisting of them all, and participating, as it were, of all their excellent virtues?"
Hippocrates says that the septenary member, by its occult virtue, tends to the accomplishment of all things, is the dispenser of life and fountain of all its changes; and, like Shakespeare, he divides the life of man into seven ages. In seven months a child may be born and live, and not before. Anciently a child was not named before seven days, not being accounted fully to have life before that periodical day. The teeth spring out in the seventh month, and are renewed in the seventh year, when infancy is changed into childhood. At thrice seven years the faculties are developed, manhood commences, and we become legally competent to all civil acts; at four times seven man is in full possession of his strength; at five times seven he is fit for the business of the world; at six times seven he becomes grave and wise, or never; at seven times seven he is in his apogee, and from that time he decays; at eight times seven he is in his first elimaeterie; at nine times seven, or sixty-three, he is in his grand climacteric, or years of danger; and ten times seven, or threescore years and ten, has, by the Royal Prophet, been pronounced the natural period of human life.
Shakespeare's seven ages are lines in the play of As You Like It (act ii, scene 7) as follows:
All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant Mervling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last seene of all That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
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