The septenary is the sacred number in all theogonies and in all symbols, because it is composed of the triad and the tetrad. The number seven represents magical power in all its fulness; it is the mind reinforced by all elementary potencies; it is the soul served by nature; it is the sanctum regnum mentioned in the keys of Solomon, and represented in the Tarot by a crowned warrior, who bears a triangle on his cuirass, and is posed upon a cube, to which two sphinxes are harnessed, straining in opposite directions, while their heads are turned the same way. This warrior is armed with a fiery sword, and holds in his other hand, a sceptre surmounted by a triangle and a sphere. The cube is the philosophical stone; the sphinxes are the two forces of the great agent, corresponding to Jakin and Bohas, the two pillars of the temple; the cuirass is the knowledge of divine things, which renders the wise man invulnerable to human assaults; the sceptre is the magic rod; the fiery sword is the symbol of victory over the deadly sins, seven in number, like the virtues, the conceptions of both being typified by the ancients under the figures of the seven planets then known.
- faith—that aspiration towards the infinite, that noble self-reliance sustained by confidence in all virtues—that faith, which, in weak natures, may degenerate into pride, was represented by the Sun;
- hope, the enemy of avarice, by the Moon;
- charity, in opposition to luxury, by Venus, the bright star of the morning and evening;
- strength, superior to wrath, by Mars;
- prudence, hostile to idleness, by Mercury;
- temperance, opposed to gluttony, by Saturn, who was given a stone instead of his children to devour;
- finally, justice, in opposition to envy, by Jupiter, the conqueror of the Titans.1
Such are the symbols borrowed by astronomy from the Hellenic cultus.
In the Kabbalah of the Hebrews, the Sun represents the angel of light; the Moon, the angel of aspirations and dreams; Mars, the destroying angel; Mercury, the angel of progress; Jupiter, the angel of power; Saturn, the angel of the wilderness. They were named Michaël, Gabriel, Samaël, Anaël,2 Raphaël, Zachariel, and Orifiel.
These governing potencies of souls shared human life in periods, which astrologers measured by the revolutions of the corresponding planets. But kabbalistic astrology must not be confounded with judicial astrology. We will explain this distinction.
- Infancy is dedicated to the Sun,
- childhood to the Moon,
- youth to Mars and Venus,
- manhood to Mercury,
- ripe age to Jupiter,
- and old age to Saturn.
Now, humanity in general subsists under laws of development analogous to those of individual life. On this groundwork Trithemius establishes his prophetic key of the seven spirits, to which we shall subsequently refer;3 by means thereof, observing the analogical proportions of successive events, it is possible to predict important future occurrences with certitude, and to fix beforehand, from age to age, the destinies of nations and the world.
St. John, depositary of the secret doctrine of Christ, has introduced it into the kabbalistic book of the Apocalypse, which he represents sealed with seven seals. We there find the seven genii of ancient mythologies, with the cups and swords of the Tarot. The doctrine concealed under these emblems is the pure Kabbalah, already lost by the Pharisees at the time of Christ’s advent. The scenes which succeed one another in this wonderful prophetic epic are so many pantacles, the keys of which are the ternary, the quaternary, the septenary, and the duodenary. Its hieroglyphic figures are analogous to those of the book of Hermes or the Genesis of Enoch, to make use of a tentative title which expresses merely the personal opinion of the erudite Guillaume Postel.
The cherub, or symbolic bull, which Moses placed at the gate of the edenic world, bearing a fiery sword, is a sphinx, having a bull’s body and a human head; it is the antique Assyrian sphinx, and the combat and victory of Mithras were its hieroglyphic analysis. Now, this armed sphinx represents the law of mystery which watches at the door of initiation to warn away the profane. Voltaire, who knew nothing of all this, was highly diverted at the notion of a bull brandishing a sword. What would he have said had he visited the ruins of Memphis and Thebes, and what would the echo of past ages which slumbers in the tombs of Rameses have replied to those light sarcasms so much relished in France? The Mosaic cherub represents also the great magical mystery, of which the elements are expressed by the septenary, without, however, giving the final word.
