"All men, whether Hellenes or not, count up to ten, and, when they reach it, revert again to unity."
Aetius, in Cornford's From Religion to Philosophy
The fourth way states that there are two fundamental laws: the law of three and the law of seven, in that order. One could hardly pursue the fourth way without investigating this idea.

But what is this three and seven? Why not four and eleven? Two and eight? Why any numbers at all? Number is fundamental. More fundamental than gravity or culture. Certain numbers, three and seven, determine the existence and maintenance of a living whole, a cosmos.

This essay is mainly about the knowledge of seven in antiquity, and even then only about a few aspects of this ancient knowledge. That this knowledge is ancient is indicated by the fact that, considering even only the West, it is traceable as far back as the teacher of Pythagoras, one Pherecydes, who, it is known, wrote on the threefold and also wrote a book called Heptamychos, translated as "The Seven-Chambered Cosmos. (I am unable at present to find out more about this.) And we will find many indications of this knowledge in the Greek writings of later centuries. In that other great tradition that spawned the modern West, the Hebraic, there are very many references to the sevenfold, both in the Hebrew bible and the Christian New Testament. Threeness, of course, becomes the very essence of the Christian teaching. Yet in the mainstream Judaeo/Christian tradition, any exact knowledge of laws concerning three and seven seems muddied, and we will have to look to their more esoteric counterparts. Finally, there was a "West" that was west before our current western civilization, and here too, we will find the seven, and the three.

For a number of reasons, it is difficult to read ancient texts and understand what they are talking about. An example of a problem encountered by the translators and commentators—and one of which they are unaware—is conveying the significance of three and seven as intended by the ancient authors. The significance of the three is sometimes understood, but the significance of the seven almost never. Consider this analogy: A 12th century monastery has somehow got hold of a 21st century computer operations manual (I don't know, a space-time wormhole or something). After much work, the monks are able to understand the language as some strange version of old English, and begin to translate it. They will necessarily come across words that have no meaning to them—hardware, software—and others that have meaning to them but a different meaning to the author of the text—boot, power, program. In an effort to make a translation readable for their time and understanding, the meaning will naturally be altered. And the intent of the text could hardly be correctly guessed. This is not at all remote from the kind of difficulty we are in with regard to the handing down and translation of ancient esoteric texts. The best one can hope for is a translator with a working knowledge of the esoteric issues, and such translators, say a Thomas Taylor or G. R. S. Mead, are few and far between. And, of course, we are rarely so lucky and must deal for the most part with mainstream academic interpretations based on contemporary worldviews of ancient knowledge.

That said, we do have one great advantage, and that is a knowledge of the fourth way. This is the living tradition that has surfaced at various times in the past, and its monuments—the texts, architectures, and so forth—are ancient expressions of the same teaching. Even in the cases where the text (for example) is only an indirect transmission of school, enough may be preserved to be recognizable.

For example, here is an excerpt from Epictetus:

As then it was fit to be so, that which is best of all and supreme over all is the only thing which the gods have placed in our power, the right use of appearances; but all other things they have not placed in our power."
Discourses of Epictetus, George Long translation
I have no problem with the translation. I think it conveys something very powerful, but we almost already have to know what we are looking for. The translator discusses the meaning of the Greek word he has translated as "appearances":
"The Stoics gave the name of appearances (phantasia) to all impressions received by the senses, and to all emotions caused by external things."
What Epictetus is talking about is what on the fourth way we refer to as "impressions". This "right use" of impressions he describes as a power "best of all and supreme over all", and it is our only ability, because "all other things they have not placed in our power." "All other things" is the world of accidents and forces that we do not directly control. We control one thing only, but it is the most important of all: we can control and use our own impressions. In fourth way terminology, we cannot "do", and we begin to learn how to "do" by self-remembering, by being present when the impressions enter. The work on impressions forms a big part of the work of the fourth way. Self-remembering is our way into this work, how we begin to "do". In order to control, or have power over, our impressions, someone has to be there to meet them on the way in. In that way we can be selective as to which impressions we take in, and that consciousness of them in itself increases their potential.

Of course, in general it is believed that Epictetus is recommending a sort of aloofness of mind and a fatalistic outlook on life. On the contrary, what he is talking about is an active living psychology, feeding and transforming our life. Working where we can and not where we can't.

