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12/12/12: When numbers align

Is Dec. 12, 2012 just another day, or does it signal something ... greater


When is a number just a number? And when is it something extraordinary?

Today is Dec. 12, 2012, or 12/12/12. It might feel like any other Wednesday — and perhaps it is — but entire fields of passionate pursuits, from scientific to metaphysical, exist to analyze the link between numbers, how they connect, how they line up. The coincidences that make us stop and say: “Wow.”

Vancouver resident Bonnie Freeman, born in 1956, felt that “wow” sensation after realizing she turns 56 on 12/12/12. Her excitement over birthdays ended years ago, but this one has piqued an interest due to the matching numbers in her birth year and age, as well as today’s date. The fascination compounded with the fact that last year, her daughter’s birthday was the sequential 09/10/11 and her son’s birthday was 11/01/11.

“I thought it was kind of cool,” she said. Not that she thinks it’s anything supernatural. “It’s a coincidence.”

Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center spokesman Brian Willoughby also thought it was “kind of cool” to discover that seven babies were born at the hospital on the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007.

The randomness of life

Skeptics say life is full of these occurrences, a byproduct of the inherent randomness of existence — if it can happen, it shouldn’t be too shocking when it does.

“It’s not magic, it’s not fate, it’s not a spiritual connection with someone else; if there’s a likelihood that something will happen, however small, it is explained by chance alone that it is bound to happen to some people at some time,” wrote Kyle Hill on the James Randi Educational Foundation website, a nonprofit famous for offering a yet-to-be-claimed $1 million reward to anyone who can show evidence of the paranormal under controlled conditions.

Jeanette Hieter feels much differently. For $90 an hour, she conducts energy healings and tarot card readings at the Vancouver “New Age metaphysical” store Celestial Awakenings, 6610 N.E. Highway 99.

“It’s one of the ways that the universe can communicate with you,” she said.

When you feel one of those “wow” moments, whether a certain song playing at just the right time or glancing at the clock and seeing it’s 11:11 a.m., Hieter believes that’s a cosmic clue. The meanings of the signs are up to you.

“If you feel a specific number means something special to you, the universe will begin to bide by the rule, or the belief, that you have,” she said. “If it happens and you feel something, that’s important to pay attention to.”

What is 12?

Twelve is a dozen, of course. It’s the amount of inches in a foot. And it’s an essential number in our culture’s tracking of time.

When you start to look, you’ll see 12s everywhere.

There are 12 apostles, 12 cranial nerves, 12 astronauts on the moon. The previous sentence had 12 words.

But for many, 12 is something much more than a few haphazard lists.

Megan Meek has been waiting in glee to turn 12 today. When looking at a school calendar on the first day of classes, the Battle Ground girl recognized the uniqueness of the date.

“I was like, I’m turning 12 this year and it’s going to be 12/12/12,” she said with delight.

Her friends “think it’s awesome” and it has become a running joke between them that the alignment of her 12th birthday with Dec. 12, 2012 will cause a “ripple in the space-time continuum.”

The connection between numbers, life, the universe — everything — isn’t a joke for numerologists, however.

Ends of the universe

Lynn Buess has explored the metaphysical meaning of numbers since the 1960s.

Numerology became a pursuit the 69-year-old believes has taken him, quite literally, to the ends of the universe. He used to live in Vancouver, but can’t recall exactly when he moved to Idaho. He said his understanding of the “dance” of life, and its relation to the numbers that can unlock its secrets, caused him to become “lost in time.”

Similar to astrology, numerology attempts to show the link between symbols, life and events — often attributed to a divine force — by placing certain characteristics to numerals.

Buess, a recognized figure in the metaphysical community in part because of his 1978 book “Numerology for the New Age,” said he became so in tune with the cosmos that in the early 1980s he was psychically sent into its furthest reaches. While he often wishes he were back in the “timelessness” of that celestial voyage, at the moment he feels his place is in this reality, studying the divinity of numbers.

Dec. 12, 2012, when broken down, appears to indicate we have reached a special time, Buess said.

It goes something like this: One is a number of action, a masculine and linear numeral that represents authority. Two is feminine, nurturing, circular. Placed together they are 12, but when combined become three, a creative and harmonious digit. There are three 1s and three 2s in 12/12/12, adding up to nine. That final number, Buess said, is a “finishing number,” representing attainment and accomplishment — the end of a cycle.

“What it really suggests is this time is a time of awakening, of a very accelerated time of human growth, and evolution, into a greater understanding of our place on the planet, of our place within the galaxy, of our place as evolving beings.”

‘Layers of connections’

While he also has spent hours analyzing 12/12/12 in recent weeks, Aziz Inan is much more by the numbers.

The University of Portland electrical engineering professor loves to scratch his head at the ways numerals can be flipped, twisted, swapped and massaged to find fascinating patterns. He’s particularly an enthusiast of palindrome dates, ones such as 11/02/2011 that read the same front to back.

“It is unique, the symmetry of it attracts peoples’ attention,” Inan said about today’s date, which like other combinations, inspires awe in him.

“Some people come up with meanings out of them; I’m not there yet,” he laughed.

Just because he sees numbers as just numbers doesn’t mean they aren’t important, he said. Infatuation with these symbols, over eras and across cultures, is a result of their vital connection to how we live, and understand, life: our time, our currency, our knowledge of large and small.

“The more I spend time looking at numbers and recognizing special patterns, the more it made me appreciate them,” Inan said. “There’s that deep dimension there, layers of connections between numbers that we ignore.”

Can number phenomena really be the mysterious language of the universe, God, Mother Earth? Or are they merely cosmic quirks?

When is a number just a number? And when is it something extraordinary?

There are a number of answers. You just have to pick your own.

Stover Harger III: 360-735-4530;; Twitter: col_hoods.