The Hidden Meaning behind the Number 17 and the Path to Beyond
The number 17 holds a curious spot to many mysteries. As mentioned in the article entitled, The Mystifying and Recurrent Number of 17, the date of 17 appears numerous times in connection to the mystery of Rennes le Chateau.
It was also upon this date, the 17th of January, that Nicolas Flamel was believed to have succeeded in turning lead to gold. No proof of this actual transformation exists, and yet the tale, with the specific date, persists.
One has to wonder why this number continues to surface. In the case of Nicolas Flamel, could those who originally related the story have felt the number 17 conveyed a deeper layer of meaning and understanding to his life changing event? Couldn’t then this same hidden meaning be the reason for the other usages of the number?
Looking into the history of the number does provide an astonishing possibility. I feel, at least as one reason for the persistent use of 17 in the various enigmas, is its associations with the number 153, the fish, and most of all, the vesica piscis. Valuable insight is realized by exploring these relationships.
In the last chapter of the Gospel John, verse 11, the miraculous catch of fish is told. The tale states specifically that 153 large fish were netted by the disciples. Many scholars have debated on why such a precise number was applied. Some feel there is nothing to it; while others believe the number must possess a veiled knowledge.
An amazing aspect of the number 153 is that the first 17 integers sum to this number (1+2+3+4…..+17=153). This direct relationship between 17 and 153 was significant to St. Augustine. He believed the number 17 was special because it was the sum of the 7 gifts of the Spirit and the 10 commandments. This combination of the old and new covenant (Law and Spirit), and the fact that 153 encompassed the ‘first 17’, led St. Augustine to propose 153 saints will rise from the dead at the world’s end. Here, one may even question if the month January, as the ‘first’ month, along with the date 17, might allude to ‘first 17’, and therefore 153.
The number 153 is also one of the numbers used to illustrate the closest approximation to the square root of 3. 265/153=1.73206….(infinity). The square root of 3 is 1.732058…(infinity) and is extremely important to the vesica piscis. The vesica piscis, meaning ‘vessel of the fish’, is a shape formed by intersecting two circles with the same radius and with centers on the perimeter of the other. The square root of 3 is recognized to be the value of the central line of the vesica piscis. You could call it the major axis of these two combining worlds or circles.
Not only does the name vesica piscis translate to include fish, but the relationship to the number of 153 fish in the Bible verse is seen; for 153 is used to convey an important value of the ‘fish’ or vesica piscis (265/153). And as mentioned, 17 is equivalent to 153 by it being the sum of the first 17 integers.
This, to me, is interesting in relation to the following. One cause, recognized by scholars, for the held importance of 17, is that verse 17 of Numbers (chapter 24) in the Bible speaks of the coming star. This star is believed to refer to Christ. Many images of Christ show him within the vesica piscis and the fish symbol is celebrated in Christian belief.
Christ said he was the Truth, the Way, and the Life, and only through him can a person come to the Father (John 14:6). It is not difficult to then feel this joining of two circles, illustrates the coming together of two worlds (God and man); since Christ is often depicted in this space of the vesica piscis. The shape in the center exposes the way, truth, and life to something beyond. Support is realized from 153 being written for the amount of fish caught in the verse of John, and for 153 being one of the whole numbers used to express the cut through space of the vesica piscis.
But there is more to consider with the number 17. In the before mentioned article about the number, I shared 17 was held significant by those involved with the Cabala because path 17 is beleived to lead the righteous to reward. Here an incredible understanding between the number 17 and the vesica piscis can be understood.
In wondering why 17 is important and why it was linked as the path of righteous, an answer was given. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Proverbs 4:18, ‘The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn.’ Dawn is the coming together of night and day; of the moon and sun. This point in time, dawn, is given as a likeness for a path or doorway. The two circular, merging shapes of moon and sun, like the vesica piscis, impart a remarkable vision in one’s mind of this doorway; a path of the righteous.
Beautifully, written in the Bible is noticed a passage which describes the silver turning to gold; the moon combining, but also giving way to the sun. Dawn; A night turning into light. The verse of Proverbs 4:18 continues with, “shining brighter till the full light of day.” Once reading Borges, I noted he offered a perfect term for this ever growing light. He calls the peak, the shadowless hour. I think that term is just golden. All darkness dissolved by the midday sun.
Connectively, shown in one of Nicolas Flamel’s images is the sun and moon gathered together. It would seem reasonable to assume, the number 17 which is important to the story of Nicolas Flamel, may be because his turning lead to gold is allegorical for this realization of a path. An opening to a higher level.
The number 17 continues to be used and noticed throughout many mysteries concerning the search of a treasure. Although there certainly could be other hidden meanings, I feel this realization of gold, resulting from the vision given by the joining of worlds, is powerful. I hold it close to my heart.
As always I welcome constructive comments. I would love to hear what your thoughts are about night turning to day; what image or vision do you see?
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