Possible Symbolism in the Numbers of Bones in the Human Spinal Column

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If you are new to numerology, please see the earlier articles in the archive - for a menu of the detailed information behind this.

The 26 or 33 vertebrae in the spine are grouped:

The sacral and coccyx vertebrae are all separate entities at birth, but fuse together as we grow up.

The skull has 45 bones at birth, fusing to 22 in adulthood. The joining of the skull's cranial bones in adulthood is by sutures, so different in style from other bone joining - leaving us with a case for counting them separately.

Totalling Options in ascending order:

Relating the chakras to the spine

The options appear to be:

Going back to numerology's old "there is only zero, one, two, three, and everything else" from both Lao Tsu and Papus - it could seem reasonable to treat with:

This would lead us towards considering the skull as a single unit. This would take us to a total of either 34 (skull plus 33 vertebrae), or 27 (skull plus 26) if we consider the fused vertebrae together, which would be medically logical if we are taking the skull as one unit.

Medics count vertebrae from the top down. We would have the freedom to choose either direction if we had not already taken the skull as being number one.

That would lead us to:

What can we find in the numbers?

Seven Neck Vertebrae - could be symbolically related to 7 planets of ancient astrology. Two of these are special (atlas and axis) so would relate two what were called the two "luminaries" (sun and moon). These could also be related consequently to the seven "simple" letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The number 7 is called "the triumph of spirit over matter", and represented by a triangle over a square.

Twelve Chest Vertebrae - could be symbolically related to 12 zodiac signs, and thus to the twelve "double" letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Twelve is the number of humanity, being the great male (1) and female (2) archetypes standing together in companionship.

Adding the 7 and 12, we get 19 which used to be called the "Prince of Heaven" because it was formed of that particular addition, although it was later related to the Sun in particular.

If the somewhat experimental Hebrew letter associations above are valid, we would then need to find what relates to the remaining three "mother" letters, which are called the root powers of air, water and fire.

On the Tree of Life diagram, the root power of air (aleph) labels the Path from Crown to Wisdom, so would relate accurately to the skull. The root power of water (mem) labels the path from Justice to Glory, so is founded on the hips, thus could relate indirectly to the fused sacral vertebrae taken as one entity. The root power of fire (shin) labels the Path from Glory to Kingdom, so is founded at the root chakra, and could be related to the fused tail vertebrae taken as one unit.

Then we need to look at the 5 lumbar vertebrae - sitting below the symbols of heaven (in neck and chest) and sitting above the fused areas which could be seen as implying solid matter. The 5 is the number of the microcosm (human) as well as being the number of communication; perhaps communication between earthly and heavenly symbol sets in this case. The four elements of fire, air, earth, and water, plus the fifth element of aether would seem to be at home here.

This does not double up on the previous attribution of the "root powers of" air, water, and fire, because "root powers" means "that which causes and supports" - so it did not refer to the element itself.

Virtually self-selected from among the wide variety of choices we started with, we now have the total of 27 - the number which is traditionally called "The Sceptre". A sceptre is a rod which is held as a symbol of authority by a monarch when proclaiming laws. The rod image would fit with the spine's being the supporting rod of the body, especially as laws are intended to give a supporting structure to society.

The 27 is the third cubic number, being the cube of the 3. The Greeks said that a number reaches its perfection in its cube, so this is the perfection of the 3, which is the number of creativity because it is the first merger of the male 1's unity-trend with the female 2's receptiveness. The image of a cube could be seen as an offer of support comparable with the support our spinal column gives us.

The 27's secret key is 378 (all numbers from 1 to 27 add to 387) which can be made by adding the equivalent keys to 12 and 24 (as 78 + 300). The 24 is called the "leaders of the tribes", which means the male and female archetypes for each of the twelve astrological signs, and here they are getting together with "all humanity" of the twelve. Please see the archived article here on the Secret Keys if you are nor familiar with this old concept.

The 378 is also reached by multiplying the keys to 1, 2, 3, and 6 (as in 1x3x6x21). So we have the three great fundamental principles (1, 2, & 3) in an intense relationship (multiplication) with the number of the macrocosm (6) which is also traditionally the number of Love.

So the 27 of our total has some heavyweight structure within it.

Other options

The other ways of looking at the spine cited near the beginning of this article (totalling 26, 33, 34, 54, 55, or 78) are likely to provide equally valid symbolism. Indeed, three of them looked particularly tempting, but this article has just gone freely wherever it wanted to go.

If you would like to ask a question about this article, please email john@dillon-guy.com