I have to confess something before reviewing this book: I live with a scientist/mathematician. Often, to stop an argument or to escape explaining something that I just don't want to, I threaten to explain the math behind numerology. Absolutely everything about numerology is offensive to the mind of the modern mathematician, and actively upsets my own resident math professional. So having Math for Mystics around is an extremely effective tool in handling my own personal skeptic, especially if he doesn't want to load the dishwasher. Even though I have doubts about the applicability of some of the very interesting information in this book, it has made itself useful just by being present in my home.
Even without the strong opinions of my co-habitant, I have some skepticism about numerology even though I've found it at times to be useful and Math for Mystics points to the same methods that I've used to make use of numerology. I can find a resonance by using alphabetical assignation to figure out the number of a word or sentence. I can find the resonances of numbers themselves by searching for their planetary links. I have spent time scratching off the letters of my name and the letters of some love interest to seek out our aligned compatibilities (and wound up concluding that I'm not really compatible with anyone). Numerology has gone a long way in determining the appropriate craft name at various points in my life. The material on Fibonacci and the Golden mean is certainly interesting, and definitely exists – but why it's important to a mystic or magician is unclear. As experienced with many other a magical text, the information is great, but it's unclear what can be done with it.
While it covers the basics of numerology as I know them, it doesn't really introduce anything new to me. My personal scientist assures me that her "theories" on Templar Code aren't valid. There are also some attempts to draw numeric interpretations across cultures, but it's hard to buy into it. Math is the same in any language, but numerology is most certainly not.
While Math for Mystics won't win any awards for breaking ground in the applications of numbers, it does give a nice variation as an introductory text. For magical practitioners beginning to understand systems of correspondences, this does teach reduction and permutations quite well – and does create a foundation for new approaches to other divination methods. The delving into the use of squares, pentacles, and labyrinths is interesting, and will trigger the truly curious to find ways to apply them in their mystic practices.
The title is a misnomer, because indeed, this is not math, but simply numbers according to a mystical system of classification. However, as far as numerology goes, this is OK, and Shesso should be encouraged to present yet more material on sacred geometry. Besides which, this gem has been very useful in ending discord in my household.
~ review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Renna Shessho
Red Wheel/Weiser. 2007.
$16.95, pp. 197