Also known as Arithmomancy and Arithmology.
A term from the Greek arithmos ('number') and manteia ('divination'), relating to divination by interpretation of numbers, figures and letters values. It is considered a forerunner of Numerology.
In the most common form of this number mysticism, letters of an alphabet were assigned numbers by some 'magical' rule or system. Words then became numbers when their letter values were added together. People's names, in particular, were considered to have special significance in determining futurity.
The best-known instance of this relation between numbers and words is the number of the beast, 666, from the Bible. But who is the beast? Different interpretations and interpreters turn up different results, varying from the Roman Catholic Church to Hitler, the Roman emperor Nero, Pope Leo X and Martin Luther.
Esoterically Arithmancy is concerned with the science of correspondences between gods, men and numbers, as taught by Pythagoras, who believed that the whole universe was ordered mathematically and that everything could be expressed in terms of numbers.
Pythagoreans, and Platonists as well, were practitioners of this type of fortune telling. A popular method used at combats and battles, and also at the ancient gladiatorial and Olympic games, consisted of examining the number and the values of the letters in the names of the combatants or competitors. Diviners, after conjecturing the name with greater value, would thus predict the victorious contender. According to legend, this method was used to foretell that Achilles would defeat Hector in battle at the Trojan conflict.
The ancient Hebrews also practiced Arithmancy, which is a part of the magico-philosophical science known as Gematria, found in the Jewish Kabbalah.
The Caldeans were also fond of this type of divination, which they practiced by dividing their alphabet into three parts, each part composed of seven letters which they attributed to the seven known planets. Through this arithmetic method they made predictions based on the planets numerical values.
Modern methods of this sort of divination tend to concentrate on character analysis and potential rather than prognostications.
See Numerology, Divination, Haruspex, Radiesthesia, Astrology, Acutomancy, Agalmatomancy, Coscinomancy, Cleidomancy, Augur, Stoichomancy, Dowsing, Tarot, Heptameron, Demonology, Sortilege, Idolomancy, Demonomancy, Tephramancy, Anemoscopy, Eromancy, Austromancy, Chaomancy, Roadomancy, Capnomancy, Pyromancy, Meteormancy, Ceraunoscopy, Zoomancy, Felidomancy, Horoscope, Horary Astrology, Zodiac, Numerology, Bibliomancy, Mystic Gifts and Charms - New Age Gift Shop & Wicca and Pagan Supplies, Love Spells -- Use these powerful love spells to help you find and keep your true love, The Tarot Store, The Chakra Store, Divination & Scrying Tools and Supplies, Unique Amulets, Talismans, Good Luck Charms, and Love Tokens, Powerful Witch Doctor Spell Kits, Powerful Spells - Cast by Andreika the Witch, Webmasters Make $$$, AzureGreen - Celebrating All Paths to the Divine, ISIS - Tools for Your Soul's Journey, and The Pyramid Collection - Myth, Magick, Fantasy and Romance.
Sources: (1) Dunwich, Gerina, A Wiccan's Guide to Prophecy and Divination, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Pickover, Clifford A., Dreaming the Future: The Fantastic Story of Prediction, Prometheus Books; (3) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (4) The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition Handy Volume Edition, Oxford University Press; (5) Johnstone, Jane and Pilkington, Maya (editors), The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Fortune Telling, Sterling.
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