We live with a seven day week: there is a vastly complex history about the formation and adoption of the seven day week- and that, thankfully, is not the focus of this piece. The focus is on the concept that each day of the week acts as a container for a specific planetary archetype; with a specific god or goddess attributed to each one. Each day of the week therefore has a different ruling signature energy.
As yogis, our interest lies in surfing energy and in how we can yoke ourselves to greater cosmic tides and catch their waves so that we flow with life, and not against it. If we know the energetic codings of the days of the week, we can tailor our practices and our intentions to synchronise with them. We can elevate the qualities of each day and try to embody them.
Where do the seven days of the week come from?
In brief, many argue that our seven day week has been inherited down the ages from the Babylonians. The Babylonian culture flourished around 2000 BCE: a culture based in what we know as Iraq, then central-southern Mesopotamia. They were master mathematicians and astronomers. They watched the heavenly bodies closely, especially the patterns of the Moon. The moon’s movements showed them that it had four distinct phases: full, waning, new and waxing. Each phase lasted seven days. Thus, the week was shaped around the Moon’s cycles: a week of seven days. Seven is also a deeply mystical number in cultures worldwide.
The seven days were each attributed to the seven ‘creative planets’: these are the planets that could be seen with the naked eye. They are Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn, alongside the guiding lights of the Sun and the Moon.
The seven day week was adopted into Greek and Roman culture, with the Romans attributing the names of their gods to each of the days, along with the pagan ‘gods’ of the Sun and Moon.
The names of the Seven Days
The names of the week we are familiar with today are a mixture of inherited words and names that derive from both Latin – and the ‘Romance’ languages of Spanish, French and Italian- and from the Anglo-Saxon language of ‘Old English’ which is infused with Germanic and Norse flavours:
“When the Germanic-speaking peoples of western Europe adopted the seven-day week, which was probably in the early centuries of the Christian era, they named their days after those of their own gods who were closest in attributes and character to the Roman deities.
It was one of those peoples, the Anglo-Saxons, that brought their gods and language (what would become English) to the British Isles during the fifth and sixth centuries AD.” (Explainer)
So we have:
Sunday (SUN): Sunday is the Sun day and the English word comes from “Sunnandæg” which was inspired in the Latin “dies solis”. The Sun is seen as the centre of our solar system thus as the Giver of Light- the Godhead. In Norse mythology the sun is personified by the goddess named Sunna (or Sól). We can identify the religious element behind Sunday’s day name either in Spanish or French. Domingo and Dimanche are indeed linked to the Christian “ Day of God”.
Monday (MOON): Moon-Day. “Monday is the moon day and, in English, the word comes from Old English “Mōnandæg”. It honors the moon-god Máni whose origin dates back to Norse mythology. In regard to Latin, Monday is “dies Lunae” which unfolds into Lunes in Spanish (luna + dies) and Lundi in French (lune + dies). It pays tribute to Selene, goddess of moon according to Greek mythology.”
Tuesday (MARS): In English, Tuesday has its origin in the Old English “Tīwesdæg”, which is based on Tiw (or Tyr) who was the Norse god of war. Tuesday is “dies Mars” since Mars was the roman god of war. He thus gave his name to the modern languages’ week day: Martes in Spanish and Mardi in French.
Wednesday (MERCURY): Wednesday is named for the god Woden, who is paralleled with the Roman god Mercury, probably because both gods shared attributes of eloquence, the ability to travel, and the guardianship of the dead. So, Wednesday is Miércoles in Spanish whereas Mercredi in French.
Thursday (JUPITER): Thursday is “Thor’s day”. It recalls Thunor, the Anglo-Saxon name for the Norse Thor — god of thunder, strength and protection. In Latin, Thursday consists of “dies Jovis” which translates into Jueves (Spanish) and Jeudi (French); both rooted in Jupiter.
Friday (VENUS): Friday comes from Old English “Frīgedæg” and it refers to the Norse goddess Frigg (or Freya), the wife of Odin. She’s commonly associated to Venus: Roman goddess who personifies love, beauty, marriage and fertility. In Latin, Friday remits to “dies Veneris” which lead us to Viernes in Spanish and Vendredi in French.
