In Part One, we examined the days of our week and the planets after which they are named:
Sunday – Sun’s day
Monday – Moon’s day
Tuesday – Mars’ day
Wednesday – Mercury’s Day
Thursday – Jupiter’s Day
Friday – Venus’ Day
Saturday – Saturn’s Day
And back to Sunday
The civilisation we know as Mesopotamia gave us (via the Romans) the week, and named each day in a specific order of celestial influence. The focus of these ancient astronomers, in what became Persia – modern day Iraq, was on how Life on Earth was affected by the seven most important celestial bodies. Five of these were ‘the wanderers – true plants; the other two: sun and moon, were ‘luminaries’ – light-bearers.
They reasoned that the faster a (true) planet moved across the sky, the closer it was to the Earth. Using this as a basis, they classified all of what we could now call the ancient, visible plants and included the Sun and Moon. They arrived at another sequence of the seven celestial bodies.
This was: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn
The two sequences are related by a figure from the world of sacred geometry and we will examine it in a later post.
We need to ask the question: Why were the planets so important to the priest-astrologers of Mesopotamia that they named all present and future time in recurring cycles of seven?
The human mind, guided by scientific thinking, is masterly at shutting off wonder. The emotions of longing and belonging generated by the cycles of the night sky are largely lost to the modern western mind – and yet what they are based on is now acutely observable with the aid of modern astronomy. What we’ve lost is the intimate sense that when we study the night sky we are studying ourselves.
For these ancients, there was an immediate and intimate connection and correspondence between the patterns in the night sky and life ‘below’.
The importance of the number seven in this context is related to the Mesopotamians’ use of a 28 day cycle, which they divided into the four phases of the moon. The lunar month was observed to be 28 days, divided into four major states: new, waxing, full and waning. The week of seven days was the result. The symmetry confirmed itself in that there were seven objects in the night sky that behaved differently to the general backdrop of the star constellations.
The ancients knew that the 28 days cycle was only an approximation, (it is really 29.5 days ) but it yielded an enduring mapping of time that is still with us today – and so embedded in our lives that it may never be changed. We still have leap-years, of course… to bring things back into true alignment.
This seven-day structure is seen by many scholars as the mythical basis of the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. God created the world in the week of seven days; six days of work and one of rest.
So, we have the effective creation of the concept of ‘universal’ time, defined by the Moon, within which each of the days had a ‘nature’. This nature corresponds closely with what we might view as the ‘good fortune’ (or otherwise) of the specific day… or as we shall see, the divisions thereof.
The derivation and implications of these natures of fortune will be discussed in the next of these posts.
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit teaching school of modern mysticism that helps people find a personal path to a deeper place within their internal and external lives.
The Silent Eye provides home-based, practical courses which are low-cost and personally supervised. The course materials and corresponding supervision are provided month by month without further commitment.