As I shall make clear, all attempts by the orthodox to solve the riddle of the number 666 and the remaining apocalyptic riddles have failed because these attempts have been based solely upon efforts to make of the Apocalypse a work of religious and/or political literature circumscribed by the old Hebrew tradition and the time period of the early Roman persecutions. They have failed further because they have not appreciated the very unique and ingenious quality of the book.

Had the orthodox looked beyond their own limited perspective; had they viewed the Apocalypse in the larger context of the classical Greek and Hellenistic Era the apocalyptic mysteries would have been relatively easy to decipher. They did not do so, however. Even to this day they continue not to do so. In consequence, humanity owes a great debt of gratitude to James Morgan Pryse for publishing in 1910 the secret key to decoding the true meaning of the Apocalypse. The knowledge contained therein is the birthright of every human being. Every human being has the right to know the truth that lies within himself.

ωδε ἡ σοφία ἐστίν: ὁ ἔχων νοῦν ψηφισάτω τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ θηρίου, ἀριθμὸς γὰρ ἀνθρώπου ἐστίν: καὶ ὁ ἀριθμὸς αὐτοῦ ἑξακόσιοι ἑξήκοντα ἕξ.[1]

According to Pryse, the "cleverness" (σοφία - sophia) of the puzzle of the number 666 lies in its very simplicity[2]. In the original Greek (highlighted), there is no specific article associated with the word man, it has been added in translation. Thus we might reasonably think of the "man" referred to in the passage in a more generalized manner instead of assuming the reference is to a specific individual, whether Roman emperor or leader of some competing religious faction. For instance, when a well known anthropologist writes of the "evolution of man," we know that the reference is not to a specific man, but rather to mankind as a whole. Or when a noted psychologist refers to the subconscious traits of "a man" we know the reference is to all men. The same could apply to the particular passage in question as well.

Recall that the author of the Apocalypse invites "he who has wisdom (νοῦς - nous)" to count the number of the beast. Pryse informs us that the words "ὁ νοῦς - o nous," happen to be the familiar term in classical Greek philosophy for philosophical insight or intellect[3]. This particular faculty was considered by the ancient philosophers to constitute the higher mind or noble and exalted portion of man, that part capable of intelligence over and above the mundane concerns of day to day life. To them it was the highest achievement of mankind to develop the powers of the intellect and thus to come into direct knowledge of reality, which they viewed as something distinct and superior to the lower realm of day to day experience.

To Pryse, the words "ὁ νοῦς - o nous" naturally suggest the correct answer to the riddle: "ἡ φρήν - he phren,"[4] which is the cognate term in Greek philosophy for the "lower mind", or the mundane part of man. That part subservient to the requirements of living in an experiential and physical world. Pryse calculates the numerical value of ἡ φρήν as 666[5]. It requires no alphabetical gymnastics nor translations of words in and out of two other languages to produce it. And, as the author of the Apocalypse implies, anyone with any degree of philosophic insight, or at least some formal training in philosophy, ought to be able to figure it out. So, following Pryse, let us tentatively identity ἡ φρήν - he phren as the solution to the riddle and see where it leads us.

Now as Pryse says, if this were the whole puzzle it would be juvenile[6]; but the number 666 and our tentative identification of ἡ φρήν - he phren as its solution are, in fact, only a part of and the clue to an elaborate word puzzle which in its entirety is remarkably ingenious. Following the lead of James Pryse, let us decode this puzzle.

In classical Greek philosophy the physical body of man is considered to be an objective microcosm, an epitome of the larger material world. To each aspect of the material world the human physical organs and their functions correspond and form an intimate and direct relationship. The Greek philosophers understood the body as the organism through which the immaterial soul, dwelling within every human, contacts and interacts with external nature. Thus, the body's various organs correspond to and are the respective instruments of the various powers and faculties of the soul. The details of these correspondences formed the basis of much speculation. While the several schools of thought in classical philosophy and the many specific philosophers describe and define these various correspondences somewhat differently, there exists a relatively broad area of general agreement.

