Threesology Research Journal
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~ The Study of Threes ~
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Number 3
The Meaning of The Number 3
Number Symbolism of Number 3

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Fun Facts about Numbers - Number Symbolism




3 cane (4k)
  • Three is the number of good fortune.
  • The Pythagoreans taught that the number three was the first true number.
  • Three is the first number that forms a geometrical figure - the triangle.
  • Three was considered the number of harmony, wisdom and understanding.

Three is the number of time:


Past Present Future
Birth Life Death
Beginning Middle End



(H.O.B.) Note: We might also devise other "time"-related tripartitions such as:


  • seconds - minutes - hours
  • day - week - month
  • 24 - 7 - 365 (notice the 3 numbers 1 - 8 - 9 are absent)
  • week - month - year
  • year - decade - century.

We might also, philosophically speaking in terms of time and space as one, (or three in/as one) construct such tripatitions as:


  • here - there - everywhere
  • me - you - another (others)
  • time - space - matter
  • subject - object - verb
  • [inside a circle, square, etc.] - [outside a circle, square, etc.] - [the circle, square, etc]... H.O.B.



Three is the number of the divine.


  • Three is a sacred number in many religions.
  • In ritual many actions are performed three times.

Three is the number of magic.


  • We are all familiar with the expression "third time lucky".
  • In fairy tales three is often the magical number.
  • Heroes and heroines are often offered three choices or three tests.
  • They overcome difficulties on the third try.

In Zoroastrianism there are three ethical principles:


Humata –
to think good
Hukhta –
to speak good
Huveshta –
to act good

  • Under Muslim law a man can divorce his wife by repeating the phrase "i divorce thee" three times.
  • Plato divided his Utopian city into three populations: Laborers – Guardians (warriors) – Philosophers (rulers)

The Borromeam Rings:


3 circles (5k)

The three Borromeam Rings are three rings that are interlocked. If any single ring is removed, the two remaining rings will fall apart. This has been used as a symbol of "strength in unity" for centuries in many parts of the world. The symbol of the three rings that are interlocked is also known as "the tripod of life". Christians may use "the tripod of life" to symbolize the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


On the Nobel Peace Prize Medal there is engraved a picture of three naked men. The inscription reads: Pro pace et fraternitate gentium, translated "for the peace and brotherhood of men." The medal was designed by Gustav Vigeland.


H.O.B note: The "men" should be replaced with "man," "humanity," or "life," unless someone would prefer the word "all" to describe all of existence.


3 triangles (5k)

The symbol of three interlocked triangles is called Valknut. It was used in Viking times as a symbol for the slain dead. Valknut is associated with the Norse god Odin. The Vikings believed Odin would protect the dead warriors who died in his name. They believed they would spend their afterlife in Valhalla belonging to Odin. The name means “Knot of the Slain"


Only three primary colors are needed to mix most other colors:


RED
YELLOW
BLUE

3 octopus (5K)

The octopus has three hearts.


  • A fact about cats: Cats have a third eyelid. It is called the haw.
  • According to Benjamin Disraeli (British Prime Minister, 1804-1881) there are three degrees of lies: Lies – Damned Lies – Statistics

(H.O.B. Note: this also is attributed to Samuel Clemmons [AKA Mark Twain.])


  • The third day of the Chinese New Year is often called the "Squabbling Day.". People will avoid visiting family and friends on this day as it may result in quarrels. A visit to the temple is a better choice.
  • In the Western world, leather traditionally marks the third year anniversary.

3 camel (4K)
Camels have three eyelids.

3 moon (1K)

The Triple Moon/The Triple Goddess. It shows her three aspects as maiden, mother and crone. Often used by Wicca.


3 Gemini (1K)

Gemini is the third astrological sign of the Zodiac. (May 21 - June 21)



  • Number three is the number of Jupiter.
  • Number three is lucky for Sagittarius.

Empress in Tarot (8K)

In the Tarot, three is the card of the Empress.


Tarot Card Reading Secrets
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Complete guide to reading Tarot Cards, and Tarot Card meanings. Only Tarot program to offer Video training included with the course.


The Shamrock - the three-leaf cover:


3 shamrock (4K)

The Shamrock, the three-leaf clover, is a symbol of Ireland. Saint Patrick taught Christianity in Ireland. He used the three-leaf cover to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (The Father, Son and Holy Ghost) in Christianity. Saint Patrick died March 17, 461.


March 17 is celebrated as his feast day and named Saint Patrick's Day.


The Leprechaun - Three Wishes


In Irish Folklore there is a saying;
if you catch a Leprechaun and set him free,
the Leprechaun will grant you three wishes.
3 wishes (5K)

The Three Petals of the Iris Flower.


3 petals (7K)

The iris flower was a symbol of power in ancient Egypt. It was often placed on scepters of rulers and kings. The three large petals of the iris flower symbolize:


Faith – Wisdom – Courage

The iris flower is named after the Greek messenger goddess, Iris. She was also seen as the rainbow.


Iris flowers were planted on the graves of women. The ancient Greeks believed that the goddess Iris would lead the dead women to the Underworld.


(Picture from Botanical Magazine, 1792)


The Troika


3 Troika (27K)

The word "troika" is a Russian word for threesome, triplet or trio. A Troika is three-horse harnessed sledge.


