19

Similar question

Why is 12 such a holy number?


7 is one of the most important number in history. It would be hard to ignore :

  • The seven days of the week
  • The seven deadly sins
  • The lucky 7
  • The seven wise men of Greece

Why is 7 such an important number? What are the other societies it had an important place in?

  • The lunar cycle is 29.53 days . Maybe that is how it started, as six was too small and eight too large.,Each of the 4 lunar phases lasts approximately 7 days (~7.4 days), – anna v May 12 '15 at 19:17
  • Excelllent point, @Annav. I need to research if there is any proof of that! – Docteur May 12 '15 at 23:02
  • Add to that that mature women needed to count the days till their next period ( or know they are pregnant). If they had a system of drawing lines somewhere to count the days the correlation with ~7 would appear if they noted the moon phases too.. – anna v May 13 '15 at 4:44
  • You make very good points. I still need time to read to get sources dealing with that, but if you have some please share @annav – Docteur May 13 '15 at 4:46
  • I must have read such but very long ago so cannot give references. more: the average interval from period to period for women is four weeks, which means the same phase of the moon, so they would be watching the phases. – anna v May 13 '15 at 4:49
13

The number 7, symbol of perfection

In Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, the numer seven was considered a symbol of perfection and efficiency. In many myths, the number 7 is used for both good and bad events.

Then Ra repented. His fierce anger passed away, and he sought to save the remnant of mankind. He sent messengers, who ran swifter than the storm wind, unto Elephantine, so that they might obtain speedily many plants of virtue. These they brought back, and they were well ground and steeped with barley in vessels filled with the blood of mankind. So was beer made and seven thousand jars were filled with it.


In the seventh hour-division sits Osiris, divine judge of the dead.

You can find these texts and more here. Wikipedia lists a lot of occurences of the number 7.

In judeo-christian myths

This idea of perfection and completeness is found in judeo-christian beliefs as well :

Roy Alan Anderson in Unfolding the Revelationi notices that to the Hebrew: 6 represented unrest, 7 perfection and 8 victory. When the number is repeated then it signifies an eternal quality. For example 666 would signify eternal unrest.

Note that the repetition is 3 times - three being the number of holiness.

The number 7 is extremely frequent in Christianity - the Book Of Revelations mentions 7 churches, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, 7 seals and 7 spirits. This tends to confirm that 7 is used to make a complete set.

In Greece and the origin of the 7 in Christianity

While the reason about the origin of the number 7 in Egypt is hard to know, there are sources trying to explain where the 7 came to mean "perfection" in christian myths.

The Greeks considered 6 to be a perfect number, because of its divisibility. A sixth is one, or unity. A third is two, a half is 3, etc. The foot is also a sixth of the human size, so 6 represented the human. Finally, it is the sum of its divisers. More here.

Pope Gregory I found similar properties in the number 7, aswell as considering it representing eternity according to Dialectics and Humanism, vol. VII, no. 2. One of the reasons given for his fascination with the number is its presence in Antique history : the Seven Wonders, the seven stages of man, the seven planets...

The number Seven always represented a complete set.

This changed a lot - While Saint Augustine wrote that the world had been created in 6 days, this changed to 7 in the Middle Ages.

The reason behind the Seven Sages of Greece seems thus not to be linked to mythology or religion.

  • But 6 really is a perfect number en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_number - a definition that was known at least since Euklid 300 BC - and 7 isn't. Can you elaborate on Pope Gregory's arguments for considering 7 "perfect"? – Sumyrda - Reinstate Monica May 10 '15 at 19:58
  • @Sumyrda I will try to elaborate on this point. Indeed, 6 is a perfect number while 7 is mathematically not. – Docteur May 10 '15 at 23:04
  • All numbers up to 14 were considered magical at some point, and many numbers after that, too. The answer (and the question) is backwards: seven was magical, and then it was assigned to things like the Sabbath day or hour divisions. In Babylon, it was 6 and 12, in China and India, it's 8, etc. – C. M. Weimer Nov 9 '15 at 14:59
  • Triple 6 is probably not a valid interpretation of the 666 in revelation, as the original was written in Greek so the visual of "three sixes" would not be there. It would be a numerical value totalling six hundred sixty six. – Ben Mordecai Nov 23 '15 at 2:06
3

