September (Mensis September) is named for the latin word septum, meaning “seven”, based on the ancient 10-month lunar Calendar of Romulus (c. 738 BCE). The year began in March, which made September the seventh month. September was aligned with the Fall Equinox. In 153 BCE the beginning of the year changed to January. September was now the ninth month, but its name remained unchanged. This may be due to the fact that seven was a mystical and auspicious number.
In Hebrew, the word for almond is “shakeid“, meaning “to watch” or “awake”, based on the fact that almonds are one of the first trees to blossom in spring. They are also a sign of resilience and patience, because they are one of the last to bear fruit/nuts in fall.
The almond, Prunus amygdalus, is native to the ancient region of Mesopotamia, (Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey). The number seven, along with the almond tree, represent two of the shared roots between the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Around 3500 BCE, the Mesopotamians (Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians) began to take note of seven “wandering stars” that moved in contrast to the fixed stars. They attached human and god-like qualities to these “wanderers” who “watched” over earth and humans. As these early astronomers “watched the watchers”, they began to receive “divine” wisdom. These “wandering watchers” (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn along with the Sun and Moon) were later known by the Greeks as planetes asteres “wandering stars”, or classical planets.
Seven is also associated with the “Seven Sisters” of the Pleiades star cluster, which rise and fall in Spring and Fall. The most famous “seven stars” in the Northern Hemisphere are associated with the changing North Star. In Latin they were known as the Septentrios, – septum (seven) and trio (plow). In Hindi, these seven stars represented the seven Rishis (Sages). We know them as the Little Dipper and Big Dipper, which are technically asterisms formed by the seven brightest stars within the constellations of Ursa Minor (Little Bear) and Ursa Major (Great Bear). The Egyptians used these two asterisms to locate the North Star (Thuban) 6000 years ago.
By knowing the location of the North Star early humans were able to accurately record the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars. By observing these movements they created maps, calendars, math and time. Most ancient astronomers believed in a geocentric model, where Earth was the center of the universe that aligned with the North Star in the center of the cosmic void. This concept was universally accepted until the early 1800’s.
The Sumerian’s created their calendar based on a sexagesimal (base 60) numeral system. They defined a circle as 360 degrees.
- A lunar year = 12, 30-day moon cycles. (360)
- A celestial year = 12, 30-degree aspects of the night sky. (360)
- A solar year = 360, 24-hr days (plus five additional days).
- An hour = 60 minutes.
- A minute = 60 seconds.
360 is divisible by every number from 1-10 except for 7, therefore seven was a mysterious number that represented both chaos and order.
They created a 7-day week, based on the 4 phases of the moon. The first day of each month began when the crescent moon appeared at sunset. The 7th, 14th and 21st were considered auspicious days, where anything could happen. The 28th day was a day of rest until another new crescent moon appeared, which was was seen as a sign from the gods.
The “seven gods who decree” were known as the Anunnaki, based on Anu (sky) and Ki (earth).
- An/Anu – sky
- Ki – earth
- Enlil – air
- Enki – water
- Nanna – moon
- Utu – sun
- Inanna – venus/star
These seven gods were identified in the Sumerian creation myth, The Eridu Genesis, written in the Sumerian language using cuneiform around 1600 BCE.
- An (sky) and Ki (earth) gave birth to Enlil (lord of wind).
- Enlil created air between earth and sky to separate them.
- Enlil divided his mother into three aspects:
- Ki – heavenly mother.
- Nammu – mother of primordial waters.
- Ninhursag – mother of the mountains.
- An (Sky) and Nammu (primordial water) gave birth to Enki (lord of earth/water).
- Enlil and Ninlil gave birth to Nanna (moon).
- Nanna (moon) and Ningal gave birth to Utu (sun) and Inanna (venus/star).
- Nammu (primordial water), Enlil (air) and Enki (earth) created humans in their image.
- Unhappy with humans the gods decide to send a flood.
