Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher, certainly made his contributions to the mathematical community – after all, if you ask most people what they know about Pythagoras, chances are they will recall the familiar equation we all learned in school, “A squared plus B squared equals C squared,” known as the Pythagorean Theorem, and used to determine the value of the sides of triangles. However, he considered himself a philosopher above all else. How did he view mathematics? More importantly, what were his philosophical, neurological, and religious contributions?

Who Was Pythagoras?

Pythagoras was born in Samos, a Greek island in the Aegean sea, in 570 BC. The son of a seal engraver, not much is known about Pythagoras’ early life. However, most scholars agree that when he was about age 40, Pythagoras traveled to Crotone in Calabria to found a school.

The school developed into a commune, the teachings of which were kept secret. It is thought that Pythagoras’ scientific, mathematical, and philosophical discoveries were taught there, and in his day he was associated with a great many discoveries. Among them were the Pythagorean theorem, which was named for him.

He was also credited with Pythagorean tuning – a system of musical tuning based on the pure, perfect fifth – the five regular solids that were later credited to Plato – the discovery of the spherical earth, and identifying Venus as a planet rather than a star. Later, some of these discoveries were attributed to his contemporaries or students, but Pythagoras began the school of philosophy which led to all.

What Did Pythagoras Believe?

Pythagoras believed in the continuity of life and rebirth of the immortal soul and believed he had lived over 99,000 lives in a row. He believed himself able to communicate with enlightened spirits, and that the planets themselves had their own particular music. This spherical music was said to correspond to the mathematical formations made by the planets, stars, and their paths in the sky. To that end, he also believed in the healing powers of music.

Most relevant to modern numerology are the beliefs Pythagoras held regarding numbers. To Pythagoras, everything in the entire universe could be explained using numbers. This did not only apply to mathematical purposes but also to spiritual purposes.

  • Pythagoras held that letters corresponded to numerals, two or three to each numeral from 1 to 9:
  • 1 = A, J, S
  • 2 = B, K, T
  • 3 = C, L, U
  • 4 = D, M, V
  • 5 = E, N, W
  • 6 = F, O, X
  • 7 = G, P, Y
  • 8= H, Q, Z
  • 9 = I, R

A person’s entire destiny could be determined by analyzing the numbers associated with their name and date of birth. In addition, Pythagoras assigned numbers to all gods, goddesses, and other deities relative to their name and station in his society.

Destiny Number

A person’s Destiny Number, also known as an expression number, was obtained by adding up the numerical values for each letter and reducing down to a final single digit number. This number was said to reveal the opportunities a person would encounter in life.

The Destiny Number is calculated in a way similar to today’s Soul Urge number and Karmic numbers, which are calculated with the numerical equivalents to the vowels and consonants in a name, respectively. These numbers are said to represent the inner challenges and heart’s desires, and the inner hopes of each person.

Life Path Number

The more modern concept of the Life Path Number was derived from a practice of Pythagoras as well. A person’s birth date is added up and reduced to a single digit, which corresponds to a specific path in life, strengths, weaknesses, talents, and drives. Pythagoras had previously assigned qualities to each numeral he believed to correspond to the very nature of those numbers and their relation to the planets and the universe at large. These qualities also applied to individuals who were associated with those numerals.

In general, numbers could have either masculine or feminine qualities, positive and negative qualities, and could carry karmic debts – or sins from past lifetimes – into the present. The following are examples of Pythagorean number qualities

  • 1 = The beginning of all things, initiative, selfishness
  • 2= Matter, cooperation, indecisiveness
  • 3 = The ideal number, creativity, pessimism
  • 4 = Four seasons, industriousness, ill health
  • 5 = Marriage (2+3), freedom, restlessness
  • 6 = Artistic, responsible, coldness
  • 7 = The sacred number, spirituality, laziness
  • 8 = Organization, impatience
  • 9 = Selflessness, must learn to be more selfish
  • 10 = The perfect number – Pythagoreans never gathered in groups over 10
  • 11 = Master number, intuition (another master number was 22)

Many of these qualities still hold with today’s numerologists, and it can be argued that Pythagoras is the father of modern western numerology. Other religions and schools of thought around the world study numerology, but Pythagoras’ beliefs are the very foundation of numerology as it exists today.