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by Prof. Opal Dragonfly
Whether we realize it or not, our magical lives and world are structured around numbers. And, while all of us resist having the meaning of our lives “reduced to a number,” there is no doubt that numbers give our being meaning. Indeed, numbers are a language, as well as being part of our languages. Numbers possess inherent mystical powers, which make them MAGICAL. Thus, from the dawn of magical time and intellect, magical folk have utilized numbers to enact and enhance magical works.
For our ancestors, the logic and mathematical patterns of numbers represented the harmonic structure and workings of the universe. The study of the meanings and powers of numbers, Numerology, was undertaken to reveal the basic, but oftentimes hidden, precepts of all existence--in both space and time. As the great magical Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras said: “All things are numbers.”
Numbers may be used to represent both abstract ideas and realities because numbers are the siblings of words; both are used to create languages. Many religions, in tandem with cultures, developed intricate number schemes to explain creation and the workings of our world. Indeed, the ancient Aztecs assigned every fundamental/elementary number four attributes: a god, a quality (such as power to unify), a color, and a direction. Non-magical folk have often tried to decipher the universe’s numerical system and this led to, early on, the investigation into the occult influence of numbers on people’s lives or the world in general. In fact, it is testimony to numbers’ powers that the same non-magical folk who loudly deny the existence of “magic” or “supernatural” phenomena, will then rush out by the millions to spend millions on their “hunches” in number gambling games such as a lottery!
Unity in Duality
Numerology reveals the divisive as well as the unifying powers of numbers. The first schism occurs between Odd and Even numbers.
Odd numbers’ powers generally (Remember: there are exceptions to most generalities) are considered to be masculine, active, celestial, and unchangeable in nature. They are filled with portent, but not often considered to be “good news” omens. Even numbers generally are considered to be feminine, receptive, terrestrial, and mutable (changeable) in nature. They usually portend “good news.”
Thus, magical folk have learned to try to “balance” the powers of odd and even numbers in life and work by combining the numbers being used in some way. For example, a male would keep an even number of objects in his room; a female would balance her presence in her room with an odd number of room decorations. In essence, they would practice numerical feng shui!
The Mark of Zero
Zero is a lack of quantity and it is both a figure of ignorance (lack of knowledge) and of potential to know. It draws on the power of the Unknown and the Darkness of the Cosmic Void: all that seems to be beyond our capabilities to know or to learn. Sometimes, it draws upon the power of Death, representing for us the absence of even the smallest spark of creation/life: the Great Nothingness.
However, zero isn’t a complete “no-op.” For zero also draws power from Hope: the concept and belief of the “about to be” or the “could be.” It portends future life and a sentient being’s potential to learn new things and develop raw talents (which is why we take classes)! Ultimately, it is a figure that represents Eternity and Immortality.
Our magical mathematical hero, Pythagoras, deemed that the “sign of zero” represented a receptacle that contained all things. It is the progenitor (first ancestor) of the number One and it foretells the “coming of power” or the “ending of power” (whether that power be positive or negative). Thus, students need not totally despair at receiving a grade of Zero—it merely reminds us that we still have the potential to learn and, hopefully, will do so!
“Elementary, my dear. . . .”
The second schism (divide) between numbers results in a huge imbalance: the elementary or fundamental numbers versus all the others. All prime numbers, numbers indivisible by others into equal parts, are elementary numbers. There are also a few numbers that, while divisible, are so powerful that they are held separate as well. All other numbers pale in significance to the powers of these fundamental numbers (although all numbers have powers). The rest of this text is devoted to describing the powers of these fundamental numbers: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and Forty.
“One is One and all alone,
and ever more shall be so.”
From “Green Grow the Rushes, Ho”
The number One contains the power of all Creation and is the number of Unity. It represents the Sun, or Light in general, the origin of Life, and Goodness. Pythagoras used it as the starting point for his system of mathematics. To the mystic Confucius, it was the perfect, indivisible center of the Universe. Thus, its powers evolve around creation/beginnings, finding the center of oneself, and of Aloneness (sadly, even Loneliness). It is the positive fulfillment of the potential of Zero and it affirms the powers of the existence of sentient beings.
