Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chronos, Saturn, Janus, and Time for the New Year

Thousands of years ago, when people believed the world a flat circle, Chronos (or Kronos) was one of the primordial gods with the power of time and space. Time, of course, controls beginnings and endings. In some cases, legends present Chronos as the father of chaos, sometimes the descendant of chaos. I tend to think perhaps the second makes a more logical progression, but this is mythology.
A Chronos-Cronus mix of the time god (

Occasionally a serpent represents Chronos, which might have led to the Uroboros serpent, a snake caught in a circle eating its tail, which represents an unending cycle. Images exist of Chronos guiding the astrological wheel, another representation of time.

More often, Chronos is a long-bearded man, although other sources show him as a serpent with three heads, one each of a lion, a bull, and a man. Through time, this mythical figure intertwined with other gods such as the Greek Titan Cronus, an agriculture god. Since agriculture follows the seasons, a time element is involved here, too, and it is where the image of father time, an old man with a scythe, came from. Prophesy proclaimed Cronus would eat his own children. His son Zeus escaped the cycle and became the new leader of the gods. Cronus becomes reincarnated as the Roman god Saturn (some sources claimed Saturn was Cronus, the old god having escaped the retribution of Zeus). Is that confusing or what? They all combine to produce the figure of father time we celebrate every New Year's Eve.

With the ties to time and agriculture, the sickle or scythe becomes a symbol of time, changing the tool from one used to harvest grains to one harvesting life. Chronos supposedly watched over, perhaps regulated, past, present, and future time, which is also a new theory in physics. In Roman mythology, Saturn and Rhea were Titans, elder gods who were the children of heaven and earth, parents who sprang from the loins of Chaos. Isn’t it funny how they were so near the creation that we believe? Thomas Bulfinch in his Bulfinch’s Mythology (1) claims Saturn 'devoured all of his children except Jupiter (air), Neptune (water), and Pluto (the grave).' This, of course, ties back to the prophesy affecting the Greek god Chronos and his unorthodox habit. This also seems to indicate that Saturn not only controlled life, since without air and water most life expires, and as 'the grave' indicates death or ending, but also might relate to control over human reality. The Uroboros, and sadly Cronus and Saturn eating their children, seems to show that time devours everything, an underlying truth about all life and matter.

Chronos lives with us still became his name became the prefix chrono- indicating time as used in chronology, chronicle, chronological, and chronometer.

The month of January is named after the god Janus, the two-faced god, one face looking behind him, one looking forward. He oversaw pathways and transitions, so guarded gates. Tonight he closes one gate and opens another. In some respects time, pathways, and transitions, Chronos, Cronos, Saturn, and Janus all blend together on this night before the New Year.

Happy New Year!

(1) Bulfinch's Mythology, Thomas Bulfinch, ed. Richard Martin, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY, 1991

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Jeb's Drive - a Christmas short story

This month's round-robin is a gift for readers. Mine is a short story. I hope everyone enjoys all the author's offerings!

~ * ~
Jeb's Drive
Jeb glanced at the clock on the car's radio read. It was coming up on three thirty so he should be at Mom's house between five and six. Four hours of driving and three more to go was just too much damn much time behind the wheel, especially when traveling for a day he did not want to celebrate. Jeb sighed. His mom had asked, and she and he were the last family either had.

He hated Christmas. Had for five years, ever since only three days before Christmas, a drunk driver killed his Angie and their son Jeffy. His foot had pressed on the gas pedal with the unwanted memory. Tearing his thoughts away from the past, he slowed his speed to seven miles about the limit.

He would arrive in plenty of time for Christmas Eve dinner with his mom. Returning his attention to the actual task of driving, he saw a car on the side of the road quite some distance ahead. He watched as cars and trucks sped by. Coming closer, he saw the wind those passing vehicles created blew the light, dry snow on a man standing at the car's front. The old, but respectable looking Taurus's hood was up. Passing by, he saw passengers sitting in the car.

"Christ, racism is alive and well." He swore some more and with some misgivings, he slowed and pulled to the side of the road. Looking over his shoulder, he slowly backed along the shoulder toward the stranded car. He got out and walked toward the huge man standing in front of the car. Hopeless wariness showed on the man's face.