It is said that that there are 7 chakaras in Human body. Please search "7 chakras meditation" on Google Images. Which are at times said to be related to the 7 colors of rainbow, Which are also in the same sequence, VIBGYOR. From Head to toe. Having activated all the 7 chakras in a human body is a person which complete knowledge of the spirituality, about the Jiv,atma, Janardana, and relation of jiv -atma-janardana. These chakras can be activated by particular humming or chating sound of typical letters. As mythology and Hindiuism always have expressed phsycological conserns about human mind, I believe that 7 have has to be related to these chakras.

  • For references please use / read Shrimad Bhagwad Gita as it is - by isckon, in Chapter 15 and combination of Tukaram-Gatha or Dyaneshwari- Translation of Gita by Sant Dyaneshwar. – Kaushal B Nov 10 '15 at 6:20
  • In shrimad Bhagwatam there comes a story, related to Gokarana and Dhundukari, it is also given in that story that there 7 Holes in upper body upper is befpre the waist, that is 2 ears, 2 nostrils, 2 eyes, 1mouth from where if the atma leaves body then it is said yo very good and it is also said that if these holes are used by the soul to exist the body that means the soul goes to heaven and there are 2 more hole in the lower body that is our body waste disposal holes and if the soul exits the body from those two then it is said to be going to hell. – Kaushal B Nov 11 '15 at 7:29
  • 1
    What you have done in this answer is you've described a specific instance where the number seven is used in "mythology." What this answer needs to do, in order to actually answer the question, is explain why the number seven shows up in places where a belief in "7 chakaras" is not prevalent. – user62 Nov 11 '15 at 16:56
  • @Hamlet : I was describing importance of 7 I guess, Last part of question What are the other societies it had an important place in? This is believed by people who follow yoga or yog-marg as described by Bhagwat-gita for enlightenment. – Kaushal B Nov 11 '15 at 17:07
1

One example of sevenness is that there are seven "planets" normally visible to the naked eye. Since ancient times, this has been expressed in the length of the week: seven days.

By "planet", I mean a celestial object that moves against the background of the fixed stars. So the list includes both the Sun and the Moon but not Uranus, which is visible but only on very dark nights by those with keen eyesight.

These "planets", listed in Chaldean order, namely in order of how fast they move against the fixed stars, from slowest to fastest, are

  • Saturn
  • Jupiter
  • Mars
  • the Sun
  • Venus
  • Mercury
  • the Moon

Given a day of 24 hours, start by labelling the first hour of the week after Saturn, the second after Jupiter, and so on, returning to Saturn after the Moon. Each day is said to be governed by the planet after which its first hour is named after (hours numbered 1, 25, 49, etc.).

In Latin:

  • dies Solis (day of the Sun, Sunday)
  • dies Lunae (day of the Moon, Monday)
  • dies Martis (day of Mars, Tuesday)
  • dies Mercurii (day of Mercury, Wednesday)
  • dies Iovis (day of Jupiter, Thursday)
  • dies Veneris (day of Venus, Friday)
  • dies Saturni (day of Saturn, Saturday)

This correspondence is still seen in the names of the days in French, except for Sunday (dimanche):

  • samedi (Saturday, Saturn)
  • lundi (Monday, Moon)
  • mardi (Tuesday, Mars)
  • mercredi (Wednesday, Mercury)
  • jeudi (Thursday, Jupiter)
  • vendredi (Friday, Venus)
  • Yeah, but this is astronomy. Not exactly mythology. – bleh May 29 '16 at 21:27
  • True, you can look at it like that. I was trying to say something about the astronomical roots of its importance in ancient cultures, including in mythology. Each of the seven planets corresponds with a Greek god and a Roman god, for instance. (The naming of 2060 Chiron, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto came much later.) – user1618 May 31 '16 at 0:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.