Meaning of the Number Five – Celebrating TAFA’s 5 Years!
We have been celebrating TAFA’s 5th Anniversary this month. I gave an overview of how it’s gone on another post and thought I would do something more playful on this one. Just for kicks, I did a search on the meaning of the number five and found that it actually has quite some weight in religious and number theory circles. I’ve never been one who explored numerology or astrology but it’s interesting to look at what makes the world tick in various traditions or back in history.
So, here is what I found, peppered with images from our TAFA Members (click on them to see profiles):
The sum of the first even and odd numbers (2 + 3) is 5. (To the Pythagoreans 1 was not a number and was not odd.) It therefore symbolizes human life and—in the Platonic and Pythagorean traditions—marriage, as the sum of the female 2 and the male 3. The Pythagoreans discovered the five regular solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron; now known as the Platonic solids). Early Pythagoreanism acknowledged only four of these, so the discovery of the fifth (the dodecahedron, with 12 pentagonal faces) was something of an embarrassment. Perhaps for this reason 5 was often considered exotic and rebellious.
The number 5 was associated with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and her Roman parallel, Venus, and the symbol for both was the five-pointed star, or pentagram. In England a knot tied in the form of the pentagram is called a lover’s knot because of this association with the goddess of love. In Manichaeism 5 has a central position: the first man had five sons; there are five elements of light (ether, wind, water, light, and fire) and a further five of darkness. The body has five parts; there are five virtues and five vices.
The number 5 was also important to the Maya, who placed a fifth point at the centre of the four points of the compass. The five fingers of the human hand lent a certain mystery to 5, as did the five extremities of the body (two arms, two legs, head). A human placed in a circle with outspread arms and legs approximates the five points of a pentagon, and if each point is joined to its second-nearest neighbour a pentagram results. This geometric figure is central to occultism, and it plays a prominent role in summoning spells whereby it is supposed to trap a demon, or devil, who can then be compelled to do the sorcerer’s bidding. The belief that 5 was sacred led to an extra element, augmenting the traditional four that made a human being. This fifth essence, or quintessence, is the origin of the word quintessential.
In Islam 5 is a sacred number. Foremost are the five Pillars of Islam: declaration of faith (shahadah), prayer (salat), fasting during Ramadan, giving alms (zakat), and making the pilgrimage to Mecca (thehajj). Prayers are said five times every day. There are five categories of Islamic law and five law-giving prophets (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad).
Tarot and Greek Mythology
Essentially, Five is the first of digits that is in a constant (sometimes driven) state of balancing its own equation.
The meaning of Five gets more dicey when we recognize its association with humankind. Five fingers, five toes, five tactile senses. These associations give number Five a link to the physical, and a grounded vibration that is similar to Four, but on a much more intricate scale.
But this grounding physicality must play a co-starring role in the essence of Five when we consider the Greek concept of the fifth element. The Greeks marveled over the philosophy of Five, and recognized the pentagram as a perfect symbol to represent the four elements (water, air, earth, and fire) PLUS the fifth element as a unifying factor. This fifth element, as Plutarch observed, is the ether or quintessence that instills harmony and unity to all elements.
Indeed, the Greeks held the number Five as a representation of dispensing spiritual knowledge and considered it a vehicle for gaining proper spiritual understanding.
Potential Personality of Five:
People who resonate with the energy of Five have a genuine interest in other people, and often take active roles in the community. They are high-spirited, and love to travel too. They do not require routine or structure, and are able to adapt well in most situations. They deal with challenges with cleverness and unorthodox solutions. Five people have many projects and ideas going on at the same time and are sometimes strapped for time. This causes them to lose out on some opportunities too, but this is irrelevant as the Five personality will always come out ahead in his/her endeavors.
Lucky Number 5 in Chinese History
No. 5 in Chinese Culture
In Chinese culture, Five is widely used, for both cultural value and practical value. Clapping hands between two people in western countries (giving a high five) means “it is a deal”, “come on” or “congratulations”. To some extent, it is the same with Chinese people, when they successfully accomplish something in company. They clap hands in this case for congratulations saying “Yeah”.
Moreover, the famous Chinese Five Elements refer to Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth, which are regarded as the basis of the whole world. In folklore, Chinese people hold the mutual restriction of the five elements: “wood restricting earth, earth restricting water, water restricting fire, fire restricting gold and gold restricting wood”. This mutual restriction principle is seriously stressed by the ancient Chinese people to show that everything in the world is mutually affected.
In Chinese feudal society, Five Cardinal Ethical Relationships were strictly observed, including the relationships between the monarch and his subjects, a father and son, a husband and wife, brothers, and their friends. Five Kinds of Main Grain (rice, two kinds of millet, wheat and beans) in ancient China were taken seriously because the frequent wars at that time usually resulted in a lack of food.
