Symbolic Seven: Associations with the Number Seven

Written by avenefica on May 30th, 2008

symbolic seven

Symbolic Seven is found throughout history and cultures.  To wit, here are a few symbolic associations with number seven to help us further grasp the symbolic meaning of seven:

In astronomy’s infancy there were initially seven planets identified:

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

In ancient Sumaria each of these planets were identified with seven gods which shared the same name:

  • Sun = Shamash (the law giver)
  • Moon = Nanna (lord of destiny)
  • Venus = Ishtar (the pristine)
  • Mercury =  Nabou (the jumper)
  • Mars = Nergal (the smoulderer)
  • Jupiter = Marduk (the one who glows)
  • Saturn = Ninurta (the constant)

With each of these “planets” and gods, correlate seven days of the week (and each of these days are symbolic as you will see on my post here).

Seven musical notes and seven prismatic colors:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet

Seven primary chakras (composing the chakra spine):

  • Muladhara
  • Swadhisthana
  • Manipura
  • Anahata
  • Vishudha
  • Ajna
  • Sahasrara

In Christianity the Bible is rife with symbolic sevens – too many to mention, but here are a few:

  • Seven pairs of clean animals & birds retained in the ark parable
  • In the same parable seven marks the passage of time
  • Seven virtues
  • Seven sins
  • Seven sacraments
  • Seven joys
  • Seven sorrows of the Virgin
  • Seven seals
  • God’s blessing on the seventh day 

In Judaism:

  • Seven branches of the Menorah
  • Seven heavens
  • Seven feast, festivals and purifications
  • Seven pillars of wisdom
  • New year begins the seventh month
  • Sabbath occurs every seventh year

In Buddhism:

  • Seven heavens
  • Seven emblems of Buddha

In Hinduism:

  • Seven symbolic rays of the sun
  • Seven symbolic faces in the world mountain

In Islam:

  • Seven heavens
  • Seven hells
  • seven earths
  • seven seas
  • seven doorways to paradise
  • seven ambulations around Ka’aba at pilgrimage

In ancient Egypt:

  • Seven gods of light
  • Seven gods of darkness

These are just a scant few references to symbolic seven. 

What other symbolic sevens can you contribute to this post?

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10 Comments so far ↓

  1. donna says:

    Boy, this is a timely post for me. Tarot.com which I frequent now and again just introduced a new reading called a Tarology report. It’s sort of a combination of your card, your number, your planet, etc. My prime number was 7, and I’ve spent the last day wondering what that meant, but not having time to do research. Then, blammo, there you are with this wonderful and synchronistic post.

    Gosh, I just love when this happens!

    D~

  2. dovelove says:

    Synchronicity for me too — I’ve been looking at “Seven” jeans on eBay this morning, lol It fascinates me how much people will pay for these (even the prices on eBay). I saw how one pair had 7 on each pocket, making “77,” which reminded me of a, um, pivotal year for me ;)

    And then, quite a while after that year, 7′s cropped up in my life again with my first apartment, almost all 7′s — starting with 777, and ending with Apt. #7 :)

    I googled the meaning of 77 and this site shows some interesting things…

    http://www.numberquest.com/knowledge_number_meaning_77.php

    Among other things, it says the number 77 is symbolic of “mystical powers in action, master mystic, purity in mind, body and spirit, turning away from the masses and toward spirit, electricity of awakening” …

    That “turning away” and “awakening” thing is definitely what was beginning to happen to me in Apt #7 :) My time in that apartment concluded exactly 12 days before 911, when I moved to a transitional (wonderful, peaceful) place to ultimately make the first big physical move of my life, 2200 miles of way (Pacific NW). A major leap for me in multiple ways — a profound growth and healing experience. It intrigued me that the two key healers that I was drawn/guided to while there had both moved there just months before me — both from New York (I moved there May 2002). I was there almost exactly two years to the day.

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling :) Interesting sync with the Seven jeans ;)

    Peace,
    Dove

  3. avenefica says:

    Hi Donna & Dove,
    Thanks to you both for the links…excellent sites.
    Namaste,
    A.

