(Investigator 151, 2013
Numerology, (from the Latin "numerus" — number, and the
Greek "logos," — word), also known as
Numeromancy, is essentially a form of divination that uses various
elaborate computations of certain numbers to enable, so it is claimed,
the fortune-teller to determine information about the future, the
relevance of texts, or to disclose esoteric knowledge, data that is
hidden from all but the initiated. It was claimed that by using
Numerology the seers could reveal the essential nature of an
individual, and especially their metaphysical relationship to the
numerical principles that were the basis of the cosmos and all
creation. However, despite all the pseudo-scientific pretentiousness
that is part of the process, Numerology is nothing more than an
elaborate form of deception, relying upon gullibility and
Numerology has three principal forms: -
Chaldean Numerology: This system used the sounds,
(vibrations) of the numbers one to eight
or Cabbala: This system evolved from an
earlier Hebrew mystical tradition known as Gematria, a process of
subjective interpretation of sacred texts to provide the seeker with
"enlightenment." Based on the value of their letters words in scripture
were assigned numerical values and so, could be compared with other
words of equal value, e.g. Genesis 28:12 outlines Jacob's dream of how
he saw a ladder (sullam) reaching from Earth to heaven. The Hebrew for
ladder has a numerical value of 130, the same as the Hebrew word for
Sinai, so, applying Gematria principles, the rabbis claimed that the
holy law given to Moses on Mount Sinai was like Jacob's ladder, given
by God as a means by which man could ascend to heaven. Although the
Cabbala appeared about the 12th or 13th century in Southern France, in
the works of a French Jew, Isaac the Blind, it was then in fact, at
least 1,000 years old, based upon various Jewish and Babylonian texts,
many of which were handed down orally amongst certain orders of Jewish
rabbis and scholars. It used the Hebrew alphabet of 22 letters and was
primarily used to interpret the mystical meanings of names only.
or Modern Western Numerology: Although
claimed to originate with Pythagoras, this system was probably much
older. Few details of the Pythagorean system survived but it appears to
have been based on a belief that a relationship existed between a
cosmic system of numbers and events in a person's life. The modern
system, which claims to be based upon Pythagorean principles, has two
Names: this assigns each letter of the alphabet a
numerical value from one to nine; the letters of a person's name are
added together and, if the final number is more than one digit, these
were added together until ultimately a single digit is reached.;
Birth Date: the numbers in a person's birthdate
are added together and, if the final number is more than one digit,
these were added together until ultimately a single digit is reached.
belief that Numerology was a means by which one could obtain so
much "secret" information about an individual was based upon various
pre-scientific beliefs, the principal ones being:-
That there was, "…an occult relationship existing
between numbers and letters and the whole fabric and machinery of the
cosmos." (Rakoczi, 1970,p. 108). From this came the belief that all
creation, including humans, were under the direction of subtle
numerical influences, and that, those who understood the mystical arts,
could use certain mystical numerical practices to discern these
The art of
Numbering originated in very ancient times as a means of
keeping an independent tally of possessions. At first it probably
involved counting on the fingers, or using "counting sticks" or stones,
to record tallies, however, as societies became more settled and
adopted an agricultural life style, they needed more sophisticated
systems to keep track of time. Early humans had already noted that the
Sun and Moon followed a regular pattern and that the stars would rise
and set at regular times throughout the year. In an imprecise and
insecure world the regular movement of the heavens provided a sense of
security, for, even during the harshest winter, it was understood that
after a certain period of time the warmth of the sun would return and,
once again, life would return to normal.
Followers of the mystic arts believed that the
name of an individual was not just some arbitrary designation given by
their parents; but that, since it actually reflected their real
spiritual nature, it was "divinely inspired" and, in many cultures, a
child was not considered to be a "real" person until it received its
name, (Cavendish, 1970a, p. 1940). Since each letter in the Greek and
Hebrew alphabet had a numerical value it was simple to calculate a
numerical value between one and nine for the name of a person, and this
number, it was claimed, provided an insight as to that person's
mystical spiritual identity. (Cavendish, 1979b, p. 2023).
person's date of birth was not considered by the
ancients to be a random event; they believed it had been "planned" by
the forces that governed the universe to occur at the most suitable and
auspicious time, and so, to those who understood the art of Numerology,
it contained a great deal of information about who they were, and what
fate had in store for them throughout their lifetime.
