Two Ways to Apply Isopsephy to Divination

Recently, a friend was going through a hard time and would keep seeing numbers randomly appear in her daily life. She linked the numbers to her current tribulations and referred to the body of Angel Numbers to get the meaning of the message the cosmos was sending her. Angel Numbers appeared in the writing of Doreen Virtue. They are supposedly based on numerology. Angel Numbers correspond to specific meanings and are usually spotted randomly in daily life. Upon hearing of the friend’s experience, I did a few sessions of my own version of Angel Numbers. I asked questions and the first number sequences I saw afterwards I wrote down. Then I searched the number and it’s meaning and treated it as an answer to my question. My recent experience with Angel Numbers was positive. I found the answers relevant and wise. Using Angel Numbers in the way I did or other ways can be a viable form of divination. Angel Numbers are an interesting system. There are other ways to use numbers, at the same time. Isopsephy is a traditional system from ancient Greece. It was used in various ways, and can be applied to divination. In this post, two ways to use isopsephy will be explained.

The first technique is a numerically based use of isopsephy. Like the Angel Numbers method described above, it deals with the random numbers a person comes across once they begin the divination. Basically, one should look for numbers in the real world and take note of all the numbers encountered. The act of doing a divination starts with a ritual, then moves on to the posing of a question, the allotted time and method for selecting numbers, the use of an isopsephy dictionary for the answer, and then the attempt to understand the answer’s meaning, if applicable. First, the process begins with a ritual. A deity can be invoked and asked for its help in the divination. It is not necessary, but more aligned with the ancient traditions of divination. The rules of the divination should be set in the mind of the diviner and possibly read aloud after the invocation. The rules should include the number of digits, the period of time that the numbers will be “found” by the diviner, and any other rules in determining which numbers are acceptable. The purpose of the divination is a concern, situation, or question. The query should be written out and announced during the ritual. As for the the number of digits, they should be predetermined. A person can set a number of digits beforehand based on intuition or any other reasoning. The divination process will be illustrated with an imaginary scenario. Fictional character John wants to use the numerical method of isopsephy in a divination. He decides on five digits. He has a question in mind for the divination. Next, he writes out the question and does a short ritual. He announces the question and the number of digits he is applying to the divination. He also announces that he will use numbers that appear randomly to him after he starts the divination. Then he begins the number selection part of the divination. He runs some errands. As John goes about his day, he comes upon numbers. He sees the numbers 315 on a door, the number 9 on a poster, and the number 1 written on a fence. John disregards other numbers, as he now has the five digits that he set out to find after the ritual ended and the number selection part of the divination began. The numbers 31591 would then be the numbers observed in the exercise. The next step is to use an isopsephy dictionary to find the corresponding words in ancient Greek, English, or both. An isopsephy dictionary will usually have either no words, a single word, or a few words that correspond to a value. Whatever the correspondence in the dictionary turns out to be, it can be treated as the answer to the divination. It might be a noun or verb, a God or goddess, a characteristic or a physical object. The values that correspond to the numbers are the answer to the query made in the divination.

Beyond using numbers that are discovered or found randomly in daily life, or by using other determinations such as intuition, dreams, or more specific number selections, there is an opposite way of using isopsephy in divination. This second way of using isopsephy uses the alphabet and the names of people, things, and so forth.  In this method, rather than finding numbers, the names of things are found and then converted to numbers using isopsephy. Like the previous example cited with the fictional character John, the divination process includes a ritual, a question, the acquisition of the divinatory word or words, the conversion of the words or word to number values, and then the looking up of the corresponding words in an isopsephy dictionary. The process is largely the same as it is with the discovery of numbers, except for one aspect. The key to using this second way of isopsephic divination is to find some material object or idea that is an answer to initial question. It can be one thing or idea or many objects. This aspect of the process can be illustrated with a short anecdote. For example, the fictional character John goes through the divination steps including a ritual and the stating of the question and then begins the search for the divination answer. John, like in the earlier ritual for the number based method, goes about his day as usual. He hangs around his home and then runs a few errands. During this time, he comes across a red sled in a book, and then later he sees the number 8 in a window. John finds both incidents meaningful, and has the feeling that he is supposed to pay attention to them. After the allotted time is up, John sets about converting the words red, sled, and eight to numeric values. He then takes the values and refers them to the words in an isopsephic dictionary. The words he gets are the answer to the initial query of the divination. It should be noted that the objects that are considered in this method should follow rules set before the process begins. They can be either the first things someone encounters, the first things that come to mind, or just the things that a person encounters over a course of time that seem to be important. Like the number of digits being predetermined, the number of objects or ideas can be predetermined. There can be anywhere from one to ten or twenty objects or ideas used in the method. If a large number is used, the numerical value can be added up to get different values, which was a common practice in isopsephy.

There are some issues around the answers that come out of isopsephy. Unlike Angel Numbers, some oracles, and other divinatory systems, isopsephy is not an oracle or divinatory system created entirely for divination. The origins of isopsephy stem from the use of Greek letters for numbers. As a result, it is possible that the use of isopsephy for divinatory purposes gives unclear or irrelevant answers. Any oracle system will have unclear or seemingly irrelevant answers, but it’s possible that isopsephy will give those kinds of answers more frequently. There are a range of answer types that might occur with isopsephy. Once a person has the answer to their query, they can figure out a course of action. Interpretation might not always be straight forward. Getting a numerical answer may just be the first step to finding a suitable answer to the situation or concern. There are a few possibilities. It might require worship, a search, reflection, or brainstorming. Or on the other hand, the answer might be extremely relevant and immediately obvious. Another possibility is that it might be related to later synchronicities you see in your daily life. It may seem like nonsense. It may be mysterious. Many of these aspects can be handled by the way the is question is framed and by the person asking the question. The answer should be relevant to the person asking it. Hypothetically, an atheist could ask a question and get the answer Hestia, which might mean nothing to the person. If the question is not that serious to the person that they would worship Hestia or research her, and it has no significance to their life or the question in their opinion, other possibilities could be explored like archetypes. Hestia represents the household, home, the hearth, virginity, and hospitality. These archetypes could be explored, or further divination could be used as well. Additional questions to find clues to the answer can be utilized in a yes no manner or using another oracle system could also give clues. If one wants a yes or no answer, they can merely repeat the process and add up all the numbers and make odd numbers yes and positive and even numbers no and negative.




Photo Credits

  1. Small quartz stones cover the ground. Photo by Titus Tsarntchke, Public Domain.   
  2. Random dies sit on a table for use in lot divination. Photo by Midjourney. Username: @david.k9