is any belief in the divine or mystical relationship
between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is also the
study of the numerical value of the letters in words, names and ideas.
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
uses the term to discuss practitioners
Elliott wave principle
Elliott wave principle
of stock market analysis.
2 Lack of evidence
3.1 Alphabetic systems
Latin alphabet systems
4 Chinese numerology
4.1 Chinese number definitions
5 Indian numerology
6 Other uses of the term
6.1 Subcarrier Spacing and Symbol Length in 5G/NR Wireless
6.2 To describe questionable concepts based on possibly coincidental
6.3 Attempts by gamblers to see patterns in random chance
7 In popular culture
8 See also
10 External links
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
Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354–430), wrote "Numbers are the Universal
language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the
truth."[dubious – discuss] 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
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. The most obvious example would be the
creation of the world in 7 days. 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.
Some alchemical theories were closely related to numerology. For
example, Persian-Arab alchemist
Jabir ibn Hayyan
Jabir ibn Hayyan framed his
experiments in an elaborate numerology based on the names of
substances in the
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 –
Modern numerology has various antecedents. Ruth A. Drayer's book,
Numerology, The Power in Numbers (Square One Publishers) says that
around the start of the 20th century Mrs. L. Dow Balliett combined
Pythagoras' work with Biblical reference. Balliett's student, Juno
Jordan, helped numerology become the system known today as
Pythagoras himself had nothing to do with the
system, by publishing "The Romance in Your Name" in 1965, provided a
system for identifying what he called key numerological influences in
names and birth dates that remains used today. Other 'numerologists'
including Florence Campbell (1931), Lynn Buess (1978), Mark Gruner
(1979), Faith Javane and Dusty Bunker (1979), Kathleen Roquemore
(1985) expanded on the use of numerology for assessing personality or
events. These different schools of numerology give various methods for
Lack of evidence
Skeptics argue that numbers have no occult significance and cannot by
themselves influence a person's life. Skeptics therefore regard
numerology as a superstition and a pseudoscience that uses numbers to
give the subject a veneer of scientific authority.
Two studies have been done investigating numerological claims, both
producing negative results, one in the UK in 1993, and one in 2012
in Israel. The experiment in Israel involved a professional
numerologist and 200 participants. The experiment was repeated twice
and still produced negative results.
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.
Latin alphabet systems
In one method, numbers can be assigned to letters of the Latin
alphabet 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
The single digit then arrived at is assigned a particular significance
according to the method used.
Different methods of interpretation 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
3,48910 = 66418 → 6 + 6 + 4 + 1 = 218 → 2 + 1 = 38 = 310
Arabic system of numerology is known as
Abjad notation or Abjad
numerals. In this system each letter of
Arabic alphabet has a
numerical value. This system is the foundation of ilm-ul-cipher, the
Science of Cipher, and ilm-ul-huroof, the Science of Alphabet:
ط=9 ح=8 ز=7 و=6 ه=5 د=4 ج=3 ب=2 أ=1
ص=90 ف=80 ع=70 س=60 ن=50 م=40 ل=30 ك=20 ي=10
ظ=900 ض=800 ذ=700 خ=600 ث=500 ت=400 ش=300 ر=200 ق=100
Main article: Numbers in Chinese culture
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
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
Chinese number definitions
Cantonese frequently associate numbers with the following connotations
(based on its sound), which may differ in other varieties of Chinese:
一 [jɐ́t] – sure
二 [ji̭ː] – easy 易 [ji̭ː]
三 [sáːm] – live 生 [sáːŋ] but it can also be seen as a
halved eight when using
Arabic numerals (3) (8) and so considered
四 [sēi] – considered unlucky since 4 is a homophone with
the word for death or suffering 死 [sěi], yet in the Shanghainese,
it is a homophone of water (水) and is considered lucky because water
is associated with money.
五 [ŋ̬] – the self, me, myself 吾 [ŋ̭], nothing, never
唔 [ŋ, m][need tone] in the Shanghainese, it is a homophone of fish
六 [lùːk] – easy and smooth, all the way
七 [tsʰɐ́t] – a slang/vulgar word in Cantonese.
