Astrology and Numerology
November 14, 2015

Numerology: Pythagorean vs Chaldean

It is commonly recognised that there are two main varieties of numerology nowadays in the West: Pythagorean and Chaldean. There are, of course, other systems of numerology in the world, for example Nine Star Ki in the Far East, but let’s concentrate on just these two, well known in the West, Pythagorean and Chaldean.

Is Pythagorean Numerology Really Pythagorean, And Is Chaldean Numerology Really Chaldean?

It is usually assumed that so called Pythagorean Numerology was introduced by Pythagoras, and that Chaldean Numerology came to us from the ancient Babylon. I doubt these assumptions have any validity.

Surely, for Pythagoreans numbers were very important, for them everything was a number, but the more or less contemporary areas of knowledge that are truly close to the teachings of Pythagoras are sacred numbers and sacred geometry, not numerology. I mean, none of the pythagorean sources I was able to find teaches how to calculate the Life Path Number from the date of birth or how to calculate the Expression Number from the name.

Chaldean Numerology uses a rather peculiar system of correspondences between the letters of the English alphabet and the numbers, but the time when English alphabet appeared is separated by many centuries from the time when Babylon with its cuneiform writings flourished.

So let’s just say that there are two systems of numerology in the West: one of them is labeled “Pythagorean”, the other is “Chaldean”, just to somehow distinguish between them. But what are the differences between the two systems?

The Differences Between Chaldean and Pythagorean Numerology

There are many subtle differences between the two approaches, but the two major ones are:
1. Different scheme of correspondences between the letters of the alphabet and the numbers.
2. Different emphasis on local parameters versus global ones.

Different Alphabetic Correspondences

In the Pythagorean approach, letters of the alphabet are assigned numbers 1 to 9 sequentially, depending on the place of the letter in the alphabet. Here, for example, is the arrangement for the English alphabet:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

For me, this arrangement makes sense. I explain it to myself like this: the position of letters in an alphabet isn’t random. It was established over many years in the natural process of development of the language. So the alphabet is like a mandala reflecting the vibrational framework of the language.

The benefit of this approach is that we can easily establish numeric correspondences for the letters of any alphabet. For example, my first language is Russian, and my birth name was written in Russian. With the Pythagorean approach, there is no problem at all, I will just write the letters of the Russian alphabet against the 9 numbers and use the resulting table to discover the numeric values of my birth name.

Things aren’t that easy with the Chaldean approach. Here is the Chaldean arrangement for the English alphabet:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
I   S   X

The proponents of Chaldean astrology usually explain that this arrangement is based on the sounds or vibrations of the letters. There is a whole lot of reasons why this explanation doesn’t make sense to me; I could spend a few pages explaining my arguments. Most problematically, however, since there is no clear rationale behind the Chaldean arrangement, it cannot be applied to other languages. It only exists for English, as far as I know. If your knowledge goes further than mine, please send me a message.

I am far from saying, however, that the Chaldean arrangement is spurious and therefore it doesn’t work. It does work, beyond any doubt. But since it is English-only, its usability is limited.

Local vs Global

By global I understand those factors that are applicable to the whole life: full official name, as in the birth certificate, and the complete date of birth: the day, the month, and the year. Pythagorean approach gives preference to these factors, saying that the two most important numerological parameters are the Life Path Number, defined as the numerological sum of the date of birth, and the Expression number, i.e. the numerological sum of the full official name.

Pythagorean numerology does use factors with a more narrow scope (I call them local), such as Birthday Number and Minor Expression (numerological sum of the name(s) used in daily life), but they are of secondary importance.

Chaldean numerology says the opposite: the name used in everyday communication is more important than the full official one, and the number of the day of birth is more important than the full date. Chaldean Life Path Number is defined as the sum of the day and the month of birth, without the year.

So we have two substantially different systems of numerology. Which one of them is correct, or is more precise?

Which One Is Right, Which One is Wrong?

Both are right.

Our world is a hologram. This is not a metaphor, it’s more like a scientific fact, just not universally recognised yet. If you want to know more, there is an excellent book, The Holographic Universe. If you look at a hologram from different angles, it will look different, but those will be simply different aspects of the same reality. Or like in that story of the blind men and an elephant — it was one and the same elephant.

Some people say you can use any system of numerology but you should only use one, you can’t mix and match. Why not? I do!

Which System I Prefer?

Let me tell you my story. Quite naturally, the first approach I became familiar with was Pythagorean, simply because it can be used with Russian alphabet. But also, it’s a more popular approach in the West, at least judging by the number of books written about it.

Pythagorean numerology became for me a source of many fascinating discoveries, but one thing puzzled me: I feel very strongly the presence of number 5 in my life, but this number is nowhere present in my core Pythagorean profile. Let me explain you what I mean by the presence of number 5.

I love programming, since the first day I tried it, probably around 40 years ago. I also work as a professional programmer for many years. In the programming world, you will find many people, perhaps most people, who learn one programming language, one technology, and then deepen and hone their knowledge through their whole career. Judging by my Birthday Number 1, I could belong to this group of one-language experts, couldn’t I? But I don’t.

If I could, I would learn all the programming languages in the world. This is not possible, alas, but still I was able to enjoy a great selection of them: C, Basic, Pascal, C++, PHP, Java, Objective-C, Swift, Lua, … I just wish I had more time for playing with Ruby and Python!

This insatiability is a strong feature of number 5. It just wants to experience everything in the world! I can’t be satisfied by learning only astrology, I also want numerology! And not just Pythagorean but also Chaldean! And you know what, this versatility can be very useful. If a problem cannot be solved with one approach, it can often be cracked instantly with another. This is exactly what happened with my search for number 5.

As soon as I discovered Chaldean numerology, I realised that my Chaldean Life Path Number, one of the two most important parameters, is exactly 5! So easy.

Since then, my approach to numerology became a combination of Pythagorean and Chaldean. I try both, and see which approach gives a clearer result. Both results are valid, but usually one of them provides a clearer view of the problem than the other, like it was with my number 5.

Would I recommend everyone to freely combine the Pythagorean and the Chaldean approaches? Perhaps not. You might be a person who prefers to strongly concentrate on just one thing, unlike myself. If that is the case, I advise you to try both approaches, then decide which one suits you better. I am planning to demonstrate ideas from both approaches in this blog. Please subscribe to my newsletter, below, to be notified of new blog posts and promotions.


  1. Claire says:

    Dear Alex,
    I support your diverse approach to this interesting subject. Why wouldn’t I having a life path of 5 like yourself!

    Reading your article on the Pythagorean vs Chaldean source of Numerology gave me an insight to some of the interesting history of Numerology, it is mind-blowing to think that of how fast we can do today what must have taken centuries to produce in the past.

    All my life I had an interest in Astrology, but knew that I was not a Leo (my Sun Sign). When I discovered your Astrology site in 2013, it was like the sun rising with knowledge dawning. I had discovered my Moon Sign (Libra) through the teachings on your website!! All of a sudden I found myself and understood why I was as I am.

    The next step was identifying my Life Path (from your app originally), and now through Numerology. It is like coming home. Thank you for all the knowledge and interesting subject matter you continually provide for us.

    I am joining you in this journey of discovery, and will now learn to use this new information (from Numerology) in my daily life, (just as I utilize the ‘Void of Course’ to my benefit).

    • AlexKay says:

      Thank you so much, Claire! If you knew how much your support means to me, especially on the days when I am feeling exhausted after trying to do so many things at once. Thanks to you, I feel my energy being restored, and I am ready to work more to spread the important knowledge that is so easily available to us. God bless you!