Something for Nothing: The Zero

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

The Beginning and End of Things is a Number.

Numbers matter. Let’s face it; numbers make the world go, whether in time, in money, or in the highly sophisticated equations that make the simple day-to-day possible. The ancient mathematical philosophers believed that the study of numbers could reveal the laws of space and time and the principles of creation. Let’s all take a moment to go; those guys knew what they were talking about! In Greece, even numbers were feminine and passive, and odd numbers were masculine and active. For China, odd numbers were yang, and even numbers were yin. Numbers have a fascinating history, because you know, they’re everywhere. If we were to pick a number to discuss in one of our columns where would you start? Yep, at zero.

Zero is the number of potential. I mean, it’s before all other numbers. If you know, counting wasn’t enough for you; zero can represent the womb, an egg, or a seed due to its shape. All of those things reveal to us possibilities, thus reinforcing the idea of zero equaling potential.

The last digit added to most numerical systems was the zero. It represents an absence of values and is used as a placeholder in place value systems. Due to its numeric value, or lack thereof, zero can symbolize nothingness, death, void, and mystery. Thus making zero something that may symbolize beginnings and endings. It’s almost like a circle. Hey, wait a second! Maybe that is why the zero can also represent eternity. In Mayan glyphs, the cosmic spiral represented the zero.

When dealing with numbers, bigger is generally better. That is unless we’re discussing money owed, or the number of days until vacation. Nevertheless, in the mystical world of symbolism and numerology, bigger numbers represent more complex and intriguing things. At least that’s what all my books tell me. However, in my mind, a number that is all encompassing, one that is the beginning and the end, or even eternal, well in my mind, that is number that deserves to go before all others.

For someone who is horrible at math, I have to admit that I find numbers and the history of mathematics very interesting. Find that idea difficult to grasp, try starting at Wikipedia and see what you think. Here is Wikipedia’s number zero entry: