Why is 12 such a holy number?

  • In many religions, such as the Greeks, the number 12 is considered holy and sacred for many generations. There are 12 main gods in Greek mythology, Odin had 12 sons in Norse mythology, 12 disicples of Christ in Christinaity, and 12 Imams in the Islam religion.

    So why exactly is the number 12 considered sacred and holy by many religions?

    Note: This answer by naltipar has inspired my question. He has said this, which deems my question unanswered as of now:

    I have found no reference (and I believe there isn't any) as to why it is deemed a special number, apart from the fact that it had many mathematical properties, such as being the first number with six divisors.

    12 Sumerian Great Gods and 12 zodiac constellations.

    The moon month cuts the year into thirteen , but maybe early man had a month error in gauging the repetition of seasons, and once arithmetic developed 12 was a better base .

    As well as 12 mysterious symbols (including star) appearing on cylinder seal VA/243.

    I think this is how gods divided their sky segments by grouping the stars into 12 constellations (for example Taurus), so each constellation could be named after major gods (The Pantheon of Twelve).

    I wanted to say with this, that there was only a mathematical aspect of why it was considered a great number, but not any other meaning, which people worshipped 12 for.

  • This seems to be the answer as 12 is honored mathematically and religiously. In terms of math, it seems to be involved in lots of combinations as shown:

    The numbers 1,2 and 3 are all prime numbers and are symbolic of creation through the holy trinity. The number 12 would be reduced in numerology as 1+2=3, which means that the number 12 is also symbolic of the trinity. According to the rules of music vibration, we know that octaves of the fundamental vibration are created through multiplication or division from the number two. Two times twelve is 24 and half of 12 is 6. It is interesting to note that all prime numbers greater than 3 (the original trinity of prime numbers) are properties of the number six. The formula for creating prime numbers is 6n + 1where n is any number and + 1 is symbolic of unity or the original cause. For example: 6*2 = 12 and 12 – 1 is 11 and 12 + 1 is 13 and 11 and 13 are prime numbers. 6 *3 is 18 and 18 – 1 is 17 and 18 + 1 is 19 and both 17 and 19 are prime numbers.

    Religiously, it is known as the symbolic of the creation of the universe as it represents the division or fractionating of unity (God) into twelve individual distinct vibrations or tones. Of course, there is more to the number 12 in the religious way, but there is simply too much.

    Source: Sacred Science

    Although 12 is an interesting mathematical number, the other observations are a bit dubious. A quick scan of the author's homepage makes him look like bit of a numerology quack. For instance, the 1+2=3 observation requires using a base 10 system, which is not necessarily the most "natural" base to use.

    @congusbongus the base 10 remains the most commonly used base even among people who didn't exchange with each other at first because it makes sense to use your fingers to count. If men had 8 fingers base 8 would probably be more common

    @meneldal I just realized this: In primitive hunting cultures, when counting/signaling "one", "two" "many" , one and two can be the two hands, fist closed. Extra numbers could be a finger for each extra moose/enemy. And that makes twelve .

    @annav The usual inference for why base-12 counting systems arose is that you can use the thumb of your hand to count the 4x3 = 12 phalange segments on the other four fingers of that hand.

    @senshin it was just a flash idea, I have not read it anywhere. I was thinking of hunters ( i.e. distance and communicating).

    @congusbongus "numerology" and "quack" may be redundant, although number theory itself is quite legit.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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