The importance of 10-10-10

10-10-10 has been dubbed an auspicious day by the founders of global environmental and spiritual events. The Power of One is sponsoring “The Inauguration of a New Civilization” with a day-long event in Washington, DC. They are hoping to use the day as a launching pad for this mission:

10.10.10 Humanity’s Date with Destiny is a worldwide invitation to begin a new era of planetary healing, global community, and co-creative partnership with all life. In the powerful venue of the National Mall, 10.10.10 invites humanity to begin the new era by coming together to make a profound, historic and visible demonstration of the collective will to form the Founding Family of the New World.

Additionally, 10:10 Global, an organization launched on June 5th, 2010, is urging us to cut our carbon emissions by 10% in a year, starting in 2010. As they say on their website, “Any person, family, business, school or other organization can cut 10% – and by working together we can make sure our actions count.” They have combined with international campaign group, founded by Bill McKibben (author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, which I want to read but haven’t yet), to coordinate Sunday, October 10, 2010 as “the biggest-ever day of positive action on climate change.”

Together we can trigger a tidal wave of emissions reductions and send a powerful message to world leaders that we are already two steps ahead: Busy cutting carbon in local communities, businesses and organizations on every continent.

Thousands of events are planned around the world: in Croatia and Russia 10,000 schools are planting trees; in the Netherlands there’s a carbon-cutting TV telethon; in Japan sumo wrestlers are cycling to training in Japan; in India and The Maldives solar installations are going up on the homes of world leaders. (from

I love the idea, and I am inspired by the global commitment to change – both spiritually and environmentally. Additionally, these global movements are a testament to our fairly newfound interconnectedness (via the internet and other quick and easy forms of communication). Perhaps our greatest hope in this time of environmental (and spiritual) unbalance is the power of communication, which does make their label apt: it is “the power of one” that will help us change. More than we have been historically, we are now, unintentionally perhaps, but auspiciously, becoming one – becoming wiser, as a whole, kinder, as a whole, more caring, as a whole, and more committed, as a whole, to lessening our impact on the earth.

What is the significance of the number 10? Angeles Arrien, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist and educator, explains the number mythically, through the ancient meaning of the “Wheel of Fortune,” the 10th tarot card in the Major Arcana.

Wheel of Fortune is the universal principle of abundance, prosperity and expansion. In astrological terms this is Jupiter, the planet of luck, opportunity, and abundance. This symbol reminds us that like the goddess Fortuna in Roman mythology…we can turn our lives in more fortunate and positive directions by being objective like the Sphinx, flexible like the monkey, and reaching for new opportunities and ways to express our creative power like the crocodile [all pictured on the card]. (Arrien 63)

Perhaps the day is auspicious, with this alignment of tens, to bring us luck and opportunity! She continues:

The only thing that could stop the Wheel of Fortune would be to adhere to old patterns of doing things the same way (the opposite of the crocodile), to be rigid and inflexible (the opposite of the monkey), and to be judgmental, opinionated and attached to certain beliefs and ways of doing things (the opposite of the Sphinx). (Arrien 64).

Certainly we, as a human race, cannot adhere to old patterns and beliefs – look where they have gotten us! We must change, and we must do it soon. What better time that 10-10-10? The Wheel of Fortune may just roll us in a new direction, if we will be open to it.

Caroline Myss discusses the significance of the number ten in accordance with the teachings of ancient Judaism in her best-selling book, Anatomy of the Spirit.  She explains,

In the medieval Kabbalah the ten sefirot describe the ten qualities of the Divine nature…often portrayed as an upside-down mythical Tree of Life with its roots in the heavens above.  The ten sefirot are considered the Divine blueprint of the teaching that “the human being is created in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27)…The Divine shares these ten qualities with human beings – they are spiritual powers that we are mandated to develop and refine in our life journey…The ten sefirot are the qualities of the Divine that also form the archetypal human being.  These qualities are interpreted both as the essence of God and as paths by which we can return to God… Often, the ten qualities are described as the garments of the King – garments that allow us to look directly at…the source of Divine light, without being blinded.  The other image, the upside down tree, symbolizes that the roots of these ten qualities rest deeply within a Divine nature that draws us back to the heavens through prayer, contemplation, and action.  Our task is to ascend to our Divine source by evolving these ten qualities within ourselves. (72-73)

In her book she also explains that these ten qualities correspond to the Christian sacraments as well as the seven chakras (energy centers) depicted in many Eastern religions — further evidence that the number ten has spiritual significance cross-culturally.

In fact, practically speaking, we are quite reliant on the number ten mathematically.  As the authors of explain, “Soon after language develops, it is safe to assume that humans begin counting – and that fingers and thumbs provide nature’s abacus. The decimal system is no accident. Ten has been the basis of most counting systems in history.” Jim Watters, in his blog post “Origins of Mathematics in Early Western Civilizations,” notes that “many early civilizations choose a numeral system involving the number ten,” and notably both the Egyptian and Greek civilizations used ten as a base.

So, if Western civilization were a house made of numbers, ten would likely be the most basic foundation, the lowest bricks upon which all else rested. In 1968 Charles and Ray Eames made a popular film called “Powers of Ten” showing us “the power of the power of ten” by starting with a close-up of a picnic in Chicago and moving out, by a power of ten every ten seconds, into space. On the way back the view gets smaller and smaller, and the “journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell.” Our modern-day use of google maps makes this idea seem somewhat commonplace, but do most users understand the power of ten shift in viewpoint? The film creators have become a source for this day’s focus and attention, and on their website, here, they have pinpointed events all over the world that are celebrating the powers of ten.

We have built much of our technology using this number as a base, and our computerized understanding of spacial relations is based on the power of ten. 10-10-2010 has meaning only because of our method of counting in bases of tens: we think of years in decades, centuries, millennia. If nothing else, over time we have ascribed an importance to the number ten ourselves that makes it a number to be venerated in a practical sense. Spiritually, however, the number has significance as well. So if a day comes that is a joining of tens, why not make much of it? Let us join those with foresight and ambition to use this day to make a change.

If you can do something for the planet this Sunday, October 10th, hop to it! If you haven’t the time or the means to help the planet in some small way, then make a positive change in your own life. That, too, will help the planet. We need all the help we can get. And tell the rest of us about your project if you have time – we need inspiration, too. The power of ten may be a tipping point – the more we can band together and create a new community, one that includes all species, all races, all places, the better chance we have. Let us learn to walk with humility. Let October 10th, 2010, be the beginning of a new beginning.

In hope lies our greatest strength

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

-Emily Dickinson

Arrien, Angeles. The Tarot Handbook: Practical applications of Ancient Visual Symbols. NY: Putnam, 1997.

Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing. NY: Three Rivers Press, 1996.

4 thoughts on “The importance of 10-10-10

    1. Thank you! I appreciated your well written, informative blog, by the way. I think you are doing good things in the world!

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