Articles and Media

Comes in Threes

by Ana L. Palles

Polished Stones The staff at our little neighborhood bake shop knew the drill. It might sound morbid, but whenever they received an order for a condolence tray, they would begin preparing for the other two orders that would come in later that day. They were rarely for the same family, but there would always be three. No one was really sure why this happened, or what was the meaning of three. The staff simply accepted it with that quiet respect that accompanies old folks and almost forgotten traditions.

Many cultures have mystical associations around the number three. Christianity, for example, is full of symbolism around threes. In the Bible, Peter denied Christ three times, and Christ asked Peter if he loved him three times. Christ also arose on the third day. Other examples include the Trinity representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and the three Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

But Christians, relative newcomer on the spiritual scene, are sometimes carrying over olde world customs.  Mystical associations are found across ancient cultures and faiths. Consider the Hindu Trimurti which describes the three aspects of God, such as Brahma, the source or creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva the Transformer or Destroyer.

The three Sacred Treasures of Japan consist of the mirror, the sword, and the jewel representing the virtues of valor, wisdom, and benevolence. Also the Three Fates common throughout Scandinavia and Northern Europe are also associated with the three phases of the lunar goddess: maiden, mother, crone.

Many feel that events happening in threes bring a message that is important for the person to notice for they are said to offer great truths. What we are talking about is reading symbols and interpreting metaphors from our day to day lives. This is something that we have done for thousands of years. We read the clouds, we watch the behaviour of birds in the sky, we notice the prickling of the hairs on our bodies, or the twitching of our dogs ears and the hair on the backs of our cats. Our ancestors even cast bones, stones, coins, yarrow sticks, and read their color, placement, and patterns.

Early humans drew symbols representing complex concepts: the pyramid, triangle, the Triquetrais. Communication with symbols provided a wealth of information and understanding in cultures with rich historical associations for these symbols.

Certainly, the excitement in the crop circle community has more to do with the puzzling out of symbols that trigger connections with these concepts than with the hunt for little green men. Humans love to communicate with one another and we desperately want to decipher the messages that come our way, even if we have forgotten our code book.

Early cultures were masters at this and it contributed to our survival as a species. By contrast, many contemporary cultures have largely disassociated themselves by trying too hard to read the subtler signs. It is only when odd coincidences take place that once again our attention is engaged.

The pressures of day to day living forces a certain amount of detachment upon us. We have too many demands on our focus and time to pay close attention to reading the world around us. Yet every now and then, a pattern shifts just enough to let us catch a fleeting glimpse of something we sometimes call magic, but is really just part of the great wonder of life.

One day a friend of mine called me in awe because she had seen three foxes during the course of her travels. All three were in different areas and two had been during day light hours. One of them had been quite brazen and was walking down the highway staring right at her.

She asked, “What do you think this means?” I told her she needed to meditate or journey to fox and find out for herself what message was being sent. This is standard operating procedure for anyone that has ever studied shamanism whether it is Native American, Scandinavian, Asian, or any other tradition. Some individuals, generally because of their spiritual training, sometimes hear the message more directly as a spoken voice or as a visual image. Sometimes these messages are a call to action. Other times, they are simply another piece of information to help you along the way.

Another example occurred with a friend who while unemployed had come across a job listing that she felt under-qualified to pursue. She opted not to apply only to have that job listing be sent to her as part of an email list. Once again, she had ignored it since she had no experience in this area. The third time, her sister brought her the listing and for the third time, she said no, only to have the sister tell her too late since she had taken the liberty of submitting her resume earlier that day. She was offered and subsequently accepted the job.

We are always looking ahead for answers that will make our future happier and easier. Often we think of time as broken out into three as well: the past, present, and future. Much research and many teachings tell us that the past, present, and future all exist together. Are great truths really delivered in threes? The answer is as individual as it is personal. You may find it worthwhile to observe how this plays out for you and what significance, if any, is attached to these events. As for me, anything that presents itself in threes definitely captures my attention.