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The Insightful Turtle - Book Review

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by Julian Wagner (subscribe)
Julian Wagner - Brisbane writer and musician c/- Wagner Musicians and Promotions Pty Ltd (ABN 50161875261) which provides string quartets and other classical musicians for weddings and other special events and promotes and reviews concerts
Published November 10th 2013

A No 1 top shelf read to be zeroed in on is Gillian Helfgott's 'The Insightful Turtle' (Flying Horse Books, Bournemouth UK (2012).

"The Insightful Turtle - Numerology for a More Fulfilling Life" by Australia's deep thinking and equally insightful Gillian Helfgott promises to make even numerology sceptics (myself initially included) start thinking that there may indeed be more to numbers than meets the eye(s)! After all, The Insightful Turtle is a step by step explanation as to how your date and year of your birth (as well as other intuitive factors) speak volumes about you and your future.

Take for instance Gillian Helfgott's numerological assessments of famous people such as Princess Diana (DOB: 1/7/1961), Marilyn Monroe (DOB: 1/6/1926) and the world's ultimate and immortal music maestro, Ludwig van Beethoven (DOB: 16/12/1770). The numbers assuredly stack up as regards Diana's Queen of Hearts public appeal status and equally ring true as to Diana's emotional instabilities. Pretty much on par is the other blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe (best known for her non thigh hugging red dress in 'The 7 Year Itch' and as President John F Kennedy's No. 1 lady, oops, mistress). Marilyn Monroe, like Princess Diana, had a Birth day of '1' and a numerological Life Path of '7' (indicative of creativity and spirituality). Both died tragically at the age of 36 (surely this was no coincidence as to when their number was up?).

Whilst also having a Life Path of '7', Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), by contrast, had a much stronger sense of self and purpose. With a No. 1 ego, combined with a whopping four '7's, Gillian Helfgott's numerological study of this iconic composer demonstrates that Beethoven was destined for immortality. Extraordinarily, Beethoven found even more solace and compositional drive when he lost his hearing not long before his most famous Symphony No 5 in C Minor (best known for the 4 note 'fate' motif). Despite fate knocking at Beethoven' aural door, his life was, thank God, one of ultimate survival. An eternal Ode to Joy for mankind (and women). Is it simply irony that Beethoven (a No. 7 man) thought his 7th symphony was his best?

The Insightful Turtle is, most intriguingly,also a numerically incisive 'who's really who 'on the world stage (past and present). Many such as Steve Jobs (24/2/1955) and Steve Irwin (22/2/1962) who have, quite literally, taken a stage 'left' from life, are given a thorough analysis with those still taking centre stage such as Angelina Jolie and perhaps the world's greatest actor, the Australian Geoffrey Rush, also featuring where appropriate.

Perhaps 'Who' magazine would ring more true if Gillian Helfgott got to assess the truly Good, the Bad and the Ugly of celebrities, the infamous and the throng of flotsam and jetsam cameo characters and the like (upsetting the bad apple cart of gossipmongers?).

As for the bad, ugly and truly downright psychotic, it might be said that the Nazi, Karl Kaufman (DOB: 10/10/1900), gets an overly generous numerology assessment. Such revealed that the maniacal monster (who sent many innocent people to excruciating deaths) was 'not in touch with any compassion or empathy.' As for the truly good, well, great, it's thumbs up all the way, assessment wise, for Gillian Helfgott's own extraordinary husband, virtuosic pianist David Helfgott (19/5/1947). Given that the numerology tests remain the same, David Helfgott, in addition to a '7' on his numerology grid also scored three '1's, three '9's and a '5' indicative of his extraordinary energy and ability as a man of action as well as one of the worlds true gentlemanly icons of the classical music world.

How on earth does it work? How can you do your own assessment, or assess others, in the comfort of your home? As best understood, one relies on a numerological 'grid' based on a famous ancient Chinese numbers grid. Numbers, from one's date and year of birth, are placed in and around the grid with each number, placement and context, ultimately being the springboard for a persons construct so to speak. In addition to the meaning or significance of specific numbers, Gillian Helfgott incisively elaborates as to the whole process and the result. As legend has it, the original numerological grid concept was scribed on the back of a turtle shell many eons ago in China. Alas her book title: 'the insightful turtle.'

