Mythmatics — The Mythology Of Numbers
Counting the Gods with Godchecker
Ever since the human race began to count on the Gods, their numbers have increased. It is even possible the Gods are counting on mankind — using us for multiplication or dividing us into fractions.
And now it seems you all want addictive additives, symbolic take-aways and lucky numbers. Only Godchecker is foolhardy enough to try and deduce the answers. So stay tuned as we update this page with the latest facts and figures...
Zero. Zilch. Nothing. Nada. Is there a God of Nothing? Or could this be the sign of the Cosmic Egg?
Half. This is the number of HAIURI, the half-there God of the Xhosa people in South Africa.
One. This is mostly for mono Gods such as YAHWEH or ALLAH. As in: "I am the only one and don't you forget it!"
Two. Lots of twins, dynamic duos like the Mayan HERO-TWINS and good/evil opposites such as AHURA-MAZDA vs AHRIMAN. In Rome, JANUS has two heads to look backwards at the past and forwards into the new month of January.
Three. A certain Australian tribe only ever learned to count up to three. Anything after that is simply 'many'. Now threes are many. There are triplets, triads and triple alliances. All FATES, GRACES, NORNS and Destiny Spinners come in threes. Even a certain mono God named JEHOVAH has jumped onto the bandwagon, claiming to be the Three-in-One.
In the Bible there are the Magi, popularly known as the Three Wise Men, who put it about that they were actually kings. Did this get them free board and lodging in Bethlehem? (Godchecker Factoid: Actually, the Bible doesn't state how many Magi there were. There might have been a whole flock of them.)
Four is the force of four directions. North, East, South and West. The four corners of the Earth. The Maya had BACABS for this sort of thing, and most cultures seem to have four Wind Gods. The Greeks even had ASTRAEUS, a God in charge of the four Wind Gods. Gods with four heads are quite common, and there are four Buddhist Diamond Kings of Heaven. Celtic Love God AONGHUS has four attendant lovebirds, who at some point transformed into the xxxx's used for kisses at the end of letters.
A bunch of fives. UAYEB, a Mayan deity, has Five Unlucky Days. There are five rivers that run into HADES, the Greek Hell, and BRAHMA once had five faces until one got burnt off during an altercation with SHIVA. Five does not seem to be doing too well until you come to the five MMMMM's of Hindu asceticism.
Falling one short of the heavenly seven, six is the number of Man. Particularly if that man is Patrick McGoohan. There are six sides to a die. Throw a six to start. AHURA-MAZDA has six Immortal Holy Ones to attend him.
Immensely popular in all cultures. Seven is the holy number, symbolising God in all his, her or its forms. Ask anyone to think of a number between one and ten and the chances are they'll say seven. There are many magnificent sevens. The Japanese have Seven SHICHI-FUKU-JIN Gods of Good Fortune and in Egypt HATHOR can be seven cows at once. Wizards like to be the seventh son of a seventh son, Snow White has her seven dwarves, there are seven days of creation and you can book into a seventh heaven.
On the unholy side, there are plenty of seven-headed monsters to zap. Talking of monsters, the serpent UNCEGILA could only be killed by a blow to her seventh spot. And don't forget the Seven Deadly Sins. As if you could.
Eight is a mystical number. A good starting place is with the Ba Xian, the EIGHT-IMMORTALS from China. You can take the eight-fold path to enlightenment. On the other hand, eight-legged beasties abound with more Spider Gods than you can easily imagine. Not forgetting ODIN's horse SLEIPNIR which gallops around on eight legs.
Nine. The Norse Gods like this number so much they have NINE-WORLDS. The Greeks liked nine as well and had nine MUSES to keep them amused — and there are nine TELCHINES too, even if no-one is quite sure what they are. A cat has nine lives, but at the other end of the scale Level Nine is the nastiest place in MITNAL, the Mayan Underworld.
Ten. There are ten PRAJAPATIS or Lords of Creation in Indian mythology, and VISHNU had ten major costume changes. There are Ten Commandments in the Bible (although if you read the small print in Leviticus you'll discover thousands more rules which everyone seems to have forgotten about). The Native American Zuni Tribe have TEN-CORN-MAIDENS. There are ten animals in Muslim Heaven, and these are:
1) The Ram sacrificed by Abraham.
2) Solomon's Ant.
3) The Lapwing of Balkis.
4) The Camel of the Prophet Saleh.
5) Balaam's Ass.
6) The Ox of Moses.
7) Jonah's Whale.
8) A dog called Katmir or sometimes Kratim which belonged to Seven Youths who got walled up in a cavern and fell asleep. They woke up 200 years later, broke out to get some provisions, decided nothing much was happening and went to sleep again. They are still asleep. The faithful dog must have got very bored and was let into Heaven.
