Human beings are arguably the most resourceful of all creatures. Well, that’s according to human civilization. It’s only in their world that self-acclaimed glory holds so much importance and decisiveness. But then, that’s not to posit that their troves of knowledge and discoveries are any less magnificent. After all, they’ve gone to the moon, flying around the sky, even higher than birds themselves. And now, as a result of planet-threatening events, Elon Musk and others like him have projected interplanetary dwellings whereby humans can become citizens of Mars, like of the Earth. The possibilities are endless.

It’s exciting and flattering to think that human beings ply their trades only in prominent and “serious” endeavors, like the ones on the list above, typical big men’s business. But no! Ever since Pythagoras uttered, “Everything is Number,” human beings have developed a numerical mindset and reevaluated their approach towards numbers.

Humans are highly fascinated by orderliness as much as they are disconcerted by anything which reeks of chaos. They are always in the quest to find an “explanation” for everything. Helplessness sets in when they can’t explain a given thing; a concept; an idea, or why the bubbles of a beer go up. Anything that goes up finds its way to the ground; there you have the glorified Law of Gravity. If countless times you’ve caught yourself trying to pair things up (whatever it takes), you’re not insane; you’re only a conscious manifestation of the condition of being a human.

More so, in a bid to attain orderliness, humans are ready to accept and invent different forms of superstition. But in this endless struggle and headless battle for order, human beings are, sometimes, destined to stumble upon golds. That’s how they discovered numerology.

Everything is Number: Pythagoreanism

The idea of numerology is straightforward. It’s looking at numbers beyond the primary, everyday usage of calculating money in our daily activities. It’s aligning numbers with events and then fetching meanings and divination out of it. Like philosophy and science, numerology is a field in which Pythagoras (the herald of the powers of numbers) was a pioneer.

Although a great and renowned philosopher and scientist, his name rumbles throughout the annals of history, primarily for being a numerologist. He might define the discipline–if we somehow get him to do so–as the love of numbers, for their own sake. But Pythagoreanism–and thus, numerology–goes a bit farther than the innocent love for numbers in the sense that it sees the Universe as a conglomeration of the simple relations of numbers.

We should also add here that Pythagoras may have been a towering figure in the history of philosophy and science (and still is), his identity as an individual is foggy, and many discoveries of his name might as well have been works of other people which his faithful followers have, in time, attributed to him. Some people still question the credibility of the Pythagoras Theorem in geometry as being a discovery of the Greek polymath who lived and flourished in the 6th century BCE.


Meanings of Numbers

For Pythagoreans, numbers meant more than digits, and they took pains to read mystical properties into certain numbers. Since you can create many numbers out of ‘1’ by adding enough numbers, Pythagoreans believe that the number 1 symbolizes unity and, thus, the origin of all things. '6' for example is 1+1+1+1+1+1. Marriage is more than throwing flowers for your friends to pick up or dining and wining on your wedding day; it is ‘5’: ‘3’ is the male principle while ‘2’ is female’s; their coming together (3+2) equals ‘5’. That’s marriage.

By now, you might be tempted to wonder what other numbers might symbolize. The harmonious relationship between pair of 2s to get a dividable ‘4’ might guide you in determining what ‘4’ represents. If you can divide apples between two persons while none of them gets the lion’s share, that’s 4; that’s justice. Do you see how it works? Great!

Now, ‘1+2+3+4’ equals ‘10’, a perfect number; ‘1’ as the origin of all things and a symbol of unity; ‘2’ as the female’s principle; ‘3’ as the principle of the male while ‘4’ is justice; multiplicity giving birth to unity–what else could one look for in the corners of the whole world! It also represents space: a single point is ‘1’; a line has two extremities and thus, represents ‘2’; a triangle equals ‘3’, and ‘4’ is space.

The Pythagoreans were significantly in love with ‘10’. They believed there’s a tenth body to the nine bodies their system recognized (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the so-called Central Fire). Their view of the cosmology, quite understandably, slanted towards the belief that the Sun eternally blocks the glorified tenth body (obviously, they’ll stop at nothing in establishing and sculpting out a space for their beloved 10). They call this body Counter-Earth.


Some associations of numbers

Numerology is regarded as a coined word and, until recently, hasn’t been admitted into a standard dictionary. But the practice is ancient and abound in many of the cultures and ideologies around the world. Let’s take a closer look at some of the meanings embedded in specific numbers.



In every culture of the world, ‘1’ unsurprisingly symbolizes unity and God in monotheistic religions and the Universe or a Higher Being in spirituality. Because of its singularity, the Pythagoreans didn’t consider ‘1’ as a number because, in their system, numbers meant plurality. Instead, they believed it to be, as we mentioned earlier, the origin of all numbers, and thus, all things. It also is powerful as it can make evenness out of an odd number, just like it can make oddity out of an even number by adding it to either of both.


You/me, male/female, left/right, yes/no, yin/yang, zig/zag, alive/dead, the tit/tat in tit for tat; all of these take their root in the duality of ‘2’. The rationale behind this is that humans prefer two-valued logic. But then, in their preference, there’s the paradox of true/false!