This is the third division between numbers: there is One and then there are “Many.” Because One is Unity, even though it is an Odd number (normally masculine), it is almost universally associated with the great female goddesses of creation, or Earth Mothers. She is the source from whom all else arises. Her power is not only manifested in the creation of physical beings, but transcends into mental and spiritual manifestations as well. She often has “language” attributed to her, which she then “gifts” to human and magical cultures.
Now we can understand why the importance of Naming things precisely in Spelleing is so emphasized in all of our classes and in magical works! Magic works best when directed only at the one object by the One performing the Magic. All the Magus’ Sense and Power is channeled toward the One object and outcome.
“It Takes Two to Tango”
Two is the number of diversity and antithesis (opposites). Many dualities or pairs are seen in our natural environments: female/male, light/dark, Life/Death and Good/Evil. Two, therefore, can represent synthesis (joining), as when through marriage “two become one.” And, it can represent division when something that was unified or whole is split, such as a tree chopped off from the Earth.
Two’s power is greater when it is used to “create or “unify,” but it still has power to divide. Thus, magical folk should try to use Two for creative and unifying purposes (perhaps repairing something or thought-communicating with a far away friend, etc.).
“Three’s a Crowd”
Three is the second very powerful number of the elemental numbers (One being the first). As we have seen with Two and natural dualities, triads or threes also occur in frequently in nature: air, earth, water; beginning, middle, end; Birth, Life, and Death. Therefore, Three symbolizes and draws its power from the concepts of Totality and Infinity. For Pythagoras, Three was Harmony and Aristotle believed Three was Completeness. In Asian cultures, Three represented purity, loyalty, respect, and refinement.
Three is the first number of the concept of “many,” and we also encounter the language of “superlatives”—large, larger, and largest, and the phrase “all of these”—yes, Three’s a crowd! It is also our first “winning” statistic: “Two out of Three.” For that reason, Three has the power to bring Good Fortune. Many magic folk gather things in three’s: one to use, one for a spare, and one to give as a gift.
It is so powerful that we believe both good and evil or happy and sad things come in three’s. Magical folk who employ the number three are tapping into immense power and they should be at least to the advanced beginner level in their studies in order to have the skill to sufficiently control and channel that power. Remember: What we do rebounds upon us threefold!
The powers of the number Four derive from the perfection of the geometric figure of the square. It channels to its user the powers and traits of solidity, comprehensiveness, organization, and Justice. The square represents the element of Earth and the four-armed cross was drawn to represents the four major directions of north, south, east, and west. The sub-deities of Wind and Weather rule each of these.
Cultures and religions abound with fourfold topics: Gospel-Makers, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, castes in Hindu society, pillars supporting the world, etc. Four, in Pythagorean theory, is the first number giving the concept of a solid. As such, the number Four also represents the Intellect (the multi-dimensional aspect of a sentient being).
The use of Four in magical works taps into the power of the entire planet Earth. Proper safeguards should be in place to prevent an unfinished Spelle leaving an opening through which the powers of Earth could leak indefinitely. Towards this end, wise magic folk will have a companion present as a backup to use the Exsolvo or Incantatio perficio spelle should something go amiss.
People used their fingers (and later their toes) to start counting, which means if you can do that, you’re alive! Fingers and toes were our first calculators! Maybe that’s why numbers and fingers are both “digits”!
The number Five started the theory and science of Mathematics by combining the number One in addition and/or subtraction to other numbers. The five-pointed star, known to us as a pentagram or pentangle, represented five. It also represented health of the human body (four limbs and head), and the concept of meditation—an additional direction: Inner Space.
In Pythagorean theory, Five integrates the number Two and Three, and One and Four so it becomes a unified number and carries the powers of Unity too. It was also the sacred number of Aphrodite and Venus—the goddesses of Love and Beauty. In Alchemy, it was the number of quintessence—the basis of Life.