9) Muhammed's faithful Steed Al Borak.
10) The Dove of Noah.
Legs eleven. TIAMAT the dragon recruited eleven mighty helpers in her match with MARDUK, but still lost by an innings and no left overs because it wasn't cricket.
There are twelve hours of the day and also the night thanks to THOTH. HERACLES had Twelve Hard Labors, JESUS had Twelve Disciples. There are Twelve Signs of the Zodiac. The Romans, in their 'give anything a whirl' fashion, snapped these up for their own Gods. AMALTHEA, who suckled ZEUS as a baby, wanted to play Capricorn the Goat. JANUS appropriated Aquarius to have a piece of January. VENUS and CUPID wanted to get in the swim with PISCES. MARS head-butted his way into being Aries (Not ARES?). Meanwhile, JUPITER bulled his way to Taurus, and Cancer was dumped on PHAETON as no-one else seemed to want it.
The Greeks also got a look-in with HERACLES appearing in his favourite NEMEAN-LION skin to claim Leo. The DIOSCURI duo CASTOR and POLLUX took on twin responsibility for Gemini. CERES took on the virgin produce role of Virgo, and before anyone could stop her, popped back with baskets full of fresh fruit to tip the scales into being Libra as well. BACCHUS was inflicted with Scorpio, probably as the result of a hangover. There was only one candidate for a centaur with a bow and arrow — it had to be CHIRON.
Thirteen was considered very unlucky in Babylon. We don't know why. JUDAS-ISCARIOT the Thirteenth Disciple upset the Christian applecart. Thirteen Norse Gods were present when LOKI caused the death of BALDUR. There were thirteen Lords of the Day in Aztec culture, of whom CHALMECATECUCHTLI was probably the unluckiest.
There will be fourteen wash-it-all-away floods when MANU, the divine Hindu equivalent of NOAH, will appear to start everything all over again. We are halfway through the cycle with flood number seven the last one. But as there are 4,320 million years between floods there is no need to panic just yet.
Fifteen. Is there a God's Rugby Team anywhere? Then we will have to settle for the Fifteen 'O's of St Bridget. Formerly BRIGIT, a Celtic Goddess, she became a Christian Saint, and these were her meditations on the Compassion — each beginning with "Oh Jesu", "Oh Lord", "Oh my goodness" or a similar "Oh" orientated invocation. Also, the Chinese God FU-XI found the following numbers forming a magic square on the shell pattern of a Celestial Tortoise:
4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6
...each line adding up to 15 whichever way you do it.
Sixteen. FA the Yoruba God has sixteen far-seeing eyes. He appears to run a 16 bit operating system.
Seventeen. Apart from being a prime number, we have nothing to report. This one is up for grabs. Are there seventeen holy anythings?
Eighteen. Gods such as DURGA who slay demons find this amount of arms to be the absolute minimum needed.
Nineteen. The height of GOMMATESHVARA in meters.
In both Mayan and Aztec cultures there are twenty signs of Ritual and Divination.
With only 29 days in february, FEBRUUS gets short measure.
Thirty. Roughly the amount of days it takes for Moon Gods to do their thing. Whatever happened to the thirty-somethings?
Thirty-two. This is the number of symbols of a 'Great Being' found on the body of BUDDHA, including the wheel of Cakra on the soles of his feet. Watch out for the footprints.
Forty days and forty nights of Biblical Flood. There are forty Norse VALKYRIES. And life begins at forty.
Forty-two is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. At least in Magrathean mythology. According to comedic luminaries such as Douglas Adams and John Cleese, Forty-Two is the funniest number in the Universe. It is also the mystic number which obsessed Lewis Carroll when he was writing about Alice and Boojums.
Forty-seven. The Quintessential Random Number. There is an entire organisation devoted to Forty-Seven research — reported sightings should be submitted to the 47 Society.
Forty-nine. Holy Mouthfuls. When Buddha was forty-nine days away from enlightenment, a woman devotee brought him a bowl of rice milk which he portioned out at a mouthful a day.
Fifty. In feet, this is the height of the JUGGERNAUT vehicle. Try clamping that.
Fifty-two. The Aztecs did things in fifty-two year cycles. Which is amazing for a culture which did not care much about wheels.
Fifty-five. Hindu Gods come in batches known as CRORES. Each CRORE = 100 million. At the last count there were fifty-five CRORES. We'll leave the mythlipication to you.
Fifty-eight rosary beads. These started in the East and drifted West to be absorbed into Roman Catholicism. Why fifty-eight? We reckon there used to be sixty and someone dropped a couple.
