The Cult of Seven Days

Published in Nexus Magazine in 2004

When understanding the origins of human knowledge, we tend not to look into the everyday aspects of life such as the calendar, our numbering systems and how these could have developed. However, these components of everyday life hold surprising clues to the past.

An example is the seven day week which we all slavishly follow today. It has been said that seven makes a good number of days for a week and this convenience argument often given for the existence of weeks.

Having a week allows one to know what day of the week it is for the purposes of markets and religious observances. It is an informal method of counting based on names rather than numbers. Beyond this however, a useful week length should fit well with the organisation of the year (i.e. the Sun), or the month (i.e. the Moon) or other significant celestial or seasonal cycle. But the seven day week does not fit in with the Sun and the Moon.

The Week and the Year

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Death of Zeus in Crete

written in 2004

How can an immortal god die? Especially Zeus who was not just a god but head of the Olympians, a new breed of gods that had replaced the Titans and their “despotic” ruler, Chronos. A Rome holding to Zeus/Jupiter perhaps rejected the Cretan tradition of the god’s death with the well-broadcast adage “All Cretans are liars”.

But we all should know that mythology uses contradictory, or at least inconsistent, versions of the same story, to express alternative perspectives and to transmit more knowledge in the process, rather than “a lie”.

The importance of the death of Zeus is that the story emerges exactly from that point in time and cultural transformation in which Zeus is also born and at that time it was familiar for a vegetative god, representing nature blooming in spring and dying in autumn, to die and be re-born within the immortality of the eternal round of the year or yearly daemon.

There were other norms too, including the birth of men and their world of form, out of the Earth and from within The Cave, as a natural sacred space created by the Mother or earth goddess. Directly symbolic of her womb, form emerges as shapes in formation like dreams, travelling towards the definite order found on the surface.

Figure 1 The Dictyan Cave, one of two in Crete claimed claimed to be Zeus’ Nursery 
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