Back when I first got into numerology in late 8th grade, I didn't like the number four. One of the books that I most remember on the subject said that four was the worst number for you if you had a birth number of nine, which I do. From that day on for quite some time, my young and impressionable mind believed it. I avoided the number, took it as a bad omen if it came up, and even figured that I would have a bad day on the 4th, 13th, 22nd, and 31st (because these all add up to four.) Well, I don't have to tell you what the power of belief can do! Let's just say my fear of the number four was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
After I got into Wicca, I came to the realization that numbers, just like any kind of magic or energy, have no inherently positive or negative power on their own, just what you use them for. I also learned that just because you may wish to work with one or two numbers more frequently than others, you shouldn't completely ignore any number! So once my bad associations with the number four were altered, I began to see what an amazing number it really was. Besides having many interesting mathematical distinctions, the number four is also common in science and the natural world and can be found almost everywhere. It is a very balanced, earthy number, and yet it has a plethora of mystical and spiritual applications as well. Here are 30 reasons why I have learned that the number four is a hell of a lot more important than I previously thought. Enjoy!
1. 4 is the smallest number that is not a prime number (it is divisible by 2 as well as by 1 and itself)
2. 4 is a square number, because 2 x 2 = 4 (or, 2 "squared" is 4)
3. A plane, although technically infinite, is usually thought of as having 4 sides (quadrilaterals, like squares and rectangles).
4. A circle divided into 4 will make 4 right angles.
5. Expanding on #3 and #4 above, the number 4 is the base number for plane mathematics (like in geometry - remember drawing all those graphs, with the 4 quadrants?)
6. A tetrahedron ("tetra," meaning 4) which is a solid 4 - sided object (like a pyramid with only three sides and a triangular bottom - commonly seen in 4 - sided dice) is a common shape in organic chemistry. Water molecules have a tetrahedral shape.
7. 4 ancient elements (Western): earth, air, fire, water.
8. 4 cardinal directions: north, east, south, west.
9. 4 seasons: winter, spring, summer, fall.
10. 4 phases of the moon: new, waxing, full, waning.
11. 4 Pillars of Magic (the Witch's Pyramid): To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silent.
12. 4 suits in Tarot: pentacles (discs or coins), swords (knives, daggers, blades), wands (staffs, staves, spears, rods), and cups (chalices, bowls, cauldrons.) Note that these are also the 4 main altar tools of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Ceremonial Magic. Besides corresponding with the 4 elements, each suit also represents one of the 4 feudal classes in the Middle Ages: pentacles = merchants, swords = nobility, wands = peasants, cups = clergy.
13. 4 suits of modern playing cards (derived from the tarot): hearts (cups), diamonds (pentacles), clubs (wands), spades (swords).
14. In Buddhism, there are the 4 Noble Truths: 1. Life is full of suffering. 2. Attachments (craving or need for objects, people, ideas, etc.) cause suffering. 3. End the cycle of attachment, and your suffering will end. 4. Walk the middle path between too much indulgence and too much austerity to better the self (in other words, practice moderation) and to be at balance, which will bring peace and end your suffering. (This is all a little bit over - simplified, but you get the picture.)
15. To further explain #14, you should feel 4 things if you are practicing correctly: happiness, compassion, love, and joyous effort.
16. Christianity and Hinduism both have 4 cardinal virtues. In Christianity, they are prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. Hinduism lists non-violence, truth, purity, and self-control.
17. According to the Hebrew Bible, the tetragrammaton (or "4 letters") is the sacred name of God, YHWH, and occurs in the text over 6,000 times.
18. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam recognize 4 archangels (the names vary by religion.)
19. The Bible has 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
20. In ancient medicine, there were believed to be 4 humors (bodily fluids: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) that interacting with each other and occurring in different amounts in the body caused the 4 temperaments. These were: sanguine (sociable, hedonistic), choleric (dynamic, a leader, independent), melancholic (moody, introverted), and phlegmatic (relaxed and easy going.)
21. There are 4 basic building blocks in both DNA and RNA.
22. Most animals have 4 legs or appendages, and all winged insects (except flies) have 4 wings.
23. 4 Human blood groups: A, B, O, AB.
24. 4 basic states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
25. Where the lines of latitude and longitude intersect, they divide the Earth into 4 sections.
26. The equal - armed 4 pointed cross started out as a symbol of the sun, and came to include higher powers (gods, kings, the life force, etc.) It later became identified with the earth and evolved into the compass symbol we know today.
27. 4 is present everywhere in building because of its stability and strength. Thus structures have 4 sides, rooms have 4 walls, furniture has 4 legs, vehicles have 4 wheels, etc.
28. Classical music has 4 beats per measure.
29. 4 rules (basic functions) in math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
30. Carbon (which is the basis for all life on Earth, among other things) is "tetravalent" (remember that "tetra" = 4) which means that as a single atom, it has 4 electrons available to combine chemically with other atoms. This is true of every carbon atom in every composition! Think of the infinite combinations constructed this way, including each and every one of us!