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Origins of Numerology

Excerpted from the book Divination: Sacred Tools for Reading the Mind of God by Paul O’Brien

The art of Numerology has existed since the ancient discovery of mathematics. To this day, most cultures attach special meaning to certain numbers and their position in a sequence. As we have just seen, the Chinese I Ching describes the differences between even (earthly) and odd (heavenly) numbers. Numerology has also been used to correlate the significance of numbers to an alphabet, giving each letter a numerical value. A well-known example is the Hebrew alphabet of twenty-two characters—the same as the number of trump cards in the Tarot deck. Because of the applicability of numbers to alphabets, numerologists are able to use words or names, in addition to numbers, to reveal divinatory meaning.

There are three major forms of Numerology— Kabbalic, Chaldean and the Pythagorean. They can be used in any combination to produce a reading, but whatever system you prefer, I suggest using it consistently so as not to confuse yourself. The one you find that you are drawn to is good enough.

Kabbalic Numerology—which is often used to interpret names—originally derived from Hebrew mysticism, is an outgrowth of the Hebrew alphabet with its twenty-two vibrations. Later it was adapted for the Greek alphabet, then the Roman alphabet. Thirteenth century Kabbalists believed that the Old Testament was written in a secret code inspired by God. They used Numerology as a tool to decipher this code. It also happens that twenty-two-base Numerology adds a significant dimension to the interpretation of the twenty-two Trump cards of the Tarot deck.

Chaldean Numerology has closer ties to Astrology, having originated in Mesopotamia, which was also the birthplace of Western Astrology. It is also related to the Vedic system of India, as well as the Kabbalah. The basis of Chaldean Numerology is that each letter has a unique vibration and is assigned a number from 1 to 8 based on its energetic quality. The number 9 is kept separate from the other numbers—except when it appears as a from the other numbers—except when it appears as a sum of vibrations—because it is considered the most sacred number. In Chaldean Numerology, single digits reveal the outer nature of a person, while double digits describe inner qualities.

The third and most popular form of Numerology is the method developed by Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and metaphysician of the 6th century B.C. Pythagoras is famous for his formulation of the Pythagorean theorem, which calculates the hypotenuse of a right triangle, a basic construct of modern geometry. According to legend, Pythagoras was the founder of Numerology and practiced it to divine the fates of individuals, predict the events of certain locations, and use name changing as a means to alter destiny. In the Pythagorean system, numbers were assigned to letters in the Greek alphabet based on their position in the sequence. Pythagorean Numerology generally uses both the name and the date of birth, and then examines the relationships between them, much like the Chaldean method. The basic vibrations are 1 through 9, and the master vibrations are 11 and 22, which are never reduced to a single digit. In the 1800s, when scientific discoveries regarding magnetism, light, and electricity were progressing rapidly, the idea that energy patterns of vibrations corresponded to numbers became popular. Overall, the use of Numerology for self-knowledge and divination has continued to blossom with undying popularity.

6 Responses

  1. Are there any alphabets other than Hebrew which have 22 letters?

    My interest is from the perspective of one who reads tarot.

    Thank you 🙂

  2. Solveig says:

    I have always been made fun of when I brought up this subject, but now that I’m 33, and thinking even more than before about this and working out some numbers for myself and my loved ones, I’m starting to wonder if I should be the one making fun of others for not having an open mind and not deny anything without proof. If they can believe in God and saints and the Bible, without actually ever seeing them or living them, why can’t they believe there’s much more in the Universe? Denial maybe? Or simply their character? This is not an easy subject to understand or study, but with patience, one can get there if one wants to. Keep posting! 🙂

    • Paul O'Brien says:

      Yes, it never ceases to amaze me how self-righteous and judgmental people who believe in the craziest things can be … and, usually these types of people NEVER made a conscious decision to believe what they believe in the first place! Except perhaps for Santa and the Tooth Fairy, they have continued believing in all the fantastical religious fables they were taught when they were 4 years old … and they will grow up to sometimes be willing to torture and kill people who disagree (i.e. “blaspheme”) about their adopted beliefs. Such bullshit! In my opinion, religions that are based on belief-systems (i.e. dogma or what they call “faith”) — rather than good acts — should go the way of all superstitions, so that people have a real chance of discovering a real faith — in the form of trusting themselves and the development of self-confidence (coming from the Latin “confidere” to believe in oneself).

      Chapter 11 of my new book “Great Decisions, Perfect Timing” entitled “Belief Engineering,” which is all about how our beliefs should always be subject to testing, revision and upgrading so that we can truly take responsibility for what we believe going forward. Beliefs are not sacred, but they are important and it is vitally important that they change … this is called “Learning!”

  3. A lot of individuals discount numerology as some kind of myth. However, the more you look into it, the more you have to wonder whether it’s a myth or is there something to it.

    After all, you have to ask yourself, how did all these different cultures arrive at the same determination of using numbers to divine outcomes?

  4. Amit Lamba says:

    A very Clear and eloquent Description of Various forms of Numerology .
    Keep writing .

    Amit Lamba

  5. Hello, Paul,

    I must say that this is one of the most interesting and well-constructed sites on Divination I have seen on the Web. The mix of articles and media provides a unique venue (in my experience) for serious students and practitioners to learn from each other. I look forward to following the ongoing discussions.

    Best Regards,
    Delia O’

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