Interpretation and meaning of numbers in dreams

I loved playing with numbers as a kid … and counting my Christmas presents. That’s my uncle Bud Klinger in the Santa outfit. Best. Santa. Ever.

Along with our ABCs, basic math is the first subject learned in school, and your unconscious mind is there along with you also learning your first lessons with numbers. To occupy my mind as a kid I would notice numbers like street addresses and gas prices and juggle them in my head by comparing, adding, subtracting, dividing, calculating percentages. I was no math whiz, but I was good at The Price Is Right

Now my dreams play with numbers in similar ways, and I’ve interpreted many dreams that prominently feature numbers. My childhood home address, 1954, has popped up in my dreams several ways. Split into two groups, 1954 adds up to 10 and 9, and added together equals 19. My dreams have presented those numbers jumbled as a receipt for \$45.91, which says to me, “look at your life when you lived at 1954.”

Important numbers in dreams draw attention to themselves and are used purposefully. They can refer to times of life. Floors of a building can actually refer to ages. In a dream, you get off the elevator on floor 14 and discover that you are back at age 14. They can refer to children and their birth order (particularly in dreams about counting fingers and/or toes, because children are like digits, their lives lives extending from yours).

The symbolism of numbers in dreams can be expressed through groupings. In a dream discussed in my book Dreams 1-2-3 titled “Exposed in Open Court,” four rectangular tables arranged as a square represent the four primary archetypes. In the dream “Mafia Slave,” a four-sided courtyard is a similar clue that the courtyard shows the arrangement of the dreamer’s archetypes. In the dream “Maiden and the Matron,” a four-sided mirror shaped like a pyramid shows an archetype at work in the dreamer’s life.

I’m grown up now but I still look forward to Christmas … and presents.

[Archetypes are a complex subject. If you want to know more about them, I have a section in my book, or check out this summary of Robert Moore’s work in regard to archetypes of the male psyche.]

I’ve interpreted dreams where pairings (two) symbolize subjects such as friendship, mating, and the dynamics between opposites.

I’ve interpreted dreams where a large number like 15,917,665 simply means “big,” and 2 means “small.”

Numbers are associated with money and fortune. In dreams, they can connect with subjects such as astrology and tarot. Number 22 is strongly associated with tarot.

I confess, this subject is one I’ve barely scratched even after years of reading references to it in the works of Edgar Cayce and Carl Jung. Below, I give you my best take on what numbers in dreams can signify. In the meantime, here are good sources of info:

DreamHawk’s guide to numbers

Tarot numerology

Carl Jung’s teachings on numerology and the significance of numbers

The ancient science of numerology and its correlations with modern science and psychology

Gettin’ down to business: meaning and interpretation of numbers in dreams

Now we will look at specific numbers and what they can mean in dreams, bearing in mind that numerology is a book in itself, and what I present here is only a base of reference. Few dreams require numerology to understand them, but I find it can be enlightening in dreams where numbers are prominent.

1. Number one is the loneliest number, according to the popular 1960s song, yet it stands on its own without need of any other number to keep it company or make it complete. It is singular, the basis for all other numbers. Therefore, number one in dreams can be used as a sign of unity, integrity, independence. It is not lonely but strong. It is welcoming because it can connect with every other number to form new numbers, like 1 added to 9 makes 10, or 1 combined with 9 makes 19. The 0 (zero) on the end of 10 “elevates” the number one, enhances it, draws attention.

Number one is one side of an important concept: the relationship between the one and the many, the individual that is part of a collective. Our minds are our own, in a sense, but all minds together form a collective consciousness that shares information subconsciously. The dreaming mind is well aware of the interaction between the individual and everyone else, expressing those relationships in dreams featuring number one.

2. Number two is two 1s added together; it is both sides of the relationship between the one and the many — the beginning of an endless division. Dreams use pairings to show relationships, strong or weak, within the psyche or with other people, discussed at length in the section on “Dream Pairs” in my book. They are strong when they stand together, and weak when divided.

Dreams in which number two plays a role are often about the relationship between the dreamer and the outside world, or about the internal relationships between the ego and other power centers of the psyche.

In “The Maiden and the Matron, a young girl is paired with an old woman to symbolize the Maiden – Crone archetype. It’s the fusing of the desire to be young and innocent with the necessity of growing old and wise. In this dream, the archetype is joined by a third party, the dreamer, who is challenged to rise above the conflict of opposites expressed in her desire to take on a harder job but fearing that an immature part of herself will sabotage her efforts, or that the strain will make her old before her time.