- Enki intervenes and warns a man and his wife to build an ark to save mankind.
These seven gods are also found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem of 12-cuneiform tablets that record the adventures of Gilgamesh in his search for immortality. The Epic of Gilgamesh also includes a creation story, a flood story of seven days and seven nights, and the release of a dove after seven days of rest. This epic poem was first etched in clay around 2100 BCE, based on the language of Sumerians and Akkadians. Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language, but its roots grew into Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic.
Mesopotamian gods were worshipped in “Temple Towns” as patron deities. Each town had a temple with a statue of their patron god, who lived inside. Nanna, was the patron deity of Ur (Southern Iraq). Nanna (Moon) was the father of the Utu (Sun) and Inanna (Venus) seen as the “Timekeeper”. Enlil (sky) was seen as the “Ruler of the Gods”.
Eventually the “wandering watchers” were assigned to specific planets, based on their qualities.
- Sun – Utu
- Moon – Nanna
- Mars – Gugulanna – (Bull of Heaven)
- Mercury – Enki
- Jupiter – Enlil
- Venus – Inanna
- Saturn – Ninurta (Shepherd/Farmer)
The Sumerians are also credited with the creation of the first astronomical grid that defined the 12 aspects of the Zodiac (Greek for “ring of animals”). The stars and planets were seen as messengers who held vast amounts of information. They were consulted on a continual basis.
To date, Babylonian astrology was first recorded on 70 cuneiform tablets containing 7,000 messages, called Enuma Anu Enlil, in 1500 BCE.
The Fall Equinox occurred in the seventh moon of “Scales”, which was later called Libra or “The Scales of Justice”. The “Scales” represented the balance between the Spring and Fall Equinox, when day and night are “Equal”. Based on the precession of the equinoxes, the autumnal equinox now occurs in Virgo “Virgin”.
Ur was the legendary home of Abraham, the “father” of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He and his caravan carried the stories of their ancestors with them as they traveled from southern to northern Iraq, through Syria and into Egypt before settling in the land of Canaan (Israel).
In Canaan the story splits between Abraham’s two sons: Ishmael and Isaac.
- The Judeo-Christian story focuses on Isaac – son of Abraham and Sarah. Abrahams’ loyalty to god/El is tested. He is told to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah (Temple Mt in Jerusalem). Abraham complies, then an angel tells him to stop because he has proven his loyalty and instructs Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead. Isaac goes on to become the father of Jacob (Israel) and grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel. Moses and Aaron descended from the tribe of Levi. Jesus is said to descend from the tribe of Judah.
- The Islamic story focuses on Ishmael – first-born son of Abraham and Hagar. Abraham’s loyalty to god/Allah is tested. He is told to sacrifice Ishmael in Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Abraham complies, as does Ishmael, then an angel tells him to stop because he has proven his loyalty. Abraham visits Ishmael several times in Mecca and builds the Kaaba (house of god/Allah) and places the black stone in the east corner. He also establishes the rituals of the Hajj (pilgrimage). Ishmael goes on to become the “father of the Arabs” or Ishmaelites. The prophet Muhammad is said to be a descendent of Ishmael.
Historians believe the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) were written around 500 BCE, when Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire (First Persian Empire) freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Cyrus was willing to let them return to Jerusalem, if they created a book of laws. This opportunity brought together the priestly class, who traced their origin to Moses, with those who traced their story to Abraham. Together they rewrote the ancient stories passed down in the oral tradition.
The first sentence of Genesis 1:1 contains seven Hebrew words:
“Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz“. This translates to: “In the beginning Elohim (god) created the heavens and earth.”
