Numerology is another modern method of divination, one that
attempts to discern the occult significance of numbers. It too is a
popular form of entertainment. Like palmistry, numerology is thousands
of years old and strongly associated with the occult. The practice of
using tarot cards and the cabala are rooted in numerology, and
astrology also bears a relationship. As with other forms of
divination, there are two principal aspects: 1) character assessment
and 2) divining or predicting the future.
Numerologists claim they cannot only help people to understand
themselves better, but that they must also help them to make important
decisions in all areas of life. Numerologists claim to offer the
following information or advice: choosing the correct marriage
partner, vocation, city, or house in which to live; individual
"compatibility" with the products one uses; understanding oneís mate
and friends better; when to buy property or invest in a business; the
best days to take a trip, apply for a new job, start a new venture,
have surgery, and so on.1 Practitioners also allege that numerology
can advise clients about what to do or not to do in any given year. It
even claims to be able to evaluate the condition of future nations by
their birth dates, as well as many other things. "Numerology is
applicable to the most minute personal problems of human life or to
gigantic moves in the theatre of international politics."2 For
The day you were born certain powers were bestowed upon you that
will be with you your whole life long, since this date is
unalterable, its personal vibrations shape every event or incident
in your life span.... From the first day of your life to your last,
you are governed by the destiny bestowed upon you according to the
date of your birth. The numerological value of this birthdate will
reveal to you the path of your destiny and suggest the line of
personal development to help you attain all you wish from life.3
Like practitioners in other divinatory fields, numerologists may
claim that their profession
does not involve the occult. Main advocates insist that numerology is
merely "a science of the numbers of life.íí One leading practitioner
states, "Numerology is not fortune-telling, it is instead, a way to
understanding through knowledge of numbers."4 Another encourages
readers "not [to] fall into the trap of looking at Numerology as a
fortune-telling device. It is not."5 And, "This is not a matter of
fortune-telling, itís plain mathematics revealed in the correlation of
human factors to their cosmic pulse-beat as pictured in numbers."6
Despite such claims, most numerologists will admit, when pressed,
they are engaging in
fortune-telling and divination. A fortune-teller is defined in the
Oxford American Dictionary as "a person who claims to foretell
future events in peopleís lives." Thus, as one practitioner writes,
"My system of foretelling the future is based on the esoteric meaning
behind numbers, and not on speculation. There is no element of good or
bad luck involved, for my calculations are derived from your entire
birthpath which, like nature, is immutable and unchangeable. The key
to these predictions is found in the ancient Tarot pack of cards."7
Another advocate states that numerology can bring clients "fame and
fortune,"8 and that numerology in general routinely attempts to
determine "the path each year will take."9 And if numerology isnít
fortune-telling and divination, why do numerologists boast about their
record of accurate predictions? "I can honestly state that an
overwhelming percentage of forecasts Iíve made have come true. That
applies not only to cases in which I have analyzed the numberscopes of
individuals but also to predictions on current events which have found
their way into print."10 Or consider the following statement by a
professional numerologist who is also a member of several occult
societies and has written newspaper columns on numerology:
I have dedicated my life via numerology to discovering the
destiny of man. There is no great secret to this destiny. It is
revealed in Astrology, Numerology, the Palm of the Hand, the Tarot
Deck.... Over the years I personally have worked on over 10,000
charts of living people. ... In all cases the lives of the
individuals whose charts I worked on went exactly as plotted by the
In essence, numerologists realize they are engaging in
fortune-telling and divination, but
often they donít admit it because of the bad reputation of such
However, numerology, like other forms of divination, sometimes
provides accurate predictions, but such success does not arise from
numerology itself but from spiritistic influences.12 Despite claims to
the contrary, no practitioner has ever demonstrated 100 percent
accuracy. To be generous, like diviners in general, numerologists
usually fall into the lower quadrant of successes.
How does numerology claim to work? Theories differ considerably,
but in one form or another, it claims that our nature and future can
be symbolically "reduced" to numbers, and that a proper interpretation
of those numbers will reveal almost anything that needs to be known.
Two basic principles include the idea that numbers are clues to the
underlying structure and nature of the universe and that the name of a
thing contains the essence of its being, so that once a personís name
is reduced to its number, the truth about that person can supposedly
At its popular level numerology is an entertaining and
comparatively simple method of analysing character and predicting
the future, in broad and vague terms at least. At a deeper level it
is claimed to be one of the major keys to an understanding of the
true nature of the universe and it plays an important part in magic
and occultism. Like other systems of divination, it finds order and
regularity behind the bewildering multiplicity of phenomena and the
confusing muddle of events and influences that confront us in the
world outside us and in ourselves.13
There are two basic systems for reducing a personís name to
numbers, so that character and destiny can be "read" and foretold. One
system is where the numbers from 1 to 9 are written down with the
letters of the alphabet written underneath in their normal order: A is
1, B is 2, C is 5, and so on through I is 9, and then J becomes 1, K
becomes 2, L becomes 3, etc. A different system uses only the numbers
from 1 to 8 but does not list the letters in their usual order because
it uses the Hebrew alphabet. This often gives a different
letter-number equivalent. Thus H is 5, I is 1, F is 8. There are also
lesser systems that differ from these two primary systems. And in any
system, the zero is always discarded.
Four key numbers used by numerologists are termed "heart,"
"personality," "birth," and "personal year." The "heart" number
supposedly reveals the inner self or "heart," the person as she really
is. The "personality" number reveals a personís outer self, the self
she projects. The "birth" number supposedly indicates destiny, and the
"personal year" number tells what a specific year will be like.
In all of this, practitioners claim that numerology can be 100
percent accurate, and that there is nothing "false or misleading"
about the practice.14 Numerology, however, is extremely complex, and
since differing systems give differing results, the problems of
subjectivism found in all forms of divination are applicable to
numerology as well.
In Part 2 we will present a critique of numerology.
1 Helyn Hitchcock, Helping Yourself with Numerology (West
Nyack, NY: Parker, 1978), pp. 183-90.
2 Vincent Lopez, Numerology (New York: Signet, 1969), p.
3 Geri Tully, The Secret Powers of Numerology (New York:
Pocket Books, 1977), pp. 24-25.
4 Kevin Quinn Avery, The Numbers of Life: The Hidden Power of
Numerology (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1974 rev.), p. 201.
5 Roberta Lee, "Numerology: A Roadmap to LifeóPart 3," Psychic
Dimensions, February 1979, p. 46.
6 Lopez, p. 21.
7 Hitchcock, p. 162.
8 Tully, p. 14.
9 Ibid., p. 52.
10 Lopez, p. 10.
11 Avery, p. 287.
12 We documented how this may occur in our book Astrology: Do
the Heavens Rule Our Destiny? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House
Publishers, 1989), pp. 201-55.
13 Richard Cavendish, ed., Encyclopedia of the Unexplained:
Magic, Occultism and Parapsychology (New York: McGraw Hill,
1976), p. 158.
14 Avery, p. XII; Tully, p. 192.