According to Pryse, in classical Greek philosophy it was generally agreed that the human body has four principle life centers, which he terms the "somatic divisions.", from σῶμα - soma. These correspond to the four faculties of the soul and Pryse lists them as follows[7]:

  1. The head, or brain, the organ of the nous, or "higher mind."
  2. The region of the heart, including all of the organs above the diaphragm, the seat of the "lower mind" (the phren, or θυμὸς - thumos).
  3. The region of the abdomen or navel, the center of the passional nature (ἐπιθυμια - epithumia), comprising all the emotions, desires, appetites and passions.
  4. The procreative center, the seat of the vivifying forces on the "lowest," or animal plane of existence (ἀκρασια - akrasia).

In the Republic[8], in his exposition of the Analogy of the divided line, Plato describes the four faculties of the soul thus: Philosophical understanding (νόησις - noesis); Reasoning (διάνοια - dianoia); belief (πίστις - pistis); and, illusion (εἰκασία - eikasia). Also in the Republic[9], in his exposition of his Tripartite Theory of the Soul, Plato describes the soul as composed of: reason (nous), spirit (θυμὸς) and appetite (ἐπιθυμια); residing in the brain, chest and belly respectively. Pryse notes[10] that Plato assigns his four faculties of the soul to only three parts of the body. In regards to this, Pryse further says[11]: "Others, however, give the fourfold system, as does Philolaus[12], the Pythagorean, who placed the seat and germ (ἀρχή - arche) of reason in the head, that of the psychic principle in the heart, that of growth and germination in the navel, and that of seed and generation in the sexual parts."

This accounts for Pryse's choice of the key words in his list: (1) νοῦς - nous, (2) θυμὸς - thumos and (3) ἐπιθυμια - epithumia. So where does he get (4) ἀκρασια - akrasia? Pryse mentions[13] that Plato applies to the generational principle the word ἀκολασία - akolasia which has the same meaning and same numerical value. In fact, Plato uses both ἀκρασια - akrasia and ἀκολασία - akolasia extensively[14]. See also [15].

Thus, we can confirm that Pryse knew his Greek philosophy well and has not introduced anything unusual here. In fact, he has done us the service of providing a tidy summary of Greek philosophical thought that would take extensive cross referencing to duplicate otherwise. So let's continue with his exposition.

From his description you will notice that ἡ φρήν - he phren, which Pryse has identified as the apocalyptic "Beast," is the ruling faculty of one of his four somatic divisions of the physical body: (2) the phren and θυμὸς - thumos. From this correlation, Pryse naturally draws the logical inference that the three other animal symbols described in the Apocalypse likewise correspond to the three remaining somatic divisions he has outlined.

Accordingly, the Christian "Lamb," Ἰησους - Iesous, would of course represent the most philosophically exalted of these, ὁ νοῦς - o nous. Now as I noted earlier the word Ἰησους yields the numerical sum of 888. Curiously, and as I previously note[16], the literalists have long realized this number of Jesus the lamb, yet they consistently failed to make any connection between it and the number of the beast. Apparently, in their literalism they judged the number 666 to be the sole bit of relevant information.

According to Pryse, the apocalyptic red Dragon, "the old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan" fits into place as representing the third somatic division, ἐπιθυμια - epithumia. This word yields the number 555. The Greek philosophers generally held the notion that man's passions and natural appetites, which nearly universally they assigned to the navel/abdomen of the body, hindered the ascent of philosophic reason and intellect. Virtually all Greek philosophers held varying degrees of contempt for those parts of the body below the diaphragm.

Finally, the apocalyptic False Prophet takes his place as ruler of the fourth somatic division the generative principle ἀκρασια - akrasia, meaning sensuality, and/or ἀκολασια - akolasia, meaning incontinence, both having the same numerical value of 333. Of note as I shall later demonstrate, applying the term "False Prophet" to the action of this life center is significant in the implications aimed at the underlying tantric source of the Apocalypse.