The Seven Days of Creation. (Genesis 1:3-3:24)
- First day – Light/Day & Dark/Night
- Second day – Sky & Sea
- Third day – Land & Vegetation
- Fourth day – Sun, Moon and Stars
- Fifth day – Birds, Fish and Sea Creatures
- Sixth day – Animals and Humans
- Seventh day – Rest
Between 700-500 BCE, the Babylonians began to assign the seven classical planets to the seven days of the week. Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato supported the seven-day week, which aligned with the seven-days of creation, the seven-classical planets and the seven-notes of a musical scale, called the Music of the Spheres. All of this resonated with the divine presence of the celestial spheres. Earth was seen as the center of the universe and the planets were believed to revolve around it in harmonious and concentric circles.
Claudius Ptolemy wrote his treatise the Almagest around 150 CE. It was canonized as law, by the Romans and the Catholic Church. Not until the Rennaisance, when thinkers such as Copernicus, Galileo and Newton proved that the Sun was the center of the solar system, was the heliocentric model accepted. The Roman Catholic Church didn’t formally “approve” it until the 1800’s.
In 321 CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine officially established the seven-day week in the Julian calendar. He named the days for their Roman planetary gods. After converting to Christianity, he also designated Sunday as the seventh day of rest and made it a “holy day”. When Latin was translated into German and English, the names of the days were replaced with Germanic and Norse gods that represented the same attributes as the Greco-Roman and Mesopotamian gods that came before.
- Sun – Sunday – Sun’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Sunne
- Roman/Latin – Solis/Sol
- Greek – Hemera Helio
- Mesopotamian – Utu/Shamash
- Moon – Monday – Moon’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Mani/Monde
- Roman/Latin – Lunae/Luna
- Greek – Selene
- Mesopotamian – Nanna/Sin
- Mars – Tuesday – Tyr’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Tiwaz/Tyr
- Roman/Latin – Martis/Mars
- Greek – Ares
- Mesopotamian – Gugulanna/Nergal
- Mercury – Wednesday – Woden’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Woden/Odin
- Roman/Latin – Mercuris/Mercury
- Greek – Hermes
- Mesopotamian – Enki/Ea/Nabu
- Jupiter – Thursday – Thor’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Thor
- Roman/Latin – Jovis/Jove/Jupiter
- Greek – Zeus
- Hebrew – El/Elohim/Yahweh
- Mesopotamian – Enlil/Marduk/Bel
- Venus – Friday – Freya’s day
- Germanic/Norse – Freya
- Roman/Latin – Veneris/Venus
- Greek – Aphrodite
- Hebrew – Asherah/Ashtart/Anath
- Mesopotamian – Inanna/Ishtar
- Saturn – Saturday – Saturn’s day
- Roman/Latin – Saturni/Saturn
- Greek – Uranus/Cronus
- Mesopotamian – Ninurta
All three monotheistic religions believe the number seven is sacred. Seven represented completion, order and divine perfection. Even though they share the same ancient stories of Ur and the linage of Abraham, they branched off into three separate faiths, each interpreted the number seven differently.
Judaism – “It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested” – Exodus, 31:17.
- Seventh day of rest is Sabbath on Saturday.
- The number seven in Hebrew is Sheh-bah, or Sabbath.
- Follow a lunar calendar that begins on the first day of the seventh month (Tishri).
- Days of the week are named for the seven Hebrew numbers.
- Calendar years begin on the year of the seven days of creation (currently 5782).
- The temple Menorah is a seven-branched oil lamp modeled after an almond tree.
- Each of the plagues of Egypt lasted for seven days.
- The first Temple took seven years to build.
- Solomon’s Temple was dedicated in the seventh month of Tishri.
- There are seven major holidays in the Jewish year.
- Passover and Sukkot are both celebrated for seven days.
- Shavuot occurs seven weeks after Passover.
- When as person dies, the family sits in shiva for seven days.
Christianity – “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.” Genesis 2:3.
- Seventh day of rest is Sunday.
- Days of the week are named for the seven planetary gods of Rome.
- Follow a solar calendar that begins on the first day of the first month (January).
- Calendar years begin on the calculated year of Jesus’s birth (currently 2022)
- Seven represents the four corners of Earth and the Holy Trinity.