All in all, Five is a number that powerfully affirms Life and, as such, it is the third very powerful numbers (besides One and Three). Magi use the number Five to strengthen their magical words and works by securing their inner and outer focus (body and spirit). Magic performed within a pentangle/pentagram is powerful indeed; but, again, extreme caution must be used NOT to open an unclosable door to either the innards of the Earth or to the inner being/spirit/soul of either the practitioner or the subject of the magic work. The results of such a breech would be unpleasant indeed; therefore, the presence of a backup is recommended.
“Six of one, a Half-Dozen of the Other”
The number Six is actually derived from the number twelve when it is halved. More importantly to us, however, is that our word “Hex”—to place under a charm or spelle—also means Six. This number is esteemed in Magic because it represents the sacred union between the triple-essence Earth goddess (earth, fire, water) and her consort Triplotemus. When one combines 333 with 333, one gets 666 and that represented Plenty and Renewal: abundant new life. It is also the number before Seven, so it is “almost” Perfection.
Using this history as a basis for interpretation, we find Six to symbolize Unity and Balance—seen in the hexagram, which combines two triangles to create a six-pointed star. In addition, Pythagoras portrayed Six as the number of Luck or Chance (which it still means in modern games of dice). Six also symbolized Stability and Truth.
Magical folk using the number Six bring balance to their magical works and can draw not only on the powers of Six, but also of Twelve (discussed later).
The mystical and magical powers of number Seven could fill a book all by themselves! Seven is the fourth number of extreme power (joins One, Three, Five) and is usually considered the most powerful of all numbers. The ancients considered it a sacred number because it combines two Threes and a One. It is the number of cosmic order, spiritual fulfillment, and natural cycle completion. It derives its cosmic significance from the Seven “wandering” celestial orbs visible to the naked eye: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Also, the four phases of the lunar cycle equaled twenty-eight days and when divided by four, Seven was the result. Also, the numbers 1 through 7 add up to 28.
It is the number of Life, of Perfection, of Light, of Wisdom and Intellectual Mastery, and of Immortality (sacred to Osiris, Apollo, Mithras, and Buddha).
Obviously, if a magus employs the number Seven in magical works, he or she had better be well-prepared for the resulting “power surge” which will be released. The use of number Seven is best controlled with a Master or Mistress of magic close by, especially if you are new to a spelle or charm that employs Seven in some form. The “kick” from your wand is likely to lift you clear off the ground!
“Eight is Great”
Eight combines One with Seven, so it is a number of Completion, Salvation, Fulfillment, and Freedom. It goes the “extra mile” past Seven—a bit of insurance, let’s say. It ensures the end is worth the “toil and trouble” of magical works (especially as you peel yourself off the wall after having invoked the number Seven).
It is also a number of universal balance (two halves of Four) and represents Renewal, Rebirth, and Blessing. Pythagoras noted that the Octagon was a combined square and circle, thus combining Stability (square) and Totality (circle). Since it follows the Completeness of Seven, it can also represent a “new start” or birth and renewal. It is a Good Luck number and associated with Healing.
Using Eight in magical incantations both rejuvenates older spelles or charms and soothes the magus. After number Seven’s blast, we will probably need that!
“Nine is Fine”
Nine is one of the three “almost” numbers (the others are Six and Eleven). It is almost complete as it approaches the powerful number Ten. Yet, in its own right, it derives power from its three Three components. It triples the powers of Unity in Diversity of the number Three. Nine brings magic folk extra power to unify disparate elements in, for example, a potion and it is a nice wand length if a wand has triple core elements (Ten or Fourteen is best for dual core elements).
“A Perfect Ten”
Any way you “add them up,” Ten’s Power is immense. It is One plus Nine; it is S Four plus Six; it is two Fives; most significantly, it is Three plus Seven. It both begins and ends in Totality and absolutes—visually we see a One and a Zero! It is the number, then, of Finality and Perfection, and Completeness: the finished cycle, etc. Ten added to or multiplied by any number increases that number’s power tenfold.