When two of anything show up in your dreams, look at the interaction, keeping in mind that dreams show us ourselves through our world and our relationship to it.

3. Number three is 2 + 1, or seen another way, two against one. It’s a number that can show strength or weakness. It shows strength in the Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, or in the complete picture of the psyche as expressed in Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego. But it shows weakness in its imbalance of two against one.

While master dream interpreters like Edgar Cayce interpret the number three in dreams as showing strength, my experience is the opposite. In dreams, bad things often run in threes: three people chasing you; three passengers in a car when it crashes; three bullies blocking a sidewalk. In dreaming and waking life I’ve noticed the tendency for misfortunes or stark personal challenges to come in threes. It’s a number implying the need for a fourth to complete it.

When three of anything shows up in your dreams, ask if it speaks to an incomplete or imbalanced area of your life — or perhaps to an area of strength. You can tell the difference through the action of the dream, and by how the characters present themselves. Do three people show up at your front door to tell you you’ve won the lottery, or perhaps to kidnap you? Do you see three holy people praying on top of a mountain, or three lions hunting a helpless animal? I’ve had or interpreted dreams similar to these scenarios, so like every dream symbol, look for verification before jumping to conclusions about number three.

Edgar Cayce also said that odd numbers are “stronger” than even numbers because even numbers are always divisible, whereas prime and other indivisible numbers are odd. Dreams recognize these qualities about numbers and use them to express complex ideas. You don’t have to be a genius with math; your dreaming mind is there with you every step of the way grasping things that might have eluded you, like arithmetic lessons. But its knowledge stretches back to the origin of the human species, and it is not hindered by ego beliefs like, “I’m no good at math.”

The number sequence 1-2-3 in the title connects with the three steps to dream work.

4. The number four is an even number that expresses great strength, so call it an exception to the Cayce rule about even numbers. Dreams reflect the psyche of the dreamer, and the psyche is built to be balanced in configurations of four. There are four primary archetypes.

The mind has four primary mental functions that work together, and in dreams a group of four characters can symbolize the mental functions (particularly when the group has three of one gender and one of another. The lone gender is known in Jungian typology as the inferior function.) Modern personality tests are largely based on Carl Jung’s theories (use the links for more about that subject).

Four is a very important number in our world as well as in the psyche. Much of the globe experiences four seasons. There are four elements: earth, air, fire, water. We live in a four-dimensional universe of length, width, height, and time (time is “depth”). There are four primary directions, four states of matter. And our structures are mostly built with four sides. So the number four expresses great variety of meaning in dreams based on its foundational place in the material world. Since the foundation of the human experience is the body, configurations of four can symbolize the body in dreams.

5. As I prepared to write about number five, a friend had a dream that appeared at first to be a perfect illustration of its numerological meaning. Then we got into the interpretation and it turned out, like usual, to be more complex than any simple explanation. I discuss it here because of its value in understanding how dreams play with numbers, and how being wrong about an interpretation of a dream can still lead to its meaning. The dream begins:

I check into a hotel and the clerk gives me keys to Room 23.

I say to myself as I begin interpreting, “2+3=5, so the dream might be speaking to imminent change in the dreamer’s life, since 5 is the number of change.” The hotel setting reinforces this idea because it’s a place of transition. Well, let’s add some more details from the dream and see if they fit this interpretation:

The clerk tells me that someone was murdered in the room, but not to worry because he will come by to deal with any ghosts.

Talk about big numbers. My dream dictionary has more than 750 entries.

That detail is interesting. Death implies transition. It is an imminent change we all face, so number five gains in importance the further into the interpretation we get if it symbolizes imminent change. But remember that death has other meanings. Sometimes leaving a part of yourself behind during big life changes can feel like a little death. Murder has deeper, darker connotations. Knowing the dreamer, my first thought is, “Something happened a long time ago that made part of her die, murdered figuratively (which can mean repressed), and it is being sought again.” Ghosts can also symbolize the things that haunt us in our past.

Past trauma is easy to find in dreams because dreams want to heal the sore spots and connect the dreamer with inner resources to live a meaningful and satisfying life, which can involve reclaiming lost parts of oneself left behind because of trauma or neglect. They die symbolically but can revive. With this knowledge the dream’s interpretation expands, as you’re about to see in the next part:

I look for my room on the second floor of the hotel but can’t find it. I follow the room numbers up and the last room is number twenty-two. I follow the numbers down and they bottom out at twenty-four. In that room, 24, I see a man covered by a red sheet and think he could be dead.

