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The Magic of Three


“The number three seems to convey comfort and balance to the human mind.”

The new moon will appear Saturday in Santa Fe at 1:20 a.m., and the time suggests that it will enjoy a largely private appearance. However, one can consider the significance of this phase beforehand.

Primitive man thought of three lunar days–the last day of the waning moon, the dark moon, and the new moon–as three days of darkness freighted with fear and hope. One wonders if that is the reason why the number three seems to be so important to the collective mind. It is associated with creativity in general, and the triad is very common in mysticism as well as myth, nursery rhymes, and fairy tales. I once heard that anyone making a speech should hold to three major points because that is about all the audience will be able to remember.

But just think how often threeness does show up. In mythology, there were the three gods that supposedly ruled the world, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; the Three Furies; the Three Graces; and the Three Harpies. We envision a threefold world: beginning, middle, and end; body, mind, and soul; earth, sea, and air; animal, vegetable, and mineral; and the three cardinal colors of red, yellow, and blue. In Christianity, we have  Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the Three Wise Men; the three graces of faith hope and charity; and the world, the flesh, and the devil as the three enemies of man.

Then think of all the nursery rhymes and stories featuring three something-or-others: little pigs, bears, blind mice, bags of wool, billy goats gruff, sisters, wishes, musketeers and on and on. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? The number three seems to convey comfort and balance to the human mind. If one is facing the challenge of making a point, creating stability, finding a solution, it might well embody some tripartite form: a triad, a trinity, a triangle . . . Oops. Forget that last one.

In the matter of mating, the ideal seems to have settled firmly on the number two, as in an exclusive partnership. The two is associated symbolically with horns, which are in turn associated with the moon and the Mother Goddess. So is it a man or a woman we see in the face of the moon as it waxes toward full bright beginning on Saturday? Is our luminous mentor essentially masculine or feminine?  I have to conclude that it is feminine; otherwise the number two wouldn’t have gotten the upper hand in this matter.

4 Responses to “The Magic of Three”

  1. celeryellen

    Thank you for your encouragement, but I’m afraid I don’t know any groups looking at this subject. I have gleaned a lot of little snippets from books on dream symbolism and on numerology, so I hope you have a library handy. All the best on your inquiry.


  2. celeryellen

    I appreciate your interest, but I don’t have a Twitter account. Kind of overloaded just on email and just paying attention to comments.

    All the best to you, Ellen

  3. celeryellen

    Thanks so much, Deon. It is a pleasure knowing that you will be out there.

  4. Michelle Mosser

    My first conscious memory…of being drawn to “threes”, was in Nature, when I began noticing triad shaped flowers. Then formal training in art school cemented the instinct of committing imagery and messages with the “golden means”.