So, with the difficulty of translation in mind, let's look at some ancient expressions of the fundamental laws of the fourth way.


In fourth way terms, one is active, two is receptive, and three is harmonizing. This is the nature, too, of the first three numbers, these are the numbers of the law of three.

In ancient knowledge, the three is so sacred that it is usually capitalized, and always has multiple names. Cosmically, the three is: One, nameless in the highest teachings; two, perhaps called Sophia or Wisdom; and three, maybe called the Logos, Hermes, Horus, Christ.

Psychologically, there are the "three stories" of the human factory, or the three functions—intellectual, emotional, and physical. In Plato's Republic, they are referred to as the "reasoning", "spirited", and "desiring" elements.

In an ancient fragment of Stoebius, we read "Of things existing, some are in bodies, some in forms, some in activities." This is the passive-neutral-active of the fourth way, or Collin's matter-form-life. Several hundred years ago, Medieval alchemy expressed the law of three as salt, mercury, and sulphur.

Plutarch writes of the three parts of the human being as hyle, psyche, and nous. Interestingly enough he adds that at death, hyle stays with the Earth, psyche and nous go to the Moon where psyche (soul) stays, and nous goes on to the Sun. Plutarch's Greek terminology is similar to the early Christian and Gnostic teaching of hyle, psyche, and pneuma (body, soul, and spirit), a threefoldness that was later reduced to body and soul by the Church.

The tripartite human soul in Kaballah consists of nefesh, ruash, and neshamah. And, interestingly, we read

"Later Kaballists...added two other levels of soul. These are hayyah and yehidah, and are considered to represent still higher stages of spiritual attainment, present only in the most select figures."
Lawrence Fine, "The Art of Metoscopy", in Essential Papers on Kaballah
They may well have had the idea of the fourth way's higher emotional and higher intellectual centers.


This section begins with a discussion of the law of seven in the fourth way, and proceeds to a discussion of one aspect of sevenness that is pervasive in ancient literature, using numerous examples in the hope that the distinctive nature of each of the seven qualities can be seen despite difficulties of translation as well as sometimes contradictory and inconsistent wording.

A Different Astrology—Seven in the Fourth Way

Gurdjieff introduced the law of seven, or law of octaves, shortly after introducing the law of three. He called the law of octaves the next fundamental law of the universe, after the law of three. The following discusses one aspect of the law of seven.

P. D. Ouspensky relates a talk of Gurdjieff in which several of them were walking in a park. G. dropped his walking stick, someone picked it up, and G. asked them about what had just occurred. This walk had been preceded by questions about astrology, and G. had responded in general about planetary influences. After the incident of the stick he said: "This is astrology. In the same situation, one man sees and does one thing, another, another thing, a third, a third thing, and so on. And each acted according to his type. Observe people and yourselves in this way, and then perhaps we will afterwards talk of a different astrology." (P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous.)

The astrology we will speak of here is planetary astrology as opposed to zodiacal astrology. It has reference to the seven ancient planets which we'll go into more in the next section, Seven in Ancient Knowledge. We are not concerned with cosmic arrangements at the time of birth nor prediction. What we need to consider here is the very idea of "cosmos".

"Cosmos" is a Greek word meaning something like "world order", and is used more exactly in the fourth way to refer to a self-perfecting whole. Seven cosmoses are specifically mentioned, ranging from the largest, the Protocosmos, to smaller cosmoses, with names such as Deuterocosmos, Tritocosmos, and Microcosmos. The human being is said to be one of these cosmoses, but, an unfinished one: a cosmos capable of completion or perfection but not completed without personal efforts of a certain kind.

In this view, the Sun itself forms a cosmos, called the Deuterocosmos, and the planets of our solar system form another cosmos, called the Mesocosmos. "Man" forms another cosmos, called variously Microcosmos or Tritocosmos. The question is, what does "Man" refer to? Is it the human being, or humanity as a whole? It seems to me that it refers to both. As we will see as we explore the nature of the Law of Seven, humanity incorporates this cosmic sevenness as does the individual.

The enneagram represents a cosmos, and the following enneagram shows the seven of the Mesocosmos,

with the higher cosmos, the Sun or Deuterocosmos, in the center, representing its origin or birth.

In terms of basic essence types, which are named after the ancient planets, the seven in the enneagram looks like this:

Note that we now have transposed the planetary cosmos to the level of humanity as a whole.

