By Wolfgang Held, extracted from “The Quality of Numbers One to Thirty-one“, published 1/03/12 by Floris Books.
Wolfgang Held was born in Germany in 1964. He worked for many years in the Mathematics and Astronomy section of the Goetheanum, where he now runs the publicity department. His latest book, ‘The Quality of Numbers One to Thirty-one’ explores the fascinating characteristics of numbers in relation to our lives. Throughout March we will be featuring selected edited extracts from this book. Today, the 14th of March, we are looking at the number 14.
The number 14 is twice seven, the second step in the seventimes table, and therefore, like that number, connected with time and development.
This is particularly apparent in human biography. School in Germany, Scandinavia and in Waldorf Schools begins during a child’s seventh year – that is, between the age of six and seven, when physical development is far enough advanced to allow intellectual development to begin, with writing, reading and arithmetic. At age 14 – or somewhat earlier today given good nutrition – soul maturity succeeds physical maturation, awakening in love for the opposite sex but also in enthusiasm for ideas and ideals. From being an ‘offspring’, one becomes a member of humankind. Thus it takes 14 years, or 14 steps, to come to belong fully to the human race. It is perhaps due to this that in the sixteenth century the idea formed of the 14 Stations of the Cross on the path to the Crucifixion. The sentencing of Christ, shouldering the cross and the first fall are the first three stations, while the fourteenth is the entombment of the body. Though enhanced in a great mythical image, this path also corresponds to the goal of becoming human. Another Christian tradition seems to be derived from this: the Catholic idea of the 14 holy helpers – saints and martyrs of the early Christian period to whom one can appeal at times of dire need.
Fourteen also surfaces as an important factor in the world of physics, in a realm quite opposite to the spiritual path of development. The French mathematician Auguste Bravais investigated the different means by which the tiniest particles in space can arrange themselves to form a crystal lattice. Table salt, for instance, forms a so-called ‘cubic face-centred lattice’. This means that the smallest structure is cube-shaped, with one atom respectively situated not only at the eight corners of such a conceived cube but also at the centre of the six faces or planes. Accordingly, a cube of this kind has 14 particles.
In Islamic number mysticism, this breadth of the number 14 is well known. There it is regarded as the number of the moon, since there are just about 14 days between new moon and full moon. It determines the rhythm in which the moon, as the bridge between earth and cosmos, grows to full size and fades away again to nothing. Thus 14 is a mediating rhythm between heaven and earth. Crystals, with their special relationship to the light, likewise stand in this heavenly-earthly axis, as do the birds we mentioned at the start.
The Quality of Numbers One to Thirty-one by Wolfgang Held is available for £7.99 from Watkins Books http://www.watkinsbooks.com/catalog/product/view/id/10408/s/the-quality-of-numbers-one-to-thirty-one/