If we place each of these four names, along with their corresponding numbers, in the form of a simple diagram representing Pryse's four somatic divisions of the human body, we may note readily, as does Pryse[17], that the puzzle is still only partly solved. For clearly the author of the Apocalypse intended a complete series of numbers. I've reproduced the illustration from page 26 of The Apocalypse Unsealed for reference. Select the thumbnail to display the image full size.

Gnostic Chart Concealed in the Apocalypse

According to Pryse, a space is left where the diagram, to fill out its meaning, requires the "good serpent." For its counterpart, "the bad serpent, the Devil and Satan" has already been included. Recall that to the classic Greek philosophers the uncontrolled human emotions and passions, including sex, hindered and prevented the ascent of wisdom and philosophic intelligence; in fact, they considered them to be the prime impediments to intellectual attainment and required relentless self discipline to master.

If in the Apocalypse the unbridled passions and emotions of man may be described allegorically as a bad serpent, this serpent then in a metaphysical sense symbolizes ignorance and superstitious belief. In fact, Plato refers to these specifically as πίστις - pistis "belief", εἰκασία - eikasia "illusion" and ἀκολασία - akolasia "incontinence" as embodied in ἐπιθυμια - epithumia, that is the region below the diaphragm, as noted above. Ignorance, superstitious belief and unconscious sex are indeed impediments to wisdom and intelligence. And I think we can agree fully with the Greek philosophers on this, although most, including Plato, would include any and all sex, without my qualification.

The counterpart of this metaphorical "bad serpent" in a metaphysical sense must be the opposites of ignorance and belief. These are knowledge and experience, for knowledge banishes ignorance as experience dispels belief. This second serpentine force, as I shall explain in due course, turns out to be the fundamental creative energy underlying human existence and I shall examine it at length in its proper place.

Pryse identifies this force in the New Testament where it is called the Paraclete (παράκλητος - parakletos)[18]. It is not named specifically in the Apocalypse, most likely because to do so would have rendered the puzzle transparent and given away the game too easily. Pryse describes it metaphorically as a spiraling electric current of an incredible voltage. This force reposes nearly dormant near the base of the spine supplying the merest trickle of life force sufficient to sustain the basic functions, where it awaits silently to be put into conscious activity by the creative person intelligent and brave enough to discover it. Whereupon it sends forth a triple current of creative energy through the human nervous system which force serves to awaken the individual man or woman to his or her true identity and full potential. If you think this is a concise description of the kundalini shakti[19] of the Upanishads and tantra, you are correct.

The spiraling electric force, "the coil of the serpent" is σπειρημα - speirema "coil". Its number is 444. I shall have much more to say about these "serpents" later. Arthur Avalon produced one of the better presentations about this subject[20].

According to Pryse[21], the strong action of this creative tripartite force upon the human brain produces noetic perception, or direct cognition, as defined by the classical philosophers, Plato's νόησις - noesis. This power, in terms of modern depth psychology, we would now define and describe most accurately as the faculty of intuition. Far from being the whimsical perception assigned by popular modern myth only to women, intuition is a powerful psychic faculty whose development and exercise is prerequisite to any real personal development and psychological integration.

To the classical philosophers this faculty is the highest degree of knowledge, which they called it ἐπιστημε - episteme. It is beautifully defined by Plato[22]. To express this in the diagram it becomes necessary to insert the word meaning "one who possesses this degree of knowledge:" ἐπιστημων - epistemon, the philosophic and also esoteric equivalent for the religious and exoteric word Χριστος - Christos. The numerical value of ἐπιστημων is 999.

Another space in the diagram then requires the "cross." Pryse reminds us to recall that in the exoteric story Ἰησους Χριστος - Iesous Christos (the nous of the philosophers and its faculty episteme) is crucified in Golgotha, the place called a skull[23]. This historically unknown place is thought by the literalist orthodox to have been a low knoll just outside of Jerusalem[24]. Luke, in fact, renames the place Calvary, a word supposedly derived from the Greek κρανιον - kranion and if so a further clue to its real meaning. Pryse places the mysterious Golgotha in the middle of the forehead and directly behind the eyes. It is the location of and corresponds to the pineal gland[25]. And it is here the triple current of the creative force ascending first through the sympathetic nervous system and then through the central neural system forms a cross of conscious energy, σταυρος - stauros, whose number is 777.

