Numerology – Searching For Meaning Within The Numbers

One of the oldest forms of divination is numerology. Numerology was, and for many still is, a way of understanding life beyond the purely material. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, numerology is the occult significance of numbers. Such a simple explanation. Yet, much is implied – like that life may not be so random in it’s nature and that there is something metaphysical happening beneath the numbers themselves. Numerology has been and is used to decipher the character of a person, predict a persons life path and even to predict possibilities in the future both good and bad. The idea that something ‘occult’ is going on with numbers is not just limited to classic Western numerology, it is actually a cross cultural idea with a long history.

Numerology Within Different Cultures

Most people associate numerology with the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who is considered the ‘father’ of numerology as a form of divination. Pythagoras knew all ‘things’ can be counted, all ‘things’ can be numbered. He also felt there was an invisible, divine hand working beneath the numbers and this divine hand only appeared random. He felt there was an order beneath how the numbers flowed. Pythagoras’ effort to understand life, spirituality, beneath the numbers was a search for the divine code of ‘things’. The outcome was his version of numerology. For centuries ancient Greek numerologists were highly paid to assist merchants with finding the best location for a business; when ships should sail; which people to do business with and more. Numerologists helped families find compatible mates for their sons and daughters; plan events; pinpoint where to live and what careers would be best to pursue. The Greeks were not the only ones seeing something divine or mystical within numbers.

There is a form of Chinese numerology, often contained within Feng Shui. There are special meanings for the numbers 1 through 9. For example, the number 2 is considered a lucky number because good things always come in pairs. On the other hand, 4 is considered very unlucky, possibly because the Chinese character for the number ‘4’ and the character for ‘death’ are pronounced in a very similar way. The number 8 is felt to represent prosperity and wealth to the Chinese.

Did you know there is a form of Irish or Celtic numerology? Irish numerology does not limit itself to the numbers 1 through 9. Instead, there is significance for the numbers 1 through 13. Rather than a seemingly random assignment of significance to numbers as in other cultures, Irish numerology emphases order, a progression, with each number adding energy (or life readiness) to the preceding number. For example, the number 1 is a step just better than death. However, life and death are seen as a cycle so the number 1 can also symbolize a new beginning. At the other extreme, the number 13 is the pinnacle of life readiness and symbolizes completion. In Irish numerology it is all about life energy, order, life readiness, preparedness and being ready for the future or one’s fate.

There have been forms of numerology in Greece, Ireland, China, Japan, Egypt, India and Babylon. As mentioned, most of us associate numerology with Western numerology that is based in ancient Greece. However, some historians feel Pythagoras was introduced to the concept of numerology as a path to understanding the divine hand at work in the universe during his travels, studies and interactions with fellow mathematicians from other countries. The idea that numbers may have a spiritual underside has been around a long time.

In Egyptian mythology certain numbers had special meaning. The number 3 seemed to have a spiritual meaning. Often Egyptian gods were put together in threes, triads or trilogies, for example, the triad of Osiris, Horus, and Isis formed a complete set of gods that explained all of life. The number 7 seemed to indicate completion, perfection. The Egyptian hieroglyphic for gold is 7 dashes beneath a bowl shape – for gold in the plural one might see 3 dashes, which goes back to the idea that the number three has special overtones.

In Norse mythology the numbers 3, 9 and multiples of those numbers carried special significance and appear over and over in Norse legends. Some believe the appearance and use of these numbers carries magical power. For those interested in paganism and Wicca, there is a resurgence of interest in the subtle form numerology within Norse mythology.

Numerology Just Refuses To Go Away

Today (as in the past) the pursuit of one’s lucky numbers is popular. Many feel that each individual has major lucky numbers that are permanent (in a sense) and then there are lucky numbers that arise daily, weekly and monthly. These rotating lucky numbers or numbers of good fortune appear and disappear as part of the nature cycle of the universe. It is not surprising to find that many serious gamblers believe they know their lucky numbers (and even feel that those lucky numbers can be luckier on certain days).

Despite the effort of churches and scientific rationalist and skeptics to put an end to numerology, people continue to feel and see that somehow numbers can and do have special significance in certain situations.

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There seems to be, within humanity, a sense that there is a meaning to life that even the seeming randomness of numbers cannot obscure – a feeling that stretches all the back to Pythagoras some 2500 years ago.

Although ancient Greek numerology continues to be the most systematic and best recognized form numerology, it is worth considering that the ‘occult’ meaning of numbers and various forms of numerology have appeared throughout history and in almost every culture. For some, the meaning of life, or the meanings in life, maybe be revealed within the numbers.

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