This heavenly sequence appears to have been the basis of the
Macrocosm-Microcosm concept, the ancient belief that the Macrocosm, the
"great cosmos" and Earth — the Microcosm or "small cosmos" — were
inexorably interconnected, so that everything that occurred on Earth,
was a reflection of heavenly events; since the Macrocosm operated
according to mystical numerical principles, it was assumed the same
principles had a profound influence on everyday human life.
As Schimmel (1987) noted, it was apparently the observations of the
rhythmic movement of the passing of time, "…and the phases of the
that led to a preoccupation with numbers. (p. 13). Early humans relied
on divine intervention to change the seasons, and to bring their crops
to fruition, and gradually events such as, the turn of the seasons,
(solstices) planting and harvest became important times for religious
festivals as they first sought the help of the deities to ensure they
would receive their annual harvest, and then later to thank them for
the harvest. Since the dates for many of these festivals were based on
a complex Lunar Cycle, it required a complex numerical system to ensure
the festivals were celebrated at the correct time each year.
In ancient times the various deities were closely interwoven into the
entire pattern of human life; they were identified with the Sun, the
Moon, the seasons, the fertility of the crops; they believed that
nothing occurred without their divine influence. Given their
connections to the original creation of order, which, it was
believed, involved a divine system of numbers, it must have seemed
logical to identify each deity with a particular number; as Flegg
Babylonians had a hierarchy of sixty gods each of which was
associated with one of the first sixty natural numbers … In
ancient India we find religious significance assigned to each of the
first 101 numbers, and in the Mayan civilization the first thirteen
numbers all represented gods." (p. 272).
individual numbers began to take on other special
significances. One came to represent the number of unity, for the
Pythagoreans it represented the 'monad' the principle and the end
all. As the indivisible whole it was the fundamental unit from
all things had been created, strength, order, peace and, in particular,
it represented the godhead, the singular supreme deity, and, as such, "…
was symbolic of the divinity, of reason, and of all that was eternal
and unchanging." (Flegg, 2002, p. 273). The number One also
the male aspect of the cosmos, an idea that evolved from the
Pythagorean system, in which odd numbers were classified, "…as
masculine and lucky and even numbers as feminine and unlucky."
(Schimell, 1987, p. 13).
Two represented the dualistic nature of the universe, light and
darkness, good and evil, day and night, the male-female principles, the
yin and yang. As the dyad, Pythagoreans considered this to be an evil
number since it represented duality, division, the secret of evil, and
the female principles of the universe, and had no square root. It also
represented difference, division, inequality and was thought to lead to
disorder and confusion.
The number Three was an unusually mystical number, filled with
spiritual essence. The cosmos was believed to comprise three parts, the
heavens, the Earth and the waters, (or the abyss). Three was an
important part in the Vedic, Greek, Roman, Celtic, Teutonic and
Christian religious traditions. Deities with a triune nature became a
common feature of many religious traditions including those of the
Egyptians. Babylonians, Persians, Hindu and Christians. Thus we find
that the Egyptians represented the supreme deity, the Sun, in three
separate forms, Khepri represented the sun in its rising aspect, from
sunrise until it reached its zenith, when it became Ra, then at its
setting it became Atum. In Christianity we find the concept of the
divine Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Three became part of everyday usage, expressed in such forms as high,
medium and low; up, down and middle, and even became a basic part of
language structure, so that to emphasize a particular point it was
repeated three times, for instance Winston Churchill had a personal
mantra, "Never give in, never give in, never give in!" He used the
technique widely and in his first speech in parliament, he stated, "…what
is our aim? I can answer in one word? It is victory, victory at
all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and
hard the road may be".
