Seven is called the Virgin, Guardian, Message, Critical Time, Athena, Chance & Acropolis. It is a mean between the second Monad (ie., the Hexad, issuing into material Creation, since Dyad and Triad belong more properly to the One) and the Decad. It is perfect: it is 3 from 4 and 3 from 10. It is the balance between the end and the beginning, if we are speaking of the confluence of Being issuing in Creation.
Throughout, Iamblichus has drawn on Nicomachus‘ lost Theology of Arithmetic.
In considering the Heptad, he has a long section on gestation and the
ages of men, which are divided by sevens. This is interesting, but we
will focus instead on another idea, suggested by Iamblichus, that there
are three layers of the soul (rational, spirited, appetitive) and four
virtues (wisdom, justice, fortitude, and moderation).
For anyone familiar with the Liberal Arts, one should immediately think of the Trivium and the Quadrivium
(also note, that these were considered preparatory to the study of
philosophy and theology). So, there were seven planets, and seven
“subjects”/”modes” to master before one could come in the light of the
Sun. There are seven progressions of musical notes in the infra-scale of
music. Here again, once subject of the Quadrivium is Harmony, or Music,
and this is not accidental: the roots of the sadly degraded liberal
arts lie in the greater and lesser mysteries, and not the study of
“relevance” or “contemporary” dialogues between modern political
He who attained to Seven, by necessity was graduating to the last
grade – it is a mark of completion and mastery to have entered the final
grade. Those familiar with the Ur-Group writings will recognize that
some of the essays deal with the evocation of the celestial guardians,
which are seven in number.
Seven is perfect also, because it cannot be divided by anything
except itself (it’s only factors are 1 and 7) – in this sense, it is
like 2 and 3, as well as 5.
In Revelation, we are told that there are 7 spirits or archons/angels,
represented in the temple candlesticks, which pour out various events
upon the earth. Of course, seven is also the number of days in the week,
which is not an accident – neither is it accidental that the phases of
the moon can be divided into seven week quarters (Iamblichus draws
heavily on the phases of moon when discussing seven, and this is proper,
because the Moon represents a “fetal Earth in gestation”, whose
boundaries mark the limits of the lower powers of the air that govern
the soul cages and impose General Law upon mortals – to “jump over the
Moon” is to master the astral worlds and to transcend the power of the
Lower Guardians: please refer to Boris Mouravieff’s work in this
So we see that Seven is actually, properly, a very lucky number.
To return to the Liberal Arts, the number of Seven was critical – 3
portions to match the various layers of man’s soul (grammar, logic,
rhetoric), and 4 virtues or actual “knowledge bodies” that were mastered
(Arithmetic, Number, Harmony, and Celestial Proportion). So it can be
seen that the Trivium matches the first three numbers, and constitutes a
reflection of the higher waters and Divine Essence, while the
Quadrivium matches the last four numbers, and is the issuing forth of
Being into Creation as manifested virtues and concrete knowledge. In a
future essay we will assay more closely how the Liberal Arts are
patterned on the mysteries.