Aug 29, 1997 06:38 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
One important appearance of 7 in "nature" is that it has been
determined by psychologists that 7 is the limit of items that
can be retained in short term memory. I illustrated this last
week when I had 7 things in my car to take to work, and in the
process of collecting them all forgot to take my keys out of
the ignition before slamming the locked door. Merde! $25 for
25 seconds of work by the locksmith.
If we are somehow hardwired to see things in sets of 7 that
would explain why we (seemingly arbitrarily) come up with 7
colors in the spectrum, 7 notes in the scale, etc. That might
suggest that 7 isn't "out there" but rather a part of our
perceptual apparatus. However, 7 is very important
astrologically (in an objective way). Saturn takes 7 years to
go from one angle of the chart to another. Uranus takes 7
years to go through a sign and Neptune takes 14. (Yeah, signs
are arbitrary but it's still striking since these planets
weren't discovered when people decided 7s were so fundamental.)
And hey! Most objective of all, look at the periodic chart.
Those inert elements with 8 electrons in the outer shell
are the exception; most have from one to 7 which is what it takes to
And isn't there some sense to the claim that ages 7, 14, 21,
28, 35, 42 are all somehow turning points?
Annemarie Schimmel's The Mystery of Numbers is a fun-to-read
survey of numbers in religious and occult history. A friend of
mine who is a clinical psychologist once reported to me that
there was a well-known article called something like "The Magic
5 and 7" discussing all the appearances of these numbers in
human psychology. That was many years ago; I could ask her
about it if you're interested.
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