The netert (goddess) Seshat is well described in numerous titles that ascribe two main types of activities to her. She is The Enumerator, Lady of Writing(s), Scribe, Head of the House of the Divine Books (Archives).
The Egyptian Sacred Numerology
The other aspect of Seshat and obviously closely related to it is one where she is described as the Lady of Builders.
The divine significance of numbers is personified in Ancient Egyptian traditions by Seshat, The Enumerator.
The Ancient Egyptians had a “scientific and organic system” of observing reality. Modern-day science is based on observing everything as dead (inanimate). Modern physical formulas in our science studies almost always exclude the vital phenomena throughout statistical analyses. For the Ancient Egyptians, the whole universe is animated.
Animism is the concept that all things in the universe are animated (energized) by life forces. This concurs, scientifically, with the kinetic theory, where each minute particle of any matter is in constant motion, i.e., energized with life forces.
In the animated world of Ancient Egypt, numbers did not simply designate quantities but instead were considered to be concrete definitions of energetic formative principles of nature. The Egyptians called these energetic principles neteru (gods).
For Egyptians, numbers were not just odd and even—they were male and female. Every part of the universe was/is a male or a female. There is no neutral (a thing). Unlike in English, where something is he, she, or it, in Egypt there was only he or she.
These animated numbers in Ancient Egypt were referred to by Plutarch, in Moralia Vol V, when he described the Egyptian 3-4-5 triangle:
The upright, therefore, may be likened to the male, the base to the female, and the hypotenuse to the child of both, and so Ausar [Osiris] may be regarded as the origin, Auset [Isis] as the recipient, and Heru [Horus] as perfected result. Three is the first perfect odd number: four is a square whose side is the even number two; but five is in some ways like to its father, and in some ways like to its mother, being made up of three and two. And panta [all] is a derivative of pente [five], and they speak of counting as “numbering by fives”. Five makes a square of itself.
The vitality and the interactions between these numbers shows how they are male and female, active and passive, vertical and horizontal, …etc.
The Ancient Egyptian mode of calculation had a direct relationship with natural processes, as well as metaphysical ones. Even the language employed in the Egyptian papyri serves to promote this sense of vitality, of living interaction. We see this understanding as an example in Item no. 38 of the papyrus known as the Rhind Papyrus, which reads,
I go three times into the hekat (a bushel, unit of volume), a seventh of me is added to me and I return fully satisfied.
Numbers were animated and personified. Likewise, calculations were personal in Ancient Egypt. We are part of the natural process in the universe. Even in our present-day, we hear the genius among us describe how they feel the subject of their excellence. They live their work in order to excel and exhilarate.
Egyptians manifested their knowledge of number mysticism and harmonical proportions in all aspects of their lives, such as art and architecture. The evidence that Egypt possessed this knowledge is commanding. As examples:
1 The heading of the Ancient Egyptian papyrus known as the Rhind (so-called “Mathematical”) Papyrus (1848-1801 BCE) reads,
2 Rules for enquiring into nature and for knowing all that exists, every mystery, every secret. The intent is very clear that Ancient Egyptians believed and set the rules for numbers and their interactions (so-called mathematics) as the basis for “all that exists”.
3 The famous Ancient Egyptian hymn of Leiden Papyrus J 350 confirms that number symbolism had been practiced in Egypt, at least since the Old Kingdom (2575–2150 BCE). It is a rare direct piece of evidence of the Egyptian knowledge of the subject. The Leiden Papyrus consists of an extended composition, describing the principle aspects of the ancient creation narratives. The system of numeration, in the Papyrus, identifies the principle/aspect of creation and matches each one with its symbolic number.This Egyptian papyrus consists of 27 stanzas, numbered from 1 to 9, then from 10 to 90 in tens, then from 100 to 900 in hundreds. Only 21 have been preserved. The first word of each is a sort of pun on the number concerned.The numbering system of this Egyptian Papyrus by itself is significant. The numbers 1 to 9, and then the powers 10, 20, 30, etc., now come to constitute the energetic foundations of physical forms.
4 All the design elements in Egyptian buildings (dimensions, proportions, numbers, …etc.) were based on the Egyptian number symbolism.
5 The Ancient Egyptian name for the largest temple in Egypt, namely the Karnak Temple Complex, is Apet-sut, which means Enumerator of the Places. The temple’s name speaks for itself. This temple started in the Middle Kingdom in ca. 1971 BCE, and was added to continuously for the next 1,500 years. The design and enumeration in this temple are consistent with the number symbolism of the physical creation of the universe.
The Egyptian concept of number symbolism was subsequently popularized in the West by and through the Greek Pythagoras (ca. 580–500 BCE). It is a known fact that Pythagoras studied for about 20 years in Egypt, soon after Egypt was open to Greek exploration and immigration (in the 7th century BCE).
Pythagoras and his immediate followers left nothing of their own writing. Yet, Western academia attributed to him and the so-called Pythagoreans, an open-ended list of major achievements. They were issued a blank check by Western academia.
Pythagoras and his followers are said to see numbers as divine concepts, ideas of the God who created a universe of infinite variety, and satisfying order, to a numerical pattern.
The same principles were stated more than 13 centuries before Pythagorus’ birth, in the heading of the Egyptian’s Rhind Papyrus, which promises,
Rules for enquiring into nature and for knowing all that exists, every mystery, every secret.