八 [pāːt] – sudden fortune, prosperity 發 [fāːt]
九 [kɐ̌u] – long in time 久 [kɐ̌u], enough 夠 [kɐ̄u]
or a slang/vulgar word derived from dog 狗 [kɐ̌u] 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
In South India, mostly Tamil Nadu, the numbers assigned to English
alphabets are 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.
Other uses of the term
Subcarrier Spacing and Symbol Length in 5G/NR Wireless Communication
Fifth generation (5G), a.k.a. New Radio (NR), uses the term
"numerology" to describe the combination of subcarrier spacing and
symbol length. For example, in NR(5G) several different numerology
(i.e., different subcarrier spacing and symbol length) are supported
whearas in LTE there is only one numerology.
To describe questionable concepts based on possibly coincidental
Scientific theories are sometimes labeled "numerology" if their
primary inspiration appears to be a set of patterns rather than
scientific observations. 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
coincidences 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).
The discovery of atomic triads, an early attempt to sort the elements
into some logical order by their physical properties, was once
considered a form of numerology, and yet ultimately led to the
construction of the periodic table. Here the atomic weight of the
lightest element and the heaviest are summed, and averaged, and the
average is found to be very close to that of the intermediate weight
element. This didn't work with every triplet in the same group, but
worked often enough to allow later workers to create generalizations.
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
Wolfgang Pauli was also fascinated by the appearance of certain
numbers, including 137, in physics.
I. J. Good wrote:
There have been a few examples of numerology that have led to theories
that transformed society: see the mention of Kirchhoff and Balmer in
Good (1962, p. 316) ... and one can well include Kepler on account of
his third law. It would be fair enough to say that numerology was the
origin of the theories of electromagnetism, quantum mechanics,
gravitation.... So I intend no disparagement when I describe a formula
When a numerological formula is proposed, then we may ask whether it
is correct. ... I think an appropriate definition of correctness is
that the formula has a good explanation, in a Platonic sense, that is,
the explanation could be based on a good theory that is not yet known
but ‘exists’ in the universe of possible reasonable ideas.
— I. J. Good
Attempts by gamblers to see patterns in random chance
Main article: Gambler's fallacy
Some players apply methods that are sometimes called numerological in
games which involve numbers but no skill, such as bingo, roulette,
keno, or lotteries. Although no strategy can be applied to increase
odds in such games, players may employ "lucky numbers" to find what
they think will help them. There is no evidence that any such
"numerological strategy" yields a better outcome than pure chance, but
the methods are sometimes encouraged, e.g. by casino owners.
In popular culture
This section gives self-sourcing examples without describing their
significance in the context of the article. Please help improve this
article by adding citations to reliable sources that describe the
examples' significance, and by removing less pertinent examples.
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Numerology is a popular plot device in fiction. Sometimes it is a
casual element used for comic effect, such as in an episode titled
"The Séance" of the 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy, where Lucy dabbles
in numerology. Sometimes it is a central motif of the storyline, such
as the movie π, in which the protagonist meets a numerologist
searching for hidden numerical patterns in the Torah; the TV show
Touch which focuses almost entirely on the role of numerology in the
events and coincidences of any person's life; and the movie The Number
23, based on claimed mysteries of the number 23 (itself based on the
Law of Fives).
List of topics characterized as pseudoscience
Number of the Beast
Numbers in Egyptian mythology
Numbers in Norse mythology
Significance of numbers in Judaism
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– vol. 1 – You do not necessarily carry the name you think
Dudley, U. (1997). Numerology: Or, What
Mathematical Association of America. – a skeptical survey of
the field through history
Nagy, Andras M. (2016).
Numerology Workbook: using Chaldean Mysticism
Bullinger, E. W. (1921).
Number in Scripture. Eyre & Spottiswoode
(Bible Warehouse) Ltd.
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Book of the Masters of the Secret House
Campbell, Florence (1931). Your Days Are Numbered: A Manual of
Numerology for Everybody. DeVorss & Company.
Look up numerology in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Numerology.
Number symbolism on Encyclopædia Britannica
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