Recently I’ve been reading a few books on Celtic mythology, including Rees’ Celtic Heritage and Peter Ellis’ A [not so] Brief History of the Druids, and one thing that was touched on at least briefly in both books was the importance of various numbers in the Celtic worldview. For instance, five and nine supposedly referenced the concept of “unity,” especially in Ireland.
Having just read that, I happened to walk by a billboard for Coke’s Dasani water today. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something like “5 steps for purification. 1 thirst-quenching drink.” Or something about as inane. In any case, it occurred to me that I can’t really think of many great examples of modern numerical symbolism, apart from the incredibly annoying “9-11 / 7-7” craze that’s going around right now. While that’s certainly symbolism, it’s not really the same thing as 5 representing the unity of your nation, or 7 representing the sacred. I realize that the latter is around in religion still, but I’m trying to think of a distinctly modern example and failing.
It seems to me that on the whole, modern society deals with numbers largely in terms of quantity and not symbolism. More is better, unless it’s price, in which case less is better. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, but I feel that it’s a sad thing that numbers have been so completely colonized by science that they’ve lost mythological meaning for the most part.
If you can think of examples of “modern” number mythology, please comment on this post. I’d be interested to see what people come up with.