Further, the individual who has attained the personal experience of this higher degree of self knowledge and understanding forthwith experiences an expanded awareness of himself. This individual becomes "The Conqueror" of the Apocalypse: Ὀ Νικῶν - ho nikon, and everything that it symbolically represents. Ὀ Νικῶν is the allegorical hero of the apocalyptic drama and its name must be placed at the head of the list with its number 1,000. We shall discover in due course the true identity of the apocalyptic conqueror and its full significance. On this point, Pryse and I diverge. For Pryse, the conqueror represents only the individual engaged in the telestic work of self liberation[26]. For me, on the other hand, the conqueror represents no specific individual but instead the method through which any individual experience of the truths of the theory of consciousness of the Metaphysic of Ecstasy can be attained.

Finally, two additional terms, noted by Pryse but not included in his gnostic chart[27], which bear indirectly upon the ascent of the σπειρημα - speirema fill out the diagram. These are: αισια - aisia, meaning auspicious and from which is derived the word Asia; and, οικια - oikia, meaning home or dwelling. The number of αισια is 222 and the number of οικια is 111. The two terms taken together refer to an incarnation favourable to self understanding, as is the incarnation described in the Apocalypse. Thus, αισια becomes the favourable "homeland of the soul" and οικια is the house that is not divided against itself, the integrated personality.

Numbers of the Names

The diagram thus completed makes clear in outline the basics of the gnostic teaching hidden in the Apocalypse[28]. It treats of the σπειρημα - speirema and its energizing through the vital centers of the body as the individual attains consciousness of them and their many specialized modes of operation.

These various mental and psychic faculties and abilities comprise the vehicle of the self expression of consciousness within the individual human being. With expanded awareness, or realization of self, there results a symbolic rebirth, or "resurrection," of these faculties and abilities, which have been put on the back burner, so to say, during personal evolution.

They become transformed into what may best be defined as an unlimited vehicle of self expression. This is described allegorically and somewhat literally in the Apocalypse as the "solar body," (το σωμα ἡλιακον - to soma heliakon) because it is both self luminous and radiant. Self luminous in the sense of enlightening oneself by the power of intuition. Radiant in the sense of a radiating presence.

This unlimited solar vehicle of self expression is symbolized as a city which comes down out the sky, enveloped in the radiance (δοξα - he doxa) of the God. It is portrayed with poetic imagery of exquisite beauty.

The description of the city, with its wealth of detail, should well be enough to show very clearly what the city really is. But the author of the Apocalypse has supplied us conclusive proof of the true meaning of this symbol by inserting within the city's description a puzzle.

The angel who was talking with me had for a measure a golden reed, to measure the city, its gateways, and its wall. The city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as the width. He measured the city with the reed, by stadia, twelve thousand; its length, width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.

The expression "by stadia" (ἐπι σταδιον - epi stadion) shows that the measurement should not be mistaken simply and literally as stadia. It is rather to be understood as in comparison to stadia. In the authorized version, the very important preposition ἐπι - epi, "by," is omitted as redundant.

This merely demonstrates the untrustworthiness of a purely empirical and literal, as well as uncomprehending, translation. The preposition ἐπι - epi is hardly redundant. It is instead the significant clue to the correct solution of the riddle. Ἐπι - Epi indicates that we must make a comparison and not simply take the measurement in stadia.

The comparison intended is to the one other measurement of the time and place of Palestine which could reasonably be substituted for Greek stadia, or to stand "by stadia." We would say "to stand for." That measurement is very simply the ancient Jewish mile.