Nine, since it represented the Trinity three times over, was regarded
by many as being particularly lucky. As the highest single digit nine
was considered to be the number of finalization, a numerical symbol
denoting perfection. It was sacred to the Egyptians, who had nine
original deities, the Ennead. It was also sacred to the Greeks who
frequently associated the number with both ecstasy and suffering; Zeus
spent nine nights of love seducing Leto, who later, spent nine days and
nine nights in great pain before she finally gave birth. Demeter
experienced nine days of heartbreaking anguish searching for her
daughter Persephone who had been kidnapped by Hades. In Numerology nine
was the number associated with those who pursue and achieve the divine
will, while, in the Cabbala, it was considered to be the number of
Certain numbers have special significance to different religious or
cultural groups. The numbers nine and nineteen, for instance, play an
important part in the Baha'i faith. The Bab, the founder of Baha'i, had
eighteen chief disciples, (2 x 9) which, together with himself, gave
nineteen leaders. The faithful are required to fast for nineteen days
during Ala, the last month of the Baha'i year; women are exempted from
this ritual fast if they repeat the words, "Glorified be God, the Lord
of Splendour and Beauty" ninety-five times (19 x 5) on each of the
nineteen days of the fast. Their year is composed of 361 days, nineteen
months each of nineteen days, to which they add an extra four days to
match the solar year, and, according to tradition, when the Bab made
his pilgrimage to Mecca, he sacrificed 19 lambs.
The number nineteen also features in Islam; throughout their history
Islamic scholars have 'perceived' mystical symbolism in the regular
occurrence of this number in the Koran, and it is regarded as sacred by
many Islamic mystics, especially the Sufis. The Koran has 114 sutras or
chapters, (6 x 19), it has 6,346 verses, (334 x 19) and if one adds the
digits of this number together, one obtains the number nineteen. Every
verse, except one, commences with the Basmala, "In the name of
most gracious, most merciful", a verse that contains nineteen
letters. The first word of this verse, Bism appears nineteen times in
the Koran; the second Allah appears 2,698 times, (142 x 19).
To the ancients numbers had a fundamentally mystical significance; they
were thought to possess a metaphysical, creative principle from which
all things in the cosmos were formed;
every one of the compound Bodies, there is a number. For
without number it is impossible there should be consistence or
constitution, or composition, or dissolution." (Copenhaver, 1992,
p. 46, Book 11,).
that when their particular deity had created the cosmos
they had used mystical numerically based principles; as Barrett (1801)
things, which were first made by the nature of things in its first
age, seem to be formed by the proportion of numbers; for this was the
principal pattern in the mind of the Creator." (p. 101).
procession of the heavens also appears to have been the
basis of the belief in the Macrocosm-Microcosm concept, the idea that
the Macrocosm, the "great cosmos" and Earth — the Microcosm or
"small cosmos" — were part of a dual system on which everything that
occurred on Earth, was simply a reflection of things that had occurred
in the heavens. To ancient humans this meant the mystical influences of
the Macrocosm, which was based upon mystical numerical principles, was
also responsible for events that occurred in their own lives.
The ancients did not believe in a random universe, for them, everything
that occurred did so for a reason. Important and significant events,
such as the time of birth and the names individuals were given, were
perceived as the subtle reflections of the mystical and universal power
of numbers, whose influences would persist throughout their entire life.
It is not known precisely when Numerology evolved, but it appears that
certain mystics and scholars, believing that the mystical lore of
numbers contained the secrets of the power of nature, began quite early
to use the magical arts in an attempt to uncover these secret powers.
Thus, although Numerology is commonly attributed to the Greek
philosopher Pythagoras, it seems more likely that it evolved much
earlier, possibly in Mesopotamia. However, it was amongst the Greek
philosophers and mathematicians, that a form of Numerology reached its
zenith, in particular with Pythagoras, and his followers, who believed
the principles of mathematics were the fundamental principles of
creation; in other words, everything that exists can be explained in
pure mathematical terms, and that the entire nature, and purpose, of
the cosmos could be explained in the mystical numerical ratios between
the first ten numbers.