The action of the dream tells the story, and the action of following the numbers sequentially up, then down, but not finding the number sought is the first strong hint that 23 means an age, not a numerological symbol, in this dream. As we go through the interpretation process, the dreamer remembers age 23 as a time when she had the most freedom and wide open possibilities. She was happy then in a way she isn’t at the time of the dream, so the dream brought up age 23 to remind her of what it takes for her to be happy: freedom and possibilities. You will see a hint of this meaning in the next segment of the dream:

I finally find my room and it’s just a BBQ grill built into the wall. I can’t squeeze into it, so I grab some blankets and lie down in the breezeway. As I’m about to fall asleep, I notice a dark man watching me. If I fall asleep, he’ll try to do something bad to me.

There is no freedom when being watched from the shadows. No rest, either. The action tells the underlying story: The dreamer doesn’t want to squeeze into the tiny space that is supposed to be her hotel room, and would rather sleep outside. To interpret this part of the dream you’d have to know that the ages before and after 23 for the dreamer were painfully tight, symbolically. People “squeeze” into roles or situations, motivated by obligation, ambition, fear, or desire to fit in. This dreamer has no desire to squeeze herself into a BBQ grill — how it feels to squeeze into a certain role in her life and “cook” in the negativity. She asserts her independence like she would at age 23 by choosing to sleep outside.

Then the dream shows her why she doesn’t assert herself more often, symbolized by the dark man watching her, a shadow figure. When she is tired or lets her guard down, he is there waiting to take advantage, symbolizing the voices in her head that stop her from asserting herself. He represents the part of herself that compels her to play the “tight” role, sending up fears to block her from gaining her independence. Remember: mental situations can be just as confining and sticky as external situations. Patterns that develop early in life can remain throughout. This dream is trying to help the dreamer break free. Being trapped in the old pattern feels like slow death, slow-roasted, barbecued. But the independent side of the dreamer that was “murdered” is still alive subconsciously.

So judging by the dream thus far, the meaning of number twenty-three is related symbolically to murder and ghosts, is something difficult for the dreamer to find, and when found is difficult to squeeze into. Without it the dreamer feels exposed, symbolized by the dark man watching her as she tries to fall asleep under a blanket. You could say that a person can’t squeeze back into a time of life — at least, not comfortably — because circumstances change. People change. And number five is the number that describes change.

One last note on number five: it can symbolize the five points of a pentagram. A pentagram represents the four elements plus spirit. Therefore it is a powerful symbol of interaction between matter and spirit. Satanists flip the pentagram upside-down so that spirit is symbolically beneath matter, which is their view on things. If you dream of an upside-down pentagram it might symbolize that your spirit needs to be valued more; conversely, dreaming of a five-pointed star right-side up is often a very positive sign, showing that the dreamer has the right perspective to receive life’s blessings.

Now you’re on your own

From here on I only have brief notes on numbers. If numbers appear frequently in your dreams, I encourage you to read what Carl Jung and Edgar Cayce have to say about numerology. Jung teamed with Wolfgang Pauli to explore numbers and you can find book sources. It’s advanced learning, so my advice is master the basics first.

6. Number six can be thought of as 2×3. Two sets of three is a powerful alignment, as seen in the Star of David. However, it can show the strength or the weakness of three.

7. Number seven is closely associated with spiritual life — think of the “God” number, 777. In the Hebrew creation story God created everything in seven days. The Prophet Mohammed had seven knots in his golden rope that descended from Heaven. Also, there are seven glands in the endocrine system with their corresponding “chakras” or energy centers. There are seven virtues and seven deadly sins. And the Bible is packed with examples of seven as a spiritual number, as in Proverbs 6:31, “But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold.” Or when Jesus cleanses Mary Magdalene of seven devils, showing how dark forces love to mimic and pervert religion. Dreams make these associations even if the dreamer doesn’t consciously.

8. Eight is two sets of four, and four being a number symbolizing “wholeness” or balance means that eight is an “elevation” or doubling of four. Eight shows layers of strong symmetry.

