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Symbolism of Numbers, Meaning & Synchronicity

Why do I keep seeing repeated numbers or patterns in numbers? Does it have special meaning or is it mere coincidence? Are you baffled by this, but at the same time intrigued? Me too. So let’s look at what numbers symbolize, the meaning of repeated numbers, and about number synchronicities.

The power of numbers

What is it, with numbers, that sparks your interest?

Maybe you’ve seen the same number displayed sequentially and thought – that’s interesting? You’ve seen the time displayed on your mobile device, oven timer, or similar, and see double, triple, or quadruple numbers. And then, within a short period of time, you see this repeated elsewhere.

Is this just by chance? Does it have meaning?

I’ve had numerous occasions in my life where certain numbers pop up that seem more than just random occurrences. I wrote about examples in Signs of Synchronicity: Examples in Life.

Symbolic Numbers

A symbolic number is not about the quantity it represents, but rather, something more than the number itself, something invisible, a sign or association – a symbol. 2

Numbers and their meanings have fascinated humans for an extraordinarily long time.

The interpretation [of numbers] is one of the oldest symbolic sciences

Laroche (1995) 2

In ancient times, Babylonians assigned numbers to the movement of planets and used these to predict eclipses, etc.

We find Greek philosophers (like the Pythagoreans) who believed that the universe ran on numbers in harmony.

Apart from high moral values, the Pythagoreans believed in the power of numbers; that everything is a number, or can be reduced to a number.

Their ideas were established from the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras of Samos (6th century BC).

‘All’ is numbers, Pythagoras supposedly said.

Pythagoras was foremost a scientist, a mathematician, who contributed to ground breaking concepts.

He wasn’t just your ordinary mystic. Pythagoras proved the Pythagorean Theorem, irrational numbers, and 3D solids — the tetrahedron (4 sides), cube (6 sides), and octahedron (8 sides), among others. 1

The Pythagorean Theorem expressed as an equation

Plato, the Greek philosopher, who came later (4th century BC), also believed in the power of numbers.

“Plato states in the Republic (VII, 525f.) that the study of numbers has a great and elevating effect since it compels the mind to reason about abstract numbers and that a philosopher should also be an arithmetician.” 2

Modern Number symbolism

In modern society, we find a variety of symbolic number associations in use, including biblical text 3 and dream interpretations 4.

Biblical Number Symbolism

The biblical text provides numbers, often repeated and people use these associations to find meaning.2, 3

Significance of Numbers In Dreams

Bruce King (1897-1976), leading authority on the dream world under the pseudonym, Zolar, considered that numbers in dreams symbolized events. 4

He concluded meanings for numbers, from 1 to 50, and then larger ‘significant’ numbers between 60 and 1390.

Number Associations & Meanings

The symbolic associations I’ve listed here are from a review of literature sources. Be aware that no meaning is set in stone.

I prompt you to always seek positive meaning in the numbers appearing in your life.

Number 1

Number 1, aka unity, signifies “the universal and omnipotent One, the Creator of all things”. 1 This originates from the Pythagoreans Tetractys and Decad (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10), of which 1 is the lead-in number.

From Zolar’s interpretation of dreams, number 1 symbolizes ambition and passion.

Double 1 (11) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means “Will struggle with a litigation”.

Number 2

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 2 symbolizes a final end to a romance.

The meaning of number 2 from biblical text is “valid testimony”.

Double 2 (22) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means “Will discover the secret of a scientific mystery”.

Number 3

The association of number 3 is positive.

It earned the highest mystical importance of the Pythagoreans, Greeks, and Romans. The number 3 formed part of their ritual, legend, and early history. 2

Favored in antiquity, it signified the resolution of conflict arising from dualism since it is the result of 1 plus 2. 2

Moreover, it symbolizes the eternal trinity, since it is 1 plus 1 plus 1. 1

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 3 symbolizes a fascination with religion.

The meaning of number 3 from biblical text is “perfection”.

Double 3 (33) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means: (if a man) will be honest; (if a woman) will have a miscarriage.

Number 4

To the Pythagoreans, the number 4 was magical, it signifies justice since 4 is both the product of 2 x 2 and the sum of 2 + 2. 1 It is also the first square (i.e. 2 squared) and the last of the first four numbers, which form the Tetraktys.