While some religions maintain monotheism, others, like Zoroastrianism, maintain duality. In Zoroastrianism, the God of light and goodness (Ahura Mazda) is in an eternal tug of war with Ahriman (the God of darkness and evil).



The number 3 can be found in Christianity’s Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, signifying the mysticality and spirituality of the number. There are three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and their spell pictures this superstition by beginning with: “Thrice, the brindled cat hath mewed.”



The adjectives of temperaments, phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, and melancholic, have their origin in the Greek physician’s (Hippocrates) theory of four senses of humor (phlegm, blood, choler, and black bile). Also, we have the four elements of life and the four seasons.



Let’s dive into number thirteen. You might not have heard that there’s a word like tris kai deka pho bia or that 13 is an unlucky number, but that’s what Triskaidekaphobes believe. Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of number 13, especially if Friday is the 13th day of the month. The fear has been around in history, but it garnered attention in 1970 when Apollo 13 near-destruction moonshot. The commander of the spacecraft said he should’ve known something disastrous was in wait for the flight. When quizzed about his words, he offered that the flight had taken place on Friday, blast off was one o’clock (1300 hours), and Apollo 13 was the flight number. The religiousness of this belief can be taken from Christianity. In the Bible, Jesus’ last supper consisted of 13 people, and one of the 13 was the man who infamously betrayed Jesus, Judas Iscariot.


Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

Let’s examine the situations surrounding the death of two great presidents of the United States. Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president of the United States in 1860, and a century later, in 1960, John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the same state. They both died by assassination on the same day of the week, Friday–Lincoln’s in Ford’s Theatre while Kennedy’s death occurred in a Lincoln convertible that was a product of Ford Motor Company. When they both died, two guys named Johnson succeeded each of them, and both Johnson’s were from the Southern Democrats.

While Andrew Johnson succeeded the former, Lyndon Johnson succeeded the latter. John Pendleton Kennedy was the name proposed in the first public suggestion that Abraham Lincoln run for the presidency. Lincoln had a private secretary named John, while Kennedy had his secretary with Lincoln’s last name. John Wilkes Booth, the assassinator of Lincoln, was born in 1839; Lee Harvey Oswald, who killed Kennedy, was born in 1939. Booth fled to a warehouse after he had killed Lincoln in a theatre. Oswald tweaked the equation and instead fled to a theatre after killing Kennedy in a warehouse. Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, what do they have in common (well, asides from committing two of the greatest murders in history)? 15 letters each! FBI investigated the death of both presidents. Now take each letter of the agency’s name, shift it forward with six letters in the alphabet, and you get the initials of Lee Harvey Oswald: LHO!


Science or Fad?

According to Sir James Jeans’ submission, God might as well be a mathematician; the laws of the Universe make sense, which connotes an absolute and perfect mind with an enduring knack for calculation in the works of creation.

But the human vanity might excite them to play blind to the fact that the mathematical reason of humans isn’t identical to the mathematical mind of God, a fact that can be gleaned from how they took pains to connect the events and history around the presidency and death of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

As you might have suggested, numerology, the science of numbers, thrives in ambitious generalization; selective reporting to make occurrences and coincidences fit in a tight bottle. That’s one of the explanations for the cases of Lincoln and Kennedy. Selective reporting–keeping anything that works–is why we emphasize the coincidence of the day of the assassinations, not the number of the week or the months they both occurred–which are both significant. (Lincoln’s assassination happened on April 14, Kennedy’s on November 22.)


Where do we go from here?

There are rational explanations to tackle these unrepentant flairs for superstition, but they make no case in changing the mind of a staunch believer in the fitting of numbers. One of the rational explanations for these death cases is that, although there are many possibilities to choose from, the one we choose supports and contributes to our point, one that maintains the numerological order of events.

We sometimes use the dates of birth, as in the cases of Lincoln and Kennedy, and when that doesn’t appease the chaos of disorderliness, we use dates of election; death; firstborn child; first election to office; marriage or dates of graduation–generalizations, exaggerations, just about whatever it takes.

If we want to get down to it, we can wonder why the unique or eccentric features of the individuals are not on the choice list. Lincoln was famous for his beards, just as he was for his tenure and his quotes. But when we glance and see that Kennedy was clean-shaven (clear difference to his famous predecessor), we sense a dissonance in the equation and choose something else instead.

Differences and anything that doesn’t fit are damned to the hell of rejection. This is why we centuriate the births of both presidents and emphasize the final fitting of the years of their birth (1860, 1960, perfect matching!) and ignore other significant numbers because there’s no matching! (16th and 35th presidents.

It’s also the motivation behind choosing Lincoln’s private secretary’s first name and going for Kennedy’s personal secretary’s last name (what’s wrong with choosing his first name too?) When we took the letters in the FBI and shifted them with six letters to get the initials of Kennedy’s assassinator, Lee Harvey Oswald, the question is then: why is it so? Why not shift the initials with just three or even nine letters? Or why didn’t we carry out the same letter-shifting operation with Lincoln’s assassinator and see if the same holds? The answer is quite simple: selective reporting and ambitious generalizations! The words of Professor Joseph Jastrow rings true here: “The number of persons who have gone mad on numbers is numberless.”

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