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.