The Tetractys

The Tetractys is a perfect equilateral triangle.

Number symbolism
The Pythagoreans swore oaths of faith to the Tetractys – a triangular figure of 10 points arranged in rows 1 to 4. To the Pythagoreans, the Tetractys had both mathematical and mystical value, representing “the source and root of ever-flowing nature….” the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth.

In Greek music, the number 4 represents one of the 3 basic harmonies.

“Often the number 4 is symbolic of death and closely connected with death rituals.” 2 Just like the number 13, there is superstition surrounding the number 4. Interestingly, adding the individual numbers of 13 gives us 4.

Tetraphobia exists, primarily with an East Asian influence, with the number 4 omitted from buildings, addresses, and the like.

Number 4, like number 13, is omitted – By HIBIKIFLFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 4 symbolizes great power and strength.

The meaning of number 4 from biblical text is “sense of totality”.

Double 4 (44) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means “will become an influential person”.

Number 5

The Pythagoreans regarded number 5 as symbolic of humanity. To them, 5 was the ‘nuptial number’, as it represented the joining of heaven and Earth (Magna Mater – the great mother).

In Greek music, 5 represents one of the 3 basic harmonies.

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 5 symbolizes happiness in married life.

Ancient Chinese cosmology involved five elements: fire, earth, water, metal, and wood. And so the number 5 was significant. 9

Number 6

Number 6 signifies perfection. According to the Pythagoreans, it is the perfect number since “6 is the sum of all its divisors less than itself…such numbers are extremely rare and hard to find”. 1

In agreement, Zolar’s interprets dreaming of a 6 as a symbol of perfection in work.

In contrast, the meaning of number 6 given from biblical text is “imperfection, man or evil”. 3 Perhaps this derives from triple 6.

Triple (6) 666: In the bible, Revelation, 666 is given as the number of the beast (Revelation 13:18).

Also, triple 6 (666) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means “enemies are laying a plot for you”.

Triple 6 is often interpreted as the devil and there is such a thing as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia, the fear of 666.5 

What’s interesting about 666 is that is the sum of the squares of the first seven prime numbers (12 + 32 + 52 + 72 + 112 + 132 + 172).

Number 7

After 3, comes number 7 in mystical importance for the philosophers in ancient times.

Being the sum of 3 and 4, number 7 symbolizes the movement of the entire universe. 2

The Hebrews, Pythagoreans, Greeks, and Romans favored number 7 in teachings. 2

It is a key number in the Bible. The meaning of number 7 attributed from biblical text is “completeness”.

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 7 symbolizes you will be efficient and active during life.

Double 7 (77) in Zolar’s dream interpretation means “Will receive a favor from a friend”.

Number 8

The meaning of number 8 from biblical text is “new life”.

From Zolar’s, dreaming of 8 symbolizes complete conservation of property.

Chinese attribute good fortune to number 8 and triple or more 8s (888) signify extraordinary wealth.

Number 9

The Greeks and Romans regarded number 9 as sacred. It is key in Greek mythology as well as the Bible.

The number 9 symbolizes truth. 2 This is because when 9 is multiplied by any number, the sum of the integers of the resulting number produces 9 (e.g. 9×5=45 and 4+5=9; 9×6=54 and 5+4=9; 9×7=63 and 6+3=9; and so on).

It also symbolizes the end of a cycle.

Correspondingly, the Bible has the 9th hour as the time of Christ’s death (Mark 15:34).

Traditional Chinese culture gave special meaning to number 9, “…the most powerful yang number”, for similar reasons apparently. In Chinese numerology, number 9 represents ‘completion’. 9

The Pythagoreans feared it. 2 And, superstition exists today around the number 9 as well.6 In Japanese, the sound for number 9 is similar to that for torture or suffering and so it has negative connotations in that country.6

From Zolar’s, dreaming of a 9 symbolizes affliction and uneasiness.

Number 10

The number 10 symbolizes harmony.

From Zolar’s, dreaming of 10 symbolizes happiness in the near future.

The meaning of number 10 from biblical text is “totality”.