"Trouble?" Jeb asked.

"Yeah. Car caught fire, wirings melted. Fire's out, but we're stranded."

"You have help coming?"

The man shook his stocking hat covered head no. "Police said they'd come as soon as they could, but they're really busy."

"Can I call a tow truck for you?"

Another shake of the head. "Can't afford it, and my insurance won't cover it."

Jeb looked in the car. A woman with a tear-stained face sat in the front passenger's seat, two young boys huddled in the back seat under a blanket. His heart clenched. They reminded him of his lost Jeffy. A pile of wrapped Christmas gifts lay on the far side of the two boys. He knew how distressed Angie would have been at the family's plight. Damn. He was thinking too much about her today after months of having wiped her and Jeffy from his thoughts. He'd had to just to survive himself. "Where are you going?"

"We are on our way to Springfield, Missouri."

Jeb pulled out his phone just as a police cruiser pulled up behind the stranded car. He put the phone back in his pocket. The trooper asked for the particulars and the man's license. The car would be towed to Maryville, the officer said, gave the name of the tow company, and then asked if Mr. Davis wanted to be taken anywhere nearby? Mr. Davis said there was nowhere for his family to go. They would have to wait for his family to drive from south-central Missouri.

"You can't wait on the side of the road," the officer replied. "Direct them to come to the local police station. You can wait there. It will at least be warm."

Jeb had been watching the two boys in the car. Their worried and dejected faces made him make a stupid decision he knew he would regret. He handed his business card to the officer. "I'm on my way to Missouri. I'll take them. Please have any charges sent to my office. The number's on the card."
The officer looked at Mr. Davis, who stared at Jeb, still wary but with hope entering his eyes, "You sure?"

"That's very generous of you," the officer said looking at his card, "Mr. Smith." Garbled noise came through a device on the officer. Jeb heard enough to know there was an accident somewhere. After checking Jeb's driver's license to verify his identity, the officer left.

Jeb looked at Mr. Davis and nodded. "Yeah, I'm sure. Let's get your family and stuff in my car."

After some juggling of people, the few gifts, and a large amount of luggage into his car's trunk, Jeb climbed back into the driver's seat. The amount of luggage bothered him. Davis sat in the passenger seat. Mrs. Davis sat in the back seat with the boys.

"My name's Colton. Where you going in Missouri, Mr. Smith?

"Jeb. Columbia." He got back on the road and headed on down Interstate 55.

"Springfield's some distance out of your way."

"It's not a problem. I'm just going for dinner with my Mom, and I've already called to let her know I'll be late. Do you live in Springfield?"

"No Chicago. You?"

"Chicago. This is the first time I've been home in a couple of years."

"Yeah, us too." Colton rambled on about how fast time went, missing family, and making memories for his boys. Before long they fell into the non-personal conversation of strangers in which Lucy, Mrs. Davis, joined. Jeb told them he was a financial manager with a large Chicago company. Within the hour they were approaching the Poplar St. Bridge and the boys, Dace and Jadyn, were in awe of crossing the Mississippi River for the first time. Jeb heard one of the boys whispering he was hungry. Lucy told him they'd eat when they got to grandma's.

"I'm hungry too, and I have to make a pit stop, can you wait until were about ten minutes beyond the other side of the Bridge? We can stop, get out, and stretch our legs."

"And pee!" Dace said from the back.

"Yeah, that, too," Jeb said as Colton laughed and Lucy hushed her son.

It didn't surprise Jeb that the family used the facilities at the stop and walked around the parking lot but didn't buy food. They waited inside the car for him. When he got back in, he had eight burgers, fries, and soft drinks. "Sorry," he said to Lucy, "I know you would have probably picked milk instead of soda, but this was easier."

"There are eight burgers in this here bag," she said.

"I missed lunch, and Colton doesn't look like a one small burger man."

"Thank you," Colton said, looking pleased but abashed. Soon back on the road, Jeb heard the boys munching and slurping their drinks, after which silence fell. Everyone in the back seat was asleep, and he and Colton remained silent for the next two hours, until Colton called his family to let them know how much longer before they arrived. When the call ended, he said, "It is very kind of you to go so far out of your way for us. I stood on the side of that road for an hour."

