This popular New Age form of divination has several ancient sources, but its philosophical source is our old friend Pythagoras. The Presocratic Greek philosopher believed that reality could be reduced to numbers and mathematical principles. He also invented the stringed musical instrument called the lyre and studied astrology, but he is most famous as a numbers man.

How It Works

Pythagoras said that the letters of the alphabet corresponded to certain numbers. This is the principle of numerology. Of course, Pythagoras's alphabet was different than our own, hence some adaptation was required in different cultures and languages. Pythagoras was one of the first to suggest that, based on numerology, your name can tell you much about your personality. Just as astrologers believe that the stars can shape your character, Pythagoras and contemporary numerologists believe that the letters in your name and the corresponding number they generate can explain who you are. Legend has it that Pythagoras changed his name from time to time in order to see how aspects of his personality would change.

In the post-Renaissance age, the Scientific Revolution and Galileo's telescope created the science of astronomy. As astronomy grew, astrology lost some of its reputation as the mystical poor relation of the exalted newfound science.

In numerology, each letter of the alphabet has a corresponding numerical value, and these have a particular cosmic vibration. The combination of letters and numbers is said to create a unique vibration that reveals much about the person, and numerological readings can be used to understand the present and plan for the future.

A Sample Profile

Pythagoras did not have the advantage of the Internet for a quick reading of himself. For the purposes of research, the author of this book visited a Web site that offers free numerology readings and entered his name and birth date and received an instant personality profile. Here is a thumbnail numerological sketch of the author of this book:

You appear dignified and poised, intellectual, and somewhat aloof. When first meeting someone, you appear hard to know, but arefriendly and a good talker when better acquainted. You emit a strongsense of self-knowledge.

(Quite flattering. The author likes to think so, yet others may have a different opinion.)

You live in an old, beautifully restored house; your library is full ofprecious and rare books and your study is adorned with classic art.

(Those who have seen the author's small New York City apartment would chuckle at this observation.)

You have a practical point of view and constantly work to putmore order into your environment. In ventures or new directions, youlike to look ahead, plan carefully, then apply yourself with concentrationand good management. Once you have a goal in mind, you arepersistent in its accomplishment.

(Many who know the author are having a big laugh at this. The author is a notorious procrastinator.)

You have a cosmic connection with spiritual wisdom. The Ancientsare no stranger to you. In fact, you share their knowledge. You areknown for who you are, and people seek you out to hear your wordsof wisdom.

(That, dear readers, is for you to decide!)

It would seem that numerology is not an exact science.

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