Pythagoras designated Ten as the icon of all Creation, and it is the sum of the numbers One, Two, Three, and Four. It is the total number of digits on our hands (or feet). It’s also why the first number systems were base ten (using both hands to count). It is a good number of inches for a wand with a dual core material.
So, use the number Ten with as much caution as the other very powerful numbers (One, Three, Five, Seven). Used correctly, it almost ensures that your spelle or charm will not only be completed, but near perfection will result.
“Eleven is Close to Heaven”
Eleven is a “late-comer” to powerful numbers and is a number of “dual powers. It may be used for evil purposes more easily than other numbers because, Like Eight, it is an “excess” number—One more than a “perfect Ten.” But, it is also an “almost” number, as is Six. This is derived from Christian symbolism. Eleven is the number of faithful Apostles to Christ—counting Him, the sacred number and powerful number Twelve is reached.
Therefore, Eleven also represents “Striving” and “Reaching.” Magi who need to impart a bit of urgency and yearning with their incantations often use Eleven in some format. Perhaps this is why “saved at the Eleventh hour" describes the concept of divine intervention (at almost the last second) to procure a successful result for a seemingly hopeless cause. However, one must be careful not to “overindulge” its use—excesses, such as Greed, lead to Eleven rebounding wickedly upon the user.
“Twelve is Swell”
The basic number of Astrology and ancient Astronomy, as well as our modern
Calendars, is Twelve. There are Twelve symbols of the Zodiac, Twelve months in a year, two Twelve hour halves to a day, etc. It is the product of three Fours or four Threes, as well as two Sixes, and carries within it all of their powers: Unity in Diversity, the power of the Earth, etc.
Not only did Christ start out with The Twelve Apostles but Mithras had Twelve disciples; there were Twelve Titans; there were Twelve progeny of the Prophet Ali, etc. As further proof of the power of Twelve, Solomon “wisely” divided his kingdom into Twelve sections to facilitate tax collection!
Twelve can be used safely in most magical works—it is by and large a “kindly” number. But, remember that it contains immensely powerful numbers in magical combination, so don’t lose concentration while using it.
Death, Thy Name is Thirteen”
For obvious reasons, don’t use this number.
Actually, it has its good points, but only the most masterful magi can utilize the number’s advantages and even then the number is used at tremendous risk to themselves and others.
“Fourteen is My Lucky Number”
Fourteen has always been my lucky number! I attribute this to the fact that is two Sevens. This has no impact on anyone else, but having written about so many numbers already, I “figured”—What’s “one” more?
“Forty Days, Forty Nights”
That’s undoubtedly how long it took you to read this book! Forty represents Spiritual Purification, Atonement for a grievous evil, Waiting and/or Fasting, Accomplishment, and Change.
While Forty isn’t very often used in our magical works, when it is used it carries tremendous power from centuries of accumulated cultural and religious meanings (ranking it with One, Three, Five, Seven, Ten, and Twelve). Therefore, use it “wisely and well”—for if it is used for evil purposes, it will rebound threefold—destruction beyond imagining.
The powers of numbers have become an important part of our magical worlds. They influence Divination, Spelle Casting, Potion Mixing, Wand Making, etc. The magical associations of numbers affect our daily decisions, and inform our language, and their power permeates our very perceptions of Life. Use the more powerful numbers only when you are advanced enough, and with an equally advanced (or more skilled) companion. Foolhardiness/”Fool’s Pride” has no place in the magical world. Tremendous harm will result and remember that the magical realm’s ethical code begins: “An’ it do no harm. . . .”
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. NY: Harper Bros., n.d.
Cirlot, J.E. A Dictionary of Symbols. 2nd ed. Trans. Jack Sage. NY: Barnes and Noble, 1995.
Leach, Maria. Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore Mythology and Legend. NY: Readers Digest Books, 1950.
Tresidder, Jack. Symbols and Meanings. NY: Sterling Pub. Co., Inc., 2000.
And other books on general symbolism.