Why are there so many sevens in the Go Creative way? Seven stages of the creative process? Seven ages of life? Seven mindsets? And all the Go Creative! guidelines mostly given out in sevens?
Seven is said to be the lucky number but creators don’t believe in luck, per se. (We don’t believe in any concept… instead we experiment and observe).
There are so many sevens in the Go Creative! books for the same reason that there are so many sevens in Harry Potter.
And that there are seven notes in the musical scale, seven planets visible to the naked eye, seven colours in the spectrum of light.
When you start looking for it, you see seven everywhere. Seven deadly sins. Seven chakras. Seven wonders of the ancient world. Seven continents. Seven seas.
Seventh heaven, anyone? It’s attainable on earth, according to Confucius, if you follow his seven ways to live a good life:
- love and be loved
- participate in your community
- work hard
- have fun
- respect your body
- seek knowledge
- be responsible
David Eastis (DAVID 777 on his blog) is a septophile, a fan of what he calls “the magical, popular and powerful number 7”. “The number took on far greater, more compelling meaning for me,” he says, “when I realized that seven held special meaning for many other people, has strong sacred symbolism in many religions, is prevalent in many aspects of nature, and is embraced by numerous luminary figures in literature, in the entertainment industry, in politics and other realms.”
The ancient Sumerians reckoned they had the answer.
As we go through our working week and weekend, our two-week vacation, our dress down Fridays or chilled out Sundays, few of us pause to wonder why we divide time up into a seven-day week.
We’ve inherited this from the Sumerians, great mathematicians, who back 2000 b.c. chose 60 minutes for their hour, possibly because 60 is divisible by 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, as well as 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, which makes it notably convenient for expressing fractions.
Seven, indivisible by anything except one and itself, fascinated them. It became the number that symbolised completeness and perfection, both physical and spiritual. The Sumerians conceived of a seven-branched Tree of Life, and of seven heavens ruled by the seven planets they could see in the sky.
Seven made its way into the most important scenes in their art and stories. Their great Gilgamesh epic describes the rite of passage through which Enkidu the ape-man is made human, through lovemaking with the sacred temple prostitute, Shamhat, for — what else? — seven days and seven nights.
So when they introduced their seven-day week, they named the days for their God-planets.
In ancient Egypt and ancient China, “weeks” of ten days had long been used, perhaps more understandably, as people have ten fingers to count on. But the Sumerian ideas were taken up by the Babylonians, who symbolised them as seven hanging gardens, and from there the seven-day, planetary-named, week — and belief in the spiritual and creative power of seven — spread to the Greeks, Romans, Hindus and Muslims.
China surrendered a good thousand years ago and now it’s everywhere.
So much for its spiritual underpinnings of seven. There is likely also a more practical reason for its ubiquity. Seven is what author Jacqueline Leo calls “the brain’s natural shepherd, herding vast amounts of information into manageable chunks”, because seven is the limit of the average brain’s short-term memory.
In other words, seven is the maximum number of digits, letters, words, tasks or concepts that the average person can hold in their head, without forgetting.
Whatever way you look at it seven, indivisible by anything except one and itself, is a great creative symbol.
FOR MORE SEE: Seven Stages of The Creative Process
SOME IMPORTANT BOOKS OF SEVEN
- Seven Sermons to the Dead: Carl Jung (1916)
- Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph T.E. Lawrence (1926)
- The Seven Storey Mountain Thomas Merton (1952)
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey (1989)
- Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: Deepak Chopra (1995)
- Gandhi’s Seven Steps to Global Change: Guy DeMallac (1990)