Psychic reader Emily Newman describes angel numbers in an email as “manifestations of divine energy” that “signal we are on the right track or point us in the right direction while we are experiencing difficulties.” Even people who don’t know anything about angel numbers still find them to be fascinating. “It’s cool to see a pattern,” McCants says. However, “When you understand what it means it’s even better, more exciting.”

Skeptics might say that the universe isn’t sending any divine guidance from the spiritual realm, that humans have a natural tendency to look for patterns where none exist intentionally. (After all, we see faces in clouds and rock formations.)

True believers don’t agree. “For some people, angel numbers may just be an interesting coincidence. But if you’re someone who believes in the divine and the power of signs, then you may feel that seeing angel numbers is a way for your guardian angel to communicate with you,” emails Sofia Celestino, a numerologist from “No matter what your personal beliefs are, there’s no denying that seeing the same number or a sequence of numbers, over and over again can feel pretty significant.”

“Apophenia results from the evolution of human cognition,” writes anthropology professor John W. Hopes in Psychology Today. “The ability to spot and recognize patterns — patterns that represent things to eat, things to avoid, or things with which to try and reproduce — is an adaptation with positive feedback for survival… However, apophenia is not just recognizing patterns. It’s interpreting patterns in meaningless data as if it were meaningful.”

And numerology dates back thousands of years to the discovery of mathematics. Greek philosopher and math whiz Pythagoras is credited by numerologists with assigning attributes to each digit. “When a number repeats itself, it exemplifies that energy,” McCants says. “When we see numbers that recur it is always a message to us; it’s like a spirit that looks at you.”

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