Many people read their horoscope in the newspaper which is supposedly based on the movement of the planets through constellations that form a plane called the zodiac. We know our sign and some of us know what type of sign that is, earth, air, water or fire, but there are other systems of classifying our lives that have been used by seers through the ages to help us understand our life's mission. Now depending on your background, these systems may be flights of fancy or seriously believed. I have no stance one way or the other, but I find the concepts fascinating and being mathematical I am drawn to the idea of numerology.

Numerology is based on the belief that numbers are important to us and can be used to define energies and influences in our lives. The idea is that we are influenced by different numbers that are set for us on the day we are born and continue to influence until the day we depart life in this existence.

Before I go into too much detail, I want to add the disclaimer that I don't advocate these ideas nor do I recommend allowing any system to run your life. Any type of system like this should be considered at the least a diversion and at the most possible influences that might shape our future. My personal belief is we are free to choose our paths and such ideas like these if they are valid simply advise or in some cases warn us of potential problems but they do not nor have they ever defined our fate. I believe our fate is open-ended and only settled as we make decisions and follow the course of action we choose.

With that said, let's discuss the origins of numerology. Numerology or the study and interpretation of numbers has probably existed almost as long as numbers have existed. Most ancient civilizations including Babylonia, Alexandria, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all have evidence of numerological studies in their civilizations, but one of the greatest influences on numerology is the Greek mathematician Pythagoras and his followers.

Pythagoras, one of the first great mathematicians was also a mystic, philosopher and religious leader. Born in around 570 BC, he became influential in his teachings in the late sixth century and attracted many followers. The Pythagorean theorem is only one of his many attributed contributions to science, mathematics and philosophy. There is belief that the theorem was used before his name was attributed to it, but the common opinion is that the idea was proven for the first time by his followers.

While astrology is almost as old, the idea that Pythagoras who was more mathematically oriented believed was that because mathematics dealt with concrete ideas, it was more like to have influence on our reality and his Pythagorean society worked on theories in this vein. It wasn't until many years later the refined ideas he proposed became the archetypes for numerology.

Some later proponents believed similar ideas as Pythagoras. St Augustine of Hippo referred to numbers as a universal language that binds all of us together and are a gift from God to humanity to confirm the truths of our world and Sir Thomas Browne wrote an entire discourse on the number five and its importance throughout the world in all branches of natural science.

Numbers are an intrinsic part of our lives and represent archtypes that are both cultural and universal. For example, the number one is considered a leader, the top of the barrel or the ace of the group. How many times at sports events do you hear the chant, "We are NUMBER ONE!"

Number three is considered a good luck number or a magical number. In numerological terms, it is considered a number of communication and neutrality. Two legs are not very supportive, but a third leg makes the stand stable or neutral. One occurrence is a novelty, two occurrences may be a coincidence but it takes three to create a pattern. Our world has three physical dimensions. Christians believe in a Trinity at the head of their faith. The number three permeates writing and drama. The next time you watch something look for a pattern of threes. In a crime drama there is typically three major crimes. In a television show, you can usually mentally divide it into three acts and so on.

Seven is can be considered as another perfect number. It is the number of days in Creation, the number of days in a week and is considered to be another lucky number. The world is considered to have Seven Wonders both ancient and modern. In education there are seven traditional liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric or the art of persuasion, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. There are seven notes on a musical major scale. Islam believes in seven layers of earth and seven skies in Heaven. Judaism has a seven day purification and their Jubilee year is seven times seven years.

This is just a cursory study of three of our numbers. Next week I will discuss in more detail how each number is viewed and its characteristics and then we will examine how numbers map to ourselves and influence our lives.

Til next time …