"I know Christmas is a big thing for kids. I'd hate to let your boys have a bad memory." Angie would have reamed him for such indifferent negligence.

"You got family?"

"Had. Just my mom and I left now. My brother died in Afghanistan two years ago."

"My condolences. Still, thank you. Truth be told, we may be staying in Springfield. We're losing our house, and my job is iffy."

"Sorry to hear that. What type of work do you do?"

"I'm a mechanic-repairman for a local appliance store."

Jeb asked him about what he did and what his background was. It appeared Colton was under-employed.

It was getting darker when Jeb heard rustling in the back seat. "Are we there yet?" one of the boys asked. The voice sounded so much like Jeffy, Jeb nearly cried, but sucked in a weary breath.
"Almost," Colton reassured his son. It didn't seem too long before Colton was directing him to the family's home. As the car pulled in the driveway, a dozen people came out the front door, and were soon hugging Colton and his family. Jeb felt envy stab him.

He turned and lifted the luggage from the trunk. Many from the group surrounding Colton's family came and helped take the bags into the house. Soon only he, Colton, and what Jeb assumed were two brothers, stood by his car. The men offered Jeb their hands and he shook them, listening to their gratitude for delivering Colton and his family. They offered to pay for his gas. Jeb declined.

Jeb looked at Colton, handing him another of his business cards. "If you decide to go back to Chicago, give me a call. I think I can help you with the employment situation, maybe even your house and a ride to get back."

Colton's eyes brightened even in the dark. "Thank you for what you've done for my family." Jeb just nodded. Colton gave directions for the fastest route to Columbia. "It's a little over two hours. I hope you have as good a Christmas, Jeb, as good as the one you've given my family."

Tired, but feeling somewhat lighter in spirit, Jeb resumed driving. He called his mother and told her what happened and apologized for missing dinner. "You haven't, I saved it, and we'll have it together whenever you arrive." Laying his phone down, Jeb drove a few more miles before he finally smiled. "Merry Christmas, Angie, Jeffy."
~ * ~
The above story was loosely based on an event that took place at Thanksgiving, not Christmas. For more Offerings go to the following author's blogs:

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All Things Seven

Cardinal: SEVEN
Greek: Zeta
Hindu-Arabic: 7
Ordinate: Seventh
Roman: VII
Pythagorean number: the heptad
1+6, 2+5; 3+4

The Roman word for seven was septem, or septimus from which we get septuplets, septuagenarian, and September. The Greeks had hepta for heptagon and heptad.

September, before July and August were added to the calendar, was the seventh month, now it is the ninth and July (after Julius Caesar) is the seventh month. Saturday is the seventh day if your weekly calendar starts with Sunday, but if it starts with Monday, Saturday is the sixth day. Either way, we have seven days to the week.

Nitrogen N, which is necessary for all life on Earth, is seventh on the periodic table, which long after the number was considered holy, makes it even more so. Seven is a prime number and the only number of the nine basic digits that cannot divide 360° evenly. We have seven continents: Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, South America, and Antarctica.

There are seven colors in Newton's spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

The Seven seas in the ancient world were the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Irish Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. In the modern world, they are the North Pacific Ocean, the South Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean, and the Arctic Ocean 

Our faces have seven features, and the musical scale has seven notes. The seven wonders of the ancient world were the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Seven Wonders of Medieval world were Stonehenge, the Coliseum, the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, the Great Wall of China, the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, the Hagia Sophia, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The ancients knew of seven planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon.

In cards, we have seven-card stud, the seven spot, and opposite sides of a die always add up to seven. There is a seven ball pool game

In the Judeo-Christian religion, seven is recognized as a very powerful spiritual number. Besides the seven days of creations, Christ made seven last statements from the cross. The Seventh Commandment says Thou shalt not commit adultery. There are seven days of Passover. The Virgin Mary has seven Sorrows and Seven Joys including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the nativity of Jesus, the Epiphany, the Finding Jesus in the Temple, the Resurrection, and the Assumption. The Lord's Prayer has seven petitions. In Revelations, there are seven churches which are in Asia, seven spirits of God; the seven spirits of God sent forth into the world, seven golden candlesticks, seven stars in his right hand, seven seals, seven thunders, seven trumpets, seven angels. We also have the Seven Deadly Sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride. The Heptateuch includes the first seven books of Judeo-Christian scriptures. The Jewish Minora holds seven candles. Seven generations exist between David & the coming of Christ. 

