One of Hermione Granger’s favorite subjects at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is Arithmancy. Arithmancy is not a fantasy subject that JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series, made up to entertain readers. It is an actual method of divination that is traced back all the way to the Ancient Greeks. According to Hermione Granger herself, Arithmancy is one of her favorite subjects at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry because it is scientific in nature, extremely precise, measurable, and an empirical, scientific method of divining the future. Arithmancy is used by learned wizards to divine the future in a way that is not possible through other charms, spells, or books. First used by the ancient Greeks, the practice of arithmancy is considered somewhat obscure, but the popularity of the Harry Potter books have allowed this lost art of divination to gain new interest from Harry Potter fans.
How does arithmancy work? It is believed that the way arithmancy was first used in ancient times was before an important battle. Historians believe that the Greeks used arithmancy to divine what the outcome of a battle would be, and in the process of divining a battle, it was hoped that the outcome of the battle could also be controlled. How did the ancient Greeks use arthimancy to divine the outcome of battles? The ancient Greeks would use arithmancy to assign values to the letters in the names their battle combatants. This, they believed, allowed them to divine the outcome of battles. Later in history, around the ninth century BC, it is also believed that the Chaldeans in Arabia also practiced a form of arithmancy. It is believed that the Chaldeans form of arithmancy had to do with dividing their alphabet into three separate parts. Each part was to be comprised of only seven letters. Then, each of these seven letters was attributed to the seven planets that had been discovered at that time.
In the world of Harry Potter, wizards in training learn and practice arithmancy as a way to help divine and predict the future. Moreover, the wizards in training in the Harry Potter books tend to use arithmancy in conjunction with other charms, spells, or forms of magic in order to increase their chances of predicting the future correctly. The type of arithmancy that Hermione and her Hogwarts wizard in training pals use is very similar to the ancient form practiced by the Greeks. To practice the most basic form of arithmancy, simply use the name of the people whom you want to learn more about. To begin, take their name and convert each letter in their name into a number. Every letter in the alphabet should correspond to a specific number. Once you have figured out which number goes with each letter, you must ‘reduce’ your numbers by adding them all up together until you are only left with one digit.
Now it starts to get interesting. When you are trying to convert someone’s name by the method of arithmancy, you will probably end up with three numbers for them (that is, before you reduce the numbers into one digit). The first number you get is called the character number, and it is thought to describe the personality type of that person. The second number is referred to as their heart number, and it represents that person’s inner desires and fears. The final number is called the social number, and it represents the person’s outer personality.
It is no surprise why Hermione loves arithmancy so much: it requires a good deal of thought and calculation to find the right numbers, and Hermione is always up to such a challenge.
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