Numerology – Introduction

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2003
Numerology is a popular form of entertainment, but it is also a method of divination—something that God tells His people not to practice. The authors show some of the false claims made by practitioners of numerology, and explain their claims about how it works.


Numerology is another modern method of divination, one that attempts to discern the occult significance of numbers. It too is a popular form of entertainment. Like palmistry, numerology is thousands of years old and strongly associated with the occult. The practice of using tarot cards and the cabala are rooted in numerology, and astrology also bears a relationship. As with other forms of divination, there are two principal aspects: 1) character assessment and 2) divining or predicting the future.

Numerologists claim they cannot only help people to understand themselves better, but that they must also help them to make important decisions in all areas of life. Numerolo­gists claim to offer the following information or advice: choosing the correct marriage part­ner, vocation, city, or house in which to live; individual “compatibility” with the products one uses; understanding one’s mate and friends better; when to buy property or invest in a business; the best days to take a trip, apply for a new job, start a new venture, have sur­gery, and so on.[1] Practitioners also allege that numerology can advise clients about what to do or not to do in any given year. It even claims to be able to evaluate the condition of future nations by their birth dates, as well as many other things. “Numerology is applicable to the most minute personal problems of human life or to gigantic moves in the theatre of international politics.”[2] For example:

The day you were born certain powers were bestowed upon you that will be with you your whole life long, since this date is unalterable, its personal vibrations shape every event or incident in your life span…. From the first day of your life to your last, you are governed by the destiny bestowed upon you according to the date of your birth. The numerological value of this birthdate will reveal to you the path of your destiny and suggest the line of personal development to help you attain all you wish from life.[3]

False Claims

Like practitioners in other divinatory fields, numerologists may claim that their profession does not involve the occult. Main advocates insist that numerology is merely “a science of the numbers of life.” One leading practitioner states, “Numerology is not fortune-telling, it is instead, a way to understanding through knowledge of numbers.”[4] Another encourages readers “not [to] fall into the trap of looking at Numerology as a fortune-telling device. It is not.”[5] And, “This is not a matter of fortune-telling, it’s plain mathematics revealed in the correlation of human factors to their cosmic pulse-beat as pictured in numbers.”[6]

Despite such claims, most numerologists will admit, when pressed, they are engaging in fortune-telling and divination. A fortune-teller is defined in the Oxford American Dictionary as “a person who claims to foretell future events in people’s lives.” Thus, as one practitio­ner writes, “My system of foretelling the future is based on the esoteric meaning behind numbers, and not on speculation. There is no element of good or bad luck involved, for my calculations are derived from your entire birthpath which, like nature, is immutable and unchangeable. The key to these predictions is found in the ancient Tarot pack of cards.”[7] Another advocate states that numerology can bring clients “fame and fortune,”Tully, p. 14.</ref> and that numerology in general routinely attempts to determine “the path each year will take.”[8] And if numerology isn’t fortune-telling and divination, why do numerologists boast about their record of accurate predictions? “I can honestly state that an overwhelming percentage of forecasts I’ve made have come true. That applies not only to cases in which I have ana­lyzed the numberscopes of individuals but also to predictions on current events which have found their way into print.”[9] Or consider the following statement by a professional numer­ologist who is also a member of several occult societies and has written newspaper col­umns on numerology:

I have dedicated my life via numerology to discovering the destiny of man. There is no great secret to this destiny. It is revealed in Astrology, Numerology, the Palm of the Hand, the Tarot Deck…. Over the years I personally have worked on over 10,000 charts of living people. … In all cases the lives of the individuals whose charts I worked on went exactly as plotted by the numbers.[10]

In essence, numerologists realize they are engaging in fortune-telling and divination, but often they don’t admit it because of the bad reputation of such practices.

However, numerology, like other forms of divination, sometimes provides accurate pre­dictions, but such success does not arise from numerology itself but from spiritistic influ­ences.[11] Despite claims to the contrary, no practitioner has ever demonstrated 100 percent accuracy. To be generous, like diviners in general, numerologists usually fall into the lower quadrant of successes.


How does numerology claim to work? Theories differ considerably, but in one form or another, it claims that our nature and future can be symbolically “reduced” to numbers, and that a proper interpretation of those numbers will reveal almost anything that needs to be known. Two basic principles include the idea that numbers are clues to the underlying structure and nature of the universe and that the name of a thing contains the essence of its being, so that once a person’s name is reduced to its number, the truth about that per­son can supposedly be revealed:

At its popular level numerology is an entertaining and comparatively simple method of analysing character and predicting the future, in broad and vague terms at least. At a deeper level it is claimed to be one of the major keys to an understanding of the true nature of the universe and it plays an important part in magic and occultism. Like other systems of divination, it finds order and regularity behind the bewildering multiplicity of phenomena and the confusing muddle of events and influences that confront us in the world outside us and in ourselves.[12]

There are two basic systems for reducing a person’s name to numbers, so that charac­ter and destiny can be “read” and foretold. One system is where the numbers from 1 to 9 are written down with the letters of the alphabet written underneath in their normal order: A is 1, B is 2, C is 5, and so on through I is 9, and then J becomes 1, K becomes 2, L be­comes 3, etc. A different system uses only the numbers from 1 to 8 but does not list the letters in their usual order because it uses the Hebrew alphabet. This often gives a different letter-number equivalent. Thus H is 5, I is 1, F is 8. There are also lesser systems that differ from these two primary systems. And in any system, the zero is always discarded.

Four key numbers used by numerologists are termed “heart,” “personality,” “birth,” and “personal year.” The “heart” number supposedly reveals the inner self or “heart,” the person as she really is. The “personality” number reveals a person’s outer self, the self she projects. The “birth” number supposedly indicates destiny, and the “personal year” number tells what a specific year will be like.

In all of this, practitioners claim that numerology can be 100 percent accurate, and that there is nothing “false or misleading” about the practice.[13] Numerology, however, is ex­tremely complex, and since differing systems give differing results, the problems of subjec­tivism found in all forms of divination are applicable to numerology as well.

In Part 2 we will present a critique of numerology.


  1. Helyn Hitchcock, Helping Yourself with Numerology (West Nyack, NY: Parker, 1978), pp. 183-90.
  2. Vincent Lopez, Numerology (New York: Signet, 1969), p. 20.
  3. Geri Tully, The Secret Powers of Numerology (New York: Pocket Books, 1977), pp. 24-25.
  4. Kevin Quinn Avery, The Numbers of Life: The Hidden Power of Numerology (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1974 rev.), p. 201.
  5. Roberta Lee, “Numerology: A Roadmap to Life—Part 3,” Psychic Dimensions, February 1979, p. 46.
  6. Lopez, p. 21.
  7. Hitchcock, p. 162.
  8. Ibid., p. 52.
  9. Lopez, p. 10.
  10. Avery, p. 287.
  11. We documented how this may occur in our book Astrology: Do the Heavens Rule Our Destiny? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), pp. 201-55.
  12. Richard Cavendish, ed., Encyclopedia of the Unexplained: Magic, Occultism and Parapsychology (New York: McGraw Hill, 1976), p. 158.
  13. Avery, p. XII; Tully, p. 192.


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