Here is the basic vocabulary of western numerology from zero to nine. Subsequent articles will explore how we can use them, and will give more information about them.
The absence of all numbers, or the absence of any number. Originally the nothing which was nowhere because there was not anywhere for it to be. Now the circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. Beginning and end - endless beginning-ness. Beginning as the void, and ending as Nirvana. The Absolute Un-manifest. The origin of the essence which wanted to experience itself.
Our symbol for zero was adopted (from Sanskrit) by the Arabs in about the year 400, and by Europe in the 13 hundreds. Greek and Hebrew leave an empty space where we would put a 0, and they are the more eloquent for that. Such a space could receive anything.
When there is a 0 within another number, how should we interpret it? 10 is the number of meditation because the absolute (0) within ourselves comes into harmony with the unity (1) of the universe in the 10. Likewise 70 can be seen as a meditation on the seven's spirituality.
Except for the zero - it will help our fluency in numerology if we each develop, for the individual digits, our own image of the number as a person. This "build your own archetypes" process will pay great dividends when we are dealing with higher numbers.
The 1 crystallises out of the "edge" of the Limitless Light, containing the seed of everything which is yet to be born. This is the spiritual precursor to the physical event which scientists call the big bang. The intention "I Am" which called forth the 1 is epitomised by the 1. Crystallised light. The unity of the 1 anticipates the re-unification of the universe.
The independent 1 is somewhat alone, but this does not necessarily include feeling lonely. The founding king may not be comfortable as "one of the gang". The leader who either takes or inspires the initiative. Integrity which could be tempted to rigidity if the 1 were not the source of all movement. Self-awareness which should not be taken to selfishness. Right simplicity shows honesty: hides nothing.
The 1 does not intrude. Subtract 1 to find the parent, add 1 to find the child, each number is born out of its predecessor. If the 1 had stayed unified, there would have been no creation.
Born of a curve, or split, or any change in the one. The birth of the two's femininity makes the whole of creation inevitable, because 1+2=3 and 1+3=4 etc. so all subsequent numbers are caused by the 2, not the 1. Her curved mirror captures the energies from the 1 and softens their quality - as the moon reflects the sun. The 1 needs her to see his own reflection. She is yin to his yang. She shows duality, but the purpose of her dance is to bring all dualities into balance. Duality is misplaced only when it is out of balance. She is wisdom as well as receptiveness. When two qualities or entities exist there is a need for wisdom to distinguish between them. Her serene dance of curves and sways explores the limits of imbalance, and of tension in polarity - before the crescendo of perfect, peaceful, wise, equilibrium. But beware, she dances for herself, not for you. She is reactive: her reflection is in the mind-lake of our subconscious. She invented the concept of relationship.
The 3 is born of the total union of the 1 and the 2. He is born neuter and becomes hermaphrodite. Born as the upward pointing triangle orientated as a bell, he rotates to become the female triangle orientated as a cup, then completes the rotation to return to the male position. His being a perfect union of male and female at birth, then moving to explore both those viewpoints, yields an experience which brings real understanding (compared with the two's wisdom). He embodies any trinity you care to select - most of which express love, wisdom, and power. He is yang, yin, and Tao.
The three which started by symbolising un-evolved humanity seeking first power, then love, and lastly wisdom; ends as evolved mankind allowing wisdom to grow out of love, then strength to grow out of wisdom. He invented and embodies the concept of creativity, and the concept of growth, and the concept of having a plan - but you would not expect him to bother with the details such as picking up a pencil to draw the plan. He is the last of the great fundamental principles.
After the fundamental principles, we reach the same essences expressed at a physical human level where 4, 5, and 6 play the same rôles as 1, 2, and 3.
Each number from here on is born in the same way as the 3 (action of the 1), but still carries an implication of the binary fission of the 2 and the crystallisation of the 1. Each number inherits all its predecessors and carries the seed of all its successors.
The 4 is born as 3+1, but she becomes 2+2.
The 4 elements (fire, air, water, earth) representing the 4 worlds, the budding of the possibility that the physical plane can come into existence. Time is called the fourth dimension, but here on the physical plane is it the first? The 4 is the mother and the victim of time. Four is the first non-prime number, having an intrinsic relationship with others (the 2 in the case of the 4). Materialism - double duality - and materialism is the four-way cross we bear. The 4 plays the role of the 1 in the 4, 5, 6 trio.
