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The Surprising Meaning of Number Five

There is no escaping the number five, whether due to its place in the universal celebration phrase (High five!), physiology, mathematics, numerology, culture, or religion. To some, the number five is an important number.  This article offers a brief look at the importance of this number across the globe.

Number five meaning

What is The Number Five?

The number five is a numeral and a digit that comes between four and six. Throughout history, this digit has attained significance in various cultures and religions, predominantly representing curiosity, luck, adventure, and others. Five is associated with various things, from mundane symbolism, like luck, to more bizarre concepts, such as necromancy and future predictions.

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Most human beings have five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. Additionally, the senses that we use to experience and enjoy life are five in number: the sense of smell, touch, sight, hearing, and taste.

For this reason, the number five has been accorded with regard by different cultures, disciplines, and religions for centuries. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the symbolic meanings attached to the digit are endless.

Superstitions About Five

Chanel number 5

Five was so significant to fashion icon Coco Chanel, who believed it was a lucky number. When having her perfume created, she picked the fifth sample presented to her, and later stated: “I present my dress collections on the fifth of May, the fifth month of the year and so we will let this sample number five keep the name it has already, it will bring good luck”.

And she wasn’t wrong – Chanel No. 5 became one of the world’s most famous scents and continues to be one of the most expensive and sought-after perfumes.

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To the Chinese, five is a lucky number and people with this number tend to be free in nature, who fight against restrictions. They’re believed to be extroverts, quick, and intelligent, but can also be viewed as superficial and demanding.

Number Five in Mathematics

The number five has a considerable significance in mathematics.

  • Firstly, it is the sum of the first odd number(3), and the first even number(2). Consequently, it has become a symbol of life and marriage in Pythagorean culture. This is because, in the said culture, the number 2 represents female, while the number 3 represents the male.
  • Secondly, 5 is the third prime number and the first good prime number. Primes are natural numbers greater than one that aren’t products of smaller numbers, while good primes are primes with squares greater than the product of primes with the same number of positions.
  • Thirdly, 5 is considered to be the first safe prime number and the only number that occurs in more than one pair of twin primes.
  • Additionally, there are five Pythagorean platonic solids: the tetrahedron, icosahedron, cube, dodecahedron, and octahedron.

Number Five in Science

Just like in mathematics, the significance of the number 5 in science is inexhaustible. The significance of the number 5 can be seen in many of the characteristics of animals and chemicals. Some of these facets include:

  • The physiology of most reptiles, amphibians, and mammals ( including humans) includes five fingers and/or toes in each limb. Moreover, as aforementioned, the most important senses that make life enjoyable are five in number.
  • All earthworms have five hearts, while almost all starfish have five arms.
  • In Astronomy, there are five Lagrangian points for the sun-earth system as well as for the moon-earth system. Lagrange points are locations in space where small masses are capable of orbiting due to the constant pull of larger masses, such as the sun, moon, and earth.

Symbolism in Numerology

In numerology (the study of numbers), 5 is associated with the planet Mercury and is symbolic of freedom, change, and curiosity. The planet mercury is also associated with the five senses mentioned in the scientific significance above. Other significances of number five in numerology include:

  • We each have five traditional core numbers as follows: your birthday number, your life path number, your expression number, your heart’s desire number, and your personality number.
  • 5 symbolizes human beings because we are controlled by one head and four limbs, all totaling to 5.
  • Being the number of Mercury, 5 is the lucky number for Virgo and Gemini star signs. People with these star signs are said to be a charismatic and cheerful lot who like to have fun and can easily cope with difficulties. These people associated with 5 are excellent communicators, impulsive in nature, and prone to challenging their intellectual capabilities. In addition, they are usually spiritually aware, value life, and live it to the fullest.
  • When it comes to house numbers, numerologists believe that house number 5 is usually a space meant for progressive, adventurous, and fun-loving people. Such houses are believed to help their occupants manage their fears and be more daring. They are perfect for creative, vibrant people, and most ideally, single people.

Symbolism of Number 5 In Culture

Pentacle and elements
The elemental pentagram

Ancient Greeks believed that five elements make up the universe. These elements are earth, water, air, fire, and ether or spirit. This concept was passed on to the medieval alchemists and later was adopted by the Neopagan religions.

The Japanese calendar has five days of the week, which are also named based on the five elements: earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. The ancient Japanese also believe that there are five planets, which were the ones they could easily spot.

