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Numerology

Numerology is any belief in the divine, mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts.


Despite the long history of numerological ideas, the word "numerology" is not recorded in English before c.1907.

The term numerologist can be used for those who place faith in numerical patterns and draw pseudo-scientific inferences from them, even if those people do not practice traditional numerology. For example, in his 1997 book Numerology: Or What Pythagoras Wrought, mathematician Underwood Dudley uses the term to discuss practitioners of the Elliott wave principle of stock market analysis.

History

Pythagoras and other philosophers of the time believed that because mathematical concepts were more "practical" (easier to regulate and classify) than physical ones, they had greater actuality. St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354–430) wrote "Numbers are the Universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth." Similar to Pythagoras, he too believed that everything had numerical relationships and it was up to the mind to seek and investigate the secrets of these relationships or have them revealed by divine grace. See Numerology and the Church Fathers for early Christian beliefs on the subject.

In 325 AD, following the First Council of Nicaea, departures from the beliefs of the state church were classified as civil violations within the Roman Empire. Numerology had not found favor with the Christian authority of the day and was assigned to the field of unapproved beliefs along with astrology and other forms of divination and "magic". Despite this religious purging, the spiritual significance assigned to the heretofore "sacred" numbers had not disappeared; several numbers, such as the "Jesus number" have been commented and analyzed by Dorotheus of Gaza and numerology still is used at least in conservative Greek Orthodox circles. However, despite the church's resistance to numerology, there have been arguments made for the presence of numerology in the bible and religious architecture. For example, the numbers 3 and 7 hold strong spiritual meaning in the bible. Jesus asked God 3 times if he could avoid crucifixion and was crucified at 3 in the afternoon. 7 is the length of famine and other God-imposed events and is sometimes followed by the number 8 as a symbol of change. One example of this would be when Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman, Miriam was required to go in the wilderness alone for 7 days and on the 8th day to rejoin Exodus. Another example would be when Elijah commanded his servant Ahab to return to Mt. Camel 7 in times to search for a certain cloud and on the 8th time he found it. The Chartres Cathedral was built with numerological influences as well. The adopted motto, "assumptio virginis beats mariae" holds the gematriac number 306. 306 was the number of a leading dimension of its design in Roman feet. 306 divided by 2 is 153 which is the number of the fish making an allusion to the fish caught by Simon Peter. The freemasonry movement developed from elite groups of contracted builders who wished to keep the technological methods and sacred significance of cathedral building a secret.

Some alchemical theories were closely related to numerology. For example, Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan framed his experiments in an elaborate numerology based on the names of substances in the Arabic language.

Numerology is prominent in Sir Thomas Browne's 1658 literary Discourse The Garden of Cyrus. Throughout its pages the author attempts to demonstrate that the number five and the related Quincunx pattern can be found throughout the arts, in design, and in nature – particularly botany.

Modern numerology has various antecedents. Ruth A. Drayer's book, Numerology, The Power in Numbers (Square One Publishers) says that around the turn of the century (from 1800 to 1900 A.D.) Mrs. L. Dow Balliett combined Pythagoras' work with Biblical reference. Then on Oct 23, 1972, Balliett's student, Dr. Juno Jordan, changed Numerology further and helped it to become the system known today under the title "Pythagorean", although Pythagoras himself had nothing to do with the system. Dr. Jordan's work "The Romance in Your Name" provided a system for identifying what he called key numerological influences in one's name and birth date and remains used today. Subsequent 'numerologists' including Florence Campbell (1931), Lynn Buess (1978), Mark Gruner (1979), Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (1979) Numerology and the Divine Triangle, Kathleen Roquemore (1985) expanded on the use of numerology for assessing personality or events. These different schools of numerology give various methods for using numerology, however the meaning of the 9 digits remains the same.

Australian philosopher David Stove pointed out different pseudoscientific beliefs, for example numerology and astrology, may be pathological in different ways. When critiquing such pseudoscientific beliefs, philosophers and scientists should take into account that the fallacies that give rise to the "particular awfulness" of one pseudoscientific belief may not be applicable to another.

Methods

Alphabetic systems

There are various numerology systems which assign numerical value to the letters of an alphabet. Examples include the Abjad numerals in Arabic, the Hebrew numerals, Armenian numerals, and Greek numerals. The practice within Jewish tradition of assigning mystical meaning to words based on their numerical values, and on connections between words of equal value, is known as gematria.

For example, numbers are assigned to letters as follows:

  • 1 = a, j, s
  • 2 = b, k, t,
  • 3 = c, l, u,
  • 4 = d, m, v,
  • 5 = e, n, w,
  • 6 = f, o, x,
  • 7 = g, p, y,
  • 8 = h, q, z,
  • 9 = i, r,

.....and then summed. Examples:

  • 3,489 → 3 + 4 + 8 + 9 = 24 → 2 + 4 = 6
  • Hello → 8 + 5 + 3 + 3 + 6 = 25 → 2 + 5 = 7

A quicker way to arrive at a single-digit summation (the digital root) is simply to take the value modulo 9, substituting a 0 result with 9 itself.

Different methods of calculation exist, including Chaldean, Pythagorean, Hebraic, Helyn Hitchcock's method, Phonetic, Japanese, Arabic and Indian.

The examples above are calculated using decimal (base 10) arithmetic. Other number systems exist, such as binary, octal, hexadecimal and vigesimal; summing digits in these bases yields different results. The first example, shown above, appears thus when rendered in octal (base 8):

  • 3,48910 = 66418 → 6 + 6 + 4 + 1 = 218 → 2 + 1 = 38 = 310

Chinese numerology

Some Chinese assign a different set of meanings to the numbers and certain number combinations are considered luckier than others. In general, even numbers are considered lucky, since it is believed that good luck comes in pairs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and its associated fields such as acupuncture, base their system on mystical numerical associations, such as the “12 vessels circulating blood and air corresponding to the 12 rivers flowing toward the Central Kingdom; and 365 parts of the body, one for each day of the year” being the basis of locating acupuncture points.

Chinese number definitions

Cantonese frequently associate numbers with the following connotations (based on its sound), which may differ in other varieties of Chinese:

  1. sure
  2. easy
  3. Live but it can also be seen as a halved eight when using Arabic numerals (3) (8) and so considered unlucky.
  4. Considered unlucky since 4 is a homophone with the word for death or suffering, yet in the Shanghainese, it is a homophone of water and is considered lucky since water is associated with money.
  5. the self, me, myself, nothing, never in the Shanghainese, it is a homophone of fish
  6. easy and smooth, all the way
  7. a slang/vulgar word in Cantonese.
  8. sudden fortune, prosperity
  9. long in time, enough  or a slang/vulgar word derived from dog  in Cantonese

Some "lucky number" combinations include:

  • 99 – doubly long in time, hence eternal; used in the name of a popular Chinese American supermarket chain, 99 Ranch Market.
  • 168 – many premium-pay telephone numbers in China begin with this number, which is considered lucky. It is also the name of a motel chain in China (Motel 168).
  • 888 – Three times the prosperity, means "wealthy wealthy wealthy".

Indian numerology

In South India, mostly Tamil Nadu, the numbers assigned to English alphabets is different. The list is shown below:

  • 1 = A, I, J, Q, Y
  • 2 = B, K, R
  • 3 = C, G, L, S
  • 4 = D, M, T
  • 5 = E, H, N, X
  • 6 = U, V, W
  • 7 = O, Z
  • 8 = F, P

There is no assignment for the number 9. Numerologists analyze double-digit numbers from 10 to 99