What is Numerology

Numerology is the study of the mystical significance of numbers.

In its simplest form it manifests in the way many cultures, and individuals, consider certain numbers to be lucky or unlucky. For example:

  • Four is considered unlucky by the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean because it sounds like the word for “death”.
  • Seven is considered lucky by many cultures, but not the Chinese as it has connotations with the dead (eg the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts is in the Seventh Lunar Month).
  • Eight is considered lucky by the Chinese and Japanese, because it sounds like the word for “prosper”.
  • Thirteen is considered unlucky by most Western cultures, because Judas Iscariot, the disciple and betrayer of Jesus, was the thirteenth man at Jesus’ Last Supper. The belief is so strong that 13 is sometimes omitted as a house number or floor number in a building. However, thirteen is considered lucky in Italy. It is also considered lucky in China, because it sounds like the word for “sure life”.

Interestingly, these generalized meanings are culturally dependent. This suggests that rather than being intrinsic, the significance of numbers depends upon the context of consideration, and that this contextual significance has been created by eons of consistent association.

In addition to the significance of numbers in Eastern and Western culture, it is worth noting the Hebrew study of gematria. Gematria provides a system of encoding and finding hidden meanings in words and phrases by means of the numerical values of individual letters and has been applied to both the Bible and the Qabalah.

Numbers and the Individual

Numerology often focuses on the digits 1 to 9, with higher numbers being reduced by the summation of the constituent digits, eg 59 may be reduced to 5 thus: 5 + 9 = 14, 1 + 4 = 5. The two basic numerological indicators for an individual are calculated from their birth date and full birth name.

The birth date number, also known as the life path (or destiny) number, is calculated by adding the digits of the full date of birth, eg Feb 1st 1964 (2/1/1964) becomes 2 + 1 + 1 + 9 + 6 + 4 = 23 = 2 + 3 = 5.

The life path number indicates your purpose in this life, your reason for being here.

The number calculated from the full birth name is known as the expression number. A number is assigned to each letter of the birth name according to the following chart.




































For example, John Walter Smith becomes:

   J   O   H   N   W   A   L   T   E   R   S   M   I   T   H
   1 + 6 + 8 + 5 + 5 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 5 + 9 + 1 + 4 + 9 + 2 + 8
   = 69 = 6 + 9 = 15 = 1 + 5 = 6

The expression number indicates what you are, and therefore suggests how best you may fulfill the purpose revealed by your life path number.

The Esoteric Significance of Numbers

The following summarizes the most common numerological associations for each number:


As a life path number, one signifies individuality and independence. As an expression number it suggests self-sufficiency and self-reliance. One is the first number used when counting and therefore it is considered to have great power. Because one signifies the beginning of an enterprise, it is very egocentric and prefers to be the center of attention. One can be happy, loving, romantic, dynamic and charismatic, but on the downside it can be egotistical, selfish and melodramatic.


As a life path number, two signifies peace, harmony and mediation. As an expression number it suggests diplomacy and an aptitude for teamwork. Two relates to partnerships and interaction with others. Individual achievements are not realistic because accomplishments are best realized through co-operation and teamwork. One-to-one relationships are prominent because it symbolizes two people becoming close through intimate contact. Two is feminine, intuitive, and corresponds with our protective instincts. Negatively, two can be grasping and overprotective.


As a life path number, three signifies expression and creativity. As an expression number it suggests self-expression through words or the arts. Three relates to expansiveness and learning through life experiences. It is considered to be lucky, and is often associated with money and good fortune. Three generally depicts several people joining together to achieve a common goal, whether through a social or professional affiliation. Three also represents communication of all kinds, expression, drama, acting, and humour. Although three possesses attributes of wisdom, understanding and knowledge, negatively it can exhibit pessimism, foolhardiness and unnecessary risk taking.


As a life path number, four signifies practicality, patience and tenacity. As an expression number it suggests organization and hard work. The simplest solid object — a tetrahedron — has four sides; hence four denotes solid matter in general and the Earth in particular. The association with Earth means that four symbolizes being practical and “down-to-earth,” while the fact that four is the first composite number (a number that can be created from multiplying numbers other than itself and 1, ie 2 X 2 = 4.) is linked to the idea of an other-directed, “composite personality” that takes cues from different and often conflicting sources, leading to fiercely independent, “out-of-the-box” thinking.


As a life path number, five signifies love of freedom and adventure. As an expression number it suggests growth through change and different experiences. Five is a number which represents service to others. It is highly analytical and has the ability to think critically, but can over-ponder an issue to the point that its significance is no longer relevant. This number governs our ability to think clearly and our intellectual capacity. Five represents openness to new experiences as well as new ideas. Seeking freedom, it is often the adventurer. Five is about pushing life to its limits. It is a multifaceted number with links to our state of physical and mental health.


