Magic Numbers

My (and possibly your) introduction to numerology.

Illustration by Beth

I don’t know what’s going on with me. I’ve never been into psychics or astrology or any of your paranormal arts. None of it ever seemed real to me. The closest I ever came was occasionally reading my horoscope without taking it particularly seriously. But lately I’ve been finding myself drawn to stuff like that—a few months ago I was shopping for a Ouija board (which I didn’t end up getting, but I still think about it), and when I watched Suzy’s introduction to tarot cards, my interest was piqued. I have no idea why, but the supernatural seems to be calling to me (oooooh). So when, last month, a friend sent me a link to a numerology website, I couldn’t resist clicking.

She and I had been talking about Wicca earlier that day (these are the kinds of conversations I have now!); in her email she told me that she learned about numerology, something I’d never heard of before, on a Wiccan website and tried it out. “You really need to try this!” she wrote. “My results are so true! Seriously, Britney, it’s amazing.”

Numerology is the belief that all the numbers in your life mean something, and that those meanings can affect the outcome of events. For example, your birth date and the number of consonants in your name are both said to shape your personality, your luck, and your life. (If you’ve ever wondered why Agyness Deyn spells her name like that, now you know.) Numerology has been around for thousands of years and was practiced by early mathematicians like Pythagoras, but is now relegated to the same category as reading tealeaves or palmistry—things that aren’t considered mathematics or science anymore. The meanings ascribed to letters and numbers are pretty abstract and they vary from system to system; for example, in Western numerology the number four is usually as a sign of patience and loyalty, while Chinese numerology considers it unlucky.

Feeling a little skeptical but a lot intrigued, I went to the website and filled in my birth date and my full name. I didn’t know what to expect from my results—if I had to guess at that moment, I would have figured the site would spit out a vague little paragraph, like a horoscope in a magazine. But what I got was extremely thorough, at least 9,000 words long, and scarily accurate. Here are some highlights:

(Disclaimer: the site I visited uses just one of many different systems of numerology, and I’d probably get totally different results somewhere else. Here are a bunch more sites that will give you a numerology reading.)

Life Path number:
This number is supposed to tell you your destiny (cue ominous music). Destiny doesn’t mean, like, “you’re going to die tomorrow” or “you will win the lottery and be rich forever.” In numerology, your destiny is how you will live out your life as a result of your personality—your strengths and weaknesses. It is determined by adding up all of the digits in your birth date, then adding them again if necessary, until you get a single digit (I was born on 7/8/1999; 7+8+1+9+9+9=43; 4+3=7; so my LP number is seven). It is the single most important part of your report, because it explains who you are as a person, and that affects your other results. The site told me that as a seven, I need to “guard [my] inner world like a mother lion does [her] cubs,” and that I “need time to contemplate [my] ideas without the intrusion of other people’s thoughts.” This couldn’t be more true for me—people often call me antisocial because I keep a lot of my thoughts to myself. The report also said that I’m naturally curious and like reading about paranormal phenomena, conspiracy theories, and political theory—whoa! I mean, I guess anyone who’s punching numbers into a numerology website is into reading about the paranormal, but how did it know I like philosophizing about how governments should be? I felt like someone literally read my mind and then wrote down all their findings on the internet. The downside to being a four is that I’m supposed to avoid being cynical and sarcastic, which is sad because my all life lessons come from Daria.

Heart’s Desire number:
Each letter of the alphabet is assigned a different numerical value in by numerology. You find your Heart’s Desire number by adding the values of all of the vowels in your full name, again adding digits until you get a single one. This is found by adding up all of the vowels in your full name. It describes what is closest to the heart and most influences your decisions and actions. My report said that I love a good time, and that if my creativity is suppressed or blocked, I tend to daydream and fantasize. And it’s true that I have a tendency to get lost in a reverie, blocking out everyone and everything around me (which also has to do with guarding my “inner world”). If I’m in class and my teacher says a word or phrase that catches my attention, my mind will form an entire storyline around it and I’ll get lost in that idea until someone notices and shake me out of it. I was actually happy to see this in my results; my reveries are a huge and comforting part of my brain, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The site also said that I have a gift for self-expression and am drawn to writing, acting, singing, and/or poetry, which also happens to be on target.

