How to use your birthdate to decode your inner and outer personality types


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“Weird question, but when’s your birthday?” That’s something I always ask when I’m chatting up someone new— whether it’s a work acquaintance, a friend of a friend, or a potential love interest—in order to size them up based on their sun sign. Are they, say, a neat-freak Virgo or a wild-child Sagittarius? But as I recently found out, there’s more woo-woo wisdom to glean from someone’s DOB than their zodiac traits alone: enter numerology meanings.

The info can also illuminate your object of interest’s personal numerology, a system not unlike astrology that’s believed to give insight into one’s personality and life path. By adding up the digits in the month, day, and year you were born—and the numbers that correspond to the letters in your name—numerology believers feel you can gain a deeper understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and a sense of what you’re on here to achieve on the planet.

The same applies for gathering the numerology details about those around you. “I feel like numerology has made me a lot more sensitive to other peoples’ needs,” says Novalee Wilder, a certified numerologist based in New York City. “And if you want to stalk your crushes or your coworkers, it’s a fun way to start.” (Okay, now I’m listening.)

There are a few different schools of thought regarding numerology, each one slightly different from the next. She personally trained in the Chaldean tradition and considers it her go-to when working with clients it because it’s the oldest and most time-tested of the lot. It’s also super simple to pick up the basics of Wilder’s preferred style, which is good news if, like me, you’re the opposite of a math wiz. All you need to get started is a calculator and your own basic b-day stats. (Or those of whomever you’re creeping on.)

Keep reading for a quick and easy guide to numerology base numbers.

Base numbers in numerology
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If you go see a professional numerologist, they’ll likely calculate dozens of numbers for you based on your name and your birth date, all of which supposedly paint a picture of who you are. But if you’re just playing around on your own, Wilder recommends keeping it simple and focusing on your two base numbers, which she says reflect your most essential energetic vibration and how you show up in the world.

Your first base number is found by adding up the digits of the day you were born. (I was born on the 24th of the month, so that makes me a 6—found by adding 2+4.) “This is the biggest part of your personality,” says Wilder. “It’s the thing that everyone knows about you.”

To find your second base number, add up the digits of the year you were born. If you get a two-digit number, add those numbers until you reach a single digit. (I was born in 1982, and 1+9+8+2=20, and 2+0=2, making my second base number a 2.) If your first base number is an obvious aspect of who you are, the second one reflects your core essence—a side to you that others may not often see. “Your yearly base number represents the shadow in you,” Wilder explains. “It’s your inner life, how it feels inside to be you.”

When I first heard this, I was skeptical—I mean, I know hundreds of people born in the same year as me, and we all have different motivations and outlooks on life. However, Wilder has an explanation for this. “We’re all colored by our upbringing and society, but people born within the same year do feel a kinship,” she argues. “We think ‘Oh, it’s because we grew up in the same period of time,’ but when a whole generation is born in a given year, everyone born in a same year will share that vibration in their inner experience.”

Numerologists also work with the letters in people’s names, but Wilder says that’s a bit too advanced for beginners to tackle on their own. She’s also not convinced that the life-path number—calculated from adding the digits of the month, day, and year you were born—is as important as many numerologists believe. “Pythagorean numerology is big on your life-path number,” she says. “It’s totally a facet to who you are, but in my opinion, it’s just kind of a lesson—something that’s in the background of who you are and what you’re here for. It’s less actionable and illuminating than your two base numbers.” That said, it’s still easy enough to figure out. And when it comes to woo-woo self-discovery, there’s no such thing as too much, right?

Base numbers in numerology
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The base numbers, decoded

Once you’ve calculated your two base numbers, you can find their descriptions below, as outlined by Wilder. “As soon as you dive into your base numbers a little bit, so much will make sense,” she says. “If you’ve ignored who you are, it’s usually a big wake-up call—like, oh shit, I’m here for love, so I need to go work on that part a little bit more. The base numbers are the easiest and most impactful way of telling people about numerology.” Read on to get the what’s-what intel from Wilder herself.

1: The Leader

“There’s something a little bit childlike about a 1—the feeling you get from the firstborn or the only child. They’re leaders who need to tell people how it is. With a 1, there’s a sense of ‘Why even bother if I can’t be the best’?’ They only enter into things they know they can get success from. The biggest lessons for a 1 is learning to delegate and not micromanaging others.”

2: The Empath

“If the 1 is here to take action, the 2 is here to receive. They’re feminine, they’re sensitive, they have a deep emotional life. They’re usually so open and absorb the energy and vibration around them like a sponge. Nobody hates a 2—usually, when you meet a 2, you’re like, ‘They’re so nice!’ They adapt really quickly to whatever environment they’re in and are here to have fun.”

3: The Worker Bee

“It’s really important for a 3 to have success in their life—they’re really driven. They’re the hardest workers in the room, with a dry and sarcastic sense of humor, and they can really endure a lot. It’s important for a 3 to figure out that success is a state of mind. You can’t measure it by what you see, because the yardstick will always be moved farther away from you.”

4: The Revolutionary

“Fours are really innovative and here to shake it up, and they often like poking at authority. They’re like, ‘But what if we do it differently?’ A 4 is often the underdog, yet they are also magnetic and charming. They can be very quiet if they don’t think they have anything to contribute to the conversation, and they can seem a little mysterious.”

5: The Communicator

“People who are slaying the social media game are often 5s, because that form of sharing all the time is not hard for them. They’re natural connectors and talkers, and their pitfall is FOMO. They want to be out and about, but our nervous systems need rest.”

6: The Lover

“Sixes usually would do anything for their relationships. They are constantly in that relationship sphere and have the ability to harmonize groups. Love is what rules them. Their biggest theme they need to learn is boundaries. They’re kind of over-helpful and sacrifice themselves a bit.”

7: The Artist

“Seven is the gentlest base number—they are plugged into the invisible side of the world, and they don’t always know it, but they can kind of live in a daydream. They are highly creative, and if they’re not writers, musicians, actors, or poets, they fuse that into whatever else they’re doing. But that sensitivity can be tiring, and 7s usually need to build up their defenses.”

8: The Individualist

“Eights come with a big shield. They have a deep, profound inner world, and it can be hard sometimes for other people to understand what’s going on inside. Their big theme in life is passion. Often, 4s and 8s will hang out and get into romantic relationships because they understand they’re different and they are often misunderstood by the rest of the world.”

9: The Warrior

“Nines are born leaders, and they’re usually pretty bright people, but one of their big pitfalls is forgetting their heart. [A 9 can be] really angry [or a] diplomat. When you look at 9s and they’re doing a good job, you go, ‘Wow, that’s what a leader should look like. They’re so aware of their personal power and they’re not abusing it.’”

If you’re into numerology, you should also check out Human Design—it’s kind of like a woo-woo Myers-Briggs. Also, learn more about Chelsea Handler’s personality-test obsession: the enneagram

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