Monday, June 16, 2014

Minor Arcana: number 3

Number 3:  Three Little Pigs

    We talk and act in terms of the physical, mental, and spiritual. 
3 of Cups 

    We symbolize “three-ness” in geometry and art by a triangle — 3 sides; the trident —3 tongs;  a trefoil — 3 leaves; and a Fleur-de-Lis ♓︎—3 components.

   We hear about the 3 Graces, the 3 fates, and other combinations of the number 3 such as: body, mind, and spirit in the human condition. In a religious sense we think of the Trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Ghost; and Faith, Hope and Charity; the 3 Wise men.

Pythagoras envisioned a metaphysical philosophy behind numbers. He saw a universal principle in a number, therefore — number 3 — added to number 1 and number 2, would mean completion, unity. It takes us beyond duality. Kenneth Guthrie writes, “…this is the archetypal pattern of cosmogenesis, the pattern of creation…”  (The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, Phanes Press, 1987, p.22). So what is the principle behind number 3 and how is it represented in the Tarot? We have seen with number 2, the relationship of one thing to another and the possibility of making a choice “for better or worse.” We choose to reflect the One or, to do the opposite, where we experience duality. When you add number 3 to 1 and 2, the duality of "twoness" is overcome, and we can achieve a synthesis. Out of the combination of 1 and 2, something new is manifested. A third addition can bridge the tension between opposites and extremes, and the result can be a balanced arrangement. According to Rachel Pollack: “Three also signifies birth and motherhood, for a baby is the “sum” of its parents genes mixed together.” (The Haindl Tarot, Newcastle pub. 1990, p. 28)

In the fairy tale of ”Three Little Pigs,” the big bad wolf attacked the pigs and blew down the house of straw of pig number 1, and the house of sticks of pig number 2, but he couldn’t bring down the house of pig number 3. The third pig obviously learned from the mistakes made by the first two pigs in building houses of straw and sticks, so he built a more substantial house made of bricks that the wolf couldn’t blow down. The first 2 pigs just hurriedly slapped together their houses so they could rest and play. They made the wrong choices. (Original story by Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales, 1890) This is the same moral lesson of the 3 card of the Tarot. The 2 card is about making a choice but, the 3 card is about the outcome of making the right choice. The 3 of Cups in the Rider-Waite deck shows 3 maidens celebrating happiness and success, dancing with their cups held in the air. There is a lot about the “Three Graces” in literature and art. For instance, we see them in Sandro Botticelli’s painting, “La Primavera,” in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. They were companions to the goddess, Venus and their function was to spread joy and beauty. They provided specific gifts:  Aglaia—brilliance,radiance; Euphrosyne—joy from the heart; and Thalia—beauty (especially of flowers). 

 Tarot card number 3 generally means integration, and the manifestation of one’s work. It indicates a unification of preparation and planning. It is creative power brought to fruition. The Empress card in the Major Arcana is also number 3. She represents the abundance of plenty, creativity, fecundity, and the formations of productivity, especially in agriculture.
When you get a number 3 card in a reading:
The 3 of Wands signifies manifesting one’s thoughts through planning and execution. One’s ideas are expressed in concrete form.
The 3 of Cups signifies spiritual and emotional completion; success and fulfillment of promise, and a sense of harmony and love.
The 3 of Swords represents the power of discrimination in being able to sort the true from the false and arrive at an equitable conclusion.
The 3 of Pentacles deal with day to day physical things in business, homemaking, gardening, where there is a product, and the satisfying result of hard work.