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Pookline

LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN

The image of the "Lucky 7" dice roll is usually made of 5 + 2, as on the cover of the Perry Mason mystery novel "The Case of the Lucky Legs", but it sometimes comes up 4 + 3, as on this gold-plated American "Lucky 7" money clip. The "Lucky 7" dice roll is found on quite a lot of hoodoo curio packaging, including 7-day candles; the character called Lady Luck, in her Irish-Amewrican World War Two incarnation, wears dice for earrings and they always show 7. These "Lucky 7" images all derive from the dice game of craps, where rolling 7 wins, and thus the dice that roll 7 are a symbol of gambler's luck

But there is more to the luck of 7 than its place in games of chance. Why is 7 so fortunate? The following colloquy, begun in a Freemasonic mailing list in 1995, was continued in the alt.lucky.w newsgroup and the pre-war blues e-list from 1997 - 1999. It is currently my most complete summary of the LUCKY SEVEN concept.

From: Chrcor@aol.com, Chris Corrigan

Hello, all. Greetings from Fellowship Lodge #490, Flint, Michigan.

A question that has come up in lodge is the mention of the number seven. Why is the number seven important in Masonry?

I can think of the seven days of the week, the seven arts and sciences, but come to a halt there. Would very much appreciate your comments.

Order-Japanese-Lucky-7-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Oils-From-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company

From: jmudie@public.compusult.nf.ca, John " Scotty " Mudie

  • There is on a Scottish Mason's apron seven tassels on each side and when the apron was placed around me for the very first time these same seven tassels intrigued me so much that it led me to the field of research of our Great Order.

  • In almost every system of antiquity there are frequent references to the number seven.

  • The Pythagoreans called it the perfect number, 3 and 4, the triangle and the square, the perfect figures.

  • There were for instance seven ancient planets. The sun was the greatest planet of the ancient seven and next to the sun, the moon, changing in all its splendor every seventh day.

  • The Arabians had seven Holy Temples.

  • In Persian mysteries there were seven spacious caverns through which the aspirants had to pass.

  • The Goths had seven deities, as did the Romans, from whose names are derived our days of the week.

  • In Scriptural history there is a frequent recurrence to this number. E.g. in Revelation 1:16 -- "and He had in His right hand seven stars, " alluding to the seven churches of Asia. (The seven stars are depicted on a RWM's apron in the Scottish Constitution).

  • For us as Masons, King Solomon was seven years building the Temple. It was dedicated to the glory of God in the seventh month and the festival lasted seven days.

  • There are, as you stated, Brother Chris, our seven liberal arts and sciences.

  • We require seven Brethren to make a Lodge perfect and we have our seven steps on the winding staircase.

  • Reverting back to the Masonic apron, in the course of time aprons became embellished with much ornamentation until the present form of apron was instituted. There was no deliberation on the part of our ancient Brethren to place seven tassels on each side of the apron because the number seven has and probably always will be a sacred number in Masonic symbolism.

  • To assist further, Brother Chris, i suggest consulting Albert G. Mackey's "Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry," which devotes two full pages to the number seven.

    I sincerely hope you enjoy the research as much as I have.

    Order-Bath-Crystal-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Bath-Crystals-From-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company

    From: Gordon Charlton, gordon@charlton.demon.co.uk

    That reminds me of a story. Whilst on holiday in Austria we participated in the games laid on for the evening by the tour company. We were part of a team of seven, and for each round of the game (a rather silly one involving bending over and throwing bowling balls between your legs) we adopted a different set of seven names.

  • The seven dwarfs
  • The seven deadly sins
  • The Trumpton fire brigade (a UK children's cartoon: They are Pugh, Pugh, Barney, Magrew, Cuthburt, Dibble and Grub)
  • The seven orders of architecture
  • The seven seas
  • The Seven Sisters
  • and so on.

  • Maya (my wife) reminds me that the seventh son of a seventh son is supposed to be born gifted. Apparently Donny Osmond was such a son. I pass no comment on his "gifts."

  • "The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Numbers" notes (amongst other things) "If a, b are the shorter sides of a Pythagorean triangle, the seven divides one of a, b, a-b or a+b"

  • It also reminds us that there are 7 basically different patterns of symmetry for a frieze design, which I suppose may be of interest to an operative Mason. (I actually knew this as my father was in wallpaper for a time.)

  • It claims the Greeks called 7 the "rational diagonal" of a square of side 5, apparently *because* (7^2)+1=50, which makes no sense to me.

