For thousands of years, mystical traditions around the world have looked for hidden meanings encoded in words, names and numbers. Two interrelated spiritual coding systems, numerology and gematria, link the alphabet to numeric values.
By analyzing these connections, devotees aim to uncover deeper truths about ourselves and the universe at large. Though widely considered pseudosciences today, numerology and gematria speak to the human longing to find purpose and resonance in the seeming randomness around us.
Defining Numerology and Gematria
Numerology is the study of the secret significance of numbers and their purported divine influence on human life. Though various numerological systems exist, most assign numbers from 1-9 to letters based on their alphabetical order. The numbers from each letter are then added to derive a sum value for names or other words and phrases.
Gematria originated from Greek geometria meaning “geometry” and has similar aims to numerology. However, gematria draws specifically on Hebrew/Greek alphabets and Cabbalistic texts to decode hidden meanings. Gematria assigns numbers to words based on their root letter values rather than sequence.
Though often used interchangeably, numerology tends to focus on analyzing the spiritual meanings and vibrations of personal names. Gematria more broadly searches for patterns and philosophical revelations concealed in words, phrases, or passages. Both numerology and gematria find meaning beyond mundane definitions, believing numbers reflect cosmic codes.
Ancient Roots and Modern Applications
On the fringes of academia, numerology and gematria may seem to many like outdated magical thinking. However, their origins date back thousands of years to the world’s most influential religions and philosophers. Greek mathematician Pythagoras first introduced numerology in the 6th century BCE, believing numbers underlay all cosmic order.
Gematria emerged around the same period, used to study Hebrew texts like the Torah. Finding hidden meanings in the scriptures became the basis of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. The Greeks and Romans also adopted their own versions of gematria, seeing it as an allegorical tool.
Flash forward to present times, numerology and gematria live on both esoterically and in popular culture. New Age adherents continue using both systems for spiritual insight along with astrology and tarot. Conspiracy theorists apply numerological and gematria analysis to current events, searching for ominous overtones in dates, names, and symbols. Even musicians and artists incorporate subtle numerical references in their works, allowing fans the thrill of discovering their veiled meanings.
The Methods and Interpretations
Names and dates of birth are the prime subjects of a numerology reading. The standard approach is to convert letters into numbers (1-9) based on their alphabet order, add up the total, and interpret the final single digit result. Different numbers are linked to personality traits and life challenges. For example, a “7” person is analytical, introspective, and philosophical while a “3” is extroverted, creative, and joyful.
Gematria uses a more complex cipher system dating back to Greek isopsephy and Hebrew gematria. Words and phrases in their original languages are assigned numerical values based on each letter/word’s spiritual meaning and esoteric wisdom. One simple gematria technique involves taking a word’s ordinal number value. For instance, “love” translates to 12+15+22+5=54. The numbers produced can then be viewed as codes and omens.
Proponents of numerology and gematria see glimmers of divine design underpinning our seemingly chaotic universe. While skeptics consider them fanciful treasure hunts, these systems do illuminate the profound human longing for coherence and meaning. Though their power is questionable, numerology and gematria fulfill our timeless desire to seek order among the stars and in our souls. The quest for deeper knowledge itself can be revelatory.
Hughes, James. Gematria, the Mystical Number Code. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2004.
Gonard, Theophilus. Letters, Numbers, Forms: The Building Blocks of Creation. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 1970.
King, Richard. Matrix of Power: Secrets of World Control. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2000.
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