Judaism had Seven Archangels including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel (or Anael), Raguel, Remiel, and Saraqael. (Or perhaps Chamuel, Jophiel, and Zadkiel or perhaps Simiel, Oriphiel, and Zacharie, or perhaps Selaphiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel, depending on your source). Pope Saint Gregory I lists the angels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel (or Anael), Simiel, Oriphiel, and Raguel. When the angels are tied to days of week we have Michael (Sunday), Gabriel (Monday), Raphael (Tuesday), Uriel (Wednesday), Sealtiel (Thursday), Jhudiel (Friday)and Barachiel (Saturday).

Jewish mysticism divides heaven into seven levels, from lowest to highest. The first heaven is Shamayim, governed by Archangel Gabriel, which is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth and the abode of Adam and Eve. The second heaven is Raquia, controlled by Zachariel and Raphael together. Raquia is the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened. Anahel rules Shehaqim, the third heaven, which is the home of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life; it is where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced. Machonon is fourth heaven and the Archangel Michael rules there. It contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar. Fifth heaven is Machon, under the administration of Samael, who is either an evil angel or the dark servant of God. Sixth heaven is Zebul, which Zachiel administers. Seventh heaven is Araboth, led by Cassiel. Araboth is the holiest heaven and houses the Throne of Glory attended by the Seven Archangels. Araboth is the realm where God dwells and the home of the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Hayyoth. Beneath his throne is the abode of all unborn human souls.

In Buddhism, we have seven chakras including the Muladhara (Mu-la-dha-ra) lower body, the Swadhisthana (Sva-dhis.t.ha-na) reproductive parts, the Manipura (Man.ipu-ra ) navel, the Anahata (Ana-hata) heart, the Vishuddha (Vis'uddha) throat, the Ajna (A-jña-) eyebrow or forehead, and the Sahasrara (Sahasra-ra) top of head. Again in Buddhism, a pure flowering plant has seven petals (lotus), thus Buddha is often portrayed sitting in a lotus blossom.

Zoroastrianism has seven Amschastrongds or personifications of righteousness.

The Egyptians had seven spirits.

~ * ~
Seven is an important number in the Bible:

In Genesis, a sacred day is created. (Genesis 2:2) By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:1 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Seven is also the number of retribution as shown in Genesis 4:14: But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. Genesis 7:3 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made."

Seven also shows up frequently as a length of time, seven days, seven months, seven years, multiples of seven, for waiting, for feasts, or as a specific date, the seventh day, seventh month, and seventh year. They frequent the Bible as in Genesis 8:11: He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. 2 Chronicles 35:17 The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Esther 1:5 When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king's palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest, who were in the citadel of Susa. Job 2:13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.

Pharaoh's Dream: Genesis 41:18 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
"I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows came up–scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads sprouted–withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me." Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

Seven is a common number in offerings and sacrifice: Numbers 29:36: Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, a burnt offering of one bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. Job 42:8: So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has."

Seven is a number of cleansing: Numbers 31:19: All of you who have killed anyone or touched anyone who was killed, must stay outside the camp seven days. On the third and seventh days, you must purify yourselves and your captives. On the seventh day, wash your clothes and you will be clean. Then you may come into the camp." Deuteronomy 15:1: At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. 15:9: Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.

In the siege of Jericho, seven is important. Joshua 6:13: The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the LORD and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them, and the rear guard followed the ark of the LORD, while the trumpets kept sounding. On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the people, "Shout! For the LORD has given you the city!

Seven figures in Samson and Delilah, too. Judges 16:18: When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, "Come back once more; he has told me everything." So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. (19) Having put him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

Seven mentioned frequently as a number of sons or daughters. (examples: 1 Chronicles 3:24 The sons of Elioenai: Hodaviah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah, and Anani-seven in all. 5:13 Their relatives, by families, were: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber-seven in all. Job 1:2 He had seven sons and three daughters) Also in Matthew 22:25: Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother…The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh…Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?"

Seven shows up as a prophecy. (example: Zechariah 4:2 He asked me, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights.