  4. Liara Covert says:

    I asked a friend why “7″ was her favorite number. She replied, “well, its my birthdate, but I really have no concrete explanation.” This view reminds us how we need not always explain why we sense good vibes with particular numbers.

    Some people are quick to make references to movies like “Seven Years in Tibet (1997)” or “Seven” (the 1995 suspense about ritualistic murders based on perceptions of 7 deadly sins). Films point out the dualistic nature of cultural understandings of the number. Its associated with good (hope) and evil. We each have a choice about creating or defining the vision that makes the most sense to us. It can be a challenge to separate ourselves from other people and their reasons. We are the only master of our own mind.

  5. avenefica says:

    Hi Liara,
    Good point. Thanks for your observation.
    Namaste,
    A.

  6. Mark Alford says:

    I’m up for your challenge. Don’t forget the immortal Magnificent Seven (my dad’s favorite movie). From a mythological point of view, you have the Japanese seven gods of good fortune, the Egyptian cow-headed goddess Hathor, which can be seven cows at once, and of course, the seventh daughter in any family is always cursed with lycanthropy. In my search for sevens, I found Uncegila, a Native American dragon that could only be killed by shooting an arrow in the seventh spot on her head. I had never heard about that one, so I researched it and wrote about it on my blog as well (http://bubosblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/uncegila.html)!

  7. donna says:

    I didn’t know that Hathor could be seen as seven cows at once! That is significant to me …

  8. Mark Alford says:

    I didn’t either until I started researching sevens. There are the seven Hathors mentioned in the the Book of the Dead and I think in the tomb of Nefertari. Each cow’s role is to figure out the fate of a newborn. This I found a couple of places. GodChecker.com was the only place I saw (I didn’t go overboard researching that) that has it as being all at the same time.

  9. dovelove says:

    Seven days of the week, seven “openings” in the head…

    Ah, I just found a long list — there are a lot of them with the body.

    ===============================

    7 Parts to the embryo – Amnion, Chorionic Villi, Spinal Cord, Heart, Brain, Umbilical Cord, Yolk Sac.

    7 Parts of the body – Head, Thorax, Abdomen, Two Arms, Two Legs.

    7 Parts of the human head – two nostrils, two ears, two eyes and the mouth.

    7 Main organs – Brain, Heart, Genitals, Lungs, Liver, Kidney, Stomach.

    7 Glands – Pituitary, Pineal, Thyroid, Thymus, Pancreas, Sex, Adrenals.

    7 Divisions to the brain – Cerebrum, Cerebellum, Pons Varolii, Medulla Oblongatta, Corpus Callosum, Spinal Cord, Meninges.

    7 Parts to the inner ear – Vestibule, Auditory Canal, Tympanic Membrane, Ossicles, Semi-circular Canal, Cochlea, Membranous Labyrinth.

    7 Parts to the retina – Cornea, Aqueous Humor, Lens, Vitreous Humor, Retina, Sclera, Iris.

    7 Cavaties to the heart – Right and Left Ventrical, Right and Left Atrium, Tricuspid Valve, Mitral Valve, Septum.

    7 layers of the skin – Stratum Corneum, Stratum Lucidum, Stratum Granulosum, Prickle Cell Layer, Basal Cell Layer, Corium, Hair Follicle.

    7 Bodily functions – Respiration, Circulation, Assimilation, Excretion, Reproduction, Sensation, Reaction.

    Source: http://www.endlesssearch.co.uk/philo_lawof7.htm

    ======================

    This list above says that 7 is used 77 times in the Old Testament.

    I think most people view the number 7 as a “lucky” number.

    When I see 7 in the Tarot and/or around me, I often consider that it’s about choices. When I first started doing “intuitive” readings for others (before discovering the Tarot), I would often hear during the reading, “It’s your choice.”

    Peace,
    Dove

  10. avenefica says:

    Wow Dove….great resources. thanks!