This verbum inenarrabile of the sages of the Alexandrian school, this word which Hebrew Kabbalists write הוהי and interpret by אתירארא,4 thus expressing the triplicity of the secondary principle, the dualism of the means, and the equal unity of the first and final principle, then further the alliance between the triad and the tetrad in a word composed of four letters, which form seven by means of a triple and double repetition—this word is pronounced Ararita.4
The virtue of the septenary is absolute in magic, for the number is decisive in all things; hence all religions have consecrated it in their rites. The seventh year was a jubilee among the Jews; the seventh day is set apart for rest and prayer; there are seven sacraments, &c.
The seven colours of the prism and the seven musical notes, correspond also to the seven planets of the ancients, that is, to the seven chords of the human lyre. The spiritual heaven has never changed, and astrology has been more invariable than astronomy. The seven planets are, in fact, the hieroglyphic symbols of the key of our affections. To compose talismans of the Sun, Moon, or Saturn, is to attach the will magnetically to signs corresponding to the chief powers of the soul; to consecrate something to Mercury or Venus is to magnetise that object according to a direct intention, whether pleasure, science, or profit be the end in view. The analogous metals, animals, plants, and perfumes are auxiliaries to this end. The seven magical animals are:—
- (a) Among birds, corresponding to the divine world, the swan, the owl, the vulture, the dove, the stork, the eagle, and the pewit;
- (b) among fish, corresponding to the spiritual or scientific world, the seal, the cat-fish, the pike, the mullet, the chub, the dolphin, the sepia or cuttle-fish;
- (c) among quadrupeds, corresponding to the natural world, the lion, the cat, the wolf, the he-goat, the monkey, the stag, and the mole.
The blood, fat, liver, and gall of these animals serve in enchantments; their brain combines with the perfumes of the planets, and it is recognised by ancient practice that they possess magnetic virtues corresponding to the seven planetary influences.
The talismans of the seven spirits are engraved either on precious stones, such as the carbuncle, crystal, diamond, emerald, agate, sapphire, and onyx; or upon metals, such as gold, silver, iron, copper, fixed mercury, pewter, and lead.
The kabbalistic signs of the seven spirits are:—
- for the Sun, a serpent with the head of a lion;
- for the Moon, a globe divided by two crescents;
- for Mars, a dragon biting the hilt of a sword;
- for Venus, a lingam;
- for Mercury, the Hermetic caduceus and the cynocephalus;
- for Jupiter, the blazing pentagram in the talons or beak of an eagle;
- for Saturn, a lame and aged man, or a serpent curled about the sun-stone.
All these symbols are found on the graven stones of the ancients, and especially on those talismans of the Gnostic epochs which are known by the name of Abraxas. In the collection of the talismans of Paracelsus, Jupiter is represented by a priest in ecclesiastical costume, while in the Tarot he appears as a grand hierophant crowned with a triple tiara, holding a three-fold cross in his hands, forming the magical triangle, and representing at once the sceptre and key of the three worlds.
By combining all that we have said about the unity of the triad and tetrad, we shall find all that remains for us to say concerning the septenary, that grand and complete magical unity composed of four and three.5
[This list uses ☉☽♀︎♂︎☿♃♄ order, however the rest of the chapter uses ☉☽♂︎♀︎☿♃♄ order] ↩
[Anael is Venus’s angel, my best guess is Venus got lost in editing; one should stick to the classical chaldean slowest-fastest order (♄♃♂︎☉♀︎☿☽) or weekday order (☉☽♂︎☿♄♀︎♄)—which is simply chaldean skipping by 3’s or arranged around a septagram and following the lines] ↩
[Link this later] ↩
With reference to the plants and colours of the septenary employed in magnetic experiences, see the erudite work of M. Ragon on La Haqonnerie Occulte. [Or Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy] ↩