- Seven appears 49 times (7×7) in the Book of Revelations, Seven Churches of Asia, Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Spiritual Figures, Seven Bowls, Seven Angels
- Seven Deadly Sins: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride.
- Seven Heavenly Virtues: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Gratitude, Humility.
- Seven Archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, Camael, Jophiel, and Zadkiel.
- Seven Fallen Angels: Moloch, Chemosh, Dagon, Belial, Beelzebub and Lucifer/Satan
Islam – “He who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then established himself on the Throne.” – Qur’an 57:4.
- Seventh day is a day of prayer or Jumma on Friday.
- Follow a lunar calendar that begins on the first day in the first month of Muharram.
- Calendar years begin when Muhammad journeyed from Mecca to Medina (currently 1444).
- In the seventh month of Rajab, Muhammad experienced (al-Isra) the “Night Journey” from Mecca to the Temple Mt. in Jerusalem. Accompanied by the archangel Gabriel.
- In the seventh month of Rajab, Muhammad ascended (al-Miraj) through the seven heavens.
- Muhammad climbed through the “Gate of Watchers” where met seven prophets – John the Baptist, Jesus, Joseph, Enoch, Aaron, Moses, Abraham.
- During Hajj, in Mecca, a series of practices occur is sequences of seven.
- Pilgrims walk around the Kaaba seven times, to recreate the seven days of creation.
- They walk seven times between Safa and Marwah, to relive Hajar’s struggle to find water.
- They throw seven pebbles at three walls to “stone the devil” to release their anger, jealousy etc.
- Seven Gates of Hell.
September is also the month when we remember 9/11/2001.
For me, it was a wake up call to begin researching the roots of world belief to understand our shared roots. This process has inspired me to write about trees and the number seven from multiple perspectives. So in this “ninth” month, named for the number “seven” I chose the almond tree not only for its religious roots, but also because of its botanical name. I hope it can shine a light on us all.
The English word “almond” is derived from the Greek word amygdala.
In human biology, the amygdala are two almond-shaped clusters of neurons in the frontal portion of the left and right temporal lobes of our brain. These two “watchful” clusters process memory as well as our response to fear. The right side interprets negative stimuli as factual, while the left discerns it as pleasant or unpleasant. Our response to fear, known as fight or flight, has become hard-wired into our brains as a survival mechanism, stored in our long-term memory. This response was helpful for our survival as a species, but today it is typically triggered by emotions such as stress, anger and fear vs actual physical threats to our life. This can manifest in the form of panic attacks, anxiety and or depression.
The good news is that we each have the ability to rewire our brain to override this fight or flight response. By consciously tuning into our heart and using our breath to center our mind, we can more accurately discern what is actually happening to us. By practicing mindfulness we can become aware of our triggers and see them for what they are, triggers. Each trigger carries an insight for us on how to move forward. These insights can empower us to regain our balance and feel calmer.
The word “almond” derives from the Italian word “mandorla“, meaning “almond-shaped”. The Sanskrit word for mandorla is Yoni. Yoni is considered the source of life: a divine passage of the soul from spirit to matter. It is seen as a symbol of the sacred feminine.
In sacred geometry, this shape is known as a Vesica Piscis. For students of Pythagoras (Greek philosopher circa 570-490 BCE) the Vesica Piscis meant “measure of a fish”, which was seen as the intersection of the watery world of matter with the divine world of the sky. Pythagoreans saw math as a path to spiritual liberation.
Sacred geometry’s roots date also back to the ancient Sumerians, who first defined a circle as 360 equidistant points around a counterpoint. The “one” infinite circle divides itself in “two” in a process of self-creation. An example of this would be the archetypal story of the cosmic void that created earth and sky to birth life on earth. The vesica piscis also represents the womb of the sacred feminine, associated with the lunar cycles and the creation essence of water.
