Numbers numbers numbers: NINE

Numbers numbers numbers: NINE

Early on in my other life I was hand-picked and hired to assist with budgets, to work with numbers. One of the higher-ups remarked that my spelling score was quite good for a “numbers person.” This amused me to no end, as I’d no inkling that a) anyone in the world considered me fluent with numbers, or b) that the mundane labor that comprised my livelihood had been noticed, much less evaluated, by someone beyond my small, three-person office (certainly no one noticed the writing I’d produced and published). More than a quarter century later, I’m still amused. And still working with numbers, which even now remain mysterious, magical, and even inspiring.

Take the number nine. Multiply it by two, and you get 18. Add the two digits that comprise 18, one and eight, and you get 9. Multiply it by three: 27. Total the two digits forming 27, and you get, yes, 9. Multiply it by four, by five, by six, by seven, eight or nine. Add the digits that comprise the sum and you return to nine. Interesting, no?

It appears everywhere. In Islamic cosmology, the universe is built of nine spheres. In Ancient Mexico, the netherworld consisted of nine layers. The magic square consists of nine parts. Beijing was designed as a center with eight streets. Hindu temple foundations contain jewels and nine distinct grains. The human body has nine openings. The number also appears in both sacrificial and healing rites. The River Styx bends nine times. I could go on (we haven’t scratched the surface), but will refrain.

But if this piece piques your curiosity, you might find this poem inspired by zero (a truly fascinating subject) of interest:

38 thoughts on “Numbers numbers numbers: NINE

    • It’s one of the little sanity checks you can use on basic arithmetic. Checking on even/odd parity is another one (if you added up nothing but even numbers and got an odd one out, there’s an error somewhere, for example). None of this proves you got your work right — you might have made a couple errors that hide one another’s signatures — but it can at least flag many of the simpler errors.


  1. The number nine features heavily in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, particularly in mandalas, such as the great Diamond World mandala which is nine squares, each divided into nine and said to be a visual representation of Absolute Reality. In Buddhist astrology, particularly prevalent in Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism, is the Nine Star Ki system of astrology based on the Magic Square. From Buddhism, the city of Kyoto was constructed on a grid of nine, as was the previous capital Nara (and that had been based on the layout of the Chinese city of Chang-an). The Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City in Beijing is based on nine – with the Emperor rotating his time around each sector during the year, following the movement of the stars around the heavens… And so it goes – the number nine is a fascinating study in Eastern thought, religion and astrology!


  2. Interesting post. I’m not a numbers person. I nearly quit school in the 5th grade over long division. Many thanks for visiting my blog. Feel free to come back each Friday for another new flash fiction story.


  3. So, why did Beijing end up with 8 instead of 9?

    “Beijing was designed as a center with eight streets.”

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!



  4. A trick for second and third graders learning multiplication facts: hold both your hands up in front of you, spread your fingers. If you’re doing 4 X 9, lower the fourth finger from the left; there will be three fingers up to the left of the lowered digit, 6 fingers up to the right, and the answer is 36. Works for all the nine facts.


  5. When I was a young boy (more than 70 years ago) I found out that in Mongolia 9 was a lucky number. I used it many times in lotteries and once won $7. So I expect a BIG win any moment.
    I’ll share it with you and your followers (the moment).


  6. Great, thought provoking blog post. I too am a numbers person. For some reason I have always thought I was the only one who thought this deeply about numbers. My numbers are 5,7 and 12. These numbers have followed me throughout my life in by birthdate, my husband’s birthdate and both of my children. You have definately inspired me to write about it now!


  7. Most enjoyable post. Numbers are as fascinating to me as words, though I have far less exposure to numbers. I once worked as an assistant to a CFO and was blown away by how often “coincidence” came up in numbers. Mind boggling. Also, the logic of numbers appealed to me as I worked with them.
    I was born on 3-21. How awesome are those numbers in that combination!? My whole life I’ve been drawn to the mathematical gymnastics that can be accomplished with those three digits.
    Thanks for your likes, which of course brought me to your blog and will in the future as well.


  8. Thank you for the math lesson. I must not have been awake in school when the teacher taught us about the numeral nine. I am fascinated with numbers, but failed basic Algebra – the letters made no sense.
    I enjoyed listening to the poetry of the nine vultures. And thank you for visiting my blog.


  9. It’s possible, and a bit fun, to work out rules where adding the digits of a number together tells you whether it’s divisible by (say) seven, or eleven, or any number you like, although three and nine have the ones that are the most fun and easiest to understand in my opinion.


  10. I love the way you write. Numbers also interest me, I lie in bed at times, and I just think about their combinations. I thought I was the only person who added the individual digits of numbers together, I’m glad I am not the only one.

    I must say, a woman’s body has ten openings, I counted myself. It’s a silly observation of my own, but nine is still an interesting number all the same.


  11. Have you ever read Charles Seife’s book “Zero”?
    Numbers are fun. I come to the ‘states from overseas, and suddenly I am a math genius because I can do basic algebra and mental math…sad.


  12. I didn’t know any of this about the number 9. It is my favorite number. I was born on the 9th day of the 3rd month. I am a huge fan of 3. Odd numbers in general and my nickname is Aud. Kinda funny.
    Interesting discussion, thanks for giving me something to think about. I like this post, but saw you have 99 likes I thought I’d leave it alone…. 🙂


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