Jesus feeds the multitude with seven: Matthew 15:34 "How many loaves do you have?" Jesus asked. "Seven," they replied, "and a few small fish."…Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people…They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were leftover.

Seven is the number of morality: Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Luke 17:4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

Seven in Revelations
  • Revelation 1:4 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
  • Revelation 4:5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
  • Revelation 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
  • Revelation 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
  • Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.
  • Revelation 10:3 And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, "Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down."
  • Revelation 11:13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
  • Revelation 12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.
  • Revelation 13:2 And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.
  • Revelation 15:6 Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. 15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.
  • Revelation 17:9 "This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.17:10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.17:11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
~ * ~

Seven shows up a lot in literary, folklore, art, and music. In Greek mythology, there were the seven daughters, the Pleiades, of Atlas and Pleione, who was the daughter of Ceanus. Their names were Electra, Maia, Taygete, Alcyone, Celaeno, Sterope, and Merope. According to some versions of the myth, they committed suicide from grief at the fate of their father, Atlas, or at the death of their sisters, the Hyades. Other versions made them the attendants of Artemis, goddess of wildlife and of hunting, who were pursued by the giant hunter Orion, but were rescued by the gods and changed into doves. After their death, or metamorphosis, they transformed into stars, but Orion still pursues them across the sky.

Ancients had the Seven Gates of Thebes, or Seven Against Thebes, a classical myth of Adrastus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopaeus, Polynices, and Tydeus. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius lists the seven virtues in a poem circa 410 CE as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility. Probably while these stories and poems were told, or as an alternative entertainment, a seven-string lyre was played. Everyone knows the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Remember The House of Seven Gables? How about the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers?

Seven in maxims et al:
  • The seventh son of the seventh son has occult power
  • Seven principles of man: Atman or divine essence, Buddhi or compassionate spiritual nature, Manas or the mind principle, Kama or the desire principle, Prana or vitality, Linga-sarira or the astral double and Sthula-sarira or the physical body
  • The seven gifts of understanding include wisdom, council, power, fortitude, knowledge, righteousness, and fear of God.
  • The seven ancient metals are Gold, Copper, Silver, Lead, Tin, Iron, smelted, and Mercury
  • The Seven Hills of Rome
Foretelling Aspects of Seven:

In Prophesy, seven keeps its sacred and spiritual aspects. Numerology assigns the letters g, p, and y to seven. In Astrology, the House of Libra is the seventh house as guided by the planet Neptune. Neptune is associated with psychic activity, prediction, dreams, fantasies, illusion, extreme sensitivity, drugged states, alcoholism, refinement, and the immaterial world. It is also the number of law, since seven governs the rhythms of life.

As shown in Biblical references, seven is the number of religion because it is the number of the Seven Spirits before the Throne and the makers of Cosmic Law. It shows how man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom he should make offerings, and because on the seventh day God rested, therefore all things rest under the influence of the number seven because they need time to reflect and contemplate. All these references make seven a Holy number.

In antiquity, they believed seven planets had an influence upon events on earth and were linked to the seven days of the week. Seven represents the triumph of spirit, or the union of three, the triangle representing the mind and spirit, over four as shown in the square, or body, or earth. It is a number of perfection, overcoming the ritualistic religion of six; the Great Bear, pointing to the one fixed star, is a celestial manifestation of the fundamental truth of the number seven.

Seven is the magic number, which rules occult mysteries, magical ceremonies, and clairvoyance. It is a scared and mystic number in almost all societies including Hindu, Arab, Egyptian, Greek, Hebrew, and Chinese. Seven stands for the mysterious 'God force' in Nature. It is an indivisible number and therefore compared to God.

Because all the previous numbers can be combined to make seven, seven produces the basic numbers that all material calculations are built upon, and man depends upon, and through which thought is expressed. It represents the last step before completion and is closely associated with man's life length of three score years and ten. The eighth step completes the cycle with death and the unknown. Seven is the number of life because ancients believed human babies born prematurely during the seventh month usually survived. Seven’s keywords are fortune, custody, control, occasion, government, judgment, dreams, voices, and sounds. Seven is associated with the Egyptian god Osiris, whose body was kept for seven days before burial reflecting his seven days in the womb of the sky goddess Nut.

