The counting-house: Numerologists say that character and birth dates all add up. Sarah Lewis meets a woman who believes that two and two equals reliability

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The Independent Culture
Those for whom the name Pythagoras conjures up images of boring maths lessons will be heartened to learn that there is more to this particular Greek philosopher than meets the eye.

On top of sussing the square of the hypotenuse, Pythagoras is also the main Western proponent of numerology. Numerology is the study of numbers as a means to self-awareness and understanding. It is a philosophy which dates back thousands of years, to systems of divination as diverse as the I Ching and Celtic mysticism.

A couple of millennia later, Claudine Aegerter practises the art in her front room in Hertfordshire. Despite the potentially dry subject matter, she is no dull number cruncher; her passion for the subject elevates her words almost to the poetic: the whole luxury-wrapped in a French-Swiss accent.

She explains: 'When we learn to meet numbers and know them, we can start to see patterns and cycles and make sense of where we have been, where we are and may well be in the future. Numbers are the first digits of memory. They are as old as the formation of the world and when we study numerology we open up this world.'

The first point of reference in a reading is your date of birth. We all have a set of numbers based on our astrological chart. Each number signifies positive attributes and negative traits. For example, 'one' is the number of leadership, whereas 'four' is a more reliable sort. 'Five' denotes creative curiosity and is often found in scientists' charts, while 'eight' signifies organisational abilities.

Everyone has an overall number. Produce it by adding the eight in your birth date together to form a single digit (thus 25/12/1965 becomes 31 which in turn becomes 4). Mine, she tells me, is 'three': the number of self-expression, creativity and enthusiasm. It's not all good news, however; the flip side is cynicism, exaggeration and worry . . . Fortunately, 'four' also figures in my chart to balance 'three', which Claudine vividly describes as 'wanting to run off and have a good time, whereas 'four' will channel the enthusiasm in a methodical way'. Leaving me to ponder this, she transformed my date of birth into a numerological web harbouring information about my past, present and future.

Claudine leaves you with the distinct impression that she knows more than she lets on. Her insights into my history and aspirations were uncannily accurate. She avoids future predictions because of the risk of self- fulfilling prophecy, but did hint that 'if I told you you would be getting married in the next three years, you wouldn't prepare yourself for it properly.'

For Mme Aegerter, numerology is no New Age fad. 'I've been involved with philosophy, psychology and numerology since I was 10. I realised numerology was something I could do, and it was more of a case of it coming for me rather than me going for it.'

She is about to open a school, called 'Connaissance', in Perivale, Middlesex. 'The aim of the school is to break down conditioning. We are about to enter the 21st century and we need to look forward and embrace philosophies such as numerology.'

Notwithstanding talk of the next century, she also has the ability to delve into past lives. It would seem that I've had a colourful past as a prophet in Persia, a herbal healer in China, and a seer in Egypt, the latter incarnation as 'a real spoilt brat,' as Claudine put it. A case of plus ca change, perhaps . . .?

'Connaissance', Research House, PO Box 131, Fraser Road, Perivale, Middlesex, UB6 7DX.

Phone: 081 810 5644; Fax: 081 810 5645. Courses start this month.

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