  • Finally it postulates that the "St. Ives" problem (As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, etc) dates back over 3500 years, and can be traced to an Egyptian scribe. (This theory can be traced back, possibly more reliably, to one R. J. Gillingham, "Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs," MIT Press, 1972.)
  • Order-Japanese-Lucky-7-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Incense-Powder-from-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company

    From: Rick Reade (bowen@unm.edu)

  • There are seven visible planets and luminaries (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). Each one rules a day of the week (Sun=Sunday, Saturn= Saturday, Moon=Monday, etc.) and that is where the seven day week came from. Each one is supposed to have a particular virtue or power.

  • Harold Percival believed that each one of us is an individual trinity, the "Triune Self", part of which re-exists in our mortal bodies, blah, blah, blah. It has seven minds:
    • body-mind
    • feeling-mind
    • desire-mind
    • rightness
    • reason
    • I-ness and
    • Selfness.
    When the Triune Self progresses to the next noetic level and becomes an "Intelligence", those seven minds become "faculties":
    • focus faculty
    • image faculty,
    • dark faculty
    • time faculty
    • motive faculty
    • I-Am faculty and
    • Light faculty.
    For more see "Thinking and Destiny; Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas; Masonry and Its Symbols (incorporated in the 11th ed. of T&D) by Harold W. Percival.
  • From: Kirk Crady, kcrady@polaris.cv.nrao.edu

  • Checking various sources for references to the number seven, I was struck by this quote from Manly P. Hall:

    "The 3 (spirit, mind, soul) descend into the 4 (the world), the sum being the 7, or the mystic nature of man, consisting of a threefold spiritual body and a fourfold material form. These are symbolized by the cube, which has six surfaces and a mysterious seventh point within..."

  • You may make of it what you will, but I would also observe, in reading the above quote, that the Masonic apron apparently illustrates his meaning quite beautifully: consisting of a triangle (3) fitted to a square (4). . . With this perspective in mind, its several permutations make for an interesting source of further thought.
  • From: Michael Sykuta, SYKUTA@Katz.Business.Pitt.Edu

  • From Masonic sources:
    "The 7 days of the week, the 7 sabbatical years, the 7 years of famine, the 7 years of plenty, the 7 years occupied in the building of King Solomon's Temple, and especially the 7 liberal arts and sciences."
  • From: catherine yronwode (cat@luckymojo.com)
    (that's me, the keeper of this web site)

  • A circa 1930s bronze Lucky Coin in my possession bears images of what the designer considered to be The 7 Lucky Artifacts: These surround an All-Seeing Eye, a Masonic symbol. Beneath the eye are the words, "The All-Seeing Eye Guards You From Evil."

  • In the small town of Nevada City, California, there is a market called the Lucky 7 Grocery Store. The reference is to the fact that in some gambling games a score of 7 wins the turn.

  • When Inanna the Queen of Heaven (the major love, fertility, and war goddess of the Sumerians) descended into Hell, she was forced to pass through seven gates, at each of which she was required to remove one of her garments, until she stood before her sister Erishkigal the Queen of the Underworld, naked and defenseless. She was then struck dead by seven plagues. Later, upon her return from Hell, she passed though the same seven gates, at each of which she resumed one of her garments. (See Samuel Noah Kramer and Diane Wolkstein's "Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth" for the full text of what happened to her in Hell and how she got out alive.)

  • In African-American hoodoo there is are several formulas for anointing oil, soap, and floor wash that use the numebr seven. Among them are Seven Herb Bath, Gambler's Gold Lucky Seven Hand Wash, Seven-Eleven Holy Type Oil, and a relatively modern line of products marketed under the name Seven African Powers. These "powers" are better known in the African-Caribbean Santeria religion as the Orishas or natural forces of the African Yoruba people, who during slavery days became identified with seven Catholic saints. Images of the Seven African Powers can be found on Santeria votive candles.