9. Nine is 3×3, and three sets of three takes symmetry to a higher level, the completion of a series in three dimensions. Since three can be a sign of strength or weakness, nine goes either way. Look at the action of a dream to understand the meaning of any number. Here is an example:

Three dogs each with three legs beg for food.

If this was my dream, a dog with three legs might symbolize that my trust or loyalty had been hobbled, since I associate dogs with trust and loyalty, and three legs in this case means something is missing: a leg! Can’t get around very well on three legs. There is also an old saying that you won’t get far on a three-legged horse. In this dream, begging for food would mean that the trusting or loyal side of myself needs nourishment. Now change the scenario:

Three dogs each with three heads guard the gate to a secret garden.

The unconscious mind has locations like secret gardens which represent serene places inside the person, places where insight is gained and spirit renewed. But a calm state of mind is needed to enter the inner garden, and certain tests must be passed before entry is gained. The three dogs would then represent three qualities to access a place deep within the psyche. Let’s say those qualities are patience, perseverance, and positive attitude. I’ve seen dogs exhibit those qualities, so the dream’s use of dogs to guard the gate is right on. But why three heads? Because each quality has sub-qualities. Patience requires a person to live in the moment, discipline, and concentration. I can think of more associations, but three heads are enough for these dogs to get the point across that number nine shows layers of symmetry, usually grouped in threes. It can also be a sign that something is finished.

10. Since number one is a strong singular, ten is an elevation or completion of one. Ten can be a sign that the dreamer has “come full circle”, the zero (0) being a line that connects with itself.

11. I’ve found number eleven to be an ominous number ever since September 11, 2001. But it is also two 1s together and therefore a sign of two independent things that stand together and are complete in themselves. A strong marriage of two equals is an example. Those relationships have a certain magic, and so does number eleven in dreams.

12. Twelve is a number with strong associations to mysticism and the higher order of the universe. The zodiac has twelve astrological signs. Jesus had twelve apostles. Israel had twelve tribes back at the beginning. The Earth revolves around the sun in twelve months. Twelve is also midnight or noon, times that have associations: Midnight is the witching hour, and noon is lunch hour. Two minutes to midnight means on the cusp of big change or massive destruction.

However, the most common use of the number 12 that I have encountered in dreams is in connection with the completion of the psyche. It’s a subject that’s so deep, I can’t even begin to dig. But I can give you a good reference:

Symbolism of number 12

20-30-40. The elevation of number one that we get when adding a zero to make number ten is also seen in other numbers with zero added. Forty is like number four but with another dimension. Think of it this way: four sides make a rectangle, but add a zero and it makes a cube. It provides depth, shows the progress of time. It’s the leap from 2-D to 3-D.

The Bible has many examples of forty days: Noah’s flood, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Jesus in the desert, Christ’s return after death as the Holy Spirit. While forty in some cases can be a literal accounting of time, or a reference to age in dreams, its repetition in scripture indicates symbolic representation of a span of time until something comes to completion. Before Jesus went to the desert to fast and be tested by Satan, he was already complete, in a sense. He embodied the number 4 as a sign of holiness, or “whole-e-ness.” But after coming back from his 40 days in the desert he was a new man. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Numbers appear in dreams all sorts of ways. They appear directly on receipts, clocks, phones, buildings, and indirectly through groupings of characters and objects. We’ve discussed numbers used to give meaning to a hotel room number. I also know of big lottery winners who credited their dreams with thinking up the winning numbers. In one memorable case the winner had never played the lottery until a dream advised it was the right time. If I remember the story correctly, the winner didn’t even pick the number but had the computer do it. Ever since reading that somewhere I’ve been waiting for my lottery dream. And waiting. . .

Lottery Dreams: Interpret Meaning of Dream about Winning the Lottery

8 Responses

1. Liesl Bekker says:

Hi. thank you so much for replying to my mail and all the information provided. Just down the street from where I live there is a sigboard of some or other shop that reads “square circle” and it always intriques me, now I get why. I’m fascinated by the dream world and Jung’s work – I’m reading most of his books but I don’t get half of it. I wish there was a weekly group around here where I could discuss his ideas. I met someone a year ago who introduced me to dream analysis and the I-Ching. I met him through a friend for whom he was doing dream analysis…he is not a certified Jungian analyst but he seemed to know a lot. Unfortunately he lost his objectivity and I became uncomfortable discussing dreams with him. Since meeting and losing this person I really feel lost and confused. I recently had a dream where a black serpent came out of my mouth from my belly…while I was sitting with a group of elder people who encouraged me to “bring the serpent forward” around a beautiful tree. I wish the dream symbols were easier to get. I will start exploring my 64 number dream now…thank you.

