Seven is the most auspicious number, possibly because it was associated with the seven heavenly bodies visible to the ancient astronomers and therefore the deities who were believed to watch over the affairs of human beings.
The number seven had protective significance in Arab tradition, particularly for expectant mothers.
The Seven Wonders of the World (or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) refers to remarkable constructions of classical antiquity listed by various authors in guidebooks popular among the ancient Hellenic tourists, particularly in the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. The most prominent of these, the versions by Antipater of Sidon and an observer identified as Philo of Byzantium, comprise seven works located around the eastern Mediterranean rim. The original list inspired innumerable versions through the ages, often listing seven entries. Of the original Seven Wonders, only one—the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the ancient wonders—remains relatively intact.
The Seven Dwarfs are a group of dwarfs that live in a tiny cottage and work in the nearby mines. Snow White happened upon their house after being told by the Huntsman to flee from the Queen’s kingdom.
When the Seven Dwarfs return home, they immediately become aware that someone sneaked in secretly, because everything in their home is in disorder. During their loud discussion about who sneaked in, they discover the sleeping Snow White. The girl wakes up and explains to them what happened and the Dwarfs take pity on her, saying: “If you will keep house for us, and cook, make beds, wash, sew, and knit, and keep everything clean and orderly, then you can stay with us, and you shall have everything that you want.” They warn her to be careful when alone at home and to let no one in when they are away delving in the mountains.
When the Queen disguised as an old peddler ties a colorful, silky bodice onto Snow White which causes her to faint, the Seven Dwarfs return just in time and Snow White revives when the Dwarfs loosen the lace. When the Queen dresses as a comb seller and gives Snow White a poisoned comb, the Seven Dwarfs save her again. The Queen then appears disguised as a farmer’s wife and gives Snow White a poisoned apple. This time, the Seven Dwarfs are unable to revive the girl, because they can´t find the source of Snow White’s poor health and, assuming that she is dead, they place her in a glass coffin. After some time has passed, a Prince traveling through the land sees Snow White where he strides to her coffin, and instantly falls in love with her upon being enchanted by her beauty. The Seven Dwarfs allow to let him have the coffin, and as his servants carry the coffin away, they stumble on some roots and the apple comes out of Snow White’s throat, reviving her.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of the experiences of British soldier T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), while serving as a liaison officer with rebel forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916 to 1918. Charles Hill has called Seven Pillars “a novel traveling under the cover of autobiography,” capturing Lawrence’s highly personal version of the historical events described in the book.
The title comes from the Book of Proverbs, 9:1: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars” (KJV). Prior to the First World War, Lawrence had begun work on a scholarly book about seven great cities of the Middle East, to be titled Seven Pillars of Wisdom. When war broke out, it was still incomplete and Lawrence stated that he ultimately destroyed the manuscript although he remained keen on using his original title Seven Pillars of Wisdom for his later work. The book had to be rewritten three times, once “blind,” following the loss of the manuscript on a train at Reading.
‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ is a biographical account of his experiences during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18, when Lawrence was based in Wadi Rum (now a part of Jordan) as a member of the British Forces of North Africa. With the support of Emir Faisal and his tribesmen, he prepared attacks on the Ottoman forces from Aqaba in the south to Damascus in the north (now the capital of Syria). Many sites inside the Wadi Rum area have been named after Lawrence to attract tourists, although there is little or no evidence connecting him to any of these places, including the famous rock formations near the entrance now known as “The Seven Pillars”.
The snake, perhaps the most complex and varied of all animals in its symbolism, often appears in iconography and legend as a protector. The Hindu story of the creator god Vishnu resting on a giant snake’s coils is reminiscent of earlier myths of a world snake coiled supportively round the Earth.
A cobra with seven hoods is shown guarding the Buddha, and the Naga (snake) cults common to the great Indian religions have left many snake or snake-human carvings on the walls of temples.
Snakes entwine the caduceus, a decorative rod that was used as a herald’s badge of office in the Greco-Roman world. It was thought to have magical power to protect its bearer from being molested in the course of his duties. The caduceus was sometimes topped with wings to symbolize that it was sacred to Hermes (Mercury), messenger of the gods in classical mythology.
The sheltering symbolism of being taken under someone’s wing is based not only on the mothering habits of birds but on the many winged protective spirits which appear in Middle Eastern art as temple guardians.
In Hebrew tradition, the wings of protective cherubim form Jehovah’s throne.
The griffin, a fabulous winged creature melding the powers of lion and eagle, seems to have been a protective emblem in the decoation of Minoan palaces on Crete.
The sphinx, originally a lion with human or ram head, developed wings as it evolved into a hybrid creature shown in guardian statues of the Middle East and Greece.
Certain parts of the human body can symbolize protection. This is the defensive meaning of the protruding tongue, seen in images of the Egyptian god Bes.
Other protective divinities, such as the Greek Hermes and the Roman Janus, have multiple heads to indicate all-seeing guardianship. The combined male and female heads on some Egyptian statues have similar meaning.
In several other cultures, four-headed tetramorphs protect the directions of space. The biblical prophet Ezekiel saw such creatures in a vision, with the heads of a man, lion, ox and eagle.
The hand, with palm open and facing outward, is usually a protective blocking symbol.
In some contexts, the phallus was a defensive image. Greek and Roman gardeners sometimes used statues of Priapus, the son of Dionysus (Bacchus), to scare birds or other marauders away from their vineyards or orchards with his over scale, red-painted phallus.