Could it all be a tad too far-fetched? Could numerology really simply be a clever spin on numbers? As teasing or perhaps convincing as astrology based Horoscopes which seem to differ depending upon which newspaper or Internet site you read?
As a lawyer concerned with evidence, facts and human rights (usually human rights on an international level though of late in Queensland) I was more than simply rolling my eyes with disbelief as to any merit in what some might call a numbers game. Yet, why did the brilliant mathematician Pythagoras (best known for his accurate take on triangles) observe: "numbers represent qualities; figures represent quantities.' (See Numerology & the Divine Triangle, Whitford Press, US (1980)). If that's not enough, the numerological grid (as I call it) and indeed the significance of numbers, has constantly been given credence by the Chinese since forever. Surely the Chinese (typically spot on with many facets of life, experiences and Confucius sayings), wouldn't bother with numerology unless it indeed had merit?

The number '8', for instance, is a lucky number to the Chinese. Denoting, amongst other things, power, success and prosperity. To have the number '8' (ideally even more than one '8') on a number plate or as one's street address, for example, can indeed be a good thing. What about '8' in terms of a life such as T. E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia born 15/8/1888? Even Winston Churchill revered T.E. Lawrence as one of the greatest figures of the 20th Century. Is it just a mere coincidence that Lawrence did the almost impossible in WWI, namely uniting Arabian tribes, to help the British war effort?

Even if you aren't convinced that Numerology has a place in your world (or even the world generally), you'll nevertheless learn a lot about notable people and history. In condensing much about people and civilisations into such a small book, it rival's Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything (Doubleday, Canada, (2012)). For those who are naturally curious, it will inspire you to go elsewhere to quench your thirst. Inspired to learn more about the extraordinary T.E. Lawrence given Gillian Helfgott's brief study of the man, it was perhaps not surprising that he refused a knighthood in 1918 upon realising that the British Government had falsely promised the Arabian tribes independence. Perhaps nowadays we need Gillian Helfgott to find us a top and honest No '8' man or woman (a T.E. Lawrence/Lawrence of Arabia type Statesman or Stateswoman) to bring peace to the Middle East? Someone who has actually read Lawrence's iconic Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Oxford (1922).

Apart from the 'never say die' No 8 former human rights lawyer Nelson Mandel (DOB: 18.7.1918), there's also Gillian Helfgott's No 1 people (the outwardly expressive and ego orientated people). The expose' on the power of '1' even on its own; makes her work destined to be the numerical best selling equivalent of fellow Australian Bryce Courtenay's famous The Power of One (1989). Also check out the number '2' people (sensitive and emotive) then skip a few to the Venus related number '6' (perhaps aptly pronounced with a New Zealand accent!).

Those looking for love (their 'No 1' in other parlance) might even find a perfect match with the assistance of The Insightful Turtle. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as Gillian Helfgott observes, had three '2's according to their respective numerological grid assessments. A factor which perhaps explains their love affair and two marriages?

Of further indeed special note is that Gillian Helfgott also zeroes in on the significance of '0' (i.e. zero) as a truly embracing number. Surprisingly, Pythagoras (the 'triangle man') either overlooked or ignored the big '0.' Perhaps he was not as well rounded as one would have envisaged? Nor did it feature in the Roman numeral system despite the Romans' extraordinary far reaching Empire. As Gillian Helfgott takes us on a trite trip back down history's very long lane, it's not surprising to see that the marvellous Mayans of South America embraced "0" in circa 2000 BC. The Chinese (no surprise) also embraced it in their wise teachings as did the great 5th Century mathematician Aryabhata I of India (who, incidentally, also invented the decimal point).

Do numbers (including the zero "0") really take on a significance of their own. Why, for instance, do many people feel compelled to select a certain same number as their 'lucky number'? Why is it that there's often merit if not truth in the saying 2 is company, 3's a crowd? Why on earth did Lene Lovich (DOB: 30/3/1949) write the song 'Lucky Number' with the line 'my lucky number's one?' OK, I best not waffle.

In closing, this little pearler of a book even extends to the significance of each decade of our lives and concludes with the best of wishes and a website: Use it to do your own numerological assessments, yet, please be aware that you can at least make conscious changes to your day to day outlook, attitude and attributes if your numbers don't come up trumps!

You should give the 'The Insightful Turtle' a go. Do it well before your own number is up in terms of one's' own life (Pun intended). In submitting this review at nigh on 11 am on 11 11 (Remembrance Day and a date of other notable events) it is also hoped that Gillian Helfgott's unique work also brings much peace to your life as well as the world.
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