Where do you live? Jungian dream groups are in pretty much every metro area of the Western world. Perhaps you could find an online group. I encourage you to look up Edgar Cayce’s ARE organization. They’re big into dream groups and they’re good people.

Sorry to hear about the person losing their objectivity. That’s a big pitfall in this sort of work … thinking you know better. I have to be careful of that, too, and fortunately I’ve had enough experiences of being proven wrong about a dream when I was sure I was right. So now I focus on leading people to their own conclusions. Give them the info they need to figure out their own dreams. It’s like the old saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

I have another website that explains my system of dream analysis in detail. Go to Dreams123.com. If you read through what I offer, please feel free to offer feedback. It’s a new site and I’m always looking to improve it.

• Liesl Bekker says:

I live near Cape Town in South Africa. There is a Jungian group I’m going to tomorrow evening but they don’t discuss dreams. They get various presenters on specific topics. The person who wanted to help me with my dreams fell in love and became jealous of other people in my life, sent me up to a 100 messages a day and said weird things to me (supossedly coming from dreams). According to him my dreams were telling me that my husband is not the right person for me, that I need him , that I’m regressing, that people I love feel nothing for me, that a friend and I are teaming up against him, that my son is carrying all my burdens…it was surreal. My youngest son is psychic and he (the dream catcher) was obsessed with him. In analyzing dreams he would say bisar things like “this dream means the Self made you his favourite” or “I’m going to get your Animus to love you just as much as I love you” . He was masturbating with words (thousands of words each day) and I still feel like a horrible person for breaking all contact with him – I feel horrible just telling you about this Thank you for the information on the Edgar organization. I’m going to visit Dreams 123 now, thank you.

I had so many comments to reply to that yours got buried. I just found it while searching for anything I hadn’t replied to. Unfortunately, dreams are like astrology in the sense that a person can make claims and there’s no way to verify or refute. However, good ol’ common sense and hunch come to the rescue. You know that the person who tried to manipulate you is full of shit. You did right to cut off all contact.

2. Liesl Elizabeth Bekker says:

Morning,
I have been working on my dreams for a while now but I am struggling, despite reading various books on the subject (mostly Jungian). Last night I had a dream about two huge squares and both are the number 64 squared and something about getting them to 32. I can’t recall the detail and it sounds absurd now that I am trying to explain. i just remember that as I was dreaming this I was aware of dreaming it and that I need to remember these numbers as they seem important. But now I can’t find anything on what it might mean. Do you have any suggestions or reading material that you can recommend?

Regards
Liesl Bekker

Hi Liesl,

The number 64 in dreams and numerology is potent. I’ve read various studies and opinions about it and unfortunately I can’t back trace my sources to link to them for you. But I can give you places to begin your exploration. I’ll list them in a moment.

Number 64 in a grid configuration tends to symbolize the path to your highest mission here on Earth. It’s used in the i ching to map your destiny. You might have encountered Jung’s forward to the iching. If not, begin there.

Your dream presents specific details that are important. The two huge squares … squares in dream symbolism tend to represent wholeness. Four equal lines represent the four main faces of the Self archetype, or the four primary mental functions. Look up what Jung writes about the tetrahedron, and explore further by looking up Dan Winter’s teachings about the dodecahedron. It’s a 3-D shape that underpins the geometry of the universe. A chessboard has 64 squares and are divided into 32 each of black and white. Plus, number 64 squared reminds me (for some reason) of the alchemical concept of “squaring the circle.” The most basic way to describe the idea is we begin in spirit as an undifferentiated, complete entity — a circle. Then we incarnate in the physical world (a square). We differentiate ourselves as individuals in this physical world and perceive ourselves as separate from the whole. That sums up the first 40-or-so years of the typical human life. Then we spend the second half of life figuring out how to reintegrate back into the whole as a differentiated entity. Jung identified this basic drive within the psyche as the most fundamental to human experience.

Before embarking on that exploration, familiarize yourself with the mathematics of 64.

Familiarize yourself with Jung’s basic concepts and ideas related to numbers.

Sorry that I can’t be more helpful. This is a subject waiting for me to explore in-depth. Good luck, and please return to share what you discover.

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