We think about numbers all day long, starting from the moment we wake. What time is it? How much does it cost? How much battery do I have left? How many miles away? What extension do I dial? How many tablespoons? What’s the date — it may be time to celebrate something! Numbers contextualize things for us. They organize our world, lives and even our thoughts. And they have always been important.
Without numbers we wouldn’t have the universal language of math. Mysteries of the universe would remain unsolved. How could we ever know our own history without numbers? After all, it cannot be communicated without specific dates.
We rely on the tried-and-true symbolism of certain numbers, as well. Gamblers know to bet on seven. Some hotels do not have a thirteenth floor (in China it’s the 4th floor they refuse to build because the word for four and death sound too similar). The number “666” is associated with the antichrist and has been used in horror films to scare the pants off of filmgoers since the ‘70s.
Naturally, because numbers feature so prominently in our lives, and always have, they have a mighty significance in the realm of magic and the occult. Witches use numbers in so many aspects of their craft that numbers have become their own crucial component, as much as anything else. We don’t randomly use five anise seeds in a powder or set up two candles or recite an incantation three times; we use certain amounts because of what these numbers represent to us. In this article, I’d like to explore the power of numbers and share some magic centered on numbers to illustrate how you can use them to enhance your witchcraft!
The Secret Magic Of Numbers
E pluribus unum. All life united, the universe and everything in it, or the unique individual. Absolute distinction. Favorite. One among many, the rebel, the saint, the spark of change. Self. First… no, best. One can be singular or all encompassing. One is the first whole number, the number from which all others spring. You cannot have two if you don’t have one, but you can have everything if you just have the one, whatever it may be — the most important thing.
In witchcraft, one is the intention. One is casting a single circle surrounding you for protection. In Tarot, one is the Magician’s number, and represents potential. You would use one in magic to emphasize the importance of your intention and during magic focused on the self. Underline the singular aspect through minimalism.
Perform spells on Monday, during the New Moon, or on the first day of the month. Keep your materials to a minimum: One candle or one stone that represents your intention. Make one talisman to carry with you and mentally focus on manifesting your intention instead of relying on a heavy, complicated ceremony. Alternatively, you can use one in magic that focuses on one group — a family, for example. Get a bowl and place one symbol for each member of the group into the bowl. From many pieces, you make harmony. Burn a white candle and meditate on your hope for this group. When your minimalist spell is completed, tie each symbol onto a single cord and hang it somewhere in the kitchen.
Lovers, friendship, a bond. Opposites, but also balance: Night and day, sun and moon, earth and sea, light and dark, life and death. The world seems divided into two. When you look, you can see this duality everywhere. In some cultures, two is considered wicked. If the main deity is one, then his or her opposite (usually a devil figure), must be two — an evil mirror image. Your reflection is the second you, maybe a false image or a more true one, but it’s the side you hide, that only you can see. In magic, you can use two to symbolize a partnership or a conflict with two opposing forces coming together.
Invoke the number two when you need to bond two things together — mental or physical. Find an appropriate representation of whatever you’d like to bond then burn a candle for two hours and pour the wax over these two separate pieces, covering them under a unifying layer of wax. I’m deliberately being vague here because you might want to bond people, or ease dueling emotions, or calm conflicting thoughts. Whatever it is, devote the spell to bringing harmony to these two aspects. Do every action twice. Perform on a Tuesday or when the moon is in its second cycle. If you center the spell on yourself and bringing peace within during a tumultuous time, use a mirror during the spell so every action is doubled by your own reflection.
A magical number. In religions all over the world, there is significance in the number three. Three different aspects of the same deity will make the whole, commonly called a trinity. There is Past, Future, and Present. The Triple Goddess — maiden, mother, and crone. According to many beliefs, the world is divided into three — heaven, earth and hell. In storytelling (and our lives), there is a beginning, middle, and end. Genies and leprechauns offer three wishes. We hear no evil, speak no evil, and see no evil. It takes three points to form the first geometric shape: A triangle, giving three another magical connection. Spells are often recited three times. There are only three primary colors, from which all other colors are created.
In magic, three symbolizes the cycle of a spell. We set an intention, then gather our materials and perform the spell, and then the spell comes to fruition. Use three when you have a goal and you are perhaps a little confused on how to get to the end. Work backwards from the end to figure out how to get through the middle and imagine this goal as a story. Set up each part of this process in a spell and work your way through it, just as you’ll have to do in reality. Find spots that may give you trouble and break it into three again. You’ll find both magic and life problems are much easier to understand when you divide them into three manageable parts. Veni, vidi, vici, witches!
North, east, south and west. Four represents the cardinal points as well as the seasons and the elements. In witchcraft, there is Four Thieves Vinegar, which legend says allowed thieves during the Black Plague to rob the sick and dying without getting ill themselves. There are four horsemen of the apocalypse — Death, Famine, War, and Conquest. In the Tarot, the Emperor is the fourth card and represents control over your life — all four corners of it. In Buddhism, there are the Four Noble Truths and the cross with its four points, typically associated with Christianity of course, is also an ancient symbol for many cultures.
Because of four’s association with the seasons and elements, it will be the perfect number to incorporate for any magic involving either. Create a ritual for the start of each season by setting an intention for this time and assigning a different element to call on for strength through any rough patches. Although there are many recipes online for Four Thieves Vinegar, create your own version of it, and sprinkle this protective concoction four times in front of your doors at the start of each week — or each quarter of the month!
Heavily associated with marriage, five is also the symbol for humanity. We have five main appendages that, when spread, resemble a star (a very important symbol in witchcraft). We have five fingers and toes. We celebrate victories by giving “high fives.” There are five senses, five rings in the Olympic logo, and the most famous cologne in the world was named after the designer’s lucky number — Chanel No. 5. In Middle Eastern cultures, Hamsa means five, and is represented in the Hamsa hand, a ward against the evil eye. There are five petals on a traditional rose, a flower steeped in mystery and a symbol of the secret language of the occult.
The fifth element is the soul, and in elemental magic this element is represented by the witch performing the spell — the extra spark that has the ability to focus magic. Five is the number that acknowledges the human being as divinely influenced and capable of extraordinary things and because of this, five becomes a magical number. When working on a spell or performing a ritual, amongst your incense and candles, keep something in mind: You are what makes this collection of ordinary things magical.
You are the most important element of any spell. Without the witch, this beautiful assortment won’t do anything. To celebrate the power of five, and the power of the witch, I want you to get physical. On your palms and on the tops of your feet, draw the symbol for each element. Then lay down somewhere and stretch out your arms and legs to create the shape of a star. Call power to yourself and envision it entering your body through each symbol in golden beams, filling you with strength. Whenever you feel weak in your craft, perform this ritual and remember that you DO have the power to attain what you want in this life. Mystics have always believed that the human is a conduit for magic, but we forget that. May this simple ritual remind you and refuel your power when your confidence in it has been lost.
The Personal Number
We all have numbers that mean something to us, that I probably didn’t cover above. When you can, incorporate this number into your magic. Let this number represent you in spells when you need to perform magic without a lot of extras. Like all personal symbolism, this number can be your secret ingredient — the thing that makes your spells unique to you.
Give it power by writing it down often or writing it on your body in a hidden place, making sigils that include it in the design, or keeping a watchful eye and making a wish whenever you see it in the world. Keep it a secret and don’t tell others what this number means to you or why it’s special. Reserve its power for you alone and call on it, or symbols that represent it, whenever you need an extra magical boost!