Personality number:
The Personality number is based on the values of the consonants in your full name. This is the part of you that you show to other people. According to my reading, I have an “impressive and aristocratic bearing,” which was super flattering to read, especially when the site added that many actors, dancers, and other performers share my personality number (nine). I also, apparently, have a “good deal of artistic talent…that shows in [my] home environment and [my] clothing.” My mini-shrines and jean jackets covered in various buttons and patches are evidence of this. Finally, I was told that I’m good at hiding my feelings. This wasn’t news to me—even when I feel like bursting into tears or running around screaming, I make sure that my face and body exude calm coolness.

Karmic Lesson numbers:
The Karmic Lessons are meant to show you your innermost weaknesses, the ones that will follow you through life and either bring you down or help you become a better person. These numbers are the ones ascribed to any letters that aren’t in your name. Mine are 1, 3, 4, 6, and 8. The lesson that goes with three is that I’m too self-critical (proof here). Lesson #1 is that I need to show more initiative, and to be more independent. I agree with the first part of that, but I think I’m pretty independent, actually. Lesson #4 told me I feel confusion about my life’s direction, which, tell me something I didn’t know, numerology people. Lesson #8 told me that I have the ability to make a lot of money, but that I’ll probably experience a lot of financial ups and downs throughout my life. Whatever, I like shopping, OK? Lesson #6 was the only part of my reading that felt 100% off the mark: it said I have a major issue with commitment and responsibility, but I’m actually a very steadfast and responsible person.

I will admit at this juncture that, just like astrology, numerology probably depends a lot on people’s suspension of disbelief, and on offering results that are vague and general enough to apply to almost anyone. And yet, some of my results fit me in a really precise way. Reading them gave me some comfort, and helped me identify what I may have already known about myself, but hadn’t thoroughly processed. It got me to look at my flaws and consider how they might help or hurt me—next time I find myself beating myself up about something or have trouble accepting a compliment, I’m going to remember Lesson #3 and cut it out. Plus, it was just fun. And there’s nothing false about that. ♦


  • Leigh January 22nd, 2013 11:53 PM

    This is amazing, YOU’RE amazing! :O

  • lacecat January 23rd, 2013 12:05 AM

    I did the LP number calculation, and I got 7 too. Haha. This is so cool.

  • purrr January 23rd, 2013 12:06 AM

    A lot of the things in my report, the negative things are are a result of trauma caused by the death of loved ones.. Makes me wonder – If I were given a different name or removed as a ceaserean, would those people end up living longer? Or would just my own reaction change from them?

    These magic things also always make me question bias etc

    Can’t wait for the future where magic is explained as easily as the blue
    (yes, blue skies ARE explained!! *__*)

    Does anyone else think that magic and the ‘supernatural’ are in fact very natural, just not explained too well?

    I believe in almanacs and horoscopes and ghosts (all to some extent) because some things in my life just MADE me believe in them, it’s just a part of nature, I think

    Also I LOVE those moments when you gather with friends around a campfire or maybe one on one and tell each other about these ‘supernatural’ things, so many people have stories!!

    • purrr January 23rd, 2013 12:15 AM

      A fun thing to do is to type in the names and birthdates of family members and celebrities

      • purrr January 23rd, 2013 12:19 AM

        kurt cobains 2nd, 3rd and 4th challenge numbers are all 3 – the ‘ You are your own worst critic. You suppress your individuality and creativity. ‘

        …officially frightened now

        • themisfitprincess January 23rd, 2013 8:03 AM

          Hey soul sistah!!! I searched him up too!!! OhEMGEE

    • Abby January 23rd, 2013 4:52 PM

      “Does anyone else think that magic and the ‘supernatural’ are in fact very natural, just not explained too well?”

      YES YES YES. I really really REALLY hope they are.

  • chloegrey January 23rd, 2013 12:29 AM

    I’ve always sort of been willing to try out these things, I’m not really one to turn down an opportunity for doing some sort of metaphysical quiz!
    like at first I thought hmm a bit of this is true for me but then I got to the bit about my birthday and I was like WOAHHHHHH

  • AnnaH January 23rd, 2013 12:43 AM

    your article is brilliant. I calculated my Life Path number and it is a 3 =)

  • cherrybomb97 January 23rd, 2013 12:52 AM

    Everything about my numerology is COMPLETELY true, this is slightly scary!