The Pythagoreans were preoccupied with determining the mystical
principles underlying numbers that influenced the operation of the
cosmos. Pythagoras is reputed to have said that, "All things
numbers … physical bodies themselves are made of number". They
that there was a natural numerical cycle of heavenly phenomena and, on
the Earth, evidence of the numerical structure of nature could be seen
in many natural forms, such as the natural spiral patterns of certain
They made a series of discoveries concerning the properties of whole
numbers and were particularly interested in the numerical relationships
of harmonics. They noted that the sounds made by a vibrating string
were related to its length, and that, by varying the length of the
string, the notes could be changed in accordance with a strict
Eventually they linked mathematics with a grand esoteric numerical
design that pervaded the whole of nature. This use of numbers to deal
with philosophical concepts is now considered to be a form of pseudo
mathematics, and has long been discarded by legitimate mathematicians.
The frequent claims that Western Numerology was developed by Pythagoras
is largely baseless; it appears to be an attempt by later authors to
add a degree of legitimacy to the technique. As Carroll (2003)
indicated there is absolutely no evidence that Pythagoras, "…thought
could analyze his disciples' personalities by assigning numbers to the
letters of their names and their birth dates." (p. 264).
given that each cultural group had their own alphabet, with different
numbers of letters, the task of assigning universal values to such a
range of letters would have been insurmountable.
Given the natural insecurity of humans, the idea that relationships
existed between physical objects, events and human beings, and that it
might be possible to use such information to determine what events lay
in their future, must have been very appealing. It was this need that
led to the development of hundreds of forms of divination, of which
Numerology was but one.
Numerology pervaded ancient philosophy and medieval science. The
ancients recognized five solid figures, regular polygons; known as the
Platonic solids these comprised the four-sided tetrahedron, the
six-sided hexahedron or cube, the eight-sided octahedron, the
twelve-sided dodecahedron, and the twenty-sided icosahedron. While
Pythagoras is often credited with their discovery they actually
The Greeks studied these solids in great detail, and it
was Theaetetus (417-369 BCE) who apparently first gave a mathematical
description of these five figures. These figures were prominent in the
work of Plato, and in his dialogue Timaeus, (360 BCE) they were
associated with the four classical elements that were believed to form
the physical cosmos. Fire came from the tetrahedron, Earth from the
cube, Air the octahedron, Water from the icosahedron, while the
dodecahedron represented a "force" used by the deities to arrange the
In 1595 Johannes Kepler had an inspiring vision of the Platonic solids
forming the structure of the solar system, each figure fitting neatly
within a spherical orbit, beginning with the tetrahedron, and in his
book, Mysterium Cosmographicum (The Cosmographical Mystery,1596)
outlined his concepts believing that he had found the geometrical and
numerical basis of God's creation of the cosmos. Unfortunately,
he was wrong, and he spent the remainder of his life trying to
fine-tune a concept that was seriously flawed.
Because the principles underlying the form of Numerology taught by
Pythagoras and his followers were considered to be so sacred, they were
never written down, and, as a result, details of their numerological
techniques were lost. However other numerological techniques existed
and in one form, the process of attributing numerical values to strings
of letters was reintroduced in the Cabbalistic texts of medieval times.
Then, in the twentieth century, American author L. Dow Balliett
introduced in a series of books what is often referred to as, "the
modern phase of Numerology".
In what is essentially nothing more than a great deal of metaphysical
nonsense, she stressed the importance of cosmic "vibrations" no doubt
based upon the Pythagorean concept of the music of the spheres, to
which had been added a number of legitimate modern scientific ideas.
According to Cavendish (1967), "Numerology is simply an
study of vibration…" (p. 75), and Bailliett's idea of a
universe was apparently purloined from legitimate discoveries
that the atoms in matter "vibrated". In essence it appears to have been
an attempt to provide Numerology with a degree of scientific
respectability. Significantly Numerologists claim there are nine
separate notes, different rates of vibration in the universe, a figure
that corresponds to the number of individual types of personalities.
Essentially there are two main approaches used in modern Numerological
Adding the numerical values of the letters in a
person's name; and
The first method
of numerical divination, Arithmancy, was based upon a
belief, "…that the name of a thing contains the essence of its
(Cavendish, 1967, p. 54). Like numbers, the letters of early alphabets
were revered as sacred; the sound of each letter believed to contain
certain magical numerical properties as well as its own unique "cosmic
vibration" and that, by adding up the individual values of the letters
in the name most commonly used by an individual, (including their
nickname), and constantly reducing that number until a number between
one and nine was obtained, one could discern the hidden metaphysical
characteristics of that person.