Saturday (SATURN): the English “Saturn’s day” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Sæturnesdæg” which dates back to the Latin-based “dies Saturni”. Saturn, father of Jupiter, is the Roman god of time, fertility, and agriculture. In Spanish and French, the day’s name recalls the word of Hebrew origin “Sabbat”. This was Jewish day of rest — Jewish Sabbath. In Spanish, Sábado emerges from the Latin “sabbatum” while the French Samedi derives from “dies Sabbati”, meaning “Day of the Sabbath”.
How can we work with the energies of these days in yoga?
If we view the seven days of the week as aspects of the human psyche, we begin to see that the seven days offers us an opportunity to tend to various facets of the Self with our practices.
Sunday: the Sun is our light, our radiance, our creative expression, our inner luminosity. The Sun represents the Godhead, the Source of all: the human Self or atman is likened to a fragment of this Wholeness. A day to work with practices that purify & work on the inner light. Deep pranayama work, candle gazing, breath of fire, and kriya that help to develop inner stamina.
Monday: the Moon is our emotional inner depths; the deep waters within; the Great Mother; the Earth; our earthy nature- roots, ground, water and earth. A day for soothing the emotions; for calming practices, nourishment, receptivity; journalling; lunar breath and kriya to bring balance. A good day for barefoot walking or lying on the Earth, or forest bathing.
Tuesday: ruled by Mars- the warrior; power, light, aggression, drive, movement, gratification, impulse. A day to channel our power through the nabhi- the power centre of the body. A good day to burn up excess energy or to pour energy into physical things that need to be done like gardening or moving furniture. A day for action.
Wednesday: ruled by Mercury. This is the archetype of communication; a day for business, for writing, speaking and communicating. This is speech, intellect, study, playfulness, nature and also travel- Mercury, aka Hermes, was the messenger of the gods.
Thursday: ruled by Jupiter- the archetype of expansion, growth, generosity, family, ritual, new horizons, broadened perspectives, seeing the big picture. This is day for expansive, deep meditation; a day for exploring plans and pathways; guided meditations into your depths.
Friday: ruled by Venus- the archetype of beauty, grace, art, love, pleasure, fantasy, indulgence, fun and connection. A day for loving practices and sensuality. A good day to pamper yourself, dress beautifully and stand in your majesty. A good day also to work with a partner in practice- doing some Venus kriyas (see below).
Saturday: a day ruled by Saturn- Lord of time and karma. Saturn represents boundaries, restrictions, containers and where the universe shows us a ‘no’! Saturn is about containment, silence, simplicity, discipline and pulling in your inner power. A day for strong practices and strenous exercise. A good day for a silent retreat.
Other things to note:
The hours of the day are also ruled by each of these creative planets! The years of life too are ruled over by these planets: for example, the first 7 years of life are ruled by the Sun. A time when you are growing and expanding and developing a conscious, expressive personality. 7-14 is ruled by the Moon; a time of emotional development when the inner world is beginning to form, and so on. See the book recommendation in the fourth point below for more on this.
In yogic practices, our fingers represent the planetary energies: there are variations amongst schools of yoga, but in Kundalini yoga they are as follows. Index finger is Jupiter; middle finger is Saturn; ring finger is Sun; little finger is Mercury. When we work with mudras (energy seals) we lock the thumb to a specific finger, or a part of the hand, to create an energetic circuit so we can amplify that energy in our body.
Each day is ruled by a planet; these planets have specific visual symbols called yantras in yoga. You can meditate on the specific yantra for the day as a yogic practice, or the colour associated with the planet. For more on that, click here: https://teach.yoga/days-of-the-week-planetary-yantras/
We all follow the seven days but…the day you were born becomes YOUR Sunday. If you were born on a Tuesday, Tuesday is your Sunday. Wednesday then is your Monday, Thursday then is your Tuesday and so on. These teachings come from universal Kabbalah and are deeply fascinating. For more on that, I highly recommend the book by Dr Michael Joseph Levry called ‘Lifting the Veil’.
And, of course, Kundalini Yoga has a rich tradition of working with gongs to enhance meditation. There are planetary gongs which are attuned to the planetary frequencies and can be used to potentise the energy of a given day.
I am currently teaching a course on this topic at my Wednesday & Thursday classes: we practice kriyas and meditations that complement the given day we are studying. Come and join us! http://www.yogawhite.com/