The Pythagoreans believed 10 was the supreme number, the total of the numbers in the Tetraktys (1+2+3+4). For them, all came from 10 and all returned to 10.2

Number 12

The number 12 has close associations with wheels or circles. The systems encapsulating 12 as a completed cycle include 12 hours and 12 months.

Especially it is connected with space and time relationships. One of the most widespread symbols are the 12 signs of the Zodiac, which symbolize cosmic order.

From Zolar’s dream interpretations, 12 symbolizes having the best of everything.

It is a key number in the Bible.

The Bible refers to 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 doors in Jerusalem. The symbolism of 12 interpreted from biblical text is “governmental perfection”. 3

Number 13

From Zolar’s, dreaming of 13 symbolizes treating things with contempt.

Many see the number 13 as unlucky. Some buildings will omit floor 13, airplanes row 13, and hotels room 13 because of the negative connotations this number symbolizes to potential clients.

Some consider this superstition. There’s even a word, triskaidekaphobia, defining the extreme superstition of the number 13.

Others see the number 13 as lucky. In ancient times, it was viewed positively but mostly it had no connotations. 7

The fear of 13 supposedly stems from an observation that “Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, made 13 at the table”. 7

Coincidently, there are 13 stripes on the US flag. The number 13 is common — try the green side of the US dollar bill for the many features that add up to 13.

Number Significance In Dreams

(These are just a few more, according to Zolar 4, in Dreams)

16 Happiness and love

21 Everything will work out as planned

25 Birth of an intelligent child

50 Will forgive each other

215 – Calamity is near

350 What you hoped for will come soon

365 The stars are in your favor

1000 Will receive clemency

Is There Science In Numerology?

Distinguished mathematician, Professor Eric Temple Bell, in his book, Numerology, quizzes “Is there more science in numerology than there is numerology in science?”

You’ll find I’ve used Bell’s text “The Magic of Numbers” 1 to assign meaning to numbers in this article. Bell uses scientific reasoning to decipher the symbolism of numbers by the Pythagoreans.

Intellects regarded numerology a science, an orthodox method of research, in the 5th-4th centuries BC. 1

Today it’s considered a pseudoscience. 8

Chinese Numerology

In a separate part of the world in ancient times, China believed in the power of numbers. 9

Synchronicity of Number Symbolism

We see synchronicity in the meaning of numbers across cultures, e.g. Greek and Chinese.

An example: Number 9 symbolized completion 9 not unlike the symbolism given to 9 by the Greeks. I find this intriguing.

The Incredible Dr. Matrix

Researching this topic led me to a fascinating read, “The Incredible Dr. Matrix” by Martin Gardner (mathematics columnist of Scientific American) which intrigued me to the point of saying that numbers are present everywhere. If you actually feel inclined, you can attribute anything or everything to number arrangements.

Final Thoughts

Numbers are intriguing and you can have fun with them.

Our brains are wired to see patterns.

There are many associations regarding numbers if you are looking for meaning. Though, the numbers you always see and what they mean to you is yours to interpret.

Carl Jung described his term ‘synchronicity’ as a meaningful coincidence that is relevant to the person observing or experiencing it.

What has been your experience with numbers?

References

  1. Bell, Eric T. (1991) The Magic Of Numbers. New York: Dover Publications.
  2. Laroche, R. (1995). Popular Symbolic/Mystical Numbers in Antiquity. Latomus, 54(3), 568-576. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/41541653
  3. Biblical Numerology in Wikipedia
  4. Zolar. (1992) Zolar’s Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Dreams. Simon & Schuster.
  5. Wang, S. C. (1994) The Sign of the Devil… and the Sine of the Devil. J. Rec. Math. 26, 201-205.
  6. Superstitious numbers around the world. National Geographic.
  7. Adams, C. (1992) “Why Is the Number 13 Considered Unlucky?” The Straight Dope. Accessed 30 December 2019.
  8. “The Skeptic’s Dictionary: numerology”. Skepdic.com. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
  9. Swetz, F. (2001). The Most Magical of All Magic Squares. The Mathematics Teacher, 94(6), 458-463. Retrieved from

Other Sources

Number Symbolism. Britannica

MathWorld–A Wolfram Web Resource. 

The Incredible Dr. Matrix by Martin Gardner

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