It naturally follows then that the figure should be reduced to Jewish miles. Therefore, by dividing the figure 12,000 by 7 1/2, the number of stadia to the Jewish mile, we obtain the quotient 1,600. This represents the numerical value of the three key words το σωμα ἡλιακον - to soma heliakon, "the solar body."

The "wall" of the solar body is simply its self luminous aura, or "radiance," (ἡ δοξα - he doxa). The letters of that name, however, amount to only a total of 143. As a puzzle therefore that number would be too transparent. Nor would it have harmonized with the other numbers given in relation to the celestial city.

The twelve thousand stadia, twelve gateways, twelve foundations, etc. all have a real or apparent reference to the zodiac. Therefore the author increased the value of he doxa to 144, the square of twelve, by adding another alpha. This additional alpha he calls "the measure of a man, that is, of an angel." In the kabalistic formula, "I am the Alpha and the O(mega), the first and the last," alpha is the symbol of the primal man, or naive level of self consciousness, before its long sojourn through phenomenal existence. O(mega) is the cognate symbol of the perfected man, the completed or integrated personality who has passed through the full cycle of conscious evolution and has attained to the final and mature level of self consciousness.

The Cubicle City Unfolded

The pointed reference to an angel (ἀγγέλος - aggelos) confirms this metaphor. The word is borrowed from the Essenes who used "angel" to refer to their Levite priests. Angels in the Apocalypse, however, symbolize most of the many powers of the human psyche. These in the naive state are largely unconscious. Only when we have attained conscious mastery of these various powers can we consider ourselves to be fully mature human beings and responsible for ourselves in a metaphysical sense.

The authorized version adds the words "according to" which render the passage meaningless. Even if we grant the existence of angels in the full literal sense, the passage would remain meaningless because there is no "measure" of immaterial things, angelic or otherwise.

The hierarchy of angelic beings, both holy and demonic, began in Essene theocracy and was elaborated by the orthodox by superstitious fabrication. The powers that angels symbolize are within ourselves. It is within ourselves that they must be first encountered and then mastered.

The heavenly city is described as having the form of a cube. To solve this element of the puzzle it is only necessary to unfold the cube. Thereby we disclose a Latin cross, which represents symbolically the human form, a man with outstretched arms.

Further, although the author also speaks of measuring "the city, its gateways, and its wall," he does not give the measure of the gateways. This is for the very obvious reason that it is wholly unnecessary. The word "gateway" (πυλῶν - pylon, from πυλη - pyle, "an orifice") sufficiently indicates the nature of these. They are the twelve orifices of the body. In the Sanskrit Upanishads the human body is often called the twelve (also nine, eleven and more) gated city of God's abode. As we shall presently see, the name "God" itself is yet another cipher.

[ Riddles of Revelation ] ~ [ Breaking the Code ] ~ [ Validating the Code ]


  1. Apocalypse, 13.18.
  2. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, John M. Pryse, New York, 1910, p25.
  3. Ibid. Also see Wikipedia and Wiktionary
  4. Ibid. Also see Wiktionary
  5. Ibid, p27.
  6. Ibid, p25.
  7. Ibid, p14.
  8. The Republic VI 509d-510a.
  9. The Republic IV.
  10. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, p15.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Philolaus of Croton, Fr. 13. Also see Stanford Univ.
  13. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, p28
  14. The Republic VIII-IX.
  15. Bobonich and Pierre Destrée (eds.), Akrasia in Greek Philosophy: From Socrates to Plotinus, Brill, Leiden, 2007;Reviewed Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  16. Dance of Ecstasy, The Riddles of Revelation.
  17. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, p28.
  18. Ibid, p11.
  19. Wikipedia.
  20. Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), The Serpent Power, Ganesh & Co, Madras (Chennai), 1913.
  21. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, pp28-29.
  22. The Republic V 477b.
  23. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, p86.
  24. For example: here here here
  25. James M. Pryse, The Apocalypse Unsealed, p16.
  26. Ibid, p29.
  27. Ibid, p36.
  28. Ibid, p29.


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