What Is Numerology?

Karen Frazier
Montage of wireframe numbers

Numerology deals with connections between numbers and personality traits, events, and circumstances. It is a branch of divination similar to astrology, and there is a belief certain numbers associated with people, places, and events may play a role in understanding these things better or predicting potential outcomes.

Origins

At the root of numerology lies the belief that numbers are a universal language. By calculating certain numbers (typically names and birthdates are the primary numbers calculated), one may get a clearer picture of themselves, others, and the world at large. While this system appears to have been in use across various civilizations for thousands of years, nobody really knows the true origins of the study, although numerological systems and beliefs appear in writings discovered from early cultures.

Types of Numerology

Numerology comes from various origins, and different people use different types.

Gematria

Gematria is an ancient form of numerology arising from Jewish mysticism and scripture interpretation where each Hebrew letter was also assigned a numerical value, and the value of words were calculated using these numbers. Using this equivalence between numbers and letters, scholars calculate the value of words in the scriptures to draw parallels between certain passages and develop connections between important concepts.

Pythagorean Numerology

Western numerology can be traced back to Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, who developed a theory of numbers. As in Gematria, Pythagoras posited numbers offered a system for understanding the universe, and he assigned each letter of the alphabet a numeric value. This is the most common form of numerology practiced today, and the number/letter values are based on a table of 9 numerical values.

In Pythagorean numerology, one calculates the numerical value of something of importance, such as a name (first name, middle name, last name), and then reduces it to a single numeric value using the following values for letters.

Pythagorean numerology chart

In Pythagorean numerology, you'll most commonly see one of the two following calculations:

  • Personality is calculated by adding all the letters of one's full birth name and reducing it to a single number. So for Robert Amos Smith, the numeric value of the name would be taken from the above chart: 9 + 6 + 2 + 5 + 9 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 6 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 9 + 2 + 8 = 69; reduced is 6 + 9 = 15; reduced 1 + 5 = 6, so the personality number is 6.
  • Life path is calculated by adding numbers of birthdate together to create a single number. For example, a birth date of May 5, 1995 would be calculated as 5 + 5 + 1 + 9 + 9 + 5 = 34; reducing that would be 3 + 4 = 7, so the life path number would be a 7.

Chaldean Numerology

Chaldean numerology is older than Pythagorean numerology and was developed by the Chaldeans. It is based on eight numerals plus certain double numerals, and many people find it more difficult to master but more accurate than the more commonly used Pythagorean numerology system.

Like Pythagorean numerology, Chaldean numerology assigns differing values to letters of the alphabet as indicated in the chart below.

Chaldean numerology chart

Also like Pythagorean numerology, the two main values calculated are the name and the date of birth.

  • In Chaldean numerology, you don't use the full birth name, but rather the name the person is most commonly known as. So, if Robert Amos Smith is called Bob, then the name number is calculated as Bob (2 + 7 + 2 = 11; 1 + 1 = 2) Smith (3 + 4 + 1 + 4 + 5 = 17; 1 + 7 = 8). Add the two together (2 + 8 = 10; 1 + 0 = 1). In Chaldean numerology, 10 (the last two-digit number before the final numeric reduction) is significant, as is the single digit number (in this case 1). From there, you can determine traits and meanings.
  • Chaldean numerology also calculates based on birth dates in the same way Pythagorean numerology does.

Kabbalah Numerology

As a hybrid of Gematria and Pythagorean numerology, Kabbalah numerology uses the name to calculate personality traits in a manner similar to the Pythagorean numerology system but with different meanings for each single digit number. Kabbalah also has more than 400 life path combinations, so there are more variables.

To calculate a Kabbalah number for Robert Amos Smith:

  1. Add the letters together as in the Pythagorean example above to get the initial number of 69.
  2. Now, divide that number by 9 (69 ÷ 9 = 63 with a remainder of 6).
  3. Add 1 to the remainder (6 + 1 = 7).
  4. In this case, the Kabbalah number is 7.

In-Depth Numerology

This is a very basic primer on the different types of numerology, and much more in-depth study is required to truly understand each. While you can do some basic calculations, you may wish to seek more information from a qualified numerologist.

By the Numbers

Based on the system used and the meanings associated with each of the calculated numbers, you can learn personality traits, obstacles that need to be overcome, and other karmic attributes that may come into play throughout one's life. Like astrology, numerology provides a blueprint that can be quite accurate. However, there are many other aspects to individuals along with their numerology, including the choices they make throughout their life.

So, while numerology may help you better understand your personality and possible challenges, free choice always plays a role as well, and it's up to you whether you choose to follow the path laid out by numerology or forge your own in spite of it.

What Is Numerology?