In Tarot divination, the Chariot is the seventh card. This card foretells victory, triumph, success, and control over the forces of nature; thus it shows overcoming ill health as well as money difficulties or enemies of any sort, including one's own animal passions. It is a card for showing who can achieve greatness but telling the holder they must remain disciplined to do so. Upside down, the card means the victor has lost his self-control or used unethical means to achieve his desires, victory slipping through his hands, perhaps ill health, restlessness and discontent, villainy or decadence.

Seven’s negative connotations are the opposites of its positives, and include a lack of faith, being unworldly, or incomplete, or thoughtless.

Seven also has many symbols including the seven-pointed star, the seven-branched tree of life, the seven-branched candelabrum, the Chakras, the Ziggurat to Heaven with seven steps, and the triangle resting atop the square.

Common usage includes being at sixes and sevens, inflicted with the seven-year itch, and enjoying the seventh-inning stretch.

Whew! And there you have it, all things seven. For more on seven check Wikipedia.
~ * ~
Sources used for information:
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Most Favorite Food

I am a bread foodie. Love bread; love to make it and eat it buttered and still hot from the oven when the bread aroma still lingers in the air. Loaves of French, sourdough, rye, honey whole wheat, rolls, biscuits, whatever, I make them all. It often surprises me to realize my sourdough starter is now older than most of my college students. Besides toast and sandwiches, bread is cut up into cubes to make croutons for salad and casserole toppings, but the best use of bread cubes is for making stuffing and bread pudding. To me they are synonymous, stuffing being the savory version and bread pudding the sweet.

My Dad became a home baker in his forties, and I use his French bread recipe which makes great loaves from four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. However, one of my oldest memories is of my Mom making Thanksgiving stuffing for the family's turkey. She was very intense in each step of her work. I remember watching her melt the butter and sautéing the celery and onions, salt, pepper, and herbs before pouring it all into a huge oblong pan. She then added the bread cubes, poured a cup or so of hot water onto the bread, and mixed it with her hands until it was the right consistency before she shoved it into the turkey's back end.

I've loved stuffing ever since. The taste of roasted celery, onion, turkey, and bread is good plain and warm, covered with gravy, or cold from the refrigerator. Maybe especially cold as the celery taste seems more intense. I make mine a little differently, using homemade bread and moistening it with chicken stock instead of water, but the celery, onion, and spices remain the same. I don't stuff the turkey either, but cut it into pieces and place them on top of the stuffing in an ancient roaster. Yum. I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Stuffing is high calorie, so it's a good thing I have it only once a year.

So here's the recipe, but this may be superfluous as I think most families already have their own favorite:  Melt 1 to 1 ½ sticks of butter, add 1 large onion chopped into small pieces, 2 to 3 stalks of celery sliced crosswise, with ¼ to ½ tsp thyme, if desired, ¼ to ½ tsp sage, ¼ to ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add 9 to 10 cups of dry (stale), cubed French bread and 1 cup of turkey or chicken broth. You can make a cup of turkey broth by simmering the turkey's liver, heart, and gizzard for twenty minutes. Use the salt in the liquid and omit from the dressing. The heart and gizzard can be chopped up and added to the dressing if desired. Jerusalem artichokes (I planted some this fall) are also good chopped up and added when sautéing the vegetables. This recipe is good for a 10 to 12-pound turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more on favorite foods check out the blog postings of the following authors:

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor 
Ginger Simpson
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosnski
Anne Stenhouse 
Heidi M. Thomas
Helena Fairfax 
Kay Sisk
Connie Vines 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

All Things Six

Cardinal: SIX
Hindu-Arabic: 6
Ordinate: Sixt
Roman: V
Greek: Digamma
Pythagorean number: the hexa
1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 2x3

The Roman word for six is sex (sextus) which gives us sextant, sextuplets, and sextet which shouldn't be confused with the one on one unless it is a double ménage à trois.

Greek has hexa, which gives us the hexagram or the six-pointed star also known as the Seal of Solomon. We also have a hexagon in geometric shapes, and hexapods, which are insects.