Wide Use of No. 5
In Chinese history, No. 5 has a wide range of use in classifying things with similar characters, which makes things easy to be remembered. Here are some examples:
1. Five Flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, salty
2. Five Classics in Ancient China: Classic of Poetry, Book of Documents, Book of Rites, Book of Changes, Spring and Autumn Annals
3. Five Sacred Mountains in China: Mt. Huashan in Xian, Shaanxi, Mt. Taishan in Shandong, Mt. Hengshan in Hunan, Mt. Hengshan in Shanxi, Mt. Songshan in Henan
4. Five Emperors: Yellow Emperor (Emperor Huangdi), Emperor Zhuanxu, Emperor Diku, Yao, Shun
Number 5 in Numerology
5 is the number of diversity, travel, and different cultures. Whatever you are dealing with, seek a deeper understanding of what is involved. Awareness of reality is the best safety-net you can have in this exciting and unpredictable cycle. 5 is also the number of change, chance, variety, choice, different belief systems, the sudden, the unexpected, the unusual, and the physical. This year will be quite an experience for you – a new experience.
If the numerological energies could be seen as roads or highways, route #5 would be the widest and busiest. This is where all traffic seeks a change of course. Without a basic goal or sense of direction, accidents occur and people find themselves in places they don’t want to be. Start out with a firm goal in mind; a specific sense of destination. But do be flexible. Even the best laid plans can change without warning signs of any kind. Remember: 5 is the number of the sudden and the unexpected – the unforeseen.
Number 5 in the Bible
The number 5 symbolizes God’s grace, goodness and favor toward humans and is mentioned 318 times in Scripture. Five is the number of grace, and multiplied by itself, which is 25, is ‘grace upon grace’ (John 1:16). The Ten Commandments contains two sets of 5 commandments. The first five commandments are related to our treatment and relationship with God, and the last five concern our relationship with others humans.
This is the number of power and Divine grace.
- Five kinds of animals were sacrificed under the Old Covenant Law of sacrifice: goats, sheep, cattle, pigeons and doves [Genesis 15:9; Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 1:1-17; 3:1; 4:3, 14, 23, 28; 5:6-7]
- God changed Abram’s name to Abraham by adding the letter/number five to his name [Genesis 17:5]. He changed Sarai’s name by adding the same letter/number with the value of “grace” to form the name Sarah [Genesis 17:15]. Abraham and Sarah were transformed by grace to become the parents of a family from which the Messiah would be born
- The Tabernacle was measured in multiples of five [Exodus 25 – 27]
- There are five books of the Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament)
- Matthew’s Gospel is divided into five “books” composed of five narratives and five discourses.
- Jesus bled from five wounds on the altar of the Cross: His two hands, his two feet and His head.
- Daniel proclaimed the Fifth Kingdom to be an Everlasting Kingdom [Daniel 2:37-44].
Five Greek words form the acrostic phrase “Jesus Christ, God’s Son Savior,” taking the first letter in Greek from each word forms the Greek word for “fish”: Iota, Chi, Theta, Epsilon, Sigma = (ichthys) “FISH”, which became a symbol for Christ and a secret symbol for identifying Christians.
The Hamsa Prayer
Let no sadness come
to this heart
Let no trouble come
to these arms
Let no conflict come
to these eyes
Let my soul be filled with the blessing of joy of peace.
The hamsa hand is known by many names: hamsa, hamsa hand, hamesh, hamesh hand, khamsa, and chamsa. It is also called the Hand of Miriam, named for Moses and Aaron’s sister. There are two main styles of a hamsa hand: the most popular is the stylized hamsa hand with two symmetrical thumbs, but there are also hamsa hands that are not symmetrical and shaped like actual hands.
The word “hamsa” or “hamesh” means five. There are five digits on the hamsa hand, but the number five has additional symbolic meaning in the Jewish and Islamic traditions. Five (hamesh in Hebrew) represents the five books of the Torah for Jews. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Heh”, which represents one of God’s holy names. It symbolizes the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunnis, and the Five People of the Cloak for Shi’ites.
In the Jewish religion, the Jewish hamsa hand also symbolizes the Hand of God. Many Jews believe the hamsa pendant symbolizes the Hand of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. In the Islamic faith, the hamsa hand symbolizes The Hand of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Mohammed.
Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa hand remind its wearer to use their five senses to praise God. Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol, which is a powerful talisman against the evil eye. It is most often worn as a hamsa necklace, but can be found as a decorative element in houses, on key chains, on other jewelry items, and is quickly gaining popularity as an amulet in baby carriages. In addition to averting the gaze of the evil eye, it brings its wearer or owner happiness, luck, health, and good fortune.
HAMSAS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
In recent years, activists for peace in the Middle East have adopted the hamsa hand. Because hamsa hand symbology is believed to predate most modern religions, those who actively support a peaceful resolution to the ongoing Israeli conflict believe that wearing the hamsa hand highlights not only the similarities of Judaism and Islam, but also the similarities of the origins of the religions. The hamsa symbol is believed to originate from an ancient Middle Eastern religion, and some Jews and Muslims wear the hamsa as a gesture for hope, peace, and prosperity in Israel and other areas of the Middle East.
That’s it! After touring the Number 5, I have to say that I really like it! Overall, the number five feels positive, energizing, hopeful and adventurous! Of course, there are loads of other references online, so you will have to explore more if this interests you. But, for me, I look back at the lessons learned and step forward with confidence and joy. I could not ask for a better group of people to work with or for a creative environment that inspires me more…
Here’s to the next five years!!!
(give us a toast!)
Many thanks to our Sponsors, who keep TAFA Tickin’
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Turkish Folk Art has an exceptional online shop featuring Central Asian textiles and crafts. While most are vintage, they also support village artisans working in traditional techniques.View Profile
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