Troika is also the name of a traditional Russian dance. The dancers dance in groups of three.


A Troika also means a committee consisting of three members. During the rule of Stalin, the Troika was used to speed up the prosecutions of people accused of political crimes. In that meaning a Troika consisted of three judges and replaced the normal legal system.


(Lithograph (1819) artist: Aleksander Orlowski. The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia)


Three Grains


An old superstition from Britain states that it is lucky to find three whole grains in a loaf of bread. Another bread superstition says it if you take three loaves of bread out of the oven at one time, a death of someone you know will occur within a year.


3 stone (29K)

The Three Languages of the Rosetta Stone


The Rosetta Stone contains inscriptions in three languages:


  • Demotic (Egyptian)
  • Hieroglyphic
  • Classical Greek.

The Rosetta Stone helped reveal the secrets of Hieroglyphic writing. It is on display at the British Museum in London.


Three English Kings have died in battle:


  1. Harold II - October 14, 1066
  2. Richard the Lionheart - April 6, 1199
  3. Richard III - August 22, 1485

3 Jefferson (8K)
  • Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. 1801 - 1809.
  • Jefferson was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence. He owned many hundred slaves. Jefferson passed a law in 1807 to abolish the slave trade.
  • He was strongly against the Bank of America saying that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.

  3 signature (2K)
Thomas Jefferson's signature

3 in Buddhism (33K)

Three in Buddhism: The Three Jewels


We find the number three in the Buddhist Tiratana. The Tiratana is also known as the Three Jewels of Buddhism. The symbol of The Three Jewels is shown on this Buddha footprint.


The 3 circles are symbolic for:
  1. The Buddha
  2. The Dharma (his teachings)
  3. Sangha (his followers)


Buddhism - The Three Cardinal Faults


At the very center of the Samsara, The Wheel of life, there are three symbols of the cardinal faults of humans:


  • The pig symbolizing greed
  • The snake symbolizing hatred
  • The cock symbolizing dilution



3 in Hinduism (12K)

Three in Hinduism


Three is the holy number for the Trimurti (Trinity) of: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

These three gods make up the One Supreme God, Brahman:


  • Brahma – the creator of the world
  • Vishnu – the preserver of the world
  • Shiva – the destroyer of the world

(Note: this reads like a birth-order ranking in that the 1st born is typically aligned with a superior "social" position... equivalent in human terms with White collar worker, Blue collar worker, No collar worker, or God - Jesus (or Humanity) - Satan, etc... The 2nd born, in human terms, would be the diplomat between two (or more) oppositions. The 3rd born, in human terms, is the baby of the family that may, under some circumstances, have to do mischievous or bad acts in order to get attention. While the birth order ranking attributes are not set in stone; that there are various alternatives, in a simplistic sense, the three gods of Hinduism and birth order ranking are worth some level of consideration... H.O.B.)


A tilak is a religious mark on the forehead. Devotees of Shiva may often be seen using a tilak of three horizontal lines. (Devotees of Vishnu use a tilak of two upward lines.)


At the beginning of religious ceremonies, it is common that the priest takes water in his right hand and drinks it.


This is repeated three times. This clears his throat before the chanting starts, he can do so with clarity and is absolved of sin. This is called "Aachman".


(Aschman reads like a variation of "AMEN" or "AUM" [as in the meditation chant "OM"] or "AMON" as in "Amon Ra" of ancient Egypt... H.O.B.)


Japan - The Three Wise Monkeys



Three Monkey Philosophy:

Hear No Evil Speak No Evil See No Evil

Kikazaru: covering his ears to hear no evil.
Iwazaru: covering his mouth to speak no evil.
Mizaru: covering his eyes to see no evil.
3 monkeys (14K)

3 Baku (9K) Baku, the dream eater.

Baku has its origins in Japan and China. It is a strange, but cute hybrid creature featuring many different animals. Baku has the power to eat nightmares.


Bad dreams go through Baku’s digestive system and are totally eliminated, leaving serenity in its place. Baku will consume nightmares on request. Superstition has it that a person experiencing nightmares must call out three times to Baku; “Eat it, Baku”.


3 crossings (34K)

The River of Three Crossings – Japanese Buddhism


The River of Three Crossings is also called the Sanzu River.


It is the river the dead must cross. There are three different places the dead may cross the river. The karma (good and bad deeds of the person) determines at which point the dead may cross the river.



  1. The Bridge – the dead person with very good karma may use the bridge to cross over to the other side.
  2. The Ford – the dead person with good and evil deeds may wade across the river at this point.
  3. The water polluted with gruesome serpents – the dead person with evil doings must wade across the river at this point.



The Doll Festival


The Japanese celebrate Hina Matsuri, (Doll Festival) on March 3, the third day of the third month. The Doll Festival is also known as "Girls' Day". Earlier it was believed that dolls could ward off evil spirits and illness.


Dolls were sent floating down the river, to carry away trouble. Now dolls are displayed on special platforms in the home. Dolls are also sent out to sea. This is a special day devoted to the happiness and protection of girls.


3 symbols (13K)

Shinto - The three symbols of the sun goddess Amaterasu:


  • The Mirror – symbol of truth and wisdom
  • The Jewel symbol of compassion
  • The sword – symbol of strength and courage

Sonnet Number 3 by William Shakespeare:



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