Since ancient times numbers have fascinated man. Sages, magicians, mystics and seers would absorb themselves in this mystical realm, studying the relationship between numbers, dates, the planets and their effect on human life.
Many cultures developed their own form of numerology, some very similar but others quite unique with their own special dates and numerological significances. Powerful numbers in India numerology, for instance, are zero, the symbol of shungh or nothingness, 1, the number of divinity and light of the sun, 2 the number of the moon, 17 a mystic number of scarification and purity and 108 is another mystical number as there are said to be 108 special shrines in India and 108 beads in a Hindu rosary.
Dates and Superstitions
Some dates, too, have particular significance in India, as being lucky to start new ventures, get married, undertake a journey or sign documents. Murhurta is a branch of Indian astrology that provides a set of auspicious times for conducting ceremonies and events.
Good dates for construction work, for instance, are between 14th April and 13th May and between 14th October to 13th November but construction work started between 14th June and 13th July could have a very unfavourable outcome.
In China, some numbers are believed to be lucky or unlucky based on the Chinese word the number sounds similar to. The numbers 6, 8 and 9 are believed to be lucky. 2, too, is thought to be auspicious as according to an ancient Chinese saying, ‘good things come in pairs!’
While 4 is thought to be an unlucky number in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures and the number 14 considered, by some Cantonese people, to be the unluckiest number of all!
In many parts, three Mondays of the year are thought to be unlucky and these are: the first Monday in April (when Cain was born and his brother Abel slain), the second Monday in August (when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed) and the last Monday in December (when Judas Iscariot was born.)
In Western culture, sometimes for no apparent reason, some dates are classed as lucky or unlucky. These dates will vary from person to person but according to an old manual printed in 1565, historian Richard Grafton suggested certain unlucky dates of the year included the 1st, 5th, 10th and 29th January, 26th, 27th and 28th February, 7th 8th, 10th and 20th April, and so the list goes on.
Why is Thirteen Unlucky?
Some numbers in many cultures have their own significance without being related to any numerological system. The number 13 for instance is considered to be unlucky by many and this is a superstition known to have existed from the earliest times. This may go back to the Last Supper which was attended by thirteen people: Christ and his twelve apostles. Other reasons given as to why 13 is thought to be unlucky is that witches were often found in groups of 13 called covens, quite a few mass murderers have thirteen letters in their names (Charles Manson, Harold Shipman) while one legend in Norse mythology speaks of a time when twelve deities gathered to enjoy a banquet when the god of mischief, Loki, gatecrashed the party, resulting in the death of one of the gods.
Whatever the source, the number 13 is rarely found on offices or shops, some hotels and guest houses will not have a room 13 and there are whole cities, such as Paris where there is hardly a house which bears this unlucky number!
Other numbers which feature in superstitions include the number three although this is more associated with good luck than bad. Many health remedies and customs require part of the ritual to be performed three times. How often have you heard someone applauding “Three Cheers for….?” While three keys worn together are believed to lock the three doors of health, wealth and love.
Finally, one of the oldest superstitions of all attribute numbers to gender, odd numbers being masculine and even numbers are feminine!
Waring P ‘Dictionary of Omens and Superstitions’ (Treasure Press, 1989)