The Symbolic Meaning of the Number Twelve

The twelve is a number that consistently appears in ancient myths and legends together with modern day organised religions.

Statue of Mary Madonna in the Duomo, Naples
The 12 stars around the crown represent the houses of the zodiac

The 12 is essentially a continuation of the eleven whereby the initiate sets off along a new path in life. Whereas jitters are common with the eleven, the 12 signals that you have overcome those early fears and have acquired a higher state of consciousness, or understanding.

However, although you are settling into your new role, some old habits that do not serve you will still be lingering on, and may hold you back. But at this stage, your subconscious finds the knowledge you need so look for answers.

The twelve then is a combination of the one and the two whereby the initiate is learning new skills which we find in the mythical figure of Hermes/Mercury and the Magician in the tarot, the provider of wisdom to men.

The 12 in tarot is the Hanged Man, indicating you may need to make sacrifices in order to acquire new knowledge. The sacrifice may even be painful, such as a relationship break-up, but one you know is for the better good. Remember, you are evolving, and the people around you may not be!

The twelve in myth and religion

The 12 appears significantly throughout ancient myths and organised religions. There are numerous repetitions of the number 12 in the bible alone together with all the other popularised religions. In ancient oriental and Judaic traditions, the twelve corresponds to the completion of integration and is attributed to the cosmos.

In all the belief systems that have been passed down through the centuries, the 12 has a connection with the houses of the zodiac which in turn is inspired by the constellations of the cosmos. These are represented in myth and religions consistently.

For example, in Hindu mythology the sun is given 12 names, there are 12 Olympian Gods in the Greek pantheon and 12 Knights of the Round Table in the King Arthur legends. You will often find 12 stars in the halos of Christian saints like the statue of the Mary Madonna at the top of the page.

However, the true meaning of 12 in celestial terms is the 12 around the one, the houses of the zodiac around the sun; Jesus and 12 disciples, King Arthur and the 12 Knights of the Round Table.

There are even 12 Gods that serve the godhead Zeus in the Greek pantheon, but Dionysus and Hestia are (conveniently) interchanged so the assumption is there are only 12 gods in total….such is the manipulation and corruption of symbolic meanings over the centuries. We should be asking ourselves why…!

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