  • Ruby A. January 23rd, 2013 1:26 AM

    Beth! Such a beautiful illustration — as always!

  • kirsten January 23rd, 2013 1:42 AM

    mine is numba nine! very accurate, but my friend’s wasn’t at all hahaha

  • teenfurby January 23rd, 2013 2:17 AM

    this is so cool omg

  • gracepeach January 23rd, 2013 5:01 AM

    That was spooky how accurate mine was!

  • Maddy January 23rd, 2013 8:05 AM

    Funny because as you were describing the process for calculating a Life Path number, I was thinking of digital roots, which is a thing in math. Also, I was a bit confused on the first section because you said you were a seven and then you said fours shouldn’t be sarcastic.

    Well, I might actually do this even though I avow I don’t believe in the occult!

    • Britney February 16th, 2013 11:44 PM

      I see why you’re confused. Each section has different numbers, that’s why.

  • Heidi January 23rd, 2013 11:43 AM

    This is really cool, I’ve never heard of numerology. Really accurate too oh my goodness.

  • raggedyanarchy January 23rd, 2013 2:21 PM

    I thought this was really cool. I hear you on the Ouija board dilemma. I got one for Christmas but I haven’t actually used it yet. It glows in the dark (somehow I feel this fact is worth mentioning)!
    But with numerology…do I use my actual name, or the one I actually go by? Because I have never really gone by my real name. Even when I was a baby no one called me that.

    • Britney January 23rd, 2013 6:36 PM

      With numerology, you use your actual name, but you can try it with your nickname, too!

      • purrr January 24th, 2013 4:53 AM

        How does that explain why Agyness Deyn’s life changed after she took on a pseudonym?

  • NotReallyChristian January 23rd, 2013 4:18 PM

    This was really interesting. It wasn’t particularly accurate for me (I may be many things, but a born leader is NOT one of them!), but the way it’s written makes you think about yourself and your personal goals, which is helpful even if they’re not necessarily the ones that are recommended!

    • Cutesycreator aka Monica June 2nd, 2013 10:37 AM

      Ha, it falsely described me as a “born leader,” too :)

  • Dove January 23rd, 2013 8:58 PM

    Crazy accurate!!! I loved it <3

  • Kathryn January 23rd, 2013 11:27 PM

    A lot of mine seemed super accurate, but then there were bits that directly defied those parts. For example, some parts said I was super organized and other parts said I was disorganized. Does “full name” mean middle names too?
    Anyways, it was fun to read! I’m totally bookmarking it for future reference.

  • Guinevere January 24th, 2013 7:08 PM

    Super cool!

    But for my Karmic Lesson number, I didn’t have one, since all of the letters and their numbers are used in my full name (all of them occurred twice or more). Does this mean I don’t have a Karmic Lesson numbers or….?

  • Dove January 24th, 2013 9:07 PM

    Being Wiccan I’m sometimes skeptical about this kind of stuff because I do occasionally read my horoscope and its SO vague. This though…this is awesome.

  • alexaannejay January 25th, 2013 12:41 PM

    My birthday is also 7/8! But i was born in 1995. July 8th, unite

  • celestial object January 25th, 2013 10:50 PM

    Holy shit. I am MIND BLOWN by how accurate it is.

  • Flossie January 26th, 2013 5:16 AM

    This wasn’t accurate for me at all. I’m sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I’m not in the least bit convinced by numerology. It seems like the descriptions provided for each number managed to be both detailed and suitably vague. I mean, almost everyone would, at some level, consider themselves to be “creative”, or “intuitive” or “critical” or “independent” or any number of personality traits that are common to the majority of the population in some degree. It just depends on how much a person is willing to read into it, and how readily they choose to attribute those traits to themselves. I think, much like other forms of new age jiggery-pokery like astrology and palm reading, the outcome really depends on a person’s own desire to believe, and only to see what they want to see.

    • Britney February 16th, 2013 11:47 PM

      Oh, well. To each her own, eh?

  • asylum January 26th, 2013 11:15 AM


  • Cutesycreator aka Monica June 2nd, 2013 10:36 AM

    How interesting! :)