Part of the Numbers in Thelema series.
666, The Biblical "Number of the Beast." Adopted by Aleister Crowley in his youth as part of his persona as "The Wickedest Man Alive" and "The Beast" (To Mega Therion). Later linked to a number of concepts in Thelema through Gematria.
|Table of contents|
The Beast of Revelation
AND I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. —Revelation of St. John the Divine, ch. 13, 1-18. (emphasis added)
Some translations of the Bible, citing different manuscripts, give the value 616 instead of 666.
666, the Beast, and Aleister Crowley
In his youth, because of his recalcitrance once he departed from the ways of his fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren parents, Crowley was referred to by (and gloried in) the title of "Beast." At Cambridge he not only accepted the title but expanded on it, calling himself "The Great Beast" and signing notes "666," the number taken from Chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation.
Later, through different Hebrew transliterations, he was able to derive the value 666 from his own name as "Aleister Crowley" and as "Aleister E. Crowley." The Greek phrase To Mega Therion ("The Great Beast") has the value of 666, as does the Greek word Therion ("Beast") when transliterated into Hebrew as ThRIVN. The Hebrew word AChIHA ("The Beast"—the usual spelling is ChIVA) has the value 666 when spelled "in full," i.e. ALP-ChITh-YVD-HH-ALP.
666 was the exhibit number attached to the Stele of Revealing in the Cairo Museum. Crowley also identified 666 with the Egyptian neteru glyph, meaning "gods" or "spirits." (The neteru glyph is visible at the left end of the third horizontal register on the obverse of the Stele.) When written NVThIRV, neteru has the value of 666. Finally, ANKH-F-N-KHONShU-T has the value of 666.
When Crowley was on the stand in a libel case, he was asked about his identification with the number 666. He replied, "It means merely sunlight. You may call me Little Sunshine."
Other Esoteric Meanings
666 is the value of Sorath the "Olympic" Solar spirit; and that of Ommo Satan, the "Evil Triad" of Satan-Typhon, Apophras, and Besz. (For the latter, see Crowley's "Rite of Sol" and the Neophyte ritual of the original Golden Dawn.)
666 is the value of Shem Yeheshuah, i.e. "The Name Jesus."
The name Kamuret from the Parsival legend also sums to 666.
William Wynn Westcott, a founder of the Golden Dawn, wrote a monograph on the topic of the number 666. His own initials, transliterated into Hebrew, give 6 6 6 (vau vau vau).
666 has a number of very interesting mathematical properties. As Crowley observed, it is the sum of the first 36 natural numbers. It is also the sum of the squares of the first 7 prime numbers. The first 144 digits of pi sum to 666. There are many other stunts that this number can be forced to perform.
- Crowley, Aleister (ed.) "Sepher Sephiroth" in The Qabalah of Aleister Crowley: Three Texts. New York : Samuel Weiser.
- Crowley, Aleister. (1991). The Equinox of the Gods. (Corrected facsimile edition.) New York : O.T.O./93 Publishing.
- Keith, Mike. (25 Sept 2004). "The Number of the Beast." Mike Keith's World of Numbers (http://users.aol.com/s6sj7gt/mike666.htm)
- Westcott, W. Wynn. (1993). The Number 666. Oxford, England : Mandrake Press.