The Significance of 33

By Joesph


Numbers are infinite, therefore you cannot cover all the knowledge and information of a number as much as we’d like to but for this post, we will be focusing on a very important aspect of the number 33, which is in accordance with the human spinal column. We will be exploring the fascinating symbolism and metaphors inherent within multiple religions and mythos. To begin our journey, there are 33 vertebrae in the human spine. The spine can be likened to a beautiful tuning fork that also resonates its various pitches and tones. When in alignment, we are vibrating harmoniously. The dissonance created when we are not in alignment makes us more apt to dis-ease. We can call these chakras, psychic centers, or vortexes, but in physical representation they are manifest as our gland centers: the pineal gland (crown), the pituitary (third eye), the thyroid (throat), the thymus (heart), the pancreas (solar plexus), the gonad (sacral) and the adrenal glands (root).

The lower chakras and faculties focus on survival and are of lower nature (not to be confused with negative or of being less importance than the higher) which represent our more animalistic, primal and base emotions, appetites and desires. The upper chakras are of a higher nature, that which can be considered more divine or of higher virtue. Humans vibrate 33 octaves above the Schumann resonance, and you can consider yourself a beautiful instrument in the orchestra that is the cosmos. As humans we have the animalistic aspect of being mammals, but also the potential of being more than either animal and human. We have the potential to be divinity itself. This choice is of course ours and ours alone. This is the universal dance between positive and negative polarity (again, not to be confused with “good” or “bad”). The dance between these forces is universal–Positive and Negative, Active and Passive, Sun and Moon, Shiva and Shakti, Masculine and Feminine, Ying and Yang. The spine is what some in myth and spiritual content have called the “middle path” or the “narrow path”. The kundalini energy force within us climbs this ladder. We also see what is most commonly called “Ida” and “Pingala” which are the positive and negative forces that criss cross the central channel up the spine through the psychic centers to find equilibrium.

We can look at a few allegories–

Christianity – In Christianity the allegorical depiction of Jesus “dying” at age “33” becomes rather apparent. He has “graduated” his spine and mastered material reality by knowing how to use these higher faculties and losing the animalistic nature and urges of the lower base chakras. This can be seen most notably in the depiction of him with the upward chamber of his heart being illuminated into the higher chakras.

Garden of Eden –  Adam and Eve again represent the two polarities we have discussed. At the same time, this allegory specifically focuses on what is called the Tree of Good and Evil. This power we have within all of us can be directed by us. It has many names; Kundalini, Chi, Prana, Life Force etc. We have a responsibility in using this power. We can either be tempted by the “apple” with earthly appetites, desires, and pleasures, or we can channel that energy and direct it towards higher more divine ideals. As we are dualistic in nature and choose our destiny, we can be as animalistic or divine as we choose. ​

Greek Mythology –  Our spine is that which receives information through our psychic centers. This is symbolized by Hermes, the messenger of the gods carrying what we call a staff or caduceus depicting two serpents (positive and negative) scaling this scepter to what is usually wings or a pinecone (which represents our pineal gland) at the top. This is also our medical symbol which represents the healthy union of positive and negative polarities.
Buddhism – The Middle Way – Madhyamāpratipad  – The realization of being free of the one-sidedness of perspective that takes the extremes of any polarity as objective reality.”Everything exists”: That is one extreme. (Positive + )
“Everything doesn’t exist”: That is a second extreme. (Negative – )
By avoiding these two extremes, you are traveling the middle path.
Kabbalah – Here we see the number 33 again. There are 10 Sephiroth, 22 Pathways, and 1 hidden Sephiroth we call Daa’th.  There are three pillars as well (just like the Sushumna, Ida and Pingala). The central pillar is called mildness, the right pillar (the pillar of force) is call mercy (+). and the left pillar (the pillar of form) is called severity (-). To get in depth about the Qabalic tree takes lifetimes, so for time’s sake we shall only focus on its correlation of the spine.
The right pillar is masculine, represented by the upward triangle, the obelisk, the sword, the phallus etc; and represents initiation, that which begins a process.
The left pillar is feminine, represented by the downward triangle, the yoni, and womb, which represents potential–that which initiation interacts with to create manifestation. Just as a sperm (+) and egg (-) are both inert until combined. When you combine and superimpose these triangles, we have the seal of Solomon, more commonly known as the Jewish star. Alas, we have 2, 3-sided triangles in perfect union (3,3 = 33)At the center of the central pillar we have the Moon (feminine) and Tiphareth the sun (masculine) leading up to Keter which is the crown. If we travel up either of the left or right paths, we become imbalanced, tilting to one side. But if we move upward through the central pillar, we find equilibrium. Tiphareth, the Sun, is at the center of this tree. That which balances the traditional seven planets are microcosmically represented and correspond to our seven chakras. The sun represents our heart, which can balance our planets (chakras) and bring all the things and circumstances that orbit around our center into our life.
Masonic – The highest degree one can achieve in freemasonry is the 33rd degree. The first three degrees of freemasonry are of the Blue Lodge which correspond to the first three nerves of the spine in the sympathetic nervous system which are blue. The journey of self realization related to the traveling upwards through the spine and its energetic faculties.
From the smallest atom to the largest universe there is a dance between two forces. One is homogenous and one is heterogenous. One is active and one is passive. We can label these forces based on their attributes however we’d like, and we can find infinite metaphors that depict this dance across various cultures. I’ve shared only a few, but with a keen awareness one will be able to notice all the representations hidden in plain sight. One way of using this knowledge to our advantage is to realize that the universe is filled with the micro and macro cycles of this dance. Some lasting fractions of a moment, some taking over 26,000 years to complete. The world is where it needs to be. The pendulum swings from masculine back to feminine and vice versa over and over again. It always has and always will.  The world we desire to see will arrive when it is time. But we must keep in mind we are in the dance. All rebirths come with their pains, but after those pains, the rewards were so worth it. The universe is always in perfect balance, whether our human judgement and perspective is able to see that or not. Let us remember that darkness is not the opposite of light–it is the absence of it. It is there to allow us to see the light, for without contrast it would be nothing but blinding. Seeing things from a universal perspective will leave us with nothing but gratitude to be a part of the great dance of life.
(Picture via Pinterest)

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