As a life path number it signifies responsibility, compassion and care for others. As an expression number it suggests supporting and caring for the most vulnerable. Six relates to tact, beauty and harmony. It is very much a relationship builder which corresponds to one-to-one encounters. It deals with that which we are attracted to and those things we find great pleasure in. Six possesses charm, grace and the ability to make small talk on any stratum, and is therefore much of a diplomat. Six is very nurturing, and is considered the mother/father number. Negatively, six can be unfaithful, jealous, bitter and vengeful. Six can also denote perfectionism, as it is the first “perfect” number (the sum of its divisors, other than itself, is equal to itself, ie 6 X 1 = 6 and 3 X 2 = 6, and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6).


As a life path number, seven signifies intellect and an introspective, analytical mind. As an expression number it suggests the need to think deeply and the desire for seclusion. Seven is considered to be a spiritual number because it is illusive and contains veils which must first be uncovered, one after another, before illumination will ultimately be found. Seven is said to be sacred, and this is evidenced by the fact that there are seven days in the week, ancient texts propose that the earth was formed in seven phases, the ancient solar system consisted of seven luminaries, and some versions of the kaballah have seven sephiroth. While seven possesses qualities of dreaminess, spirituality and psychic awareness, negatively it can be dubious, deceptive and insincere.


As a life path number, eight signifies material success, discipline and persistence. As an expression number it suggests business, managerial and financial aptitude. Eight is considered to be the number of karmic influences where we are called upon to pay debts incurred in this and previous lives. It represents hard work and lessons learned through experience, and can therefore be a difficult number for some because of the very restrictiveness of its nature. More than any other number, eight seeks money and material success. However, the hardships eight faces in pursuit of its rewards are extreme. Huge reversals in life are common for the eight.


As a life path number, nine signifies compassion, humanitarianism and impartiality. As an expression number it suggests idealism realized through the need to help others. Nine was considered to be a sacred number by the ancients and was consequently not assigned a numerical equivalent to any letter in the Chaldean alphabet. It represents change, invention and growth which springs forth from inspiration. Nine is the humanitarian.

Zero is a powerful number which brings great transformational change, sometimes occurring in a profound manner. It has much intensity, so caution is needed wherever it appears to ensure that extremes are not encountered.

Although reducible, the numbers 11, 22 and 33 are considered especially significant and are known as the master numbers.


There is no doubt of the significance of numbers in our daily lives. We can hardly do anything without thinking, speaking or writing numerically in some way. But numbers in themselves are mere symbols. They represent something else. Like all symbolic systems numbers are like keys. They have little value in themselves except the ability to unlock certain doors and provide access to what lies within.

Numbers don’t cause people to have particular characters, or things to happen or not. Neither do people’s characters or the occurrence of events automatically associate themselves with certain quantities. Rather the more often than chance linkage of particular numbers with personal characteristics and physical happenings suggests some hidden connection between all things, termed synchronicity by Jung. A hidden connection that exists not in the physical realm, but in that which, for want of a better name, we call Spirit.

In order to make best use of the journey of life it is first necessary to know ourselves and our place within the order of things. That belief in numerology has persisted for so long and that it remains pervasive in so many cultures is testimony to its value. Thus, numerology should be one of those tools through which we seek self-knowledge.

Analyzing the numerical significance of our name and birth date yields invaluable food for reflection. Perhaps we will be amazed by its accuracy; perhaps we will delight in refuting its assertions (though others may disagree). Either way, to reflect upon its findings will take us further along our path.

Be guided by numerology along with other esoteric systems. But be a slave to none. Divinatory systems are like roadmaps, they may serve to show us a particular route but are ultimately subordinate to the supremacy of human free will. Be advised by the various esoteric tools such as numerology, but ultimately it is our own inner self that must decide.

Further information

Recommended reading:

Numerology and the Divine Triangle Faith Javane, Dusty Bunker. A truly comprehensive and authoritative text on numerology. A complete introduction to esoteric numerology with extensive delineations of each of the numbers 1 to 78 and a synthesis of numerology, astrology and the Tarot.

Numbers and You: A Numerology Guide for Everyday Living Lloyd Strayhorn. Learn how to harness the power of numbers with this unique guide, and reveal the secrets of your personality, which lottery numbers you should choose, when is the best time to make decisions, what cities are best for you to live in, how can you tell if someone is right for you, and much, much more.

Numerology: Key to Your Inner Self Hans Decoz. An easy-to-understand guide that introduces the reader to the basic concepts and applications of numerology. Begins with a fascinating explanation of what numerology is and an intriguing look at the philosophy that lies behind it. It then examines how numerology works, focusing on the numeric meanings of personal names, birth dates, and language in general. Included is a step-by-step guide to calculating you own numbers and interpreting them in chart form.

Glynis Has Your Number Glynis McCants. An accessible guide to everything the simple art of numerology can reveal about your friends, loved ones, colleagues, and – especially – yourself.