Stability, grounding, practical experience, structure, system, order, construction, orthodoxy, organisation, discipline, routine, convention, protection, practicalities, measurement, definition. The 4 walls of a shelter, but do not let it become a prison.
Born as 4+1 in a pentagon, it inverts to a 5-pointed star as 2+3.
Five senses to bring in information from outside. In the West, the fifth element is æther, which permeates the other four. Æther can be a carrier wave for information and for love. As the higher echo of the receptive 2, the master communicator 5 gives priority to listening over speaking. The five-pointed star can be formed by the human's arms, legs, and head reaching out for either a square, or a circle, or both.
Communication, versatility, resourcefulness, excitement, change, uncertainty, freedom, action, travel (spiritual as well as physical travel). His communication is never held back, even when it hurts the listener. When taken too far, the 5 can be deceptive, even fooling himself sometimes. Comedians are the greatest lateral thinkers and communicators.
The five can speak to all humanity equally. The five-pointed star can turn summersaults.
Born as 5+1, wherein the human (5) gets a sixth sense (extra-sensory) with which to perceive a deeper universe. Then it goes through a phase of 4+2 during which it not only grounds itself, but also acquires receptive femininity. Finally she comes to perfect balance as 3+3 shown in two triangles - one pointing creatively to heaven, and the other receptively to earth.
The 6 plays the rôle of the 3 in the 4, 5, 6 trio. She is the feminine manifestation of Horus at the human level. This number of love embodies harmony, balance, and beauty. The energy of the 6 would be repelled by ugliness, conflict, or strife. She gives us the opportunity of "redressing the balance": of voluntarily paying the debt before the law of karma hits us in the eight. She offers us the possibility of the sixth sense in clairsentience.
The numbers 7, 8, and 9 are the evolved forms of the concepts which started as 1, 2, and 3 and passed through a phase of manifesting as 4, 5, and 6.
The rôle of the 1 is played by the 7 among 7-8-9.
It would be more correct, and more traditional, to call 7 "The Triumph of Spirit Over Matter" rather than just "Spirit", because its symbol shows a spiritual triangle over the square of matter.
The 7 has always been seen as special and spiritual. 7 colours of the rainbow, 7 major chakras, 7 levels on the Tree of Life, 7 candles of the Menorah, 7 heavens of Buddhism, 7th day of the week for being rather than doing. The 7th direction (after left, right, forwards, backwards, up, and down) would be inwards. It is seen as a holy number - used frequently in the western esoteric literature.
The energy of the 7 does not "fit in" with the other single digits to its own comfort or satisfaction. No function of the 7 can be found in any combination of squares or cubes, whilst all other single digits can be found.
Philosophy, wisdom, quietness, introspection, the sacred space within each of us, inspiration, poise, deep-thinking, and charity are aspects of the 7.
The 8 is perceived very specifically as 2x2x2 and as 4+4. Its double-square symbol shows two views of the material which was originally the un-carved block. The eight is an echo of infinity linking back to the zero. The upper and lower loops of the 8 show the face of the macrocosm above the face of the microcosm - as above so below.
The law of which it speaks is the law of the universe and the law of karma. The two views spoken of by the double square show that the observer is the observed. The judge is the judged. If it were any other way the original energy of creation would not be experiencing itself.
There are 8 fundamental forces shown by the trigrams of the I Ching wherein the law (of 8 and life) is shown in another vocabulary. Quantum physics perceives four fundamental forces: is the 8 again taking two viewpoints? The 8 is the evolved 2.
The traditional numerologists' symbol for the 9 is three separate triangles. The mystery is whispered in that, when these are brought together, a fourth triangle is formed in their centre - and it is a female-orientation (cup) triangle.
The 9 lamps which light the hermit's cave. A totality of the meanings of all 9 digits, and something extra in the mystery. The hermit's cave is within each of us as the inter-reaction space for the way each of the digits (lamps) is expressed within each of us.
The 9 is a spiral in the way we write it, and a mirror in its function. It interacts with other numbers without changing their nature. Multiply another number by 9, or add 9 to it, and the result will still "reduce" to the same single digit as the original number would.
Selflessness, compassion, pity, letting-go, and inner strength are features of the 9, which plays the rôle of the 3 in the evolved 7, 8, 9 trio.
Next month we will look at how we can investigate the meanings of each "higher number" above nine.
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This month's question is:
Do you have any suggestions for well known characters in fiction or history who could be seen as archetypical of one of the single digits?
Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to. A future feature will publish some of the answers of the widest general interest - with your name credited to honour your copyright.