Interpretations of the seven pillars of Wisdom’s house (Proverbs 9:1)

Today I read a few pages each from Ann Shearer’s Athene: Image and Energy and Valentin Tomberg’s Meditations on the Tarot.

On page 153 of Athene, Proverbs 9:1-6 is quoted, and Shearer then discusses the meanings later commentators gave to the seven pillars of Wisdom’s house.

Wisdom has built her house,
she has set up her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts,
she has mixed her wine
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids to call
from the highest places in the town,
‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’
To him who is without sense she says,
‘Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave simpleness, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.’

Back in the eighth century, Wisdom’s house had been identified as the house of learning and the pillars as the Seven Liberal Arts: the threefold way to eloquence (Rhetoric, Dialectic and Grammar) and the fourfold way to philosophy (Music, Arithmetic, Astronomy and Geometry).

On page 441 of Meditations on the Tarot, Tomberg alludes in his discussion of the Garden of Eden to the same passage in Proverbs and gives a different interpretation.

But in so far as we — Christian Hermeticists — are concerned, the “trees” or “yogas” of the garden that we want to cultivate and maintain, are given to us in the “seven pillars of the house that Wisdom has built” (Proverbs ix, 1), i.e. the seven “days” of Creation (including the sabbath), the seven miracles of the Gospel of St. John, the seven “I am” sayings of Jesus Christ and, lastly, the seven Sacraments of the Church.

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