In terms of the individual human being, the enneagram seven look like this:

And now we have the cosmic seven on a personal scale.

The reality of human type and its association with particular endocrine glands is not hard to see if one has worked in a school in which types are known. Through such work we begin to see our own type and the manifestations of various glands. What does not necessarily follow is the association of this sevenness with the seven ancient planets. Could it not be that when sevenness was recognized in ancient times it was just naturally assumed to associate with the seven known wandering heavenly bodies?

It may be, but I suspect there is more to it than that, for a few reasons. One reason is that there is a surprising apparent correspondence between the characteristics of each solar system object with the characteristics of the corresponding human type. Another reason for doubting that the association of ancient planets with these seven cosmic functions is arbitrary is the surprising consistency in which ancient teachings ascribed similar properties to the planets. That is, across many different and very diverse teachings over thousands of years, the qualities assigned to each planet are remarkably consistent. That is not to say it is not often difficult to see the correspondences and, in fact, I seriously wonder how much I can convey here, and how much one already has to know about the seven in order to see these correspondences. Nevertheless, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread", and I intend to make as clear as possible the importance of knowledge of the seven (really the three and the seven) in any study of ancient knowledge with the following. A third reason why there may be a definite correspondence between planets and types (or human endocrine glands), is implicit in the very idea of cosmos. If each cosmos is built on the same pattern of three and seven, the three and the seven must correspond in some way across cosmoses, including the cosmoses of planets and humans.

Harmony of the Spheres—Seven in Ancient Knowledge

In ancient knowledge, the law of seven was often introduced in the discussion of the seven ancient planets. In this usage, the term planet had a somewhat different meaning than it does today in that it included the Sun and Moon. The word planet meant wanderer, and there are seven objects in the sky, as seen by the naked eye, that wander against the background of the fixed stars of our galaxy. These seven ancient wanderers are the Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn.

In general, but not always, the seven planets were arranged in the order: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, going out from the Earth. This is the same as the clockwise circulation on the enneagram we saw above, with the crucial addition that the Sun is seen as lying between Venus and Mars. The planetary paths were imagined as taking place on great spheres, included one within the other, so the seven planets were often called the seven spheres, and references to an eighth sphere, for example, referred to the level above the planetary domain, the sphere of the fixed stars.

In most ancient texts that I have read, the seven refer to human essence, and essence is "fate". That is, it is the conditions of our birth—the time and place, our strengths and weaknesses, such things as our type and center of gravity—all this is our fate. Fate is often mistaken to be destiny, or the end of one's life, but this is not fate. In fact, fate was seen as something to rise above, to recognize and so transcend.

In gnostic mythology, the planets are often referred to as the rulers of fate, or various synonyms for rulers such as administrators, "archons", and so on. The key idea here was that the laws of fate were associated with the idea of seven qualities. In more degenerate, later gnostic teachings, only the negative side of the seven qualities was considered and the planets were seen more as malicious prison guards. Nonetheless, the idea then and now is to transcend our fate, to rise above our natural limits, to "overcome the archons" and "attain to the eighth sphere".

It seems to have been a general teaching that the human soul at birth descended to the Earth from beyond the seven spheres, acquiring the qualities associated with each sphere in turn as it approached Earth. At death, the soul took the reverse trip, shedding the qualities of each sphere in turn until it emerged free of the planetary world and fate. So at death the soul went to the Moon first, then Mercury, and so on.

But what are the qualities ascribed to these planetary spheres in ancient writing? One way we can determine them is to find the descriptions of the various qualities of each planetary sphere as these qualities are acquired or dropped by the descending or ascending soul. One description of the descent of the soul goes like this:

In the sphere of Saturn it obtains reason and understanding, called logistikon and theoretikon; in Jupiter's sphere, the power to act, called praktikon; in Mars' sphere, a bold spirit or thymikon; in the sun's sphere, sense-perception and imagination, aesthetikon and phantastikon; in Venus's sphere, the impulse of passion, epithymetikon; in Mercury's sphere, the ability to speak and interpret, hermeneutikon; and in the lunar sphere, the function of molding and increasing bodies, phytikon.
Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio

And one description of the ascent of the soul goes like this:

Thus a man starts to rise up through the harmony of the cosmos. To the first plane he surrenders the activity of growth and dimunition; to the second the means of evil, trickery now being inactive; to the third covetous deceit, now inactive, and to the fourth the eminence pertaining to a ruler, being now without avarice; to the fifth impious daring and reckless audacity and to the sixth evil impulses for wealth, all of these being now inactive, and to the seventh plane the falsehood which waits in ambush.
Corpus Hermeticum, Book I

It is interesting to note in the examples given here that the soul acquires the positive characteristics of the spheres in its descent, and drops the negative characteristics on its ascent. To summarize the characteristics we've encountered so far:

In the classic works attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, collected under the title Corpus Hermeticum, we come across a creation myth in which the seven types of humanity are created with respect to the seven planets:

Poimandres said: "This is the mystery which has been kept secret until this day. For Nature, united with Man, has brought forth a wonder of wonders. Man, as I told you, was of the Father and of spirit and had the nature of harmony of the seven spheres. So Nature did not wait, but immediately brought forth seven men corresponding to the natures of the seven powers, beyond gender and sublime."
But Plato is more practical, and speaks of the sevenness of the planets in terms of human psychology:

"Let us rather declare that the cause and purpose of this supreme good is this: the god invented sight and gave it to us so that we might observe the orbits of intelligence in the heavens and apply them to the revolutions of our own understanding. For there is a kinship between them, even though our revolutions are disturbed, whereas the universal orbits are undisturbed. So once we have come to know them and to share in the ability to make correct calculations according to nature, we should stabilize the straying revolutions within ourselves by imitating the completely unstraying revolutions of the god."
Plato, Timaeus
A curious episode in the Acts of the Apostles, seems to indicate that Paul was a Mercury, Barnabas a Jovial, and that the people encountered had a general knowledge of type at that time, although the author of Acts either didn't know it or was deliberately disguising his knowledge:

And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.
Acts 14:12

And disguise it he would have to. The orthodox Church father Ephraim made one of his three main accusations against the Gnostic Bardaisan that he taught that there were seven essences. Bardaisan stated that the knowledge of fortune (fate) being related to the seven "stars" was Chaldean in origin.

This from my related discussion in Signature Pieces:

I stumbled on another reference to the theory of types while studying the ancient Kaballistic text "Sefer Yetzirah". In particular, in a book by Aryeh Kaplan called Sefer Yetzirah which includes his extensive discussion of the various versions of the Sefer Yetzirah, he has the following table which he states is "according to the Torah":
Planet            Quality
------            -------
Sun               Independence, openness
Venus             Wealth, lechery
Mercury           Intellect, memory
Moon              Dependence, secretiveness, manic-depressiveness
Saturn            Inaction, vulnerability
Jupiter           Generosity
Mars              Blood
The Gnostic (Valentinian) Gospel of Truth has an interesting passage that discusses the Three and the Seven:

"While his wisdom mediates on the logos, and since his teaching expresses it, his knowledge has been revealed. His honor is a crown upon it. Since his joy agrees with it, his glory exalted it. It has revealed his image. It has obtained his rest. His love took bodily form around it. His trust embraced it."

The first sentence is the three. This threesome in Gnostic thought is often the Father, Sophia (Greek for "wisdom"), and the Cosmic Christ. In Kaballah, it is Crown, Wisdom, and Understanding. The Judaeo-Christian religions seem to often have a hard time with the feminine, and in later Kaballah Wisdom is declared to be male, and in Christianity, that position is occupied by the neutered Holy Spirit. In practice though, Roman Catholicism essentially makes the trinity: Father, Mary, Jesus.

The sevenness mentioned, and how I map it to the seven, is this:

Planet            Quality
------            -------
Saturn            honor is a crown
Jupiter           joy agrees with
Mars              glory exalted
Sun               revealed his image
Venus             obtained his rest
Mercury           love took bodily form
Moon              trust embraced

Another translation (Attridge/MacCrae) uses sometimes different words for the qualities:

Planet            Quality
------            -------
Saturn            forbearance is a crown
Jupiter           gladness is in harmony
Mars              glory has exalted
Sun               image has revealed
Venus             repose has received it
Mercury           love has made a body
Moon              fidelity embraced

In the text following this emanation sequence, is a more loosely defined return, but one that ends clearly in the trinity Father/Mother/Jesus.

