Today’s Word of the Day at dictionary.com is Septenary. If you are familiar with Latin roots you may deduce that this word is linked to the number 7, and you would be correct. In fact, septenary is an adjective that means all things seven: relating to the number seven or forming a group of seven; a period of seven years; the number 7. Here is Dictionary.com’s bit on its etymology:
Apparently, we humans love this optimus prime number (no, I’m not talking about the Transformer). We love seven so much that we have applied it over the centuries in every manner possible, from mathematics to religion to modern culture. Even the universe has accommodated our obsession!
So, let’s get to it. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If I attempted that it would be exhausting. I’ll start with numerology…because, I’m thinking out loud here, I just might be a “7”, which is okay with me. We can’t all be 10’s… 😉
The number 7 is the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital “T”). The 7 doesn’t take anything at face value — it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions.
Being the seeker that I am, here we go…there are:
- seven colors in the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)
- seven wonders of the ancient world (Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria)
- seven classical planets or luminaries (which means visible to the naked eye from earth: Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn)
- in Old Testament/Judaism: seven days to create the world, seven vengeances suffered by Cain for killing his brother, Seven pairs of clean animals – the number Noah was commanded to load into the ark (I have a question though…how did we get pigs over unicorns?), seven blessings (at weddings), seven year cycles around the Year of Jubilee, seven days to the feast of Passover, the Menorah – a seven-branched candelabrum, seven candles or orifices of the face (think about it…2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, and the mouth), seven things that are detestable to the Lord according to Proverbs 6:16-19: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community…hmmm, thinking out loud here…on second thought, let’s move on…
- in New Testament Christianity: seven deadly sins, seven virtues, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven sacraments, seven sorrows, seven joys, seven heavens, seven seals (from the book of Revelation, not the mammal kind, though wouldn’t that be an interesting twist?), seventy time seven (you know the drill)…there are more…
- in Islam: seven heavens, seven hells, seven layers of the Earth, seven big sins or vices, seven doors to hell (heaven has eight), seven circumambulations (counterclockwise circling) as part of Tawaf rituals, seven Ayat (signs or “remarkable events”)
- in Taoism: 7 Colors and the 7th Element is Qi
- in Hinduism, the term Sanskrit literally means seven, and there are: seven octats in music (sa re ga ma pa dha ni), 7 chakras, Seven Promises [Saptapadi], Seven Rounds in Hindu Wedding and Seven Reincarnation, Seven Matrka (mothers or matriarchs)
- in Bahá’i teaching: Seven Valleys – Search, Love, Knowledge, Unity, Contentment, Wonderment and Poverty and Absolute Nothingness
- in Mythology: Seven Lucky Gods (Japanese), seven archangels (several cultures), and seven blunders, according to Ghandi, that cause violence
- seven stars in the Big Dipper
- seven cervical vertebrae in almost all mammals
- in Physics: seven basic physical properties: metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole, candela
- Seven continents, seven seas, a handful a seven hills scattered around the world, seven sages, wise masters, kings and or emperors (according to various cultures)
- in modern Pop Culture: Seven Dwarfs, 007, 7- Eleven, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Seven Year Itch, Seven Faces of Dr. Lao, Seven Days in May, Seven Years in Tibet, The Magnificent Seven…indeed!
- in Literature: 7 Ages of Man (Shakespeare), seven books in the Harry Potter series (Rowling): seven players in the game of Quidditch, seven horcruxes (objects containing parts of Voldemort’s soul), Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey), Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Lawrence)…and there are more…too numerous to mention,
- in Mathematics, Seven is associated with all sorts of interesting terminology: Seven is the first integer reciprocal (multiplicative inverse), seven frieze groups, seven fundamental types of catastrophes, vulgar fractions with 7 in the denominator, 7 is the lowest dimension of a known exotic sphere
- seven metals of antiquity: gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury
Seven this and seven that. We love the number seven and all things septenary. One might even say we are obsessed with seven. As for me, though I’ve always gravitated toward the number 3 or 5 when asked to name a favorite number, I’m adding 7 to the top of my list. As the most often cited favorite number according to polls, I am in good company.
And…if you’ve read this far, you’ve given me enough of your precious time on this first Friday of September. The seventh card in the Tarot deck is The Chariot…which indicates a need to move forward…so without further ado…here’s a quick Haiku! Have a great weekend!
so optimus prime