In Babylonian and Roman cultures, the goddess of love is known as Ishtar and Venus, respectively. In both cultures, the goddess is represented by the five-pointed star, the Pentagram. These traditions have given rise to the “lovers knot”, a knot tied in the form of a pentagram. As such, number 5 has come to be associated with love.

In Manichaeism history, 5 is an essential number across traditions. For instance, they believe that the first man had five sons, there are five elements of light, namely clean (wind, water, fire, light ether), and five elements of darkness, namely wind, water, fire, light ether. The Mani further believed that the human body has five parts and that there are five virtues and five vices.

The Mayans also hold number 5 as important. They place a fifth point to the center of the four compass points to provide balance. Mayans also believe that the human body is made up of five parts (two arms, two legs, and one head) 

According to Chinese philosophy, there are five virtues that, when practiced, produce perfection. They are generosity, gravity, kindness, sincerity, and earnestness. Five is also associated with luck and positivity.

Symbolism of 5 In Religion

cut apple to reveal 5 star in the middle
The ‘pentagram’ within the apple

In Hinduism, 5 symbolizes the physical body, the earth, and the elements of life: Prithvi (earth), Apas (water), Agni (fire), Vayu (air), and Akasha (ether).

In Christianity, 5 is an important recurring representation of God being good to man and showing favor to him. There are numerous instances where the importance of 5 has been displayed:

  • The Ten Commandments were given in two sets, each with five commandments. One set was a guide on how the Israelites ought to interact with God, while the other set was a guide on how they ought to interact with each other.
  • During the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, he suffered five wounds: on the chest, on each foot, and through each hand.
  • The Pentateuch, which is the name given to the books given to Moses, is composed of five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

Islam is another religion that pays respect to number five. For instance, Muslims are required to pray five times to Allah on a daily basis. Additionally, to attain a virtuous state, the faithful are required to follow five obligations, called the Five Pillars, which are namely Shahada (profession of faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (alms), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage).

In Sikhism, five cuts across symbolic items, virtues, and evils. For instance, Guru Gobind Singh established five Amritdhari as follows: Kangha (wooden comb that represents morality), Kara (steel bracelet that represents strength and integrity), Kirpan (a weapon that represents courage and willingness to stand up for the weak), Kachhera (cotton shirt that represent self-control), and Kesh (uncut hair which represents saintliness)

In addition to the above mentioned, the five virtues include: Sat, Daya, Santokh, Nimrata, and Pyaar, meaning truth, compassion, contentment, humility, and love, respectively. Lastly, the five evils include Kam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh, Ahankar, meaning lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego, respectively.

In Occultism, 5 plays a prominent role in necromancy. Objects or people arranged in fives are believed to trap demons so they can be compelled to do humans’ bidding.

Symbols Based on Number Five

  • Pentagram – This is a five-pointed star perceived as a sacred symbol in various religions, including Christianity, Wicca, Baha’i, Satanism, Thelema, Freemasonry, and Taoism. For example, the Pentagram is a Christian symbol representing wisdom and power to choose your own path. This is because when cut in the middle, an apple’s seeds form a pentagram, and this is the fruit that Eve gave to Adam, leading to his eyes being opened. Additionally, in several other religions, the five points of the Pentagram represent the five elements.
  • Haykal – This is the Baha’i five-pointed star. The Haykal stands means ‘temple,” and its five points stand for one head, two hands, and two feet.
  • Hamsa Hand – This popular Middle Eastern symbol can now be found across the globe, used in fashion, jewelry, tattoos, décor, and more. Hamsa means five, and the symbol features a hand with fingers either close together or spread lightly apart. Sometimes, an eye (nazar) is depicted at its center. The Hamsa hand is also known as the Hand of Miriam by Jews, and the Hand of Fatima by Muslims. It represents protection from the evil eye.
  • The Luther Rose – The Luther Rose is a symbol of Lutheranism. It was designed by Luther to represent his ideology. The symbol shows a rose with five petals.
  • Olympic Rings – The Olympic Rings features five interlocked rings, each of a different color, representing the five continents – Europe (Blue), Asia (Yellow), America (Red), Oceania (Green), and Africa (Black).

Wrapping Up

As demonstrated, five is such an indispensable number that its symbolic meanings are inexhaustible. Across cultures, 5 is believed to lead us to physical and spiritual awareness. It holds significance across religions, mythologies, and in a wide range of subjects, including math, science, astronomy, alchemy, and others.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.