Note that this ancient arrangement of the "planets" has the Sun as "his image". It is a commonplace in ancient teachings that the Sun is the representative or image of a higher god. (The Sun in the center as representative of the higher also reminds me of "my" symbol, where the six colors surround the point of white light, and where the whole arrangement is surrounded by the white light from which it originated—see Symbol.) (For additional discussions of the six/seven relationship, see The Six Processes, and also Notes at the end of this essay.)

For example, here is a discussion of the seven qualities from Proclus:

Further still according to another division, the agricultural tribe of the city is analogous to the Moon, which comprehends the sacred laws of nature, the cause of generation. But the inspective guardian of the common marriages, is analogous to Venus, who is the cause of all harmony, and of the union of the male with the female, and of form with matter. That which providentially attends to elegant allotments, is analogous to Hermes, on account of the lots of which the God is the guardian, and also on account of the fraud which they contain. But that which is disciplinative and judicial in the city, is analogous to the Sun, with whom, according to theologists, the mundane Dice, the elevator and the sevenfold reside. And that which is belligerent, is analogous to the order proceeding from Mars, which governs all the contrarieties of the world, and the diversity of the universe. That which is royal, is analogous to Jupiter, who is the supplier of ruling, prudence, and of the practical and adorning intellect. But that which is philosophic, is analogous to Saturn, so far as he is an intellectual God, and ascends as far as to the first cause."
Proclus, Commentary on the Timaeus of Plato

The selection from Proclus is arranged in an ascending order of Platonic qualities. The order of Venus and Mercury are switched, for some reason, but the qualities are rightly assigned. This passage is interesting for its clear association of the Moon with generation, and Mercury (Hermes) with a tendency to fraud, and also its indication that the Sun is a higher world serving one function in the planetary world but containing all seven in itself.

Seven and Duality

There is a prevalence in ancient thought of the twoness of the seven. This is variously described as 14 of something, or as the two sides of each of the seven somethings. For example, in a Gnostic myth we read:

"And he united the seven powers in his thought with the authorities which were with him. And when he spoke it happened. And he named each power beginning with the highest: the first is goodness with the first (authority), Athoth; the second is foreknowledge with the second one, Eloaio; and the third is divinity with the third one, Astraphaio); the fourth is lordship with the fourth one, Yao; the fifth is kingdom with the fifth one, Sabaoth; the sixth is envy with the sixth one, Adonein; the seventh is understanding with the seventh one, Sabbateon. And these have a firmament corresponding to each aeon-heaven. They were given names according to the glory which belongs to heaven for the destruction of the powers. And in the names which were given to them by their Originator there was power. But the names which were given them according to the glory which belongs to heaven mean for them destruction and powerlessness. Thus they have two names.
The Apocryphon of John
That is, they have a positive side and a negative side. Another way this was illustrated was in the descent and ascent of the soul at birth and death, in which the soul was encumbered by a quality from each sphere as it descended, and freed of the negative traits of that sphere on its ascent through each one.

So we have seen several things about the seven in ancient knowledge. One is that it is associated with fate, another that it is associated with the soul, another that it is associated with type, and another is that it is associated with duality.

Our type is our fate, and our soul is our bloodstream, the circulation of the glandular secretions and their corresponding effects. Our soul is subject to our fate, and to rise above our fate we must master our soul. That which is above the seven is the three. Above soul is spirit, and above fate is freedom.


A Note On Ten

A nice example of the relationship of three, six/seven, and ten can be seen in the first of the Definitions of Hermes:

God: an intelligible world; world: a sensible God; man: a destructible world; God: an immovable world; heaven: a movable world; man: a reasonable world. Then there are three worlds. Now the immovable world (is) God, and the reasonable world is man: for both of (these) units (are) one: God and man after the species [tesak/eidea].

From The Definitions of Hermes to Asclepius in The Way of Hermes Salaman, et. al. Inner Traditions International publisher.

The first sentence is composed of six parts. Intriguingly, these six parts are composed of different arrangements of three concepts—God, world or heaven, and man. The source of this quotation is from a recently discovered Armenian text, and it would be interesting to learn if the original language actually encodes the six processes in the word arrangements of the six parts of the first sentence. But whether the original was in Armenian, Greek, or even some other language, I don't know, and I don't see how this can be resolved at the moment, without the original text and a translator acquainted with the nature of the six processes.