The swinging sixty. If you remember the sixties, you probably weren't there.
Seventy-two. This is a number favored by one of the Jade Deities of China and is reached by a system of multiplying the value of lesser deities which is quite beyond our comprehension.
Eighty-one. The sum of the Hindu Square Mandala which is in itself the sum of nine squared.
Eighty-six. The ORION Pregnancy Testing Kit. A carving on a mammoth tusk depicting Orion as seen 32,500 years ago. It contains 86 mysterious marks which seem to correspond to the days Betelgeuse is visible from Earth. Pay attention: 365 days of the year minus 86 equals the average gestation period of a human baby.
Ninety-Nine Names of ALLAH. Another mono God who wished to up his numerical stakes.
The hundred-handed HECATONCHIRES were Greek Tree Giants. Nobody got past their hands to do a branch, twig and leaf count.
101 Dalmatians. How did that creep in? These are dogs not gods. And don't forget Room 101.
One hundred and eight. This is the number of Heavens in DAOism. Unless you want them to be Taoist.
One hundred and thirty-six. That's how many Buddhist Hells you'll find below Mount Meru.
Three hundred and sixty degrees in a circle. Thanks to THOTH and IAH.
Three hundred and sixty-five days in a year. Also thanks to THOTH.
Five hundred. AZRAIL, a Hausa God, was called in to promote death after human beings became a bit bored after living for five hundred years.
Five hundred and forty. The number of rooms in THOR's Private Hall 'Bilskinir' in ASGARD.
Five hundred and forty-seven. Makes up a JATAKA. These are the birth stories of BUDDHA including his reincarnations as man, bird or beast.
Six hundred and sixty-six. The Great Beast's personal number. According to the Bible's Revelation, no-one can buy or sell without this number. Consult your nearest barcode.
Seven hundred is the number of hours you should allow for a full Indonesian Khon performance.
One thousand. Exceedingly popular with over-the-top Hindu deities. A thousand arms, a thousand heads, no problem. Want more? How about INDRA with a thousand vaginas?
Eleven thousand. The number of virgins taken on a pilgrimage to Rome by St Ursula, where they were wiped-out by Huns. That is, unless there was only one virgin called Undecimilla, whose name was misinterpreted as Undecim Millia, which is Latin for 11,000. In which case allow for wild exaggeration. Eleven thousand virgins does seem rather a lot to take on holiday with you.
Sixteen thousand. This is the number of KRISHNA's girlfriends. But don't worry. He did marry them all.
Seventy thousand. When Muhammed took a trip to check out Arabic Heaven he met the Biggest Angel Of All Time. It had 70,000 heads, each with 70,000 faces, each with 70,000 mouths, each with 70,000 tongues intoning prayers of praise in 70,000 languages. He checked all this without a calculator. No wonder the Arabic world was the first culture to invent advanced mathematics.
Eighty-four thousand. Amitayus, one of the Five Tibetan Buddhas of Mystic Meditation, is so good that he's clocked up this many virtue marks.
One hundred and forty-four thousand. According to Revelation, this is the number of seats reserved in Christian Heaven. We fear it is already over-subscribed.
Four hundred thousand. The number of nipples on the Suckling Tree at TOMOANCHAN. Just to show the sharing caring side of Aztec culture, the babies could lie in comfort slurping away until they had enough life and strength for re-incarnation.
One million. This is the number of the Egyptian Infinity God HUH. He's one in a million.
Four million, three hundred and twenty thousand. This is something to do with YUGAS, which are the Four Ages of Man, worked out by four dice throws which by some unknown rules are calculated to reach this total. One thousand of these equals a day in the life of BRAHMA. Just a day. A night is the same again. You work it out. Our calculator is hiding down the back of a sofa which has gone missing.
Seven million, four hundred and five thousand, nine hundred and twenty-six. This is the total number of demons — according to a certain Jonathan Weyer, the only person who seems to have had time to count them all. They serve under seventy-two princes (presumably of darkness). If Weyer were alive today, we feel sure he would be a luminary in the world of Twitching, known to its practitioners as Birdwatching.
Thirty-five million is the number of APSARAS, the all-singing, all-dancing Indian spirits. They must constitute the world's largest chorus line if they were ever to appear together in one show.
Three hundred and one million, six hundred and fifty-five thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two. This is the number of Angels, according to the last count by Cabalists in the 14th Century. As they were said to be capable of multiplying like flies, no-one has attempted to conduct a census since. But it's nice to know they are well ahead of the demons.
So far we haven't found any Holy Logarithms or Demonic Decimals, but you never know. There are many mighty powers apart from powers of ten. You've heard of Voodoo hexes — but are there any hexadecimal deities? More numbers as and when we discover them.