Adding up the numbers in an individual's date of
Originally, the main use of Arithmancy was to establish the degree of
relationship between humans and the deities, and, in particular, which
of two or more candidates were most favoured by the gods. Arithmancy
also taught that although a person's future was predetermined, by
allowing them to glimpse their possible future they could take steps to
intervene, and, so change the potential outcome of their life.
Widely practiced in the Hellenic world, especially amongst the
Pythagoreans and the Platonists, it too was attributed to Pythagoras;
however, it appears that it too originated in ancient Mesopotamia as a
form of Chaldean Numerology.
The second method, which was very similar, used the numbers in a
person's date of birth, adding them up and then reducing the total
until a single digit number was reached. This final number represented
the secret numerical characteristics of the individual,
stamp which the mysterious forces that move the universe
impressed on your character and destiny at the moment when you were
born." (Cavendish, 1967, p. 61).
different individuals could have the same number, they
often had quite different characters and behaviours; to overcome this
difficulty Numerologists claimed that the number of a person's name was
merely a general guide to personality, and that to define the "real"
personality, one had to delve much "deeper". As Cavendish (1970b)
indicated, it was necessary to calculate the numbers of the vowels in a
person's name to determine their Heart Number, which indicated "…
person you are at heart." Then one had to add the values of the
consonants in the name to determine the Personality Number, which
revealed, "… your outer self and how other people see you." (p.
One particularly nonsensical aspect of Numerology is the illogical
concept of "lucky" and "unlucky" numbers, the belief that certain
numbers, such as seven, are luckier than other numbers, and that some,
such as thirteen, are "unlucky". As Shakespeare observed, "This is
third time, I hope good luck lies in odd numbers..." (Merry Wives of
Windsor. Act 5, Scene 1.) Although statistically, in any form of
gambling, every number has an equal chance of being drawn, people tend
to "play" numbers which they believe are luckier than the others.
Such beliefs are especially noticeable amongst certain cultural groups;
for example the Chinese who consider the number eight especially lucky.
They will often pay large sums of money to purchase car number plates
that contain a series of eights'. However, the numbers have absolutely
nothing whatsoever to do with subsequent events, as is evidenced by the
following newspaper report,
Kong businessman died when his Ferrari with the "lucky" number
plate 888 crashed and burst into flames in a suspected road race.
validity of Numerology can best be summed up by the
newspaper columnist Ostrow (1996), who wrote of how, as a young woman
seeking to find the cosmic significance in her troubled life, she
consulted Rohinini, "…reputed to be one of the most respected
numerologists in the world" and who, her friends had assured her, was, "…
so accurate it was "totally scary".
Chan Ki-wo is believed
to have been racing at more than 100 kph on a
highway on Sunday. One of the few things to survive the blaze was its
"lucky" number plate LE888." (Advertiser).
He calculated the numerical value of her date of birth determining she
was a "nine – such a special number" and assured her this was why she
was having so many personal problems.
Her heart was pounding and she felt chills in her spine as he
explained, "You are always searching for meaning. You feel
because the meaning of life keeps eluding you... There is a lot of
sadness around love for you because reality never matches your
But he assured her, very soon, she would meet a tall, handsome man, "A
man involved in money...perhaps a wealthy business tycoon. He will seek
you out!" "Oh Rohinini, how can the numbers know so much about me?" I
asked when the awesome session had finished. I was trembling. I wanted
to kiss Rohinini's fat, thonged feet. "They just know," be said
He then explained how he had determined she was a nine; he added her
day of birth 26th to the month and year of her birth to obtain the
figure 36 which, when added together, gave the number nine. However, as
Ostrow pointed out the final total was actually 35, which, when added
together made her an eight not a nine. Embarrassed he apologized and
admitted she was in fact an eight not a nine:
an awful moment of silence. Then he said: "Look, it doesn't
matter really. I mean, ummm, eight and nine are on the same grid so in
reality they have almost identical traits." He quickly tallied some new
figures and said, "That will be $45, Ruth", and pushed me out the front
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