AskDefine | Define numerology

Dictionary Definition

numerology n : the study of the supposed occult influence of numbers on human affairs

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. the study of the purported mystical relationship between numbers and the character or action of physical objects and living things


Extensive Definition

Numerology is any of many systems, traditions or beliefs in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things.
Numerology and numerological divination were popular among early mathematicians, such as Pythagoras, but are no longer considered part of mathematics and are regarded as pseudomathematics by most modern scientists. This is similar to the historical development of astronomy out of astrology, and chemistry from alchemy.
Today, numerology is often associated with the occult, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts. The term can also be used for those who, in the view of some observers, place excess faith in numerical patterns, even if those people don't 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.


Modern numerology often contains aspects of a variety of ancient cultures and teachers, including Babylonia, Pythagoras and his followers (Greece, 6th century B.C.), astrological philosophy from Hellenistic Alexandria, early Christian mysticism, the occultism of the early Gnostics, the Hebrew system of the Kabbalah, The Indian Vedas, the Chinese "Circle of the Dead", and the Egyptian "Book of the Master of the Secret House" (Ritual of the Dead).
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.According to Ruth A. Drayer's book, Numerology, The Power in Numbers (Square One Publishers) around the turn of the century (from 1800 to 1900 A.D.) Mrs. L Dow Balliett updated Pythagoras' work by combining his principles with the first days of creation in the Bible. Then in the mid 1970s, Balliett's student, Dr. Juno Jordan, updated Numerology further and helped it to became the popular system it is today under the title "Pythagorean."
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.
In 325 A.D., 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." Through this religious purging, the spiritual significance assigned to the heretofore "sacred" numbers began to disappear. However several number, 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. .
An example of the influence of numerology in English literature is Sir Thomas Browne's 1658 Discourse The Garden of Cyrus. In it the author illustrates that the number five and related Quincunx pattern throughout art, nature and mysticism.


Number definitions

There are no set definitions for the meaning of specific digits. Common examples include:
0. Everything or absoluteness. All 1. Individual. Aggressor. Yang. 2. Balance. Union. Receptive. Yin. 3. Communication/interaction. Neutrality. 4. Creation. 5. Action. Restlessness. 6. Reaction/flux. Responsibility. 7. Thought/consciousness. 8. Power/sacrifice. 9. Completion. 10. Rebirth.

Digit summing

Numerologists often reduce a number or word by a process known as digit summing, then reach conclusions based on the single digit that is produced.
Digit summing, as the name implies, involves taking the sum of all of the digits in a number, and repeating the process as necessary until a single-digit answer is produced. For a word, the values corresponding to each letter's place in the alphabet (e.g., A=1, B=2, through Z=26) are summed.
  • 3,489 → 3 + 4 + 8 + 9 = 24 → 2 + 4 = 6
  • Hello → 8 + 5 + 12 + 12 + 15 = 52 → 5 + 2 = 7
A quicker way to arrive at a single-digit "summation" 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 and Indian. According to Ruth Abrams Drayer's book, Numerology, The Power in Numbers, if you were born in a country where the mother tongue was not English, take your own alphabet and letter it out in the same manner as the instructions which are shown with the English alphabet. 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

English letter numeric values

English letter numeric values — Chaldean method


In some cases, in a type of numerological divination, the name and birth date of an individual will be used to analyze and define personality and propensities.

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.

Chinese number definitions

Cantonese frequently assign the following definitions, which may differ in other forms of Chinese:
  1.  —
  2.  — easy
  3.  — live
  4.  — considered unlucky since the pronunciation of 4 (sì ) sounds like the word for death or suffering (sǐ ).
  5.  — the self, me, myself, nothing, never
  6.  — easy and smooth, all the way.
  7.  — a slang/vulgar word in Cantonese.
  8.  — sudden fortune, prosperity
  9.  — long in time, a slang/vulgar word in Cantonese
  10.  — sure
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 — road of prosperity or to be prosperous together — many premium-pay telephone numbers in China begin with this number.
  • 518 — I will prosper, other variations include: 5189 (I will prosper for a long time), 516289 (I will get on a long, smooth prosperous road) and 5918 (I will soon prosper)
  • 814 — Similar to 168, this means "I will be wealthy my entire life". 148 also implies the same meaning.
  • 888 — Three times the prosperity.
  • 1314 — whole lifetime, existence.

Other fields

Numerology and astrology

Some astrologers believe that each number from 0 to 9 is ruled by a celestial body in our solar system.

Numerology and alchemy

Many alchemical theories were closely related to numerology. Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, inventor of many chemical processes still used today, framed his experiments in an elaborate numerology based on the names of substances in the Arabic language.

"Numerology" in science

Scientific theories are sometimes labeled "numerology" if their primary inspiration appears to be mathematical rather than scientific. This colloquial use of the term is quite common within the scientific community and it is mostly used to dismiss a theory as questionable science.
The best known example of "numerology" in science involves the coincidental resemblance of certain large numbers that intrigued such eminent men as mathematical physicist Paul Dirac, mathematician Hermann Weyl and astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington. These numerical co-incidences refer to such quantities as the ratio of the age of the universe to the atomic unit of time, the number of electrons in the universe, and the difference in strengths between gravity and the electric force for the electron and proton. ("Is the Universe Fine Tuned for Us?", Stenger, V.J., page 3
Large number co-incidences continue to fascinate many mathematical physicists. For instance, James G. Gilson has constructed a "Quantum Theory of Gravity" based loosely on Dirac's large number hypothesis

Numerology in the Bible

Biblical numerology is symbolism portrayed through numbers in the Bible. While numerical symbolism is studied by most theologians, the extent of symbolism is debated. While many numbers in the Bible, especially in the book of Daniel and Revelation, contain symbolic meaning, the majority of the numbers only portray their literal, mathematic connotations, devoid of any symbolic significance.
A well known example of Bible numerology is 666, the Number of the Beast.
Leading figures in the study of numerology in the Bible include E. W. Bullinger, the author of Number in Scripture,, who had been influenced by Dr Milo Mahan's book Palmoni; and Ivan Panin who produced numeric patterns that he claimed to be found in the Bible. Panin's patterns are sometimes called Bible Numerology.

Popular culture

Numerology is a popular plot device in fiction. It can range from a casual item for comic effect, such as in an episode titled The Seance of the 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy, where Lucy dabbles in numerology, to a central element of the storyline, such as the movie π, in which the protagonist meets a numerologist searching for hidden numerical patterns in the Torah.

See also



  • Schimmel, A. (1996). The Mystery of Numbers. ISBN 0-19-506303-1 — a scholarly compendium of the connotations and associations of numbers in historical cultures
  • Pandey, A. (2006). Numerology: The number game
  • Dudley, U. (1997). Numerology: Or, What Pythagoras Wrought. Mathematical Association of America. — a skeptical survey of the field through history
  • Nagy, A. M. (2007). The Secret of Pythagoras (DVD). ASIN B000VPTFT6
  • Number in Scripture
Drayer, R.A. (2002) Numerology, The Power in Numbers, A Right & Left Brain Approach. ISBN:0-9640321-3-9

External links

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