Sunday, November 16, 2003

Number of the Beast

Most people know what 666 means. At least they think they do because it's been used in every mediocre horror movie of the last thirty years. Few people realize however what the numbers actually mean or that there is a whole area of esoteric study called Gematria that delves into the numerical relationships behind words.

Regular visitors to the Library may have noticed the little sign in the right hand column declaring that this site is certified 45% evil. The curious may have even clicked on the button and visited the Gematriculator, where you can have various blocks of text and even whole websites scanned for their content of good and evil. But how do they know? Well:

Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct.

The Gematriculator is based on the work of Ivan Penin, a russian Numerologist who notticed something interesting while studying the Bible:

In the original languages of the Bible, mostly Hebrew and Greek, there are no separate symbols for numbers, letters of the alphabet are also used to indicate numbers.

The numeric value of a word is the sum total of all its letters. It was curiosity that first caused Dr Panin to begin toying with the numbers behind the texts. Sequences and patterns began to emerge. These created such a stirring in the heart of the Russian that he dedicated 50 years of his life to painstakingly comb the pages of the Bible.

Gematria actually goes back much further than Mr. Penin, as there is lengthy debate about the various numerical relationships between words in a lot of Alchemical and Kabbalistic literature of the middle ages. Some of it is quite fascinating. For instance, there's the Kabbalistic Idea that all words that have the same numerical value are thus metaphysical synonyms, that in fact they are the same thing. This can get you into some thorny theological territory when you discover that the Hebrew word for Serpent has the same value as the Hebrew word, Messiah. This implies that the snake that offered the Fruit of Knowledge to Eve was Jesus in disguise, or the same metaphysical entity.

Some schools of Gnostic Christianity believe that Jesus and Christ were two separate beings, that Jesus was a man and Christ the Holy Spirit, who inhabited him for a time on Earth, which is why he could do all the miracles. Christ left Jesusí body while on the cross, right before the man, Jesus died leading many a Gnostic to believe that when Jesus asks, "Why have you forsaken Me?" that he isn't talking to God, but to the Christ Spirit. This further implies that Christ both instigated and redeemed the fall of Mankind.

So you can see what sort of wild theological notions this sort of numerology can inspire.

Now if youíre like me and donít put much stock in theological games, donít worry. Gematria ìworksî just as well with any text.

Some examples:

ìMother died today.î (First sentence from The stranger)= 1390 (1+3+9+0= 13); 43% evil, 57% good.

ìHe gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.î (Last paragraph from 1984) = 27040 (27040=13x13x160 2+7+0+4+0= 13); 97% evil, 3% good.

ìStately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him on a mild morning air. he held the bowl aloft and intoned: Introibo ad altare Dei.î (First paragraph from Ulysses) = 2425 (2+4+2+5= 13); 53% evil, 47% good.

See what fun you can have with useless knowledge?


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