Saturday, May 2, 2015

Why We Fear the Number 666 - #Paranormal Postings

A few weeks ago, one of the little icons on Facebook notified me that I had some new "Likes" on my author page, so I flipped over to take a look.  While new fans always make me happy, the number on my page made me a little nervous...666 Likes.  Yikes!  Now, I'm a fan of everything spooky, but I still find this number a little unnerving.  So, in the vein of some of my posts looking into Superstitions, Black Cats, the Number 13, I decided to do a little research into why these three digits are considered evil.
The most straight-forward answer is the Bible.  And before I go further, I should note first that I'm no historian, I'm a novelist.  I get to deal in fiction, using my imagination to create mysterious hauntings and supernatural worlds.  In fact, several passages in the Bible, specifically the section in Genesis which discusses the Nephilim, became the inspiration for my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  So while I enjoy looking into the cultural, religious, and historical aspects of things that interest me, especially when it might spark a new idea, I do so as a novice without expertise on these subjects.

In most manuscripts of the New Testament, six hundred sixty-six is referred to as "the number of the beast" in Chapter 13 (there's that number again!) of the Book of Revelation.  This final Book of the Bible is sometimes known as The Apocalypse, and the author is identified as "John"...possibly the Apostle John but also possibly another prophet.  Evidence points to a date between 86 to 91 CE as the time of writing.  

In the Book of Revelation, two beasts appear, one from the sea, and one from the earth.  The first beast is given power, authority and a throne by the dragon (identified as Satan or the devil in other passages), and it blasphemes God.  This beast has the power to conquer God's people, and all inhabitants whose names have not been written in "the Lamb's book of life" will worship the beast.

The second beast emerges from the earth and is described as having horns and speaking like a dragon.  It exercises the authority of the first beast, and even causes fire to come down from the heavens.  This is the beast that forces all people to receive the "mark" on their right hands or foreheads, and this mark is "the name of the beast or the number of its name".  In the American Standard Version of the Bible, the passage Revelation 13:18 reads "Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six."  So, a horned beast with the speech of a dragon, rising from underground and commanding fire.  It certainly conjures up the present-day images of the Devil or demons who inhabit a fiery Hell.  

As with everything Biblical, many various interpretations of this statement exist.  One popular one is that the number was a kind of code for the Roman Emperor Nero, who, according to some historical sources, tortured Christians by lighting them on fire.  He was apparently a violent and tyrannical leader known for executions, including that of his mother.  He was also the first Roman Emperor to commit suicide, in 68 CE, after being declared a public enemy.  Many Christians believed Nero would return as the Antichrist. 

Not surprisingly, the number has been used as an ominous sign in many horror novels and movies...The Omen is probably the most well-known, as the creepy boy Damien had a birthmark of 666 on his scalp.

There is a name for the fear of the number 666: hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia. Personally I'm not a fan of the number, but my sister thought it was fairly amusing when she moved to a new zip code ending in 666.  Then again, she and I both love ghost stories and scary movies (The Exorcist is our favorite).  However, there have been some notable incidents of people going out of their way to avoid a connection with this number.  Nancy and Ronald Reagan changed the address of their new home in LA from 666 St. Cloud Road to 668.  A high school cross country runner, Codie Thacker, forfeited her chance to qualify for the state championships when she declined to run in the regionals with the bib number 666.  A US Representative had a legislative bill number changed from 666 to 702 to avoid "negative connotations".

If you enjoy a bit of spooky suspense and supernatural mystery (mixed with some steamy romance or forbidden first love), try one of my books: SILVER LAKE, GULL HARBOR, and DIVINE FALL.  While my genre is paranormal romantic suspense, not horror, you can expect a few shivers up your spine!  Happy Reading :)

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