  • The Seven Sisters is a term used to indicate the constellation of the Pleiades -- but The Seven Sisters of New Orleans were a family of hoodoo women who lived and practiced in the Crescent City in the 1920s - 30s. Mentioned by several of Harry Middleton Hyatt's informants, they were said to have a house "by the water" and were popular enough to became the subject of a blues song by the Texas musician J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith (whose name was sometimes wrongly written as "Funny Paper Smith"). Here are complete lyrics for "Seven Sisters Blues, Parts I and 2" recorded October 3rd, 1931 in Chicago and released on two sides of a 78 rpm record. Notice that the number 21 (3 times 7) also appears in this song. The transciption is by Chris Smith (chris@skerries.demon.co.uk):

    SEVEN SISTERS BLUES - PARTS 1 and 2
    J. T. "Funny Papa" Smith

    PART 1

    They tell me Seven Sisters in New Orleans
            that can really fix a man up right
    They tell me Seven Sisters in New Orleans
            that can really fix a man up right
    And I'm headed for New Orleans, Louisiana,
            I'm travelin' both day and night.

    I hear them say the oldest Sister
            look just like she's 21
    I hear them say the oldest Sister
            look just like she's 21
    And said she can look right in your eyes
            and tell you just exactly what you want done.

    They tell me they've been hung,
            been bled, and been crucified
    They tell me they've been hung,
            been bled, and been crucified
    But I just want enough help
            to stand on the water and rule the tide.

    It's bound to be Seven Sisters,
            'cause I've heard it by everybody else
    It's bound to be Seven Sisters,
            I've heard it by everybody else
    Course, I'd love to take their word,
            but I'd rather go and see for myself.

    When I leave the Seven Sisters,
            I'll pile stones all around
    When I leave the Seven Sisters,
            I'll pile stones all around
    And go to my baby and tell her,
            "There's another Seven Sister man in town."

    Good morning, Seven Sisters,
            just thought I'd come down and see
    Good morning, Seven Sisters,
            I thought I'd come down to see
    Will you build me up where I'm torn down,
            and make me strong where I'm weak?

    PART 2

    I went to New Orleans, Louisiana,
            just on account of something I heard
    I went to New Orleans, Louisiana,
            just on account of something I heard
    The Seven Sisters told me everything I wanted to know,
            and they wouldn't let me speak a word.

    Now, it's Sarah, Minnie, Bertha,
            Holly, Dolly, Betty and Jane
    Sarah, Minnie, Bertha,
            Holly, Dolly, Betty and Jane
    You can't know them Sisters apart,
            because they all looks just the same.

    The Seven Sisters sent me away happy,
            'round the corner I met another little girl
    Seven Sisters sent me 'way happy,
            'round the corner I met another little girl
    She looked at me and smiled, and said,
            "Go, Devil, and destroy the world."

    [spoken] I'm gonna destroy it, too.

    [spoken] I'm all right now.

    Seven times a year
            the Seven Sisters will visit me in my sleep
    Seven times a year
            the Seven Sisters will visit me all in my sleep
    And they said I won't have no trouble,
            and said I'll live twelve days in a week.

    Wanna go down in Louisiana,
            and get the hell right out of your bein'
    Wanna go down in Louisiana,
            and get right out of your bein'
    These Seven Sisters can do anything in Louisiana,
            but you'll have to go to New Orleans.

    As Funny Papa Smith's song indicates, the Seven Sisters demonstrated a "gift" or mark of power commonly found among hoodoo root workers: they could tell a client what was wrong before he or she spoke. This gift was also attributed to the Arkanasas conjure and spiritualist Aunt Caroline Dye. Advertisements for such seers may make reference to their telepathic power with stock phrases such as "She tells all before you utter a word" or "Don't tell her -- let her tell you!"

    The famous Seven Sisters of New Orleans gave rise to numerous imitators, among them Ida Carter, a hoodoo women in Hogansville, Alabama, who called herself "Seven Sisters," despite being a single individual. In recent years the Seven Sisters of New Orleans name has became a brand of hoodoo products distributed by International Imports.

  • The theme of "seven lucky brothers" is a recurrent folkloric motif. I am reminded of the German folk tale (recorded by the Grimm brothers) of the "Seven Brothers Turned to Swans" and of the mid-20th century musical "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

  • This brings us back to the "Seventh Son" concept touched on earlier -- and the special luck attributed to the seventh son of a seventh son, as seen in Willie Dixon's blues song "The Seventh Son," recorded by Willie Mabon in 1955 and also by Mose Allison. Thanks to Chris Smith (chris@skerries.demon.co.uk) for the transcription:

    THE SEVENTH SON
    by Willie Dixon (Arc/BMI)

    Now everybody's crying about the Seventh Son,
    In the whole round world there is only one;
    I'm the one, I'm the one,
    I'm the one, I'm the one, the one they call the Seventh Son.

    Now I can tell your future before it comes to pass,
    I can do things for you makes your heart feel glad;
    I can look at the skies and predict the rain,
    I can tell when a woman's got another man;
    I'm the one, I'm the one,
    I'm the one, I'm the one, the one they call the Seventh Son.

    I can hold you close and squeeze you tight,
    I can make you cry for me both day and night,
    I can heal the sick and raise the dead,
    I can make you little girls talk all out of your head;
    I'm the one, I'm the one,
    I'm the one, I'm the one, the one they call the Seventh Son.

    Now, I can talk these words that sound so sweet,
    And make your loving heart even skip a beat.
    I can take you, baby, and hold you in my arms,
    And make the flesh quiver on your lovely bones;
    I'm the one, I'm the one,
    I'm the one, I'm the one, the one they call the Seventh Son.

  • In alt.folklore.urban a post from Barbara Mikkelson gave more details:

    Quoting from "A Dictionary Of Superstitions" by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem (Oxford University Press, 1992):

    1579: Lupton's "Thousand Notable Things": "It is manifest by experience that the seuenth Male Chyld by iust order (neuer a Gyrle or Wench borne betweene) doth heele onely with touching through a naturall gyft, the Kings Euyll."

    ("The King's Evil" is the skin disease scrofula.)

  • Then there's the Muddy Waters' song, "Hootchie Cootchie Man" (written by WIllie Dixon) -- with its "seven doctors" -- partial lyrics courtesy Carl Wagoner :

    On the seventh hour
    of the seventh day
    of the seventh month
    the seven doctors say
    "He were born for good luck
    that you'll see"
    I got seven hundred dollars
    don't you mess with me
    'cause i'm the hootchie cootchie man...
  • From: Yoke Lim

  • In Chinese culture, the number 7 also features rather prominently in some aspects of life. For example, the seventh day of the first moon of the lunar year is known as Human's Day. That day is considered the birthday of all human beings universally. That is why a Chinese is deemed to be a year older on that day, regardless of what the actual date of birth is. But this is not to say that a Chinese does not celebrate a birthday on the actual day of birth.

    I have no idea how far back in time this idea started, but as I write this, I am struck by the coincidence of the Christian concept of creation of the world by the seventh day as related in Genesis.

  • Similarly, on a death, a special ceremony is held on the 49th day after death, that is, 7 X 7 days. It signifies the final parting.
  • Order-Japanese-Lucky-7-Magic-Ritual-Hoodoo-Rootwork-Conjure-Sachet-Powder-From-the-Lucky-Mojo-Curio-Company

    From: dhand302@aol.com (DHAND302)

  • I came across a reference (in Encyclopedia Britannica, actually) to the "Shichi-fuku-jin," or the Seven Gods of Luck in Japanese folklore. They're described as comical deities often depicted riding on a treasure ship with various magical implements, such as a hat of invisibility, rolls of brocade, an inexhaustible purse, keys to the divine treasure-house, cloves, scrolls or books, a lucky rain hat, or a robe of feathers.

    I've never heard of these whimsical little dudes before, but I instinctively like them a lot. Yet when I went to the library to research this a bit further (at least find a good picture of them) I found nary a trace.

    Anybody else know anything more?

  • From: weldonkees@aol.com (WeldonKees) (Paul Edson)

  • The "shichi-fukujin," translated either as the "Seven Gods of Happiness" or "Seven Gods of Luck" are personifications of earthly happiness in Japanese folk religion. They are:

  • HOTEI: the "fat" or "laughing" Buddha, who personifies your garden-variety mirth and merriment.
  • BISHAMONTEN: the watchman
  • FUKUROKUJU: the god of longevity
  • JUROJIN: the god of scholarship
  • DAIKOKU: the god of nutrition
  • EBISU: the god of fishing
  • BENZAITEN: the goddess of music.
  • These seven are often portrayed together riding on a treasure ship, but may also be carved or depicted individually. Representations are often in the form of wooden or ivory amulets and most commonly are used to pin together the kimono. I don't have any further information about what objects are generally carried by or associated with each, sorry.

    These seven gods are probably an expansion of earlier Chinese deities who fulfilled the same sorts of functions. The Chinese deities were five in number, dressed in the red robes of civil servants, and each was usually accompanied by a bat. In fact, five bats depicted together often stand in for the gods as a symbol of luck.

    (Information from "The Dictionary of Symbolism" by Hans Biedermann and from my brother, who has a master's degree in Japanese culture and language.)


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