In any case, we see that the first sentence, in six parts, is followed by the single sentence "Then there are three worlds". This refers to world three. This is also the "seventh process", in which the three forces act simultaneously.

The final three-part sentence identifies two units, which are one (3-2-1, the triad of regeneration). This sentence completes the ascent into unity, ending in the Idea which is the model for the Protocosmos (God), Deuterocosmos (world), and Tritocosmos (Man). (An aside--"Man" is the Tritocosmos, a "man" the Microscomos, at least potentially.)

This just begins the discussion of this remarkable "definition", a perfect ten.

A Note On The Seven Cities of Cibola

Of interest to a discussion of the six and seven is the organization of the secret or esoteric religious societies of the Zuñi Indians of the American southwest. In fact, it may be that the entire organization of Zuñi life has been based on six and seven. For the Zuñi, there are six directions: north, south, east, west, up, and down, each with its own characteristics (just as we find in the Sefer Yetzirah). Characteristics for each direction include a particular element, color, and so on. For example, north, from which comes the most difficult weather, is associated with warlike properties, the element air, and the color yellow. But in addition to these six directions, special significance is given to the middle, which serves as a sort of catch-all, or connection and summation of the six.

An interesting account of Zuñi organizational structure is given by the nineteenth century anthropologist Frank Cushing in his Outline of Zuni Creation Myths. Cushing was no less than an initiated member of Zuñi secret societies, and a most interesting and colorful character to boot. Here is what he says:

"The Zuñi of today [Cushing is writing in 1892] number scarcely 1,700 and, as is well known, they inhabit only a single large pueblo—single in more senses than one, for it is not a village of separate houses, but a village of six or seven separate parts in which the houses are mere apartments or divisions, so to say. This pueblo, however, is divided, not always clearly to the eye, but very clearly in the estimation of the people themselves, into seven parts, corresponding, not perhaps in arrangement topographically, but in sequence, to their subdivisions of the 'worlds' or world-quarters of this world.[...]

By reference to the early Spanish history of the pueblo it may be seen that when discovered, the Ãshiwi or Zuñi were living in seven quite widely separated towns, the celebrated Seven Cities of Cibola [Cushing was the first to recognize that the Spanish names for the fabled Seven Cities in fact corresponded to the names of existing pueblos], and that this theoretic subdivision of the only one of these towns now remaining is in some measure a survival of the original subdivision of the tribe into seven subtribes inhabiting as many separate towns. It is evident that in both cases, however, the arrangement was, and is, if we may call it such, a mythic organization, hence my use of the term the mytho-sociologic organization of the tribe. At any rate, this is the key to their sociology as well as to their mythic conceptions of space and the universe."

It is of further interest to note that today there is some uncertainty as to whether there were in fact seven or only six "cities", a confusion that underscores this relationship of six and seven.

The extent of this "mytho-sociologic organization" of the Zuñi is astonishing. Later in the same paper Cushing says:

"By this arrangement of the world into great quarters, or rather as the Zuñi conceive it, into several worlds corresponding to the four quarters and the zenith and the nadir, and by this grouping of the towns, or later of the wards (so to call them) in the town, according to such mythical division of the world, and finally the grouping of the totems in turn within the divisions thus made, not only the ceremonial life of the people, but all their governmental arrangements as well, are completely systemized."

Regarding the esoteric societies in particular, Cushing says:

"It may be seen of these mytho-sociologic organizations that they are a system within a system, and that it contains also systems within systems, all founded on this classification according to the six-fold division of things, and in turn the six-fold division of each of these divisions of things. To such an extent, indeed, is carried this tendency to classify according to the number of the six regions with its seventh synthesis of them all (the latter sometimes apparent, sometimes nonappearing) that not only are the subdivisions of the societies also again subdivided according to this arrangement, but each clan is subdivided both according to such a six-fold arrangement and according to the subsidiary relations of the six parts of its totem."

And the seventh part is by no means trivial:

"Be that as it may, this notion of the 'middle' and its relation to the rest has become the central fact indeed of Zuñi organization. It has given rise to the septuarchy I have so often alluded to [...]"

In general, the study of a society such as that of the Zuñi gives an interesting view of the role of esoteric knowledge in sacred societies. The Zuñi, like the Hopi and no doubt other Indian cultures, was organized around mythological dramas publicly acted out in the streets and plazas of the city itself. People were exposed to the "mystery plays" from childhood, and could grow into later initiation and participation to the degree to which they were suited.