June is the sixth month, and Saturday is the sixth day when the week starts with Monday. Saturday is named for Saturn or the Titan Cronus in disguise which ties six to time in another way. Cronus controlled generation as in when the weekend begins or the turning point for a new week,  and dissolution as when the work weekends or the end of the current week, and later became tied to time itself.  So even if it is the fifth or sixth day, it is in keeping with Cronus's control. Six am and six pm mean a quarter and three-quarters of the day is done. Six has been an important measure for a long time whether in time or quantity as a half-dozen.

In science, Carbon (C) has the atomic number six and is the sixth element on the periodic table.

Six is the Christian number of creation and order as God created the world in six days. It is also symbolic of the ending of effort, but six is also a day of imperfection as it is one day short of a complete week. The Sixth Commandment is ‘Thou shall not kill.’ In the Bible, the manna fell from heaven for 6 days; Jesus changed six pots of water into wine for his first miracle. Six, as already mentioned represents the Seal of Solomon and the six-point star of Judaism. Three sixes, 666, represents the devil. The Hexateuch is the first six books of the Old Testament. By the 9th Century, Sext was a canonical hour for mid-day prayer services.

A sixte in fencing is the sixth defensive position, and in cards, we have a six-spot or sixer, and in dice Captain Hicks.

Numerology assigns the number six to the alpha letters f, o, x. Six’s Astrological association is the House of Virgo. Six represents the human soul because six is symbolic of the union between fire and water, and is the number of ambivalence and effort. It is a 'perfect number' because it equals the sum of its divisors and is divisible by both a 3 (odd) and a 2 (even), thus harmoniously combining the elements of each; this leads to it becoming a hermaphroditic number. Six is the number of love, marriage, and domestic happiness. The Pythagoreans referred to this number as 'the perfection of all points.' They considered six the form of forms, the maker of the soul, and the articulation of the universe. Its keywords are time, panacea, the world, overabundance, and being indefatigable. Its associated deities are Orpheus, the Muse Thalia, and the Fate Lachesis.

Again, come up on the bad side of six and you earn the negative connotations of being unfinished or imperfect in business, and projects, while conversely, becoming a workaholic. It might mean you have lost your sense of time and place because you are in want or exhausted. Worst of all, it can mean you are working for evil.

In Tarot divination, the sixth card is the lovers. This card represents knowledge of the super-conscious by seeing through the subconscious. The card indicates choice, temptation, attraction, and the struggle between sacred and profane love. One positive aspect is harmony between the inner and outer aspects of life.

Venus, Diana, Janus, and the heart are symbols of six. Venus governs love, harmony, artistry, feminine sexuality, attractions, affection, physical beauty, and art. A double triangle or circle divided into six parts represents the unity of spirit and body and harmony between man and God.

In common usage, you have a half dozen, a six-shooter or six-gun, a six-pack, a six-penny, six fold, or a six-footer.

There you have it, all things six. For more on six check Wikipedia.
~ * ~
Sources used for information:
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tenth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Isolation makes any population more susceptible to disease. When the Vagrant Spirit’s crew comes down with a new strain caught at the ship’s last docking, disease-resistant Renna takes over the flightdeck for several days. Her actions lead to this scene.

~ * ~

Dom Jake grasped her shoulders and held her against the partition, the ladder pressing into her back. Zak stood behind him.

Renna blinked and tried to make sense of the Dom's raving. “The course drifted one-hundredth of a degree every nine hours,” she answered as her senses woke. “You said to use common sense before calling you. I corrected for the engine misfire. I suspect there is an energy lag in the rotation firing system. The event is noted in the log.”

“You damn stupid podder! Of course, there is! You think we don't know? I told you the course was set. Your corrections put us off course! We'll be late, again!”

There was no defense; nothing she could say. He stopped yelling and pushed her against the partition before he backed away. His flushed face and clenched hands revealed his fury. She looked from him to Zak. They both looked dreadful, ashen, and angry. “I can replot the course.”

“No!” Dom Jake said in the same denigrating tone Dom Dukan used when he found her unusually inept. “You stay away from my flight deck. Stay away from anything to do with ship's function. I thought you could handle a ship.”

Renna felt heat filling her face with familiar shame at Dom Jake’s reprimand. Calmness, professionalism, duty. She bit the inside of her cheeks.
~ * ~
Yes, Jake comes off as a douchbag