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Wisdom Traditions

Twelve - an Archetypal Number

The number twelve is archetypal. It is associated with:

  • Twelve months
  • Twelve signs and houses of the zodiac
  • Twelve stations of the Moon and of the Sun
  • Twelve main northern stars and twelve main southern stars
  • Twelve daytime and twelve nighttime hours in a day
  • Twelve is the product of the sacred and the secular (3 X 4)
  • In Christianity it is the number of Christ's disciples
  • Twelve tribes of Israel
  • Twelve Babylonian gods
  • Twelve knights of King Arthur
  • Twelve gates of the new Jerusalem in Revelations
  • Buddhism's twelve fold chain of causation
  • From Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to the Native Americans, societies have historically divided themselves into twelve groups.
  • Plato in Laws outlines his ideal society based on twelve-fold cycles of social order
  • The great peacemaker, Deganawidah of the Hurons, founded the Iroquois confederacy on the Twelve Cycles of Truth which were familiar to Benjamin Franklin in his work with the Confederacy prior to crafting the U.S. Constitution

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