To Jews, the Vesica Piscis is seen in the shape of the seven flames of the seven-branched Menorah that represents an almond tree as the immortal Tree of Life. To Christians the Vesica Piscis represents the womb of the Virgin Mary who birthed Jesus, as heaven and earth merged within her. Jesus is often referred to as a “fisher of men”. A stylized version of the Vesica Piscis, turned on its side, is called an ichthys or “Jesus Fish”. For Muslims the Vesica Piscis represents the womb of the universe that holds the sacred black stone that was handed down from Adam or Abraham. According to legend, the stone was originally white, but the sins of man turned it black. The black stone represents the ovum of the universe. It is placed in the East corner of the Kaaba in Mecca.
The Vesica Piscis goes on to birth the Seed of Life, also referred to as the Genesis Pattern or Creation Matrix. It contains six interlocking circles representing the six days of creation. The seventh circle of “rest” is seen as both the inner center point and the outer circle that surrounds it.
The marriage of seven and the almond tree can also be found in the Magdala Stone, which was discovered in a Temple along the Sea of Galilee. In the Babylonian Talmud, the town of Magdala was known as Magdala Nunayya or “Tower of Fishes”. It was thought to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. The remains of a Temple dating back to 100 BCE were discovered in 2009. The Magdala Stone bears the oldest known example of a seven-branched menorah. The Seed of Life is etched on its top, representing the seven lights of the menorah, the seven heavenly lamps of the “watchers” and the seven days of creation.
The “Seed of Life” grows into the “Flower of Life” when a ring of 12-circles are added to its 7-circles. These twelve additional circles represent the 12 moons, or lunar month of 30-days within a lunar year, as well as the 12-constellations of the zodiac. Together they form a matrix of 19-interlocking circles, which is the exact number of years it takes to synchronize a lunisolar calendar. This harmony is achieved by adding an extra lunar month, seven times, within a 19-year solar cycle. This process is known as a Metonic cycle, named for Meton of Athens c. 432 BCE.
The Flower of Life reveals the Tree of Life matrix of the Kabbalah in Jewish mysticism, which shares similar ideologies with Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. The Tree of Life matrix represents the mystical journey of the soul as it descends into human form, then we as humans can consciously ascend to attain divine oneness in this life.
This mystical journey compliments the yogic teachings of the seven chakras (Sanskrit word for sacred wheels) found within our energetic anatomy. The chakras work in harmony with seven mantras “sacred sounds” and the seven spectral colors of the rainbow (white, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red). To learn more visit my other site: mandalachakra.com.
There are endless meanings attached to the number seven, in all beliefs, that I haven’t touched upon here. One is the concept of Seven Generations, a principle based on the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) philosophy that what we do today impacts the next seven generations. This is a reminder that we are the ones we are waiting for. That we can make a difference now.
September symbolizes the “death” of the agricultural year, when the growing season ends. This is a time to release what we no longer need and to harvest what will sustain us. Clearing clutter from our body, mind, heart and home is an important process as we prepare for the winter ahead.
The number seven and the almond tree symbolizes the sacred creation essence within all of us. Let us create balance and harmony as we move through the darkness and the light.
May we begin to create a new story of peace within ourselves and with each other for the next seven generations to come. Let us not be afraid to step out of fear and see what it has to teach us.
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Ideas for September:
- Take stock of what you need and don’t need.
- Clear excess clutter for your life.
- Perfect time for fall cleaning of your home, garden, office etc..
- Enjoy a handful of almonds or make a trial mix of nuts and dried fruits.
- Take a walk in the forest before the leaves turn and fall off the trees.
- Honor your roots and the stories of your ancestors.
- Start or update your family tree.
- Be open to a new way of thinking or doing.
- Take time each day to center yourself and rebalance.
- Have a massage or give a massage using almond oil.
- Become more mindful of your actions and non-actions.
- Ask yourself what you are doing that will impact the next seven generations.
- Breathe in the beauty of fall and beginning of a new day.