An Altar of the Hopi

Some further comments that may be of interest concern the Hopi. This first piece of information comes from The Book of the Hopi by Frank Waters. In a structure very similar to the structure of worlds such as that employed by the Gnostics and other ancient peoples, the Hopi posited a nine-tiered universe consisting of "the seven successive universes through which they will travel on their evolutionary journey, the domain of S_ who helped to establish them, and the realm of the Creator, T_, who rules over them all." In this case, S_ and T_ have an Uncle-Nephew relationship, similar to the Father-Son of Christianity. With certain Gnostics, the goal was to consciously pass though the seven spheres and into the spheres of the eighth and ninth within this life (see for example The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth).

Perhaps even more startling is the report of an observation of the construction of a Hopi altar on November 10, 1891 by Alexander Stephen at Walpi, the Hopi village on First Mesa in the North American southwest. Not only is the organization of the altar interesting in its combining of 1, 3, and 6/7, but in this case the order in which the altar was constructed was witnessed, and it exactly follows, for example, the order of the exposition in the book of creation as I discuss in A Cipher on the Sefer Yetzirah.

In the following, I'm quoting from Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings, by E. C. Krupp. At about noon, Stephen saw a member of the Agave society begin to construct the altar or sand painting:

He scattered brown sand into a circle centered on the sipapu, a cavity in the kiva floor...
Here we have the circle representing the whole, or unity, just as it does in the enneagram and countless other symbols. The relationship of the circle and its center (the sipapu in this case) is the "alpha and omega" as I've discussed in Qualitative Number Theory.
As work on the directions altar continued, three lines were drawn across the floor in white cornmeal. They intersected at the sipapu, on which was placed a bowl.
First came one, now three. Next:
An ear of corn, feathers, and other talismans are placed on each directional ray, and each direction has its own color of corn and plumage.
That is, an ear of corn is placed at both ends of each of three lines, so six ears of corn are now on the outside of the diagram. Finally:
During construction of the altar, the Hopi officers sang, and after the second song a quartz crystal was brought out and carried up the kiva ladder to the ceiling entrance. With it one of the men caught the sunlight and bounced the beam of it into the bowl at the center of the altar. The quartz was then placed in the bowl along with the pollen already sprinkled there. This manipulation of sunlight reinforced the sun's role in the directions altar and injected the sun's power into the most highly charged element of the arrangement—its center.
This association of light with the center of the 1,3,6/7 symbol is the same as I show, for example, for the enneagram shown on the home page of these essays, and when treating of the enneagram on the scale of the human and solar cosmoses, it represents the solar type and the sun, respectively.

The finished altar looked something like this:

Another good example from a culture that could hardly be further removed from these comes from the ancient Zoroastrian teaching, in which there are six Amesha Spentas, or Holy Immortals, with a seventh, Ahura Mazda, who is the central divinity. Overall, such correspondences between widely separated esoteric teachings indicate the spiritual nature of the source of such knowledge, and common attempts to derive all such similarities of belief from a single original invention and the subsequent copying and modifying of the same are suspect. That is not the way it works.

Consciousness teaches.

Plato, shows this relationship of six with the hidden seven with characteristic artistry:

Nor, again, if a person were to show that all is one by partaking of one, and at the same time many by partaking of many, would that be very astonishing. But if he were to show me that the absolute one was many, or the absolute many one, I should be truly amazed. And so of all the rest: I should be surprised to hear that the natures or ideas themselves had these opposite qualities; but not if a person wanted to prove of me that I was many and also one. When he wanted to show that I was many he would say that I have a right and a left side, and a front and a back, and an upper and a lower half, for I cannot deny that I partake of multitude; when, on the other hand, he wants to prove that I am one, he will say, that we who are here assembled are seven, and that I am one and partake of the one.
Plato, Parmenides, 129c/d (Jowett translation)

On the surface, Plato has Socrates proposing an arbitrary example of multiplicity—various parts of his own person—and then proceeds to include the others that are listening to him when he refers to how each person forms a single whole, a one.

It should be obvious to one who has read this far, though, that Plato is being much more precise. For his six, he gives the six directions. For his seven, he gives himself as a whole which includes the six. "Socrates", here, is the role of light.

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