On Oct. 9, Yoko Ono, in honor of what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday, will light his Peace Tower in Iceland and perform a memorial concert.
The number 9 always had profound significance for John, especially after first meeting Yoko at a London art gallery on Nov. 9, 1966. His second wife was a serious student of the occult and of Cheiro, the father of modern numerolog.
Like John, she identified herself as a Number 9 person, the sum of the numbers of her own birthday on the 18th (of February 1933).
Cheiro stated that 9 represented creative, universal consciousness. He characterized Number 9 personalities as fiercely independent, energetic, strong-willed and domineering, often subject to great struggles in youth, but great success later on.
The number played uncannily in the lives of John and Yoko. Due to many previous miscarriages, plus John’s low sperm count, doctors told Yoko she had little chance of conceiving: but she delivered Sean by Caesarian on Oct. 9, 1975. She subscribed to the Asian superstition that a child born on his father’s birthday would inherit his soul.
Yoko had suffered three earlier miscarriages. The second occurred on Oct. 9, 1969, on John’s 29th birthday.
After their marriage that year, John had immersed himself in numerology. With Yoko’s guidance, and that of her many astrologers, he governed his latter life according to her numbers. In one of his last interviews, he told Playboy magazine: “She’s the teacher and I’m the pupil. She’s taught me everything I f—ing know.”
He had written the famous “Revolution 9,” “#9 Dream” and “One After 909.” By 1978, the former Beatle told his tarot reader, John Green, “The big plan is that I do nothing for the next four years. Mother [Yoko] says that everything I do is doomed to failure until the year 1982. That year, according to the numbers, I’ll conquer the world again.”
In “Dakota Days,” Green writes of Lennon’s dedicated mystical practices – his meditation, his psychic training, his cleansing fasts, his vows of silence, his Tarot study. His card was the 9th, The Hermit, representing contemplation and introspection.
Green, who did daily readings for Lennon, predicted that 1980 (1 + 9 + 8 +0 = 18 / 1 + 8 = 9) would be a big year for him. On his Oct. 9 birthday that year, he released the single “Starting Over” from his new album with Yoko, Double Fantasy. “Let's take a chance and fly away somewhere alone,” he sang. “It's like we both are falling in love again. It'll be just like starting over, starting over.”
But, two months later, he was gunned down in front of his Dakota apartment building by a demented former fan, Mark David Chapman. The fateful date was Dec. 8. But, as his first wife, Cynthia, pointed out in her own biography, it was the 9th in the place of his birth — Britain.
According to Robert Rosen's, “Nowhere Man, The Final Days of John Lennon,”Chapman, obsessed with Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” meant to write its final, missing chapter – 27 – in Lennon’s blood. Asserts Rosen: “It’s as if 27, the triple 9, formed a numerological Bermuda Triangle that has swallowed at least five great musicians.” Referring to all those who died at age 27 (Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison (born on Dec. 8, Lennon’s death day), Rosen calls 27 “the unluckiest number in rock ’n’ roll.”
Years before Chapman had pursued Lennon, the ex-Beatle had been targeted by another psychiatric patient. Charles Manson was obsessed with John’s “Revolution 9,” believing it was based on the Book of Revelations’ Chapter 9, and predicted the “Helter Skelter” Armageddon to come.
In 1969, hoping to involve Lennon in his apocalyptic revolution in the California desert, Manson wrote and phoned the singer repeatedly, but without a reply. John and Yoko were doing their Toronto bed-in for peace at the time. At last the cult leader and serial murderer wrote the Revolution composer a blood-soaked letter.
A student of history, and of ancient civilizations in particular, Lennon was aware of the enormous significance many cultures attached to numerology, especially to the number 9. There were 9 muses and 9 choirs of angels. The Greeks and Romans buried their dead on the 9th day, and held memorial feasts for the deceased every 9th year.
Yet, it was also a number of rebirth. Christ remained on the cross for 9 hours before the burial and resurrection. The deceased Pope is mourned for 9 days.
Nine is unique in being the only number which, when multiplied by any other, always reproduces itself (e.g. 9 x 6 = 54; 5 + 4 = 9). For this reason, it is regarded by numerologists as the symbol of indestructible matter. For the Egyptians, Greeks, and Freemasons too, it signified eternity. The Aztecs believed that the soul passed through nine stages to final rest.
And so, it is a fitting symbol for the great, immortal artist that was and is John Lennon. In honor of this, Yoko Ono opened his Strawberry Fields monument on Oct. 9, 1985. And now, celebrating his 70th birthday, she will light his Peace Tower at the top of the world.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” John had once said. “It’s just like getting out of one car and into another.” So he got out of his limousine and, minutes later, revolver-shot, was carried into an NYPD squad car. The car sped for the hospital, its sirens screaming as had the blitz raid sirens outside the London hospital where he had been born on Oct. 9, 1940.
“Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream / It is not dying, it is not dying,” he had sung on Revolver’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” channeling “The Tibetan Book of the Dead.” “So play the game Existence to the end, /Of the beginning, of the beginning.”