If you're looking for abstract insights into your character and life path, you can put a psychic on speed dial, invest in a deck of tarot cards, or start reading your horoscope religiously. But if you're seeking out slightly more tangible, easy-to-decode predictions, you might want to give numerology a try.
The study of how numbers influence destiny, numerology boils your name and birthday down into single digits that speak to who you are and where your life is headed. I walked away from a reading last week equipped with a printed report—a 26-page primer on what my numbers say about my strengths and weaknesses, faults and fortitudes. Complete with predictions about time periods that will prove difficult and ages that will be especially fruitful, it's the closest I'll ever get to an instruction manual for living.
In order to put it together, my lovely guide to all things numerology, Michelle Buchanan, asked for my full name and birthdate. Then, she applied the principles of Western numerology—an approach that began with Greek mystic and mathematician Pythagoras around 2,500 years ago—to unlock the energetic vibrations of these numbers and letters.
She set up a time to chat about her findings over the phone before she sent over a report for me to keep. It was my first reading of any kind and I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I figured there had to be something to a practice that's been around for thousands of years.
Michelle dove into the "core numbers" that compose my chart, starting with my Life Path Number, the most important one in Western numerology (and one that you can easily calculate yourself!). This digit, which she calculated by adding up the numbers that make up my birthday, is thought to outline all the challenges and opportunities I'm bound to face in life and provide insight into how I'll respond to them.
My Life Path Number is 8, which makes me a natural-born leader who's powered by a desire for success. My Birthday Number, another variation on the digits in my birthday, is also this domineering 8.
Before I could tell her that I've always considered myself more of a passive, idea-driven person, Michelle explained that these 8s exist alongside my Personality and Expression numbers, which speak to my inner goals and outward appearance to others, which are both 2s.
These 2s speak to a more intuitive, sensitive side of my personality that makes it difficult for me to say no to others. At the risk of getting too personal, I do consider myself sensitive and vulnerable to a fault, and I found myself nodding when she asked if these numbers made sense in context.
She explained that my life's purpose is to balance these two dueling natures of my personality and find a way to bring some more of my 8 confidence to my soft 2 demeanor. The report she sent over offered some practical ways to do so, including speaking up for myself more often and wearing more daring clothes. (I'm considering this an invitation to wear overalls to work tomorrow.)
Numerology charts also contain forecasting numbers that cover important life milestones. Michelle told me that 29 would be a big age for me, and she predicted that is when my 8 personality will come to fruition. She also gave me some examples of how her numbers have manifested themselves through various stages of her life, which helped me digest her findings more logically.
Overall, talking about my numerology chart was an extremely methodical way to discuss very nonmethodical concepts. I've always considered personality to be something that's fluid and unpredictable, and approaching as a more prescriptive formula was really interesting. In a weird way, it's comforting to think that life is as logical as numbers on a page and as easy to decode as simple mathematical formulas.
I'm not sure I'll be reading my numerology report before bed every night, but it's certainly nice to know it's there for when things get hectic.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.