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 factions.
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 regard).
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.